Archaeologists believe they may have found the home town of Peter and two other apostles of Jesus in the lost Roman city of Julias, near the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel, News.com.au reports.
Last month, archaeologists from the Kinneret Institute for Galilean Archaeology at Kinneret College, Israel, and Nyack College in New York, completed excavations at el-Araj on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. El-Araj has long been considered a possible location of ancient Julias, which was also known as Bethsaida.
“The results of this season’s excavation indicate that el-Araj should now be considered a leading candidate for the lost city of Jesus’ Apostles,” explained the excavation team.
“There are indications that we’re excavating Bethsaida-Julius — we have to continue digging to confirm and clarify,” Professor Steven Notley of Nyack College, the dig’s academic director, told Fox News. “This is really one of the few [biblical sites] that has remained lost.”
The Roman city of Julias was born out of the Jewish fishing village of Bethsaida during the first century AD, according to the Jewish historian Josephus Flavius. The New Testament describes Bethsaida as the home of Jesus’ apostles Peter, Andrew and Philip. Jesus also healed a blind man at Bethsaida, according to Mark 8:22-26, while Luke 9:10-17 describes a nearby location for the feeding of the 5000 people.
While many experts had previously assumed there was no human presence at el-Araj during the Roman period, this excavation has shed new light on the site. A previously unearthed Byzantine structure, for example, offered plenty of clues to the archaeologists.
More than 30 coins found beneath the structure’s floor dated its construction to the 5th century AD
Below the Byzantine era level, however, Roman era pottery dating back to between the 1st and 3rd centuries AD was found, along with a bronze coin from the late 2nd century and a silver denarius coin of the Emperor Nero that dates from 65 to 66AD.
Some two metres below the Byzantine floor, a Roman period wall was also discovered. Adjacent to the wall was a large section of black-and-white mosaic floor with mortar, clay bricks and ceramic vents typical of Roman bathhouses.
The archaeologists note that Roman-style baths were uncommon in rural settlements, so their presence at el-Araj indicates an urban site, making it a strong candidate for the city of Julias.
The Real Story Behind the "House of Jesus' Apostles" Discovery (National Geographic)