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Archaeological Discoveries: Remains of Ancient Settlement Uncovered in Kana

(December 2004)

Excavations conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority in the west Kerem el-Ras sector of Kfar Kana in Lower Galilee uncovered remains of a settlement that existed for 700 years - throughout the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods.

Among the finds uncovered were building remains of planed stones surviving to a height of one and a half meters, household utensils (grinding stone, tabun ovens), and a mikve (Jewish ritual purification bath), measuring 2m x 4.5m, with an arched roof and six steps, which survived to a height of almost two meters. The ritual bath was coated in hydraulic plaster and entered from inside a building. At some point during the Roman period, it ceased to be used and was closed with stones.

Archaeologist Yardena Alexander, excavation director on behalf of the Antiquities Authority, identifies the site with Kana in the Galilee, known from both Jewish and Christian tradition. The Gospel according to John, Chapter 2, verses 1-11 tells of the town of Kana in the Galilee where Jesus performed his first miracle by turning water into wine at a Jewish wedding. Alexander added that about 100 years later, Kana was the home of the Priestly reservation of Elyashiv. “When the Holy Temple was destroyed and the Bar Kokhba Revolt failed, the Jews of Judea fled from the Romans to the Galilee. Priestly families settled in a number of Galilee towns and continued the tradition of ritual bathing as was the custom during Holy Temple times in Jerusalem. Based on the mikvaot that were excavated at the site and its 2nd century date, it appears that this could be the priestly neighborhood noted in the Lamentations of Elazar Kallir and a Roman inscription from Caesarea referring to the priestly reservation.”

Sources: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs