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Typical 1st century Nazareth house

Houses in Nazareth had a flat roof with exterior stairs at the side and an awning of woven goats’ hair to protect against the sun. This was used by the women as a work-space, an extra room.

The inside of the house was minimalist by our standards. There were raised platforms with cushions and mats for sitting and sleeping.

The walls were covered with plaster, rubbed flat with a stone and painted with geometric patterns.

Niches were cut into the wall, and these provided storage for bedrolls and clothes.

The inside rooms of the house were small and dark, so the courtyard and roof were important work areas, with better light for tasks like spinning and weaving.

The roof was also a cool place to sleep in hot weather

Down in the courtyard was the cooking area, with an open fire, an oven and an array of cooking utensils. There was a mortar and pestle for grinding small amounts of grain and a covered area where people sat while they worked or talked. Large amounts of food – jars of oil and olives, etc., were kept in separate storage areas, secure against mice. That is also where the stalls for animals were. This space served as a daily workplace – the weather was dry for most of the year.

The courtyard often contained a mikveh for ceremonial purification, and the family latrine as well, which was emptied every day into a communal manure pit.




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