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city in northern Israel; childhood town of Jesus (Christianity) It is Israel's largest Arab city. In the New Testament, It contains many Christian churches and is a pilgrimage centre. Captured by Christians several times during the Crusades, it was taken by the Ottoman Empire in 1517. It was part of British-mandate Palestine from 1918 and part of Israel from 1948. Christian Arabs form the majority of the population. (Wikipedia) - Nazareth For other uses, see Nazareth (disambiguation). Nazareth Hebrew transcription(s)  • Hebrew  • ISO 259 Arabic transcription(s)  • Arabic District Government  • Type  • Mayor Area  • Total Population (2011)  • Total Website
נָצְרַת (Na''tzeret; Naṣ''rath in Biblical Hebrew)
Naçrat, Naçert
النَّاصِرَة (an-Nāṣira)
Flag Nazareth municipal emblem
Nazareth
Coordinates: 32°42′07″N 35°18′12″E / 32.70194°N 35.30333°E / 32.70194; 35.30333Coordinates: 32°42′07″N 35°18′12″E / 32.70194°N 35.30333°E / 32.70194; 35.30333
Northern
City
Ali Sallam
14,123 dunams (14.123 km2 or 5.453 sq mi)
81,410
www.nazareth.muni.il

Nazareth (/ˈnæzərəθ/; Hebrew: נָצְרַת, Natz''rat; Classical Syriac: ܢܨܪܬ, Naṣrath; Arabic: النَّاصِرَة‎, an-Nāṣirah or an-Nāṣiriyyah) is the largest city in the North District of Israel. Nazareth is known as "the Arab capital of Israel"; the population is made up predominantly of Arab citizens of Israel, almost all of whom are either Muslim (69%) or Christian (30.9%). In the New Testament, the city is described as the childhood home of Jesus, and as such is a center of Christian pilgrimage, with many shrines commemorating biblical events.

Contents

Etymology

Nazareth is not mentioned in pre-Christian texts and appears in many different Greek forms in the New Testament. There is no consensus regarding the origin of the name. One conjecture holds that "Nazareth" is derived from one of the Hebrew words for ''branch'', namely ne·ṣer, נֵ֫צֶר, and alludes to the prophetic, messianic words in Book of Isaiah 11:1, ''from (Jesse''s) roots a Branch (netzer) will bear fruit.'' One view suggests this toponym might be an example of a tribal name used by resettling groups on their return from exile. Alternatively, the name may derive from the verb na·ṣar, נָצַר, "watch, guard, keep," and understood either in the sense of "watchtower" or "guard place", implying the early town was perched on or near the brow of the hill, or, in the passive sense as ''preserved, protected'' in reference to its secluded position. The negative references to Nazareth in the Gospel of John suggest that ancient Jews did not connect the town''s name to prophecy.

Another theory holds that the Greek form Nazara, used in Matthew and Luke, may derive from an earlier Aramaic form of the name, or from another Semitic language form. If there were a tsade (צ) in the original Semitic form, as in the later Hebrew forms, it would normally have been transcribed in Greek with a sigma instead of a zeta. This has led some scholars to question whether "Nazareth" and its cognates in the New Testament actually refer to the settlement we know traditionally as Nazareth in Lower Galilee. Such linguistic discrepancies may be explained, however, by "a peculiarity of the ''Palestinian'' Aramaic dialect wherein a sade (ṣ) between two voiced (sonant) consonants tended to be partially assimilated by taking on a zayin (z) sound."

Arabic name, an-Nāṣira

The Arabic name for Nazareth is an-Nāṣira, and Jesus (Arabic: يَسُوع‎, Yasū` or Arabic: عِيسَى‎, `Īsā) is also called an-Nāṣirī, reflecting the Arab tradition of according people a nisba, a name denoting from whence a person comes in either geographical or tribal terms. In the Qur''an, Christians are referred to as naṣārā, meaning "followers of an-Nāṣirī," or "those who follow Jesus." Similarly, in Maltese a Christian male is called Nisrani, whilst someone from Nazareth is called Nazzarenu. Whereas Nisrani is of direct Semitic origin, it is very likely that Nazzarenu was adopted via the Italian Nazzareno (from Latin, Nazarenus, meaning Nazarene.)

New Testament references

In English translations of the New Testament, the phrase "Jesus of Nazareth" appears seventeen times whereas the Greek has the form "Jesus the Nazarēnos" or "Jesus the Nazōraios." One plausible view is that Nazōraean (Ναζωραῖος) is a normal Greek adaptation of a reconstructed, hypothetical term in Jewish Aramaic for the word later used in Rabbinical sources to refer to Jesus. "Nazaréth" is named twelve times in surviving Greek manuscript versions of the New Testament, 10 times as Nazaréth or Nazarét, and twice as Nazará. The former two may retain the ''feminine'' endings common in Galilean toponyms. The minor variants, Nazarat and Nazarath are also attested. Nazara (Ναζαρά) might be the earliest form of the name in Greek, going back to the putative Q document. It is found in Matthew 4:13 and Luke 4:16. However, the Textus Receptus clearly translates all passages as Nazara leaving little room for debate there.

Many scholars have questioned a link between "Nazareth" and the terms "Nazarene" and "Nazoraean" on linguistic grounds, while some affirm the possibility of etymological relation "given the idiosyncrasies of Galilean Aramaic."

Extrabiblical referencesAncient mosaic of Nazareth

The form Nazara is also found in the earliest non-scriptural reference to the town, a citation by Sextus Julius Africanus dated about 221 CE (see "Middle Roman to Byzantine Periods" below). The Church Father Origen (c. 185 to 254 AD) knows the forms Nazará and Nazarét. Later, Eusebius in his Onomasticon (translated by St. Jerome) also refers to the settlement as Nazara. The ''nașirutha'' of the scriptures of the Mandeans refers to ''priestly craft'' not to Nazareth, which they identified with Qom.

The first non-Christian reference to Nazareth is an inscription on a marble fragment from a synagogue found in Caesarea Maritima in 1962. This fragment gives the town''s name in Hebrew as "נצרת" (n-ṣ-r-t). The inscription dates to c. AD 300 and chronicles the assignment of priests that took place at some time after the Bar Kokhba revolt, AD 132-35. (See "Middle Roman to Byzantine Periods" below.) An 8th-century AD Hebrew inscription, which was the earliest known Hebrew reference to Nazareth prior to the discovery of the inscription above, uses the same form.

Nazarenes, Nasranis, Notzrim, Christians Main article: Nazarene (title)

Around 331 Eusebius records that from the name Nazareth Christ was called a Nazoraean, and that in earlier centuries Christians, were once called Nazarenes. Tertullian (Against Marcion 4:8) records that "for this reason the Jews call us ''Nazarenes''. In the New Testament Christians are called "Christians" three times by Paul in Romans, and "Nazarenes" once by Tertullus, a Jewish lawyer. The Rabbinic and modern Hebrew name for Christians, notzrim, is also thought to derive from Nazareth, and be connected with Tertullus'' charge against Paul of being a member of the sect of the Nazarenes, Nazoraioi, "men of Nazareth" in Acts. Against this some medieval Jewish polemical texts connect notzrim with the netsarim "watchmen" of Ephraim in Jeremiah 31:6. In Syriac Aramaic Nasrath (ܢܨܪܬ) is used for Nazareth, while "Nazarenes" (Acts 24:5) and "of Nazareth" are both Nasrani or Nasraya (ܕܢܨܪܝܐ) an adjectival form. Saint Thomas Christians, an ancient community of Jewish Christians in India who trace their origins to evangelistic activity of Thomas the Apostle in the 1st century, are known by the name Nasranis even today.

History Ancient times

Archaeological research has revealed that a funerary and cult center at Kfar HaHoresh, about two miles (3.2 km) from current Nazareth, dates back roughly 9000 years to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B era. The remains of some 65 individuals were found, buried under huge horizontal headstone structures, some of which consisted of up to 3 tons of locally produced white plaster. Decorated human skulls uncovered there have led archaeologists to identify Kfar HaHoresh as a major cult centre in that era.

In 1620 the Catholic Church purchased an area in the Nazareth basin measuring approximately 100 m × 150 m (328.08 ft × 492.13 ft) on the side of the hill known as the Nebi Sa''in. The Franciscan priest Bellarmino Bagatti, "Director of Christian Archaeology", carried out extensive excavation of this "Venerated Area" from 1955 to 1965. Fr. Bagatti uncovered pottery dating from the Middle Bronze Age (2200 to 1500 BC) and ceramics, silos and grinding mills from the Iron Age (1500 to 586 BC) which indicated substantial settlement in the Nazareth basin at that time. However, lack of archaeological evidence for Nazareth from Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Hellenistic or Early Roman times, at least in the major excavations between 1955 and 1990, shows that the settlement apparently came to an abrupt end about 720 BC, when the Assyrians destroyed many towns in the area.

Early Christian eraHistoric photo of Mary''s Well

According to the religious text Gospel of Luke, Nazareth was the home village of Mary and also the site of the Annunciation (when the Angel Gabriel informed Mary that she would give birth to Jesus). According to the Gospel of Matthew, Joseph and Mary resettled in Nazareth after returning from the flight from Bethlehem to Egypt. The differences and possible contradictions between these two accounts of the nativity of Jesus form part of the Synoptic Problem. According to the Bible, Jesus grew up in Nazareth from some point in his childhood. However, some modern scholars also regard Nazareth as the birthplace of Jesus.

The Basilica of the Annunciation

James F. Strange, an American archaeologist, notes: "Nazareth is not mentioned in ancient Jewish sources earlier than the third century AD. This likely reflects its lack of prominence both in Galilee and in Judaea." Strange originally calculated the population of Nazareth at the time of Christ as "roughly 1,600 to 2,000 people" but, in a subsequent publication, revised this figure down to "a maximum of about 480." In 2009 Israeli archaeologist Yardenna Alexandre excavated archaeological remains in Nazareth that might date to the time of Jesus in the early Roman period. Alexandre told reporters, "The discovery is of the utmost importance since it reveals for the very first time a house from the Jewish village of Nazareth."

The Gospel of Luke says " to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw him down headlong".. From the ninth century CE and probably earlier, tradition associated Christ''s evasion of the attempt on his life to the ''Hill of the Leap'' (Jabal al-Qafza) overlooking the Jezreel Plain, some 3 km (2 mi) south of Nazareth.

Crusader-era carving in Nazareth

A tablet at the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, dating to 50 AD, was sent from Nazareth to Paris in 1878. It contains an inscription known as the "Ordinance of Caesar" that outlines the penalty of death for those who violate tombs or graves. However, it is suspected that this inscription came to Nazareth from somewhere else (possibly Sepphoris). Bagatti writes: “we are not certain that it was found in Nazareth, even though it came from Nazareth to Paris. At Nazareth there lived various vendors of antiquities who got ancient material from several places.” C. Kopp is more definite: "It must be accepted with certainty that … was brought to the Nazareth market by outside merchants." Princeton University archaeologist Jack Finnegan describes additional archaeological evidence related to settlement in the Nazareth basin during the Bronze and Iron Ages, and states that "Nazareth was a strongly Jewish settlement in the Roman period."

Nazareth, 1842

Epiphanius in his Panarion (c. 375 AD) numbers Nazareth among the cities devoid of a non-Jewish population. Epiphanius, writing of Joseph of Tiberias, a wealthy Roman Jew who converted to Christianity in the time of Constantine, says he claimed to have received an imperial rescript to build Christian churches in Jewish towns and villages where no gentiles or Samaritans dwell, naming Tiberias, Diocaesarea, Sepphoris, Nazareth and Capernaum. From this scarce notice, it has been concluded that a small church which encompassed a cave complex might have been located in Nazareth in the early 4th century," although the town was Jewish until the 7th century AD.

Although mentioned in the New Testament gospels, there are no extant non-biblical references to Nazareth until around 200 AD, when Sextus Julius Africanus, cited by Eusebius (Church History 1.7.14), speaks of “Nazara” as a village in "Judea" and locates it near an as-yet unidentified “Cochaba.” In the same passage Africanus writes of desposunoi - relatives of Jesus - who he claims kept the records of their descent with great care. A few authors have argued that the absence of 1st and 2nd century AD textual references to Nazareth suggest the town may not have been inhabited in Jesus'' day. Proponents of this hypothesis have buttressed their case with linguistic, literary and archaeological interpretations, though one writer called that view "archaeologically unsupportable".

Middle Roman to Byzantine periods

A Hebrew inscription found in Caesarea dating to the late 3rd or early 4th century mentions Nazareth as the home of the priestly Hapizzez family after the Bar Kokhba revolt (132-135 AD). From the three fragments that have been found, the inscription seems to be a list of the twenty-four priestly courses (cf. 1 Chronicles 24:7-19; Nehemiah 11;12), with each course (or family) assigned its proper order and the name of each town or village in Galilee where it settled. Nazareth is not spelled with the "z" sound but with the Hebrew tsade (thus "Nasareth" or "Natsareth"). Eleazar Kalir (a Hebrew Galilean poet variously dated from the 6th to 10th century) mentions a locality clearly in the Nazareth region bearing the name Nazareth נצרת (in this case vocalized "Nitzrat"), which was home to the descendants of the 18th Kohen family Happitzetz (הפצץ), for at least several centuries after the Bar Kochva revolt.

In the 6th century, religious narrations from local Christians about the Virgin Mary began to spark interest in the site among pilgrims, who founded the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation at the site of a freshwater spring, today known as Mary''s Well. Around 570, the Anonymous of Piacenza reports travelling from Sepphoris to Nazareth. There he records seeing at the Jewish synagogue the books where Jesus learnt his letters, and a bench where he sat. According to him, Christians could lift it, but Jews could not, since it disallowed them from dragging it outside. Writing of the beauty of the Hebrew women there, he records them saying St. Mary was a relative of theirs, and notes that, "The house of St. Mary is a basilica."

The Catholic writer Jerome, writing in the 5th century, says Nazareth was a viculus or mere village. The Jewish town profited from the Christian pilgrim trade which began in the 4th century, but latent anti-Christian hostility broke out in 614 AD when the Persians invaded Palestine. The Christian Byzantine author Eutychius claimed that Jewish people of Nazareth helped the Persians carry out their slaughter of the Christians. When the Byzantine or Eastern Roman emperor Heraclius ejected the Persians in 630 AD, he expelled the city''s Jews.

Islamic eraMakam al-Nabi Sain Mosque of Nazareth

In 1099, the Crusader Tancred captured Galilee and established his capital in Nazareth. The ancient diocese of Scythopolis was also relocated under the Archbishop of Nazareth, one of the four archdioceses in the Kingdom of Jerusalem. The town returned to Muslim control in 1187 following the victory of Saladin in the Battle of Hattin. The remaining Crusaders and European clergy were forced to leave town. Frederick II managed to negotiate safe passage for pilgrims from Acre in 1229, and in 1251, Louis IX, the king of France, attended mass in the grotto, accompanied by his wife.

In 1263, Baybars, the Mamluk Sultan, destroyed the Christian buildings in Nazareth and declared the site off-limits to Latin clergy, as part of his bid to drive out the remaining Crusaders from Palestine. While Arab Christian families continued to live in Nazareth, its status was reduced to that of a poor village. Pilgrims who visited the site in 1294 reported only a small church protecting the grotto.

In the 14th century, Franciscan monks were permitted to return and live within the ruins of the Basilica, but they were evicted again in 1584. In 1620, Fakhr-al-Din II, a Druze emir who controlled this part of Ottoman Syria rule, permitted them to build a small church at the Grotto of the Annunciation. Pilgrimage tours to surrounding sacred sites were organized by the Franciscans, but the monks suffered harassment from surrounding Bedouin tribes who often kidnapped them for ransom. Stability returned with the rule of Daher el-Omar, a powerful Bedouin sheikh who ruled over much of the Galilee and who authorized the Franciscans to build a church in 1730. That structure stood until 1955, when it was demolished to make way for a larger building completed in 1967.

Nazareth, postcard by Fadil Saba

Nazareth was captured by the troops of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1799, during his Syrian campaign. Napoleon visited the holy sites and considered appointing his general Junot as the duke of Nazareth. During the rule of Ibrahim Pasha (1830–1840), the Egyptian general, over much of Ottoman Syria, Nazareth was open to European missionaries and traders. After the Ottomans regained control, European money continued to flow into Nazareth and new institutions were established. The Christians of Nazareth were protected during the pogroms of the 1860s by Aghil Agha, the Bedouin leader who exercised control over the Galilee between 1845 and 1870.

Kaloost Vartan, an Armenian from Istanbul, arrived in 1864 and established the first medical missionary in Nazareth, the Scottish "hospital on the hill", or the Nazareth Hospital as it is known today, with sponsorship from the Edinburgh Medical Missionary Society. The Ottoman Sultan, who favored the French, allowed them to establish an orphanage, the Society of Saint Francis de Sale. By the late 19th century, Nazareth was a town with a strong Arab Christian presence and a growing European community, where a number of communal projects were undertaken and new religious buildings were erected. In 1871 Christ Church, the city''s only Anglican church, was completed under the leadership of the Rev John Zeller and consecrated by Bp Samuel Gobat.

Russian pilgrims approaching Nazareth. circa 1904British MandateFountain of the Virgin, 1891

In 1918, Nazareth had a population of 8,000, two-thirds Christian. Over the next thirty years, the population rose to 18,000. Nazareth was slow to modernize. While other towns already had wired electricity, Nazareth delayed its electrification till the 1930s and invested instead in improving its water supply system

State of IsraelAmin Gargurah (left), Mayor of Nazareth, with Israeli prime minister Moshe Sharett, 1955

Nazareth was in the territory allotted to the Arab state under the 1947 UN Partition Plan. The town was not a field of battle during 1948 Arab-Israeli War before the first truce on 11 June, although some of the villagers had joined the loosely organized peasant military and paramilitary forces, and troops from the Arab Liberation Army had entered Nazareth. During the ten days of fighting which occurred between the first and second truce, Nazareth capitulated to Israeli troops during Operation Dekel on 16 July, after little more than token resistance. The surrender was formalized in a written agreement, where the town leaders agreed to cease hostilities in return for promises from the Israeli officers, including brigade commander Ben Dunkelman (the leader of the operation), that no harm would come to the civilians of the town.

Soon after the signing of the agreement, Dunkelman received an order from the Israeli General Chaim Laskov to forcibly evacuate the city’s Arabs. He angrily refused, remarking that he was ‘shocked and horrified’ that he would be commanded to renege on the agreement he had just signed."

According to the account by Max Blumenthal in "Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel" "Laskov went back to his superiors, demanding that they override Dunkelman, Ben-Gurion ... had just ordered the ethnic cleansing of Ramle and Lydda with the wave of his hand, thus avoiding leaving a written record of the high-level decision. When asked to provide a formally recorded order to evacuate Nazareth, he was forced to refuse. Thus, the city’s population was saved from the terrible fate that more than 700,000 other Palestinian Arabs suffered. After the war, Dunkelman promptly returned to his hometown of Toronto where he spent the rest of his life."

The town remained under Martial Law until 1966.

The Israeli government has designated a Nazareth metropolitan area that includes the local councils of Yafa an-Naseriyye to the south, Reineh, Mashhad and Kafr Kanna to the north, Iksal and Nazareth Illit to the east and Migdal HaEmek to the west.

Preparations for the Pope''s visit to Nazareth in 2000 triggered highly publicized tensions related to the Basilica of the Annunciation. In 1997, permission was granted to construct a paved plaza to handle the thousands of Christian pilgrims expected to arrive. A small group of Muslims protested and occupied the site, where a nephew of Saladin, named Shihab al-Din, is believed to be buried. A school, al-Harbyeh, had been built on the site by the Ottomans, and the Shihab-Eddin shrine, along with several shops owned by the waqf, were located there. Government approval of plans for a large mosque on the property triggered protests from Christian leaders. In 2002, a special government commission permanently halted construction of the mosque.

In March 2006, public protests followed the disruption of a prayer service by an Israeli Jew and his Christian wife and daughter, who detonated firecrackers inside the church. The family said it wanted to draw attention to their problems with the welfare authorities.

In July 2006 a rocket fired by Hezbollah as part of the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict killed two children in Nazareth.

In March 2010, the Israeli government approved a $3 million plan to develop Nazareth''s tourism industry. New businesses receive start-up grants of up to 30 percent of their initial investment from the Ministry of Tourism.

GeographyNazareth saraya

Two locations for Nazareth are cited in ancient texts: the Galilean (northern) location in the Christian gospels and a southern (Judean) location mentioned in several early noncanonical texts.

Modern-day Nazareth is nestled in a natural bowl which reaches from 1,050 feet (320 m) above sea level to the crest of the hills about 1,600 feet (490 m). Nazareth is about 25 kilometres (16 mi) from the Sea of Galilee (17 km (11 mi) as the crow flies) and about 9 kilometres (5.6 mi) west from Mount Tabor. The major cities of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are situated approximately 91 mi (146 km) and 67 mi (108 km) respectively, away from Nazareth. The Nazareth Range, in which the town lies, is the southernmost of several parallel east-west hill ranges that characterize the elevated tableau of Lower Galilee.

Nazareth CityscapeView Of the City of NazarethDemographyOld postcard of Nazareth women based on photo by Félix Bonfils

Nazareth is the largest Arab city in Israel. Until the beginning of the British Mandate in Palestine (1922–1948), the population was predominantly Arab Christian (majority Orthodox Christians), with an Arab Muslim minority. Nazareth today still has a significant Christian population, made up of Maronites, Orthodox Christians, Roman Catholic, Melkite Catholics, Anglicans, Baptists, Evangelicals and Copts, among others. The Muslim population has grown, for a number of historical factors, that include the city having served as administrative center under British rule, and the influx of internally displaced Palestinians absorbed into the city from neighbouring towns during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.

In 2009, the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics reported that Nazareth''s Arab population was 69% Muslim and 30.9% Christian. The current mayor is a Christian. The greater Nazareth metropolis area had a population of 210,000, including 125,000 (59%) Israeli Arabs and 85,000 Jews (41%). It is the only urban area with over 50,000 residents in Israel where the majority of the population is Arab.

Economy

In 2011, Nazareth had over 20 Arab high-tech companies, mostly in the field of software development. According to Haaretz newspaper the city has been called the "Silicon Valley of the Arab community" in view of its potential in this sphere.

Israel Military Industries employs "some 300" people in Nazareth manufacturing munitions.

Religious shrinesChurch in Nazareth on the supposed site of Joseph''s workshop, 1891Greek Orthodox Church of the AnnunciationChristian

Nazareth is home to dozens of monasteries and churches, many of them in the Old City.

Christmas Eve In Nazareth Arab citizens of Israel Politics Religion Culture Major population centers Personalities
Balad (al-Tajamu) Hadash (al-Jabha) United Arab List (Hezb al-Democraty al-Arabi) Abnaa el-Balad Internally Displaced Palestinians Land Day October 2000 events
Basilica of the Annunciation Dome of the Rock Al-Aqsa Mosque Mary''s Well St. George''s Orthodox Church Church of the Holy Sepulchre Nabi Shu''ayb
Music · Dance · Cuisine Palestinian Arabic Negev Bedouins
Nazareth · Umm al-Fahm · Rahat Tayibe · Shefa-''Amr · Baqa-Jatt Shaghur · Tamra · Sakhnin Carmel City · Tira · Arraba
Hiam Abbass · Hany Abu-Assad Mohammed Bakri · Azmi Bishara Emile Habibi · Samih al-Qasim Abbas Suan · Elia Suleiman Amin Tarif Hisham Zreiq  · Ali Suliman See also Template:Palestinians
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Muslim

Muslim holy sites in Nazareth include the White Mosque (al-Abiad), the Peace Mosque (al-Salam), the Shrine of al-Sheikh Amer, the Shrine of Nabi Sa’in, and the Shrine of Shihab e-Din. The oldest is the White Mosque, located in Harat Alghama ("Mosque Quarter") in the center of Nazareth''s Old Market.

Archaeology

According to the Israel Antiquities Authority, "The artifacts recovered from inside the building were few and mostly included fragments of pottery vessels from the Early Roman period (the first and second centuries AD)... Another hewn pit, whose entrance was apparently camouflaged, was excavated and a few pottery sherds from the Early Roman period were found inside it." Alexandre adds that "based on other excavations that I conducted in other villages in the region, this pit was probably hewn as part of the preparations by the Jews to protect themselves during the Great Revolt against the Romans in 67 AD". Noteworthy is that all the post-Iron Age tombs in the Nazareth basin (approximately two dozen) are of the kokh (plural kokhim) or later types; this type probably first appeared in Galilee in the middle of the 1st century AD. Kokh tombs in the Nazareth area have been excavated by B. Bagatti, N. Feig, Z. Yavor, and noted by Z. Gal.

Excavations conducted prior to 1931 in the Franciscan venerated area revealed no trace of a Greek or Roman settlement there, Fr. Bagatti, who acted as the principal archaeologist for the venerated sites in Nazareth, unearthed quantities of later Roman and Byzantine artifacts, attesting to unambiguous human presence there from the 2nd century AD onward. John Dominic Crossan, a noted New Testament scholar, remarked that Bagatti''s archaeological drawings indicate just how small the village actually was, suggesting that it was little more than an insignificant hamlet.

In the mid-1990s, a shopkeeper discovered tunnels under his shop near Mary''s Well in Nazareth. The tunnels were identified as the hypocaust of a bathhouse. Excavations in 1997-98 revealed remains dating from the Roman, Crusader, Mamluk and Ottoman periods.

Sports

The city''s main football club, Ahi Nazareth, currently plays in Liga Leumit, the second tier of Israeli football. The club spent a single season in the top division in 2003-04. They are based at the Ilut Stadium in nearby Ilut. Other local clubs are Al-Nahda Nazareth, currently plays in Liga Bet, Beitar al-Amal Nazareth, Hapoel Bnei Nazareth and Hapoel Elitihad Nazareth all play in Liga Gimel.

Hospitals

The city has three hospitals serving its districts:

Twin towns — sister cities

Nazareth is twinned with:

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