History of the Village

Landscape of the village

Based on literary sources and the results of recent excavations, it is possible to trace the historical events of ancient Capernaum.
Already in the Hasmonean period, in the second century BC, there was an early settlement on the banks of the lake. Capernaum’s favored position along the fish-rich northern shore of the lake, and its proximity to both the spring water sources at Tabgha and the Via Maris trade route, allowed its inhabitants to dedicate themselves to both fishing and agriculture while benefiting from the commercial traffic that wended its way between Galilee and Damascus.

Jesus chose Capernaum to be the center of his public ministry in Galilee. From the Evangelists we know that the houses of a number of the Apostles were in the village, including Peter’s where Jesus took up residence, as well as a synagogue where he went on the Sabbath day.

In the first century AD a Judeo-Christian community gathered together in Capernaum and established Peter’s house as the place for meetings, which came to be a place of domestic worship. The presence of Judeo-Christians is also confirmed in various Jewish sources, which refer to these early Christians as Minim or heretics.
With the peace of Constantine, the faithful were able to erect a larger domus ecclesiae that was also able to accommodate the first pilgrims coming from far away.
During the Byzantine era both the synagogue and the octagonal church were rebuilt in an elegant and monumental style, an indication of the economic and social well-being of the inhabitants, as well as of the interest shown by both the Christian and Jewish communities in the site of Capernaum.
With the coming of the Arab period, the village gradually began to lose its importance, leading up to its permanent abandonment in the 13th century.

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