Excavation site at what is believed to be the lost Roman city of Julias, home of three apostles of Jesus.

Archaeologists Zero in on Lost City and Perhaps the House of Three Apostles of Jesus


Archaeologists have announced the unearthing of strong evidence of the location of the lost Roman city of Julias; home of three apostles of Jesus: Peter, Andrew and Philip. The lost city believed to be Julias, was located on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee.

Archaeologists Discovered the City of Julia of Jesus' Apostles

The ancient Roman city of Julias could have been unearthed on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee on a modern-day nature reserve, as Haaretz reported. Within a multi-layered excavation site of el-Araj in the Bethsaida Valley Nature Reserve was discovered an advanced Roman-style bathhouse, which indicates a city was there, instead of a fishing village as had been previously suggested, as archaeologist Mordechai Aviam of Kinneret College told Haaretz.

Two other possible candidates for the ancient Roman city Julias include nearby sites by the lake, Haaretz reports. However, the bathhouse and other Roman-era remains below the Byzantine ruins at el-Araj, make experts believe that this is the right place for the lost city where Jesus' apostles lived.

The archaeological dig at Bethsaida Valley Nature Reserve is revealing a city that is believed to be Julias, home of three of Jesus apostles (Image: Zachary Wong)

The archaeological dig at Bethsaida Valley Nature Reserve is revealing a city that is believed to be Julias, home of three of Jesus apostles (Image: Zachary Wong)

Missing Church May have been Found too

As the archaeologists participating in the excavations stated, the newly found Roman layer contained pottery sherds from the 1st to the 3rd centuries BC, a mosaic, and the remains of the bathhouse already mentioned. Also, two coins were discovered, a bronze coin from the late 2nd century and a silver denarius depicting the Emperor Nero from the year 65-66 AD.

A Roman bathhouse with mosaic fragments. (Image: Zachary Wong)

A Roman bathhouse with mosaic fragments. (Image: Zachary Wong)

Interestingly, the excavators found walls with gilded glass tesserae for a mosaic, a clear sign of a wealthy and significant church at the time. As Haaretz reports, Willibald, the bishop of Eichstätt in Bavaria, visited the Holy Land in 725 AD, and in his itinerary, he describes his visit to a church at Bethsaida that was constructed over the house of Peter and Andrew. This makes archaeologists believe that during the ongoing excavations they may have unearthed enough evidence verifying the existence of that church.

Key Argument in Favor of el-Araj Being Julias Lies in a Mistake

A key argument in favor of el-Araj being Julias lies in a mistake about the level of the Sea of Galilee, as the archaeologists told Haaretz. According to the calculations by the excavators of nearby Magdala, the majority of archaeologists conclude that the level of the lake was 209 meters below sea level during the Roman period. That makes them believe that the site of el-Araj was under water until the Byzantine period.

However, the newly found Roman layer is 211 meters below sea level meaning that for it to have been inhabited, the level of the lake was evidently lower than previously thought, “El-Araj most certainly was not under water in the Roman period," the archaeolgists say as Haaretz reported.  Geologists Dr. Noam Greenbaum from Haifa University and Dr. Nati Bergman from the Yigal Alon Kinneret Limnological Laboratory, now suggest after examining closely the layers (of the site), that the site was covered with mud and clay that were transferred by the Jordan River in the late Roman period, which correlates with a gap in material remains from about 250 to 350 AD. They have also concluded that during the Byzantine period, the site was resettled but advise to stay tuned for further discoveries as excavations continue, which will most likely shed light and answer many current unanswered questions.

Top image: Excavation site at what is believed to be the lost Roman city of Julias, home of three apostles of Jesus. (Image: Zachary Wong)

By Theodoros Karasavvas

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