Nazareth Village

Part of the Nazareth Trust
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Geologic folds in the bedrock facilitated quarrying, creating levelled areas ideal for growing grapes and other crops. By the 1st Century AD, villagers of Nazareth were building terraces upon this site and farming the rich land.

The field terraces were built of angular rubble set in battered, inwardly-sloped walls, laid as dry wall construction or bedded in earth mortar. This mortared wall retains a plot irrigated by an ancient spring (a wet farm). Small rubble waste from the quarry were loosely packed behind the wall face to ensure efficient drainage and even distribution of water runoff from terrace to terrace. The builder/farmers spread layers of chalk to enhance fertility of the soil. In the Middle East, terrace farming became widespread in the Iron Age, over 3000 years ago.





Stages of terrace reconstruction

  1. Excavated terraces are profiled back to their original configuration, clearing the bedrock foundation of loose dirt and stones which will be incorporated into the next terrace below. Fieldstone for rebuilding the terrace is stocked nearby.
  2. The terrace walls are then laid directly on the bedrock without mortar, retaining a core of loose cobblestones to direct water drainage through the wall base and onto the next terrace.
  3. Walls are constructed to slope inwards, with tight-fitting capstones securing the top course of the wall. Small stones (chinks) wedged between larger stones enhance the stability of the wall.
  4. Highest priority was given to preserving and restoring original terraces. Collapsed sections of walls were documented and then rebuilt following the original techniques of construction.
  5. Restoring these terraces offered a great opportunity to employ and train Nazarenes in historical preservation and ancient building technology, skills which became especially useful when we began building the village.