Ancient stone workshop uncovered near Israeli town where Jesus turned water into wine


( Israeli archaeologists have uncovered a rare 2,000-year-old stone quarry and workshop located near the ancient Galilean town of Cana, which is recorded in the Christian Gospels as the place where Jesus turned water into wine. 

A stone vessel unearthed inside an ancient workshop in Israel’s Galilee, near what is believed to be the biblical town of Cana, which is recorded in the Christian Gospels as the place where Jesus turned water into wine. Credit: Samuel Magal/Israel Antiquities Authority.

According to Dr. Yonatan Adler, senior lecturer at Ariel University and director of the Galilee excavations for the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), the discovery of a Second Temple-era stoneware workshop provides insight into ancient Jewish religious rituals and observance.

“In ancient times, most tableware, cooking pots and storage jars were made of pottery. In the first century of the Common Era, however, Jews throughout Judea and Galilee also used tableware and storage vessels made of soft, local chalkstone,” said Adler.

Adler said the choice of stoneware for materials was likely made due to religious reasons.

The Galilee excavations—occurring just south of the modern Israeli village Kafr Kanna, which scholars have identified as the site of the biblical town of Cana—revealed an artificially hewn cave where ancient workers quarried raw materials for chalkstone vessels. The cave was found with ancient chisel marks on the walls, ceiling and floor, as well as ancient industrial waste from stone mugs and bowls.

Yardenna Alexandre, an archaeologist with the IAA who specializes in the study of the Galilee during the Roman era, explained that the use of stone vessels by Jews at the time is well-documented in Talmudic sources and in the New Testament.

In the “Wedding at Cana” narrative in the Gospel of John, Jesus is said to have turned water into wine, which was held in six jars made of stone.

“It is possible that large stone containers of the type mentioned in the Wedding at Cana story may have been produced locally in Galilee,” Alexandre said.

Posted on August 10, 2017 .