Monday, August 22, 2016

Quarry for stone jars discovered near Cana in Galilee

“There were six stone water jars set there for the Jewish custom of purification.” (John 2:6)

Archaeological excavations conducted in Galilee, under the direction of Dr. Yonatan Adler of Ariel University, have unearthed a 2,000 year-old cave which functioned as a quarry and industrial workshop for the production of stone vessels.

The large subterranean cavern, hewn into a chalkstone hillside, was discovered at a site named ‘Einot Amitai near Nazareth in northern Israel. The cave yielded numerous remains of stone vessels in various stages of production, attesting to a thriving industry.

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 used tableware and storage vessels made of soft, local chalkstone. The reason for this curious choice of material seems to have been religious; according to ancient Jewish law, vessels made of stone can never become ritually impure, and as a result ancient Jews began to produce their everyday tableware from stone.

While fragments of stone vessels have been found in the past at numerous Early Roman period sites throughout Israel, and two workshops are known from the Jerusalem area, this is the first time that full-scale excavations are conducted at a stone vessel production site in Galilee.

The account in John that mentions "stone jars" is the wedding Jesus attended in Cana. (John 2:1-6) Aside from the small alabaster jar (Mark 14:3) of expensive perfume that Mary broke open - which was likely carved in Alabastron, Egypt - the miracle at the wedding in Cana is the only mention of stone jars in the Bible. The account specifically mentions that the stone jars of water were there because of "the purification rules of the Jews," meaning that, according to the burdensome rules of the pharisees and other leaders in Judea, an ordinary pottery jar touched by a person who was 'unclean' had to be thrown away, but a stone jar could be washed and reused.

The cave where they found the evidence of stone-jar-making is just south of a place that is today called Kanna... the Cana of Bible times.

Isn't it interesting how even small details in Bible accounts are being proven correct?


 Bill K. Underwood is the author of several novels and one non-fiction self-help book, all available at You can help support this site by purchasing a book.

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