Garo Nalbandian

Black basalt walls remain from houses at Capernaum in which Peter’s contemporaries may have lived. The rough black basalt contrasts strikingly with the synagogue’s finished white limestone.

The synagogue was built on a platform—which runs to the end of the photo at right—in order to conform to the rabbinic injunction (Tosephta. Megillah IV 23) to erect the synagogue at the town’s highest point.

The construction of the basalt houses is identical to that of the house of St. Peter found beneath the octagonal church. Small stones were pounded between the large ones to strengthen the walls, but no mortar was used. The floors were also made of these rough basalt stones, often obtained from nearby wadis.