Courtesy John C. H. Laughlin

An elaborate cross decorates a sherd from Capernaum. This and others like it, together with a glass gem bearing a Chi-Rho monogram, testify to the presence of Christian pilgrims at the town in the first centuries of this era. A study of coins from Capernaum and other sites in Galilee indicates that an overwhelming majority of those that can be identified date to the third and fourth centuries. Those years can be called Capernaum’s boom times. Three earthquakes—in the fourth, seventh and eleventh centuries—later devastated Capernaum. Though the city recovered from the first two, the third put a permanent end to city life in this picturesque Galilee site.