How Jewish Was Sepphoris in Jesus’ Time?

Sepphoris is a bare 4 miles from Jesus’ hometown, Nazareth. So it is not surprising that the ancient city has become central to the study of the historical Jesus, especially because it has been very extensively excavated, while Nazareth has yielded far fewer archaeological remains. Everyone agrees that to understand Galilee in Jesus’ […]

Bringing Water to Sepphoris

I first learned of Sepphoris’s ancient water system in 1975 from a local resident named Buki. He told me about a huge underground cavern three stories high and stretching more than two football fields long. It sounded to me a little like a flight of fancy. “When I see it, I’ll believe it,” I […]


Was Sepphoris a Jewish city in the first century C.E.? Mark Chancey and Eric Meyers put forth their view earlier in this issue (“How Jewish Was Sepphoris in Jesus’ Time?”). One of their key pieces of evidence is the presence in the city of a number of stepped pools, which they claim are mikva’ot, […]

They’re Not Ritual Baths

One sure sign that religiously observant Jews inhabited a site from the turn of the era is the presence of ritual immersion pools (mikva’ot; singular, mikveh).

Yes, They Are

Hanan Eshel attempts to discredit the identification of mikva’ot at Sepphoris,1 but he also suggests that first-century C.E. Sepphoris, in the time of Jesus, was both a pagan and a Jewish city. This has been the subject of much discussion and debate among the excavators as the article “How Jewish Was Sepphoris in Jesus’ […]

We Need More Data

We have no idea what percentage of Sepphoris’s population was Jewish during the first century C.E. As a religious Jew, I would be very happy to find that the city’s ancient Jewish inhabitants kept the kosher laws (dietary regulations) and the purity laws, including immersion in a mikveh. But because of the lack of convincing data, I am skeptical of the second point.

How Reliable Is Exodus?

Recent attacks on the historicity of the Exodus raise the question of whether or not a text prepared long after the event is likely to be historically accurate. For it is undoubtedly true that the text of Exodus was prepared centuries after the events it describes. The Exodus would have occurred, in archaeological terms, […]

First Person: The Poverty of Biblical Archaeology in America
Newly reopened gallery only highlights problem By Hershel Shanks
Attica, Greece