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The (unacknowledged) tombs under the Church of the Annunciation
(By René Salm, author of The Myth of Nazareth: The Invented Town of Jesus)
Above is a map of the venerated area of Nazareth with modern buildings and streets indicated. The Church of the Annunciation (CA, in the lower part of the map) is a major destination of pilgrims coming from throughout the world, and is the largest Christian structure in the Middle East. Under the church is the traditional maiden home of the Blessed Virgin Mary (“M”), where she received the annunciation from the Archangel Gabriel:
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. [Lk 1:26-28 KJV]
Not mentioned in any guidebook, however, are three Roman-era tombs less than ten meters from that holy site, now called the “Chapel of the Angel.” These tombs are marked by a “K” which stands for “kokhim,” a well-known type of tomb prevalent during Roman times in Palestine. Two other tombs also may have existed under the present church (in parentheses on the map), but the evidence for them was destroyed during construction of the edifice. Nevertheless, early twentieth-century witnesses mention them in obscure scholarly reports.
In Judaism, corpses are a source of ritual impurity. The Pentateuch mandates that “everyone who is unclean through contact with a corpse” must be put outside the camp for seven days (Num 5:3). The Talmud mandates that tombs be a minimum distance (“fifty ells,” or about twenty-five meters) from the nearest habitation. Of course, the implications of this are explosive where the Christian claims at Nazareth are concerned. Mary’s family was certainly Jewish, and the tombs under the Church of the Annunciation are tombs under her very house!
Fully realizing the potentially fatal implications for traditional doctrine represented by the presence of these tombs, the principle modern archeologist at Nazareth, Father Bellarmino Bagatti, strove to ignore their existence—even though they were described, mapped, and drawn by his predecessors who were also priests. Only one of the tombs next to the Chapel of the Angel is mentioned in his standard two-volume work, Excavations in Nazareth. Bagatti lamely suggested that the tomb (with several graves) dated to Crusader times. It is a desperate explanation, however, for there is no record of such a macabre Christian custom of burying Crusader dead at the house of the Blessed Virgin Mary!
A Roman-era wine press has also been located ten meters north of the Chapel of the Angel. In sum, the archeological evidence clearly shows that this was a cemetery and agricultural area in later Roman times—not the location of dwellings.
- SCANDAL 2 -
In one passage Bagatti writes that a piece of pottery comes from the Iron Age,
and on another page that the same piece is a thousand years later!
The dishonest shell-game with the Nazareth evidence
Updated June 30, 2014