Capernaum and Peter's House
The Gospel of Mark says that Jesus and his disciples “went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach” (Mark 1:21). Archaeologists found small houses, built in the first century, beneath a sixth-century Byzantine basilica. The roofs were made from clay, branches, and straw. Remember the story told in Mark 2 of the paralyzed man's friends lowering him through the ceiling? It wouldn't have been difficult for men who were so determined to get their friend to Jesus to make a hole in the straw and clay roof.
A synagogue visible today is dated to the fourth or fifth century. However, after long years of research, the synagogue of the time of Jesus has been uncovered at a lower level on the same spot. According to Luke 7:4–5, the first-century synagogue was built by a Roman centurion.
The Bible says that Jesus went into “the house of Peter” (Matthew 8:14), also called “the house of Simon and Andrew” (Mark 1:29) and “the house of Simon” (Luke 4:38). The Bible also says that Jesus healed Peter's wife's mother in Peter's home (Matthew 8:14–15).
Graffiti and inscriptions were uncovered in one of the larger houses. The vast majority, 101, were in Greek, but there were also eighteen Syriac and fifteen Hebrew inscriptions. But what astonished the researchers was that so many were prayers thanking God for “our brother Peter” who opened his home to his brothers and sisters in Christ. Some believe this is the house of the apostle Peter.
On the remains of the wall plaster, 131 graffiti inscriptions were recovered, written in Greek, Aramaic, Syriac, and Latin. Among the inscriptions are invocations to the “Lord Jesus Christ.” Peter is also mentioned. Several symbols and patterns, such as flower crosses, pomegranates, figs, trefoils, stylized flowers, and geometric drawings, decorate the walls.
Capernaum's main north-south road was located between the synagogue, which Jesus would have attended, and Peter's house to the east. Ten living quarters were discovered alongside the road. Inside the home, doors didn't separate rooms. The residents lived together as one large family. The women performed their domestic chores inside the courtyard and the children played in the road.
In front of Peter's home, archaeologists reportedly found a large space free of buildings just as Mark 1:33 and 2:2 state. The roof was made of a mixture of mud and straw sustained by wooden bars. Outside of the home is a staircase that would lead to the roof. One could repair the layer of mud every year before the beginning of the rainy season.
While excavating the south wall of the temple mountain in 1968, it is believed that Professor Benjamin Mazar uncovered the broad steps that Jesus would have climbed to enter the temple.