Archaeologists have discovered an ancient Roman city which may have once been the fishing village of Bethsaida, known from the Gospels as the home to the apostles Peter, Andrew and Philip.
Bethsaida is also the village mentioned in the Gospels where Jesus cures a blind man. The excavation site is located on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, where archaeologists have been digging since 2016.
According to a report on Haaretz.com, the discovery of a Roman-style bathhouse was the key to finding the Roman city.
The only historical account mentioning a city in the area was from the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, who recorded that King Philip Herod had rebuilt and renamed the fishing village of Bethsaida into the Roman polis of Julias.
“Josephus reported that the king had upgraded Bethsaida from a village into a polis, a proper city,” Dr. Mordechai Aviam of Kinneret College told Haaretz.
“He didn’t say it had been built on or beside or underneath it. And indeed, all this time, we have not known where it was. But the bathhouse attests to the existence of urban culture,” said Aviam.
In addition to the Roman-era bathhouse, archaeologists found walls with gilded glass tesserae for a mosaic, which Haaertz reports indicated that a “wealthy and important” church once stood at the site.
According to the report, Willibald, a Bavarian bishop, visited the Holy Land in 725 and described his visit to a church at Bethsaida that was built over the house of Peter and Andrew. Archaeologists believe the mosaic may be from that church.