|Cana||32 44 48.53N|
35 20 18.67E
|The modern town extends to the east from the old village and its churches.|
Visitors to Kfar Kana, known in the Bible as "Cana of Galilee", head for the two churches that mark the "very spot" where Jesus turned water into wine and admire their bogus stone jars which at one time were claimed to be the "very jars" in which the miracle had been performed. Now, however, the more adventurous may have other things at which to point their cameras.
Israeli archaeologist Yardenna Alexandre was sent there to conduct a salvage excavation and to his surprise discovered that the modern town covers an ancient city that dates back to the Biblical kingdom of Israel in the 10th-9th centuries BC. The wall that surrounded the city still stands 4 feet high and the excavators also uncovered the remains of numerous buildings.
The city came to its end in the 9th century BC, probably as the result of enemy action - the Assyrians were active at the time - rather than a natural disaster or accidental fire. In the ruins of the houses Yardenna found numerous pottery vessels, large quantities of animal bones - indicating that the people ate a reasonable diet, a scarab depicting a man between two crocodiles, and a ceramic seal on which was the image of a lion.
Kana appears to have been abandoned until the Roman period, when the population increased and new settlements were opened up, in this case in the ruins of the ancient city. Objects discovered in previous excavations in Kana enable us to identify the new settlers as Galilean Jews rather than Gentiles, a conclusion supported by the New Testament story of how Jesus attended a wedding in the town, accompanied by His disciples and His mother. It may have been the additional guests that caused the wine to run out and provoked Jesus' mother to call on Him to remedy the situation, which He did by turning water into wine!
Yardenna found that the new Kana was built, at least in part, out of the ruins of the old city and in some cases the new houses used the actual walls of their predecessors. All the new inhabitants had to do was lay down a new floor and add a roof. However as the first century AD proceeded the people began to dig large, igloo-shaped pits under their houses, in many cases digging right down to bedrock. The sides of the pits were shored up with stones from the old city that they discovered as they dug.
In one of these pits the excavators discovered eleven large storage jars characteristic of the second half of the first century AD, indicating that one purpose of the pits was storage. However many of the pits were connected by tunnels and formed a sort of underground dwelling that could be accessed through a concealed entrance inside the house. Yardenna said that "the pits are connected to each other by short tunnels and it seems that they were used as hiding refuges - a kind of concealed subterranean home - that were built prior to the Great Revolt against the Romans in the year AD 66."
If so, it presents us with the intriguing possibility that the inhabitants of Kana foresaw the coming storm and took steps to construct hiding places and refuges for when the Romans arrived. Was this because of unusual far-sightedness, or was it that the people of Kana were taking an active part in planning for the revolt? If the latter, then we have to conclude that the great Jewish Revolt that culminated in the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in AD 70 was not a spontaneous uprising but a carefully planned war of independence.