Roman Ruins of Capernaum, circa first century C.E. Photograph by David Shankbone.
Excavations at Capernaum—on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee—have uncovered extensive remains of buildings, houses, courtyards and streets. The ruins were discovered in 1838 by the American explorer Edward Robinson. The walls of the residential structures were made of basalt blocks with mud and stone for reinforcement. Mortar was not used. The houses, typically having only one level, were built around a central courtyard with a circular oven. The houses’ roofs were constructed of wood and thatched to keep out the elements. Archaeologists believe the housing was designed to cluster several families who would communally share one courtyard.