Peter's House is one of the most exciting ever Biblical archaeology discoveries, today it is located under a modern octagonal church build above the remains of an ancient octagonal church from the Byzantine period. It is located inside the village of Capernaum, under the Franciscan administration.
And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand. And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him. And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth.And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace. And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.
(Mark 3:1–5 KJV)
Ancient travelers to Capernaum had long recognized the beautifully and preserved remains of the ancient synagogue, the white synagogue was build at Four Century AD abode and ruins of the ancient Synagogue of Jesus’ earliest teaching.
The village then expanded in the Hellenistic period (4th-3rd C BC), gradually replacing the focus from Tell Kinneret - as most of the Tells in Israel at that time. It was designed according to that period's urban design of straight lines, which was built in parallel to the main Roman imperial highway, that crossed the village on the northern side. Capernaum grew larger at the time of Jesus (early Roman period, 1st C AD), and a synagogue was built in the center of the village. It reached its peak in the Byzantine period when the grand white-stone Synagogue was built (end of the 4th C AD) over the earlier synagogue. An octagon church was built in the 5th C AD at the location of St Peter's house, and serviced the Christian citizens. At that time the village covered about 60 Dunams (6 Hectares), with a population of about 1,500. Note that the excavated area that is seen today is only 1/3 of the entire size of the village.
The village of Capernaum was prospered during the Byzantine period, and its citizens were mainly fishermen (as most of Jesus apostles), farmers, and professional that provided services to the Roman empire, roads and trade caravans, including tax collectors as was Matthew, the author of first Gospel in the New Testament.
Capernaum was partially destroyed in the Persian conquest. The destruction includes the Synagogue and the House of Peter Chapel in the VII Century AD, but the village continued to function for some time.
Capernaum in other references
By: Kaufmann Kohler, Frants Buhl
Small town by the Lake of Gennesaret, mentioned in the Gospels as the home of Jesus, where he resided after his rejection by his Nazareth townsmen (Matt. iv. 13, viii. 5-17, ix. 1, xi. 23, xvii. 24; Mark i. 21; Luke vii. 1 et seq.; John vi. 17; Eccl. R. to i. 6 and to vii. 26, as the dwelling-place of the Minim or Christian exorcists of the second century. See also Derenbourg, "Essai sur l'Histoire et la Géographie de la Palestine," p. 362). According to these passages it lay close by the lake, and contained a synagogue built by a centurion living there. The "receipt of custom" nearby (Matt. ix. 9) probably had made it necessary to station Roman soldiers in the town. The exact site of the town can not be definitely fixed. Josephus speaks of a spring "Kafarnaum," which watered the fertile plain of Gennesaret (now plain of Ghuwair) on the northwestern side of the lake. Hence the spring must be looked for in 'Ain al-Tabighah, on the northern slopes of the plain, since water was in olden times carried down to the plain through a conduit now in ruins. Accordingly the ruins of El-Minyah, in the extreme northern part of the Gennesaret plain, have been taken by some as the site of Capernaum. This assumption is further supported by the statement of the pilgrim Arculfus (middle of the seventh century; Tobler and Molinier, "Itinerarium Hierosolymitanum," p. 183) that Capernaum lay at the base of the southern slope of a mountain. This is not decisive, however, since Arculfus did not visit the town itself, but saw it from a distance, and his further remarks can not be applied to the site of the ruins of Minyah.
But Capernaum might also be identified with the ruins close by the Tabighah spring, discovered by Schumacher. However, Theodosius of the sixth century says that Capernaum was two Roman miles from the Heptapegon (or Tabighah) spring. Jerome also says that Capernaum was two miles distant from Chorazin (probably the Kerazah of to-day). These figures apply to the well-known ruins of Tell Hum, found near the lake and rapidly disappearing. Among the blocks of black basalt are found the remains of a marble synagogue, which show that a city once stood on this spot; and as the second part ("hum") of this name is also found in "Kefar Naḥum," many scholars identify these ruins with Capernaum. If the name "Tell Hum" was originally "Tenhum," this identification is made more probable on linguistic grounds, especially since "Kefar Tanḥum" and "Kefar Teḥumin" are frequently given as variants for "Kefar Naḥum." [See Kohut, "Aruch Completum,"s.v. ; Neubauer "G. T." p. 221; Grätz, "Gesch. der Juden," iii. 307 et seq.—k.] This location would harmonize with the statement of Josephus ("Vita," § 72) that, after his accident on the Jordan, he was carried to a village, Cepharnome (Kephar Nome). But the reading here is not certain (compare Niese), and, moreover, Capernaum was a town, not a village.
- Cheyne and Black, Encyc. Bibl.;
- Hastings, Dict. Bible, and the literature given there.