Ancient History of Nazareth
Archaeological research revealed a funerary and cult center at Kfar HaHoresh, about two miles (3 km) from Nazareth, dating back roughly 9000 years (to what is known as the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B era). The remains of some 65 individuals were found, buried under huge horizontal headstone structures, some of which consisted of up to 3 tons of locally-produced white plaster. Decorated human skulls uncovered there have led archaeologists to believe that Kfar HaHoresh was a major cult centre in that remote era.
In 1620 the Catholic Church purchased an area in the Nazareth basin measuring approx. 100 × 150 m (328.08 ft × 492.13 ft). on the side of the hill known as the Nebi Sa'in. This "Venerated Area" underwent extensive excavation in 1955-65 by the Franciscan priest Belarmino Bagatti, "Director of Christian Archaeology." Fr. Bagatti has been the principal archaeologist at Nazareth. His book, Excavations in Nazareth (1969) is still the standard reference for the archaeology of the settlement, and is based on excavations at the Franciscan Venerated Area.
Fr. Bagatti uncovered pottery dating from the Middle Bronze Age (2200 to 1500 BC) and ceramics, silos and grinding mills from the Iron Age (1500 to 586 BC), pointing to substantial settlement in the Nazareth basin at that time. However, lack of archaeological evidence from Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Hellenistic or Early Roman times, at least in the major excavations between 1955 and 1990, shows that the settlement apparently came to an abrupt end about 720 BC, when many towns in the area were destroyed by the Assyrians.