Stone vessels were unearthed from a 2,000-year-old cave in Galilee this month. The containers were among numerous others found in what appeared to be an industrial factory producing stone receptacles.
According to a report by Israel National News the archaeological excavations in Nazareth, northern Israel, were headed by Dr. Yonatan Adler of Ariel University. The enormous underground cave carved into a chalkstone hillside was said to have served as a quarry and a workshop.
The reports said the factory held stone vessels in different stages of production. The team said this proves that creating such containers was a successful business in the time of Jesus.
According to Adler, an archaeologist specializing in ancient Jewish ritual law, stone receptacles were important in daily Jewish religious life during that period. Adler said it was a Jewish "Stone Age."
At the time when most wares used were made of pottery, first century Jews used stoneware made of soft, native chalkstone. It is said that the stone vessels met stringent religious requirements of purity and can never become ritually impure, hence the Jewish production of stoneware.
Stoneware was made famous in the story of the Wedding at Cana from the Gospel of John. This is where Jesus' first miracle of turning water into wine was said to have used six jars made of stone. In the bible, John 2:6 states, "Now there were six stone water jars set there for the Jewish custom of purification, containing twenty or thirty gallons each."
According to Times of Israel, the excavations have yet to find jars similar to the size mentioned in the book of John. Dr. Dennis Mizzi of the University of Malta said, "Fragments of large jars have not been unearthed." He explained that so far, stone mugs and small bowls were the only stoneware extracted from the site. There will be more excavations done next summer.