But we do know what average village dwellings were like in first-century Palestine, particularly in Nazareth. The basic floor layout had a central courtyard with rooms radiating from it. These were modest rooms by our standards, with few windows. There was no plumbing and people took their water from a common well or stream outside the village.
The main building of the village was the church, which was usually built around an open area called a "courtyard." This space was used for many purposes: as a place to grow vegetables or flowers; for playing games or exercising horses. It could even be used as a shelter for animals during bad weather! But most important, it served as a gathering place for community events. The church was the center of activity in Nazareth; everything happened there including weddings, baptisms, and funerals.
In addition to the church, other large buildings in Nazareth included government offices, shops, and schools. Most villages in the Holy Land had similar neighborhoods. They were usually composed of several streets with simple one-room houses that belonged to one of the three major social classes: priests, soldiers, and farmers.
Priests lived in luxurious homes made of stone or wood. They owned land and often ran small businesses such as taverns or food stores.
Peasant dwellings in 1st century Palestine were typically tiny and generally had one room. The earth had been tamped down on the floor. The floor was made of flagstones for the wealthy, while wood or mosaic tiles were utilized by the nobility. There were few windows for the impoverished Jews. A door led out to a small porch or "molho" for eating and drinking during good weather. The roof was thatched with grass or wooden shingles.
Houses were built for protection from the elements, but they could be cold in winter and hot in summer. There was usually no running water nor heat, so toilets did not exist. Householders took their hygiene into their own hands: they washed themselves with soap at least once a week and rubbed oil onto their bodies twice a month.
People lived mainly off the land; there were no factories or businesses to provide employment. When you needed money, you worked for it. There were no banks so everyone kept some form of cash or valuable item as collateral if they needed to borrow something.
There were no cars, only donkey carts and sometimes even those required a driver. Because roads weren't paved, drivers used ash or dirt from ditches to make paths between villages. Some roads were better than others—those who controlled the road would extort money from travelers who wanted to use them.
The house in the accompanying image is nearly definitely nicer and larger than Mary and Joseph's home in Nazareth. Their home would have been built of mud brick rather than stone, with a courtyard and two or four rooms—a front chamber with an awning, a private room behind it, and probably some food and animal storage rooms. It would not have been very different from other homes like it in the region.
Why do scientists think Jesus was born in December? Jesus was born during the winter months because that is when most animals are breeding, so his birth would have brought hope for another generation. Also during the winter there are fewer problems with disease since people stay inside more and contact with others is limited. Scientists also believe this is why Christmas became associated with Jesus' birthday; both holidays were celebrated in the wintertime.
Why does my phone need to be plugged in to use maps? GPS uses radio waves which can't penetrate walls so they must be transmitted into space where they are picked up by orbiting satellites which calculate your location based on the time it takes for the signal to reach them. This means you need clear sky conditions and a functioning satellite system to use GPS so as not to incur any charges. Your phone needs to be plugged in to use maps because it uses its own GPS receiver instead. Maps on your phone use data stored in the device so they don't need to be downloaded from a server.