A team of archeologists may have discovered the site of Jesus' first miracle. 

The Gospel of John recounts the story of Jesus turning water into wine at a wedding celebrated in a village named Cana. Dr. Tom McCollough is the lead archeologist on a dig and believes they have unearthed the location of Cana.

Pilgrimage site not likely correct

For a few hundred years now pilgrims have travelled to a site called Kafr Kanna and marked that as the place where the miracle took place. However, McCollough says there is little evidence to support that place as the location of the miracle. For one, he says, pilgrims only started travelling there in the 16th century. 

"Kafr means 'village of,'" McCollough says. That site has three churches there now and, he says, "those churches do cover some ruins that do seem in part to be the first century. What I believe to be the case, and I'm not alone in this . . . is that no pilgrims visited that particular site, and understood it to be Cana, until the 17th century." That, McCollough points out, is fairly recent in the scope of history. 

"If you look at what happened in the 17th century, Franciscans were actively creating pilgrimage itineraries." McCollough believes they named Kafr as the site for ease of access and safety. "I don't think they were deliberately being, or trying to create a falsehood, but they had the welfare of the pilgrims in mind."

The site where Dr. McCollough has been working is called Khirbet Qana - 'Khirbet' means 'ruins of.'

Two types of evidence

McCollough says they've found two types of evidence that would indicate Khirbet is the correct location of Cana.

"As we've excavated this village the first-century materials that we've exposed show us that it is a vibrant, Jewish village of around 1,200 people. By the end of the first century, they have a synagogue. There's everything else that suggests that it is a thriving Jewish village . . . For me, it all says, given its location between Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee, that this would have been a place where Jesus of Nazareth would have gone."

McCollough says that then means that the village "should be taken seriously as part of Jesus' min+--+-+istry." 

The other piece of evidence they've discovered is what McCollough calls a "pilgrim cave complex." 

That complex dates back to the fifth century and was in use all the way through the Crusader period an into the 12th century. 

Just outside of that complex they've also found walls of a church and likely monastery, though it has not yet been fully excavated.  

"So we have a first century, thriving village, and then pilgrims coming from a very early, and for a very long time. That convergence of evidence seemed to say fairly strong to us, to me, this is Cana of Gallillee. 

Pilgrim services reenacted the miracle

The first cave of the complex was a very large cave and plastered. Sarcophagus lead had been reused and had three crosses chiselled on it. There was also holes for a curtain to be hung over the altar area, and a platform to hold jugs. 

The walls were also covered in graffiti from pilgrims. "They would draw crosses, and then they would leave pleas for blessings."

While McCollough is careful to point out that he can't prove whether or not a miracle took place, he can say with some certainty that they've discovered the place where the miracle was said to take place in the Gospel of John.  also found written reports from pilgrims who had gone to the site. 

"What they say is they come and the recreate the miracle. They lift up pots of water on their shoulders, and then they offer them at the altar and they're served wine. So they're reenacting the miracle and they're certainly gaining spiritual value by being there."