A tunnel network unearthed in Israel could be the site where Christians believe Jesus performed his first miracle by turning water into wine, the U.K.’s Daily Mail reported Thursday.
For hundreds of years, pilgrims have believed the site of the wedding miracle to be Kafr Kanna, a town in northern Israel, but archaeologists now believe the Cana of biblical times might be a hillside five miles to the north, the news outlet reported.
The location is the former site of Khirbet Qana, an ancient Jewish village, and excavations have uncovered a network of tunnels used for Christian worship, including an altar and a shelf hold the remains of a stone vessel with room for five more, the Daily Mail reported.
Six stone jars like this held the wine in the biblical account of the miracle.
Tom McCollough, who is directing the excavations, told the news outlet three other sites appear to fit the bill, but “none has the ensemble of evidence that makes such a persuasive case for Khirbet Qana.”
“We have uncovered a large Christian veneration cave complex that was used by Christian pilgrims who came to venerate the water-to-wine miracle,” he told the Daily Mail. “This complex was used beginning in the late fifth or early sixth century and continued to be used by pilgrims into the 12th-century Crusader period.
“The pilgrim texts we have from this period that describe what pilgrims did and saw when they came to Cana of Galilee match very closely what we have exposed as the veneration complex.”
As part of his evidence, McCollough points to the work of first-century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus.
“His references to Cana align geographically with the location of Khirbet Qana and align logically with his movements,” McCollough told the news outlet. “The reference to Cana in Josephus, the New Testament and in the rabbinic texts would argue the village was a Jewish village, near the Sea of Galilee and in the region of lower Galilee.
“Khirbet Qana fulfills all of these criteria.”