The Catholic Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth was built in 1969 upon the ruins of a 1st century dwelling in Nazareth which is believed to be the home of the Virgin Mary. This home is now called the Grotto of the Annunciation and is believed to be the place where the Angel Gabriel met her and announced to her that she was to be the mother of Jesus Christ. Connected to the Grotto are stairs from a 4th century church which also venerated the site. Above the site are ruins of Byzantine churches which were destroyed, then rebuilt in Crusader times, then destroyed again. Early believers knew this as the place where Mary, the mother of Jesus, lived and grew up. Within the grotto, there is an altar with the following inscription: Verbum Caro Hic Factum Est, which means “Here the Word was made flesh”.
St. Mary’s Spring is located inside the Greek Orthodox Church of St. Gabriel, which was built in 1767 in Nazareth. In the 3rd century a church was initially built around the site of Mary’s Spring, based on the belief that this was an important Christian site. Although the New Testament does not record the location of the annunciation, the author of the Protoevangelium of James gives details about the annunciation. "And she took the pitcher and went forth to draw water, and behold, a voice said: 'Hail Mary, full of grace, you are blessed among women.'" According to this account, Mary was at the place to draw water, or a spring of water. This church was built in the Orthodox tradition where the Angel Gabriel met Mary and told her she would be the mother of the Son of God. The Catholic tradition, however, maintains that the site of the annunciation was the home of Mary. This natural spring in St. Gabriel’s Church is the source of an ancient well around which the town of Nazareth was built. This is called the Fountain of the Virgin or the Well of Mary.
In 1824, William Rae Wilson described the “Well of the Virgin” that gave water to the inhabitants of Nazareth. When he visited Nazareth, the population was about 1,500, most of whom were Christians. The house of Mary was there when he visited Nazareth, with the ruins of the Byzantine Monastery of the Annunciation that Empress Helena had built in the 4th century still visible. Women in ancient Israel would come to the well in town once or twice a day. It is likely that Mary came to this well, which is really a trough where water from a spring above (in St. Gabriel’s Orthodox Church) would flow down to this well and be collected. The well of Mary structure was built in the 1800s, then demolished in the 1960s and rebuilt, but is no longer functional as of the 1960s.
In 1764 construction workers found an interesting tombstone while building the St. George Orthodox Church in Beirut, Lebanon. The tombstone belonged to Quintus Aemilius Secundus and is dated to 20 AD. It mentions how Secundus conducted the census by order of Publius Sulpicius Quirinius during the time of Caesar Augustus and found the city of Apamea to have 117,000 citizens. This confirms the account of Luke 2:1-3 that Caesar Augustus ordered a census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. The tombstone is now located at the Museo archeologico nazionale in Venice, Italy.
In 2007, Dr. Frederick Larson used Starry Night, software based on Kepler’s laws of planetary motion, and proposed the theory that the Star of Bethlehem as recorded in Matthew 2:1-10 was in fact the conjunction of the planets Venus and Jupiter with the star Regulus in the constellation of Leo. The conjunction of the three heavenly bodies occurred in June, 2 BC. The Bible also says that the star “stood over” where the young child was—this could be explained by the fact that Jupiter can seem to stop, as from the perspective of Earth it has retrograde motion.
In 1999, Israeli archaeologist Amit Re’em, of the Israeli Antiquities Authority, discovered Herod the Great’s palace along the western wall of Jerusalem. This discovery was made while excavations were underway within the former Kishle prison building in Jerusalem. This reinforces the geography of Matthew 2:1, which tells of how the Magi from the East came to see Herod the Great at his palace in Jerusalem.