2,000-Year-Old Bath Discovered Under Family Home in Jerusalem
The ancient site tells tales from the Roman Siege of Jerusalem.
A family living in Jerusalem have discovered a 2,000 year-old bath under the floor of their living room, thought to bear the scars of the Roman siege of the city in 70AD.
The bath, or miqwe, a ritual immersion bath used for washing before holy days and the Sabbath was discovered three years ago when the family was making alterations to their home. On discovering the miqwe they built a trap door over the stairs which leads from their living room to the ancient archaeological site.
“Initially, we were uncertain regarding the importance of the find revealed below our house and we hesitated contacting the Israel Antiquities Authority because of the consequences we believed would be involved in doing so,” said Tal Shimshoni who owns the house. “At the same time, we had a strong feeling that what was situated beneath the floor of our house is a find of historical value and our sense of civic and public duty clinched it for us. We felt that this find deserves to be seen and properly documented.”
Measuring 11 feet (3.5 meters) long, 8 ft (2.4m) wide and 6ft (1.8 m) deep, and plastered into the rock with great care, the bath is also thought to provide evidence of the age of the neighborhood of ‘Ein Kerem.
“‘Ein Kerem is considered a place sacred to Christianity in light of its identification with ‘a city of Judah’–the place where, according to the New Testament, John the Baptist was born and where his pregnant mother Elisabeth met with Mary, mother of Jesus,” said archaeologist for the Jerusalem District at the Israel Antiquities Authority, Amit Re’em.
“Despite these identifications, the archaeological remains in ‘Ein Kerem and the surrounding area, which are related to the time when these events transpired (the Second Temple period), are few and fragmented,” he added. “The discovery of the ritual bath reinforces the hypothesis there was a Jewish settlement from the time of the Second Temple located in the region of what is today ‘Ein Kerem.”
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