.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Second Temple-era ritual bath discovered

From Israel's MFA:

A plastered building, probably a ritual bath (miqve), dating to the Second Temple period (first century BCE-first century CE) was exposed in an archaeological excavation the Israel Antiquities Authority conducted prior to the installation of a water line by the Mekorot Company at an antiquities site, about two kilometers north of Kibbutz Zor'a.

The excavation revealed a square structure that has three walls treated with a thin layer of plaster that facilitated the storage of water. A channel used to drain water into the ritual bath was installed in a corner. In addition, a plaster floor and three stairs that descend from it to the west (toward the hewn openings in the bedrock) were exposed.

According to archaeologist Pablo Betzer, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, "This is the first time that any remains dating to the Second Temple period have been exposed in this region. We knew from the Talmud and from non-Jewish sources that on this ridge, as in most of the Judean Shephelah, there was an extensive Jewish community 2,000 years ago that existed until the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE. Yet despite the many surveys and excavations that have been carried out to date no remains from this period have been discovered so far." According to Betzer the name of the Jewish settlement that the ritual bath belonged to is still unknown.

Zora  (Tzora) is about 20 km west of Jerusalem.

(h/t Dan)