2,000-year-old ritual bath unearthed in Israel

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The Israel Antiquities Authority has discovered the remains of a mikve (ritual bath) from the Second Temple period (first century BCE-first century CE) as part of an archeological rescue dig prior to the installation of a water line by the Mekorot Company at an antiquities site, c. 2 kilometers north of Kibbutz Tzora. 

View of the miqve during excavation [Credit: Israel Antiquities Authority]

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. 

Archaeologist Pablo Betzer, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, is excited by the findings “This is the first time that any remains dating to the Second Temple period have been exposed in this region. 

We know from the Talmud and from non-Jewish sources that on this ridge, as in most of the Judean coastal plain, 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.” 

Source: Israel National News [Octoner 11, 2011]

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