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2,000-year-old ritual bath found under family’s Jerusalem living room floor

“Such instances of finding antiquities beneath a private home can happen only in Israel, and Jerusalem in particular,” says Antiquities Authority.
ShowImageArcheological treasure found underneath Jerusalem livingroom.. (photo credit:ASAF PERETZ/ISRAEL ANTIQUITIES AUTHORITY)

A 2,000-year-old ritual bath (mikve) from the Second Temple period was discovered beneath a family’s living room floor during renovations in their home in Jerusalem’s southwest Ein Kerem neighborhood, the Antiquities Authority announced on Wednesday.

The authority’s Jerusalem District Archeologist, Amit Re’em, said he was amazed to learn that a pair of wooden doors beneath a rug in the middle of the family’s living room concealed the ancient ritual bath.

“Such instances of finding antiquities beneath a private home can happen only in Israel, and Jerusalem in particular,” Re’em said. “Beyond the excitement and the unusual story of the discovery of the mikve, its exposure is of archeological importance.”

Indeed, according to Re’em, Ein Kerem is considered sacred in Christianity due to its identification with the City of Judah where, according to the New Testament, John the Baptist was born and where his pregnant mother, Elisabeth, met with Mary, the mother of Jesus.

“Despite these identifications, the archeological remains in Ein Kerem and the surrounding area – which are related to the time when these events transpired during the Second Temple period – are few and fragmented,” he said.

“The discovery of the mikve reinforces the hypothesis that there was a Jewish settlement from the time of the Second Temple located in the region of what is today Ein Kerem.”

The rock-hewn mikve, which was fully intact, measured 3.5 meters in length and 2.4 meters in width with a depth of 1.8 meters and is “meticulously plastered according to the laws of purity appearing in the halacha,” said Re’em.

“A staircase leads to the bottom of the immersion pool, and pottery vessels dating to the time of the Second Temple (first century CE), and traces of fire that might constitute evidence of the destruction of 66-70 CE, were discovered inside the bath,” he added.


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