Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Ancient Mikveh Discovered in Elah Valley

From The Times of Israel:

Archaeologists working in the hills outside of Jerusalem uncovered an ancient ritual bath that offers not only remnants of Second Temple-era life in the area, but also those of Australian soldiers who visited the site while passing through during World War II.

“The finds from this excavation allow us to reconstruct a double story: about the Jewish settlement in the second century CE, probably against the backdrop of the events of the Bar Kochba revolt [132-135 CE], and another story, no less fascinating, about a group of Australian soldiers who visited the site” many centuries later “and left their mark there,” excavation director Yoav Tsur said.

During a dig at the Elah junction south of Beit Shemesh, archaeologists found “fragments of magnificent pottery vessels,” such as lamps, a jug and cooking pots, that helped them date the use of mikveh, or ritual bath, back to the time of the Second Temple, but the evidence indicates that residents stopped using it as a ritual bath during the second century CE, “perhaps in light of the Bar Kokhba revolt,” according to Tsur.

After the site ceased to be used as a mikveh, residents of the area enlarged the otzar — or water collecting vat for the mikveh — and continued to use it as a cistern for collecting drinking water.

Nearly 2,000 years later, as fighting again raged in the region, two Australian soldiers left their names, ranks and identification numbers carved into the rock at the site during World War II.

The full story is here.

HT: Charles Savelle

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