Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Ancient ritual bath with inscriptions in Jerusalem

DISCOVERY: Ancient Mikveh With Rare Inscriptions Found in Jerusalem. Second Temple period ritual bath found during construction of kindergarten, with highly 'significant' wall paintings of Temple artifact (Arutz Sheva).
But the most unusual aspect of the mikveh was its walls, which were treated with ancient plaster and bore numerous wall paintings and inscriptions, written in mud, soot and incising.

As was customary at the end of the Second Temple period when the Romans occupied the Jewish state of Israel, the writing was in Aramaic and written in cursive Hebrew script. The symbols drawn on the wall include a boat, palm trees and various plant species, and what looks to be a menorah.

"There is no doubt that this is a very significant discovery," said Royee Greenwald and Alexander Wiegmann, excavation directors on behalf of IAA. "Such a concentration of inscriptions and symbols from the Second Temple period at one archaeological site, and in such a state of preservation, is rare and unique and most intriguing."

The inscriptions remain largely a mystery at this point, with some apparently indicating names. The drawing that might be a menorah is exceptional because in Second Temple days, Jews largely abstained from portraying the sacred object which was located in the Holy Temple.
UPDATE: The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs has posted the full IAA press release: Mystery in Jerusalem: Rare ancient message.