Thursday, August 13, 2015

More on the floorboard mikveh

SOME BACKGROUND: Ein Karem: One village, three religions (Mordechai Goldman, Al-Monitor).
In early July, an ancient mikveh, a ritual bath in which observant Jews dip to purify themselves, was discovered in the pastoral Jerusalem neighborhood of Ein Karem. The 2,000-year-old mikveh, which would have been filled with rainwater, was found during renovation work on a home in the neighborhood. It was well preserved, down to some stone and clay tools on the pool floor, and probably served its owners at the time of the Second Temple. The unearthing of the mikveh strengthens the evidence of a Jewish link to ancient Ein Karem, the Arab-Palestinian and Christian links having already been established.


Archaeological evidence of the Jewish connection to Ein Karem has only been found in recent years, beginning with the 2004 discovery of a mikveh in the village. Amirav had found a cistern in the John the Baptist Church that turned out to be a purification bath. That discovery drew international attention and was the first evidence of a Jewish link to ancient Ein Karem, a connection that until then had only been cited in texts.

Now a second mikveh, large and impressive, has been found. “We were very excited by this discovery,” said Uriyah, a poet who lives with her partner, Tal, and their six children in the house where the mikveh was found. Requesting that her full name not be divulged to avoid droves of curious tourists, she told Al-Monitor, “This connected me very much to our Jewish heritage. For us, every descent into the space of the mikveh is a kind of descent through the tunnel of time.”

Tal, on the other hand, is unmoved by the Jewish aspect of the finding. “Religion doesn’t mean anything to me,” he said. “There’s an archeological find here, and that’s what’s important.”

I noted the discovery here back in early July. This article doesn't add a great deal, apart from the mention of the 2004 discovery and the brief interview with the owners of the house. But it did not register with me at the time that the find was in the neighborhood of Ein Karem (Ein Kerem). Back in 2011 this area was in the news concerning a controvery over the handling of Second Temple-era architecture at a building site. And some shadowy rumors involving treasure from the Copper Scroll were also involved. See here and here for the story.

I seemed to have missed the reports of the discovery of a mikveh in Ein Kerem in 2004.