Monday, July 18, 2016

News on the Mt. Zion excavation

EXCAVATION: Archaeologists Uncover Second Temple-era Priestly Quarter of Jerusalem. Luxuries, like a bathtub, signal that the 2000-year old house being dug up in Mt. Zion, near Caiaphas' home, belonged to a member of the ruling class (Philippe Bohstrom, Haaretz).
Archaeologists excavating in the heart of ancient Jerusalem have begun to uncover the neighborhood that housed the elite 2,000 years ago – most probably the priestly ruling class.

One of the houses had its own cistern, a mikveh (a Jewish ritual bathing pool), a barrel-vaulted ceiling and a chamber with three bread ovens.

Inside a room found with its ceiling intact was a bathtub – an extremely rare luxury that commoners of the time could not afford.

Bathtubs, as opposed to ritual dipping pools, have so far only been found at King Herod's palaces in Masada and Jericho, and in the so-called "Priestly Mansion" in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem.

“It's clear from the finds that the people living here were wealthy, aristocrats or perhaps even priests,” Prof. Shimon Gibson, co-director of the excavations, told Haaretz.

A ritual stone cup with a priestly inscription, used for purification rituals, also found there supports the archaeologist's theory that this area was the Priestly Quarter of ancient Jerusalem.

“Caiaphas' house has been located. It's up on the hill not far from our site," Gibson points out in additional support of the thesis.

Long article. Read it all. Past posts on the Mt. Zion excavation, with special attention to the inscribed cup, are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.