Saturday, August 13, 2016

Ancient Roman bathhouse (etc.) found in Jerusalem

A SALVAGE EXACAVATION THAT LED TO SURPRISES: Ancient Roman bath house discovered under modern mikvah. The Old City of Jerusalem will soon be hosting a new mikvah - with two thousand year-old roots (Rachel Kaplan and Shimon Cohen, Arutz Sheva).
In just a few days, a mikvah (spiritual purification pool) will open in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City, after ten years of construction. Arutz Sheva heard from Ephraim Holtzberg, a local, the incredible story about how an ancient bathhouse of the Roman Tenth Legion was discovered beneath the mikvah.

And more still under that:
However, Holtzberg's story didn't end there. It turns out the Roman bath house was also built over an older site, a Jewish site. One year, while the mikvah was in construction, during an especially rainy winter, the contractors noticed the rivulets were running en masse to one point - where they disappeared.

"They followed the water, and discovered under the Roman bath house a massive cistern from the Second Temple era, which had been part of the Bethlehem aqueduct," Holtzberg describes the area, which was used to gather water for the Temple.

According to him, the resevoir was essentially a room, 645 square feet, covered in mosaic designs.

"When the Romans built their bath house, they required large quantities of water from the aqueduct and from rain water, and so built the bath house over the cistern."
The remains of the Roman bathhouse have been relocated, but the new mikvah (mikveh) has been built in such a way as to preserve the ancient cistern in situ.