Shalom Life | August 07, 2015

2,000-Year-Old Mikveh Discovered in Jerusalem

Archaeologists find mikveh featuring drawings on its walls in an underground cave

By: B. Shane Morganstein

Published: August 5th, 2015 in News » World

2,000-Year-Old Mikveh Discovered in Jerusalem

Photo: Inscriptions discovered in Jerusalem

Credit: Israel Antiquities Authority/Shai Halevy


In what's being called "a very significant discovery," the Israel Antiquities Authority announced discovered a wall full of drawings and inscriptions believed to be dated to the 2nd temple period. The script, which appears to be written in Hebrew and Aramaic, was found in an underground cave which held an ancient Mikveh, or ritual bath.

The discovery was initially made two months ago, as part of an archaeological inspection before the construction of a new preschool could be started. Archaeological routines like this are common in Jerusalem, thanks to the city's thousands of years of history spanning over many cultures and civilizations.

"There is no doubt that this is a very significant discovery," explained excavation directors Royee Greenwald and Alexander Wiegmann. "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 Antiquities Authority also raised some interesting questions surrounding the significance of the inscriptions. "What is the relationship between the symbols and inscriptions, and why, of all places, were they drawn in the ritual bath? Was it one person, or several people? Who is responsible for painting them?"

Though many questions exist surrounding the findings, even more seem to arise upon further inspection of the unique inscriptions and symbols. For example, the finding of a menorah drawn on the wall may prove to be "exceptional" since it was against custom to draw relics of the Temple during this time period.

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