(photo credit: benjamin spier)
Archeologists uncovered a ritual bath which dates back nearly 2,000 years this week, in an excavation started two months ago a few kilometers west of Beit Shemesh. Experts say the bath was used during the Second Temple period.
The ritual bath, known in Hebrew as a mikve, is the first piece of archeological evidence of Jewish settlement in the area of the excavation during the Second Temple period.
The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) has been aware of artifacts buried in the site following ground surveys for a number of years, but only after a pipeline company submitted a request to build underground pipes in the area near Kibbutz Tzora did archeologists discover the buried mikve.
While excavating the mikve, Pablo Betzer, the Judea district inspector for the Israel Antiquities Authority, said they also discovered nearby underground tunnels that were probably used for the Bar-Kochba revolt; and the Jewish settlement containing the bath was likely destroyed during or after the revolt.
The ritual bath has yet to be fully uncovered, and the IAA has yet to set a date to complete the excavation.