Mikvah From the Second Temple Period Discovered in Yerushalayim

When residents of the picturesque Ein Kerem neighborhood in Jerusalem decided to renovate their living room, they had no idea what was hidden beneath the floor.

In 2015, a family began renovating their home in the Ein Kerem neighborhood in Jerusalem. Little did they imagine that, as the contractor drilled through the floor, the drill would suddenly disappear into a hole that opened up in their living room. “When we peered into the hole, we were stunned to reveal an ancient staircase,” the houseowner told us.

When the Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologists were called in, they encountered a remarkable scene: two chairs standing in the middle of the living room were moved aside, a colorful carpet was rolled up unveiling a pair of wooden doors in the floor, and below these doors lay an ancient mikveh, a ritual bath, dating back about 2000 years!

The intact mikveh was carefully carved into the rock, adhering to the purity laws outlined in Jewish written sources. The excavation yielded pottery vessels from the Second Temple period (first century CE), exhibiting traces of burning, possibly reflecting the time of the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 CE. There were also fragments of chalkstone vessels characteristically used by the Jewish population in the Second Temple period.

Initially hesitant to involve the Israel Antiquities Authority, the homeowners soon realized the historical significance of their find and sought professional assistance. “The archaeologists were both professional and enthusiastic,” they recounted, highlighting the care taken by the archaeologists to conserve and study the findings.

Dr. Amit Reem, Israel Antiquities Authority Jerusalem Region Archaeologist, specializing in the history of Jerusalem, emphasized the significance of the find: “The discovery of the mikveh reinforces the understanding that there was a Jewish settlement in this specific area during the Second Temple period.” The homeowners were commended for their discovery, and on special occasions over the years, they have exhibited the remarkable find beneath their living room to the public.

So, if you happen to know anyone renovating their home, don’t forget to tag them – and of course, share this fascinating story!

Photography: Asaf Peretz

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