Archaeologists with the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) have discovered the remains of a Jewish ritual bath (mikvah) used during the Second Temple period (first century B.C.E.–first century C.E.) at a site in the Shephelah foothills southwest of Jerusalem. The square bath, which has a plastered interior and three stairs that descend to its bottom, was found during salvage excavations conducted prior to the installation of a modern water line near Kibbutz Tzora. While ancient ritual baths have been found at sites throughout Jerusalem and the Galilee, none had ever been found in the Shephelah region until now.
“This is the first time that any remains dating to the Second Temple period have been exposed in this region,” said lead IAA excavator Pablo Betzer. “We knew from the Talmud and from non-Jewish sources that on this ridge, as in most of the Shephelah, there was an extensive Jewish community 2,000 years ago … but to date no remains from this period have been discovered.”