The Jewish ritual bath, otherwise known as a mikveh in Hebrew, was found during an excavation that will be followed by the construction of a huge highway interchange at the Hamovil junction in Lower Galilee.
Remains of an ancient agricultural Jewish farmstead were also found in excavation, in which experts are given a deeper look to Jewish life from the Second Temple Period.
“The existence of a mikveh, a purification facility, unequivocally indicates that the residents of the ancient farm were Jewish, who led a religious and traditional way of life, and maintained purity as a Torah commandment. Ritual baths have been used in daily life by Jews since the Second Temple period and until today,” excavation directors Abd Elghani Ibrahim and Dr. Walid Atrash explained.
They added that this was the first time archeologists uncovered the ancient remains of Jewish farms that had once existed in Galilee.
“The discovery of the mikveh in the farmstead changes what we knew about the lifestyle of the Jews in the Second Temple period,” the excavation directors said. “Until now we hadn’t discovered Jewish farms in Galilee. It was considered that the Jews in the Roman period didn’t live in farms outside the villages or towns.”
“The discovery of the farmstead at some distance from the village of the Shikhin and the large Jewish town of Sepphoris, showed that Jews also settled in farmsteads, that perhaps functioned as the rural hinterland of Sepphoris”, the director continued.
Due to the construction of the highway, the ritual bath was lifted out of the ground on a crane in order to keep it from being destroyed, as seen on the Israel Antiquities Authority Facebook page. It will be placed on a kibbutz, an Israeli communal settlement, in order to maintain proper preservation.
Photo courtesy: Israel Antiquities Authority Facebook
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.