An ancient staircase has been found which leads down to a 2000 year old ritual bath beneath floorboards in a family’s living room, in their Jerusalem home while renovating their living room. The discovery was dated July 1, 2015 by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).
The ancient bath ritual is called “miqwe” or “mikveh” was found in the town of Ein Karem, which is neighborhood in southwest Jerusalem which is suggested to be the birth place of John the Baptist. The ancient bath ritual was found under a pile of wood covered by a rug in the family’s living room, and was measured to be about 11.5 feet long, 8 feet wide and 6 feet deep.
“Such instances of finding antiquities beneath a private home can happen only in Israel and Jerusalem in particular,” Amit Re’em a Jerusalem District archaeologist said in a statement. “Beyond the excitement and the unusual story of the discovery of the miqwe, its exposure is of archaeological importance.”
Ein Karem is a mountainous sacred place for Christians, because it is the home of John the Baptist and it is where his pregnant mother met Virgin Mary. Since Ein Karem is the birth place of John the Baptist it is consider to as “city of Judah” by Biblical scholars.
Amit Re’em said, “The discovery of the ritual bath reinforced the hypothesis there was a Jewish settlement from the time of the Second Temple located in the region of what is today Ein Karem,”
The miqwe was made out of rocks and plastered according to the laws of purity appearing in the Halacha, which is a group of Jewish religious laws derived from the written and oral Torah. The doors on the living room opened to staircases which lead down to the bath’s immersion pool, where both men and women entered to purify themselves after different events, such as menstruation, intercourse and eating meat from animals that died naturally.
In fact, the miqwe had pottery vessels and pieces of stone vessels from the Second temple Period, regardless of the evidence of a fire that may have ravaged the bath between A.D. 66 and 70.
Many other ancient miqwe have been found. In 2014, archaeologists have discovered a 1900 year old miqwe with a 1700 year old water cistern while there was a construction project to widen the higway in Judea. Archaeologists were surprised to see that the artifacts had graffiti on them made by Australian World War II soldiers.
On the other hand, the owner of the house where the recent miqwe had been found on July 1, 2015 was awarded a certificate for being a good citizen.