Israel Uncovers 2000-year-old Ritual Bath from the Era of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem
(For representational purpose/REUTERS)
Ahead of Christmas celebrations, Israel Antiquities Authority have claimed to discover an ancient ritual bath from the time of Jesus. The discovery was made when builders were working on a tunnel near the Church of Gethsemane, at the foot of the Mount of Olives, which lies east of the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City, and were surprised to find an underground cavity.
On further research, archaeologists discovered that the cavity in the rock was Jewish ritual bath dating to around 2,000 years ago. It was around the time when Jesus was active in the area, according to Christian tradition.
According to a report by Israeli news website Haaretz, this is the first archaeological evidence found of activity in Gethsemane from the Second Temple period as stated by the Israel antiquities authority. In Hebrew, Gethsemane means “oil press” and is taken to reflect the manufacture of olive oil which was quite frequent in the Mediterranean region. The report further mentioned that in a joint press conference the discovery was presented. The event was attended by the Custos of the Holy Land, Father Francesco Patton.
The research of the area was led by archaeologists working with the antiquities authority from the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, a Franciscan research institute, reports Haaretz. Researchers are interpreting the discovery as the confirmation of presence of Olive oil production. It is being inferred that the ancient bath was used by the then manufacturers ahead of their daily production of olive oil, who under Jewish law were supposed to purify themselves before working.
The report quoted Amit Re’em, Jerusalem district archaeologist at the Israeli authority, saying that the discovery of the ritual bath probably confirms the place’s ancient name, Gethsemane. Even though large numbers of such Jewish ancient ritual baths have been found in Jerusalem, none of them dated back to the Second Temple period and none had been discovered in Gethsemane.
Some other Second Temple period baths were found in ancient Israel and even in Jordan where archaeologists found King Herod’s ritual bath in his palace in Machaerus.
The Church of Gethsemane where the ancient ritual bath was found is a Byzantine period church which has been dated to the 6th century C.E. The report quoted Dr Leah Di Segni of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Dr Rosario Pierri of the Franciscan Institute who revealed that the inscriptions found in the ancient church read, “For the memory and repose of the lovers of Christ (cross) God who have received the sacrifice of Abraham, accept the offering of your servants and give them remission of sins. (cross) Amen.”