In June 2015, a ritual bath (miqveh) was documented in the western part of the ‘En Kerem neighborhood in Jerusalem (Permit No. A-7444; map ref. 215407–46/630614–63), after it was exposed during renovation works in a private house. The documentation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was performed by A. Re’em, with the assistance of A. Hajian (surveying and drafting), A. Peretz (field photography), C. Amit (studio photography), I. Lidsky-Reznikov (pottery drawing), N. Zak (plans), D. Sandhaus and B. Dolinka (pottery consultation).
A rock-hewn miqveh dating to the Early Roman period (first century CE) was documented. Its ceiling was damaged, apparently by the construction work. No archaeologist was present during the renovations, when the fill and finds were removed from inside the miqveh. The find were handed over for the documentation.
The miqveh (2.5 × 3.5 m, height 2.1 m; Figs. 2, 3) is trapezoidal. The anteroom (A) was not preserved and the area where it was presumably located is today covered with concrete. A staircase led from the anteroom to the bottom of the bath. Two narrow steps, one rock-cut (B; 0.4 × 0.8 m, height 0.15 m) and the other represented by an imprint in the rock that was to accommodate a built stone step (C), seem to allude to a single narrow opening that led into the installation. Further on are three similar steps (length 2.6 m, width 0.3 m, height 0.25 m). The top one (D) bears traces of plaster indicating that part of it was constructed. The bottom step was wide (0.6 m), and an auxiliary step (E; 0.3 × 0.8 m, height 0.24 m) led from it to the immersion pool. The steps, immersion pool and the lower part of the bath’s walls were coated with light gray plaster mixed with ash and charcoal. A layer of whitish plaster (thickness 3 cm) that contained lime, grits of stone and grog was applied to upper parts of the walls.
It is not clear how the bath was filled with water. No feeder channels, gutters or an ozar (a rainwater cistern) were found; these were probably destroyed by the modern construction. The miqveh was most likely supplied with rainwater that flowed from the entrance down the steps. The top step (B) may have have facilitated the flow of the water that collected in entrance area. Traces of fire are visible on the steps, possibly evidence to the destruction in 70 CE, (Fig. 4).
The soil accumulation inside the miqveh included pottery sherds from the Early Roman period (first century CE up to the destruction of 70 CE), including a small thin-walled bowl (Fig. 5:1), a cooking pot with a triangular rim (Fig. 5:2), cooking jugs (Fig. 5:3, 4), juglets with a cup-like rim (Fig 5:5, 6), a flask with twisted handles (Fig. 5:7), jars with plain rim and tall neck with a ridge at its base (Fig. 5:8) and jars with short neck and thickened rim (Fig. 5:9). In addition to these, several Late Roman–Early Byzantine pottery sherds were collected, including a table amphora with molded ledge rim decorated along the edge with thumb impressions (Fig. 5:10) and a large deep bowl with ledge rim (Fig. 5:11). Several teapot spouts (Fig. 6:1, 2) from the Ottoman period (eighteenth–nineteenth centuries CE) were also found. Two fragments of stone objects were discovered as well: a measuring cup and a lid dating to the first century CE, and a fragment of a chalk weight (27 gr; Fig. 7) characteristic of the Second Temple period.
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