In the midst of renovating their home in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem neighborhood, a family discovered an ancient, underground ritual bath. Ilan Ben Zion writes:
Last week the Israel Antiquities Authority finished excavating the subterranean bath, which archaeologist Amit Reem said . . . may have belonged to a private home in a 1st-century CE Jewish village. The ritual bath adheres to halakhic requirements and measures 1.8 meters deep, 3.5 meters long, and 2.4 meters wide.
More intriguingly, it lends some support to a Christian tradition linking Ein Kerem, today a quaint neighborhood clinging to a hill on Jerusalem’s southwestern edge, with the birthplace of John the Baptist. . . .
“[U]ntil now we didn’t have archaeological evidence supporting the notion that there was a Jewish community in Ein Kerem” during that period, [Reem] said, standing next to the gaping maw of the mikveh in the [house’s] living room. . . .
While Reem was reluctant to draw any direct associations between John the Baptist and the ritual bath found in the Shimshoni home, he said its discovery pointed to the presence of religious Jews who were fastidious about matters of ritual purity.