Discovered: An Ancient Ritual Bath, with Ancient Graffiti

Archaeologists in Jerusalem have found a Second Temple-era mikveh underneath a Jerusalem nursery school, covered in what seem to be graffiti from the period. Nir Hasson and Ruth Schuster write:

The writing and painting was done in mud and soot, and some carved into the soft stone. There are also dozens of images including a boat, palm trees, various plant species, and possibly even a menorah. . . .

Examples of written Aramaic from the time of the Second Temple are very rare. The use of Aramaic on the walls suggests that it was the common language of the time. . . .

[T]o the horror of the archaeologists, within hours of the momentous discovery, the writing started to fade. Emergency archaeology conservation teams . . . were alerted. The plaster was removed for study . . . and the delicate finds have been sealed. . . .

Finding a decently-preserved concentration of inscriptions and symbols from the Second Temple period is rare; [however], the writing is not legible any more.

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Read more at Haaretz

More about: Ancient Israel, Aramaic, Archaeology, History & Ideas, Mikveh

Europe Dithers While Iran Enriches

Jan. 20 2020

In May, when Tehran announced that it would no longer abide by the limits set by the 2015 nuclear agreement on its enrichment of uranium, Europe found legal excuses not to react. When, earlier this month, the Islamic Republic went a step further, renouncing any limits on enrichment, the EU—led by France and Germany, both parties to the deal—at last initiated a formal process that might lead to the re-imposition of sanctions. Bobby Ghosh comments on the dangers of European apathy:

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Read more at Bloomberg

More about: European Union, France, Germany, Hassan Rouhani, Iran, Iran nuclear program