Mansions of the Ancient Jerusalem Aristocracy

Archaeologists working at Mount Zion have discovered what appears to be an upper-class neighborhood from the Jerusalem of 2,000 years ago, located at what was then the center of the city near King Herod’s palace and the home of the high priest Caiaphas. Philippe Bohstrom writes:

One of the houses had its own cistern, a mikveh (ritual bath), a barrel-vaulted ceiling, and a chamber with three bread ovens. Inside a room found with its ceiling intact was a bathtub—an extremely rare luxury that commoners of the time could not afford. Bathtubs, as opposed to ritual dipping pools, have so far been found only at King Herod’s palaces in Masada and Jericho, and in the so-called “Priestly Mansion” in [what is now] the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. . . .

A ritual stone cup with a priestly inscription, used for purification rituals, also found there supports [some archaeologists’] theory that this area was the priestly quarter of ancient Jerusalem.

Read more at Haaretz

More about: Archaeology, Herod, History & Ideas, Jerusalem

The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7