Israeli High-School Students Help Uncover a 2,000-Year-Old Jewish Village

As part of a program sponsored by the Israel Antiquities Authority, a group of Jerusalem teenagers took part in the excavation of a previously unknown Roman-era settlement near what is now the Jerusalem suburb of Ramat Beit Shemesh. Their discoveries include hideaways apparently used during the Bar Kokhba revolt against Roman rule in the 2nd century CE.

The settlement, whose ancient name is unknown, has so far yielded eight ritual baths, cisterns, and . . . rock-hewn industrial installations. The houses themselves have not survived and their stones were taken to construct buildings in later periods. . . . According to the excavation’s directors, . . . “the settlement’s extraordinary significance lies in its imposing array of private ritual baths, which were incorporated into the residential buildings. Each household had its own ritual bath and a cistern. Some of the baths uncovered are simple and others are more complex and include an otsar, or collecting basin, into which the rainwater would drain. It is interesting to note that the local inhabitants adhered strictly to the rules regarding [ritual] purity.”

Underneath the dwellings and rock-hewn installations, another surprising discovery was unearthed, dating to the time of the Bar Kokhba revolt—a winding labyrinth of hiding places connected to sophisticated and elaborate complexes. In some of the underground complexes, the rebels breached a cistern to provide those in hiding with access to water. One of the caves also yielded intact ceramic jars and cooking pots that were probably used by the rebels. The finds show that the settlement continued to exist even after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE.

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Read more at Ynet

More about: Archaeology, History & Ideas, Mikveh, Simon bar Kokhba

The New Iran Deal Will Reward Terrorism, Help Russia, and Get Nothing in Return

After many months of negotiations, Washington and Tehran—thanks to Russian mediation—appear close to renewing the 2015 agreement concerning the Iranian nuclear program. Richard Goldberg comments:

Under a new deal, Iran would receive $275 billion of sanctions relief in the first year and $1 trillion by 2030. [Moreover], Tehran would face no changes in the old deal’s sunset clauses—that is, expiration dates on key restrictions—and would be allowed to keep its newly deployed arsenal of advanced uranium centrifuges in storage, guaranteeing the regime the ability to cross the nuclear threshold at any time of its choosing. . . . And worst of all, Iran would win all these concessions while actively plotting to assassinate former U.S. officials like John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and [his] adviser Brian Hook, and trying to kidnap and kill the Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad on U.S. soil.

Moscow, meanwhile, would receive billions of dollars to construct additional nuclear power plants in Iran, and potentially more for storage of nuclear material. . . . Following a visit by the Russian president Vladimir Putin to Tehran last month, Iran reportedly started transferring armed drones for Russian use against Ukraine. On Tuesday, Putin launched an Iranian satellite into orbit reportedly on the condition that Moscow can task it to support Russian operations in Ukraine.

With American and European sanctions on Russia escalating, particularly with respect to Russian energy sales, Putin may finally see net value in the U.S. lifting of sanctions on Iran’s financial and commercial sectors. While the return of Iranian crude to the global market could lead to a modest reduction in oil prices, thereby reducing Putin’s revenue, Russia may be able to head off U.S. secondary sanctions by routing key transactions through Tehran. After all, what would the Biden administration do if Iran allowed Russia to use its major banks and companies to bypass Western sanctions?

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Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Russia, U.S. Foreign policy