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.