Archaeologists Find an Ancient Mikveh Used by the Jerusalem Elite

In 2017, construction began on two elevators designed to take visitors and worshippers to the Western Wall. It was soon halted when it became clear that the site contained an archaeological treasure trove. Six years later, the subsequent excavation has ended, and construction of the elevators can begin. Ilan Ben Zion describes what they found:

During their dig, the archaeologists carefully peeled back successive layers of construction and debris that had accumulated over two millennia, over 9 meters (30 feet) in total. Historical waypoints included Ottoman pipes built into a 2,000-year-old aqueduct that supplied Jerusalem with water from springs near Bethlehem; early Islamic oil lamps; bricks stamped with the name of the 10th Legion, the Roman army that besieged, destroyed, and was afterwards encamped in Jerusalem two millennia ago; and the remains of the Judean villa from the final days before the ancient Jewish Temple’s destruction in the year 70.

Fragments of frescoes and intricate mosaics from the villa indicated the wealth of the home’s occupants. But upon reaching bedrock, [the archaeologists] made one last find: a private Jewish ritual bath hewn into the limestone mountainside and vaulted with enormous dressed stones.

[Hebrew University’s Michal] Haber said the most significant thing about the bath, known as a mikveh, was its location overlooking the Temple esplanade. “We are in the wealthy neighborhood of the city on the eve of its destruction,” she said.

Read more at Associated Press

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Jerusalem, Mikveh, Western Wall

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