Second Temple Miqveh (Ritual Bath) Discovered in Kibbutz Zor’a

Second Temple Mikveh (Courtesy of IAA)

The continual discovering of miqvaot only adds to our understanding of the role and importance of ritual purity in the Second Temple period.

Israel Antiquities Authority
Press Office
Press Release

Tuesday October 11, 2011

A Ritual Bath (Miqve) dating to the Second Temple Period was Discovered near Kibbutz Zor’a

Within the framework of an archaeological excavation of the Israel Antiquities Authority, prior to the installation of a water line by the Mekorot Company

The exposure of the bath corroborates historical sources that indicated the existence of a Jewish settlement in the region

A plastered building, probably a ritual bath (miqve), dating to the Second Temple period (first century BCE-first century CE) was exposed in an archaeological excavation the Israel Antiquities Authority conducted prior to the installation of a water line by the Mekorot Company at an antiquities site, c. 2 kilometers north of Kibbutz Zor’a.

The excavation revealed a square structure that has three walls treated with a thin layer of plaster that facilitated the storage of water. A channel used to drain water into the ritual bath was installed in a corner. In addition, a plaster floor and three stairs that descend from it to the west (toward the hewn openings in the bedrock) were exposed.

According to archaeologist Pablo Betzer, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “This is the first time that any remains dating to the Second Temple period have been exposed in this region. We knew from the Talmud and from non-Jewish sources that on this ridge, as in most of the Judean Shephelah, there was an extensive Jewish community 2,000 years ago that existed until the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE. Yet despite the many surveys and excavations that have been carried out to date no remains from this period have been discovered so far”. According to Betzer the name of the Jewish settlement that the ritual bath belonged to is still unknown.

Mekorot reports that the building was discovered while modernizing the water supply system first built in the 1950s in the region between Kefar Uriyya and Moshav Yish’i, in a project slated to cost 20 million NIS. During the course of all the infrastructure work Mekorot fully cooperated with the Israel Antiquities Authority out of a commitment to the values of tradition and history. Mekorot also stated that the discovery will not affect the project’s timetable and that the work will be completed on schedule.

In order to preserve the discovery Mekorot has agreed to change the location of the slated water line.

HT: J. Lauer

For secondary reading on Ritual Purity and Miqvaot in this period:
Yonatan Adler, “The Archaeology of Purity: Archaeological Evidence for the Observance of Ritual Purity in Ere-Israel from the Hasmonean Period until the End of the Talmudic Era (164 BCE – 400 CE),” PhD Dissertation under the supervision of Ze’ev Safrai at Bar Ilan University.

Yair Furstenberg, “Eating in a State of Purity in the Tannaitic Period: Tractate Teharot and Its Historical and Cultural Contexts,” PhD Dissertation at Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

R. Reich, “Miqwa’ot (Jewish Ritual Baths) in Eretz-Israel, in the Second Temple, Mishnah and Talmud Periods”, PhD dissertation supervised by Prof. N. Avigad and Prof. I.L. Levine.


Courtesy of IAACourtesy of IAA