The Israel Antiquities Authority released a report today about the discover of a Roman period (Post A.D. 70) bath was found in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem.
A 1,800 year old bathing pool that was probably part of a bathhouse used by the Tenth Legion – the Roman soldiers who destroyed the Temple – was exposed in excavations the Israel Antiquities Authority is conducting prior to the construction of a men’s ritual bath (miqve) by the Jerusalem Municipality and the Moriah Company.
The discovery sheds light on the scope of Aelia Capitolina, the city that was founded on the Second Temple period ruins of Jerusalem and that defined the character of ancient Jerusalem as we know it today….
According to Dr. Ofer Sion, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “We were surprised to discover an ancient bathhouse structure right below the spot where a miqve is to be built. During the excavation we uncovered a number of plastered bathtubs in the side of the pool. Incorporated in the side of the pool is a pipe used to fill it with water and on the floor of the pool is a white industrial mosaic pavement. The bathhouse tiles, which are stamped with the symbols of the Tenth Legion “Fretensis” – LEG X FR, were found in situ and it seems that they were used to cover a rock-hewn water channel located at the bottom of the pool. The hundreds of terra cotta roof tiles that were found on the floors of the pool indicate it was a covered structure. The mark of the soldiers of the Tenth Legion, in the form of the stamped impressions on the roof tiles and the in situ mud bricks, bears witness to the fact that they were the builders of the structure. It seems that the bathhouse was used by these soldiers who were garrisoned there after suppressing the Bar Kokhba uprising in 135 CE, when the pagan city Aelia Capitolina was established. We know that the Tenth Legion’s camp was situated within the limits of what is today the Old City, probably in the region of the Armenian Quarter. This assumption is reinforced by the discovery of the bathhouse in the nearby Jewish Quarter which shows that the multitude of soldiers was spread out and that they were also active outside the camp, in other parts of the Old City”.
Dr. Sion adds, “Another interesting discovery that caused excitement during the excavation is the paw print of a dog that probably belonged to one of the soldiers. The paw print was impressed on the symbol of the legion on one of the roof tiles and it could have happened accidentally or have been intended as a joke”.
Read the full report here.
I could not help but think of the situation poor Lazarus found himself in at the gate of the rich man:
He longed to be filled with what fell from the rich man’s table, but instead the dogs would come and lick his sores. (Luke 16:21 CSB)