IAA archaeologist Benyamin Storchan
IAA archaeologist Benyamin StorchanCourtesy of IAA

A rare find in Jerusalem: archaeologists have uncovered a ritual pool from the Second Temple era near a highway construction site.

The discovery came during excavations carried out in advance of paving the Ora-Masua’ah highway in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Kiryat Menachem.

According to Israel Antiquities Authority excavation director Benyamin Storchan, “Numerous ritual baths have been excavated in Jerusalem in recent years, but the water supply system that we exposed in this excavation is unique and unusual. The pool consists of an underground chamber entered by way of steps. The mikveh received the rainwater from three collecting basins (otzar) that were hewn on the roof of the bath, and the pure water was conveyed onside the chamber through channels. 

“The ritual baths known until now usually consiste of a closed cavity that was supplied with rainwater conveyed from a small rock-cut pool located nearby.

“The complex that was exposed at this time is a more sophisticated and intricate system...apparently associated with a settlement that was situated there in the Second Temple period.

“Presumable, due to the rainfall regime and arid conditions of the region, the inhabitants sought special techniques that would make it possible to store every drop of water.”

The pool, located in a picturesque valley with ancient agriculture, was uncovered a short distance from houses in the neighborhood. It conforms to all the Jewish laws, Storchan said, adding that the walls were treated with a special kind of plaster. 

The Israel Antiquities Authority and the Moriah Company involved in the area’s development are “working to make this delightful treasure a site for the benefit of the residents and visitors,” according to the IAA.