Archaeologists uncover 1,800-yr-old Roman bathhouse in Jerusalem

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

WASHINGTON - A 1,800-year-old bathhouse was discovered prior to the construction of a men’s mikveh (ritual bath) in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem.

The Israel Antiquities Authority announced that the bathhouse was probably used by the Tenth Legion, the Roman soldiers who destroyed the Second Temple, reports

The surprise discovery also included the paw print of a dog that probably belonged to one of the soldiers, said excavation director Ofer Sion.

“The mark of the soldiers of the Tenth Legion, in the form of the stamped impressions on the roof tiles and in the mud bricks, bears witness to the fact that they were the builders of the structure,” he said.

“It seems that the bathhouse was used by these soldiers who were garrisoned there after suppressing the Bar Kokhba uprising in 135 CE (A.D.), when the pagan city Aelia Capitolina was established,” Sion added.

The structure includes a number of plastered bathtubs in the side of a pool, a pipe used to fill it with water, and a white industrial mosaic pavement on the floor.

Hundreds of terra cotta roof tiles were found on the floors of the pool, indicating it was a covered structure, he added.

The bathhouse tiles are stamped with the symbols of the Tenth Legion ‘Fretensis’-LEG X FR.

Jerusalem district archaeologist Yuval Baruch said new evidence about Aelia Capitolina was ‘extremely valuable’ because it determined the outline of its walls and the location of the gates to this very day.

“Despite the very extensive archaeological excavations that were carried out in the Jewish Quarter, so far not even one building has been discovered there that belonged to the Roman legion,” said Baruch, explaining that the absence of such evidence had led them to believe Aelia Capitolina was a small city.

“The new find, together with other discoveries of recent years, shows that the city was considerably larger than we previously estimated,” he added. (ANI)

Filed under: Science and Technology

will not be displayed