Archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) have uncovered a magnificent ritual bath (mikveh) at the site of the 2,000-year-old agricultural farmstead near Hannaton, a kibbutz in northern Israel. “The existence of a mikveh, a purification facility, unequivocally indicates that the residents of the ancient farm were Jewish, who led a religious and traditional way of life, and maintained purity as a Torah commandment,” said IAA archaeologists Dr. Abd Elghani Ibrahim and Dr. Walid Atrash.
“Ritual baths have been used in daily life by Jews since the Second Temple period and until today,”
The newly-discovered mikveh is a large construction with a mass of approximately 57 tons. “The discovery of the mikveh in the farmstead changes what we knew about the lifestyle of the Jews in the Second Temple period,” the researchers said. “Until now we hadn’t discovered Jewish farms in the Galilee.”
“It was considered that the Jews in the Roman period didn’t live in farms outside the villages or towns.” “The discovery of the farmstead at some distance from the village of the Shikhin and the large Jewish town of Sepphoris, showed that Jews also settled in farmsteads that perhaps functioned as the rural hinterland of the town. The ancient farm was destroyed in an earthquake about 1,700 years ago, and the site was finally abandoned 300 years later.
“A huge highway interchange is being constructed over this valley,” the archaeologists explained. “The need to anchor one of the supporting bridge columns necessitated the construction of deep foundation trenches in the bedrock.” “As we excavated next to the construction works, the mikveh was uncovered,” they said.
“Since it was not possible to preserve the mikveh at the site, the idea arose to detach the installation from the rock and to transplant it to a protected site for display, for the benefit of the public.”