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First-Century Bath Found in Magdala
ISRAEL | APOSTOLATE | NEWS
Another striking archaeological development unearthed on the grounds of the upcoming Magdala Center.

bath in magdala
A close-up view of the seven steps of the miqwe uncovered in Magdala.

August 19, 2011. Magdala, Israel. As the archaeological excavations continue on the site where Fr Juan Solana, LC, and his team are building the Magdala Center, new discoveries are constantly coming to light. In September of 2009, archaeologists discovered a first-century synagogue and a stone engraved with a seven-branched menorah. This year, they uncovered a first-century mosaic and a ritual Jewish bath.

The team of archaeologists, led by Marcela Zapata, a Mexican archaeologist based out of the Anáhuac University of Southern Mexico City, identified the stone pool structure as a “miqwe,” a ritual purification bath used before entering the synagogue. Measuring about 11.5 feet deep, it has seven stairs descending to the bottom. Zapata noted that the seven stairs are a symbolic reference to the seven days of creation and to the seven historic moments of contact between Yahweh and the Jewish people.

“The physicality of the Mikvah is so striking,” said Fr Eamon Kelly, LC, the vice-chargé for the Pontifical Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center. “You walk down steps, you see the water  there, it becomes so real. There is absolutely no mistake about it – you are in a place where pious Jews carried out their
wider view of miqwe
A wider view of the miqwe among the other ruins.
religious prescriptions.”

In addition to the miqwe, the archaeologists discovered many other small objects that point to life in the small Jewish town: clay pots and dishes, stone jars that the Jews used to purify themselves in the miqwe, about 700 first-century coins, and various metal objects such as rings and bells.

“For the millions of visitors, God willing, who will come to Magdala, they will have striking features to see,” said Fr Kelly, noting that seeing archaeological evidence of biblical times does not replace faith, “but it surely solidifies the rationality of our understanding and makes it tangible.”

He also pointed out that recent discoveries at the Magdala Center, of interest to both Jews and Christians, can forge “deeper bonds” of mutual understanding, and can become a form of outreach to people of other faiths and with all people of goodwill.

As the Magdala Project continues, those interested in staying up to date on recent happenings can visit the Magdala Center web site at www.magdalacenter.com or subscribe to the Magdala Newsletter by e-mailing Fr Juan Solana at jsolana@magdalacenter.com.


PUBLICATION DATE: 2011-08-19


 
 

Related links

Catholic.net web site
New Gate Tours
Institute for the Psychological Sciences
Magdala Center
Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center
Pontifical Regina Apostolorum College


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