Every construction project in Israel must be preceded by a thorough archaeological inspection to ensure nothing of great historical value is being built over. And that is precisely what archaeologists examining the location of a new Jerusalem preschool found.
During the preliminary ground-breaking for the new preschool in Jerusalem’s Arnona neighborhood, officials uncovered the remains of a Jewish ritual bath (mikveh) and adjacent winepress dating back to the time of the Second Temple.
Now, it is not uncommon to find such remains in Jerusalem and elsewhere throughout the country, providing firm evidence of the Jewish people’s ancient connection to this land.
What made the recent discovery so special was the level of preservation of the numerous inscriptions and wall paintings, all of which were written in the Aramaic language using the cursive Hebrew script common at the time.
Moshe Tur-Paz, head of the Education Administration at the Jerusalem Municipality, said that the “archaeological and historical site that was exposed is of tremendous value to our identity as a Jewish people which might shine more light on the lives of our ancestors in the city of Jerusalem. We will maintain contact with the Israel Antiquities Authority and together we will examine how we can give educational and symbolic expression to the discovery that was found.”
Royee Greenwald and Alexander Wiegmann, who are directing the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, added:
“There is no doubt that this is a very significant discovery Such a concentration of inscriptions and symbols from the Second Temple period at one archaeological site, and in such a state of preservation, is rare and unique and most intriguing.”
The Antiquities Authority quickly removed the inscriptions from the site and began a complicated preservation treatment to protect the fragile remains from damage. Following that process, experts will closely examine the inscriptions and paintings in order to determine their origin and meaning, if any.
The find will be put on display in the future, and construction of the new preschool will soon resume.