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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

9/18/2013 (7 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

First century mansion unearthed in Jerusalem's Mount Zion

What appears to have been a "high-status" residence has been unearthed at Jerusalem's Mount Zion. Archaeologists say the well-appointed domicile dates back to the first century and may have very well belonged to a priest who condemned Jesus Christ to death.

According to Gibson and the digs other co-director, James Tabor, a scholar of early Christian history at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, the location of the domicile suggests that it belonged to a priest.

According to Gibson and the digs other co-director, James Tabor, a scholar of early Christian history at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, the location of the domicile suggests that it belonged to a priest.

Article Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

9/18/2013 (7 months ago)

Published in Middle East

Keywords: Jerusalem, Mount Zion, priest, Jesus Christ


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The mansion came complete with an ancient bathtub. "Byzantine tradition places in our general area the mansion of the high priest Caiaphas or perhaps Annas, who was his father-in-law," Shimon Gibson, the archaeologist co-directing the excavation said. 

"In those days you had extended families who would have been using the same building complex, which might have had up to 20 rooms and several different floors."


According to Gibson and the digs other co-director, James Tabor, a scholar of early Christian history at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, the location of the domicile suggests that it belonged to a priest. 


The ruins of what appears to be a high-status residence were dug up on Jerusalem

The ruins of what appears to be a high-status residence were dug up on Jerusalem's Mount Zion, just outside the walls of the Old City.


"We might be digging in the home of one of Jesus' archenemies," Tabor told reporters. "Someone who was at the trial of Jesus, and probably voted no."

"We think Sadducees," Tabor said. "That's the class that has the wealth and more of the control of the temple, and they're in with the Romans."


The ancient bathtub, visible on the left side of this excavated bathroom, looks a lot like the moder

The ancient bathtub, visible on the left side of this excavated bathroom, looks a lot like the modern-day equivalent.


Built close to the walls of the Second Temple, the building was erected by King Herod the Great in biblical times. The home boasts a three-pit oven, considered a luxury in those days, as well as a private walk-in ritual pool and a separate bathroom.

Archaeologists say that the bathtub is one of the most significant clues in the mystery surrounding the mansion's owners. Only three other such tubs have been linked to the Second Temple period in Israel, Gibson said. 


The others, to date, have been unearthed in Herod's palaces at Jericho and Masada, and the third was found in a priestly residence excavated nearby in Jerusalem's Jewish Quarter.

The mansion

The mansion's residents could walk down these steps into a ritual bathing pool also known as a mikvah.


"It is only a stone's throw away, and I wouldn't hesitate to say that the people who made that bathroom probably were the same ones who made this one," Gibson said. "It's almost identical, not only in the way it's made, but also in the finishing touches, like the edge of the bath itself."

Archaeologists also explored a 30-foot-deep cistern. "When we started clearing it, we found a lot of debris inside, which included substantial numbers of animal bones, and then right at the bottom we came across a number of vessels which seemed to be sitting on the floor - cooking pots and bits of an oven as well," Gibson said.

Three round pits served as ovens for the mansion

Three round pits served as ovens for the mansion's residents.


Jewish residents might have lived in the cistern as their final refuge during the Roman siege that led to the city's destruction in the year 70. Roman-Jewish historian Josephus, in his account of the conflagration, said more than 2,000 bodies were found underground in Jerusalem's cisterns and water systems. Most died from starvation.

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