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Did this bathtub belong to a priest who condemned Christ?

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
September 18th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

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.

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. 


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"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."


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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.

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"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.

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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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Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)