Jerusalem: Ancient 'Mikveh' bath discovered by archaeologists

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According to the Bible, a powerful tremor rocked the lands of ancient Judah during the reign of the “cursed king” Uzziah. The earthquake is briefly mentioned in the prophetic Book of Zechariah, where the prophet warns about the coming “day of the Lord”. The passage reads: “You will flee by my mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel. You will feel as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah.”

Israeli archaeologists believe they have finally found evidence of this earthquake in the nation’s capital.

Excavations carried out in the City of David National Park have exposed a number of shattered and broken artefacts dating back some 2,800 years.

Although the exact timeline of Uzziah’s reign is unknown, he is believed to have reigned between 783 and 742 BC.

The archaeologists have said they have previously found evidence of this Biblical earthquake in other parts of the country, but never before in Jerusalem.

The dig was carried out by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), which oversees all archaeological operations in the Holy Land.

The excavations in the City of David, which is believed to be the de facto centre of ancient Jerusalem, were led by IAA excavation directors Dr Joe Uziel and Ortal Chalaf.

The archaeologists said: “When we excavated the structure and uncovered an eighth-century BCE layer of destruction, we were very surprised because we know that Jerusalem continued to exist in succession until the Babylonian destruction, which occurred about 200 years later.”

“We asked ourselves what could have caused that dramatic layer of destruction we uncovered.

“Examining the excavation findings, we tried to check if there is a reference to it in the Biblical text.”

Mention of the Biblical quake are also found in the Book of Amos, the third book of the so-called 12 Minor Prophets.

Amos 1:1 opens with the lines: “The words of Amos, one of the shepherds of Tekoa – the vision he saw concerning Israel two years before the earthquake, when Uzziah was king of Judah and Jeroboam son of Jehoash was king of Israel.”

The prophet then goes on to say: “The Lord roars from Zion and thunders from Jerusalem; the pastures of the shepherds dry up, and the top of Carmel withers.”

Among the uncovered artefacts in Jerusalem, the archaeologists found broken pots and ceramics of all shapes and sizes.

There were also bowls, lamps, jars and even the remnants of collapsed buildings.

The City of David sits on the ancient slopes leading to the Temple Mount – the spiritual centre of the Jewish world.

Evidence of the earthquake and the destruction was built upon in time, preserving it for nearly 3,000 years.

According to the IAA, no evidence of fire has been found at the dig, which strengthens the earthquake hypothesis.

The IAA said: “The research conducted and the findings from this excavation will be presented at the beginning of September at the annual archaeological conference of the Magalim Institute.

“It will be held in the City of David – Old Jerusalem.”

An Israeli archaeologist was recently moved to tears by the discovery of a First Temple-era wall in the City of David.

The wall is believed to have been part of the city’s defences during the Babylonian siege in 586 BC.

Dr Filip Vukosavovic of the Ancient Jerusalem Research Center, who coordinated the dig, said of the discovery: “When we exposed the first part of the wall, an area about one metre per one metre large, I immediately understood what we had found. I almost cried.”

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