Ancient Roman bath found in Jerusalem

Jerusalem - Israeli archaeologists have uncovered a 1 800-year-old bathing pool which proves that Aelia Capitolina, the Roman city built after the destruction of Jerusalem, was larger than thought, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced on Monday.

The bathing pool, used by the Roman Tenth Legion and dating from the second and third centuries AD, was found by workers during excavations carried out in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, the IAA said.

The excavations revealed several plastered bathtubs in the side of the pool, a pipe used to fill it with water, and a white industrial mosaic on the floor of the pool.

The bathhouse tiles, stamped with the symbols "LEG X FR" - Tenth Legion Fretensis - were found in place and the paw print of a dog which probably belonged to one of the soldiers was impressed on the symbol of the legion on one of the roof tiles.

"The mark of the soldiers of the Tenth Legion, in the form of the stamped impressions on the roof tiles and the in situ mud bricks, bears witness to the fact that they were the builders of the structure," said IAA Excavatiosn Director Ofer Sion.

"It seems that the bathhouse was used by these soldiers who were garrisoned there after suppressing the Bar Kokhba uprising in 135 AD, when the pagan city Aelia Capitolina was established," he said.

Considerably large city

"We know that the Tenth Legion's camp was situated within the limits of what is today the Old City, probably in the region of the Armenian Quarter.

"This assumption is reinforced by the discovery of the bathhouse in the nearby Jewish Quarter which shows that the multitude of soldiers was spread out and that they were also active outside the camp, in other parts of the Old City," he went on.

IAA Jerusalem District Archaeologist Yuval Baruch noted that the until the pool was found, excavations in the Jewish Quarter had uncovered nothing from the Tenth Legion, leading archaeologists to believe that Aelia Capitolina was small and limited in size.

"The new find, together with other discoveries of recent years, shows that the city was considerably larger than what we previously estimated," he said.

"Information about Aelia Capitolina is extremely valuable and can contribute greatly to research on Jerusalem because it was that city that determined the character and general appearance of ancient Jerusalem and as we know it today," he added.
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