Biblical Archaeology Review 26:5, September/October 2000
Jerusalem Update

Sacrilegious Neglect

By Hershel Shanks

Jerusalem boasts a new multimillion-dollar archaeological park. We recently reviewed a beautiful new guidebook devoted to this popular park.a Yet steps away from the path prescribed in this guidebook, in the heart of the City of David, the oldest part of Jerusalem, is a rarely visited and poorly maintained 2,000-year-old mikveh, or ritual purity bath (above). Nearby is another, very large mikveh that was obviously a public ritual bath rather than a private one. It is in no better condition than the one shown here. This large public mikveh borders an installation that archaeologist Raymond Weill, who dug here in 1913 and 1914, identified as one of the tombs of the kings of Judah—a much disputed, but sometimes defended, conclusion.b Whether or not it is a tomb, it deserves to be cleaned and respected. Today it is a repository for junk.

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