Biblical Archaeology Review 28:2, March/April 2002

They Are Ritual Baths

Immerse yourself in the ongoing Sepphoris mikveh debate

By Ronny Reich

Scholars have been arguing for some time about the purpose of several plaster-clad stepped pools in the ancient Galilean settlement of Sepphoris, just 4 miles northwest of Nazareth. Not long ago, BAR published the opposing views of two prominent scholars. Duke University professor Eric Meyers, who has extensively excavated at Sepphoris, insisted that the Sepphoris pools were indeed ritual baths, known as mikva’ot (singular: mikveh)—but Hanan Eshel, of Bar-Ilan University in Israel, contended that the pools were only used for routine bathing.a

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