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Excavations in Poland have uncovered a Jewish mikveh

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Excavations in the city of Oświęcim, in the region of Małopolska, Poland, have uncovered a wooden mikveh that dates from 300-years-ago.

A mikveh is a bath used for the purpose of ritual immersion to achieve ritual purity in Judaism. The traditional rules regarding the construction of a mikveh are based on those specified in regulations laid down in the Torah and in classical rabbinical literature.

The text describes how a mikveh must be connected to a natural spring or well of naturally occurring water, and thus can be supplied by rivers and lakes which have natural springs as their source. A cistern filled by rainwater is also permitted to act as a mikveh’s water supply, so long as the water is never collected in a vessel.

Archaeological works in Oświęcim were in preparation for the construction of an underground carpark, where the researchers found a series of artefacts from the Middle Ages, in addition to the wood-built mikveh that dates from 300-years-ago.

Speaking to Oswiecim Naszemiasto, archaeologist Grzegorz Mądrzycki, said: “We dug up a few stairs leading down to a wooden floor, which first appeared to be a fragment of a wooden hut. However, after removing successive layers of earth, it turned out to be a wooden mikvah.”

The mikveh is in a high state of preservation, which is uncommon as wood normally decomposes and is broken down by fungi and micro-organisms such as bacteria. The waterlogged conditions have meant that oxygen is unable to penetrate the wood, preventing bacteria from being able to thrive.

Jewish people first settled in Oświęcim in the second half of the 16th century, when most buildings in the city were constructed using wood. The wooden mikveh found by the researchers dates from the 17th or 18th century, which provides historical and architectural value in understanding the basic elements of Jewish life in Oświęcim.

Header Image Credit : Boguslaw Kwiecien

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Archaeology

Trove of Roman objects linked to feasting found at Ostia antica

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Archaeologists have uncovered a trove of Roman objects linked to ritual feasting at Ostia antica.

Ostia Antica is an ancient harbour town located at the mouth of the Tiber River. The harbour served as the main port for Rome, transporting goods and people from the coast along the Via Ostiensis.

Archaeologists recently excavated the area of Regio I – Insula XV, a “sacred area” or precinct housing several temples and sanctuaries. At the centre is the temple of Hercules,  a 31 x 16 metre monument which dates from the Republican Era.

Excavations have revealed a substantial well situated at the base of the temple of Hercules. Upon draining the well, it was discovered to hold a significant collection of objects dating from the 1st to 2nd century AD.

Among the objects are various ceramics, miniatures, lamps, glass containers, fragments of marble, and burnt animal bones (pigs and cattle). According to the archaeologists, the trove corresponds with ritual feasting associated with cult at the temple.

In a press statement by the Ministry of Culture: “The discovery of burnt bones confirms that animal sacrifices were carried out in the sanctuary, while the common ceramics, also bearing traces of fire, indicate that the meat was cooked and consumed during banquets in honour of divinity. The remains of one or more ritual meals were thrown into the well, the last ones probably when their function had ceased.”

Header Image Credit : Ministry of Culture

Sources : Ministry of Culture

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Archaeology

Labyrinthine structure discovered from the Minoan civilisation

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Archaeologists have discovered a monumental labyrinthine structure on the summit of Papoura Hill in Crete.

The discovery was made during the installation of a radar system in preparation for the construction of a new airport in the area.

According to experts, the structure dates from between 2000 to 1700 BC shortly before or at the start of the palaeopalatial Minoan period.

The Minoan civilisation was a Bronze Age culture that emerged on the island of Crete around 3100 BC. The culture is known for the monumental architecture and energetic art, and is often regarded as the first civilisation in Europe.

Image Credit : Greek Ministry of Culture

The chronology of the Minoans is characterised into three distinct phases – Early Minoan (EM), Middle Minoan (MM), and Late Minoan (LM).

The palaeopalatial structure is part of the MMI – II grouping in the Middle Minoan, a period in which the first palaces were built and saw the development of the Minoan writing systems, Cretan hieroglyphic and Linear A.

The structure comprises of 8 concentric stone rings that converge on a central circular building. The entire diameter of the complex measures 48 metres and covers an area of approximately 1800 square metres.

Within the central structure are four designated zones in which radial walls intersect vertically and form a labyrinthine structure. Zones A and B appear to be have the main concentration of human activity, evidenced by the presence of large amounts of animals bones.

According to the experts, this residential area likely had a truncated cone or vaulted appearance and is the first monument of this type excavated in Crete. It can perhaps be paralleled with the elliptical MM building of the Chamezi Archaeological Site, as well as with the so-called circular proto-Hellenic cyclopean building of Tiryns.

The Minister of Culture, said: “This is a unique and highly significant find. Solutions are in place to ensure the completion of the archaeological research and the protection of the monument.”

Header Image Credit : Greek Ministry of Culture

Sources : Greek Ministry of Culture

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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