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Ancient bathhouse unearthed in Israel

Dec. 20, 2011 at 12:29 PM   |   Comments

JERUSALEM, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- Israeli archaeologists say they uncovered the remains of a 1,600-year-old bathhouse in the coastal hills of Judea that may have been part of a wealthy estate.

The ancient bathhouse dating to the Byzantine period was exposed during construction work on a modern water supply system to Jerusalem, Aruz Sheva reported Tuesday.

The Israel Antiquities Authority carried out an archaeological excavation that uncovered the bathhouse remains.

"This is a bathhouse that measures 20 by 20 meters and dates to the fourth-fifth centuries CE (A.D.)," excavation director Rina Avner said. "The remains visible in the field include the frigidarium (cold room), tepidarium (warm room) and caldarium (hot room), as well as a courtyard attached northeast of the bathhouse rooms. Two steps led up to a small cold-water pool located in one of the corners of the courtyard."

Bathing in bathhouses during the Byzantine period was a continuation of the Roman tradition and similar bathhouses were found in the past at Latrun and Caesarea, both in Israel, Avner said.

"It is possible the bathhouse was used by an inn situated on an ancient road that ran along Nahal Harel through the southern Ayalon Valley, and it might also have been part of a wealthy country estate -- just like the pools in the gardens of villas in Caesarea today," she said.

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