A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America
Herod the Great’s Bathtubs Were Locally Sourced
Wednesday, May 18, 2022
RAMAT GAN, ISRAEL—According to a statement released by Bar-Ilan University, a new study conducted by Ayala Amir, Boaz Zissu, and Aren Maeir of Bar-Ilan University and Amos Frumkin of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and their colleagues suggests that high-quality calcite-alabaster vessels were produced in the Levant. It had been previously thought that all ancient calcite-alabaster vessels discovered in the region were made of stone imported from Egypt. The scientists analyzed the chemical composition and crystalline structure of modern and ancient samples of calcite-alabaster from Egypt, calcite-alabaster chips from a recently discovered quarry in Te'omim cave in the Jerusalem hills, and a block of calcite-alabaster from Umm el-‘Umdan, an archaeological site situated near the cave. They then compared the results of the tests with the composition of two high-quality bathtubs found in the Kypros fortress and the palace of Herod the Great. The study indicates that the bathtubs were made from local calcite-alabaster, and suggests that the calcite-alabaster industry in Judea was developed enough in the second half of the first century B.C. to meet Herod’s exacting standards, Maeir explained. Read the original scholarly article about this research in Scientific Reports. To read about a Roman basilica complex unearthed in Ashkelon that was built during Herod's reign, go to "Herodian Hangout."
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