Archaeologists in Jerusalem have unearthed a 1,500-year-old pool and fountain that could have been the site of one of Christianity’s most storied baptisms.
The pool may have served as the site of a key story described in the New Testament, wherein St. Philip the Evangelist baptised and converted an Ethiopian man to Christianity, scientists say.
It’s not truly clear what the pool was used for, however.
The artifacts are part of Jerusalem’s Ein Hanya, which is the second-largest spring in the Judean Hills.
Pictured, the Byzantine-era pool discovered by archaeologists at the site of Ein Hanya, which is the second-largest spring in the Judean Hills, just outside Jerusalem.
‘The most significant finding in the excavation is a large and impressive pool from the Byzantine period said Irina Zilberbod, the excavation director for the Israel Antiques Authority (IAA), according to the JewishPress.
‘It’s difficult to know what the pool was used for — whether for irrigation, washing, landscaping or perhaps as part of baptismal ceremonies at the site,’ Zilberbod said.
Archaeologists unearthed and excavated the site between 2012 and 2016, but it was only made available to the public earlier this week.
The IAA believes the pools date back to between the 4th and 6th centuries A.D.
The Byzantine-era pool drains into a network of channels that lead to a ‘magnificent’ nymphaeum, or fountain, that’s adorned with images of nymphs.
Scientists say the fountain is the first of it’s kind in Jerusalem.
The pool may have been a part of a royal estate built at the time of the First Temple era, which began some 3,000 years ago, according to the scientists.
The fountain at the Ein Hanya site was inscribed with images of nymphs, making it the ‘first of its kind’ in Jerusalem, according to scientists. It has since been restored to working condition
The Israel Antiques Authority found the ancient pool and fountain at the site of Ein Hanya, a spring in the Judean Hills. It’s part of the Rephaim Valley National Park, not far from Jerusalem
A 2,400-year-old column discovered at the site may indicate that the grounds were used as a royal estate.
The pool served as the center of a ‘spacious’ complex in front of a church that once stood on the grounds.
A row of elaborate, roofed columns served as a path to a number of residential wings, Zilberbod said.
Experts were able to restore the water system so that the fountain is in working condition.
WHAT IS THE MYSTERIOUS ‘POOL’ DISCOVERED IN JERUSALEM?
A team of archaeologists from the Israel Antiques Authority have been excavating an ancient site near Jerusalem between 2012 and 2016.
The site is located in Ein Hanya, which is the second-largest spring in the Judean Hills.
Experts say Ein Hanya was also the site of a key story described in the New Testament, wherein St. Philip the Evangelist baptised and converted an Ethiopian man to Christianity.
It’s unclear what the pool was actually used for, but scientists say it may have been used for baptisms.
The pool dates back the Byzantine Era, which occurred some 1,500 years ago.
Scientists believe the pool (pictured) may have been served as a place for irrigation, washing or landscaping. It may have also been the site of a storied baptism from the New Testament
But the pool appears to be the most fascinating discovery.
Ein Hanya is widely believed to be the site where St. Philip baptised an Ethiopian man, marking the start of the Ethiopian church.
It hasn’t been determined that the pool was used for the baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch, but if it were, it would be at the center of ‘one of the key events in the spread of Christianity.’
‘Identifying the place where it occurred kept scholars busy for many generations and became a common motif in Christian art,’ said Yuval Baruch, the IAA’s Jerusalem district archaeologist, according to the Times of Israel.
Aside from the pool and fountain, scientists also unearthed a variety of trinkets at the site. They found pottery, glass, roof tiles, coins and multicolored mosaic pieces
‘It’s no wonder part of [Ein Hanya] is still owned by Christians and is a focus of religious ceremonies, both for the Armenian church and the Ethiopian Church,’ Baruch added.
Scientists also discovered a host of rare, ancient trinkets, ranging from pottery, glass, roof tiles and multicolored mosaic pieces.
Scientists discovered a rare silver coin that they believe may be a sample of the Greek currency drachma. Drachma dates back to between 420 and 390 BCE
The items helped scientists determine that the site was likely to have been active between the 4th and 6th centuries B.C.
One item stood out to the scientists in particular, however.
They stumbled upon a rare silver coin, which the scientists said is one of the oldest they’ve discovered so far in the Jerusalem area.
According to the scientists, it is the Greek currency drachma.
Drachma was minted ‘in Ashdod by Greek rulers between 420 and 390 BCE,’ the Times of Israel noted.