Water Works Project Uncovers Ancient Bathhouse

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MOSHAV TARUM, Israel -- Old meets new once again in Israel as workers discovered an ancient bathhouse while laying pipes for a new water system.

The Roman-style bathhouse is about 1,600 years old, but what interested experts the most is where they found it.

"What is most unique is its location, away from a settlement. It is found by water sources, of course, because of the stream, and we have a lot of water sources in this region but it is not found inside a settlement," Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist Dr. Yitzhak Paz said.

"This is what makes him [it] a bit unique and of course it's preservation that is quite good," he said

Paz said the bathhouse includes a dressing room, cold room, plus areas resembling a sauna and steam room. It's not clear, however, who used it.

"It may be connected to a personality or a family, a rich family from this region. And it also could have served people who came by the road from the Ayalon region to Jerusalem and went across the Har-El stream," he explained.

As often happens in Israel, discovering the ancient bathhouse put the brakes on the other project -- a modern water system.

"It's a surprise," Paz said. "It stopped all the project in this section at least nine months."

Mekorot Water Company project manager Micky Elisha told CBN News it was quite a surprise to find a bathhouse while laying water pipes.

"I said to the archaeological authority that we connect our pipeline to this building [(bathhouse] so it's very ironic," Elisha said.

In another week or so, the bathhouse will be covered with dirt to preserve it. Then construction can continue on a water supply system to meet the future needs of Jerusalem.

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Julie Stahl

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