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The Feast of Saint Matthew the Apostle
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King Herod’s ritual baths discovered in Machaerus, where John the Baptist’s death was ordered


Jeffrey Bruno

Daniel Esparza - published on 07/06/17

Machaerus, better known as the place where Salome danced for her stepfather, is also an archaeologically exceptional site.

Jewish ritual baths (mikva’ot) are immersion pools used in ritual purification, similar to those used in some Christian traditions for baptism. The largest of these ritual baths discovered to date in Jordan was excavated in 2016 at King Herod’s palace at Machaerus, located on the eastern shore of the Dead Sea. As reported by Biblical Archaeology, “this mikveh (singular for mikva’ot ) was used by King Herod and his royal family to purify themselves in accordance with Jewish religious law.”

Read more:
Jordan is home to important holy sites for Muslims, Jews and Christians alike

But Machaerus is best known not for its ritual baths, but rather as the place where Salome danced for her stepfather, Herod Antipas, the son and successor of King Herod the Great, and ordered the beheading of John the Baptist. In fact, it was Herod the Great who built the palace-fortress of Machaerus, on a cliff above the Dead Sea. This was also one of the last strongholds to fall during the First Jewish Revolt against Rome (66–72).

To read the full article, as published by Biblical Archaeology, click here.

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