This is actually Hanan Eshel’s second attempt. His first article on this subject is “A Note on ‘Miqvaot’ at Sepphoris,” in Douglas R. Edwards and C. Thomas McCollough, eds., Archaeology and the Galilee (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1997), p. 131.


Among my numerous publications on Sepphoris, a good place to look is at my article “Jesus and His Galilean Context,” in Edwards and McCollough, Archaeology and the Galilee, pp. 57–66, and the references in note 34. See also Sepphoris in Galilee: Crosscurrents of Culture (catalog), ed. Rebecca M. Nagy et al. (Raleigh: North Carolina Museum of Art, 1996), pp. 15–80, 149–153; and Carol L. Meyers and Eric M. Meyers, “Sepphoris,” in The Oxford Encyclopedia of Archaeology in the Near East(New York and Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1997), vol. 4, pp. 527–536.


His 1996 unpublished Ph.D. dissertation at Northwestern University is entitled “A Zoological Model for the Study of Ethnic Complexity at Sepphoris.” Dr. Grantham is presently associate professor of anthropology at Troy State University in Alabama. He and I coauthored a paper on this subject, which I read at the 1997 Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature and the American Academy of Religion.


This is the point of view adopted by most of the authors in Nagy et al., Sepphoris in Galilee, and in Zeev Weiss and Ehud Netzer, “Architectural Development of Sepphoris During the Roman and Byzantine Periods,” in Edwards and McCollough, Archaeology and the Galilee, p. 128 and passim.


The evidence from lamps is summarized by Eric C. Lapp in Sepphoris in Galilee, pp. 221–222, and “The Archaeology of Light: The Cultural Significance of the Oil Lamp from Roman Palestine” (Ph.D. diss., Duke Univ., 1997), esp. pp. 80–113. The relevant numismatic data is conveniently summarized by Ya’akov Meshorer in Sepphoris in Galilee, pp. 195–198.


This evidence is conveniently summarized by Stuart Miller and Isaiah Gafni in their articles in Sepphoris in Galilee, pp. 21–28, 51–58, and 59–66.


Estimates for how many gallons equal 40 seahs vary from 60 gallons, according to Eshel, to 125 to 250 gallons, according to Rabbi Meir Posen of London, a specialist in ritual baths (see “Die Mikwe als Grundlage jüdischen Lebens,” in Georg Hensberger, ed. Mikwe: Geschichte und Architektur jüdischer Ritualbäder in Deutschland [Frankfurt am Main: Jüdisches Museum der Stadt Frankfurt am Main, 1992], pp. 1–9). Rabbi Posen states that 1,000 liters equals 40 seahs, or 250 gallons (p. 4). E.P. Sanders (Jewish Law from Jesus to the Mishnah [Philadelphia: Trinity Press International, 1990], pp. 214–231; equivalencies for the seah are discussed on p. 215) reports that the modern equivalent of 40 seahs ranges from 250 to 1,000 liters of water, which is based on the ancient dispute over the volume in 1 square cubit by 3 cubits (Sanders, Jewish Law, pp. 215–220, n. 31, 36 and 47 on pp. 355–56).


See the plan of the Dionysos house in Nagy et al., Sepphoris in Galilee, p. 112, fig. 46 (note the latrine and washbasin at the upper left [NW] and the mikveh at the right [E]).


See the picture of women immersing glass and possibly metal vessels in a mikveh in Hensberger, Mikwe, p. 19. The image is reproduced from a 14th-century Spanish haggadah.


These excavations are now directed by Zeev Weiss. There are actually three simultaneous excavations at the site. The third is directed by James F. Strange of the University of South Florida. Weiss and Netzer note the presence of two bathhouses in the lower city along the cardo, where they also located two or three mikva’ot (mentioned in the Sepphoris article, in “Architectural Development of Sepphoris,” p. 12, n. 4.


James F. Strange, “Six Campaigns at Sepphoris: The University of South Florida Excavations, 1983–1989,” in Lee I. Levine, ed. The Galilee in Late Antiquity (New York: Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1992), pp. 345–349. Strange is quite explicit in referring to one area as a “small private bath or a large private bath”—his neutral designation being “pooled building” (p. 348). He also notes the presence of numerous mikva’ot in the surrounding areas (p. 345). In addition, he notes the presence of a tub in the fourth-century C.E. debris of the “pooled building” (p. 349).


See Yizhar Hirschfeld, The Palestinian Dwelling in the Roman and Byzantine Period (Jerusalem: Franciscan Printing Press, 1995), pp. 237–248 and passim. Hirschfeld provides an excellent photo from Shivta in the Negev of a stone drainpipe system that conducted water from the rooftop of a house to a cistern, which could as well have been a mikveh (p. 279, fig. 200). Hirschfeld also points out that rainwater was collected on rooftops in Byzantine Jerusalem and the water transported to courtyard systems with clay pipes (p. 278). He also points out that in the traditional Palestinian home today various foods and liquids are stored in a clay vessel known as a hawabi. He goes on to say that in antiquity such a vessel could have stored rainwater in the courtyard of a Jewish household (p. 278); this rainwater could have been used for laundry or, I might add, a mikveh. Such rainwater transport systems were also used for privies, which are known from Byzantine houses (fig. 199 and p. 278). To the best of my knowledge, only one privy has been found at Sepphoris, in the Dionysos Mansion, but some of the downspouts could have been used for them also. No doubt chamber pots were in common use as well.


While the technological means of transporting water from the lower city to the western summit remain a mystery, Tsvika Tsuk has dealt extensively with the water systems at Sepphoris. See his article elsewhere in this issue, as well as in Nagy et al., Sepphoris in Galilee, pp. 45–50; “The Aqueducts of Sepphoris,” in The Aqueducts of Ancient Palestine, ed. D. Amit, Hirschfeld and Joseph Patrich (Jerusalem: Yad Izhak Ben-Zvi, 1989), pp. 101–108 (in Hebrew); The Ancient Reservoir of Sepphoris: Excavations, 1993–1994, Tsuk, E. Rosenberger and M. Peilstocker (Tel Aviv: National Parks, Hydrology Society and Ministry of Tourism, 1996) (in Hebrew); and “The Aqueducts to Sepphoris,” in Galilee Through the Centuries: Confluence of Cultures, ed., E.M. Meyers, (Eisenbrauns, 1999) pp. 161–176.


Posen, “Die Mikwe,” p. 4. The recently opened Freeman Center for Jewish Life at Duke University has considered several proposals for installing a mikvehin its basement. As a member of both the Board of Trustees and a supervisory committee on this project, I can report that we have been in contact with several Orthodox rabbis and architects specializing in systems that depend on rainwater for a supply of pure water. Such rooftop collecting systems for mikva’ot today are somewhat complex but nonetheless predominate in the industry, as they have since late antiquity. So long as no vessel interrupts the flow of water from its point of origin to the mikveh, it is acceptable. As we have noted above, however, a reservoir or storage tank for rainwater would be the preferred way living water is stored. From there to the mikveh its flow may not be interrupted. The transport system in such an instance is called a hamshakah. At the end of a ceramic pipe there would be a small trough or hole to connect the reservoir to the mikveh. Springwater and melted ice or snow could also be used in such a system.