Werner Braun

Alongside the Temple esplanade enlarged by Herod the Great in the first century B.C., archaeologists have discovered 48 miqva’ot—ritual immersion baths—like this one. The edges of the broad steps that led to the Temple Mount’s double-gate entry zigzag across the top of the photo.

Close as they were to the Temple on the great esplanade, these 48 miqva’ot must have served thousands of pilgrims who purified themselves before climbing up to the Temple area. On the sides of the water-filled immersion pool, plaster still clings to the ancient stone walls. Ritual immersion in miqva’ot, practiced in Judaism, undoubtedly influenced baptism in the fledgling religion of Christianity.