Yizhar Hirschfeld

The upper pool at Ein Gedi, conforming to the natural rock but coated with hydraulic plaster, may have served as a mikveh or ritual bath during the Roman period—when, Hirschfeld argues, Essenes may have lived in the surrounding cells. As befits a mikveh of poor hermits, this one was not entered by nicely hewn steps but by a natural rock ramp (right in photo). The plaster for lining the pool was probably manufactured in a lime kiln found at the northeast end of the site.