Tsila Sagiv

WRATH OF THE ROMANS. A detachment of officers from Vespasian’s Fifth Legion led by an officer named Cerealis invaded and set ‘Ethri on fire in the summer of 69 C.E., destroying most of the town. It would be destroyed again at the end of the Bar-Kokhba Revolt in 135 C.E., leaving macabre evidence of the cruelty of war and effectively ending Jewish occupation of the site.

Inside this mikveh (ritual bath) adjacent to the synagogue, the excavators found the scattered bones of at least 12 people, including women and children and a fetus that had been slaughtered by the Roman legion. Examination of the bones showed that one of the victims was beheaded by a blow from a sword. The slain had originally been left to rot where they lay; only later were the bones collected and placed inside the old ritual bath mixed with the ashes, charred wood and melted glass of a village laid to waste by the victorious Romans.