Courtesy Assaf Stern/Archaeological Seminars Institute

HOLEY VESSELS. The Maresha cave excavations have unearthed hundreds of Hellenistic-period jars, bowls, pots and juglets deliberately punctured with small holes that would have rendered the vessels unusable. This puzzling phenomenon bears striking similarities to a purification ritual described in the Mishnah (the earliest codification of rabbinic law, redacted c. 200 C.E.) in which ritually unclean vessels could be made pure again by piercing them with small holes, after which the vessels could then be repaired and reused. The resemblance suggests that the purification rites of the Idumeans may have been similar to those of the Judeans.