During new excavations at Jerusalem's storied Mount Zion, archaeologists uncovered the remains of a possible mansion that's 2,000 years old. The dig leaders think the building and its contents could shed light on the wealthy class of Jerusalem during Jesus' day.
Artifacts and other clues suggest the mansion may have been the home of an elite Jewish family during the early Roman period, the researchers said. The building would have been located close to the expansive complex of Herod the Great, and inside, excavators found traces of an exceptional bathroom and the shells of sea snails that were valued for their rich purple dye.
"If this turns out to be the priestly residence of a wealthy first-century Jewish family, it immediately connects not just to the elite of Jerusalem — the aristocrats, the rich and famous of that day — but to Jesus himself," James Tabor, the dig's co-director, said in a statement. [Proof of Jesus Christ? 7 Pieces of Evidence Debated]
The archaeological finds could add to knowledge about this elite class that researchers have gleaned from the Bible, as well as the writings of Titus Flavius Josephus and later rabbinical texts.
"Jesus, in fact, criticizes the wealth of this class," added Tabor, who is a scholar of early Christian history at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. "He talks about their clothing and their long robes and their finery, and, in a sense, pokes fun at it. So for us to get closer to understanding that — to supplement the text — it could be really fascinating."
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