The results of a new study published in the journal Scientific Reports has demonstrated that the alabaster bathtubs from Herod the Great’s Kypros fortress near Jericho were made from local stone, and not Egyptian alabaster as previously thought. The authors of the study analyzed the chemical composition of the stone using a number of tests: inductively coupled plasma (ICP) analysis, routine infra-red (IR) spectroscopy, 1H- and 31P- solid state NMR (ssNMR) experiments; and C and O stable isotope ratio analysis to determine their composition and their crystalline structure. All of the tests were consistent in pointing to the fact that the alabaster came from the Te’omim cave, located on the western slopes of the Jerusalem hills near modern-day Beit Shemesh. In the Bible, Herod the Great was the king at the time of Jesus’ birth. Further, the Herodian palaces would have no doubt been familiar to Jesus who spent time near Jericho (Mt 20:29; Mk 10:46; Lk 18:35).
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