In an archaeological excavation that the Israel Antiquities Authority is conducting in the Neve Sharrett neighborhood of Zikhron Ya‘aqov (at the site of Khirbet Jabar), prior to construction there by a private contractor, a magnificent Byzantine bathhouse was uncovered that dates to the fourth-fifth centuries CE.
According to the archaeologist, Orit Segal, director of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “the bathhouse is relatively well-preserved and it belonged to an estate house that is probably located north of the bathhouse”. The bathhouse covers an area of 20 x 20 meters, and it includes cold water pools (frigidaria), bathtubs, a heated room (caldarium – similar to a modern sauna), a warm room (tepidarium), and a furnace (praefurnium) from which hot air flowed beneath the floors of the cauldarium and tepidarium. In addition, a water channel was uncovered that conveyed water to the bathhouse from the spring at ‘Ein Hanzir. Marble elements were discovered at the site including the head of a woman, a Corinthian capital, a marble element adorned with a shell motif topped with bird decorations that belonged to a fountain in the bathhouse, marble columns, and marble slabs that were used as pavement in the bathhouse floor. None of the marble elements are indigenous to the region. They originated in Asia Minor and were imported by way of the ancient port site of Caesarea.
At nearby Ramat HaNadiv (‘Ein Tsur) an earlier bathhouse was excavated that dates from the Herodian period to the first century CE, and it too belonged to an estate and was used by the local aristocracy.