Century-Old Mikveh Unearthed in New Hampshire

Portsmouth Building Belonged to Jewish Women's Home


By Rachel X. Landes

Published July 11, 2014.
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An almost century-old mikveh was unearthed by archeologists this week in the remains of a New Hampshire home.

The ritual bath it was found in a ten-acre outdoor history museum called Strawbery Banke in Portsmouth, which preserves a neighborhood dating back to the 1600s, according to the Archeology Institute of America The neighborhood was inhabited and not historically preserved until 1950s, when local citizens prevented urban renewal efforts on the land.

The mikveh was found behind the remains of a 19th century home, which had been demolished in the 1960s. The mikveh probably was built between 1912 and 1923, when the house was inhabited by the Hebrew Ladies Society. In 1923, a synagogue named Temple Israel bought the property.

According to The Sea Coast Onlinee this mikveh is the fourth historical mikveh ever to be excavated in the Northeast.

According to Alex Martin, museum archeologist, the only mention of the mikveh occurs in oral history, and does not exist in any written records.

The mikveh will be available for public viewing until the end of July.

After July, the mikveh will probably be filled in, according to Alix Martin, museum archaeologist, as that is the best way to ensure its preservation.


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