Mount Zion Excavation on 'Priestly Mansion' Expected to Shed More Light on Jesus' Jerusalem

Archaeologists digging on the historic Mount Zion may have found more clues as to how life was like in Jerusalem during the time of Jesus.

Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte have unearthed various items from a priestly mansion dated to the time of the first century located at the Jerusalem site.

Of particular interest to the research team, reads a press statement released by UNCC on Tuesday, is the presence of a vaulted chamber that served as a bathing room.

Shimon Gibson, an archaeologist and co-director of the excavation, noted the importance of the bathroom being found in what is believed to be a residence for one of Ancient Israel's ruling priestly class families.

"The bathroom is very important because hitherto, except for Jerusalem, it is usually found within palace complexes, associated with the rulers of the country," said Gibson.

"We have examples of bathrooms of this kind mainly in palatial buildings."

Gibson also explained in his statement why the team believes the mansion to have belonged to a Jewish priestly family instead of a Roman occupier.

"The building in the Jewish Quarter is similar in characteristics to our own with an inscription of a priestly family," said Gibson.

"Whoever lived in this house would have been a neighbor and would have been able to pop into the palace."

James Tabor, co-director of the excavation, was more cautious yet also stated that the confirmation of the initial conclusion was be very significant.

"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," said Tabor.

"These are the families who had Jesus arrested and crucified, so for us to know more about them and their domestic life - and the level of wealth that they enjoyed - would really fill in for us some key history."

The mansion was built close to the wall of the Second Temple, which was built during the rule of King Herod. This temple was destroyed in AD 70 by the Romans in response to a Jewish revolt.