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John the Baptist’s cave ‘found’ in Jerusalem

dpa, Germany
Aug. 16, 2004 • Monday August 16, 2004

London – A British archaeologist is set to reveal what he believes to be the location of John the Baptist’s cave to the west of Jerusalem, The Times reported on Monday.

Shimon Gibson, 45, has found a cave with a ritual baptism pool, rock carvings and pottery, which he linked to John the Baptist and his followers, the newspaper said.

According to the New Testament, John baptised Jesus in the River Jordan.

The Times said Gibson would reveal details at a press conference on Tuesday to be held at the cave, near the village of Ain Karim, which Christian tradition regards as John the Baptist’s birthplace.

Gibson said a figure holding a staff reminiscent of representations of John the Baptist in early Byzantine art was among images incised into the rock during the fourth and fifth centuries, by which time the cave had become a shrine to the Baptist.

“I am now certain that this cave was connected with the ancient cult of John the Baptist. Indeed, this may very well be the cave of the early years of John’s life, the place where he sought his first solitude in the wilderness and the place where he practised his baptisms,” Gibson told The Times.

Access to the cave has been restricted for fear pilgrims would hamper excavation.

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