Last month, Shimon Gibson and James Tabor returned for one “final” season of digging the “Cave of John the Baptist.” The results of the season have now been released by the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. The archaeologists followed a corridor which seems to be leading to yet another cave, making this an even more significant water system in the Iron Age. In addition, seven stone pillars were found in the middle of this corridor. Apparently the new discoveries may be leading Gibson to consider non-ritual purposes for the cave.
In his 2004 book, Gibson argues that “evidence showed that the cave at Suba was already more than 700 years old at the time of John the Baptist. It was a place, I believe, that must have possessed a hoary Israelite tradition of ritualistic bathing going back into the mists of time.” As more evidence has been uncovered Gibson has broadened his theorizing and currently is uncertain of the original function of the facility. There are no precise parallels to this kind of complex from the Iron Age.
We’re all for any thinking that considers non-ritual purposes for the site.