Studies of a mikveh or Jewish ritual bath have strengthened the hypotheses of a New Spanish Jewish community in Taxco. We tell you about this vestige.
The discovery of a mikveh or Jewish ritual bath has put interest in Juliantla, a town in the municipality of Taxco de Alarcón, Guerrero. Well, the vestige, dating from the 16th century, reveals the Jewish footprint in that town. The mikvah is a sink that serves as a ritual bath. It is used for purification after menstruation for women or for bathing for men on certain holidays.
The archaeologist Diego Martínez Serrano, who has spent long periods studying the mikvah, has poured his research into his master’s thesis carried out at the Archeology Postgraduate Program at the National School of Anthropology and History.
During the presentation of his work in the fourth session of the VI Colloquium of Historical Archeology, he mentioned that the mikvah (space where purification baths prescribed by Judaism take place) is located in the Plaza de Juliantla, and has always been known as “the bathroom of the Jews.” The place is composed of a pool for the ritual bath, on the side a stone dome of 1 meter in diameter that covers a pit that collects rainwater to feed the bath.
According to studies, the Taxco bathroom meets all the requirements established by Jewish law. In fact, when a Jewish quarter was founded, it was the first construction to be erected, even before a synagogue. According to the statement from the National Institute of Anthropology and History ( INAH ), “by means of photogrammetry surveys, it was determined that the grave measures 2.5 m in diameter and 2 m deep, while the dimensions of the baptistery are 6.5 by 7.11 m in diameter, and a height (from the lowest point to the highest) of 4.43 m, plus a staircase of 1.25 m. “
The Mikvah, trace of the Jews persecuted by the Holy Inquisition
Due to the persecution that Jews suffered in colonial times, the mikvah is built in a discreet way. On this, Martínez Serrano mentioned:
“It was possible to understand that the idea of purity and sanctity of this community was supported by biblical similes, such as those referring to the prophet Esdras and the patriarch Jacob, seeking to reinforce their beliefs with the construction of this mikvah in Juliantla, away from their properties so as not to to be discovered, but also close enough to cleanse your soul ”.
According to the previous historiography, Jewish families settled in the Taxco region, Guerrero, seeking to protect themselves from the Holy Inquisition. These families owned mines and practiced crypto-Judaism in a communal way.
“An example of the above is the cases of the brothers Jorge de Almeyda and Héctor de Fonseca, owners of the Cantarranas and San Juan Bautista estates, respectively. The first emigrated from Portugal to New Spain “MEXICO”, and once settled, he established a relationship with the family of the governor of the New Kingdom of León, Luis de Carvajal y de la Cueva, also New Christians of Portuguese Jewish origin, marrying his sister Leonor. “, mentions the INAH statement.
The researcher Diego Martínez commented that despite being married by Christian law, Héctor de Fonseca married two of the Carvajal sisters, Mariana and Isabel, to maintain a “pure Jewish community”. This fact brought him to death with his brother Jorge de Almeyda. Hector de Fonseca is known to have been returned to Spain in the early seventeenth century, after spending time in the prisons of the Inquisition for practicing Judaism.
Finally, Diego Martínez Serrano pointed out that it is necessary to do excavation work in Juliantla, in order to locate possible artifacts from the crypto-Jewish community.