2 millennia old, 13-mile subterranean aqueduct unearthed in Jerusalem

Road workers in Umm Tuba, a neighborhood in Israel’s capital, discovered section of subterranean aqueduct built by Hasmonean kings to bring water to Jerusalem for 2 millennia, up until a century ago.

By Yori Yalon


A section of a subterranean aqueduct that brought supplied water to the city of Jerusalem 2,000 years ago was recently unearthed in the neighborhood of Umm Tuba during preparations to lay a new sewer pipe.

The section of the ancient conduit, which was the city’s main source of water for two millennia – Photo: Israel Antiquities Authority/Assaf Peretz

Now that part of the aqueduct has been uncovered, the Israel Antiquities Authority has set up an official archeological excavation at the site.

Yaakov Billig, who is overseeing the dig for the authority, noted that “the aqueduct, which was constructed over 2,000 years ago by the Hasmonean kings to bring water to Jerusalem, was used on and off until about 100 years ago.

“The aqueduct begins in Ein Itam, near King Solomon’s Pool south of Bethlehem, and is about 21 kilometers [13 miles] long. For most of its length, [the aqueduct] runs down a very slight incline, with the water flowing down about one meter every kilometer. When it was first built, the water flowed along an open conduit. About 500 years ago, during the Ottoman Empire, it was lined with clay so the water would be better protected,” Billig said.

The aqueduct originally ran through open territory, but it now runs through a number of neighborhoods that have been built as Jerusalem expanded in the modern era, including Umm Tuba, Sur Baher‎, East Talpiot and Abu Tor.

According to Billig, “Since this was one of the main sources of water for Jerusalem, the city’s rulers throughout the ages took care to preserve it and improve it for 2,000 years, until it was replaced nearly a century ago by a modern system that is electrically operated.”


View original Israel Hayom publication at: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=25667