Archeology: First Temple Era reservoir discovered

Water reservoir at Wailing Wall was for public use

07 September, 18:27

(ANSAmed) - JERUSALEM, SEPTEMBER 7 - The discovery a few months ago of a reservoir with capacity of 250 cubic meters at the foot of the Wailing Wall (Ha Kotel), on the western side of the Temple Mount, was officially presented together with other finds from this year's excavations at the 13th annual conference on the City of David: Studies of Ancient Jerusalem. The reservoir dates from the First Temple Period, or 1,000 BC, and is among the largest of its period, Israeli media reported.

As though in an Indiana Jones movie, the discovery had its magic moment, Israel Antiquities Authority excavation director, Eli Shukron, told the Jerusalem Post newspaper. A small breach in a drainage ditch they were excavating gave archeologists a glimpse of something lying beneath. Shukron was the first to stick his head in to see what the unknown cavity was, followed by his colleagues. They were so excited they didn't wait for the torches, and illuminated it with their cell phones instead, Shukron said.

Its layers of original plaster showing the hand prints of those who worked on it, the reservoir measures 12.5 by 5 by 4.5 meters. The finding is significant because it is the first evidence of stored water next to the temple. Previously, experts believed that pilgrims and residents used to hike to the Gihon Spring - located in a spring bed at the bottom of the City of David park - in order to get water for rituals and daily life around the First Temple.

"It gives us an opportunity to understand their day-to-day life," Shukron told the Jerusalem Post. He dates the reservoir to the First Temple Period because it uses the same type of plaster as other reservoirs in the Gihon Spring area, from the same era. The pool was probably a public reservoir, because private wells from that era could only hold a few dozen cubic meters of water.

Spring water running downhill from the Temple Mount would have seeped through one side of the reservoir and filled the entire room to capacity. Tvika Tsuk, chief archeologist of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, which co-sponsored the dig, said the reservoir was similar to ones from the same time period found in Beit Shemesh, a small town near Jerusalem, and in Beersheba, a city in the Negev region of southern Israel. (ANSAmed).


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