An amazing “accidental” discovery was made in Jerusalem recently.  A 3,000 year-old cistern was found.  It held up to 66,000 gallons of water.  Below are portions of an article that was published about this spectacular discovery.


“A 3,000-year-old cistern has been discovered near the Western Wall, changing the way researchers look at ancient water storage. The reservoir was accidentally uncovered by Israel’s Antiquities Authority on the western side of the Temple Mount. The cistern is the first of its kind discovered in Jerusalem, and is able to hold 250 cubic meters of water.

The find shows that ancient Israelites in the area did not solely rely on water from the Gihon Spring, as historians previously believed, but instead built their own manmade water supplies to serve the city.

Archaeologists were excavating the area to uncover a channel running from the Temple Mount to the Siloam Pool. Discovery of the cistern came as a surprise, as archaeological finds from the time of the First Temple are incredibly rare.  “I was very lucky,” Eli Shukron, one of the researchers who uncovered the cistern, told Israel Hayom. “After all, we went over that route dozens of times and never found a thing. This reservoir paves the way for the discovery of more reservoirs since, after all, it’s clear from a comparison with identical reservoirs in Beit Shemesh and Beersheba that this was a common method.”

“Together with Shlomit Wexler’s discoveries in the area of the Western Wall plaza – a large building from the First Temple era underneath the Cardo – we’re opening up a world of possibilities for researchers who study the history of Jerusalem,” added Dr. Yuval Baruch, Jerusalem regional archaeologist with the Antiquities Authority.”

Previous opinions concluded that the Gihon Spring, located on the lower eastern slope of the City of David, was the primary source of usable water for Jerusalem for centuries.  This discover reveals that while the Gihon provided a source of fresh water, this massive cistern was used to capture rain and run-off water as well.  Dating to the First Temple (or Old Testament) period, I am excited to find out when this rare discovery will be able to be seen by groups.  In the last few recent tours I’ve led, we’ve been able to walk through this drainage channel, also recently discovered and opened to the public, from the Pool of Siloam to the SW corner of the Temple Mount.  So perhaps this nearby cistern will also be opened shortly as well.  How cool would that be?Let’s hope!

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