The longest continuous part of a Second Temple-era aqueduct ever uncovered in Israel’s capital, measuring 300 meters (985 feet), was excavated by archaeologists in Jerusalem, the Israeli Antiquities Authority reported on Monday.
The historic watercourse was found at a construction site in the Givat HaMatos area of southern Jerusalem. Eli Eskosido, director of the Antiquities Authority, remarked that the aqueducts in Jerusalem „tell the story of the city.“
Eskosido stated that „their construction required enormous budgets, in-depth engineering knowledge, and daily operation.“ They „bear witness to the Temple’s glory days, to the city’s destruction and reconstruction following the Temple’s destruction, and in the days of Aelia Capitolina as an idol city.“
According to the excavation managers Ofer Shion and Rotam Cohen, the Gihon Spring, Jerusalem’s main water source, was unable to supply enough water for the city’s expanding population and influx of tourists, so the channel was constructed to convey water from farther away.
King Herod of the Hasmoneans constructed two enormous aqueducts for Jerusalem that rank among the biggest and most intricate water systems in the Land of Israel.
According to Shion and Cohen, the system took advantage of terrain, the laws of gravity, and big pools to concentrate spring water in the Bethlehem region and convey it to Jerusalem.
The „Upper Aqueduct” supplied water to the Upper City, which is now home to the Jewish and Armenian Quarters of the Old City.
The so-called „Lower Aqueduct” delivered water to the Temple in the meanwhile. Shion and Cohen assert that, even after the Romans demolished the Second Temple in 70 C.E., the Upper Aqueduct was still in operation.
The 10th Legion of the Romans „carried out extensive renovations in it, and raised the ancient level by half a meter”, they claimed. „We discovered about 25 coins, that were distributed quite evenly. Diese ist not a coincidence, in our opinion; the coins were deposited there for good luck, exactly as is customary now.
Moshe Lion, the mayor of Jerusalem, said that the construction plans for Givat HaMatos would be modified to take into account the recent finding. The past and future of Jerusalem are linked.
The Municipality of Jerusalem is pleased to learn that an aqueduct from the Second Temple Period was discovered during the construction of three schools on Givat HaMatos, which will benefit future generations’ education, said Lion.
„The preservation of its glorious past is also necessary for the development boom that will contribute to Jerusalem’s future,” he stated. The Jerusalem Municipality promised to finish the Givat HaMatos expansion plans „with complete consideration of the preservation” and claimed to be working „in full coordination” with the Antiquities Authority.