1,500-year-old cistern in Jerusalem could become the newest attraction

The cistern, suggested to be dated from the Byzantine period, may be part of upcoming renovations.

By ALON EINHORN
January 23, 2019 12:08
1,500 year old cistern found in Jerusalem being mapped

1,500 year old cistern found in Jerusalem being mapped. (photo credit: OFER COHEN/ISRAEL ANTIQUITY AUTHORITY)

 
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A massive, well-preserved 1,500-year-old cistern found under a playground in Old Katamon in 2005 but closed to the public since for safety reasons may become the capital’s next tourist attraction, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).

The cistern, located beneath a playground on Rachel Imeinu Street, was approved by the municipality two months ago to be preserved as part of the park’s renovation. Many ancient hydraulic works draw tourist traffic, and the municipality and IAA plan to preserve the cistern as a local attraction, said IAA archaeologist Dr. Yuval Baruch.

Fourteen years ago, following reports of sand from the playground disappearing into a hole in the ground, Baruch investigated the site and nearby ruins. He determined the playground was located atop a Byzantine-era cistern. Following his discovery, Dr. Uzi Dahari and Ofer Cohen from the authority mapped out the reservoir, which was filled with water. Larger than a half-size Olympic swimming pool, the 225 sq. m. cistern is 34.2 meters long, and has a storage capacity of 1,125 cu.m.

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