CITYsights: Mythical water pipe discovered

Piece by piece, the ancient water system leading to Jerusalem is being revealed in the City of David.

March 30, 2011 12:44
2 minute read.
City of David 88 298

City of David 224 88. (photo credit: Courtesy of the Shalem Center)


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Here in Israel, we are well-versed in the need to protect our scarce water sources from contamination, and we’ve built the National Water Carrier in order to ensure that all of the country’s citizens have running water at all times. But what about ancient times? How did the denizens of biblical Jerusalem retain access to water throughout the year -- and especially in wartime situations -- when their main water source lay outside the walls of the city?

As Danny Herman explains in the video, the Bible tells us that when King David conquered the city of Jebus and made it into his capital, he exploited the city’s only weakness -- a mysterious “pipe” that led water from the valley, under the walls and into the city.

CITYsights: King David's palace discovered?
CITYSights: Jerusalem as never seen before

The location of this mythical underground tunnel was shrouded in mystery until the late 19th century, when British military man and archaeologist Charles Warren discovered the Gihon Spring, a shaft and a tunnel in the late 19thy century. This tunnel led into the ruins of biblical Jerusalem, which are situated under the current-day village of Silwan, just under the shadow of the Temple Mount.

But although Warren was convinced that he had discovered the route David and his soldiers had taken into the city, later-day findings do not support his theory and attribute Warren’s Shaft, as it came to be known, to a date several hundred years down the line, during the reign of King Hezekiah.

As you’ll see in the video, besides the shaft, excavations at the City of David have revealed a huge reservoir and an even older tunnel, apparently part of the irrigation system used by the Canaanites to water their agricultural terraces on the hillside.

These days, there is a delicate balance between the archaeological work at the site and the visitors’ center, which allows tourists to get into the mountain and witness firsthand the intricate water systems just under the surface. If you’re looking for the place where it all began, there’s no better start than the City of David.

The animated simulation of King David’s Jerusalem is part of the presentation film at the City of David and is presented courtesy of the site.

For more information on restaurants and other tourist destinations in Jerusalem, visit "like" itraveljerusalem on facebook, and you could win a luxury vacation in Jerusalem and the city of David.

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