A portion of an ancient aqueduct, in Jerusalem, has been unearthed during the excavation process of a construction project in the area. Built nearly 2,000 years ago, the Lower Aqueduct was until recently one of the primary sources of water in a city, known for its long history of droughts. According to the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), the uncovered section lies in the Umm Tuba neighborhood of Eastern Jerusalem.
The ancient conduit was discovered when workers, employed by the Gihon Company Ltd. were laying new sewer lines in the area. Originally built some 2,000 years ago, during the Hasmonean era, the Lower Aqueduct was designed to carry clean water to the city and its surrounding regions. According to IAA’s excavation director, Ya’akov Billig, the ancient pipeline was used intermittently, until it was replaced by an electrically-operated water supply system around 100 years ago. He said:
At first, the water was conveyed inside an open channel and about 500 years ago, during the Ottoman period, a terracotta pipe was installed inside the channel in order to better protect the water.
Measuring up to 21 km (approx. 13 miles) in length, the channel originates from the En Eitam spring, bordering the three ancient reservoirs of Solomon’s Pools, near Bethlehem. After making its way through Umm Tuba, Abu Tor, Sur Bahar, East Talpiot and a few other neighborhoods in Jerusalem, the tunnel finally ends near the Wilson’s Arch, an ancient structure leading to the Temple Mount. Billig said:
Despite its length, it flows along a very gentle downward slope whereby the water level falls just one meter (3.2 feet) per kilometer of distance (0.62 miles).
Following the discovery, archaeologists, working for the IAA, conducted a thorough examination of the excavated site. However, the exposed part of the aqueduct has now been covered up, in order to preserve the ancient structure and protect it from any sort of damage.
Source: Israel Antiquities Authority