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Clearing Work Completed by Israel Antiquities Authority on a Second Temple Period Water Channel
An Israeli archaeologist stands in the 'drainage tunnel' that leads from near the Temple Mount, or el Hareem el-Sharif (The Noble Sanctuary) and goes underneath the Old City walls to the City of David archaeology park in Silwan, in East Jerusalem, 25 January 2011. The tunnel was a drainage tunnel built during the Second Temple ear, and does not go under the Mount area, but leads to near the Western Wall. It took seven years of excavations by the Israeli Antiquities Authority to get ready the tunnel for tourists, and will be open in few months. EPA/YOSSI ZAMIR.

JERUSALEM.- Clearing work has been completed on a Second Temple Period water channel in excavations being conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority in the City of David located within the Jerusalem Walls National Park. The excavations are being run in conjunction with the Israel Nature & Parks Authority, under the auspices of Professor Ronny Reich and Eli Shukron from the Israel Antiquities Authority.

For the last seven years, researchers from the Israel Antiquities Authority have been involved in the removal of large amounts of debris that have accumulated in the largest water channel from the Second Temple period. The route of this channel follows that of the Tyropoeon Valley. The channel is located beneath the main paved and stepped road which traversed Jerusalem in those days. The road passed next to the Western Wall in the north and down to the Siloam Pool in the southern portion of the City of David. At no point, does the route of either the road or channel pass beneath the Temple Mount.

Two parts were uncovered and previously known:

* The northern part was discovered in 1867 by the British explorer Charles Warren beneath the ancient paved road next to “Robinson’s Arch”. This part, located in the Davidson Center Archeological Park, was explored again by Professor B. Mazar (1968-75), and Ronny Reich & Billig (1994-96).

* The southern part was discovered by the archaeologists Bliss & Dickey (1894-1897) next to the Siloam Pool at the southernmost tip of the City of David, approximately 600 meters south of the Davidson Center Archeological Park.

For the last two years, tens of thousands of tourists have been walking through the southern portion of the water channel and the section of the paved road which was opened to the public.

“The archaeological excavation coupled with extensive research, conclusively proved the theory that these two parts were actually part of a single water channel. This was proven when those cleaning the debris inside the channel from the southern end connected with the portion of the channel that is next to Robinson’s Arch”, said Professor Ronny Reich.

The central and monumental discovery made here is the paved road which lies above the water channel which was discovered. It is on this road that residents of Jerusalem and pilgrims walked in ancient times. Only a few individual sections of this road have been revealed throughout its route. However, now, the water channel that runs beneath it has been uncovered in its entirety (approximately 600 meters). “There is evidence from this channel that city leaders from two thousands years ago, took strides to ensure the welfare of the city’s residents and the pilgrims who visited. In ancient times the channel carried mainly rain water that collected in the city streets so as not to accumulate and inconvenience the public,” adds Professor Reich. Aspects of the channel point to the monumental investment that went into its construction. In the northern part it is carved into the bedrock and covered with an arched stone dome along its length, while further south it is built and covered with flat slabs of stone.

Josephus, the Roman historian tells us about the last Jews in the city, who fleeing the Roman destruction at the time, hid inside this tunnel. “The Romans killed some of them, some they carried captives, and others they made a search for under ground, and when they found where they were, they broke up the ground and killed all they met with.” (Josephus, Book 6 Chapter 9:4)

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