A segment of an aqueduct to Jerusalem has been uncovered over the last few weeks in the neighborhood of Armon Hanatsiv, situated south of the Old City.
The dig was conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), with the cooperation of the Jerusalem Municipality and the Moriah Jerusalem Development Corporation, to make the 2,000-year-old engineering feat visible and accessible to the public.
The low-level aqueduct winds along a route of 21 km. from Solomon’s Pools, located south of Bethlehem, to the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem with a very slight gradient - descending just over 1 meter along every kilometer on average.
This amazing water system, initiated by the Hasmonean kings to increase the water supply to Jerusalem and in particular to the Temple Mount, “astounds us until this very day,” the IAA said, and “due to the aqueduct’s ingenuity and quality,” continued to be used until the British Mandate 100 years ago when the invention of electric pumps replaced it.
Ya’akov Billig, an IAA researcher who studied the ancient aqueducts to Jerusalem, said that “two aqueducts brought water from Solomon’s Pools, located between Bethlehem and Efrat, to Jerusalem - the low-level aqueduct and the high-level aqueduct.
It amazes us to think how they managed in antiquity to make the accurate measurements of elevation along such a long distance, choosing the route along the mountainous terrain and calculating the necessary gradient, all this without the modern sophisticated instruments we have today”.
Segments of the low-level aqueduct are being revealed under Alkachi Street in the Armon Hanatsiv neighborhood, in an excavation directed by Alexander Wiegmann of the IAA.
Following the excavation, conservation experts will do preservation work on the remains for their exhibition in a park for the visitors.