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Jerusalem’s Water Supply During Siege, Yigal Shiloh, BAR 7:04, Jul-Aug 1981.

The Rediscovery of Warren’s Shaft

Gihon SpringThe earliest city of Jerusalem was located on a small, 10 to 15 acre, spur south of the Temple Mount and the wall enclosing the Old City. This ancient area is known today as the City of David and, sometimes, as the hill of Ophel. The original city of Jerusalem was established here because it is here that Jerusalem’s only fresh water source—the Gihon Spring—is located, and because the long, narrow hill is protected on three sides by deep valleys.

Around this spring—on the eastern side of the City of David in the Kidron Valley—the first settlement in the area developed during the Early Bronze Age (about 3100 B.C.). But very probably, there was settlement here even earlier, in the Chalcolithic Age (about 3500 B.C.). We have pottery evidence from both of these periods.

We know that during the late Iron Age (1000 B.C.-586 B.C.), the City of David was served by three interconnected water systems all emanating from the Gihon Spring.

The best known of these three water systems is Hezekiah’s Tunnel, so named because it was built by this Judean king in the late eighth century B.C. One of the reasons King Hezekiah dug the tunnel was to prepare for an expected siege by the Assyrian ruler Sennacherib, which occurred in about 701 B.C. Both the Assyrian siege and Hezekiah’s Tunnel are referred to in the Bible.a In 1880, a famous inscription was discovered on the wall of the tunnel describing how it was dug by two teams of tunnelers who began at opposite ends and met in the middle. Hezekiah’s Tunnel begins at the Gihon Spring, outside the city wall on the eastern side of the city, and winds its serpentine route under the city until it debouches into the Pool of Siloam on the other—southwestern—side of the city.

The second water system of ancient Jerusalem does not have a distinctive name and is confusingly referred to in the literature. For want of a better name, we call it the Siloam Channel, but this is confusing because Hezekiah’s Tunnel is sometimes called the Siloam Tunnel for it ends at the Pool of Siloam. So it is important not to confuse the Siloam Channel with Hezekiah’s Tunnel, which is sometimes called the Siloam Tunnel. And it is important to distinguish between the Siloam Channel and the Pool of Siloam at the end of Hezekiah’s Tunnel.

The Siloam Channel, like Hezekiah’s Tunnel, begins at the Gihon Spring. However, the Siloam Channel simply carries the spring water south along the eastern side of the City of David. Unlike Hezekiah’s Tunnel, the Siloam Channel does not go under the city. Instead it follows a straight line down the Kidron Valley, waters the adjacent fields in the valley and ends in the Siloam Pool at the southern tip of the ancient city.

The third water system of ancient Jerusalem is known as Warren’s Shaft. Also beginning at the Gihon Spring, this third water system commences with a tunnel, but instead of continuing to the valley on the other side of the city, this system proceeds upward by a shaft and tunnels until it emerges on the surface within the ancient eastern wall of the city, as found by Dame Kathleen Kenyon in her excavations in this area between 1961 and 1967.

Each of these water systems functioned differently, had its own distinct purpose, and accordingly was designed and constructed in a manner different from the others.

From the outset of our renewed excavations in the City of David in 1978,1 we planned to re-examine the complete waterworks of the ancient city. Few things are more important for understanding how an ancient city worked than its water system, which had to provide a regular supply of water for agriculture and domestic purposes not only in time of peace but also in time of war. (See Dan Cole, “How Water Tunnels Worked,” BAR 06-02) The strength of a city is usually measured by its fortifications. But equally critical is the extent to which it can assure a reliable water supply in time of war and thus withstand a siege; this is especially important in geographical areas marked by a hot, dry climate like the land of Israel.

Hezekiah’s Tunnel is not only the best known but also the best exposed of Jerusalem’s three water systems, so it needs the least re-excavation. We have, however, uncovered new finds in the area around the Pool of Siloam on the edge of Hezekiah’s Tunnel (our area A).

The Siloam Channel, the second water system, was previously explored principally by Captain Raymond Weill in the early part of this century. We re-excavated about 260 feet of this channel (our areas A and B) and described its operation for BAR readers in a 1979 report, “Digging in the City of David,” BAR 05-04.

Warren’s Shaft, however, was a far more formidable undertaking. When we began our excavations, it was almost completely inaccessible.

Warren’s Shaft was discovered in 1867 by Captain Charles Warren who was exploring underground Jerusalem on behalf of the Palestine Exploration Fund of London. In the course of exploring Hezekiah’s Tunnel, which had been previously traversed by the American orientalist Edward Robinson in 1837, Warren came upon a shaft which branches out from and ascends above the tunnel. Warren’s exciting account of his discovery, his attempts to climb the shaft and his description of the upper stepped-tunnel were almost constantly with us as we ourselves followed in his path. Who would not be moved by Warren’s description-

“We went down to the Fountain [Spring Gihon] shortly after sunrise [October 24, 1867]; we had some 12-feet battens 2 feet square, but were obliged to cut them in half, as 6-feet lengths could only be got into the passage; the water was unusually low, and we managed to crawl through on our bare knees without wetting our upper clothing very much, which was fortunate, as we had the whole day before us. After passing through the pool we had to crawl 50 feet, and then came upon the new passage, which is 17 feet long, opening into the shaft. The labor of getting up the scaffolding devolved on Sergeant Birtles and myself, the fellahin bringing in the wood and handing it to us.

“By jamming the boards against the sides of the shaft, we succeeded in getting up 20 feet, when we commenced the first landing, cutting a check in the rock for the frames to rest on, and made a good firm job of it. Then, with four uprights resting on this, we commenced a second landing.

“On lighting a piece of magnesium wire at this point, we could see, 20 feet above us, a piece of loose masonry impending directly over our heads; and as several loose pieces had been found at the bottom, it occurred to both of us that our position was critical. Without speaking of it, we eyed each other ominously, and wished we were a little higher up.

“The second landing found us 27 feet above the bottom of the shaft. The formation of the third was very difficult; and, on getting nearly to the loose piece of masonry, we found it more dangerously placed than we had imagined, and weighing about 8 cwt [800 pounds]. So we arranged it that the third landing should be a few inches under this loose mass, so as to break its fall and give us a chance. This third landing was 38 feet above the bottom of the shaft. We floored it with triple boards. It was ticklish work, as an incautious blow would have detached the mass; and I doubt if our work would have stood the strain.

About 6 feet above landing No. 3 the shaft opened out to the west into a great cavern, there being a sloping ascent up at an angle of 45°, covered with loose stones about a foot cube. Having hastily made a little ladder, I went up; and very cautious I had to be. The stones seemed all longing to be off; and one starting would have sent the mass rolling, and me with it, on top of the Sergeant, all to form a mash at the bottom of the shaft.”b

Prior to our efforts, Warren’s Shaft had been explored on only one other occasion—by the infamous Parker Mission in 1909–11, led by the treasure-hunting Montague B. Parker (see Neil Silberman, “In Search of Solomon’s Lost Treasures,” BAR 06-04). However, thanks to the measurements and plans prepared during the Parker Mission by the Dominican father Louis-Hugues Vincent, whom Parker permitted to accompany him, we have a far more accurate picture of the complex of elements that comprise Warren’s Shaft than Warren himself was able to provide.

When we began our work on this water system, we had a number of questions in mind- Could we date it? Was it really Jebusite (late Canaanite)? Did it really predate the Israelite city? How did this water system actually work? What are the components of its architectural and hydrological design? How does it interconnect with and relate to Hezekiah’s Tunnel and the Siloam Channel?

Finally, could we shed any new light on the suggested historical links between Warren’s Shaft and King David’s conquest of Jerusalem, as described in the Bible?

Before chronicling our work, it would be well to describe briefly the distinct components of the water system which we are referring to as Warren’s Shaft. The reader can follow and identify these components on the drawings. The lower drawing is a plan, looking down from above, as it were. The top drawing is a section drawing, which is a vertical cutaway showing a side view. By putting the two drawings together in your mind, you may visualize the water system three-dimensionally.

We shall begin from the upper end of the water system, inside the city wall, and follow it down to the spring outside the wall- We begin with an upper entry tunnel (1). This leads to a vaulted chamber (2). At the opposite end of the vaulted chamber is the entrance to a long, diagonal stepped-tunnel (3) going deeper underground. At the bottom of this stepped-tunnel is a horizontal tunnel (4). Note that on the surface, the city wall (x) sits above the point where the stepped-tunnel (3) meets the horizontal tunnel (4). The horizontal tunnel leads to a vertical shaft (5), down which the ancient water drawer would drop a bucket held by a rope in order to draw up the water. At the bottom of this shaft is a water tunnel (6), which carried the water from the Gihon Spring to a pool at the shaft base. At the other end of this tunnel is, of course, the Gihon Spring (7). There was also a side entrance (8) to the horizontal tunnel. Another shaft, possibly a natural feature, which we call the “experimental shaft” is noted at (9). Finally, Hezekiah’s Tunnel branches off at (10).

While these are known components of the system, other elements, especially in the upper part, are still a puzzle. There must have been connections between the water system and the city’s fortifications, as well as with the city’s residential and citadel areas. Indeed only in the past year have we discovered an entry tunnel (1) connecting the vaulted chamber to the outer slope.

When we began to explore Warren’s Shaft in 1978, we discovered that the area at the head of the water system—inside the city wall—had been covered with enormous piles of debris by R. A. S. Macalister (1923–5) and Kathleen Kenyon (1961–7), archaeologists who previously had excavated the area immediately to the north. Because of this accumulation of debris we had to abandon all our plans to excavate scientifically from today’s ground surface area to the main entrance to the water system. Instead we were forced to regress to the entry method employed by Charles Warren himself more than 100 years earlier- He was able to climb the shaft (5) from the bottom by using wooden scaffolding inside as described in his own words. During the 1978 season, we too tried to climb the shaft. But despite repeated attempts, we were unsuccessful. The shaft was over 6 feet wide and 52 feet high. It became clear that we needed skilled climbers rather than archaeologists.

One pleasant wintery day, long after the 1978 season had ended, I took a Sabbath stroll south of the city in an area where precipitous, rocky pillars rise above the valley. Here I came upon the solution to our problem. Alpine mountaineers were training on the steep rock faces. One was an Israeli named Ze’ev Bernstein; another was a recent Russian immigrant named Ilya Kantarovich; a third was Ken Evans from Ohio. They enthusiastically accepted my challenge to join our expedition and to climb Warren’s Shaft.

Early the next summer, we took our mountain climbers to the bottom of the shaft. All the necessary technical preparations were completed. For two hours, the climbers, using the most advanced equipment and climbing techniques, slowly progressed up the perpendicular shaft. When the first climber reached the top of the shaft, he lowered the ropes by which we archaeologists intended to ascend. Climbing with the aid of the lowered rope appeared to be relatively simple. However, here too we were surprised, for the climb up the shaft obviously demanded special abilities which we hadn’t realized were needed. From among the entire team of archaeologists, only two reached the top of the dark shaft, even with the help of the rope—the author and the expedition’s photographer, Yitzhak Harari.

The view at the top is exciting indeed. The ascending horizontal tunnel had been partly cleared by Parker and is impressively spacious. It extends for over 60 feet and is between eight and nine feet wide. Although at some points it is less than four feet high, at others it is 19 feet high. We proceeded further inside, lighting our way with flashlights. We turned northward following the curve of the horizontal tunnel, then southwesterly, until we reached the point where the horizontal tunnel connected with the diagonal stepped-tunnel (3). Here fallen debris blocked further progress. The stepped-tunnel was completely obstructed along its entire length. We had mixed feelings as we climbed down the shaft with the help of the climbers’ ropes. It had surely been an emotional and exciting day. We had re-enacted Charles Warren’s exploration of more than 110 years ago. But we were distressed by the fact that because of the huge amounts of fallen rocks inside the water system in the stepped-tunnel, and because of the enormous pile of debris which covered the head of the water system on the outside, we might never be able to open up Warren’s Shaft.

Undaunted, however, we turned our attention to the possibility of an entry from the head of the system. We had known from the beginning that we would never be able to get through the debris at the head by burrowing from inside the system; we would have to find a way to penetrate into the upper section of the water system through the exterior surface of the slope. Fortunately, a recent cave-in in this area had exposed an opening to a tunnel whose gabled roof was formed by large stone slabs which met at a point (1). Our best chance at penetration into the head of the water system was through this tunnel. However after we crawled into this tunnel for about ten feet, we found that it too was blocked by collapsed earth and stone.

We again found help, however, from an unusual source. Major financial support for our excavation comes from a group of South African sponsors headed by Mendel Kaplan. Indeed Kaplan was the driving force behind the entire excavation in the first place and has been an active participant ever since. It was he who suggested that the solution to our problem might be some mining engineers from his native South Africa.

So, with Kaplan making the arrangements, mining engineers Harvey Espach and Jimmy Quail of the Grinakers Company in Johannesburg arrived in Jerusalem for our 1980 season. Their specialty was the clearing and excavation of abandoned mines. With their help, we were able to clear the tunnel at the head of Jerusalem’s ancient water system. Each morning that summer Don Glick, who was in charge of the dig in this area (Area J), and a number of volunteers obsessed by the enterprise, would disappear into the upper entrance tunnel guided by our mining engineers. Only the baskets of earth, debris, and stones, which were sent to the outside with incredible celerity, bore witness to the fact our archaeological team was at work somewhere below in the depths of the earth.

The entrance tunnel proved to be ancient, not, as some had previously suspected, a 20th century construction designed by the Parker Mission to provide access to the ancient system. But more about this later. The excavation proceeded apace under the direction of our two mining engineers who used special supports as well as wall constructions to shore up heaps of debris that threatened to collapse and close the tunnel once again.

Finally we reached the end of the tunnel which led directly to the vaulted chamber, where we continued to dig. After three weeks of digging we reached bedrock, 19 feet below the top of the vault. Here, cut into the bedrock, we found the walls of the original entrance room to the tunnel, above which, the vaulted roof had been added at a later time.

From the vaulted chamber, we set about clearing the stepped-tunnel which had blocked our way coming from the opposite direction, that is, coming up from the Gihon Spring. But, in addition to working from the top, we decided to put a second team of volunteers to work from the bottom. In the 1980 season we hung a rope ladder down the vertical shaft. The second team used this rope ladder to get to the base of the stepped-tunnel (3). There they cleared out debris from the stepped-tunnel, passing it into the horizontal tunnel.

The two groups working at opposite ends of the stepped-tunnel felt much like the tunnelers who dug Hezekiah’s Tunnel 2700 years ago. Hezekiah’s tunnelers also dug from both ends and sought successfully to meet in the middle. Their successful meeting was commemorated in the celebrated inscription which was originally carved in the side of the tunnel-

“[the tunnelers wielded] the pick-axe, each man toward his fellow. While there was still three cubits to be cu[t], on the other side there was hear[d] a man’s voice calling to his fellow … at the end of the tunneling, the tunnelers hacked each man toward his fellow.”

Our tunnelers felt as if they were reenacting this dramatic moment as they finished clearing the stepped tunnel of Warren’s Shaft. As the two groups approached each other, they could hear sounds of digging on the other side. Then, human voices became audible.

Hezekiah’s laborers were surely no more enthusiastic than our volunteers, who were obviously aware of the historical parallel. Sometimes, we had to switch off the electrical lighting inside the stepped-tunnel in order to force our volunteers to stop working and come outside after a long day of excavation. As the final week of the season neared, the two groups finally met. A passage was opened and the entire system could be traversed. Members of the team slid down heaps of debris from the topmost section of the water system to its lowest part beneath, this time travelling in the right direction from top to bottom, as their ancient water-seeking predecessors had done.

While a passage way has been cleared, much debris remains to be removed. In the future we intend to complete the clearing, restoration, and conservation of the system, and open it to the public.

In addition to clearing and restoration, there are other aspects of the system remaining to be explored. Both Warren and Parker indicated that another entrance to the system was possible directly into the horizontal tunnel (8). We were unable to examine this area on the surface because it is now built up. Moreover, we know nothing about how this ancient water system continued up the slope and joined the system of Iron Age fortifications. It seems clear that an entrance to the system must have been located somewhere inside the walls on the eastern side of the hill.

Until our excavations, it was generally accepted that the City of David’s three water systems were used at different times- Warren’s Shaft was the oldest; the Siloam Channel was next, perhaps built by King Solomon in the tenth century B.C.; finally, Hezekiah’s Tunnel was built in the late eighth century B.C.

One of the most surprising results of our excavation has been to demonstrate that Warren’s Shaft was used as late as the Herodian period (first century B.C.). The architectural elements of the system which we have labeled (1) and (2), that is, the entry tunnel (1) and the vaulted chamber (2), appear to have been added at that time. The barrel vault is an architectural feature which is unknown prior to the first century B.C. and therefore, gives us certain evidence of its earliest date of construction. The barrel vault is structurally linked to the gableroofed entry tunnel; hence we know that this entryway was built at the same time as, or perhaps later than, the barrel vaulted chamber. It is probable that the entry tunnel and the vault were added to protect the earlier entrance to the stepped-tunnel from collapsing debris and cave-ins on the eastern slope. If our identification of these elements is correct, then the water system must have been used at least until the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

If this water system was still in use in the Second Temple period, we must rethink the relationship among Jerusalem’s three water systems. The commonly accepted notion that each successive system was designed to replace its predecessor is probably incorrect. In fact, each of the three systems in the City of David had its own individual design and function, and, rather than replace the earlier ones, the second and third systems complemented those that came before and became one part of a complex water supply system.

Warren’s Shaft, the earliest system, provided the city with a convenient access to its water source in peacetime as well as in wartime.

The second water system, the Siloam Channel, in its turn, conveyed water along the bottom of the eastern slope of the City of David. For part of the way it was a rock-hewn tunnel and for part of the way it was an exposed channel outside the city walls, running alongside the agricultural plots in the Kidron Valley. Specially designed openings in the eastern side of the channel, shaped like windows, allowed water to pour out and irrigate these cultivated plots of land, while similar openings at the head permitted the collection and drainage of rain water which ran down the bare rock of the eastern slope just outside the city wall. The “windows” in the channel easily could be blocked and, in this way, water also could be transmitted to reservoir pools located in the central Kidron Valley at the southern end of the City of David.

Hezekiah’s Tunnel was the third water system to be built. It was the most sophisticated solution to the peculiar water system problem in Jerusalem, a problem that was the result of the unusual hydrological characteristic of Jerusalem’s only water source, the Gihon Spring- It is a “pulsating spring;” that is, it gushes forth water irregularly, usually only once every few hours. (This characteristic is preserved in the etymology of the name Gihon; Gicha means “rush or gush forth.”) During peacetime the Siloam Channel would take the excess water down to the so-called “Old Pool” area at the southwestern end of the City of David. But this was unsatisfactory during times of siege because the pool area was exposed outside the city wall. This wartime problem was solved by fortifying the western side of the city—including the central valley and the Siloam Pool—and by constructing Hezekiah’s Tunnel to carry the water of the Spring Gihon to the Siloam Pool, now located within the city wall.

Hezekiah’s Tunnel was designed to absorb the gushing water and divert it to the only place where pools could be constructed inside the city—on the other (southwestern) side of the city. By concentrating water in reservoirs on the other side of the city, the water supply could be regulated without having to rely on the erratic, overflowing waters of the Gihon Spring. Moreover, this provided a source of water on the southwestern side of the city as well as on the eastern side, where water was available through Warren’s Shaft. Thus, in Hezekiah’s time, three parallel water systems were in use, each fulfilling a specific purpose for which it had been created out of the rock. The only change in the two existing systems effected by Hezekiah’s Tunnel was that thereafter the Siloam Channel was used only to irrigate the valley, not to store water in the exposed pools at the southern end of the City of David. After Hezekiah’s Tunnel was built, the Siloam Channel was disconnected from the pools outside the walls, although at some times, the excess water from the Pool of Siloam flowed into the lower end of the Siloam Channel.

Today, there is a wall preventing the water of the Gihon Spring from entering the chamber at the base of Warren’s Shaft (6)- It is not possible to use Warren’s Shaft as it was used in ancient times. Instead the water from the Gihon Spring flows through Hezekiah’s Tunnel to the reservoir (the Pool of Siloam) on the southwestern side of the City of David.

If this wall separating Warren’s Shaft from Hezekiah’s Tunnel were removed, water would then run into a conduit for several meters until it would form a pool at the bottom of the vertical shaft. But water would also continue to flow through Hezekiah’s Tunnel. In short, by removing this wall, we would see that both water systems could be used simultaneously. When both systems were in operation, the inhabitants of the City of David could stand at the top of the vertical shaft on a platform made of wooden boards, lower their buckets by ropes into the water below, and draw the water up as if from a well. The top of Warren’s Shaft was much closer to the “acropolis” area of the City of David than the Pool of Siloam was. The latter was located at the southern end of the city on the other side of town. For the convenience of people at the southern end of the city, the waters in Hezekiah’s Tunnel would flow into the reservoir at that end of the city. The Siloam Channel, the second water system which flows down the valley on the eastern side of the city, was designed to function independently, that is, without linkage to the other systems. Its only connection with the other two systems was its use in regulating and directing the flow of water from the Spring which would pass through it. (I should perhaps add that finds from our Area A, in the southern part of the City of David, reveal that several changes were made in the Siloam Channel which were, however, related to the operation of Hezekiah’s Tunnel and the Pool of Siloam. At some periods the excess water from the Pool of Siloam passed into the lower end of the Siloam Channel.)

The design of Warren’s Shaft contains a unique solution to the strategic problem of providing the city with a supply of water during wartime without giving the enemy access to the city. The way of doing this in some Israelite centers was by digging a large shaft and tunnel inside the city; thus no part of such a water supply system was outside the city wall and vulnerable to an enemy. This was the solution utilized at, for example, Hazor, Gezer and the “pool” of Gibeon (see Dan Cole, “How Water Tunnels Worked,” BAR 06-02). However, this system would not work in Jerusalem because of the different type of water source—a gushing spring outside the city. One solution to this kind of problem—which was used at Megiddo and in the tunnel at Gibeon—was to dig from inside the city down a horizontal or stepped-tunnel to the water source. But this means that if an enemy reaches the water source from outside, he can easily penetrate the city through the water system tunnels. The enemy would simply retrace the steps of the person inside the city who came for water—back up the tunnel, then up the stairs around the wide vertical shaft. Not so in Jerusalem’s system. Here the lower level was disconnected or separated by a vertical shaft from the upper level. The water source is 52 feet below the upper level. The citizen from inside the city has access to the water source only by a lowered bucket. The city is therefore protected from penetration by an enemy even if he discovers the water source outside the city wall. In order to penetrate the city from the outside, an enemy must climb a unique 52 foot vertical shaft—an almost impossible task, as we ourselves discovered.

In addition to these insights into how Jerusalem’s ancient water systems worked, the hydrological survey conducted by our geologist Dan Gil has provided important new evidence which should help us better understand the techniques and development of underground water systems in the Iron Age generally. But this subject is for a future discussion.

While we have been able to establish that Warren’s Shaft continued in use until the Herodian period, we have not been as successful in establishing when it was constructed. And this date may well be crucial to determining whether Warren’s Shaft played any part in King David’s conquest of Jerusalem.

W. F. Birch (1884) and later Father Vincent believed Warren’s Shaft was the tsinnor referred to in 2 Samuel 5-6–10 through which David’s officer, Joab, first penetrated the Jebusite city (1 Chronicles 11-4–9). The King James Version of the Bible, translated long before Warren’s Shaft had been discovered, uses the English word “gutter” for the tsinnor. Aquila in his second century A.D. translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek translates tsinnor as watercourse. But, as Benjamin Mazar and other scholars have suggested, the tsinnor may be any watercourse in the city, even if this translation is correct. Other scholars including W. F. Albright, Yigael Yadin and Yohanan Aharoni question this translation and give a different interpretation to this text.

There can be no doubt as to the date of Hezekiah’s Tunnel, the last of Jerusalem’s three water systems. Its construction at the end of the eighth century B.C. is supported by Biblical references and by the famous inscription we have already quoted. The Siloam Channel, the second system, is usually dated to Solomon’s time or thereafter, say, tenth or ninth century B.C. Stratigraphically, it is older than Hezekiah’s Tunnel. The commonly accepted notion is that Warren’s Shaft is even older. Some scholars even refer to it as the Jebusite Shaft (the tsinnor). At any rate, Warren’s Shaft can be connected with King David’s conquest of Jerusalem only if it was in existence in Jebusite (that is, Canaanite) times.

All the water systems in other Palestinian cities which archaeologists have been able to date accurately on the basis of new, systematic, stratigraphic excavations—such as at Gibeon, Megiddo, Hazor, Tell el-Sa‘idiah (and, perhaps, also Lachish and Beer-sheba)—are dated no earlier than the tenth century B.C., after King David’s conquest of Jerusalem. Water systems were one of the architectural elements of the planning of royal centers from the time of Solomon (tenth century B.C.) or Ahab (ninth century B.C.), a fact which suggests that the Jerusalem water systems are no earlier than this.

It should not surprise anyone to find that in the royal capital, Jerusalem, where the water supply originated in a spring with peculiar hydrological characteristics, there were three simultaneously used water systems. Each had its own function and was used as needed. I suspect that Warren’s Shaft belongs to the original planning stages of the Israelite city of Jerusalem, a process which began in the tenth-ninth centuries B.C. Following the destruction of the Israelite city by the Babylonians at the end of the Iron Age (586 B.C.), a part of the water system was also demolished. It is possible that at this time, too, the Siloam Channel was stopped up and ceased to be used. Hezekiah’s Tunnel and the Pool of Siloam, however, continued to be used by the city’s inhabitants; and, in fact, they are still being used today! But Warren’s Shaft also continued to be used after the Babylonian destruction of the city, and through the Second Temple Period.

With the burgeoning of the city during the Hasmonean period, however, and also during Herod’s reign, the city planners decided they needed a richer and more secure source of water located on a level higher than Jerusalem. This they found south of Jerusalem in the area between Bethlehem and Hebron, and they carried the water by aqueduct back to Jerusalem. But this is another story and a different chapter in the history of ancient Jerusalem’s water supply.

We still have before us two seasons of excavations (1981–2), during which we hope to learn more about all aspects of Jerusalem’s history. The actual excavation work is being done wholly by volunteers from all parts of the world. BAR readers are invited to join us to uncover Jerusalem’s glorious past. You too can reveal its ancient grandeur for future generations to behold. For further details, contact-

Dr. Yigal Shiloh

The City of David Archaeological Project

The Institute of Archaeology

The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel

(BAR is grateful to Aryeh Finklestein for his translation of this article from the original Hebrew.)

a. The account of Sennacherib’s siege of Jerusalem is found in 2 Chronicles-

“When Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib intended to attack Jerusalem, he planned with his civil and military officers to stop up the water of the springs outside the city; and they helped him. They gathered together a large number of people and stopped up all the springs and the stream which flowed through the land. ‘Why should the kings of Assyria come here and find much water?’ they asked … Hezekiah closed the upper outlet of the waters of Gihon and directed them down to the west side of the city of David.” (2 Chronicles 32-2–4, 30)

The account in 2 Kings of Hezekiah’s reign ends with these words-

“The rest of the deeds of Hezekiah, his exploits and how he made the pool [Siloam] and the conduit and brought water into the city are recorded in the Book of Chronicles of the Kings of Judah.” (2 Kings 20-20)

b. The Recovery of Jerusalem. Captain Charles Wilson and Captain Charles Warren (D. Appleton & Co., New York, 1871) pp. 190–192.

1. The City of David Archaeological Project is being conducted on behalf of the City of David Society for Archaeological Excavations, Restoration and Preservation of the City of David in Jerusalem. The Society includes members of the Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the Israel Exploration Society, the Jerusalem Foundation, a group of contributors from South Africa led by Mr. Mendel Kaplan, and the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation. Leading the expedition is Yigal Shiloh of the Institute of Archaeology. The project architect is Giora Solar. The senior staff includes Donald Ariel, Alon de Grot, David Terler, Jane Cahill and Yair Shoam. Don Gluck was in charge of the excavation of Warren’s shaft, Area J, 1980. Technical and conservation supervisor is Yigal Vall. The Camp Director is Tamar Shiloh. The photographers are Yitzhak Harari and Zev Radovan. The surveyor is Yael Danieli. The geologist is Dan Gil. This staff has been assisted by students from the Archaeological Institute at Hebrew University and from universities in Europe and the United States. The actual work of excavating is being done by volunteers, including a team from Ambassador College in Pasadena, California led by Professor Richard Page. Important help is also given to us by the Rothschild Foundation and the Municipality of Jerusalem.

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