Bible and Beyond

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Life goes on in Jerusalem. And so does excavation. BAR readers will recall the eighth-century B.C. wall built by King Hezekiah of Judah to protect the city from an attack by Sennacherib of Assyria, which was recently discovered by Ronny Reich and Eli Shukron on the eastern flank of the City of David.a Surviving in places to a height of 16 feet, the wall was apparently part of a double wall system, because there is another, long-known, eighth-century B.C. wall about 120 feet higher up the slope.

The excavators admit they found the new wall by accident, rather than by design. But once they stumbled on it, they naturally wanted to extend their excavation of it. And extend it they have—for a total distance of 100 feet to the south.

What is especially exciting is that the southern extension of this wall has revealed some type of offset, or projection. Perhaps this is simply an offset that may or may not go in again further south; more probably, it is part of a tower in the wall.

While the walls of this “tower” are made of unworked boulders, the corner of the “tower” is strengthened by large rectangular ashlars. This is the same construction used in a tower in the Old City of Jerusalem, much farther to the north, that was attacked by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. when they destroyed the city and burned Solomon’s Temple. The excavator of this tower, the late Nahman Avigad, also found Babylonian arrowheads outside the structure. Apparently the new wall found by Reich and Shukron is part of the same wall system uncovered long ago by Avigad. That means that this wall protected the city from the time of Hezekiah in the late eighth century B.C. until the city was destroyed in 586 B.C.

In such ways is the history of Jerusalem continually revealed.

We also have an update on the Warren’s Shaft System, which was recently described in these pages by Reich and Shukron.b Warren’s Shaft, they revealed, is not part of the Warren’s Shaft System after all. And the shaft itself was never used to draw water. The tunnel that was long thought to lead to Warren’s Shaft actually led to a plastered pool near the Gihon Spring, which supplied ancient Jerusalem with water. Reich and Shukron also discovered two towers—one that protected the pool and another that protected the Gihon Spring. At the time they published their BAR article, however, the connection between the tunnel and the Pool Tower had not yet been found.c Now it has. And it is already open to tourists, who can walk through the tunnel to the Pool Tower. They can also see more of both towers and the pool. Go have a look for yourself.

a. See Hershel Shanks, “Everything You Ever Knew About Jerusalem Is Wrong (Well, Almost),” BAR 25-06.

b. Ronny Reich and Eli Shukron, “Light at the End of the Tunnel,” BAR 25-01.

c. See the plan in “Light at the End of the Tunnel,” BAR 25-01.