Archaeologists have found a rare and completely preserved cistern from the First Temple Mount period (1200-586 BC). The cistern is located in the southern corner of the Western Wall, below ‘Robinson’s Arch’, in the old city of Jerusalem, Israel.
The finding has immense historical value. As Eli Shukrun, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority states: “It is now absolutely clear that the Jerusalem’s water consumption during the First Temple period was not solely based on the output of the Gihon Spring, but that it also relied on public reservoirs”.
Теория о том, что водоснабжение Иерусалима в период Первого Храма исходила исключительно из источника Гихон, доминировала в учебниках истории на протяжении веков. Более 50 лет археологи искали цистерны, основанные на библейской пословице в Исайя 36 that states: “Come out to me; and eat ye every one of his vine, and every one of his fig-tree, and drink ye every one the waters of his own cistern.” This proverb was said by Rab-Shakeh, commander of Assyrian King Sennacherib’s army when he tried to convince Hezekiah, King of Judah, and the besieged inhabitants of Jerusalem to surrender.
За эти годы археологи обнаружили много резервуаров периода Второго Храма, но ни одного из периода Первого Храма. Это укрепило теорию о том, что ослы использовались для транспортировки воды из источника Гихон, расположенного в 800 метрах.
Archaeologist Eli Shukron and archaeology Prof. Ronny Reich discovered the cistern. It is 4.5 meters high, 5.5 meters wide, 12 meters in length and can hold about 250 cubic meters of water. The reservoir has a brown-yellow plaster characteristic of the First Temple period. Shukron believes that as the excavations continue, similar cisterns will be found. This is based on writings in the Книга Королей which describes the construction of the Temple by King Solomon. The texts describe a “Copper Sea” – a huge water tank made of copper that was placed in the Temple’s courtyard that could contain approximately 120 cubic meters of water.
The newly discovered water reservoir sheds light into life in Jerusalem during the First Temple period. The water was vital not only to those living in Jerusalem but also to the thousands of pilgrims that visited the city on the High Holy Days.