Sunday, September 9, 2007

First Century Drain Found in Jerusalem

An Israeli newspaper ran a story today about an interesting discovery near the Temple Mount:

Archeologists discover segment of J'lem drain from Second Temple period
A 70-meter-long segment of Jerusalem's central drain dating from the Second Temple period was discovered Sunday by the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The segment is located between the Temple Mount and the Pool of Siloam. It apparently was part of a long drain that spanned from the Western Wall to the Kidron River, near the Dead Sea.

The drain stretched underneath the Old City's main street, and cleared rainwater from the areas now known as the Jewish Quarter and the western section of City of David, as well as the Temple Mount, before the city's destruction at the hands of the Romans in 70 C.E.

The excavation, conducted by the Antiquities Authority in conjunction with City of David Foundation, also found shards and coins from the period. The drain is made of massive slabs of stone, and is about three meters high and one meter wide.

The archeologists professors Roni Reich of the University of Haifa and Eli Shukrun from the Antiquities Authority, who are in charge of the excavation, say that the land that accumulated during 2000 years of landslides required them to dig 10 meters deep in order to reach ancient Jerusalem's main street.

Ok, so maybe the discovery of an ancient drain doesn't sound too exciting. But I do think it's intriguing that Josephus mentions that the Jews hid in the drain during the Roman seige of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. until they could escape.

The AP article includes a photograph of the channel. Some experts are saying that the masonry on that drain is better than the masonry of most people's houses in Jerusalem today.

Yahoo! News has a photo of some of the artifacts found in the excavation.

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