Workers building sewer line discover ancient Jerusalem aqueduct

The pictured ancient aqueduct was discovered in Jerusalem. Credit: Assaf Peretz, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

( Workers have discovered a part of Jerusalem’s Lower Aqueduct, which had supplied water to the city more than 2,000 years ago.

The aqueduct was discovered in the Umm Tuba quarter near the Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Homa while Gihon Company workers were building a sewer line in the area. The finding was then examined by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).

“The Lower Aqueduct to Jerusalem, which the Hasmonean kings constructed more than two thousand years ago in order to provide water to Jerusalem, operated intermittently until about one hundred years ago," Ya’akov Billig, director of the aqueduct excavation for IAA, said Thursday. "The aqueduct begins at the ‘Ein Eitam’ spring, near Solomon’s Pools south of Bethlehem, and is approximately 21 kilometers (13 miles) long. Despite its length, it flows along a very gentle downward slope whereby the water level falls just one meter per kilometer of distance. At first, the water was conveyed inside an open channel and about 500 years ago, during the Ottoman period, a terra cotta pipe was installed inside the channel in order to better protect the water.”

The aqueduct was preserved for nearly 2,000 years by various city rulers because it was Jerusalem’s main source of water. But in the early 20th century, the city began to rely on a modern electric water-supply system.

Posted on May 21, 2015 .