In the Holy Land, any construction project is likely to uncover an ancient artifact or significant historical discovery. In fact, just last week the Israel Antiquities Authority announced that the recent construction of a new sewer line in an East Jerusalem neighborhood unearthed a portion of Jerusalem’s Lower Aqueduct, the water source for the Holy City more than 2,000 years ago.
The ancient aqueduct was discovered during digging last month by the Gihon Water Company, which was laying new pipes to modernize the sewer system in the Umm Tuba and Sur Baher neighborhoods in East Jerusalem.
The Israel Antiquities Authority excavated the area after the aqueduct was found.
“The Lower Aqueduct to Jerusalem, which the Hasmonean kings constructed more than 2,000 years ago in order to provide water to Jerusalem, operated intermittently until about one hundred years ago,” said Ya’akov Billig, the director of the excavation.
According to Billig, the aqueduct begins at the Ein Eitam spring near Solomon’s Pools south of Bethlehem and stretches 21 kilometers to Jerusalem. “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.”