A water reservoir dating back to the First Temple period, between the years 1006 to 586 BC, has been found in Jerusalem for the first time, Israeli archeologists said recently.
The water system was discovered during an excavation of a Second Temple (586 BC to 136 AD) period sewage system that snakes beneath what was the main street of Jerusalem at the time, from north to south along the ancient city and parallel to the Temple Mount.
“We found a huge water system that (was) built in the First Temple period. The water system was cutting in the bedrock, all the sides and the top of the water system was plastered with plaster that we know (is) from the First Temple period. And the size of this water system is huge,” excavation director Eli Shukron said. “This is a first time that we found (a) water system from the First Temple period in Jerusalem ever.”
The First Jewish Temple was built in 957 B.C.E, by King David’s son, King Solomon, and was destroyed during the Babylonian conquest in 586 B.C.E.
The reservoir has an approximate capacity of 250 cubic meters and was presumably used by the general public and for the needs of the temple, Shukron added.
The archaeologist explained that the current finding, as well as smaller cisterns that were revealed along the valley, show that Jerusalem’s water consumption in the First Temple period was not solely based on the output of the Gihon Spring water works as previously thought, but also on more “available” water resources.
Researchers know little about the ancient city in the First Jewish Temple period mainly due to 2,800 years of construction and human activity that erased most remains from that era.
According to an Israeli Antiquities Authority press release, the exposure of the impressive water reservoir joins a series of finds that were uncovered during recent excavations in this region of the city, suggesting the existence of a densely built-up quarter that extended across the area west of the Temple Mount. Those were later ruined and built over, as the temple's platform was extended during the Second Temple period.