by: Israel Antiquities Authority
A segment of the Low-level Aqueduct to Jerusalem has been exposed in the neighborhood of Armon Hanatsiv. This was a joint project of the Israel Antiquities Authority [IAA] with the Jerusalem Municipality and the Moriah Jerusalem Development Corporation in order to make this extraordinary 2,000-year-old engineering feat visible and accessible to the public.
The Low-level Aqueduct winds along a route of 21 kilometers [13 mi.] from Solomon’s Pools, located south of Bethlehem, to the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, with a very slight gradient descending just over 1 meter [3.2 ft.] along every kilometer [0.6 mi.] on the average. This amazing water system, initiated by the Hasmonean kings in order to increase the water supply to Jerusalem and in particular to the Temple Mount, astounds us until this very day, and due to the aqueducts’ ingenuity and quality, continued to be used until the British Mandate 100 years ago, when the invention of electric pumps replaced it.
According to Ya’akov Billig of the IAA, who has researched the ancient aqueducts to Jerusalem:
“Two aqueducts brought water from Solomon’s Pools, located between Bethlehem and Efrat to Jerusalem—the Low-level Aqueduct and the High-level Aqueduct. It amazes us to think how they managed in antiquity to make the accurate measurements of elevation along such a long distance, choosing the route along the mountainous terrain and calculating the necessary gradient, all this without the modern sophisticated instruments we have today.”
At present, segments of the Low-level Aqueduct are being revealed under Alkachi Street in the Armon Hanatsiv neighborhood in an excavation directed by the IAA’s Alexander Wiegmann. Following the excavation, conservation experts will do preservation work among the remains in order to prepare these for exhibition in a park for the pleasure of visitors and the public.
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