The Pool of Siloam, a roughly 3,000-year-old water reservoir that likely served Jerusalem’s population throughout biblical times, will be fully excavated in the following months, Israeli authorities announced.
The excavations will expose the entire pool for the first time. The Pool of Siloam stairs were uncovered in 2004 while repairing a drainage system. The pool was then partially excavated by Eli Shukron and Ronny Reich.
The Pool was a part of the water system of Jerusalem. It was first constructed around 2,700 years ago, during the reign of King Hezekiah (715 – 687/6 BCE), the 13th king of Judah according to the Hebrew Bible. Water was fed by the Gihon Spring and carried by the Siloam Tunnel, also known as Hezekiah’s Tunnel, which supplied a steady supply of drinking water to the city’s population, especially during times of siege.
In 1880, the Siloam Inscription was discovered in a water tunnel a few dozen meters from the Pool. The Inscription, which is currently on display at the Istanbul Archaeology Museum, is written in ancient Hebrew script and describes how water from the Gihon Spring was diverted to the Pool during King Hezekiah’s reign.
In the 1890s, some of the pool’s stairs were discovered by a group of British-American archaeologists led by F.J. Bliss and A.C. Dickey, and the site was excavated in the 1960s by British archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon.
According to estimations, the Pool of Siloam went through several stages of development and, at its height, was around 5 dunams (1¼ acres) in size and inlaid with beautiful flagstones.
“The Pool of Siloam in the City of David National Park in Jerusalem is a site of historic, national, and international significance. After many years of expectation, we will soon begin uncovering this important site and make it accessible to the millions of visitors and tourists who visit Jerusalem every year,” said Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion.
The excavating plans are not without controversy. Protesters say that “the excavations are part of a campaign to expand right-wing Jewish control over politically sensitive parts of East Jerusalem currently inhabited by Palestinians.” according to the Times of Israel.