Jerusalem cistern

Gigantic First Temple cistern discovered in Jerusalem

The newly discovered giant First Temple cistern

The newly discovered giant First Temple cistern

Tonight I will be attending the annual City of David Archaeological Conference. In advance of the conference, the Israel Antiquities Authority has released the news of an amazing new discovery.

While excavating a drainage tunnel from the Second Temple Period, they found many structures from the First Temple Period that were built over to make the drainage tunnel. Some of these have been available for the public to visit for almost a year now.

But now the IAA has announced a much more significant find, a gigantic water cistern from the First Temple Period. 

Why is this so fascinating?

Until now the basic assumption of archaeologists was that the only major water source for Jerusalem during the First Temple Period was the Gihon Spring. Problem is, the Gihon Spring doesn’t put out enough water to sustain a capital city with a thrice annual pilgrimage of many thousands of people.

This cistern is the first indication that there was probably a series of gigantic cisterns near the Temple Mount to provide the needed water. The others were likely buried when Herod expanded the Temple Mount and built the gigantic retaining wall that we know today as the Western Wall.

Although I haven’t had time to hear the different views on this, my first reaction is that this is a point on the side of those who take the Bible seriously and against those who want to play down First Temple Jerusalem.

More to come

I am sure that this will be one of the hot topics of the conference tonight. I hope to report back with more details soon.

In the mean time you can read the official press release of the IAA here

If this kind of thing fascinates you, I encourage you to come with me on an in depth tour of the City of David where you will learn about this and much more!

Another view of the giant cisternAll pictures courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority/Vladimir Naykhin


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