Monday, June 04, 2007

How did fish reach Jerusalem?

Source: Haaretz

By Ran Shapira

Jerusalem's ancient water system, which excavations over the past decade are gradually uncovering, included a large pool hewn into rock. The pool, next to the Gihon Spring in the City of David, ceased to be used and dried up in the late eighth century B.C.E., after King Hezekiah of Judah built a new water project in the city, the Siloam tunnel. But according to Prof. Roni Reich, of the University of Haifa's Archaeology Department, and Eli Shukrun of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), who are overseeing the excavations at the site, the pool hewn into the rock did not remain desolate for long: Toward the end of the eighth century B.C.E., a Jerusalem resident decided to build himself a house inside it, thus sparing himself a lot of work, since the pool's four hewn walls served as a base for the external walls of his home.

Apparently, the new homeowners did not want to live in the depths of the pool and preferred to raise the lower level of their home by about three meters. In order to bring the house to the desired level, they poured stones and earth into the bottom of the pool, and its upper reaches abutted the floor of the house.

The excavation, being managed by the IAA with the assistance of the Israel Nature and National Parks Protection Authority (INNPPA), the Elad Association and the Gihon Company, has uncovered in the attached earthen floor of the house clay vessels dating to the end of the eighth century B.C.E., but the more surprising findings were in the stratum beneath. Reich and Shukrun decided to sift through all of it in the hope of uncovering artifacts that would help date the structure.

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