Herodian-era aqueduct unearthed near Jerusalem's Jaffa Gate
Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologists say they found about 40 meters of an ancient aqueduct.
A well-built aqueduct from time of King Herod was unearthed last week near the Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem during work on infrastructure in the area.
The site of the discovery is not far from the place where a Byzantine street was recently unearthed.
Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologists say they found about 40 meters of the ancient waterway, which was part of the sophisticated aqueduct that brought water to Jerusalem from springs in the Hebron hills to the south to the Mamilla pool, which still exists today, and from there through the aqueduct to Hezekiah's Pool within the walled city.
Archaeologists say the aqueduct was first built in the first century BCE, and was in use in the second century. Within it were discovered roof tiles from the Roman Tenth Legion, which controlled the city at that time.
The aqueduct, which is 1.5 meters high and 60 centimeters wide, was built of large, flat stones. Every 15 meters a shaft connected the aqueduct to the road above it. According to the dig director, Dr. Ofer Sion, the shafts were used in maintenance work on the water system.
The 40-meter stretch ends just before the aqueduct reaches the Old City, where it is blocked, apparently by a collapsed shaft.
Scholars have known of the existence of an aqueduct here for about a century, thanks to a map by the German architect and archaeologist Conrad Schick, who unearthed a few meters of it. It was never excavated because this area is one of the city's busiest intersections.
The recently discovered Byzantine street has already been covered as infrastructure work continues. The fate of the aqueduct has not yet been decided. Israel Antiquities Authority personnel say they believe an entrance to the aqueduct could remain, so that perhaps one day it could be opened to the public.