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The longest section of the upper aqueduct to Jerusalem was revealed in archaeological excavations at Givat HaMatus

The length of the Amma section is about 300 meters, and it was uncovered in the excavations of the Antiquities Authority before the expansion of the neighborhood, funded by the "Arim" company for urban development and in the framework of the establishment of schools on the site at the initiative of the Jerusalem Municipality * Among other things, a coin from the second period of the great revolt of the Jews against the Romans was found in the Amma infrastructure - A few years before the destruction of the Second Temple

Digging the aqueduct - view from above. Photo by Emil Eljam, Antiquities Authority
Digging the aqueduct - view from above. Photo by Emil Eljam, Antiquities Authority

The longest section of the ancient upper aqueduct of Jerusalem was recently uncovered in archaeological excavations on the edge of the Givat HaMatus neighborhood. The excavations are managed by the Antiquities Authority as part of the expansion of the neighborhood, on behalf of the "Arim" company for urban development, in cooperation with the Jerusalem Municipality. The excavations revealed about 300 continuous meters from the upper aqueduct, which led water to the upper city of Jerusalem, where Herod's palace and the houses of the city's 2000th and dignitaries about XNUMX years ago.

"At the end of the Second Temple, the city of Jerusalem grew significantly; The temple was rebuilt and the water that flowed from Gihon and the cisterns was no longer enough for the thousands of pilgrims and residents, and water had to be brought to the city from far away," they say. Dr. Ofer Shion and Rotem Cohen, the excavation managers on behalf of the Antiquities Authority. "On this background, the Hasmoneans and King Herod built two elaborate aqueducts for Jerusalem, which were among the largest and most complex waterworks in the Land of Israel - and in general, in the ancient world. The aqueducts concentrated spring water in the Bethlehem area, and with the help of huge pools, physical laws (the law of combined vessels, the deck, the force of gravity), use of topography and extraordinary ingenuity, they flowed the water for tens of kilometers (!) in aggregate. The aqueduct known as the "upper aqueduct" flowed water to the upper city (today's Jewish and Armenian quarter), and the one known as the "lower aqueduct" led water directly to the temple.

Uncovering the ancient aqueduct. Photo: Emil Eljam, Antiquities Authority
Uncovering the ancient aqueduct. Photo: Emil Eljam, Antiquities Authority

The upper arm, a section of which is now exposed for hundreds of meters, continued to be used even after the destruction of Jerusalem, in 70 AD. The tenth legion, the destroyer of the temple, established itself in the upper city and camped there. "Even with the establishment of the pagan city "Ilia Capitolina" the tenth legion continued to make use of its sophisticated mother 

the existing He made extensive renovations in it, and raised the ancient level by half a meter," say Dr. Shion and Cohen. "We found about 25 coins, scattered at relatively equal distances, in the foundations of the Amma from the time of the tenth legion. In our opinion, this is no coincidence: just like the practice today, the coins were placed there for good luck."

Among other things, in the Amet Legion infrastructure, we also found a second sub-coin for the Great Revolt of the Jewish War against the Romans, from 67-68 AD. The researchers believe that the builders of the true legion deliberately incorporated this coin into the foundations of the ama when they laid the foundation for plaster.

"Uncovering the longest continuous section of the upper aqueduct now, and finding the 25 coins, will allow - perhaps, for the first time, a complete dating of the various stages of the construction of Jerusalem's aqueducts - and perhaps even shed light on the question - who built the first aqueduct - were they the Hasmoneans Or maybe King Herod", say the researchers.

The section of the upper forearm that is being exposed these days was buried under tons of modern soil waste. The forearm wound along a comfortable and moderate topographic route, and so far, three distinct phases are visible in it: the lower two - from the days of the Second Temple period, and the upper phase is - from the days of the Roman legion, whose camp, as mentioned, was in the upper city. The quality of the construction in the place is high, the plaster is well smoothed and the sides are raised. in some cases. Sometimes the fort was built, where the earlier stages were destroyed, on foundations to a height of 3 m.

 Photo by Emil Elgem, Antiquities Authority

According to Eli Escozido, director of the Antiquities Authority, "The fountains of water for Jerusalem tell the story of the city. Huge budgets, extensive engineering knowledge and day-to-day operations were required for their construction. They bear witness to the glory days of the temple, the destruction of the city and its construction after the destruction of the temple and in the days of Ilia Capitolina as a pagan city. In view of the importance of the discovery, which has not been preserved in other places for such a long time, in cooperation with the Jerusalem Municipality and the "Arim" company, we hope that it will be possible to preserve it and present it for the benefit of the public."

Mayor of Jerusalem, Moshe Leon: "Jerusalem is the city whose past and future are intertwined. The Jerusalem Municipality is happy to find out that during the construction of three schools in Givat Hametos, which will contribute to the education of the future generation, we received a greeting from the past - an aqueduct from the time of the Second Temple. The development momentum that will contribute to the future of Jerusalem also requires the preservation of its glorious past. Therefore, we agreed with the Antiquities Authority that the planning will be done in full coordination and with complete consideration of the preservation of the aqueduct that will be integrated into the project. This is a planning issue, and we see importance in providing good planning solutions that will allow the preservation of the foreshore, with accessibility to the general public. The ancient aqueduct was an infrastructure project that served the residents of ancient Jerusalem, I'm sure if they had seen the tremendous development of the city in recent years, they would have been very proud."

Sub-coin B for the revolt of the Jews against the Romans found in the foundations of the Amma. Photo by Ofer Shion, Israel Antiquities Authority
Sub-coin B for the revolt of the Jews against the Romans found in the foundations of the Amma. Photo by Ofer Shion, Israel Antiquities Authority

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