2,700-Year-Old Biblical Pool of Siloam in Jerusalem to Be Excavated, Opened to Public
The 2,700-year-old Pool of Siloam in Jerusalem, an archeological site of “enormous significance” that was described in the bible, is set to undergo excavation work and be opened to visitors for the first time in the modern era, Israeli authorities announced Tuesday.
The pool was among the most critical sites in Jerusalem during the First Temple period, serving as a reservoir for water from the Gihon Spring, the main water source to the city. It was expanded towards the end of the Second Temple period, some 2,000 years ago, and is believed to have been used as a mikveh, or a Jewish ritual bath, by millions of pilgrims before their ascent to the Temple.
The excavation — announced by the Israel Antiquities Authority, the Israel National Parks Authority, and the City of David Foundation — will take place in stages, with visitors initially allowed to observe the archeological work. In later months, they will be able to access the pool through a route beginning at the south end of the City of David and ending by the Western Wall.
The Pool of Siloam, believed to have been around 1.25 acres at its peak, has inspired archeological interest and expeditions since the closing of the 19th century, with a British-American team unearthing some of its steps in the 1890s. An ancient Hebrew inscription, known as the Siloam Inscription, was found in a tunnel funneling water from the Gihon Spring into the pool a decade earlier.
Its construction during the reign of King Hezekiah of Judah was described in the biblical Book of Kings II 20:20, which reads, “Now the rest of the acts of Hezekiah, and all his might, and how he made the Pool, and the conduit, and brought water into the city, are they not written in the Book of Chronicles of the kings of Judah?”
The project’s announcement was lauded by Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion, who called the pool “a site of historic, national and international significance.”
“After many years of anticipation,” he added, “we will soon merit being able to uncover this important site and make it accessible to the millions of visitors visiting Jerusalem each year.”