2000 Year Old Tunnel Excavated in Jerusalem

Published: January 27th 2011
in News » Israel

Diggin Underneath Silwan

Excavation on a 2000 year old tunnel from the City of David in Silwan to beneath the walls of Jerusalem's Old City, has been completed the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) reported on Tuesday.


“After works which lasted seven years, the last part of the tunnel, which is 600 meters (yards) long and was used for draining rainwater during the Second Temple period, has been cleared," said Eli Shukron, the lead IAA archeologist with the project.


The tunnel is about 1/3 of a meter wide and ranges in height from 1 to 2 meters, and is between 15 to 20 meters underground.


Started in 2004, the project has sparked controversy because of its close proximity to Al-Aksa Mosque and the Temple Mount. Any Israeli construction work in the Old City often becomes contentious, particularly around the Western Wall which backs onto the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, and the Noble Sanctuary, which houses the third holiest site in Islam. However, concerns of rioting were unfounded.


The tunnel was extensively excavated by British archeologist Charles Warren in 1867 and archeologists Bliss and Dickey in the 1890s. This is the first time it was discovered that the channel is a continuous 600 meters long.


“What this gives us is an understanding of the conditions of the roads in Jerusalem during the Second Temple period. How did the city work? How did the city live? Here you’ve got something important, something interesting, something that you can relate to.” Shukron stated.


Over the years, the tunnel has been partially open to the public. Soon it will be completely opened to civilian tours.

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