Ancient Jerusalem water bridge rediscovered at Sultan's Pool
In a city so rife with history, even modern infrastructure updates are apt to uncover ancient treasures. Such was the case when the city's Gihon Corporation, which supplies modern Jerusalem with water and is named for the capital's ancient water source, began updating the sewage infrastructure in Sultan's Pool. While digging, the company uncovered an ancient bridge, dating from the Mamluk Period, which was used to carry water to the Temple Mount. According to Yehiel Zelinger, the Israel Antiquities Authority Excavation Director who has been overseeing the excavation, "We all knew there was an ancient water system in Jerusalem and we have already uncovered most of it, near Mishkenot Shaananim and around the walls of the Old City. What's new here is that we have now found the connection [which was actually visible in 19th century photographs but covered in the 20th century], how this water traveled from the area near Mishkenot Shaananim over the valley that contains Sultan's Pool and t
According to Israel Antiquities Authority Excavation Director Yehiel Zelinger, who has been overseeing the excavation, "We all knew there was an ancient water system in Jerusalem, and we have already uncovered most of it, near Mishkenot Shaananim and around the walls of the Old City. What's new here," Zelinger continues, "is that we have now found the connection [which was actually visible in 19th century photographs, pictured above, but covered in the 20th century], how this water traveled from the area near Mishkenot Sha'ananim over the valley that contains Sultan's Pool and towards the Old City. This bridge crossed the valley, and brought the water to the Old City. It's a very special find."
Indeed, although the current bridge dates to the 14th century and the reign of Sultan Nasser al-Din Muhammad Ibn Qalawun, it is believed that it is actually the replacement of an even more ancient bridge, one dating from the times of the Second Temple.
"This Sultan Nasser al-Din Muhammad Ibn Qalawun was a strong ruler, one of the strongest Mamluk rulers, with a secure reign, so he had the power to update the city's water system and rebuild this bridge," Zelinger tells GoJerusalem.com.
The rebuilding of an ancient water-carrying bridge by a 14th century ruler and the finding of this replacement bridge, relatively intact, in the 21st century, is testament to the strength of the Jerusalem's water infrastructure. According to Zelinger, "Aqueducts are not unique to Jerusalem. We have found aqueducts in France and Italy as well. What's unique here is the duration of the ancient systems. The water system built in the times of the Hasmoneans [140 years BCE] was used until [pre-World War I] Ottoman times."