Backgrounders on the Bible through Biblical Archaeology

1347 First Temple Period Cistern

Cistern

Cistern

It’s been a bountiful excavation season this summer in Israel, and one of the most exciting discoveries occurred at the end of the season, after most of the institutional excavations ended. The Israel Antiquities Authority has announced the discovery of a cistern from the First Temple Period, the time of the kings of Judah. The cistern is located at the Southwest corner of the Temple Mount, underneath Robinson’s Arch, a first century Herodian Street, and a drainage channel under the street. Down below all of those levels, a large community cistern was discovered when a worker noticed a loose paver and decided to see what was underneath.

Up until this discovery, archaeologists and Bible scholars assumed that the only water source for Jerusalem during the First Temple period was the Gihon Spring, down in the Kidron Valley. In the First Temple period, before the Temple Mount was expanded by Herod the Great, the cistern was a little further out from the temple compound.

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