Tag Archives: water

New “water law” inscription from Laodicea

Hurriyet Daily News reports here the discovery at Laodicea of a marble slab containing a code of laws pertaining to the water supply of the city during the reign of the Roman Emperor Trajan in 114 A.D. The article says,

The rules were prepared by Anatolian State Governor Aulus Vicirius Matrialis.

This marble slab discovered at Laodicea contains a code of laws protecting the water supply of the city of Laodicea in the early second century A.D. (Photo credit: AA photo)

This marble slab discovered at Laodicea contains a code of laws protecting the water supply of the city of Laodicea in the early second century A.D. (Photo credit: AA photo)

Here is some further information about the discovery.

The excavation works, led by Pamukkale University and supported by Denizli Municipality, have continued on Stadium Street in the ancient site. Excavations head Professor Celal Şimşek of Pamukkale University, said, “The Laodicea Assembly made this law in 114 A.D. and presented it to a pro council in Ephesus for approval.

The pro council approved the law on behalf of the empire. Water was vital for the city. This is why there were heavy penalties against those who polluted the water, damaged the water channels or reopening the sealed water pipes. Breaking the law was subject to a penalty of about 12,500 denarius – 125,000 Turkish Liras.”

One hundred twenty-five thousand Turkish Liras amount to approximately $42,700. Fairly stiff fine.

The full article is accompanied by several nice photos and will be well worth your time. Another article about the discovery appears in Ancient Origins here.

Last year my fellow-traveler Leon Mauldin and I made a personal study tour in Turkey. We had the opportunity to make a return visit to Laodicea and see the continuing excavations at the site. I think the city is destined to become one of the most popular sites in the country.

Leon Mauldin on Syria Street in Laodicea. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Leon Mauldin on Syria Street in Laodicea. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Laodicea is known to us from the book of Revelation (1:11; 3:14-22), and from Paul’s epistle to the Colossians.

For I testify for him that he has a deep concern for you and for those who are in Laodicea and Hierapolis. Luke, the beloved physician, sends you his greetings, and also Demas. Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea and also Nympha and the church that is in her house. When this letter is read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and you, for your part read my letter that is coming from Laodicea. (Col 4:13-16 NAU)

One might easily connect this discovery to what we already knew about the water system at Laodicea. I was rather sure that I had written about the source of water and the water distribution tower, but I find only the photo of the tower here. I have written about the subject in material distributed to my tour members. Perhaps I will be able to reprint some of that material in another post. Meanwhile, I call attention to the recent good post by Carl Rasmussen about this same discovery. He includes comments about the “lukewarm” water at the Holy Land Photos’ Blog here.

HT: Joseph I. Lauer

Visualizing Isaiah 12: wells of salvation

Isaiah describes the Messianic Age as one that will be characterized by many spiritual blessings. The pleasant waters of Shiloah had been rejected by God’s people, but in the time to come Judah would joyfully draw water from the wells of salvation.

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. (Isaiah 12:3 ESV)

The term mayan (wells) is often used in the Old Testament of springs, fountains, wells, or pools of water.

We might think of a well like the one where Jesus stopped at Sychar in Samaria.

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” (John 4:10-15 ESV)

Jacob's well in Samaria. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Jacob’s well in Samaria. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Or, we might think of a spring like the beautiful one at the source of the Banias River at Caesarea Philippi. This spring and river becomes a major source of the Jordan River.

The source of the Banias River, source of the River Jordan. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The source of the Banias River. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.


Visualizing Isaiah 8: the gentle flowing waters of Shiloah

Isaiah 8 teaches that the rejection of the LORD by His people would bring about severe punishment. To illustrate this, the LORD says His people “refused the waters of Shiloah that flow gently,” and that He would bring up against them “the waters of the River” [Euphrates], that is, the Assyrians. This would not be gentle flowing, but would flood even to the neck. It would be impossible to stay afloat when that happens.

The LORD spoke to me again: “Because this people has refused the waters of Shiloah that flow gently, and rejoice over Rezin and the son of Remaliah, therefore, behold, the Lord is bringing up against them the waters of the River, mighty and many, the king of Assyria and all his glory. And it will rise over all its channels and go over all its banks, and it will sweep on into Judah, it will overflow and pass on, reaching even to the neck, and its outspread wings will fill the breadth of your land, O Immanuel.” (Isaiah 8:5-8 ESV)

From the earliest days of the city, the water source for Jerusalem was the Gihon Spring. The well-known Hezekiah’s tunnel and the new pool that he built on the west side of the city of David would not be constructed for about 25 to 35 years (2 Kings 20:20; 2 Chronicles 32:30).

The Canaanites had cut a small tunnel through the rock to allow water to flow from the Gihon Spring into the valley on the east side of what would later be called the city of David.

The comment in The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament provides a good explanation of the tunnel and pool under consideration.

Hezekiah’s tunnel had not yet been constructed at this time. Water was conducted from the Gihon Spring (in the Kidron Valley on the east side of the city) toward the south through an aqueduct that brought the water to a reservoir at the southwestern tip of the city. This aqueduct is known as the Siloam Channel and in biblical times went by the name Shiloah.

Since 1997 it has been possible for visitors to the source of the Gihon Pool to walk through the dry Canaanite tunnel and exit in the valley which is part of the Silwan village. (That exit is now within an enclosed park area known as the City of David (Jerusalem Walls) National Park.) Our photo below show a portion of that tunnel.

The Canaanite Tunnel through which the gentle "waters of Shiloah" once flowed. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Canaanite Tunnel through which the gentle “waters of Shiloah” once flowed. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Pools of Solomon

It is a fact that numerous structures in Israel are incorrectly identified. Earlier travelers may have asked where this or that biblical event took place. There was always someone willing to show them what they wanted to see. Some items that come to mind include the Tower of David and Solomon’s Stables in Jerusalem, Ahab’s Palace at Jezreel, and Solomon’s Pools southwest of Bethlehem.

In the earliest days of my tours we were able to visit Solomon’s Pools as we traveled between Bethlehem and Hebron. In more recent years the Pools have been in the Palestinian Authority’s West Bank. This means going to Bethlehem and then making arrangement to visit the pools.

Solomon, who ruled about 970–931 B.C., is said to have developed vineyards, gardens, and pools.

I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees. (Ecclesiastes 2:4-6 ESV)

These pools do not belong to the time of Solomon. It may be legendary, but Josephus says that Solomon used to ride upon a chariot to a place called Etham (Etam). This area is described as “very pleasant in its fine gardens, and abounding in rivulets of water; he used to go there in the morning sitting high in his chariot” (Antiquities 8:186).

One of the earliest projects conducted by Amihai Mazar, in 1968, was a survey of the 70 kilometers of aqueducts. He wanted to see how accurate Conrad Schick has been in his 19th century surveys.

Several springs feed into the “pools of Solomon” from the south through two aqueducts. From the western pool a high level aqueduct carried water to the Upper City of Jerusalem. From the easternmost pool a low level aqueduct carried water to the Temple Mount.

One of the earliest projects conducted by Amihai Mazar, now Professor Emeritus at Hebrew University, in 1968 was a survey of 70 kilometers of aqueducts. He wanted to see how accurate Conrad Schick had been in his surveys in the 19th century. He says the pools,

must date to the Hasmonean period, perhaps to Alexander Jannaeus [126 B.C.–76 B.C.]. We don’t have any written sources, and there is no objective archaeological data for dating them. But we base our assumption on the fact that in the Mishnah the aqueducts are referred to and are very important for ritual purposes on the Temple Mount. (BAR, 10:3, May/June 1984).

Mazar’s study of “The Aqueducts of Jerusalem” is published in Jerusalem Revealed: Archaeology in the Holy City 1968–1974. 79-84.

Our first photo shows the highest of the pools which I am calling the western pool.

The western most pool. View east. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The western pool. View east. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The middle pool is shown here with a view to the northwest. You can see the higher hills in the break between the trees.

The middle pool. View west. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The middle pool. View northwest. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The third pool (eastern) is shown below with a view toward the west.

The eastern pool. View west. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The eastern pool. View west. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A recent study of “Jerusalem’s Ancient Aqueduct System” by Tom Powers is available for download at his website here. This article can be helpful for those who wish to know more about the subject.

Jerome Murphy-O’Connor has a few pages devoted to Solomon’s Pools, including the aqueduct system, in The Holy Land (483-486).

Within the past few weeks there has been some information, and some unfounded speculation, about a water system found at ‘Ain Joweizeh. Todd Bolen describes the location of the site:

The site is located 5.5 miles (9 km) southwest of the Old City of  Jerusalem, 3.5 miles (5.5 km) northwest of Bethlehem, and just down the slope to the west of Har Gilo.

Bolen has a good summary of what we know about this water system (“Royal Water System Excavated in Judean Hills”) in a recent post here.

BAR’s Bible History Daily includes photos of the Proto-Aeolic Capital associated with the recently discovered tunnel here.

Don’t mess around with nature

Shmuel Browns has a nice article here on Agamon (Hula) Lake in northern Israel. Perhaps we all know that Lake Hula (Hulah; Huleh) is the small body of water about 10 miles north of the Sea of Galilee.

Browns tells how the lake came to be drained a few decades back, and the reason for its reclamation. I was especially impressed with the number of “creatures” found in the area around the lake. And also of the number of species lost as a result of the draining of the lake.

Josephus refers to Lake Hula by the Roman name of Lake Semechonitis (Ant. 5.199; Jewish Wars 3:515; 4:3).

My earliest association for the site (about 60 years ago) was to identify it as the Waters of Merom (Joshua 11), because this is what Hurlbut suggested in A Bible Atlas. This identification is doubtful, and many modern atlases pass over the issue.

In the new Satellite Bible Atlas, Bill Schlegel says the Canaanites gathered at

…  the Waters of Merom, of uncertain location. The name is preserved at a spring and mountain in Upper Galilee. If this is its location, the Canaanite gathering there is the only significant event described in the Bible that occurred in Upper Galilee. (Map 3-7).

Shmuel shows you some good land photos, and I will show you an aerial photo I made of the reclaimed lake now known as Agamon (Hula) Lake.

Reclamation of Lake Hula. Aerial photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Reclamation of Lake Hula. Aerial photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

In the late 1960s, I saw the former location of Lake Hula. By that time there was a line of trees standing where the shore had once been.

The Great Pool at Gibeon

There are two references in the Bible to the pool of Gibeon. The first is in the account of a conflict between Abner and those aligned with King Saul, and Joab and the servants of David (2 Samuel).

Abner the son of Ner, and the servants of Ish-bosheth the son of Saul, went out from Mahanaim to Gibeon.  And Joab the son of Zeruiah and the servants of David went out and met them at the pool of Gibeon. And they sat down, the one on the one side of the pool, and the other on the other side of the pool.  (2 Samuel 2:12-13 ESV)

Arnold’s entry in The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary says,

This “pool” undoubtedly refers to the impressive water system uncovered at el-Jib during recent archaeological excavations” [by Pritchard in the 1950s].

The pool had been constructed in the late 12th or early 13th century B.C. At first, it was thought to be a reservoir intended to hold water. Later it was learned that it served as a stairway leading to a source of water underneath the city.

After the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, the king of Babylon   made Gedaliah governor over the land. A rebellion led by a man named Ishmael killed Gedaliah at Mizpah (Jeremiah 41). The followers of Gedaliah and the men of Ishmael met at the great pool in Gibeon.

they took all their men and went to fight against Ishmael the son of Nethaniah. They came upon him at the great pool that is in Gibeon. (Jeremiah 41:12 ESV)

The great pool of Gibeon, cut from rock, measures 37 feet in diameter and 35 feet deep. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The great pool of Gibeon, cut from rock, measures 37 feet in diameter and 35 feet deep. The steps led to the source of water located underneath. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins, whose shadow is visible, along with Leon Mauldin, standing at ground level.

For more information see James B. Pritchard’s Gibeon Where the Sun Stood Still (1962). For a ground level photo of the pool, see here.

First Temple Public Water Reservoir Exposed in Jerusalem

We have enjoyed a good day visiting in Israel, but I want to share word of this amazing discovery announced today by the Israel Antiquities Authority.

— • —

A Public Water Reservoir Dating to the First Temple Period has been Exposed for the First Time next to the Western Wall

According to Eli Shukron, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “It is now absolutely clear that the Jerusalem’s water consumption during the First Temple period was not solely based on the output of the Gihon Spring, but that it also relied on public reservoirs”

The find will be presented to the public today (Thursday) in the “City of David Studies” conference that will be held in Jerusalem

Massive reservoir discovered near Western Wall in Jerusalem.. Photo by IAA.

Massive reservoir discovered near Western Wall in Jerusalem.. Photo by IAA.

A large rock-hewn water reservoir dating to the First Temple period was discovered in the archaeological excavations that are being conducted in the Jerusalem Archaeological Garden at the foot of Robinson’s Arch. The excavations at the site are being carried out by the Israel Antiquities Authority, underwritten by the ʽIr David Foundation and in cooperation with the Nature and Parks Authority.

The impressive reservoir will be presented today (Thursday) together with other finds from this past year at the 13th annual conference on the “City of David Studies of Ancient Jerusalem” to be held in Jerusalem.

The excavation, during the course of which the reservoir was discovered, is part of an archaeological project whereby the entire drainage channel of Jerusalem dating to the Second Temple period is being exposed. The channel runs north along the City of David spur, from the Siloam Pool to a point beneath Robinson’s Arch. The route of the channel was fixed in the center of the main valley that extends from north to south the length of the ancient city, parallel to the Temple Mount. In his description of Jerusalem in the Second Temple period, Josephus refers to the valley by its Greek name “Tyropoeon”, which scholars believe means “Valley of the Cheese-makers”. Another interpretation identifies the valley with the “Valley of the Decision”, mentioned in the Book of Joel.

It became apparent while excavating the channel that during the construction of this enormous engineering enterprise its builders had to remove earlier structures that were situated along the route of the channel and “pass through” existing rock-hewn installations that were located along it. An extraordinary installation that was exposed in recent weeks is a large water reservoir treated with several layers of plaster, which probably dates to the First Temple period.

The reservoir has an approximate capacity of 250 cubic meters [66,043 U.S. gallons] and is therefore one of the largest water reservoirs from the First Temple period to be discovered so far in Jerusalem, and this was presumably a reservoir that was used by the general public.

According to Eli Shukron, the excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “While excavating beneath the floor of the drainage channel a small breach in the bedrock was revealed that led us to the large water reservoir. To the best of our knowledge this is the first time that a water reservoir of this kind has been exposed in an archaeological excavation. The exposure of the current reservoir, as well as smaller cisterns that were revealed along the Tyropoeon Valley, unequivocally indicates that Jerusalem’s water consumption in the First Temple period was not solely based on the output of the Gihon Spring water works, but also on more available water resources such as the one we have just discovered.

According to Dr. Tvika Tsuk, chief archaeologist of the Nature and Parks Authority and an expert on ancient water systems, “The large water reservoir that was exposed, with two other cisterns nearby, is similar in its general shape and in the kind of plaster to the light yellow plaster that characterized the First Temple period and resembles the ancient water system that was previously exposed at Bet Shemesh. In addition, we can see the hand prints of the plasters left behind when they were adding the finishing touches to the plaster walls, just like in the water reservoirs of Tel Be’er Sheva, Tel Arad and Tel Bet Shemesh, which also date to the First Temple period”. Dr. Tsuk says, “Presumably the large water reservoir, which is situated near the Temple Mount, was used for the everyday activities of the Temple Mount itself and also by the pilgrims who went up to the Temple and required water for bathing and drinking”.

The exposure of the impressive water reservoir that lies below Robinson’s Arch joins a series of finds that were uncovered during recent excavations in this region of the city, indicating the existence of a densely built-up quarter that extended across the area west of the Temple Mount and predating the expansion of the Temple Mount. It seems that with the expansion of the Temple Mount compound to the west and the construction of the public buildings and the streets around the Temple Mount at the end of the Second Temple period, the buildings from the First Temple period and early Second Temple period were dismantled in this region and all that remains of them is a series of rock-cut installations, among them the hewn water reservoir.

According to Dr. Yuval Baruch, archaeologist in charge of the Jerusalem Region of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “Upon completion of the excavations along the route of the drainage channel, the IAA will examine possibilities of incorporating the impressive water reservoir in the planned visitors’ path”.

Click here to download high resolution photographs of the reservoir.

HT: Joseph Lauer

The Fountain of Peirene at Corinth

Food, Water, and the ability to defend, were the most important features in ancient cities. Corinth’s most important reservoir, the Fountain of Peirene, was fed from subterranean springs. It had a capacity of over 81,000 gallons.

Take a look at the horizon in the photo below. That was the level of the earth more than a century ago before archaeological excavations began at Ancient Corinth. The entire structure that we know as the Fountain of Peirene was covered with debris. This structure was built along the Lechaion Road which led from the Agora (Marketplace) to the Gulf of Corinth on the west side of the city.

The fountain is no longer in use, but if you walk close to the arches you can hear water flowing underneath the city.

Fountain of Peirene at Ancient Corinth. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Fountain of Peirene at Ancient Corinth. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Paul visited Corinth on his second journey (A.D. 50-53). In spite of obstacles that brought fear to the heart of Paul, the Lord assured him that He had many people in the city (Acts 18:10).

And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. (Act 18:11 ESV)

Dead Sea rises 8 centimeters

Haaretz reports that the water level of the Dead Sea rose 8 centimeters (3.15 inches) last year. This brings to mind the saying, “Every little bit helps.” Especially after the sea plummeted by more than 45 feet in the past 13 years. Read the report here.

The Salt Sea of the Bible (Genesis 14:3). Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

HT: Bible Places Blog.

The Dead Sea: A History of Change

The Dead Sea may be the most fascinating body of water on earth. It lies along the Great Rift (Afro-Arabian Rift), and is the lowest body of water on earth. A.D. Riddle and David Parker have created a relief map showing the level of the Dead Sea from 3500 B.C. to the present. The authors explain how they made the map at the site.

Visit the The Dead Sea - a History of Change.

Visit the The Dead Sea - a History of Change.

Click here to see the map. It takes a little while to get acquainted with all the information available on the page. Click the buttons on the right middle of the map page to run the animation. The extent of the water in the Dead Sea changes as the program runs through the centuries. Scroll over one of the names on the map and information appears in the blue box. This is a fascinating program.

Sinkholes on the western shore of the Dead Sea

Several news outlets, include our local Fox News station, ran reports on sinkholes that are developing along the western edge of the Dead Sea. Less water is flowing into the Dead Sea than in previous years. The Fox News report says,

As the Dead Sea recedes, fresh water comes to the dried-up areas in the form of rain, runoff and underground streams. The fresh water soaks into the ground, dissolving the salts that had been deposited there since long before there was a Sodom or a Gomorrah.

Once the salt dissolves, that opens up great underground caves — and the earth comes a-tumblin’ down.

Here is a photo showing one of the sinkholes filled with fresh water. The Dead Sea and the distant mountains of Moab are hidden in the summer haze.

Sinkhole along the western shore of Dead Sea. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Sinkhole along the western shore of Dead Sea. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

HT on the map: Biblical Studies and Technological Tools.