In excavations the Israel Antiquities Authority is conducting in the City of David in order to expose the main road of Jerusalem from the time of the Second Temple period, the city’s main drainage channel was discovered. According to the writings of Josephus Flavius, the residents of the city fled to this channel at the time of the revolt in order to hide from the Romans.
In excavations the Israel Antiquities Authority is jointly carrying out with the Elad Association in the Walls around Jerusalem National Park, approximately 70 meters of Jerusalem’s main drainage channel from the time of the Second Temple period have been exposed so far. The channel is located along the route from the Temple Mount to the Shiloah Pool. The channel, which passes beneath the main road of the city and apparently continues to Nahal Kidron on its way to the Dead Sea, drained the rainfall of ancient Jerusalem; the Jewish quarter, the western region of the City of David and the Temple Mount.
The channel is built of ashlar stones and is covered with heavy stone slabs that are actually the paving stones of the street. In some places the channel reaches a height of about 3 meters and is one meter wide, so that it is possible to walk in it comfortably.
According to the excavation directors, Professor Ronny Reich of the University of Haifa and Eli Shukron of the Israel Antiquities Authority, in the last two thousand years the valley has become blocked with thick layers of alluvium and collapse. Therefore the Israel Antiquities Authority was asked to excavate some 10 meters for the purpose of uncovering the main road of Jerusalem and the channel below it. “There is evidence in the writings of Josephus Flavius, the historian who described the revolt, the conquest and the destruction of Jerusalem, that numerous people took shelter in the channel and even lived in it for a period until they succeeded to flee the city through its southern end”, they added.
Pottery sherds, fragments of vessels, and coins from the end of the Second Temple period, prior to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in the year 70 CE, were discovered inside the channel.
The northern part of the channel, which is still unexcavated, apparently reaches the area of the Western Wall where in the past a large drainage channel was found that is the continuation of the channel that was exposed in the southern part of the City of David. The construction of the channel is characterized by its advanced technology. The further south one goes in the channel the deeper it is below the surface level so as to allow the rainwater to flow to Nahal Kidron.