Spectacular Arched Bridge, Part Of The Aqueduct Which Carried Water To The Temple Mount, Exposed In Israel Antiquities Authority Archaeological Excavations Near The Sultan’s Pool.
Work on the city’s modern water infrastructure in the vicinity of Sultan’s Pool in the Walls around Jerusalem National Park has uncovered a spectacular arched bridge - a section of the ancient aqueduct that carried water to the Temple Mount.
According to Yehiel Zelinger, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “The bridge, which could still be seen at the end of the nineteenth century and appears in old photographs, was covered over during the twentieth century. We were thrilled when it suddenly reappeared in all its grandeur during the course of the archaeological excavations”. Zelinger said, “The route of the Low Level aqueduct from the time of the Second Temple, beginning at Solomon’s Pools near Bethlehem and ending at the Temple Mount, is well known to scholars: substantial parts of it were documented along the edge of Yemin Moshe neighbourhood and on the slope adjacent to the western wall of the Old City. The upper part of the Hinnom Valley passes between the two sections of aqueduct where the Sultan’s Pool was built as a reservoir for flood water. In order to maintain the elevation of the path along which the water flowed, a bridge was erected above the ravine. Two of the original nine arches that were in the bridge were currently excavated to their full height of about 3 meters”.
The bridge was built in 1320 CE (in the Mamluke period) by the sultan Nasser al-Din Muhammed Ibn Qalawun, as evidenced by the dedicatory inscription set in it; however, it was apparently constructed to replace an earlier bridge dating to the time of the Second Temple period that was part of the original aqueduct.
The Israel Antiquities Authority, in cooperation with the Nature and Parks Authority, is working to expose the entire length of the arched bridge, conserve it and integrate it in the framework of the overall development of the Sultan’s Pool, as part of underscoring the importance of the water supply to Jerusalem in ancient times.
Most tourists and locals are familiar with the Sultan’s Pool as a venue for the annual International Hutzot Hayotzer Arts and Crafts Fair (held every August) and other cultural events and concerts. However, for hundreds of years it was one of the city’s most important water reservoirs.