Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Hinnom Valley Bridge Discovered

The Israel Antiquities Authority has uncovered an arched bridge in the Hinnom Valley that was built in the 14th century as a replacement of the Lower Aqueduct bridge from the 1st century.  From Arutz-7:

Two of the bridge’s original nine arches have now been excavated to their full height of about three meters.

In actuality, the newly-discovered bridge was built in 1320 C.E. by the sultan Nasser al-Din Muhammed Ibn Qalawun, as evidenced by its dedicatory inscription. 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.

Yechiel Zelinger, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said, “The bridge, which could still be seen at the end of the 19th century and appears in old photographs, was covered over during the 20th century. We were thrilled when it suddenly reappeared in all its grandeur during the course of the archaeological excavations.”

“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,” Zelinger said. “Substantial parts of it have been documented along the edge of Yemin Moshe neighborhood and on the slope adjacent to the Old City’s western wall. In order to maintain the elevation of the path along which the water flowed, a bridge was erected above the ravine.”

The story continues here.

Yesterday Tom Powers posted his observations of the excavation along with a couple of great photos.  He wonders aloud if the earlier foundations of the bridge underlie the present one.  Perhaps the archaeologists will pursue this question.

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