Saturday, August 13, 2005

Ancient water system discovered near Jerusalem
By Michele Chabin
Religion News Service

JERUSALEM - Israeli and American archaeologists have discovered what they term a "monumental rock-hewn water system" near Jerusalem dating back to the eighth century B.C.

The discovery, announced Aug. 9, was made during an eight-week dig at a cave close to Jerusalem, in Ein Kerem, which is regarded as the traditional birthplace of John the Baptist.

Last summer, Shimon Gibson, the chief archaeologist at the dig, announced that he had found a cave that may have been used by John the Baptist to anoint his followers.

A statement by Gibson and archaeologist James Tabor from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte said that the latest excavations have revealed the cave to be part of "a much larger Iron Age water system, rock-cut in places to a depth of 65 feet."

The archaeologists said the cave, which dates back to the time of King Hezekiah (according to pottery shards from that period), contains a vertical shaft, an open horizontal corridor, a flight of stone steps above a tunnel and three external plastered pools, all of which was on the slope above an underground reservoir.



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