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Archaeological Jackpot in Jerusalem: Ancient Canal Uncovered

Archaeologists have uncovered a drainage canal where many Jews hid out during the Great Rebellion against Rome, according to historian Josephus.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 9/9/2007, 10:17 PM

The Israel Antiquities Authority announced Sunday that it found the site which served as a backdrop for a famous scene in the Great Jewish Rebellion against Rome in the 1st century. The Authority has uncovered a 70 meter long section of Jerusalem's main drainage duct. It was inside this drainage duct that Jerusalem's Jewish inhabitants hid from the Roman invaders when Rome sacked Jerusalem, according to historian (and Jewish turncoat) Josephus Flavius.

After a prolonged siege, Jerusalem was conquered by the Roman general Titus Flavius in the year 70 CE, and the Temple was destroyed. The Roman army placed a siege around Jerusalem by digging a trench around the city's walls, and building an additional wall around that trench. Anyone caught attempting to flee the city was crucified. Tens of thousands of crucified bodies encircled Jerusalem by the end of the siege.

Throughout the siege, many of the Jewish warriors' family members hid out in a drainage canal that carried rainwater from the Temple Mount to the Pool of Shiloach (AKA Siloam). This is the duct that has been exposed by archaeologists. When the city fell, some of the Jews hiding in the duct managed to escape through its southern section.

Liberty or Death
By the summer of 70, the Romans had breached Jerusalem's walls, ransacking and burning ne
Throughout the siege, many of the Jewish warriors' family members hid out in a drainage canal. This is the duct that has been exposed.
arly the entire city. Contemporary historian Tacitus notes that those who were besieged in Jerusalem numbered more than six hundred thousand, and that men and women alike and Jews of all ages engaged in armed resistance, preferring death to a life that involved expulsion from their country.

Dig directors Professors Roni Reich of Haifa University and Eli Shukrun of the Antiquities Authority said that over the past 1,937 years, the valley which Jerusalem's main road was in, and the famous canal beneath it, was covered by a ten meter deep layer of sediment. Only after digging through this dirt were the ancient ruins exposed.

The canal, they told reporters Sunday, is made of hewn rock and pavement stones. It is three meters high and one meter wide in parts, and walking through it is easy. Pottery, parts of clay vessels and coins from the Second Temple period were discovered in it.

The northern segment of the canal, which has yet to be uncovered, apparently reaches the Kotel area.

It should be noted that while Josephus' accounts are the most detailed source for information regarding the Great Rebellion, the degree of their historical accuracy is a matter of dispute.