Jerusalem Cistern Found from First Temple Era
A huge cistern near the Temple Mount has been found that was part of Solomon’s Temple complex.
While excavating a cardo (street) that passed from the City of David to the Temple Mount, a team broke into a huge cistern. Dating from the time of Solomon based on inscriptions and the type of plaster used, the cistern helps explain where the priests and worshipers obtained the large quantity of water that were needed for the Temple. The discovery is reported fully at Israel Hayom. A short YouTube video shows explorers walking inside the huge cavernous water reservoir. Live Science also reported the find, as did Bible Places Blog.
The discovery solves a water logistics problem. Historians had thought that Jerusalem’s only water supply was the Gihon Spring, some 800 meters away from the Temple. But that would have required an implausible number of donkey trips to haul the water. By catching rainfall from the Tyropoean Valley adjacent to the Temple, this cistern could have stored a vast water supply for the priests to use in the sacrificial ceremonies and for the large crowds coming to the Temple for holy days. It could also have protected the city during times of siege.
One of the discoverers was ecstatic about the find. “There is nothing like this in Jerusalem. This is the first time that we can date a reservoir in Jerusalem, and two small cisterns beside it, to the First Temple era. We have never found anything like this in all the digs in Jerusalem, since the 19th century.”
Archaeology is an intelligent-design science. Researchers look for signs of intelligence: artifacts, inscriptions, or other material that bear the hallmarks of intention. Intelligent beings are capable of organizing natural materials for purposeful uses. We see it in archaeology; we see similar marks of purpose in living cells. In addition, archaeologists are keen observers. They don’t just model things in computers; they get out and dig (although there is a growing convergence of computer technology with old-fashioned shoveling techniques).
This particular find shows, also, that contrary to “minimalist” interpretations of Biblical history, the people of Solomon’s time were highly intelligent, able to dig deep into the rock to store the water needed for the Temple. Far from being simple tribal chieftans over nomadic clans, David and Solomon were city planners and builders par excellence. Most likely the plans for this cistern and the entire Temple Mount complex were developed long before actual construction began. King David was laying up materials and building contracts with neighboring kingdoms before his death (I Chronicles 22). The cistern is another testament to their skill, and to the historical accuracy of the Biblical record.