Israel is a tiny strip of fertile land along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea surrounded on three sides by huge, harsh deserts. Because of the area’s intrinsic lack of water, from time immemorial man has been forced to come up with inventive ways of capturing and storing every drop of rain that falls in the Levant’s brief winter.
Called the Pools of Solomon even though most modern scholars believe that they were more likely built during the reign of that grand architect, Herod the Great, these three ancient reservoirs are both beautiful, and vital.
Capturing the precious rainfall across a large catchment area of the hills of Judea, the flat-bottomed pools held the water until times of the all too frequent drought. It was then released to flow along stone pipes and extensive aqueducts that carried it all the way to Jerusalem, twelve and a half miles away.
Once in the capital, the water was stored in underground cisterns like the Struthion Pools that can still be seen beneath the Convent of the Sisters of Zion, by the Ecce Homo arch. This was insurance against drought or siege – both of which constantly threatened the city.
The Struthion Pools pre-date Herod, probably having been originally built by Hyrcanus, the Hasmonean king who ruled in the 2nd century BC. The Emperor Hadrian added the pools’ vaulted ceiling in 135 AD.Share this page with your friends
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