The Ancient Pool of Siloam: How archaeologists discovered site
The archaeological significance of Israel’s ancient city of Jerusalem cannot be overstated. Not only is the city cherished by three of the world’s major religions, but it has a continuous record of history spanning more than 30 centuries. Much of this history has been recorded on the pages of the Bible – a book considered historical by some and holy by others.
The Bible chronicles the history of the Israelites, through the rise of the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah, through to the Roman conquest of the region in the year 63 BC.
A scripture expert has now told Express.co.uk how discoveries made in the Holy Land can validate the Bible’s account of this history.
Tom Meyer, a professor of Bible studies at Shasta Bible College and Graduate School in California, US, highlighted the discovery of an Iron Age 2 (1000 to 588 BC) fortification, hailed as one of the most important architectural discoveries ever made.
The structure in question is a wall constructed by the Biblical King Hezekiah around the ancient city of Jerusalem.
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Hezekiah or Ezekias, according to the Hebrew Bible, was the 13th king of Judah who ruled in the eighth century BC.
Hezekiah’s rule most notably saw the destruction of the northern Kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians around 721 to 722 BC and the siege of Jerusalem by the Assyrian King Sennacherib in 701 BC.
Professor Meyer said: “A massive archaeological discovery related to King Hezekiah has been unearthed that sheds light on how the famous king prepared Jerusalem for the upcoming war with the super-power-of-the-day Assyria.
“When Hezekiah began his reign as king of Judah around 715 BC, the neighbouring northern kingdom of Israel had recently been crushed by Assyria (721 BC) and the Jewish population there had been deported to the ends of the earth, never to return again to the Holy Land.
“Knowing that the kingdom of Judah was next in Assyria’s sights as they made their way along the Fertile Crescent to the prize plum of Egypt, Hezekiah quickly began major building projects to protect Jerusalem from the imminent Assyrian invasion.
“According to the Bible, not only did Hezekiah construct the new underground tunnel beneath Jerusalem to bring water from the Gihon spring outside the city walls to the Pool of Siloam inside the walls, but he also built a new wall around Jerusalem to protect his subjects who lived in unwalled nearby villages and who would come to Jerusalem for safety.”
According to the Bible’s Book of Chronicles, the additional wall would have provided Jerusalem with an additional layer of defence against invading forces.
Professor Meyer said: “A portion of this wall found by Israeli archaeologist Nahman Avigad (1969 to 1982) has proven to be the most massive and important Iron Age 2 architectural remains ever discovered in Jerusalem.
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“The remains of the wall consist mostly of its foundations; the pottery found in situ help date its construction to the time of Hezekiah.
“Of special note is the discovery of residential houses that the government expropriated and demolished in a sort of modern-day eminent domain so the engineers would have enough material to reinforce the new wall.”
According to the expert, the discovery perfectly matches an order the prophet Isaiah gave King Hezekiah, as described in Isaiah 22:10.
And like most ancient walls in the region, it was constructed from large, unhewn fieldstones.
What separates it from other walls, however, is its sheer size after which it was named the “broad wall”.
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Professor Meyer said: “The 140ft long portion that has been unearthed measures 23ft broad, and the foundations were preserved in part to over 10ft high.
“The discovery of the ‘broad wall’ in Jerusalem, which can still be viewed by tourists to this day, demonstrates once again the historical reliability of the Biblical account.”
And in 2015, an excavation led at Jerusalem’s Ophel have uncovered a seal belonging to the ancient king.
The tiny artefact bears an inscription that reads: “Belonging to Hezekiah (son of) Ahaz king of Judah.”
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