Siloam Tunnel – East Jerusalem, Israel - Atlas Obscura

Siloam Tunnel

An ancient tunnel in Jerusalem built to redirect water in the event of a siege is one of history’s great architectural innovations. 


The Siloam Tunnel is a relic of Biblical past imbued in the modern landscape of Jerusalem. This still-standing remnant of ancient history is an architectural marvel considered one of the greatest engineering feats of the pre-Classical period.

Visitors to Jerusalem can partake in a roughly 45-minute wade through two feet of flowing water through the tunnel, which is believed to have been built during the reign of King Hezekiah of Judah between the 8th and 7th centuries BCE, though its origins might even be a hundred years before that.  Historians believe the time period corresponds to the time when Jerusalem was anticipating an Assyrian siege, meaning the tunnel likely served to redirect the freshwater source of the City of David to a pool within the walled city in case of attack.

It was meant to direct water 533 meters from the Gihon Spring at one end to the Pool of Siloam at the other end. The means of its construction are still somewhat of a mystery, but it’s thought that it was built by two teams that met in the middle, potentially using a system of sound signals created by hammers on the rock that eventually became the tunnel itself.

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July 26, 2016

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