Monday, February 06, 2006

The History of Plumbing - Jerusalem

The History of Plumbing - Jerusalem. This is an interesting history of the holy city from the perspective of plumbing. It describes the construction of the water system of the ancient city, from 1200 BC through the Herodian era. It also covers ancient sanitary laws in brief.

The essay also briefly speculates that Jerusalem had a high level of sanitation due to the overall emphasis on hygiene in Mosaic Law. It then argues that this may have been a result of Moses having been raised in an Egyptian royal household.

This article was originally published in Plumbing and Mechanical, July 1989. Unfortunately, the author is not identified.

From the site:

The capital city of the ancient land of Israel is situated 2,500 feet above sea level, high along a strategic ridge of hills. In the ten centuries B.C., Jerusalem would become a buffer state between the warring factions of Assyria and Egypt, and later would be influenced by the Macedonian culture of Alexander the Great. By 173 B.C., Jerusalem would look like a Greek city, complete with gymnasiums. When the Romans took over, they erected elaborate buildings and water systems to accommodate them. In 73 A.D., they destroyed it all, and Jerusalem lay in ruins.

From the city's inception, its lifeline of water depended solely on hidden wells and underground cisterns. Fed by underground streams, the Gihon Spring on Jerusalem's eastern slope was the ancient city's only source of water at that end. Depending on die season, die spring could supply water to the city once or of time. The Gihon also irrigated the surrounding fields and gardens through several open canals along what is known as the Kidron riverbed.

From the city's earliest settlements even prior to 1200 B.C. water tunnels from the cit,v tapped into the connection located just outside the city walls. As in other cultures, access to the water supply had to be insured against enemy invaders who conceivably could cut off the supply above ground.

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