Water Systems

The Importance of WaterBecause Israel is such an arid country, water has always been important to its inhabitants. Many cities were built only where it was certain fresh water was available. When a city was small, a nearby spring, well, or cistern was sufficient. As a city grew, the community took steps to protect their water supply from threatening armies.

Hezekiah's TunnelDuring the late ninth or early eighth century BC, a new "water shaft" technique emerged. People dug channels to reach the water table and then directed the water to their city. During Hezekiah's reign, a tunnel system allowed water to flow from a spring outside of Jerusalem through the mountain ridge that the city was built upon.

The Water Tunnel of MegiddoSometime during the ninth century BC, the people of Megiddo dug a square vertical shaft more than 115 feet deep that connected with a horizontal tunnel. This tunnel traveled nearly 220 feet underneath the city to a cave in which the city's water source was located.

One crew began digging in the cave, and the other at the bottom of the shaft inside the city. Amazingly, the builders were able to meet in the middle, accomplishing one of the engineering wonders of the world!

The cave was then sealed from the outside, securing the water supply from enemy attack. Every day women went down steps that wound around the shaft's walls, walked through the tunnel, and retrieved water from the spring.