Thursday, February 24, 2011

Hezekiah's Tunnel

Descend with me into the depths beneath the City of David, the "original" Jerusalem which now lies outside the city walls. In 701 BC, when threatened by an impending Assyrian siege, King Hezekiah wanted a way to transport water from the Gihon Spring on the northeast side of the city to the Siloam Pool on the southwest. The Gihon Spring is on the hillside above the Kidron Valley, while the City of David is on the crest of the hill; this makes the city with its high walls easily defensible. But it was nearly impossible to build the walls high enough to match the city walls and keep the spring inside the walls, which was quite the problem for the ancient Jerusalemites in case of a seige, since they would have no access to water. 

So, Hezekiah decided to dig a tunnel underneath the city to connect the Gihon Springs to the Pool of Siloam, which is within the city walls. He formulated a highly technical plan, which consisted of giving a lot of guys chisels, picks, and shovels; separating them into two teams; and placing one team at the Gihon Springs and one at the Pool of Siloam. Then he told them to start digging.
You need your headlamp in Hezekiah's Tunnel--it definitely gets a bit dark 40+ feet below the city. (with Danielle and Synthia) Luckily, my body acclimates super quickly, so I turned into a mole, as you can see by my nearly non-existent eyes.
 Based on the winding nature of the tunnel, it seems as though the workers didn't have much of a system for finding each other as the tunneled from one side of the City of David to the other. They just went for it and hoped that they'd meet up in the middle. It's pretty incredible that they ever found each other in all that rock (though they did nearly miss--the junction of the once-separate tunnels is a bit...uneven).
Hezekiah's Tunnel was just my size. And I've got to admit, I was pretty excited for an excuse to play in the water AND wear shorts. But don't worry about the big bump beneath my jacket--I haven't eaten that much falafel yet. That's the very modest skirt I wore to walk to the entrance of the tunnel, then rolled up to play in the water. And aren't those Keens SWEET?! Thanks, Daddy!

I tried to hide in one of the crevices and scare people... it might have worked better had people not been taking pictures... I don't think my bright scarlet jacket helped my camoflauge much, either.
Hezekiah's Tunnel is about 1500 feet long, and it was one of the coolest subterranian adventures I've ever had. I don't know what makes wading through fresh spring water in the dark, in a tunnel that was constructed about 27 centuries ago so cool... oh. wait. Maybe just that.

And many thanks and much love to you wonderful commenters (ahem, Jaynee--you win the prize). I love hearing what you think about these Middle Eastern escapades.


Goojah Mama said...

This is sooooo cool. Love the pictures of you in the tunnel. It's pretty amazing huh?
lots of hugs,
Gooj & Daddy

Jaynee said...

yay! I guess I really am awesome :) So I thought that "the City of David" was Bethlehem, and is a few miles from Jerusalem. ????
That's a way cool tunnel though. i don't think I'd make it in my current state though :) oh one more question--how did they make sure the water went where they wanted it to if they didn't know where they would meet up? Wouldn't they have to make sure it was always going downhill to it's destination?