True size of Pool of Siloam discovered due to sewer blockage

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If the central sewage line for Jerusalem's Old City, which runs down the slope of the village of Silwan, had not gotten blocked a year ago, it would probably have been many years before we would have discovered the real dimensions of the historic Pool of Siloam from the Second Temple Period.

The pool, whose present small dimensions date from Byzantine times, is the outlet for the spring water coursing through the ancient Hezekiah's tunnel. It was once huge - three to four dunams.

And if the huge dimensions of the pool had not been discovered, it is doubtful that the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Elad association, which is working for the development of the area also known as the City of David, would not have come across the dramatic discovery now underway: the far end of a street dating from the Herodian period, which begins at the outer southwestern corner of the Temple Mount and is familiar to visitors to the Western Wall.

When the sewage main first backed up during the winter of 2004, the Israel Nature and Parks Protection Authority, responsible for the archaeological sites around the Old City's walls, called for a halt to the repair work and took advantage of the opportunity to dig a heretofore unexcavated part of the City of David.

Archaeologists Ronny Reich and Eli Shukron, who are directing the dig for the IAA and Elad, say that for the first time they are now able to trace the street that connected the Temple Mount in Second Temple times with the Pool of Siloam. Other portions of the road were revealed by the 19th-century Jerusalem explorers Bliss and Dickey and in 1963 by archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon. Now, the last piece of the puzzle has come to light near the pool.

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