Archaeologists have, over the years, discovered a number of very large ancient reservoirs in Israel’s capital. According to a new study, these were built for the benefit of pilgrims who needed water for drinking, and for ritual immersion, when they came to the Temple to celebrate holidays. Yori Yalon writes:
Next to the Temple Mount is a massive cistern named the Pool of Israel, which is over 360 feet long, 111 feet wide, and over 78 feet deep. Between the houses of the Christian Quarter lies the Pool of Hezekiah. . . .
“While residents of Jerusalem had private wells under their homes and the ruling authorities had aqueducts, another solution was needed for the masses of pilgrims,” . . . [says] David Gurevich, an archaeologist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem who specializes in the city during the Second Temple period. “These large complexes are the elephant in the room that researchers have [heretofore] ignored. Even though some of the pools were excavated and researchers suggested the use of individual pools, they ignored the larger picture [of why] these facilities are here. It turns out there has never been another city on the Mediterranean coast with such a large number of similar pools of water.”