Uncovering the History of Ancient Jerusalem’s Water Supply—and the Beginnings of the Revolt against Rome

Dec. 29 2021

Recently archaeologists conducted a survey of what is known as the Biyer Aqueduct, a three-mile-long portion of the complex system used in ancient times to get water to the residents of Jerusalem. Nathan Steinmeyer explains what they found:

Throughout its long history, Jerusalem has always had a major problem securing water for its inhabitants. During the Iron Age (1200–586 BCE), the nearby Gihon spring, along with a large reservoir and cisterns, was sufficient to supply the relatively small population. Both Hezekiah’s tunnel and the Siloam Pool were built by King Hezekiah in the 8th century BCE to expand the city’s Iron Age water system.

Towards the end of the Second Temple period, the city’s population grew dramatically, and the Gihon spring was no longer able to provide enough water for the city. It was for this reason that Jerusalem’s aqueduct was built to bring in water from more distant sources. The dating of the aqueduct system, however, has been much debated.

Carbon-14 dating led the team from Hebrew University to suggest that the Biyer Aqueduct was likely constructed during the reign of the Roman governor Pontius Pilate (ca. 26–36 CE). . . . During the survey, the team documented the various methods used in its construction and took several radiocarbon samples from the plastered walls. Analysis of the samples indicates the aqueduct was likely built in the early 1st century CE and was refurbished in the 2nd century, after the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple. As such, the team suggests that the Biyer Aqueduct could be the same aqueduct attributed to Pilate by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus.

According to Josephus, Pilate used money from the Temple’s treasury to build the aqueduct, which led to riots in the city.

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Read more at Bible History Daily

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Jerusalem, Second Temple, Water

Salman Rushdie and the Western Apologists for Those Who Wish Him Dead

Aug. 17 2022

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder and supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued a fatwa (religious ruling) in 1989 calling for believers to murder the novelist Salman Rushdie due to the content of his novel, The Satanic Verses. Over the years, two of the book’s translators have been stabbed—one fatally—and numerous others have been injured or killed in attempts to follow the ayatollah’s writ. Last week, an American Shiite Muslim came closer than his many predecessors to killing Rushdie, stabbing him multiple times and leaving him in critical condition. Graeme Wood comments on those intellectuals in the West who have exuded sympathy for the stabbers:

In 1989, the reaction to the fatwa was split three ways: some supported it; some opposed it; and some opposed it, to be sure, but still wanted everyone to know how bad Rushdie and his novel were. This last faction, Team To Be Sure, took the West to task for elevating this troublesome man and his insulting book, whose devilry could have been averted had others been more attuned to the sensibilities of the offended.

The fumes are still rising off of this last group. The former president Jimmy Carter was, at the time of the original fatwa, the most prominent American to suggest that the crime of murder should be balanced against Rushdie’s crime of blasphemy. The ayatollah’s death sentence “caused writers and public officials in Western nations to become almost exclusively preoccupied with the author’s rights,” Carter wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times. Well, yes. Carter did not only say that many Muslims were offended and wished violence on Rushdie; that was simply a matter of fact, reported frequently in the news pages. He took to the op-ed page to add his view that these fanatics had a point. “While Rushdie’s First Amendment freedoms are important,” he wrote, “we have tended to promote him and his book with little acknowledgment that it is a direct insult to those millions of Moslems whose sacred beliefs have been violated.” Never mind that millions of Muslims take no offense at all, and are insulted by the implication that they should.

Over the past two decades, our culture has been Carterized. We have conceded moral authority to howling mobs, and the louder the howls, the more we have agreed that the howls were worth heeding. The novelist Hanif Kureishi has said that “nobody would have the [courage]” to write The Satanic Verses today. More precisely, nobody would publish it, because sensitivity readers would notice the theological delicacy of the book’s title and plot. The ayatollahs have trained them well, and social-media disasters of recent years have reinforced the lesson: don’t publish books that get you criticized, either by semiliterate fanatics on the other side of the world or by semiliterate fanatics on this one.

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Read more at Atlantic

More about: Ayatollah Khomeini, Freedom of Speech, Iran, Islamism, Jimmy Carter