The Mysterious First Temple-Era Channels Cut into Jerusalem’s Bedrock

In 2007, preparations for building a parking lot near one of the oldest areas of Israel’s capital led to the unearthing of a number of archeological treasures. Since then, extensive excavations have continued to provide surprising discoveries, including channels for holding some sort of liquid that date to the 9th century BCE. Nathan Steinmeyer describes this baffling discovery:

Located in the heart of ancient Jerusalem, the channels are unique within the archaeology of Israel. Consisting of two separate installations, 32 feet apart, the channels are cut into the bedrock of the hillside. The first installation consists of nine channels, smoothed on the inside. The second installation includes at least five channels that were related in some way to an industrial process carried out in the first installation.

As the channels were found near the area of the Temple and the city’s royal administrative quarter, excavators from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) and Tel Aviv University propose the installations may have been used for industries related to one or both institutions. Currently, the team’s best guess is that they may have been used to soak products or materials, as the channels show no signs of having carried or transported liquid from one area to another.

The mystery only grew deeper when a second installation was found to the south. “This [second] installation consists of at least five channels that transport liquids,” said Yuval Gadot of Tel Aviv University and the excavation’s other co-director. “Despite some differences in the way the channels were hewn and designed, it is evident that the second installation is very similar to the first. This time, we also managed to date when the facility fell out of use, at the end of the 9th century BCE, during the days of the biblical kings of Judah, Joash and Amaziah. We assume that the two installations may have been used in unison.”

Read more at Bible History Daily

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Jerusalem

Iran’s Calculations and America’s Mistake

There is little doubt that if Hizballah had participated more intensively in Saturday’s attack, Israeli air defenses would have been pushed past their limits, and far more damage would have been done. Daniel Byman and Kenneth Pollack, trying to look at things from Tehran’s perspective, see this as an important sign of caution—but caution that shouldn’t be exaggerated:

Iran is well aware of the extent and capability of Israel’s air defenses. The scale of the strike was almost certainly designed to enable at least some of the attacking munitions to penetrate those defenses and cause some degree of damage. Their inability to do so was doubtless a disappointment to Tehran, but the Iranians can probably still console themselves that the attack was frightening for the Israeli people and alarming to their government. Iran probably hopes that it was unpleasant enough to give Israeli leaders pause the next time they consider an operation like the embassy strike.

Hizballah is Iran’s ace in the hole. With more than 150,000 rockets and missiles, the Lebanese militant group could overwhelm Israeli air defenses. . . . All of this reinforces the strategic assessment that Iran is not looking to escalate with Israel and is, in fact, working very hard to avoid escalation. . . . Still, Iran has crossed a Rubicon, although it may not recognize it. Iran had never struck Israel directly from its own territory before Saturday.

Byman and Pollack see here an important lesson for America:

What Saturday’s fireworks hopefully also illustrated is the danger of U.S. disengagement from the Middle East. . . . The latest round of violence shows why it is important for the United States to take the lead on pushing back on Iran and its proxies and bolstering U.S. allies.

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, U.S. Foreign policy