The Pool of Siloam Revealed

See here for an analysis of the later news reports


Click the photo for a close-up view

 

City of David

Archaeologists working in the City of David have uncovered the edge of what they believe is the Pool of Siloam from the time of Jesus (cf. John 9).  The photo at left shows the city of Jerusalem with the Temple Mount and the City of David.  The excavations are on the west side of the City of David.  Letter "A" is located where the traditional "Pool of Siloam" is and Letter "B" shows the area of the present excavations.

 

 

Early 1900s

The photograph at right was taken in the early 1900s and shows the Pool of Siloam before later Muslim construction above it.  An early description of the pool reads, "There is nothing picturesque about it, certainly. The crumbling walls, and fallen columns in and around it, give it an air of neglect." It is a parallelogram about fifty-three feet long and eighteen feet wide. . . . Dr. Thomson says he has seen this pool nearly full, but that now the water merely passes through it. "The intermittent flow is supposed to be due to a natural syphon, but the natives' explanation is that a dragon lives below and swallows the water when he is awake, but that when he sleeps it wells up freely. "--Major Conder. 

Sources: Text: Earthly Footsteps of the Man of Galilee, p. 227.  Photo: Library of Congress, LC-matpc-04245, now available with 600 other high-resolution photographs on the Jerusalem CD, volume 2 of The American Colony and Eric Matson Collection.

 

 

Byzantine pool of Siloam  

The Pool Today

This is the pool that you'll see today whether you walk through Hezekiah's Tunnel and emerge here or walk above through the City of David.  There are clear remains around this pool from the Byzantine church built by Empress Eudocia.  This is the pool that has long been visited as the pool of Jesus' miracle.

 

Initial Discovery

In the summer of 2004, work along a drainage pipe revealed some large stone steps.  Archaeologists Eli Shukrun and Ronny Reich quickly revealed a series of steps leading down into the adjacent garden.  In this photo you can see the grates of the drainage channel which will prove to be an obstacle for future excavation.

 

Pool of Siloam initial excavations
Photo taken on June 24, 2004

 

Pool of Siloam excavations from northwest
Photo taken November 7, 2004

 

The Steps Revealed

After some months of work, a large section of these steps were revealed, but work was hindered on one side by the drainage channel (visible as the concrete section on the left side of the photo) and on the other by property owned by the Greek Orthodox Church.  At the far end, the corner of the steps is visible, but at this point, no other corners had been revealed.

 

Going Backward

Visitors to the site in the winter of 2005 were disappointed to see that the pool had been covered over.  This was necessitated by the removal of the remaining street and drainage channel.  In the meantime, excavations proceeded elsewhere, including in the section of the Siloam Channel visible on the right side of the photo.

 

Pool of Siloam during excavations
Photo taken March 13, 2005

 

Pool of Siloam after excavations
Photo taken May 19, 2005

 

Re-Revealed

By Passover the drainage channel had been moved (now visible as the black pipe at top) and the earth re-excavated from the steps.  At this point, more of the pool has been revealed than ever before, including the northern corner of the steps at the far end of the photo.  Pottery indicates that this pool was in use in the 1st century.  The blind man washed the mud off of his eyes in this pool and received his sight (see John 9).  

 

Where Does It Go?

This view is from across the valley (looking east) and shows the steps that have been excavated (as above).  It also gives a perspective of how the rest of the pool is buried underneath the garden.  Hopes are high that an agreement will be reached to allow the excavation of the rest of the pool.

  Pool of Siloam excavations from west

 

Pool of Siloam from south
Photo taken April 24, 2006

 

Latest Excavations

Excavations continue to reveal more sections of the pool on the northern and southern ends.  Several shafts at the northern end of the pool have revealed large paving stones.  On the southern end, excavations have uncovered a large wall and a section of the pool from the Old Testament period.  These are in the pit below the wall in the foreground of the photo.  Altogether about 20 steps (4 sets of 5 each) have been excavated leading from street level into the pool.

 

Putting It Together

This drawing, by Father Vincent in the early 1900s, shows the relationship of the two pools (west is at the top).  The pool marked with a yellow arrow is the modern pool at the end of Hezekiah's Tunnel.  It is narrow and shallow.  The new excavations are in the area labeled as "Birket el-Hamra" and marked with the red arrow.  Scholars have long believed that this was the area of an ancient pool, but without excavations they have not understood its date, size, or other important details.  A wild prediction: this will be the archaeological discovery of the decade for biblical studies.  At least there is no chance of it being declared a forgery. 

 

Subscribe to the BiblePlaces Newsletter!

A newsletter on subjects related to biblical sites and archaeology.  New and discounted photo CDs will be announced here, and free high-resolution photos made available for free each issue!  Take a look at a sample issue (or another).  Have a problem subscribing? See this page.

Email address:

Our promise: Your email address will never be given, transferred, sold for any reason.  It will never be used for any purpose other than sending out this newsletter.  No exceptions.  Ever.

Related Websites

Related BiblePlaces.com pages: Hezekiah's Tunnel, Warren's Shaft, City of David, and the BiblePlaces Blog.Jerusalem

Jerusalem high-resolution photos - more than 1,500 high-quality photographs of Jerusalem on DVD in the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands.

Biblical Pool of Siloam uncovered in Jerusalem (LA Times - now available only by purchase) Primary article from the August 2005 press conference which was duplicated throughout the press.  There is a partial copy in the DrudgeReport archive.

 

Report in Dec. 2004

Archaeologists identify traces of ‘miracle’ pool (MSNBC) News article from Dec. 2004 about the discovery of the Pool of Siloam, including an artist's reconstruction of what the (newly-discovered) pool liked like in the time of Jesus.

 

General Articles

Bible History Online - Pool of Siloam (Bible History Online) Brief description of pool with relevant Bible verses.  Includes an artist's depiction of the (Byzantine-era) pool.

Siloam, Pool of (WebBible Encyclopedia - ChristianAnswers.Net) Basic article on the pool that covers the main facts as known before the current excavations.  With links to related subjects.

Pool of Siloam (Wikipedia) Brief article that gives the well-known facts and New Testament connection.  In need of updating.

 

 

©2006 Todd Bolen.  The text and photographs of this page may not be used elsewhere without the express written consent of the author.  Permission is granted for personal and face-to-face educational use only.