Gihon Spring Tower Built by King of Judah

The massive “Spring Tower” built over Jerusalem’s Gihon Spring was originally dated by archaeologists to the Middle Bronze Age. A new study, however, indicates that the fortifications were constructed in the 9th century BC, the time when Jerusalem was ruled by Jehoshaphat and Joash. The new dating is based on radiocarbon dating of material found in sediment underneath boulders at the tower’s base.

The previous discovery and dating to the 18th century BC radically changed our understanding of the development of the city, suggesting that Jerusalem was home to an advanced civilization about eight centuries before David’s conquest. This new re-dating will force the re-writing of the city’s history, not only in Canaanite times but in the Judahite period as well.

One can speculate what might have prompted such construction and which king it occurred under. I haven’t read the full study (available here for $35), but from other research I wouldn’t put too much weight on the date, as radiocarbon dates in the 9th century usually have quite a bit of flexibility. But if the tower dates earlier than the time of Hezekiah, one can only wonder why he considered the relatively recent fortification insufficient and the need to construct a water tunnel essential.

A summary of the research is posted at the website of the Weizmann Institute of Science.

HT: Joseph Lauer

The north wall of the Spring Tower during excavations in 2004

3 thoughts on “Gihon Spring Tower Built by King of Judah

  1. What the report is trying to say: "Archaeologists, your pottery typology/stratigraphy dating methodology developed over the last 100 years is a hoax. Nice try but you were off by 1000 years." Is the archaeological world really going to scrap pottery typology for C14? Good luck with that.

  2. Regarding why Hezekiah built the tunnel, 2 Chronicles 32:4 says: “So there was gathered much people together, and they stopped all the fountains, and the brook that flowed through the midst of the land, saying, Why should the kings of Assyria come, and find much water?” So my understanding is that the tower secured their own access to water from the spring, but the spring would then flow down into the valley which would have given the Assyrians access to a supply of water. The tunnel diverting the spring was therefore not so much about defending their own supply of water, which was already well-defended by the tower, but more about denying the Assyrians access to any of it.

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