Richard Nowitz

“Solomon’s Pools.” Large reservoirs of still water reflect the intense blue Mediterranean sky in the hills southwest of Bethlehem. The oldest was built by the Maccabeans in the second century B.C.E. (and thus shy of King Solomon’s era by 800 years). These pools collected water from nearby springs and then shunted it along an aqueduct to Jerusalem. The system relied solely on gravity; the builders carefully followed the contours of the hills, dropping a mere 100 feet along a serpentine route 40 miles long. The bridge supporting the aqueduct was destroyed during Pompey’s conquest of Jerusalem in 63 B.C.E. but was rebuilt by Herod later in the century. Wilson’s Arch supported the bridge above which the aqueduct ran, bringing the water from these pools directly to the Temple Mount for priestly use.