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Archaeologists Discovered Persian Waterworks in Ancient Judea
05 September 2006
(CAIS) -- Archaeologists in Israel have unearthed an
ancient water system which was modified by the Persians to
turn the desert into a paradise.
The network of reservoirs, drain pipes and underground
tunnels served one of the grandest palaces in the biblical
kingdom of Judea.
Archaeologists first discovered the palace in 1954, a
structure built on a six-acre (2.4 hectare) site where the
communal Ramat Rachel farm now stands.
Recent excavations unearthed nearly 70 square meters (750
square feet) of a unique water system.
"They had found a huge palace ... even nicer than the
palaces in Jerusalem, (dating) from the late Iron Age to
the end of the biblical period in the 7th century,"
Oded Lipschits, a Tel Aviv University archaeologist, said.
The infrastructure of the palace was remodeled throughout
the centuries to fit the needs of the Babylonians,
Achaemenids, Romans Sasanians, and Hasmoneans who ruled
the region, said Lipschits, who heads the dig with an
academic from Germany's University of Heidelberg.
But it was the Achaemenid-Persians, who took control of
the region around 539 BCE from the Babylonians, who
renovated the water system and turned it into a thing of
Lipschits said they added small waterfalls to try to turn
a desert into a paradise.
"Imagine on this land plants and water rushing and
streaming here," Lipschits said. "This was
important to someone who finds aesthetics important, for
someone who wanted to feel as though they are not just in
some remote corner in the desert."
Yuval Gadot, a biblical archaeology expert from Tel Aviv
University who is taking part in the excavation, said it
was unclear exactly how the water system worked.
"Probably rainwater came down on the roof of the
houses (in the palace complex)," he said. "From
there, it was collected by drains into pools or to the
underground reservoir and taken to nearby fields for crops
or nice gardens."
For centuries water supplies have been one of the most
sensitive issues in the Middle East, where most of the
region is desert.
From/Source: Reuters - August 23, 2006 - by
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