Aqueducts in the Holy Land

   Water is scarce in this dry land, and aqueducts were built  in order to supply water to cities and mills.

Caesarea Aqueduct

 

Isaiah 41 18: "I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water".

 

 

 

Home > Info > Structures > Aqueducts in the Holy Land

 

 

 

 

 

  This web page summarizes the sites that feature water aqueducts.

 

Overview:

 

   An aqueduct is a man made water supply channel that conveys water from the source, usually springs or rivers, to the consumers, usually residents and public structures.   The name is based on the combination of the Latin words  "Aqua" (water) and "ducere" (channel or pipe).

 

   The aqueduct is built in various configurations: over the ground, on the surface, along a rock bed or cut into the rock. It used the gravitation force as the method of moving the water over a sloped channel - starting from the higher source and reaching a lower target.

 

History of water supply:

 

  Water supply is fundamental for the survival of a city in the dry land of Israel. The availability of water determined the location and size of the villages and cities. The water supply methods were perfected during the history of the urbanization:

 

 

 
  • During the Hellenistic period the aqueducts were invented in order to bring fresh water to larger cities. They used gravity in order to convey the water over a long distance. This supported thousands of people, enabling the city to grow, spread out,  and position the city in more comfortable urban center. Internal plumbing distributed the waters throughout the city, thus allowing it to grow and be better design.

 

  • The aqueducts were perfected in the Roman period, and were one of the most important state projects that enabled the cities to grow. This enabled cities with population of hundreds of thousands to get fresh drinking and bathing water, and to operate mills.

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

Sites with Aqueducts:

 

   The following table lists the sites of aqueducts that are featured in BibleWalks. Click on the site's name to see more information on each site.

 

  Site Structure Period Length Photo  
   Caesarea

    Herod build the first aqueduct in the 1st C BC. It brought running water to the old city of Caesarea, along a raised aqueduct. The source of the water was the springs of Shummi, 10KM away.  It was expanded by the Romans. Later, more aqueducts were built.

    Early Roman

Roman

Byzantine

Early Arab

Crusaders

Mamlukes

Ottoman

10KM  

Click on the photos to  enlarge them.

 

Caesarea Aqueduct

 

 

 
   Acre (Akko)

   The Aqueduct brought running water to the old city of Acre, along a raised aqueduct and a series of siphon towers. The source of the water was the springs of Cabri, 14KM away.

   Hellenistic,

 

Ottoman

14KM Aqueduct of Acre (Akko) near Lochamei Hagetaot  
  Sepphoris

   The large water reservoir received water from 2 long aqueducts. The water system included valves, vertical shafts and support arches. This enormous project provided water to the major part of the city, while the higher places around the fortress used cisterns for their water supply.

    Roman  13.5KM Sepphoris water reservoir  
  Beit Yerach

   The water was supplied to a baths complex in the city (named Sinnabray). The aqueducts   was based on modular units made of basalt rock. The aqueduct was tapped of the "Bereniki" aqueduct which brought water from the Yavniel creek (west of the Tell) to Tiberias.

    Roman     11KM Beit Yerach aqueduct - modular units on display in Yardenit  
       Sections of the "Bereniki" aqueduct from Yavniel creek to Tiberias were unearthed in Moshava Kinneret near Beit Yerach. Read more.

 

 

 

    Roman    11KM    
  Manot    This groove in the rock bed was part of an ancient aqueduct, which may be related to the water mill that was located at its edge. It may have also been a part of the water supply for the Manot - either for the village or for the sugar factory. Roman/

Byzantine

   

Aqueduct east of Manot

 

 
  Kh. Seraf (Bezet creek) In the Bezet creek are traces of an ancient aqueduct. Built in the Byzantine period and in use until the Ottoman period. The aqueduct supplied water to the ancient village of Bezet, a large Roman/Byzantine city which is the source of the name of the creek.     Byzantine

Ottoman

  about 8KM  

Aqueduct in Bezet creek, north of Khirbet Seraf

 

 
  Tell Kinneret

   Tell Kinneret is a high hill on the north-west side of the sea of Galilee, where the biblical city of Kinneret once was located. Today the site is used as the water pumps for the National Carrier project.

    Modern    

Tell Kinneret is located on the north-west side of the sea of Galilee, and was the biblical city of Chinneroth.

 

 
  Pools of Bethesda,

Jerusalem

   The Bethesda water reservoirs  supplied water to the temple mount. The first pool was constructed during the first temple, based on a dam that collected rain water flowing in the valley and stored it in a natural lake. Then the waters were directed from the lake to the temple in an open channel.

   Second temple   Pools of Bethesda, Jerusalem, brought water to the temple  
  Sultan's Pool,

Jerusalem

   An ancient pool, part of the water supply system of Jerusalem from the Roman period until the late Ottoman period. The aqueduct is built around the circumference of the pool.

  Herodian-

 Ottoman

   

Sultan's pool - south side

 

 
  Roman bath,

Emmaus (Nicopolis)

 

   A hot and cold water aqueduct fed the 3rd C Roman bath.

 

 Roman/

Byzantine

   

Roman bath, Emmaus

 

 
  Emmaus

/Nicopolis

  Water systems

  The valley of springs on the north-east side of Emmaus collects the waters and moves them by a set of aqueducts down hill, then through a tunnel into the ancient city.

 

  Late Roman    over 1500M along the valley  

Emmaus - Nicopolis - valley of springs

 

 
  Megiddo

   The spring is located outside of the fortified city. An underground aqueduct brought its waters inside, allowing the defenders to survive long sieges.  

   Israelite Kings  80M tunnel underground  

Megiddo water works

 

 
   Dor

 The water supply was based on two aqueducts that fetched water from a distance of 12KM from Tata spring in the Daliah creek, and from springs near Kibbutz Ma'ayan-Zvi.

 Early Roman  12KM Dor - Aqueduct at the eastern gate  
 Hippos

   The Roman aqueduct which fetched water from springs located 25KM away. These modular units were connected to each other, plastered at the joints - thus creating a sealed pipe. This enabled the use of a siphon to move the water into the city across the valley.

 Roman  25KM Hippos
   Fazael Brook    The aqueduct supplied water from the Fazael springs, along the brook to the Herodian city Fazael (Phasaelis ), located in Khirbet Fasa'il.  Roman, with  repairs over later periods  6KM  
   Western Wall,

Jerusalem

    The aqueduct supplied water from the north side of the city, filling up the cisterns under the Hasmonean citadel, which was located on the north side of the temple mount.    Hasmonean period aqueduct    
   Banias - Agrippa's palace

  This arched aqueduct was located under the ground level of the palace of Agrippa II. It brought water from the Banias springs to the palace and the Roman city.

 Early Roman  0.5km from springs  

 

 
     Qumran

 An aqueduct supplied the water from a dam in the course of the Qumran brook, and filled up its cisterns through an elaborate series of canals that ran between the structures.

 Hellenistic and early Roman  0.5KM Qumran aqueduct on the western side of the settlement  
    Horkania

There were two aqueducts that supplied water to the fortress. A shorter north-west aqueduct brought water from the springs on the eastern hillside of Jabal Munttar. A longer channel diverted water from the Kidron stream, south-west of Horkonia.

 Hellenistic and early Roman    
   Lod (Lydda)

  An aqueduct was constructed by the founder of Ramla,  Sulyman ibn Abu al-Malik, in the 8th Century. It brought  waters from a group of springs located 12 KM south east of the city, near Tel Gezer.

  Umayyad

(8th C AD)

 12km  

 

 
   Bokek

   The aqueduct conveyed waters from the spring of Ein Bokek to the balsam fields and farm house. A number of bridges and pools were constructed along its route.

  Hasmonean,  Roman-

 Byzantine

  1.5km

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Biblical References:

 

There are dozens of Biblical verses with water and springs, and several of them are included below.

 

Deut 8:7

 

"For the LORD thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills;"

 

Isaiah 41:18

 

"I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water".


Etymology (behind the name):

 

  •   Aqueduct -The name is based on the combination of the Latin words  "Aqua" (water) and "ducere" (channel or pipe).

 

  • Ammat-Ma'im  - the Hebrew word for aqueduct. It is composed of two words:
  • The word "Ma'im" means water. It appears many times in the Bible, since "water is life".

 

  • The word "Amma" is based on the Hebrew word for "female servant" or "maid servant", since it was her job in Biblical times to fetch the water. Biblical reference (Judges 9 18): "...the son of his maidservant...".
  • Amma has another meaning, which is a unit of length (translated to "cubit"). Aqueducts are long so perhaps it may be source of the name.  One of the Biblical references: (Genesis 6 15):"The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits".

 

Links and References:

 

 

 

 

 

BibleWalks.com - exporing the Bible places in Israel

 

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