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Solomon’s Pools and relating aqueducts, the heart of Jerusalem’s past water supply

The entire aqueduct system of Jerusalem including Solomon’s pools and the five aqueducts, was first explored and mapped in the 19th century by researchers Charles Wilson and Conrad Schick. In the more recent past other researchers enriched their work.

Solomon’s Pools have been completely refurnished by the British in early 20th century, when a pumping station was also installed (below the lower pool), to send the water through iron pipes to Bethelehem (Attan spring) and then the Old City of Jerusalem. Their water was also used to irrigate crops in the Artas Valley.

However, during recent decades the neglect of the three pools has led to serious structural damages both to the pools and to their water channels and piping system. Consequently the water supply to Jerusalem and Bethlehem from the pools ceased and was only used by the residents of the neighbouring Artas village.

With the construction of the Solomon’s Pools Resort Center in 1997, the pools were dried. Most of the water in the drainage basin that used to be exploited up until the recent past (originally through the aqueducts, then through ceramic pipes, and more recently through iron pipes) is not exploited today.

The site of the Solomon pools is now used as a touristic resort but, to a large extend, without taking into account its historical, religious and natural value. If the expanding modern constructions to serve tourism (shops, hostels etc.) are not done with care the cultural value of the site will be irreversibly deteriorated.

Parts of the aqueducts may also be restored and used for cultural tourism purposes. The example of the renovated tunnel of the Lower aqueduct in Jerusalem that is operated as a cultural tourism site since 2005 can provide useful lessons in this direction. This channel is now open to the public and can be walked in its entire length from entrance to exit. Above the tunnel on the top of the shafts observation standpoints have been created.

Last but not least, it should be highlighted that it is important that the local residents are aware of the value of the canals and the pools, in order to appreciate them and protect them.