Photo Credit: Koby Harati, City of David Archives.
The northern perimeter of the Pool of Shiloah.

The Israel Antiquities Authority, the Israel National Parks Authority, and the City of David Foundation have begun the excavation of the historic Pool of Shiloah in Jerusalem. Located in the southern portion of the City of David and within the area of the Jerusalem Walls National Park, it is an archaeological and historical site of national and international significance. The Pool was first constructed some 2,700 years ago, as part of Jerusalem’s water system in the 8th Century BCE, during the reign of King Hezekiah, as described in II Kings, 20:20:

“Now the rest of the acts of Hezekiah, and all his might, and how he made the pool, and the conduit, and brought water into the city, are written in the Book of Chronicles of the kings of Judah.”


The Pool of Shiloah served as the reservoir for the waters of the Gihon Spring, which were diverted through an underground tunnel, and was already considered one of the most important areas in Jerusalem in the First Temple period. The Pool of Shiloah was renovated and expanded some 2,000 years ago at the end of the Second Temple period. It is believed that the Pool was used as a ritual bath (mikvah) by Jewish pilgrims as part of their purification ritual before entering the Temple (which included being sprinkled with the ashes of a red heifer).

Replica of the Shiloah Inscription. / Ze’ev Radovan, City of David Archives.

In 1880, the Shiloah Inscription was uncovered in the water tunnel, just a few dozen meters from the Pool. The inscription, currently located at the Istanbul Archaeology Museum, is written in ancient Hebrew script and records how the Gihon Spring’s water was diverted to the Pool during the reign of King Hezekiah.

Over the years, many traditions have been associated with the Pool of Shiloah, and since the end of the 19th century it has been the focus of expeditions from around the world: in the 1890s, a group of British and American archaeologists led by Frederick Jones Bliss and Archibald Campbell Dickey uncovered some of the steps of the Pool; and in the 1960s, the British archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon excavated the site.

A rendering of the Pool of Shiloah in the Second Temple period. / Shalom Kveller, City of David Archives.

In 2004, during infrastructure works carried out by the Hagihon water company, some of the pool’s steps were exposed. Consequently, the IAA commenced a systematic excavation under the direction of Professors Roni Reich and Eli Shukron. As part of the excavation, the northern perimeter, as well as a small portion of the eastern perimeter of the Pool of Shiloah were exposed. The perimeter of the Pool was built as a series of steps, allowing the bathers to sit and immerse themselves in the water.

According to estimates, the Pool of Shiloah went through multiple stages of development, and at the height of its glory, was approximately the size of 1.25 acres, inlaid with impressive flagstones. For the first time in modern history, the IAA excavation will conclude with the complete exposure of the Pool of Shiloah in the context of an official archeological excavation.

In the first stage, visitors will be able to observe the archaeological excavations, and in the coming months, the Pool of Shiloah will be opened for tourists, as part of a route that will begin at the southernmost point of the City of David and culminate at the Western Wall.

Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion praised the project, saying, “The Pool of Shiloah in the City of David National Park in Jerusalem is a site of historic, national and international significance. After many years of anticipation, we will soon merit to uncover this important site and make it accessible to the millions of visitors who come to Jerusalem each year.”

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