The Gihon Spring was the main source of water for the City
of David, the original site of Jerusalem. One of the world's
major intermittent springs - and a reliable water source
that made human settlement possible in ancient Jerusalem -
the spring was not only used for drinking water, but also
initially for irrigation of gardens in the adjacent Kidron
Valley which provided a food source for the ancient
settlement. The spring being intermittent required the
excavation of the Pool of Siloam which stored the large
amount of water needed for the town when the spring was not
Three main water systems allowed water to be brought from
the spring to the city under cover:
The Middle Bronze Age channel - a fairly straight channel
dating from the Middle Bronze Age, cut 20 feet into the
ground, and then covered with slabs (which themselves were
then hidden by foliage). This led from the spring to the
Pool of Siloam and was an aqueduct.
Warren's Shaft - a steep tunnel, dating from slightly later
than the Middle Bronze Age channel, leading from the Well
Gate at the top of Ophel above Gihon, down to the spring.
This passage was for people to travel down in person and
collect water from the spring themselves.
Hezekiah's tunnel - a winding tunnel carved into the rock,
leading from the spring to the Pool of Siloam. Dating from
the time of Hezekiah, and seemingly built in response to the
threat of siege by Sennacherib, it was an aqueduct that
effectively replaced the Middle Bronze Age channel.
In 1997, while a visitor centre was being constructed, the
spring was discovered to have been heavily fortified since
the Middle Bronze Age, when archaeologists unexpectedly
uncovered two monumental towers - one protecting the base
of Warren's Shaft, and the other protecting the spring
itself. Due to the area around the site still being
inhabited, and hence not excavated, it is unknown whether
any further fortifications exist (though a further tower to
the south of that protecting Warren's Shaft is thought
During an archaeological dig in 2009, a fragment of a
monumental stone inscription securely dated to the eighth
century BCE was discovered. Although only fragments of
Hebrew lettering survive, the fragment proves that the city
had monumental public inscriptions and the corresponding
large public buildings in the eighth century.
The city government of Jerusalem has proposed to restore the
valley floor by replacing illegally built housing with a
park called the Garden of the King through which the waters
of Gihon could flow south along their ancient course.