A 2,700-year-old water system has been unearthed during works for a new residential neighborhood in Rosh Ha’ayin, about 30 kilometers east of Tel Aviv, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) said Thursday. Officials said the underground storage facility features wall engravings including human figures, crosses, and a vegetal motif that were likely carved by passersby in a later period.
“It is difficult not to be impressed by the sight of the immense underground reservoir quarried out so many years ago,” said Gilad Itach, director of excavations for the IAA. “In antiquity, rainwater collection and storage was a fundamental necessity. With an annual rainfall of 500 millimeters, the region’s winter rains would easily have filled the huge reservoir.”
In a release, Itach said the water system exposed is nearly 20 meters long and reaches a depth of over four meters. The excavations show a reservoir built beneath a large structure with walls that are all nearly 50 meters long. Some of the shards found on the floors of the rooms probably belonged to vessels used to draw water from the reservoir.
The IAA said the structure was likely built at the end of the Iron Age (late eighth or early seventh century BCE), but probably abandoned during the Persian period, and that the reservoir was still in use until modern times.
The find joins a list of discoveries in the Rosh Ha’ayin area in recent years dating to the First Temple period, particularly farmhouses that were built in the area, possibly at the time of the Assyrian Empire, by people looking to settle near the western border of the Empire.
“The structure exposed in this excavation is different from most of the previously discovered farmsteads. Its orderly plan, vast area, strong walls, and the impressive water reservoir hewn beneath it suggest that the site was administrative in nature and it may well have controlled the surrounding farmsteads.”
High-school students majoring in the Education Ministry’s Land of Israel and Archaeology track also contributed to the discovery.
Ministry of Construction and Housing, Rosh Ha’ayin Municipality officials and the Israel Antiquities Authority all said the site will remain an open area accessible to the public, adjacent to the new residential neighborhood.