Storm Barbara blew through Israel this week, bringing heavy rains, strong winds, and unusually cold weather. It also filled the ancient pools of King Herod’s Palace in Jerusalem, blocking access to parts of the Tower of David Museum.
Two thousand years ago, King Herod built his sumptuous Jerusalem palace located today in the Tower of David complex next to the Jaffa Gate entrance to Jerusalem’s Old City. The palace no longer exists but the foundations can be seen at the Tower of David Museum.
Josephus Flavius, a Roman historian, described the palace: ” All around were many circular cloisters, leading one into another, the columns in each being different, and their open courts all of greensward; there were groves of various trees intersected by long walks, which were bordered by deep canals, and ponds everywhere studded with bronze figures through which water was discharged, and around the streams were numerous cots for tame pigeons”
During excavations in the 1980s, monumental steps carved into the stone of the bedrock were discovered leading down to what would have been the pools of the palace. In the heat of the summer or during dry winters, the ancient pools are dry and it is hard to imagine that this area was filled with water.
But today, thanks to the inclement weather, these ancient pools are once again filled with water.
Access to the Kishle excavation is not currently possible due to the high level of the water. The Kishle building, located south of the Tower of David against the wall of the Old City, was erected by an Egyptian ruler, Ibrahim Pasha, in 1834 and was used in the past at a police station and a prison. It was used by the British in the 1940s to hold captured Jewish militia members. Under the modern structure, archeologists discovered the foundations of a fortification wall built in the eighth century BCE by King Hezekiah. They also discovered the remains of another defensive wall built 600 years later by the Hasmoneans.
Archaeologists believe that believes the Kishle may have been the site of Jesus’ trial by the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate.