Ponds of Solomon

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The Ponds of Solomon between 1890 and 1905
View of the Roman aqueduct that supplied Jerusalem.

The Solomos Ponds ( Arabic برك سليمان, DMG Birak Sulaimān , Hebrew בריכות שלמה Breichot Shlomo ) are three old water reservoirs in the West Bank . They are located immediately south of the Palestinian village of El-Khader, about five kilometers southwest of Bethlehem on the road to Hebron .


The three large reservoirs are several meters apart, with each pond about six meters deeper. They are roughly rectangular. Some of them are carved into the rock, others are built. They are between 118 and 179 meters long and 8 to 16 meters deep. Its capacity is approximately 290,000 cubic meters.

The ponds were part of a complex water supply system that existed between 100 BC. BC and 30 AD was built. They were fed by two Roman aqueducts from several springs and by rainwater from the surrounding hills. The water was then distributed through two more aqueducts that led north from the ponds to Jerusalem and another that led east to the Herodium fortress .

Under the middle pool are the remains of a pumping station from the British Mandate period , which piped the water into the old city of Jerusalem . Another, younger pumping station under the lower pool still supplies the city of Bethlehem with water today .


The ponds are named after King Solomon based on a sentence in the Book of Kohelet . There it says: "I have built ponds to water the forests." ( Koh 2,6  LUT ) Flavius ​​Josephus added to the legend by saying that Solomon loved the beauty of the water-rich "Etham" (one of the main sources is called here An Etam ) and expanded the springs as bathing places for his women. The name Ponds of Solomon appears for the first time in the 16th century with Boniface of Ragusa . Their Arabic name was and is "The Ponds" Arabic البرك, DMG al-Burak .


The increasing water needs of the Jerusalem temple and the pilgrims during the later period of the second temple led to the creation of a conduit. It had to be able to reach the relatively high top of the Temple Mount by gravity alone. In the hills south of Jerusalem, higher than the city and the Temple Mount, there were a number of year-round springs that presented a challenge to the engineers of the time. The resulting water system consisted of two aqueducts that filled the basins and at the same time had a collection and distribution function, as well as three other aqueducts. Two of them led the water to Jerusalem and another to Herodium. Together, the five aqueducts were around 80 kilometers long.

Recent research suggests that the lower pond was probably built during the Hasmonean period between the middle of the second and fourth centuries. It is connected to the lower, low aqueduct that was created at the same time and carries the water over a distance of 21.5 km to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

In the second phase, Herod the Great had his Roman engineers build the demanding Wadi el-Byiar aqueduct, which fed the upper pool, in connection with the construction of his Temple of Herod . The aqueduct was built in part as a tunnel that collected water from a groundwater layer like a qanat to supplement the spring water and surface runoff . Water from this upper pool was directed to the upper city of Jerusalem, where Herod had his new palace built.

In a third phase, the Roman prefect Pontius Pilatus further expanded the system.

Major repairs to the water system, based on Solomon's ponds, were carried out by the Legio X Fretensis in the second century , later in the Ottoman Empire, and subsequently during the British Mandate . In 1902, for example, a new 16 km pipeline to Jerusalem was inaugurated on the 60th birthday of the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II . The system has supplied water to the Jerusalem cisterns intermittently for two millennia until it was shut down in 1967. Then the aqueduct fell into disrepair. Only Bethlehem still draws water from the ponds.

Web links

Commons : Ponds of Solomon  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. About Solomons Pools . Mapcarta.
  2. Flavius ​​Josephus , Jüdische Antiquities 8,186.
  3. Max Küchler , Othmar Keel : Places and landscapes of the Bible. A handbook and study guide to the Holy Land. , Volume 2: The South, Göttingen 1982, ISBN 3-525-50167-6 , pp. 727-732.
  4. Jerome Murphy-O'Connor : The Holy Land: An Oxford Archaeological Guide from Earliest Times to 1700. Oxford University Press, Oxford / New York 2008, ISBN = 0-19-923666-6.
  5. Johann Buessow : Hamidian Palestine: Politics and Society in the District of Jerusalem from 1872 to 1908. Brill, Leiden 2011, ISBN 90-04-20569-1 , pp. 497 & 536 ( online ).

Coordinates: 31 ° 41 ′ 22.5 ″  N , 35 ° 10 ′ 3.1 ″  E