Siloam inscription
The Siloam inscription or Silwan inscription is a passage of inscribed text found in the Hezekiah tunnel
Hezekiah tunnel
Hezekiah's Tunnel, or the Siloam Tunnel is a tunnel that was dug underneath the City of David in Jerusalem before 701 BC during the reign of Hezekiah, in Israel. The tunnel is mentioned in in the Bible...

 which brings water from the Gihon Spring
Gihon Spring
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...

 to the Pool of Siloam
Pool of Siloam
Pool of Siloam is a rock-cut pool on the southern slope of the City of David, the original site of Jerusalem, located outside the walls of the Old City to the southeast. The pool was fed by the waters of the Gihon Spring, carried there by two aqueducts.-History:The Pool of Siloam is mentioned...

, located in the East Jerusalem
East Jerusalem
East Jerusalem or Eastern Jerusalem refer to the parts of Jerusalem captured and annexed by Jordan in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and then captured and annexed by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War...

 neighborhood of Silwan
Silwan or Wadi Hilweh is a predominantly Palestinian village adjacent to the Old City of Jerusalem. In recent years a small Jewish minority of 40 families has settled in the area. The village is located in East Jerusalem, an area occupied by Jordan from 1948 until the 1967 Six-day War and by Israel...

. The inscription records the construction of the tunnel in the 8th century BCE. It is among the oldest extant records of its kind written in Hebrew using the Paleo-Hebrew alphabet
Paleo-Hebrew alphabet
The Paleo-Hebrew alphabet , is an abjad offshoot of the ancient Semitic alphabet, identical to the Phoenician alphabet. At the very least it dates to the 10th century BCE...



The tunnel was discovered in 1838 by Edward Robinson Despite Hezekiah's tunnel being examined extensively during the 19th century by Robinson, Charles Wilson
Charles William Wilson
Sir Charles William Wilson K.C.B., K.C.M.G., F.R.S., D.C.L., LL.D., M.E. was a British military officer and geographer.-Biography:...

, and Charles Warren
Charles Warren
General Sir Charles Warren, GCMG, KCB, FRS was an officer in the British Royal Engineers. He was one of the earliest European archaeologists of Biblical Holy Land, and particularly of Temple Mount...

, they all missed discovering the inscription, probably due to the accumulated mineral deposits making it barely noticeable. According to Easton's Bible Dictionary, a youth wading up Hezekiah's tunnel from the Siloam Pool end discovered the inscription cut in the rock on the eastern side, about 19 feet into the tunnel. The inscription was surreptitiously cut from the wall of the tunnel in 1891 and broken into fragments which were recovered through the efforts of the British Consul in Jerusalem and placed in the Istanbul Archaeology Museum
Istanbul Archaeology Museum
The Istanbul Archaeology Museums is a group of three archeological museums located in the Eminönü district of Istanbul, Turkey, near Gülhane Park and Topkapı Palace.The Istanbul Archaeology Museums consists of three museums....


The ancient city of Jerusalem
The City of David is the oldest settled neighborhood of Jerusalem and a major archaeological site due to recognition as biblical Jerusalem. It is a narrow ridge running south from the Temple Mount. It was a walled city in the Bronze Age and, according to tradition, it is the place where King...

, being on a mountain, was naturally defensible from almost all sides but its major source of fresh water, the Gihon spring, was on the side of the cliff overlooking the Kidron valley. The Bible records that King Hezekiah
Hezekiah was the son of Ahaz and the 14th king of Judah. Edwin Thiele has concluded that his reign was between c. 715 and 686 BC. He is also one of the most prominent kings of Judah mentioned in the Hebrew Bible....

, fearful that the Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

ns would lay siege to the city, blocked the spring's water outside the city and diverted it through a channel into the Pool of Siloam.

Biblical references

2 Kings 20, 20: “And the rest of the events of Hezekiah and all his mighty deeds, and how he made the conduit and the pool, and he brought the water into the city, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah.”

2 Chronicles 32, 3-4: “And he took counsel with his officers and his mighty men to stop up the waters of the fountains that were outside the city, and they assisted him. And a large multitude gathered and stopped up all the fountains and the stream that flowed in the midst of the land, saying, "Why should the kings of Assyria come and find much water?""


Unreadable at first due to the deposits, Professor Archibald Sayce
Archibald Sayce
The Rev. Archibald Henry Sayce , was a pioneer British Assyriologist and linguist, who held a chair as Professor of Assyriology at the University of Oxford from 1891 to 1919.- Life :...

 was the first to make a tentative reading, and later the text was cleaned with an acid solution making the reading more authoritative. The inscription contains 6 lines, of which the first is damaged. The words are separated by dots. Only the word zada on the third line is of doubtful translation - perhaps a crack or a weak part.

The passage reads:
... the tunnel ... and this is the story of the tunnel while ...
the axes were against each other and while three cubits were left to cut? ... the voice of a man ...
called to his counterpart, (for) there was ZADA in the rock, on the right ... and on the day of the
tunnel (being finished) the stonecutters struck each man towards his counterpart, ax against ax and flowed
water from the source to the pool for 1200 cubits. and 100?
cubits was the height over the head of the stonecutters ...

The inscription hence records the construction of the tunnel; according to the text the work began at both ends simultaneously and proceeded until the stonecutters met in the middle. However, this idealised account does not quite reflect the reality of the tunnel; where the two sides meet is an abrupt right angled join, and the centres do not line up. It has been theorized that Hezekiah’s engineers depended on acoustic sounding to guide the tunnelers and this is supported by the explicit use of this technique as described in the Siloam Inscription. The frequently ignored final sentence of this inscription provides further evidence: “And the height of the rock above the heads of the laborers was 100 cubits.” This indicates that the engineers were well aware of the distance to the surface above the tunnel at various points in its progression.

While traditionally identified as a commemorative inscription, one archaeologist has suggested that it may be a votive offering inscription.

Property rights

In 2007, Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski
Uri Lupolianski
Uri Lupolianski was mayor of Jerusalem from 2003 to 2008 and founder of Yad Sarah.-Biography:Born in Haifa, Israel in 1951, Lupolianski studied at the Yavne School in Haifa and then attended Yeshivat Hanegev. He served in the Israel Defense Forces as a paramedic and worked as a teacher at a...

 met with Turkey's ambassador to Israel, Namik Tan, and requested that the tablet be returned to Jerusalem as a "goodwill gesture." Turkey rejected the request, stating that the Siloam inscription was Imperial Ottoman property, and thus the cultural property of the Turkish Republic. President Abdullah Gul
Abdullah Gül
Dr. Abdullah Gül, GCB is the 11th and current President of the Republic of Turkey, serving in that office since 28 August 2007. He previously served for four months as Prime Minister from 2002-03, and as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2003-07....

 said that Turkey would arrange for the inscription to be shown in Jerusalem for a short period.

See also

  • List of artifacts significant to the Bible
  • Archaeology of Israel
    Archaeology of Israel
    The archaeology of Israel is the study of the archaeology of Israel, stretching from prehistory through three millennia of documented history. The ancient Land of Israel was a geographical bridge between the political and cultural centers of Mesopotamia and Egypt...

  • Biblical archaeology
    Biblical archaeology
    For the movement associated with William F. Albright and also known as biblical archaeology, see Biblical archaeology school. For the interpretation of biblical archaeology in relation to biblical historicity, see The Bible and history....

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.