Since my previous post on this project, on 16 June 2011, much has transpired: They’re actually doing it, and have DONE it!
On 07 July I had occasion to view the pool from the south, from the roof of the Swedish Christian Study Center inside Jaffa Gate. I was struck by the volume of accumulated material they were actually stripping away, particularly at the northern end of the pool (which was all I could see at the time). The following three photos tell the story: bordering the pool is the so-called Coptic Khan, a former caravanserai and now a residential compound; beyond and to the right is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Note the tall working face where the accumulated deposits, many meters deep, are being dug out:
On 21 July I was back in the area and was surprised to find that they had pretty much cleared the entire pool, though I couldn’t tell if they had reached an actual floor level or not. (I suspected they had reached a surface of hard-packed silt deposits and found it a convenient level at which to stop.) By the way, on this occasion I found that the roof of the Petra Hostel, a dandy viewpoint, was open once again, at least on a limited basis (“5 shekels, please”). I located another vantage point as well (my secret), high above the western side of the pool.
On 02 August: Surprise! The floor has been swept to reveal (to my eyes, at least) a definite paved and/or plastered floor. Even the earthen access ramp has been cleared and replaced with one built of panels and framing.
I hope to continue monitoring the site for any signs of archaeological probes and/or further development or infrastructure work. The stated purpose of the project, beyond eliminating an eyesore and health hazard, is to create proper drainage. We shall see…
* Read my FOLLOW-UP posts from January and March 2012, AND a surprising new development in October 2012.
Great work!! Very interesting and clear photos!! It will be fascinating to see if they really reached the bottom and if they find the entry point for the water!
Dr. Cam: Thanks for your feedback. I think the entry point must be known. At least, reports from late-19th century explorers say that water was then still flowing in via a conduit from the Mamillah Pool. I hope to have more on this in a future post…
Tom, Thank you for these amazing photos and thru them an opportunity to view this previously mysterious site. Good to know we can go up the rickety stairs of the Petra Hotel again. Your curiosity and diligence are quite impressive. Any idea who is looking at the debris and if a written report will be forthcoming? Keep up the good work. Zipporah Malka Heller
Hi– Thanks for your comments. I wondered the same thing, about the material that was removed. I didn’t get the sense that there was an archaeological aspect to the work thus far, or that the IAA was directly involved — but I could be wrong. If nothing else, whatever objects were found at the lowest level (i.e., on the floor) might tell us when the pool was last cleaned out thoroughly (and likely repaired).
They did an excellent job! And you did an excellent job of documenting it, Tom! Thank you so much!