Publish Date: 11/14/2018
Ancient engravings of ships and animals were recently discovered in an ancient water cistern in Be'er-Sheva.
Who decided to leave their mark on the walls of a large water reservoir from the Roman period, 2000 years ago? The inscriptions were discovered in archeological excavations currently being conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority in Be'er-Sheva, as part of preparatory work for the future neighborhood of Rakefot, initiated and financed by the Be'er-Sheva Agreements Administration.
The cistern, whose circumference is 5 x 5.5 m and its depth reaches about 12 m, initially looks like a large depression in the ground. After the initial cleaning, there were steps discovered that led all the way down to the bottom.
Within the plaster that covered the face of the cistern, the site leaders, Dr. David Eisenberg-Dagan, and, Avishai Levi-Hevroni from the Antiquities Authority, discovered engravings. Many of the lines engraved had already been wiped out over time, but there are very faint lines in the shape of ships and some animals. At least 13 ships were engraved in the walls of the reservoir, according to Dr. Dagan, an expert on rock engravings and art, "The ships include descriptions of technical details and proportions of the ship's parts, which hint at actual shipbuilding knowledge. Dr. Peter Fabian and Dr. Eliyahu Cohen-Sasson of the Department of Archeology, Bible and Ancient East of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev believe that due to the nature of the cistern construction and its plastering indicate that the pit was probably hewn in the 1st or 2nd centuries CE, and it may have been used by the residents nearby, whose artifacts were discovered approx. 800 m from the cistern.
Although the cistern was filled with mud and waste, seems to have been active and maintained until recently. Within the waste and mud some artifacts were found including various ceramics, as well as bullets and pieces of weapons from World War I.
The Israel Antiquities Authority and Be'er-Sheva Agreements Administration are working to preserve the water reservoir and the remains of the community in an open public area within the new neighborhood.
Credit: Israel Antiquities Authority