Innovation has changed history forever, and the Siloam Tunnel in the City of David, considered an ancient engineering marvel, is perhaps the best example of this.

When we hear the word “innovation”, colorful images of advanced robots, supercomputers, and artificial intelligence immediately come to mind. However, innovation is actually the ability to reinvent, what already exists. And this has been happening already for many, many years.

What are the chances that the tunnel workers, digging from opposite ends, will meet at the same point?

Think about it. A tunnel is carved into the rock, over half a kilometer in length, which is actually an ancient water system designed to bring water from the Gihon Spring outside the city walls into the fortified area of Jerusalem.

The tunnel was carved using tools and technologies that existed over 2,700 years ago!

Siloam tunnel.Photo: Eitan Asraf, City of David Archives

Even today, it operates solely using gravity, with a height difference of only 33 centimeters between the starting point and the endpoint! If the tunnelers hadn’t calculated the angle correctly and precisely, the water would not flow through it at all.

One of the most surprising aspects of the tunnel excavation is that it was carved simultaneously from both directions, so in addition to calculating the correct angle, the two excavation teams had to meet underground and connect the two parts of the tunnel to complete the work!

Archaeological excavation can also be horizontal and not just limited to depth…

The contemporary example of technological innovation in the City of David is equally surprising and impressive!

For thousands of years, it was known that a magnificent pathway led to the Second Temple, from the Pool of Siloam in the valley up to the Temple Mount. This is how Jewish pilgrims ascended to the Temple during the three pilgrimage festivals. However, with the destruction of the Temple, the grand pathway was also destroyed and lost forever among the remnants of the immense fire. Since then, the city continued to develop, houses were built, and roads were paved over the area where the pilgrims once passed, and there was no way to excavate and reach it.

Through breakthrough engineering technology, which won first place in an international competition by ITA Tunnelling, competing against 170 different projects from 54 countries, and thanks to an exceptional collaboration between top engineers and archaeologists, a unique technology was developed that allows excavation to be carried out in a balanced manner along the route. In fact, this is the first and only archaeological excavation in the world that is done from side to side and not from top to bottom. This enables the exposure of the Pilgrimage Road without damaging the modern city located above ground.

Creativity is the name of the game

The method involves drilling, using several massive metal pipes that form an arch shape, with a reinforced steel framework connected to it by a junction anchored in its lower part with concrete. This method creates the characteristic arch shapes for the excavation site of the Pilgrimage Road.


Afterward, additional stabilization is done using reinforced steel beams embedded in concrete. Only then can the excavators and archaeologists proceed with the excavation, documentation, and recording of all findings, as well as the removal of the archaeological rubble. The excavated soil is then sent for further screening to find smaller artifacts such as coins, jewelry, and more.

The Pilgrimage Road. Photo: Kobi Harathi

The excavation, with its engineering complexity, faced exceptional challenges that the excavators and archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority overcame through resourcefulness, creativity, and the integration of cutting-edge technologies, similar to their ancient counterparts, the workers who carved the Siloam Tunnel.


When the project is completed, any person who wishes to do so will be able to walk along Pilgrimage Road to the top of the mountain and experience the immense excitement that the pilgrims felt at the peak of the greatest journey of their lives.

Drawing inspiration from the past, looking towards the future

In addition to the experience of ascending the Pilgrimage Road and being amazed by the engineering breakthrough, visitors to the City of David can already enjoy the combination of archaeology and innovation, and participate in a variety of activities that utilize the most advanced technology in the world, creating an unforgettable and exciting experience.

Among these activities, one can find the nighttime show called “Hallelujah”, an interactive film projected onto the City of David antiquities, using unique technology and featuring a stunning display of fire and water. In addition to other impressive shows throughout the site, visitors can also take part in a virtual reality (VR) tour using virtual reality glasses and experience the history, legends, and great dramas like never before!