Biblical Archaeology Review 25:1, January/February 1999

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Warren’s Shaft theory of David’s conquest shattered

By Ronny ReichEli Shukron

We thought we understood the complicated waterworks beneath the area of Jerusalem known as the City of David, the oldest part of the city. But new excavations near the Gihon Spring will require a major reassessment of the Canaanite city, including popular speculation regarding the military tactics that enabled King David to capture the city in about 1000 B.C.E.

Until now, this theory about David’s conquest has focused on Warren’s Shaft—a 40-foot vertical subterranean shaft thought to have been used to draw water flowing from the spring—through which David’s general supposedly gained entrance to the Canaanite city.

As a result of our recent excavations, we can definitively state that Warren’s Shaft never served as a water shaft. That’s right, it was never used to draw water. Ancient Jerusalem indeed had a complicated underground water system. But Warren’s Shaft was never part of it.

Instead … but that is getting ahead of the story.

Join the BAS Library!

Already a library member? Log in here.

Institution user? Log in with your IP address.