Samos — Another “Hezekiah’s Tunnel”?

Some of the readers of this blog are familiar with the 1,760 ft. long “Hezekiah’s Tunnel” that brought water from the Gihon Spring to the Pool of Siloam in Jerusalem.  At the southern end of this tunnel a Hebrew Inscription was found on which it describes how the two gangs of workmen began at each end and worked towards the center.  The tunnel was built in the late 8th century B.C.

Not so well-known is the very similar Tunnel of Eupalinos that brought water to the ancient city of Samos (now called Pythagorio).  This tunnel was about 3,280 ft. [1,000 m.] long and was carved into solid rock by two groups of workmen—one group beginning at each end and meeting near the middle.  It was completed during the rule of Polycrates around 524 B.C.


Interior of the 3,280 ft. long Tunnel of Eupalinos on the Island of Samos
The woman in the image is 5′ 2″ tall
Click on Image to Enlarge/Download

The image above is of the interior to the Tunnel of Eupalinos that brought water to the ancient city of Samos (now called Pythagorio).   The outline of the rock-hewn tunnel is very clear in this image.  The woman in the picture is 5′ 2″ [1.57 m.] tall.

The area in which she is standing was actually a “service area” that was used by workmen to maintain the tunnel.  The metal grating behind her, on the left side of the image, covers the deep channel in which the water actually flowed—in clay pipes.

For additional images of the Island of Samos Click Here.

Besides the informative comments on how the tunnel may have been constructed, see also the 15 minute animated video below.


3 responses to “Samos — Another “Hezekiah’s Tunnel”?

  1. Back in 1979 two other seminarians and myself transited through Samos while visiting the “seven churches” of Re.2-3. I did not know of this tunnel at the time, so, we missed it. However, I would like to comment on tunnel building having worked professionally as a carpenter for almost 20 years.

    I have yet to visit Hezekiah’s tunnel in Jerusalem and I am unaware of how they were so accurate to meet up starting from opposite ends. Having confessed my ignorance on Hezekiah’s tunnel, I do believe I know how other tunnels were constructed in ancient times. After watching a documentary on TV where they discussed ancient tunnel building, I was convinced the authors over-complicated the process. They claimed that the ancients used mathematical calculations where the actual process could be accomplished by using no more than seven stakes for sighting (3 on top of the hill and 2 at each beginning point. They could sight a straight line by lining up these 7 stakes. To find the horizontal level, a shallow trench at the chosen levels (to ensure downward water flow) would be excavated on one of the contours of the hill, and during the rainy season the water level could be checked and marked horizontally.

    The workmen digging the tunnel from either end would keep their digging on track by looking back out of the opening toward the 2 stakes and lining them up by sight.

  2. A further elaboration of tunneling: The water trench is probably sloped while the worker’s tunnel is level. My aforementioned trench on the outside contour of the hill would have been level and water could be used to check this. The workmen digging their tunnel would have tossed their drinking water perhaps on the floor to see how it pooled and thereby maintain the horizontal level. The water trench inside the tunnel would be the only sloped elevation and gravity would do the rest. I am really curious now if I am right. Regardless, this is how I would do it. It is amazing how ancient structures still stand, but using water to ensure level and string lines for straightness and plumb (string with weight attached), the ancients could accomplish much.

    I don’t remember the specific documentary I referenced but I believe the site was at Mt. Kronos, Olympia, Greece.

  3. The Youtube video was really good. It answers most of the questions in the comments by Alex.

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