In both ancient and modern times water was a precious commodity in the Middle East. Villages and cities were built near springs where possible, but in other cases wells were dug AND, from about 1200 B.C. to the present day, plastered cisterns collected the precious rainwater during the winter months.
Ancient Cistern at Ashqelon
Cisterns are cavities that are hewn out of the rock, or soil, and are lined with plaster so as to be able to store water. In the Middle East, the runoff from the winter rains filled them, and the stored water was used throughout the year.
In the cistern from Ashqelon, note the remnant of the small opening at the top, through which a container was lowered into the cistern to draw water.
Opening of a Cistern
On January 10 we visited Tel Sheva (biblical Beersheba). Here are some contrasting views of the Nahal Beersheba after 4 days of rain.
Nahal Beersheba on 10 January 2013 after 4 Days of Rain
Nahal Beersheba Under “normal” Conditions
Nahal Sekher South of Beersheba on 10 January 2013
Jerusalem in the snow has received a lot of press recently, but it is also “fun” to see the wadis/nahals fill up after a rain storm. On Wednesday 9 January we visited the Valley of Elah, where David fought Goliath (1 Samuel 17), after 3 days of rain.
Valley of Elah after Three Days of Rain — 9 January 2013
Valley of Elah under “normal” conditions – March