|Tel Be’er Sheva, The Underground Water Reservoir System|
|Stabilization of the cistern’s ceiling|
|Orderer||Israel Nature and Parks Authority|
Eng. Yardena Etgar|
Eng. Ofer Cohen
The aim of the project was to stabilize the ceiling of the water cistern from an engineering standpoint in order to conserve it and allow visitors to safely pass through the place.
In the administrative cities of the Kingdoms of Judah and Israel large sophisticated water systems were installed to ensure a flowing supply of water to the city’s inhabitants. Such water systems are found in Hazor, Megiddo, Jerusalem and Gezer. These installations are primarily characteristic of the urban culture of the First Temple period and they attest to the level of urban development and the special status of the administrative centers.
This is an underground complex comprising four reservoir chambers connected by narrow passages. Each chamber measures c. 3 m wide by 5-7 m long.
The height of the chambers and the passages between them varies between 3.5 - 5.5 m. The complex is accessed by way of a shaft, along which are built steps, and a short inclined tunnel hewn in the bedrock. The indigenous bedrock, which is soft chalk (kirton), is in an ongoing process of cracking and deterioration, with pieces of it falling from the walls and ceiling.
There are multiple cracks in the complex that have altered the bedrock mass (this is analogous to a mass composed of numerous blocks). The process of water penetrating into the system and drying intensifies the cracking of the kirton bedrock. There is the fear of a localized failure of stones or small blocks. The system was struck by an earthquake in 1995 and except for several small stones no significant shifts or collapses occurred. In light of these findings and after consulting with an outside expert on tunneling, we understand that the bedrock mass is stable. The manner of support chosen to reinforce the ceiling is a result of this conclusion.
In the past conservation and stabilizing measures were undertaken on the walls of the site only.
The conservation treatment at the site included: filling the fissures between the large stone blocks with a bonding material in order to recreate a uniform mass, reinforcing the ceiling by means of steel beams and nets and filling in the space between the nets and the original ceiling. It is recommended that visitors entering the site be required to wear protective hard hats.
To view the figures, click on the figure caption