Evolution of water extraction technology (spring tunnels) in the Southern Levant during the last three millennia

Azriel Yechezkel, Amos Frumkin, R. Lawrence Edwards, Xianglei Li, Uzi Leibner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A spring tunnel is an ancient water installation used to artificially increase the water yield of a spring through a subterranean tunnel. We have developed a database of 216 spring tunnels documented in the central region of the Southern Levant (present-day Israel), constructed between Iron Age II and the modern era. The study focuses on the evolution of this water installation over a period of 2500 years, examining these constructions from technological, typological, spatial, and cultural perspectives. Within the larger database, 132 spring tunnels have been mapped, from which we present 36 examples selected to outline the typology and chronology of this type of water installation. The findings of the study indicate a diachronic correlation between the distribution of settlement in the mountain region and the number and geographical distribution of spring tunnels. Ethnic and religious changes, and the complexity of the mountain region's population, are also reflected in the use of these water installations. The comprehensive water structure database presented in this article, from a peripheral, yet strategically located region in relation both to the Far East and to West Mediterranean Empires, is used for initial consideration of local initiatives versus the knowledge-transfer process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)375-395
Number of pages21
JournalGeoarchaeology - An International Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2024


  • Iron Age
  • U-Th
  • knowledge transfer
  • landscape archaeology
  • spring tunnel

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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