Hezekiah was a king of Judah in the late eighth century B.C.E., a time of conflict with the mighty Assyrian power. The Bible tells us that he did a great deal to protect Jerusalem and to secure its water supply. Among the works he undertook was the construction of a 1,749-foot-long [533 m] tunnel, or conduit, to bring springwater into the city.—2 Kings 20:20; 2 Chronicles 32:1-7, 30.
In the 19th century, just such a tunnel was discovered. It became known as Hezekiah’s Tunnel, or the Siloam Tunnel. Inside the tunnel, an inscription was found that described the final phases of the tunnel’s excavation.
The shape and form of the letters of this inscription lead most scholars to date it to the time of Hezekiah. A decade ago, however, some suggested that the tunnel was built about 500 years later. In 2003, a team of Israeli scientists published the results of their research aimed at fixing a reliable date for the tunnel. What conclusion did they reach?
Dr. Amos Frumkin of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem says: “The carbon-14 tests we carried out on organic material within the plaster of the Siloam Tunnel, and uranium-thorium dating of stalactites found in the tunnel, date it conclusively to Hezekiah’s era.” An article in the scientific journal Nature adds: “The three independent lines of evidence—radiometric dating, palaeography and the historical record—all converge on about 700 BC, rendering the Siloam Tunnel the best-dated Iron-Age biblical structure thus far known.”