THE POOL OF BETHESDA

James E. Lancaster, Ph.D.
1998

These views show the remains of part of the central dam of the Pool of Bethesda and the church that was built over the pool in the Byzantine period. They were taken from the viewing platform just across from St. Anne's Church in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem.

The pool is mentioned in John 5:2 where it says "Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Hebrew called Bethzatha [or Bethesda, or Bethsaida], which has five porticoes." (RSV) At that time the pool was divided by an east-west dam across the center. The five porticoes may have referred to the four sides and the central dam.

THEN
NOW

In the 1964 photo (above, left) a part of the central dam can be seen through the top of the arch. It is still partially covered with plaster. The arch jutting out from the dam was one of the supporting arches of the Byzantine church.

By 1995 (photo above, right) the area behind the arch had been more fully excavated exposing more of the dam. The remaining section of plaster covering the dam is now more clearly visible. Now visible at the upper left of the photo are columns from the west wall of the pool.

View larger versions of the 1964 and 1995 photos in a separate window:

The 1964 photo was taken by Dr. Marshall Welles. The 1995 photo is by the author. Photos may be reproduced only with the consent of the author.