in the heart o Wadi Hilwah neighborhood as ancient Jerusa-lem, and called it “City o David”.Ever since, many archaeologists o dierent nationalities haveconducted excavations in the area. The locals never initiatedthe excavations, but they were always conducted with respect or them, and the residents enjoyed the visits o tourists. In the 70s Israeli archaeologists began to excavate in Wadi Hilwah,led by the renowned Pro. Yigal Shilo.
Wadi Hilwah 1967 - 1987
Soon ater the 1967 War, Israel ormally annexed East Jerusaleminto the municipal borders o Jerusalem. Silwan grew rapidlyand welcomed many Palestinian reugees rom the ‘48 and ‘67wars. However, development in Palestinian neighborhoods inEast Jerusalem was little compared to in other parts o the city.
Wadi Hilwah in the 70s, looking from Shiloah/Silwan Pool
Once upon a time, where you’re standingright now, there was a small valley called Wadi Hilwah, part o the large Silwan village.
Hilwah was the wie o the
Siyam.She was killed during armed clashes in thevalley. Beore her death, the valley wascalled
, Valley o Wails. They say that at nightsone could hear among the hedges o cactuses the wails o theinnocent girl who was viciously murdered by her brother.The Muslim village o Silwan started to develop in the 16thcentury. The village was amous or its quality agricultural pro-duce, and served as a resting point on the way to the old city.Today the village counts 55,000 people. 5,500 live in WadiHilwah neighborhood, which lies on the Old City’s southernslopes. Here, evidently, is where ancient Jerusalem was estab-lished. The Gihon Spring (Ein Silwan) is the reason why peo-ple settled on the spur more than 5000 years ago and built thecity which became holy to the three monotheistic religions.Many cultures let their mark on the spur’s slopes and valleysthat set the boundaries o Wadi Hilwah: the Canaanites, whoestablished the city and built the impressive underground wa-ter system; the Judeans, who expanded the city; the Assyrians,who besieged it; the Babylonians, who destroyed it and ban-ished its people; the Persians; the Greeks, the heralds o Hel-lenism; the Romans; the Byzantines; and nally the Muslims,who ruled the city or 1300 years.In the 20th century, the villagers lived under our dierent rules: Ottoman, British, Jordanian, and, since 1967, Israeli, un-der which the Palestinian residents have no citizenship – a vul-nerable and dangerous status.
Archaeological excavations in Wadi Hilwahstarted during the late Ottoman rule. Charles Warren discovered the underground watersystem at the close o the 19th century (a siteknown as Warren’s Shat), identied the site
Silwan Village - Wadi Hilwah neighborhood is seen on the slopes of the Old City