Beersheva was a city at the edge of the Negev Desert. Little rain falls here and farming is difficult. But there is water. After all, the name “Beersheva” means “Seven wells”. Archaeologists are not sure whether the ancient hill near the modern city of Beersheva is the city of biblical times. It could be. Some say it might have just been a fortress. There are wells near the city—like this one just outside the gates (now restored).
But apparently the wells did not provide sufficient water. A huge water system was built beneath the tell. Water from a wadi that flooded during the rainy season was diverted to large cisterns below the city.
Stairs that circled down a wide shaft gave access to the water stored below the city. Residents could access water protected by the city walls. Even at times of siege the city would not run out of water.
The security of water supply became crucial in Israel and different water systems were built throughout the country. In Beersheva they developed a system to make the best use of the local water sources.