Their arid country was the best safeguard of their cherished liberty; for the bottle-shaped cisterns for rain-water which they excavated in the rocky or argillaceous soil were carefully concealed from invaders.
Good water is everywhere so scarce that but for the rain preserved in cisterns the country would be mostly uninhabitable.
Many cisterns are infested with Guinea worm (filaria medinensis, Gm.).
Cisterns were also used for the storage of rain water, and aqueducts, of which the remains still exist (see Aqueducts ad inst.), were constructed for the conveyance of water from a distance.
In several places the debris within the walls is saturated with sewage, and the water of the Fountain of the Virgin, and of many of the old cisterns, is unfit for drinking.
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