The Kidron Valley, a place of olive groves, ancient tombs and misnamed funerary monuments, divides Jerusalem’s Temple Mount from the Mount of Olives. Once a deep ravine channelling a seasonal stream, it provided a defensive border to the original City of David — and a route to the wilderness for King David when he fled from his rebellious son Absalom (2 Samuel 15:23). Map.
The central point of reference for the Kidron Valley is its confluence of Jerusalem’s richest concentration of rock-hewn tombs. This area, located on the periphery of the village Silwan (map), was one of the main burial grounds of Jerusalem in the Second Temple Period. Several of these tombs were also used later in time, either as burial or as shelters for hermits and monks of the large monastic communities, which inhabited the Kidron Valley. The ancient tombs in this area attracted the attention of ancient travelers, most notably Benjamin of Tudela.
A constant source of confusion is the fact that the modern name “Kidron Valley” (Nahal Kidron in Hebrew) applies to the entire length of a long wadi, which starts north of the Old City of Jerusalem and ends at the Dead Sea, while the biblical names Nahal Kidron, Emek Yehoshafat, King’s Valley etc. might refer to certain parts of this valley located in the immediate vicinity of ancient Jerusalem, but not to the entire wadi, and certainly not to the long segment crossing the Judean desert. Similarly, in Arabic every more substantial wadi has many names, each applied to a certain distinct segment of its course.