An 1,800-year-old Roman-era road was exposed last month during road work in Beit Hanina, a neighborhood in Jerusalem. The road is part an ancient Imperial road network leading from Jaffa to Jerusalem, dating to the Roman period (second through fourth centuries CE).The wide road (c. 8m) was bounded on both sides by curbstones and is built of large flat stones fitted to each other so as to create a comfortable surface for walking. Some of the pavers were very badly worn, indicating the extensive use that was made of the road, and over the years the road also underwent a series of repairs. According to David Yeger, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, which was overseeing the excavation that was being conducted during drainage work underway in the area, "Several segments of the road were previously excavated by research expeditions of the IAA, but such a finely preserved section of the road has not been discovered in the city of Jerusalem until now."
"The Romans attached great importance to the roads in the empire. They invested large sums of money and utilized the most advanced technological aids of the period in order to crisscross the empire with roads. These served the government, military, economy and public by providing an efficient and safe means of passage. Way stations and roadside inns were built along the roads, as well fortresses in order to protect the travelers. The construction and maintenance of the roads was assigned to military units, but civilians also participated in the work as part of the compulsory labor imposed on them by the authorities."
In some places the modern Bir Nabala road was paved just a few centimeters above the route of the ancient road, which indicates that until a few decades ago the ancient road in this region was visible and was used.
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Publication date: July 16, 2013