2,000 year-old “Emperor’s Road” discovered west of Jerusalem

Irina Zilberbod, director of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, standing on the Roman-era "Emperor's road". (Photo: Griffin Aerial Photography Company/ Israel Antiquities Authority)

Israeli archeologists announced the discovery of a 2,000-year-old, Roman-period road known as the “Emperor’s Road” discovered last month near Bet Shemesh.

Archeologists from Israel’s Antiquities Authority (IAA) made the discovery in February during an excavation of the area ahead of the construction of a water pipeline where several ancient coins were found- one from the Great Revolt, a coin of Agrippa I from 41 AD, a coin from the Umayyad period and a coin from a Pontius Pilate- a prefect of Judea.

According to the head of the excavation, Irina Zilberbod, the road was a “main artery that connected the large settlements of Eleutheropolis (Bet Guvrin) and Jerusalem” and is believed to have been constructed around the time of the Bar Kochba revolt (132-135 AD) or before.

She stated officially to the IAA that “The road that we discovered, which 2,000 years ago … was up to 6 meters wide, continued for a distance of approximately 1.5 kilometers, and was apparently meant to link the Roman settlement that existed in the vicinity of Beit Natif with the main highway known as the “Emperor’s Road”.

Zilberbod explained that up until the period the road was constructed “most of the roads in the country were actually improvised trails,” however that during the period of the Romans “as a result of military and other campaigns, the national and international road network started to be developed in an unprecedented manner. The Roman government was well aware of the importance of the roads for the proper running of the empire.”

The Israel Antiquities Authority announced that the road will be preserved and become a historic landmark.

This article originally appeared on Behold Israel, March 7, 2017, and reposted with permission.