Thursday, February 25, 2010

Archaeological findings unveil 1,500-year-old Jerusalem road - Haaretz - Israel News

Archaeological findings unveil 1,500-year-old Jerusalem road - Haaretz - Israel News

The Israel Antiquities Authority and Jerusalem Development Authority on Wednesday unveiled archaeological findings from the Byzantine era that confirm an ancient map of Jerusalem.

The Madaba map, which is made of ancient mosaic, was found in a Jordanian church in Madaba, and depicts the land of Israel during the Byzantine period.

The Madaba map is the oldest surviving depiction of Jerusalem dating back to the 6th-7th centuries CE.

According to the map, the entrance to Jerusalem from the west was via a large gate that led to a single, central thoroughfare on that side of the city, making it the first known evidence corroborating the street's existence.

Until recently, archaeological excavation was not permitted at the site, as it serves as a crossroad in the Old city, and the entrance into one of the city's most popular markets.

However, due to digging in the area carried out by the Jerusalem Development Authority in recent months, the Antiquities Authority was able to excavate to confirm the maps' findings.

Approximately four and half meters below the street, they discovered the meter-long stone blocks that the ancient road was built from.

"It is beautiful to see how David Street, one of today's busiest streets, is actually upholding the ancient route of a road that existed 1,500 years ago," said the supervising archaeologist Dr. Ofer Shion.

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