2,000-Year-Old Road Unearthed in Bet Shemesh

Bible and archaeology news

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A 2,000-year-old Roman road was discovered in Bet Shemesh, Israel. Photo: Assaf Peretz, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Archaeologists working in Bet Shemesh, located 19 miles west of Jerusalem in Israel, discovered a Roman-period road near the modern Highway 375. The excavation was conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) ahead of the installation of a water pipeline to Jerusalem.

The 2,000-year-old road spanned a width of 20 feet and stretched about a mile. According to IAA excavation director Irina Zilberbod in an IAA press release, the road had been built to connect a Roman settlement near Bet Shemesh with a major Roman imperial road. The Roman imperial road is believed to have been built around the time that Emperor Hadrian visited the province of Judea, c. 130 C.E., before the outbreak of the Bar-Kokhba revolt.

The IAA press release describes the network of roads that cropped up in the Roman period:

Up until 2,000 years ago, most of the roads in the country were actually improvised trails. However during the Roman period, 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. From the main roads … there were secondary routes that led to the settlements where all of the agricultural products were grown. The grain, oil and wine, which constituted the main [diet] at the time, were transported along the secondary routes from the surroundings villages and then by way of the main roads to the large markets in Israel and even abroad.

Discovered within the pavement stones of the Roman road at Bet Shemesh were a coin of the Roman prefect of Judea, Pontius Pilate (29 C.E.), a coin of Judean king Agrippa I (41 C.E.), a coin from Year 2 of the Great Revolt (67 C.E.) and a coin dated to the Umayyad period (c. 661–750 C.E.).

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The ancient coins discovered in the excavation at Bet Shemesh. Photo: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Read the IAA press release.

As the point where three of the world’s major religions converge, Israel’s history is one of the richest and most complex in the world. Sift through the archaeology and history of this ancient land in the free eBook Israel: An Archaeological Journey, and get a view of these significant Biblical sites through an archaeologist’s lens.

Related reading in Bible History Daily:

Archaeologists Reveal a Desecrated Iron Age Temple at Beth-Shemesh

To Jerusalem: Pilgrimage Road Identified?

Inscription Reveals Governor of Judea Before the Bar-Kokhba Revolt
 


 

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  • darrin says

    Were the coins placed in the road for a reason, or were they just lost coins?

  • John says

    Odd 2000 years ago roads still exist ? many places roads do not last just several years…..


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