(CN) – Excavations in the city of David in the Jerusalem Walls National Park have revealed an ancient street likely walked by pilgrims on their way to worship at the Temple Mount.
In a study published in the journal Tel Aviv: Journal of the Institute of Archaeology, archaeologists uncovered a 220-meter long section of an ancient street first discovered by British archaeologists in 1894. This path leads from the Pool of Siloam up to the Temple Mount.
The street was paved with large stone slabs of quarried limestone rock, as customary during Roman rule, and was built atop 100 coins dating from 17 CE to 31 CE. The placing of the dates puts construction of this street during the rule of Pontius Pilate – famous for ordering the crucifixion of Jesus.
“As some coins have the year in which they were minted on them, what that means is that if a coin with the date 30 CE on it is found beneath the street, the street had to be built in the same year or after that coin had been minted, so any time after 30 CE,” said co-author Donald Ariel, archaeologist and coin expert with the Israel Antiquities Authority.
“However, our study goes further, because statistically, coins minted some 10 years later are the most common coins in Jerusalem, so not having them beneath the street means the street was built before their appearance, in other words only in the time of Pilate,” Ariel said.
Researchers concluded that this street must have held religious significance due to its destinations being the most holy sites in the city. The Temple Mount is said to have been where Jesus cured a man’s blindness by sending him down to the Pool of Siloam to wash – coincidentally around the time when this street was built.
The street was also very ornate in its features, adding to its suspected piety. Coupled with the coins, the intricately cut stones and a stepped podium along the streets, it is strongly evidenced that it was a pilgrim’s route.
The stones of the ancient street were found buried under thick layers of rubble. It consisted of collapsed stone from surrounding buildings, burnt trees, and weapons such as arrowheads and sling stones. These remains were thought to be from the destruction of Judea after the Romans invaded in 70 CE.
Lead author Nahshon Szanton added that the purpose of the road could have been to ease the tension with the Jewish population.
“Part of it may have been to appease the residents of Jerusalem, part of it may have been about the way Jerusalem would fit in the Roman world, and part of it may have been to aggrandize his name through major building projects… it is likely that it was some combination of the three,” he said.