Prior to the laying of a water pipeline from Beit Shemesh to Jerusalem, an archaeological excavation by the Israel Antiquities Authority last year, resulted in the discovery of a 2000 year old road dating back to the Roman period. The impressively wide road was found to be in an excellent state of preservation.
The excavation director, Irina Zilberbod, at the site
Photos: Griffin Aerial Photography Company courtesy of IAA
According to information received from the director of the excavation the road passed along a route similar to the modern day Highway 375. This road built by the Romans was about one and a half kilometers long and about 6 meters wide and was probably intended to link the Roman Settlement in the proximity of Beit Natif with the Roman Highway called the “Emperors Road”, a main route connecting the settlements of Eleutheropolis (Bet Guvrin) and Jerusalem which was constructed at the time of Emperor Hadrian’s visit to the area. In the past a milestone with the name of the emperor Hadrian on it was discovered close by which appears to support this assumption.
Along the newly discovered ancient road, coins were found between the paving stones, amongst them a coin from 67 CE, the second year of the Great Revolt, a coin of Pontius Pilate the Prefect of Judea dating to 29 CE as well as a coin of Agrippa 1 dated 41 CE that was minted in Jerusalem.
The ancient coins that were discovered in the excavation
Photo: Clara Amit courtesy of IAA
The Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist for the district of Judah, Amit Shadman stated that “The ancient road passed close to the Israel National Trail and we believe that it will spark interest among the hikers. The Israel Antiquities Authority and Mei Shemesh Corporation have agreed that the road will be conserved in situ, for the public’s benefit”.
Excavating the Roman road
Photo: Assaf Peretz courtesy of IAA