The Israel Antiquities Authority announced today the discovery of the main East-West road of Jerusalem from the Byzantine period. Todd Bolen correctly guessed yesterday, after the IAA sent out a teaser, that this discovery would be the Decumanus of the city.
A portion of the broken flagstone pavement is shown below about 4.5 meters below the present street level. That is 14.76 feet — pretty close to the proverbial one-foot-per-century of debris buildup.
Remains of 1500 year old street. Photo: Assaf Peretz, courtesy IAA.
Below is a photo of the Madaba [Medeba], Jordan, mosaic map of Jerusalem from about A.D. 560-565. I have put red lines on each side of the road that has been discovered. The main north-south road, the Cardo, was discovered in the 1970s.
The original Madaba mosaic map with new discovery marked. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.
The IAA explains how the excavation came about.
Various evidence of the important buildings in Jerusalem that appear on the map has been uncovered over the years or has survived to this day – for example the Church of the Holy Sepulcher – but the large bustling street from the period when Jerusalem became a Christian city has not been discovered until now. The reason for this is that no archaeological excavations took place in the region due to the inconvenience it would cause in stopping traffic in such a busy central location.
Now, because of the need for a thorough treatment of the infrastructure in the region, the Jerusalem Development Authority has initiated rehabilitation work and is renewing the infrastructure in this area in general, and next to the entrance to David Street (known to tourists as the stepped-street with the shops) in particular. Thus it is possible for both archaeologists and the public to catch a rare glimpse of what is going on beneath the flagstone pavement that is so familiar to us all.
The full IAA report is here. The Arutz Sheva article includes a short video featuring an interview with Dr. Ofer Sion, the excavation director.
HT: Joseph Lauer
Travel in Egypt is sometimes hindered by small amounts of rain. In flat areas such as the delta an inch of rain can flood the area and make automobile travel impossible, or at least impractical. In early March, 2005, Elizabeth and I had remained in Egypt for a few days after the tour group returned home. We planned one day to go to Goshen. That morning when we looked from the hotel window in Heliopolis we observed rain. The guide scheduled to go with us on the excursion arrived, but explained that we would not be able to go due to the 1/2 to 1 inch of rain that had fallen during the night. The annual rainfall in the Cairo area is 1 1/2 to 2 inches. In Upper Egypt years may pass with no rainfall.
Rain in Cairo - March 9, 2005. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.
Egypt is less prepared for an inch of rain than many southern USA cities are for an inch of snow.
On another excursion we went to Jebel Musa, the traditional Mount Sinai, in the Sinai Peninsula. As we traveled through the Wadi el-Tor (el-Tur or al-Tur) shortly before arriving at Feiran, I noted that there had been a flash flood in the wadi. Our guide explained that this typically happened at least once each winter. He said that the asphalt paved road could be washed out by less than an inch of rain.
Wadi el Tor in the Sinai Peninsula after a flash flood. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.
Rocks polished by the winter flood were strewn across the wadi. These stones show the different rocks found in the Sinai. The red stones indicate iron. The green is copper. The black is basalt, indicating a volcanic area.
Rocks in Wadi el Tor of the Sinai Peninsula. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.
Let us recall that the normally dry wilderness (midbar, desert) once flowed with water for the Israelites.
“He led you through the great and terrible wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water; He brought water for you out of the rock of flint. (Deuteronomy 8:15 NAU)
He split the rocks in the wilderness And gave them abundant drink like the ocean depths. (Psalm 78:15 NAU)