The Israel Antiquities Authority announced, Tuesday, that a wide and impressive 2,000 year old road dating to the Roman period was revealed in an extraordinary state of preservation, last February in its archaeological excavations near Highway 375. The excavation was conducted prior to laying a water pipeline to Jerusalem, at the initiative of, the Mei Shemesh Bet Shemesh water corporation. Coins were discovered between the pavement stones, including a coin from Year 2 of the Great Revolt (67 CE), a coin from the Umayyad period, a coin of Judean prefect Pontius Pilate, dating to 29 CE and a coin of Agrippa I from 41 CE that was minted in Jerusalem.
Authority excavation director Irina Zilberbod said, “The road that we discovered, which 2,000 years ago passed along a route similar to Highway 375 today, was up to 6 meters wide, continued for a distance of approximately 1.5 kilometers, and was apparently meant to link the Roman settlement that existed in the vicinity of Beit Natif with the main highway known as the “Emperor’s Road”. That road was in fact a main artery that connected the large settlements of Eleutheropolis (Bet Guvrin) and Jerusalem. The construction of the Emperor’s Road is thought to have taken place at the time of Emperor Hadrian’s visit to the country, circa 130 CE, or slightly thereafter, during the suppression of the Bar Kokhba revolt in 132-135 CE. The presence of a milestone (a stone marking distances) bearing the name of the emperor Hadrian which was discovered in the past close to the road reinforces this hypothesis”.
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