After six years of excavation in the Old City of Jerusalem, archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority and Tel Aviv University have established the age of its main cobblestone street. In their opinion, the road was built and richly finished in the 1st century AD during the reign of the prefect Pontius Pilate. The discovery was reported in Tel Aviv University's Tel Aviv: Journal of the Institute of Archeology.
Pontius Pilate led the kingdom of Judea during direct Roman rule from 26 to 36 A.D. In the Christian tradition, it is known as the prefect who pronounced the death sentence on Jesus Christ.
According to archaeologists, the construction of the main street of the ancient city belongs to this period of history. This monumental structure with a length of 600 m and a width of about 8 m was created in accordance with the standards of the Roman Empire and paved with large stone slabs. According to researchers, its creation took about 10 thousand tons of rock. The street passed from the southern gate of Jerusalem in the area of the City of David and connected two shrines - Siloam font and Temple Mount.
The first fragments of the pavement were discovered at the end of the 19th century by British scientists. Modern archaeologists have unearthed more than 220 meters of street and uncovered paving stones. Objects found under the pavement, especially coins, shed light on the history of the construction of biblical times.
Archaeologists have discovered among the paving stones more than a hundred coins dated 17-31 years BC.
“Coins allow dating with very high accuracy,” says Donald Ariel, archaeologist and numismatics specialist at the Israel Antiquities Authority. “On some coins, the year of minting was knocked out, thus, having found a coin under the pavement on which the year 30 of our era is indicated, we find out that the street was paved in the year of minting the coin or in any subsequent year.”
The money found in Jerusalem of this period is usually dominated by coins minted shortly after the end of the reign of Pontius Pilate. However, among the finds under the plates of the main street of the city they were not. According to scientists, this proves that it was built by order of the most famous Roman prefect and during his stay in power.
The monumentality of the structure connecting the shrines, and the sidewalk resembling a stepped podium, did not leave scientists doubt that the street was conceived as a pilgrim's way.
Historians believe that Pontius Pilate could organize such a large-scale construction and connect Jewish shrines to reduce tension in relations with the local population. Scientists also believe that the pavement was buried under the rubble of the city during the first Judean War, when the Romans besieged the rebels in 70 CE. and partially destroyed the city. This is indicated by the found arrowheads, sling stones and fragments of destroyed buildings.