Roman Jerusalem

While studying Conservation at the Institute of Advanced Architectural Studies at the University of York, archaeologists of the York Archaeological Trust showed us graphs indicating that the number of visitors coming to York during the month of February was always the lowest. That is why they organize the Jorvik Viking Festival every year, which includes the burning of a Viking boat on the river (incidentally, the website has a page on Barley Hall, the restoration of which I was fortunate to have been involved with).

This general trend is well-known in commerce and tourism, hence the protracted sales and low prices to attract customers during February. That may have been the reason why Haaretz put up an article on Roman Jerusalem, then called Aelia Capitolina, which is well written and interesting, but contains nothing new.

The fact that the straight streets, such as Chabad and Hagai, David Streets and the Via Dolorosa, date back to the Roman period has been known for a long time. Both the Cardo Maximus and the Lower Cardo began at the Damascus Gate in the north of the city, as shown on the Madaba Map.

The Damascus Gate is located in the centre of the northern wall of the Old City of Jerusalem. The gate was built in the 2nd century AD during the reign of the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a monumental entrance to the city of Jerusalem, which he had renamed Aelia Capitiolina. This gate features on the Madaba Map, which shows an open square with a column inside the gate. © Leen Ritmeyer

The very interesting excavation to the west of the Western Wall Plaza, where a good stretch of the Lower Cardo was found, has been well documented previously and the street was known long ago from the Madaba Map. The discovery of a Roman Bath house has also been reported earlier, as was a Roman building in the Givati parking lot.

After the Roman destruction of 70 A.D., the 10th Legion set up an encampment south of the Hippicus Tower on the Western Hill of Jerusalem. After nationalistic uprisings, Hadrian flattened the city and in 135 A.D. built a new one on its ruins and called it Aelia Capitolina. The major buildings are the Damacus Gate in the north, a Temple of Aphrodite, two forums (market places) and there may have been a Temple of Jupiter on the Temple Mount. © Leen Ritmeyer

Experts agree the city was planned extraordinarily well, based as it was on designs of other cities in the empire and according to orders that came directly from the emperor.

To be sure, some new evidence has come to light during the last decade, but nothing revolutionary or earthshaking that was not known many years ago.


HT: Joe Lauer

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