The discovery of a 1,500-year-old main road about 15 feet below street level in Jerusalem’s Old City confirms the accuracy of the Madaba Map, an ancient mosaic map from the sixth-seventh century CE, found in a church in Jordan. The map depicts the Land of Israel in the Byzantine period.
The road was uncovered during excavations by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) in the heart of the Old City of Jerusalem, prior to municipal excavation work.
The Madaba Map explicitly shows that the entrance to Jerusalem from the west was via a very large gate that led to a single, central thoroughfare on that side of the city and that is exactly what the excavations revealed.
Remnants of the important buildings in Jerusalem that appear on the map have been uncovered over the years or have 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 was not discovered until now.
A row of columns was also discovered alongside the street. “It is wonderful to see that David Street, which is teeming with so much life today, actually preserved the route of the noisy street from 1,500 years ago,” says IAA excavation director Dr. Ofer Sion.
The artifacts discovered include numerous pottery vessels and coins and five small square bronze weights that shopkeepers used for weighing precious metals.