Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Decumanus Discovered in Jerusalem

Archaeologists revealed today that they have discovered portions of the main east-west street in Jerusalem during the Byzantine period.  Known in Latin as the Decumanus, this main thoroughfare went from the area of today’s Jaffa Gate to the center of the city.  Archaeologists uncovered large sections of the Cardo, Jerusalem’s north-south street, in the 1970s, but this is the first time that the Decumanus has been identified.

The Decumanus is depicted on the Medeba Map, a mosaic depiction of the land of Israel dating to A.D. 580.  (See yesterday’s post for a photo.)  According to the map, the Decumanus was neither as wide nor as long as the Cardo.  The Byzantine-period street was discovered 13 feet (4.5 m) below present ground level and was paved with large flagstones.

The discovery was made during renovation work on the street running through Jaffa Gate (see area photograph here).  Because of the high traffic volume, excavations have never been carried out in this area.

For more information, see the press release of the Israel Antiquities Authority (temporary link).  Four high-resolution photos are also available(direct link here): (1) a view of the area of the street, taken on Feb 7; (2) a close-up view of the flagstones; (3) a large cistern discovered underneath the street; (4) the Medeba Map, with the Decumanus outlined in red.  Haaretz has a brief article, and the other news outlets will have stories posted later in the day.

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4 Comments:

  • Congratulations on making it to the Top 50 Biblical History Blogs and being mentioned first under your category! Your blog is very straight to the point, has excellent/best photos and leaves the reader well informed and educated. Thank you for the work you put into it.

    By Blogger Yuliya Molitvenik, at Wed Feb 10, 01:19:00 PM  

  • Yuliya - thanks for the kind words. See my post tomorrow on why the "Top 50" is not what it appears.

    By Blogger Todd Bolen, at Wed Feb 10, 01:31:00 PM  

  • Fascinating! Given the location, any idea what they'll do with it? I can't imagine they'd leave it as is since Jaffa Gate is such a bustling area. Do they somehow make two levels so we can visit the Decumanus below?

    By Blogger IsraelTour, at Wed Feb 10, 10:00:00 PM  

  • IsraelTour - they'll bury it. It's just in the wrong place to preserve, and to build multiple levels would be too costly. This just isn't significant enough to enough people to justify the expense.

    By Blogger Todd Bolen, at Thu Feb 11, 03:46:00 PM  

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