The Israeli Antiquities Authority uncovered what archaeologists have called the best preserved section of an ancient road that once connected Jerusalem with Jaffa.
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The road segment was unearthed about two weeks ago during an archaeological dig in Beit Hanina, an east Jerusalem neighborhood, in advance of construction work planned in the area later this year. The authority announced the discovery on Tuesday.
Several segments of the road were previously excavated by research expeditions of the IAA, but such a finely preserved section of the road has not been discovered in the city of Jerusalem until now, David Yeger, who headed the excavation, said of the segment of the road, which is eight meters wide and well paved.
The Romans attached great importance to the roads in the empire," he said. "They invested large sums of money and utilized the most advanced technological aids of the period in order to crisscross the empire with roads. These served the government, military, economy and public by providing an efficient and safe means of passage."
Archaeologists were aware of the existence of this and another road connecting Jerusalem and Jaffa thanks to historical documents and other archaeological finds. The roads were operational from the second to the fourth centuries, and according to findings from this latest dig, were repaired several times.
"The construction and maintenance of the roads was assigned to military units, but civilians also participated in the work as part of the compulsory labor imposed on them by the authorities, Yeger said.