City of David Dig Unearths Pilgrims' Road to Temple

At the end of the 19th century, the archaeologists Bliss and Dickey discovered a short piece of road dating back to the Herodian period in Jerusalem's City of David. The road ascended from south to north in the direction of the Temple Mount. Many years later, in 1963, the archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon found another piece of the road, a little closer to the Temple Mount. When, a little over a year ago, Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) archaeologists found yet another section of it, they believed they had solved a puzzle, and that they could now sketch the course of the main road by which many pilgrims of Second Temple times made their way up to the Temple after immersing themselves in the Siloam Spring. It turned out they were wrong. That road was apparently secondary.

The road that IAA archaeologists Ronny Reich and Eli Shukron have now found, which is much grander, wider and more central, is parallel to the one Bliss and Dickey discovered. Reich believes that at a certain point further to the north, these two roads converged.

The City of David excavations are funded by the Elad Association, which buys houses in the City of David area and populates them with Jews. The dig also enjoys government backing, and funding from the Tourism Ministry; the Israel Nature and Parks Protection Authority and the Jerusalem Municipality are involved as well. About 20 laborers, mostly Arab residents of Silwan (the Arab neighborhood where the City of David is located) are employed by the IAA in the dig.

Not far from there, at a lower point, the IAA has continued to unearth the Pool of Siloam, which is much bigger than previously thought. But this dig has been halted for the time being, until talks are resumed with one of the churches, which owns the area believed to cover the rest of the pool.