Coins found under magnificent Jerusalem street point to construction by the local Roman governor.
The discovery of coins dated to the early decades of the 1st century strongly indicates that a road leading from Jerusalem’s Pool of Siloam to the Temple Mount was built by the local Roman governor of that time, Pontius Pilate.
The road, which has been uncovered in the “City of David” in the Jerusalem Walls National Park, likely was a pilgrimage route in the time of Jesus.
Researchers have dated construction of the road to approximately A.D. 31, based on about 100 coins they found beneath the paving stones.
“Dating using coins is very exact,” said one of the authors of a study published in Tel Aviv: Journal of the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University, Donald T. Ariel, according to Science Daily. Ariel is an archaeologist and coin expert with the Israel Antiquities Authority. “As some coins have the year in which they were minted on them, what that means is that if a coin with the date 30 CE on it is found beneath the street, the street had to be built in the same year or after that coin had been minted, so any time after 30 CE.”
Ariel said the study goes further, because statistically, coins minted some 10 years later are the most common coins in Jerusalem. “So not having them beneath the street means the street was built before their appearance, in other words only in the time of Pilate,” he said.
The street is almost 2,000 feet long and approximately 26 feet wide and was paved with large stone slabs. “The researchers estimate that some 10,000 tons of quarried limestone rock were used in its construction, which would have required considerable skill,” said Science Daily.
The opulent and grand nature of the street coupled with the fact that it links two of the most important spots in Jerusalem—the Siloam Pool and Temple Mount—is strong evidence that the street acted as a pilgrim’s route. “If this was a simple walkway connecting point A to point B, there would be no need to build such a grand street,” says Dr. Joe Uziel and Moran Hagbi, archaeologists at the Israel Antiquities Authority, co-authors of the study. “At its minimum it is 8 meters wide. This, coupled with its finely carved stone and ornate ‘furnishings’ like a stepped podium along the street, all indicate that this was a special street.”
“Part of it may have been to appease the residents of Jerusalem, part of it may have been about the way Jerusalem would fit in the Roman world, and part of it may have been to aggrandize his name through major building projects,” says author Nahshon Szanton.
The pilgrimage path was found under layers of rubble, thought to be from when the Romans destroyed the city in A.D. 70. The rubble contained weapons such as arrowheads and sling stones, remains of burnt trees, and collapsed stones from the buildings along its edge, the article said.
It is possible that [Pilate] had the street constructed to reduce tensions with the Jewish population. “We can’t know for sure, although all these reasons do find support in the historical documents, and it is likely that it was some combination of the three.”