Biblical Archaeology Review 42:1, January/February 2016

Archaeological Views: Walking Roads

By Yigal TepperYotam Tepper

The evidence for Roman-period roads in Judea-Palestine is abundant. Imperial roads were constructed using the same methods as elsewhere—with milestones at fixed distances. These milestones bear inscriptions that list the builder’s name and the distance and destinations of the road. During the second and third centuries C.E., Roman engineers built many new roads all over the country. This road system allowed supplies to be moved between the main urban areas and army centers.

But in our study of these roads, we noticed something else: At the pass of Beit Horon, northwest of Jerusalem, we first noticed a few curved steps, about 5.5 feet wide, alongside the Roman imperial road, the latter more than double the width of the steps. Both led toward Jerusalem. We assume that the curved steps were constructed first for walking, and only later a paved road was constructed beside them. The paved road had a low incline and a serpentine design, suitable for animal-drawn wagons.

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