An ancient highway leading from Jaffa to Jerusalem, which dates back to the times of the Roman Empire, was exposed in Jerusalem, Israel Antiquities Authority ( IAA) reported on Tuesday.
The road, which is 1,800 years old, was discovered in the Palestinian neighborhood of Beit Hanina in northern Jerusalem, within the framework of an IAA archaeological excavation prior to the installation of a drainage pipe.
According to excavation director David Yeger, "this is the first time we have encountered such a finely preserved section of the road in Jerusalem."
The newly discovered road section is part of the imperial network of roads that led to Jerusalem from the coastal plain, says the IAA.
The road, about eight meters wide, was built of large flat stones fitted to each other so as to create a comfortable surface for walking, says a report released by the IAA.
According to the report, some of the pavers were very badly worn, indicating the extensive use that was made of the road and over the years the road also underwent a series of repairs.
The IAA said that part of the road continues eastward to Bir Nabala. In some places the modern Bir Nabala road is paved just a few centimeters above the route of the ancient road, which indicates that until a few decades ago the ancient road in this region was visible and was used, the IAA said.
The Romans ruled the Mediterranean and parts of Europe from the first century BC until the fall of the empire in 476 AD.
They crisscrossed their empire with roads, which had a great importance in serving the government, military, economy and public by providing an efficient and safe means of passage.
The Romans "invested large sums of money and utilized the most advanced technological aids of the period in order to crisscross the empire with roads," Yeger said in a statement.
"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 added.