Archaeologists Find Ancient Road Built 2,000 Years Ago By Pontius Pilate

The construction of the road required as many as 10,000 tons of quarried limestone rock as well as an expansive workforce that included skilled laborers and craftsmen. 

A new study published in Tel Aviv: Journal of the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University reveals the discovery of what is believed to be an ancient walkway that was used by pilgrims more than 2,000 years ago as they made their journey towards the Temple Mount.

The ancient road believed to have been built by Pontius Pilate was discovered in the City of David in the Jerusalem Walls National Park.

According to reports, archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority have discovered more than 100 ancient coins below the paving stones, placing the construction of the street between 17 CE to 31 CE.

The trapped stones beneath the pavement undoubtedly offer strong evidence that the ancient walkway mas commissioned by Pontius Pilate, governor of Judea.

Signs of rock-cutting and smoothing of bedrock near the foundations of the Western Wall. Image Credit: A. Peretz, IAA.
Signs of rock-cutting and smoothing of bedrock near the foundations of the Western Wall. Image Credit: A. Peretz, IAA.

“Dating using coins is very exact,” says Dr. Donald T. Ariel, 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.”

“However, our 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.”

The find comes after several years of archaeological excavations that allowed experts to uncover the 220-meter-long section of the ancient street that was first identified by British archeologists more than one hundred years ago, in 1894. The newly revealed walkway ascends from the Pool of Siloam in the south to the Temple Mount, reveals a statement.

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A map showing the recently uncovered road. Image Credit: D. Levi, IAA; printed by permission of the Survey of Israel
A map showing the recently uncovered road. Image Credit: D. Levi, IAA; printed by permission of the Survey of Israel

Although only 220 meters of the street have been uncovered, experts revealed the walkway is around 600 meters long, and eight meters wide. It was paved using large stone slabs, a customary feature of the Roman Empire.

The construction of the ancient road was extensive and experts estimate that as many as 10,000 tons of quarried limestone rock were used to build the road. Furthermore, archeologists say that the construction project required an expansive workforce that included skilled laborers and craftsmen.

Researchers are convinced that the street served as a pilgrimage route due to the fact that in lings two of the most important sites in Jerusalem; the Pool of Siloam and Temple Mount.

“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, and 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,” explained author Nahshon Szanton.


Nahshon Szanton, Moran Hagbi, Joe Uziel & Donald T. Ariel (2019) Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem: The Monumental Street from the Siloam Pool to the Temple Mount, Tel Aviv, 46:2, 147-166, DOI: 10.1080/03344355.2019.1650491