Workers upgrading the infrastructure in Jerusalem’s Jaffa Gate have uncovered an A.D. 6th century road that is displayed on the ancient Madaba Map.
6th-century Jerusalem shown in detail on the Madaba mosaic map, oriented to the East (top). The newly-discovered road is shown with the Jaffa Gate at the bottom, slightly right of center. (Thin red lines mark the road.) The Church of the Holy Sepulchure is the upside-down domed structure to the left of the gate. The left-right "Cardo" road led Christian pilgrims through the city. The Damascus Gate is shown on the left with a plaza. The Temple Mount is at the top to the right of the St. Stephen's/Lion Gate. Other churches are shown with triangular red roofs. Of these other churches, only St. Anne's (upper left) still exists today. No Muslim buildings existed in Jerusalem until the following century.
6th-century street uncovered in the Jaffa Gate, almost 15 feet (4.5 meters) below the present-day surface. Photo courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
6th-century road in the Jaffa Gate. Photo courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
The Madaba Map is a large mosaic reproduction of Palestine and Egypt that was created around the late-6th or early-7th centuries A.D. in modern-day Madaba, Jordan. It originally covered 94 square meters of floor space, of which around 25 are preserved inside a Greek Orthodox church building. The full mosaic contained around 2 million individual tiles. The map shows 6th-century Jerusalem in remarkable detail, the Dead Sea (the water level appears to have been very high in that period), parts of Northern Egypt, and many biblical cities and sites in Palestine. The Madaba Mosaic Map web site has details and photos of this remarkable ancient work.
The Jaffa Gate in summer of 2009, prior to the current infrastructure/excavation project.
The road will be re-buried when the infrastructure project is complete. Read the IAA press release (temporary link).
Luke holds an M.A. in Ancient and Classical History and has been an adjunct professor at Florida College in Temple Terrace, Florida. Luke and his wife Melanie have five children. He serves as a minister with the North Terrace Church of Christ and has participated in multiple archaeological excavations in Israel. Luke leads informative, meaningful tours to Europe and the Bible Lands.
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