This page describes the ancient roads to Jerusalem.
“All roads lead to Jerusalem.”
Jerusalem is located in the center of Israel, on top of the Judean mountains (700-800M above sea level). For the past 3000 years it is one of the most important cities in the region, and required good roads to support the travel to all parts of the land. The travelers included pilgrims (Jews were required to visit the temple 3 times a year), commercial and military traffic.
Micah 4 2: “And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD”
The Romans conquered the Holy Land in 63BC and ruled for over 700 years. Among their major effect on the land and its history was the quality of the roads. The Romans perfected the art of road engineering, and enabled them to effectively manage the vast empire by improving the links between the cities. They repaved existing roads, laid out new roads, and added stations along these links.
During the great revolt (66-74 AD) the Romans constructed new roads to make their long supply lines more efficient, and to assist in the military campaign against the rebels.
The Peutinger Map (Tabula Peutingeriana) is a medieval map which was based on a 4th century Roman military road map. It is named after Conrad Peutinger, who found it in a monastery and published it in 1507. The map was made in the 13th century, and copied from an older map. It is drawn as a long scroll (6.82M x 34 cm), arranged in the direction of England on the left side and India on the right side. The map shows the major roads, with indication of the cities, and geographic highlights (lakes, rivers, mountains, seas). Along the links are stations and distance in Roman miles (about 1.5KM per mile). The roads are shown as brown lines between the cities and stations.
In the section is the area of Jerusalem, drawn in a rotated direction (Egypt on the left, the Mediterranean sea on the top, and Syria on the right).
Jerusalem is illustrated as a double house icon, which represents a major city. It is listed as “formely called Jerusalem, now called Aelia Capitolina” (antea dicta Hierusalem n(unc) Helya Capitolina).
Below (east) of the icon of Jerusalem is an illustration of a hill, listed as Mount of Olives as “Mons Oliveti”). Under it is the Dead Sea (“La(cus) aspaltiates” – sea of Asphalt as the Romans called it). Two rivers flow into it – the Jordan (“Jordanis”) and the Yarmuch (“Heromicas”, which is a cartographic mistake since it flows south of the Sea of Galilee).
The major roads that lead to Jerusalem are shown on the map:
South through Elusa (Haluza), Obada (Avdat) and then to the Sinai desert
South-east through Zin, Tamar (Thamaro – either Ein Hazeva or Mezad Tamar), then to the Arava and Eilat (not shown).
Through or towards Gofna (a ruined village north of Jerusalem) there are two roads:
Read more about this road.
North through Shechem (“Neapolis”) to Caesarea (“Cesaria”).
Sites of Roman roads to Jerusalem:
(a) Emmaus-Jerusalem road
Roman road and milestones on the Emmaus-Jerusalem road – Nahal Ilan
(b) Ashkelon to Jerusalem road
- Section near Horvat Hanut
Roman steps near Horvat Hanut were part of the road from the coast through Elah Valley. A group of milestones are also seen nearby.
- Milestones near Givat Yeshayahu
On a section of the same road, just past the valley of Elah, is a group of 5 Roman milestones that were assembled, and can be seen in a KKL regional office near Givat Yeshayahu. The milestones are dated to the beginning of the 3rd century AD.
More: Elah Roman road
- Beit Shemesh Kh. Beit Nettif
New excavations in 2016 unearthed a section of the Roman road leading to Beit Nettif, near Beit Shemesh. It may have been a section of the Caesar’s way from Ashkelon, via Valley of Elah, to Bethlehem and Jerusalem.
Micah 4 1-2
I searched for a proper verse that will describe the roads to Jerusalem, and found it in Micah (Micha). The verses describe Jerusalem as the center of the world, and all nations will come to it to seek God.
“But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem”.
- Via – Latin for “road”
- Derech – Hebrew: road, way.
- Micah – Hebrew for “Who is like God?”
- Section of the Shechem-Jerusalem Roman road found in Beit Hanina excavations
- Roman roads to Jerusalem (pdf)
BibleWalks.com – walk with us through the sites of the Holy Land
This page was last updated on May 14, 2020 (Added milestones)