Ancient war for Jerusalem echoes as stones and arrowheads uncovered
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'On the following day,' Josephus wrote, 'the Romans, having routed the brigands from the town, set all on fire as far as Siloam'

Ancient war for Jerusalem echoes as stones and arrowheads uncovered

New findings on ancient street confirm 1st century historian‘s account of Roman routing of Jewish rebels in 70 CE

Nahshon Szanton holding a ballista stone that was apparently catapulted during the siege of the Jerusalem, while standing on an ancient street being excavated. (Shai Halevy/courtesy Israel Antiquities Authority)
Nahshon Szanton holding a ballista stone that was apparently catapulted during the siege of the Jerusalem, while standing on an ancient street being excavated. (Shai Halevy/courtesy Israel Antiquities Authority)

The remains of weapons used by Roman legionnaires and desperate Jewish rebels in Jerusalem in the first century CE went on display Thursday, with Israeli archaeologists linking the last battle before Jerusalem fell 2,000 years ago with ongoing celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of Jerusalem’s reunification after the 1967 Six Day War.

According to the Israel Antiquities Authority, an account by first century Roman-Jewish historian Josephus on the fall of Jerusalem is being confirmed by objects discovered on an ancient road that used to ascend from the city’s gates and the Pool of Siloam to the Jewish Temple, including the arms.

“On the following day, the Romans, having routed the brigands from the town, set all on fire as far as Siloam,” Josephus wrote in “The Wars of the Jews.”

Among other finds, archaeologists dug up stone ballista balls flung by roman catapults and arrowheads used by Jewish rebels behind barricades as the city fell to the Romans in 70 CE.

Ballista stones provide evidence of the battle of Jerusalem that was fought 2,000 years ago, May 25, 2017. (Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority)
Ballista stones provide evidence of the battle of Jerusalem that was fought 2,000 years ago, May 25, 2017. (Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority)

“Josephus’s descriptions of the battle in the lower city has come face-to-face for the first time with evidence that was revealed in the field in a clear and chilling manner,” dig organizers Nahshon Szanton and Moran Hagbi said in a statement.

The road is currently undergoing excavation with funds from Elad — a right-wing non-profit organization, whose central project is the renovated City of David archaeological park, just outside Jerusalem’s Old City walls.

The archaeologists have unearthed a 100 meter (328 foot) section of the road, which is paved with large stone slabs.

A Scytho-Iranian arrowhead. (Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority)
A Scytho-Iranian arrowhead. (Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority)

Research indicates that the road was built after the reign of King Herod and possibly even during the rule of Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor who sentenced Jesus to death.

Yuval Baruch, the IAA’s Jerusalem district archaeologist, said the aim was to excavate the entire street within five years.

The dig began four years ago, resuming excavations undertaken decades ago by American and European scholars.

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