Archaeologists revealed today that they have discovered portions of the main east-west street in Jerusalem during the Byzantine period. Known in Latin as the Decumanus, this main thoroughfare went from the area of today’s Jaffa Gate to the center of the city. Archaeologists uncovered large sections of the Cardo, Jerusalem’s north-south street, in the 1970s, but this is the first time that the Decumanus has been identified.
The Decumanus is depicted on the Medeba Map, a mosaic depiction of the land of Israel dating to A.D. 580. (See yesterday’s post for a photo.) According to the map, the Decumanus was neither as wide nor as long as the Cardo. The Byzantine-period street was discovered 13 feet (4.5 m) below present ground level and was paved with large flagstones.
The discovery was made during renovation work on the street running through Jaffa Gate (see area photograph here). Because of the high traffic volume, excavations have never been carried out in this area.
For more information, see the press release of the Israel Antiquities Authority (temporary link). Four high-resolution photos are also available(direct link here): (1) a view of the area of the street, taken on Feb 7; (2) a close-up view of the flagstones; (3) a large cistern discovered underneath the street; (4) the Medeba Map, with the Decumanus outlined in red. Haaretz has a brief article, and the other news outlets will have stories posted later in the day.