The scandal of the Roman road to Emmaus is detailed by Nir Hasson in Haaretz. This historic treasure on the outskirts of Jerusalem is not only ignored by the authorities, but they permit cemetery dumps and sewage deposits to foul it. Wherever you locate the Emmaus of Luke 24, whether at Moza or Latrun, this was the ancient route that Jesus and the two disciples traveled.
In honor of Sukkot, we took a walk along the ancient pilgrims’ route to Jerusalem, known as the Roman Ascent.
The road, about two kilometers long, begins at the complex known as the Red House at the bottom and ends outside the Givat Shaul industrial zone. It once led from Emmaus (in the Latrun area) via Abu Ghosh to the Old City. Until a few decades ago it could still be seen and was a popular hiking trail.
Today, it’s not so easy to follow. The trail begins at an ancient pool apparently used until Ottoman times. Accompanied by Israel Antiquities Authority architect Shahar Puni, we started out along the unpaved road, and after a few dozen meters found our way blocked by weeds and trees that had fallen during last winter’s snowstorm. To continue, we had to climb over the wide sewage pipe laid along the way, sometimes right over the ancient road. Twenty years ago the pipe burst higher up the ascent, washing away the soil and a good many of the paving stones. Some 700 meters higher up, we spot curbstones for the first time, and perhaps some paving stones under the dirt.
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Photo from Pictorial Library of Bible Lands