Archaeologists working in Jerusalem have come across evidence of the Roman destruction of the city and the Jewish Temple in 70 AD.
Israel Antiquities Authorities (IAA) made the announcement on Jerusalem Day held annually in Israel on May 23. Also called Yom Yerushalayim, it is a national holiday celebrating the day that the Jews regained control of Jerusalem.
This year marked the 50th anniversary of the event and IAA chose this auspicious occasion to make their announcement.
The road itself is located 20 feet below the surface. So far they have uncovered a piece 100 meters (328 feet) long and 7.5 meters wide. It was part of the main street of Jerusalem that extended from the main gates to the Pool of Siloam, that some believe served as a ritual bath (John 9:6-11), to the Temple itself.
The Romans constructed the road with large stone slabs. But evidence shows that it was not built during Herod’s day, the man who built the second Jewish Temple, but probably by Pontius Pilate who played a major role in Christ’s crucifixion.
In an interview with the CBN, Moran Hagbi, who co-led the project, said:
“This is probably where Jesus acted and marched during His time.”
They hope to uncover the full road over the next five years.
Along with the road, the group also found evidence of the Roman siege of Jerusalem during the Great Jewish Revolt that took place between 66 AD and 70 AD. This includes several ballista balls (stones launched by catapults) used by the Romans during the assault and as well several stone arrowheads used by the Jewish defenders.
According to IAA, these findings confirm the description of the attack by Josephus, an ancient Jewish historian.
Initially, the Romans tried to use Josephus to negotiate the surrender of the Jewish resistance. But he failed. The Jews actually attacked Josephus wounding him with an arrow and in the process almost killed the Roman General, Titus, who would later become emperor.
The Jewish Rebels also called zealots had broken into factions and were actually fighting among themselves in the days leading up to the siege.
The zealots had operated for decades before gaining enough strength to launch their revolt in 66 AD.
There is a suggestion in the gospels that one of Jesus’ disciples was actually a member of this rebel group:
15 and Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot; (Luke 6:15 NASV)
Simon is mentioned again as one of the people in the upper room on the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit fell. Since he is cited by name, Simon probably played a role in the formative days of the early church (Acts 1:13)
According to Josephus, the Romans surrounded Jerusalem with four Legions just before the Passover in 70 AD when the city was filled with visitors.
After the Romans breached the walls, Josephus described what followed:
As the legions charged in, neither persuasion nor threat could check their impetuosity: passion alone was in command. Crowded together around the entrances many were trampled by their friends, many fell among the still hot and smoking ruins of the colonnades and died as miserably as the defeated. As they neared the Sanctuary they pretended not even to hear Caesar’s commands and urged the men in front to throw in more firebrands. The partisans were no longer in a position to help; everywhere was slaughter and flight. Most of the victims were peaceful citizens, weak and unarmed, butchered wherever they were caught. Round the Altar the heaps of corpses grew higher and higher, while down the Sanctuary steps poured a river of blood and the bodies of those killed at the top slithered to the bottom.
Titus then ordered the complete destruction of the Temple, an event prophesied by Christ:
Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. 2 And He said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.” (Matthew 24:1-2 NASV)
- On the occasion of Jerusalem Day, the Israel Antiquities Authority reveals: Evidence of the last battle for Jerusalem from 2,000 years ago: Jewish Antiquities Authority
- Ancient war for Jerusalem echoes as stones and arrowheads uncovered: Times of Israel
- Archaeologists discover 2,000-year-old evidence of Jerusalem’s destruction: CBN