Roman Roads to Jerusalem

  This page describes the ancient roads to Jerusalem.

    "All roads lead to Jerusalem." 


Micah 4 2: "And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD"



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Peutinger Map

Biblical refs





   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.




   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.


Peutinger Map:


   The Peutinger Map (Tabula Peutingeriana) is a medieval map which was based on a 4th C 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 C, 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 shown on the right 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).   

  Jerusalem on Peutinger map



   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:







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


  Roman steps near Horvat Hanut were part of the road from the coast through Elah Valley. A group of milestones are also seen nearby.




Biblical References:


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?"






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