JERUSALEM, Israel -- In a pre-construction excavation in Jerusalem, a team of Israeli archaeologists unearthed a section of a major road between the Mediterranean coastal city of Jaffa and Jerusalem.
Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) archaeologists discovered the ancient thoroughfare in the northern Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina where city engineers plan to lay a drainage pipe, the IAA said in a press release Tuesday entitled "Greetings from the Roman Empire!"
"This is the first time we have encountered such a finely preserved section of the road in Jerusalem," said an enthusiastic David Yeger, director of the excavation.
The team uncovered curbstones on both sides of the 8-meter (yard) road, built with large flat stones snuggly fitted to make a pleasant walking surface.
Yeger said some parts of the road were excavated previously, but this section is the most beautifully preserved.
"The Romans attached great importance to the roads in the empire," he said in the IAA press release.
According to Yeger, the Roman occupants invested a lot of money and used the most advanced technology of its time "to crisscross the empire with roads."
This particular section of road is one of an "imperial network of roads" leading from the coastal plain to Jerusalem.
"These [roads] served the government, military, economy and public by providing an efficient and safe means of passage," he explained. "Way stations and roadside inns were built along the roads, as well fortresses…to protect the travelers."