Archaeologists Discover Ancient Pilgrim Road Through Jerusalem's Old City

Israeli archaeologists discovered an ancient road used by pilgrims travelling to Jerusalem’s Old City 2,000 years ago, the Israel Antiquities Authority said in a press release e-mailed today.

The road was found during excavations on a water channel from the Second Temple period, the statement said. The road went from the ancient City of David, today the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan, into the Old City and passes by the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site.

Neither the road nor the channel pass underneath the Temple Mount, known to Palestinians as Haram al-Sharif, or Noble Sanctuary, a compound that houses the al-Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third-holiest site, the statement said. The area is also the site of the ancient Jewish temple destroyed by the Romans.

Archaeological digs in the area of Jerusalem’s Old City and Temple Mount have set off riots in the past. Palestinians seek the eastern sector as the capital of a state. Israel captured the area from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East war in a move never recognized internationally.

Previously only a few individual sections of the 600-meter water channel were uncovered.

“The central and monumental discovery made here is the paved road which lies above the water channel,” the Antiquities Authority said. “It is on this road that residents of Jerusalem and pilgrims walked in ancient times.”

The discovery’s announcement came a day after al-Jazeera leaked classified documents that indicated, if authentic, that Palestinian negotiators in 2009 discussed handing over Haram al- Sharif to international control.

The papers also showed that Palestinian negotiators may have been willing to allow Israel to keep most of the neighborhoods it has built in east Jerusalem.

To contact the reporters on this story: Gwen Ackerman in Jerusalem at gackerman@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.

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