Stepped street (Jerusalem)

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The street ascending toward the Temple Mount

The stepped street, as it is known from academic works,[1] or the Jerusalem pilgrim road as it has been dubbed by the Ir David Foundation,[2] is the early Roman period street connecting the Temple Mount from its southwestern corner, to Jerusalem's southern gates of the time via the Pool of Siloam.[1] It was used by ritual processions ascending from the pool to the Temple, Judaism's holiest site.[citation needed] The stepped street was built at the earliest during the 30s CE, with the latest coin found under the pavement dating to 30–31 CE, during the governorship of Pontius Pilate[1] of New Testament fame.


In ancient times, in the celebration called Simchat Beit HaShoeivah, water was carried up from the Pool of Siloam to the Temple.[3]


The street went from Jerusalem's southern gates,[1] along the ancient City of David, today part of the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan, into what is now the Old City and passed by the Western Wall[4] after passing underneath the Herodian bridge now known as Robinson's Arch.[1]

The ancient path was improved and paved in large, well-cut stone in the pattern of two steps followed by a long landing, followed by two more steps and another landing. The street was eight meters wide and its length from the Pool to the Temple Mount is 600 meters.[5]

A large drainage channel ran below the street.[1]


According to archaeologist Ronny Reich, who for several years led the dig uncovering the ancient street together with archaeologist Eli Shukron, pilgrims used the Pool of Siloam as a mikveh for ritual purification before walking up the street to the Temple.[5] However, Professor Elitzur opposes this interpretation and argues that the Pool of Siloam was a typical Roman public swimming pool.[6]

Excavation history[edit]

Sections of the ancient street were first discovered by Charles Warren in 1884,[1] followed by Bliss and Dickey of the Palestine Exploration Fund between 1894 and 1897. The find was reburied when their excavation concluded. Other sections were uncovered, then reburied, by later archaeologists, Jones in 1937 and Kathleen Kenyon in 1961–1967.[7][8] More details about the street were published by Benjamin Mazar in 1969–1971, followed by Ronny Reich (alone or in collaboration with Yakov Billig, then Eli Shukron) between 1999 and 2011 (including findings from the drainage channel running beneath the street), and Eilat Mazar in 2000.[1]

According to Israeli archaeologists, the street was rediscovered during excavations on a water channel from the Second Temple period.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Szanton, Nahshon; Uziel, Joe (2016). "Jerusalem, City of David [stepped street dig, July 2013 - end 2014], Preliminary Report (21/08/2016)". Hadashot Arkheologiyot. Israel Antiquities Authority. Retrieved 24 July 2020.
  2. ^ The Pilgrimage Road Revealed, City of David homepage, accessed 24 July 2020
  3. ^ "Mishnah Sukkah 4:10".
  4. ^ a b Ackerman, Gwen (25 January 2011). "Archaeologists Discover Ancient Pilgrim Road Through Jerusalem's Old City". Bloomberg. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  5. ^ a b Hasson, Nir (14 September 2009). "Archeologists find main Jerusalem street from Second Temple period". Haaretz. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  6. ^ Elitzur, Yoel (2008). "The Siloam Pool — 'Solomon's Pool' — Was a Swimming Pool". Palestine Exploration Quarterly. 140 (1 (2008)): 17–25. doi:10.1179/003103208x269114. S2CID 161774603. Retrieved 21 July 2020.
  7. ^ Second Temple Period Street Discovered, at Archived 17 June 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Bedien, David (20 September 2009). "Ancient Temple Street Discovered Beneath Jerusalem". Philadelphia Bulletin. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016.