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How old are the stones paving the streets of the Old City?

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Randle, Washington
posts: 1,064
reviews: 9
How old are the stones paving the streets of the Old City?

As the title says. When I took the Kotel Tunnel tour, I was lead to believe that some of the old city streets were created about the time that the current Old City walls were, about 1400~ish.

But I have read other information that leads me to believe that some of the streets I walked upon could be even older.

I am just curious to see how many years some of those stones along say, David Street, or up the shuk towards the Damascus Gate have been polished to the smoothness (and slickness) that they are now. And were the little ramps original or added later?

Thanks!

Washington State
posts: 2,051
reviews: 11
1. Re: How old are the stones paving the streets of the Old City?

Not an easy question to answer and I have asked the same question of people who know about this stuff. Apparently one of the key ways to determine the age of a paved walkway is to tear it up and try to date something below it (usually a coin, sometimes pottery). It’s not easy to do that. Context also important.

After the major renovations on the Temple Mount in the first century AD (it took decades), the result was high employment of Jerusalem. So the government created work by repaving many of the main streets. The oldest streets you find are from that era and would probably include the paving in the newly opened tunnels that run north from the Siloam pool. If I recall correctly, there is another open air section just inside and west of the Dung Gate.

After Jerusalem was destroyed in 70AD, around 130AD it was rebuilt by Emperor Hadrian as “Aelia Capitolina” and many sections of paving and architectural elements can be found. In fact, paving stones in the basement of the Sisters of Zion Convent on the Via Delarosa were long misidentified as from 1stC Jerusalem. There are some paving sections from this era in the Roman Cardo area of the Jewish quarter (along with Byzantine stones).

After that, renovations were made during the Byzantine period, the Crusader ear, various Moslem regimes (especially when the current walls were built), and locally here and there in almost every age. I understand the little ramps are fairly recent.

There is a nice section of old pavement on Christian Quarter Road that I believe is late Roman/Early Byzantine (probably redone about the time Helen built the Holy Sepulcher). Good picture here and some additional info:

biblewalks.com/Sites/JerusalemRomanStreets.h…

Jerusalem, Israel
posts: 811
reviews: 15
2. Re: How old are the stones paving the streets of the Old City?

Most of the main Old City street paving stones are modern - i.e. post 1967 and later city repairs to the sewers and infrastructure. There are sections of large stones which date back to the Roman Period as mentioned above..

Israel
Destination Expert
for Israel
posts: 11,275
reviews: 36
3. Re: How old are the stones paving the streets of the Old City?

The Byzantine era paving stones that are visible in a few spots in the Old City - such as on Christian Quarter Road, were discovered much farther down they are today and raised up to current day street level. There is a plaque embedded in the pavement near them explaining their history.

The rest of the pavement is new - some may be older than 1967, but not much, as infrastructure (sewers, etc) were all upgraded after the city was re-united in 1967.

Randle, Washington
posts: 1,064
reviews: 9
4. Re: How old are the stones paving the streets of the Old City?

Thanks for the answers. I was wondering how the sewer and stuff was put in and those 'old' stones preserved. It is because they are not as old as I thought! Hehe. They sure seem like it as polished as they are, though.

5. Re: How old are the stones paving the streets of the Old City?

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