The Eastern Cardo
colonnaded street that traverses the city from north to south is depicted
in the center of the Madaba Map.
This is none other than the street identified as the main thoroughfare,
the Cardo Maximus, of the
city. There is also another street on the same map, located to the east
of the Cardo Maximus, and for most of its length it runs parallel to
the cardo. Several sections of this road were exposed in recent generation
by various excavators.
Quite a few excavators have exposed sections of the
eastern cardo. The following is meant to describe in some detail and
analyze some of the data that was exposed in the southern part of the
The remains were exposed in four sections; all the
sections are located along a single north south axis and are described
below from south to north:
Located to the south, next to the outside of the Old
City walls (near the Dung
Gate). This section was exposed in its entirety by Meir Ben Dov.
In this section
almost the entire width of the paved street is visible. Here too, most
of the road’s elements were revealed:
Column bases: the three column bases are made of identical,
relatively hard limestone.
Column: the diameter matches that of the column bases
Pavement: the street is covered with hard limestone
slabs that were replaceable as was customary with paved roads. Pavers
that were filed smooth were exposed everywhere.
The row of rooms located along the street: rectangular
rooms that were used as shops were hewn in the bedrock cliff parallel
to and west of the sidewalk.
Located north and inside the wall of the Old City
(west of Dung Gate). The drainage channel and possibly also a section
of pavement were first revealed by the British archaeologist, S. N.
Jones who excavated here on behalf of the Mandatory Department of Antiquities
when a main sewage line was installed here by the city of Jerusalem.
He discerned several rooms that were hewn in the bedrock cliff west
of the road. Jones was also the first to note a building that would
eventually be referred to as Umayyad Building No. III. Meir Ben-Dov only managed to expose a very small section
of the street’s pavement in one spot, as well as the building
with a row of pillars constructed to its east. Subsequently, all of
the area was uncovered in excavations conducted on behalf of the Antiquities
Authority, beginning with those directed by Ronny Reich and Ya’akov
Billig in 1994-1996 and the excavations by Yuval Baruch and Ronny Reich
in 1997-1999 in which the exposure of the street was completed.
In this section a long segment of pavement was exposed,
which ascends along a uniform incline from south to north. A deep channel
is hewn in the bedrock in the center of the street. Here one it is clearly
apparent that prior to setting the paving stones in place extensive
rock cutting activity was conducted on the slope, descending toward
the Tyropoeon Valley from the west, in order to create the street.
seems that Charles Warren was the first to reach this pavement in Shaft
I of the seven shafts he excavated across the Tyropoeon, opposite the
southwestern corner of the Temple
Mount (Warren 1884: 184, Pl. XXVI). It was in this area and in connection
with the spot where the modern staircase descends from the Jewish
Quarter to the plaza of the Wailing
Wall that a salvage excavation was conducted by Yuval Baruch and
Danny Weiss in 1998. A rectangular room that is entirely hewn in the
bedrock was exposed here; it seems this room is one of the shops that
were installed along the western side of the cardo.
In the autumn of 1996 a long narrow excavation was
conducted by means of a backhoe, for drainage purposes along a north
south axis, in the area opposite the Western Wall (the prayer plaza)
and about 90 m away from it. A section of a street paved with stone
slabs was exposed; a tall limestone pedestal was found in the soil fill.
Finally it should be noted that other sections of streets
have been ascribed to the secondary cardo, which is the eastern street,
but in our opinion these attributions are mistaken. In our opinion there
is no connection between the street in the western part of the hill
of the City of David and the eastern cardo.
When we attempt to determine the date of the construction
of the eastern street we should compare its details with similar details
amongst the remains of the western street and evaluate the results of
this comparison. Unfortunately, the only remains we have of the northern
part of the western street are sections of in situ pavement and at this
point we are still missing information regarding the kind of columns
that were used there. This particular data would greatly assist us because
a comparison of the column bases that were exposed by Meir Ben-Dov,
in the section south of the Old City wall, with those found in the Jewish
Quarter has reveal substantial dissimilarities. The differences are
manifested in the size (diameter), shape of the base (profile) and quality
of the stone dressing. These differences are so pronounced that one
can state unequivocally that the two types of bases have their origins
in different periods.
Yet another difference can be found in how the runoff
was drained from the street. The pavement of the eastern cardo is far
more similar to that of the northern section of the western street than
it is to the southern section of the western street.
Based on these features, there exists a greater similarity
between the details of the eastern street and the northern part of the
western cardo than between the eastern street and the southern part
of the western cardo.
It is obvious that the conclusion which should be
drawn here is that the eastern street and the northern segment of the
western street are contemporary, or at least very close to each other
time wise, and they were clearly built in the Late
Roman period; while the southern section of the western street was
added in the Byzantine period.
Sources: Israel Antiquities Authority