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Remnants of an Ancient Roman Road Discovered outside Jerusalem

March 14 2017

Excavating the area outside the Jerusalem suburb of Beit Shemesh, archaeologists have found traces of a 2,000-year-old road that once connected a Roman town with the area’s then-major highway, known as the Emperor’s Road. The Israel Antiquities Authority writes:

[The highway] connected the large settlements of Jerusalem and Eleutheropolis (now Beit Guvrin) [to the southwest]. The construction of the Emperor’s Road is thought to have taken place at the time of Emperor Hadrian’s visit to the country, circa 130 CE, or slightly thereafter, during the suppression of the Bar Kokhba revolt in 132-135 CE. The presence of a milestone bearing the name of the emperor Hadrian, previously discovered nearby, reinforces this hypothesis.

Coins were [also] discovered between the pavement stones: a coin from the second year of the Great Revolt [against Roman rule] (67 CE), a coin from the Umayyad period [the 7th and 8th centuries], a coin of the prefect of Judea, Pontius Pilate, dating to 29 CE, and a coin of King Agrippa I from 41 CE that was minted in Jerusalem.

Up until 2,000 years ago, most of the roads in the country were actually improvised trails. However, during the Roman period, as a result of military campaigns, the national and international road network started to be developed in an unprecedented manner. The Roman government was well aware of the importance of the roads for the proper running of the empire.

Read more at Israel Antiquities Authority

More about: Ancient Israel, Ancient Rome, Archaeology

How the U.S. Can Strike at Iran without Risking War

In his testimony before Congress on Tuesday, Michael Doran urged the U.S. to pursue a policy of rolling back Iranian influence in the Middle East, and explained how this can be accomplished. (Video of the testimony, along with the full text, are available at the link below.)

The United States . . . has indirect ways of striking at Iran—ways that do not risk drawing the United States into a quagmire. The easiest of these is to support allies who are already in the fight. . . . In contrast to the United States, Israel is already engaged in military operations whose stated goal is to drive Iran from Syria. We should therefore ask ourselves what actions we might take to strengthen Israel’s hand. Militarily, these might include, on the passive end of the spectrum, positioning our forces so as to deter Russian counterattacks against Israel. On the [more active] end, they might include arming and training Syrian forces to engage in operations against Iran and its proxies—much as we armed the mujahedin in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Diplomatically, the United States might associate itself much more directly with the red lines that Israel has announced regarding the Iranian presence in Syria. Israel has, for example, called for pushing Iran and its proxies away from its border on the Golan Heights. Who is prepared to say that Washington has done all in its power to demonstrate to Moscow that it fully supports this goal? In short, a policy of greater coordination with Jerusalem is both possible and desirable.

In Yemen, too, greater coordination with Saudi Arabia is worth pursuing. . . . In Lebanon and Iraq, conditions will not support a hard rollback policy. In these countries the goal should be to shift the policy away from a modus vivendi [with Iran] and in the direction of containment. In Iraq, the priority, of course, is the dismantling of the militia infrastructure that the Iranians have built. In Lebanon, [it should be] using sanctions to force the Lebanese banking sector to choose between doing business with Hizballah and Iran and doing business with the United States and its financial institutions. . . .

Iran will not take a coercive American policy sitting down. It will strike back—and it will do so cleverly. . . . It almost goes without saying that the United States should begin working with its allies now to develop contingency plans for countering the tactics [Tehran is likely to use]. I say “almost” because I know from experience in the White House that contingency planning is something we extol much more than we conduct. As obvious as these tactics [against us] are, they have often taken Western decision makers by surprise, and they have proved effective in wearing down Western resolve.

Read more at Hudson

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, U.S. Foreign policy, Yemen