The Discovery of an Ancient Stone Table Points to the Location of Roman-Era Jerusalem’s Central Marketplace

During excavations of the City of David—the most ancient part of Jerusalem—archaeologists recently unearthed a special kind of stone table used for measuring commodities. They believe such a table would be used only by the agoranomos, or marketplace manager. Amanda Borschel-Dan explains its significance:

The measuring table was found in a broad paved central square still undergoing excavation, alongside dozens of stone measurement weights. The sum of the parts has led the archaeologists to conclude that this area of the Stepped Street, a paved 2,000-year-old pilgrims’ path that connects the Siloam Pool with the Temple Mount, had served as ancient Jerusalem’s main market.

Today, the path is sixteen feet underground. Archaeologists and historians call the road that is being excavated under an eastern Jerusalem Arab neighborhood the “Stepped Street.” In more popular parlance it is called the “Pilgrims’ Path” or the “Pilgrimage Road.” In total, the path stretches some 600 meters and is eight meters wide. Both sides of the street were lined with shops that were likely two stories high.

It was built starting in 20 CE by the Romans and completed under the governance of Pontius Pilate in about 30 CE. A recent study of 100 coins collected under pavement at the site appears to confirm this dating.

The position of market manager or agoranomos, well documented in antiquity, arrived in the Land of Israel during the Hellenistic period. It is mentioned in the book of Maccabees. . . . The Roman Jewish historian Josephus also makes reference to the office—and to the Jerusalem square where its holder would have sat.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Ancient Israel, Jerusalem, Josephus

Only Hamas’s Defeat Can Pave the Path to Peace

Opponents of the IDF’s campaign in Gaza often appeal to two related arguments: that Hamas is rooted in a set of ideas and thus cannot be defeated militarily, and that the destruction in Gaza only further radicalizes Palestinians, thus increasing the threat to Israel. Rejecting both lines of thinking, Ghaith al-Omar writes:

What makes Hamas and similar militant organizations effective is not their ideologies but their ability to act on them. For Hamas, the sustained capacity to use violence was key to helping it build political power. Back in the 1990s, Hamas’s popularity was at its lowest point, as most Palestinians believed that liberation could be achieved by peaceful and diplomatic means. Its use of violence derailed that concept, but it established Hamas as a political alternative.

Ever since, the use of force and violence has been an integral part of Hamas’s strategy. . . . Indeed, one lesson from October 7 is that while Hamas maintains its military and violent capabilities, it will remain capable of shaping the political reality. To be defeated, Hamas must be denied that. This can only be done through the use of force.

Any illusions that Palestinian and Israeli societies can now trust one another or even develop a level of coexistence anytime soon should be laid to rest. If it can ever be reached, such an outcome is at best a generational endeavor. . . . Hamas triggered war and still insists that it would do it all again given the chance, so it will be hard-pressed to garner a following from Palestinians in Gaza who suffered so horribly for its decision.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict