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


Iran Brings Its War on Israel and the U.S. to the High Seas

On Sunday, the Tehran-backed Houthi guerrillas, who have managed to control much of Yemen, attacked an American warship and three British commercial vessels in the Red Sea. This comes on the heels of a series of maritime attacks on targets loosely connected to Israel and the U.S., documented in the article below by Mark Dubowitz and Richard Goldberg. They explain that Washington must respond far more forcefully than it has been:

President Biden refuses to add the Houthis back to the official U.S. terror list—a status he revoked shortly after taking office. And [Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei keeps driving toward a weapon of mass destruction with the UN’s nuclear watchdog warning that Iran is increasing its production of high-enriched uranium while stonewalling inspectors.

Refreezing all cash made available to Iran over the last few months and cracking down on Iranian oil shipments to China are the easy first steps. Senators can force Biden’s hand on both counts by voting on two bills that passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support.

Next comes the reestablishment of U.S. military deterrence. America must defend itself and regional allies against any attempt by Iran to retaliate—a reassurance Riyadh and Abu Dhabi [also] need, given the potential for Tehran to break its de-escalation pact with the Gulf Arab states. By striking Iranian and Houthi targets, Biden would advance the cause of Middle East peace.  . . . Tehran will keep attacking Americans and U.S. allies unless and until he flashes American steel.

Read more at New York Post

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, Naval strategy, U.S. Foreign policy, Yemen