The Roads in Roman-Byzantine Palaestina and Arabia

by Israel Roll

Roads - a term which can be defined as thoroughfares on land destined for the movement of vehicles, goods, animals and persons - always played an important role in the history of humanity. People and communities used roads for travel, trade and communication. States and empires needed road networks for the movement of armies and their supplies, for the journeys of state-officials and their retinue, and for the development and control of the country and its economy. The creation and use of roads are influenced by several factors, which can be divided into two main groups.
On the one hand, there are the natural factors, mainly of geo-morphologic order, which include relief, type of soil and rock, streams and water sources, climate and vegetation. These factors are of lasting character and they show no significant changes during historical times. Consequently, they impel to steadiness and continuity of the alignment of roads over the centuries in a given region.
On the other hand, there are the human factors, essentially of geo-cultural nature, which include political shape and military power, social and economic structure and demographic distribution and, above all, the location, size and lucrativeness of the main urban centers. Usually, main roads connected between main cities, hence the fundamental role played by cities in the development of traffic. The human factors are subject to constant changes, and that implies constant shifting of emphasis among the different potential arteries in that same region.1
The Romans considered a well organized road network and an efficient traffic system as basic elements for proper imperial administration. Consequently, they invested great efforts in the form of resources, planning, labor and technological skill in road building. The making of a Roman road involved tracing, leveling and deepening the roadway, filling in the roadbed, paving and curbing the surface. When necessary, rocky terrain was leveled, embankments and retaining walls were built and bridges erected. Usually, such a road, which should rather be termed a highway, received the legal status of a via publica. That means an official line of communication, which came to respond to the traffic needs of the military and the administration. Inscribed milestones were added at fixed intervals of one Roman mile (ca. 1.5 km), indicating the name and titles of the emperor under whose rule the road was constructed or repaired. The milestones also mentioned the distance to and the name of the caput viae, that is the official destination of the highway, which normally was a main city or a chief military camp. For present day research the milestones provide a formal proof that the road to which they belonged was a via publica.2

Roads map in Roman-Byzantine Palaestina and Arabia

Let us turn now to a specific area of the Roman empire, which included Provincia Judaea, later named Palaestina, and Provincia Arabia. Those two provinces, that spread over an area of ca. fifty thousand square kilometers on both sides of the Jordan River and the Aravah, were gradually covered by the Roman imperial authorities with an impressive network of about 2,500 Roman miles of first-class built highways, of the kind just described. Although, many of these arteries followed routes already used much earlier, since the emergence of urbanisation in the Early Bronze Age, they became engineered highways organized into a regional traffic system only in the Roman period.3
The beginnings go back to the Great Revolt that ravaged Judaea during the years 66-70 C.E., as attested to by the earliest dated milestone found on the Caesarea-Scythopolis highway. The stone was erected in 69 C.E. and it commemorates the building of the road by soldiers of the legio X Fretensis under the care of its commander, Marcus Ulpius Traianus (the father of the Emperor Trajan).4
Following the Roman annexation of the Nabataean kingdom and the formation of Provincia Arabia in 106 C.E., a first-class strategic highway was erected across it. A series of inscribed milestones found along the highway indicate that it was built and paved (apervit et stravit) under the care of Trajan's legate Claudius Severus, that it extended from the limits of Syria to the Red Sea (a finibus Syriae usque ad Mare Rubrum) and that its official name was Via Nova.5
Under Hadrian a second legion - the legio II Traiana later replaced by the legio VI Ferrata - was brought to Judaea and based at the northern end of the strategic pass of Wady Ara. Two milestones from 120 C.E. indicate that at least two of the arteries leading to the newly established legionary camp were built in that year. One of the two stones specifically mention the term fecit, which means initially built. Other milestones and inscriptions found in Judaea and Arabia, from the years 129 and 130 C.E., are contemporary with Hadrian's visit to the region and they apparently reflect road-making related to that event.6
The large group of more than fifty milestones of the year 162 C.E. found so far along the main arteries of the two provinces seem to reflect an overall program of road repair. That fits well with the statement in the Historia Augusta (Vita Marci 11, 5), which relates that one of the first acts of the emperor Marcus Aurelius upon ascending the throne was to order the repair of roads and highways throughout the empire.7
Here is the place to mention the Tabula Peutingeriana and to add only two short comments on it. First, this unique cartographic item which, in its original form belonged to the class of itineraria picta intended to show the official road network of the Roman empire and beyond, does not represent all the existing public roads of the time. It depicts the highways used more frequently by the Roman official traffic. It also shows the main official stages along these roads and the distances between the stages. In short (and I repeat- in its original form), it was an official road map, intended to guide its official users when traveling on duty. Hence, not all the existing roads of Palaestina and Arabia are depicted on that map.8
Second, three of the cities of Palaestina are mentioned on the Tabula Peutingeriana by their pre-Severan names. These are Luddis (Lydda, instead of Diospolis), Amavante (Emmaus, instead of Nicopolis) and Betogabri (Beth Guvrin, instead of Eleutheropolis). On the other hand, Aelia Capitolina is mentioned with the additional explanation "previously called Jerusalem" (antea dicta Herusalem). We know that this change of names occurred in 135 C.E. Therefore, we are able to date the part of the map that depicts the Provincia Palaestina to the middle or the second half of the second century C.E. It is worth adding that the road network of the province, as depicted on that map, is very similar to the one outlined by the milestones of 162 C.E.9
During the Severan dynasty, the road system of the two provinces seem to reach its highest stage of development. In these times it included several longitudinal highways, which extended along the main four north-south geographical units of the region, that is: a) along the Mediterranean coastal plain; b) along the western mountain range of Samaria and Judaea; c) along the Jordan valley; and d) along the eastern plateau beyond the Jordan River. These longitudinal traffic lines were intersected by a series of transversal roads, the alignment of which was also largely imposed by the terrain. They extended, west of the Jordan, along geographical features which provided the best available route from west to east, that is: a) along valleys in Lower Galilee, b) along river beds in Samaria, c) along transversal ridges in Judea, and d) across the large plains of the northern Negev. Then, after crossing the deep depression of the Jordan valley or the Aravah, the transversal roads climbed along the best available ascents towards the eastern plateau. The result was an integrated regional communication network basically oriented upon the four cardinal points. Its intersection points and capita viarum were the main urban centers, and the military camps usually located in, or near by, them.In Palaestina, the network's node was clearly Jerusalem, renamed by Hadrian Aelia Capitolina. Because of its traditional centrality Jerusalem served as caput viarum for no less than seven highways. It also served as the permanent base of the legio X Fretensis for almost two and a half centuries, since 70 C.E. In Arabia, most of the highways of the northern part of the province, as well as those of southern Syria, conveyed upon Bostra. That city served as the starting point of the Via Nova, as well as the permanent base of the legio III Cyrenaica.10
The road network which I came to describe served as a first class instrument of control of the two provinces. The firm structure of the Roman highways ensured reliable road transportation in all seasons and across every kind of terrain. The solid bridges built along them permitted the crossing of rivers and winter streams with no difficulty. The road stations and guard posts, erected at necessary intervals and key points, assured the secure and ordered functioning of traffic. During periods of calm and peace the road network was meant to serve first and foremost the officials of the Imperial administration of the province. These were the governor and his attendants, his deputies and commissioners, the assessing officers and the tax collectors, and other clerks of the kind. Most of all it came to serve the cursus publicus that provided conveyance not only for the Imperial mail but also for the government officials traveling on duty. In times of war, rebellion and desert raids the roads permitted the efficient transport and command of military units to and in the war zones and troubled areas. They also permitted to carry war machines, food supplies and camp equipment to those units.
In all cases the milestones were of great importance because they indicated not only the distance from the official destination of the road but also the exact location of its users within the country. Thus, the network of mile-stations actually constituted a grid reference system - not just on a map but on the ground - that covered the entire region, which could guide the state officials and military commanders to their destination or to determine their whereabouts when on the road.
It should be emphasized that the road network under discussion was not a closed traffic unit of its own, but a part of a much larger system of communication that covered the whole Roman Orient. The longitudinal arteries extended northwards to Syria and further on to Mesopotamia and Asia Minor, and southwards to Egypt. The transversal roads, after crossing the river Jordan and the Provincia Arabia, continued as desert tracks deep into the Arabian peninsula. Therefore, the provincial network served not only the local traffic but also the Imperial transportation between the two main provinces of the Roman Orient, that is, between Egypt and Syria, and between the Mediterranean and the eastern frontier zone of the empire.11
Throughout the Early Christian and Byzantine period, that is, from the fourth through the seventh centuries C.E., the road network just described continued to function. Apparently, the military and the officials, the travelers and the transportation of goods continued to make full use of it. However, with the advent of Christianity, a new factor emerged. Palaestina and the western part of Arabia, became the Holy Land, that is, the religious center and focus of pilgrimage for the entire Christian world. Church leaders, clergymen and, most of all, pilgrims made heavy use of its traffic system, as we learn from written sources of the period.12

The process had already started during the reign of Constantine the Great. We are told by Eusebius (Vita Constantini 4, 43) that in the year 335 C.E., following the Synod of Tyre, Constantine urged its many participants to go to Jerusalem and celebrate the inauguration of the newly built church of the Holy Sepulchre. "Accordingly they all took their departure from Phoenicia and proceeded to their destination making use of the public means of transportation (that is the cursus publicus). Thus, Jerusalem became the meeting place for distinguished clerks from every province, and the whole city was crowded with a great multitude of servants of God. Road improvements are also attested to by several Constantinian milestones found along highways leading to some of the regions main capita viarum, all of them in Latin.
Milestones of later dates, all of them in Greek, indicate that official arteries of traffic were kept in repair also throughout the Byzantine period. Over a Latin Constantinian inscription from the Nicopolis -Jerusalem road a later Greek inscription was carved, which mentions only the distance from the destination - in this case Nicopolis - without any Imperial names or titles. The same short Greek formula is known from two more milestones found along the coastal highway. One of them, which mentions the distance of four miles from Antipatris, is of great interest because it bears on top a simple cross, instead of the lengthy Imperial titulature typical to the Roman milestones.13
More information about the Holy Land's traffic system is provided by the written sources and, above all, the Itineraria. The early fourth century road-diary of the Egyptian official Theophanes provides accurate information on the main official stages of the coastal highway and the distances between them. The Itinerarium Burdigalense and Jerome's obituary of Paula - better known as Letter 108 - point out the main communication lines used by the Christian Jerusalem pilgrims of the fourth century. The work of Theodosius, De Situ Terrae Sanctae is even more detailed in his description, not only of the Holy Land's sites, but also of the highways that connected between them, in this case, of the sixth century.14
Of great interest is the attempt of Eusebius to use the network of mile-stations as a kind of grid reference system, which actually covered the entire country. By doing so, Eusebius succeeded to locate, in his Onomasticon, a long list of settlements and sites by referring to the mile-stations as topographical reference markers.15
Several sites depicted on the mosaic map of Madaba indicate that its makers used data drawn from road-maps and itineraria. Between Jerusalem and Jaffa, a series of places known to be located along the two connecting highways between them, are shown on that map. These are: Bethoron, Kaperouta, Modeim, Adita and Lydda/Diospolis, which bordered, in that sequence, the northern highway - known as the Bethoron road. Also are mentioned Nicopolis, Enataba and Betoannaba, that belonged to the parallel southern road, via Emmaus. The very mentioning of two mile-stations, the fourth (to tetarton), and the ninth (to ennaton), clearly indicate a road-map origin. Those two sites could be identified with two traditional road-stations of the southern highway which possessed plenty of water, that is, Colonia (today Motza) located at the distance of four miles from Jerusalem, and Kiriat Jearim (today Abu Ghosh) - at nine miles from it.16
The most vivid description of road-making in Byzantine Palestine is provided by Procopius (De Aedificis 5, 6, 12-13), when describing the transportation of huge blocks to Jerusalem for the building of the Nea Ecclesia, initiated by the emperor Justinian. For that end, the workers "built wagons to match the size of the stones, placed one single block on a wagon, and had each wagon with its stone drawn by forty oxen, which had been selected by the emperor himself. But, since it was impossible for the roads leading to the city to accommodate these wagons, they cut into the hills for a very great distance and made them passable for the wagons as they came along there". There is a possibility that the only one road depicted on the Madaba map, under the form of a straight line of white cubes which extends from the Damascus Gate to the north, reflects the road-works described by Procopius.17
Widespread use of the road-network under discussion continued during the Early Muslim period. Milestones found along roads extending from Damascus and from the coastal plain to Jerusalem, inscribed in Arabic and dating to the reign of 'Abd al-Malik (685-705), specifically mention road-work and maintenance carried out by the order of the caliph. Road repair of that period is also attested in a section excavated across the chief road leading from the Shephelah to Jerusalem. Apparently, these projects were part of a general policy of some Umayyad rulers, the most notable being 'Abd al-Malik, who sought to make Jerusalem a focus for Muslim pilgrimage.18
However, after the fall of the Umayyad dynasty in the middle of the eight century and the ascent of the Abbasids, the importance of our region seem to dwindle in the eyes of the central government. That attitude had a negative effect on the maintenance of the road network and brought to its gradual decline and abandonment.19


1 For a general historical outline on roads and transportation, see: A. Birk, Die Strasse, ihre verkers-und bautechnische Entwicklung im Rahmen der Menschgeschichte (Karlsbad, 1934). P. Fustier, La route. Voies antiques, chemins anciens, chausées modernes (Paris, 1968). H. Hitzer, Die Strasse. Vom Trampelfad zur Autobahn (Munich, 1971). W. Treue (ed.), Achse, Rad und Wagen. Fünftausend Jahre Kultur-und Technikgeschichte (Göttingen, 1986). S. Piggott, Wagon, Chariot and Carriage. Symbol and Status in the History of Transport (London, 1992).

2 For a general discussion on Roman roads in Italy and the Empire, see: G. Radke, Viae publicae Romanae, PAWRE, Suppl. XIII (1973) cols. 1417-1686. R. Chevallier, Roman Roads (London, 1976). W. Heinz, Strassen und Brücken im römischen Reich. Antike Welt. Sondernummer 1988. On road building, see the two most recent collections of studies edited by L. Quilici and S. Quilici Gigli, Tecnica stradale romana (Rome, 1992) and Strade romane: percorsi e infrastrutture (Rome, 1994). On bridges, see: C. O'Connor, Roman Bridges (Cambridge, 1993). L. Quilici and S. Quilici Gigli (eds.), Strade romane: ponti e viadotti (Rome, 1997). On the legal aspects in general and on milestones in particular, see: T. Pekáry, Untersuchungen zu den römischen Reichstrassen (Bonn, 1968). I. König, Zur Dedikation römischer Meilensteine, Chiron 3 (1973), pp. 419-427. A. Palma, Le strade romane nelle dottrine giuridichi e gromatichi dell'età del principato, ANRW II, 14 (1982), pp. 850-880.

3 I. Roll, The Roman Road System in Judaea, in: L. I. Levine (ed.), The Jerusalem Cathedra, 3 (Jerusalem and Detroit, 1983), pp. 136-161. D. F. Graf, B. Isaac and I. Roll, Roads and Highways: Roman Roads, The Anchor Bible Dictionary, 5 (1992), pp. 782-787. Y. Tsafrir, L. Di Segni and J. Green, Tabula Imperii Romani: Judaea-Palaestina (Jerusalem, 1994); see pp. 21-22 and the attached maps to which I contributed the road network. I. Roll, A Map of Roman Imperial Roads in the Land of Israel, the Negev and Transjordan, in: Eilath and the Aravah (Jerusalem, 1995), pp. 207-211 (Hebrew).

4 B. Isaac and I. Roll, A Roman Milestone of A.D. 69 from Judaea: The Elder Trajan and Vespasian, JRS 66 (1976), pp. 15-19. id., Roman Roads in Judaea, I. The Legio-Scythopolis Road (Oxford, 1982), pp. 66 and 91.

5 The most detailed description of the main segment of the Via Nova and its facilities, between Madaba and Petra, is still that of R. E. Brünnow and A. v. Domaszewski, Die Provincia Arabia, I (Strassburg, 1904), pp. 19-124. For the northern segment, see: Syria. Publications of the Princeton University Archaeological Expeditions to Syria in 1904-5 and 1909. Division III, Section A, Part 2 (Leiden, 1921), Appendix pp. VII-XVI (the road, by H. C. Butler) and pp. XVII-XXVIII (the milestones, by D. Magie). For the southern segment, see: A. Alt, Die südliche Endabschnitt der römischen Strasse von Bostra nach Aila, ZDPV 59 (1936), pp.92-111. See also: Sir Aurel Stein's Limes Report, published by D. L. Kennedy, Archaeological Explorations on the Roman Frontier in North-East Jordan (Oxford, 1982), pp. 264-292. For the milestones uncovered until WWI, see: P. Thomsen, Die römischen Meilensteine der Provinzen Syria, Arabia und Palaestina, ZDPV 40 (1917), pp. 1-103. Recently, several scholars have carried out detailed surveys of specific segments of the Via Nova; see: Kennedy (above, in this note), pp. 137-159. T. Bauzou, Les voies romaines entre Damas et Amman, in: Géographie historique au Proche-Orient (Paris, 1988), pp. 293-300. Z. T. Fiema, Tuwaneh and the Via Nova Traiana in Southern Jordan, ADAJ 37 (1993), pp. 549-550. D. F. Graf, The Via Nova Traiana in Arabia Petraea, in: The Roman and Byzantine Near East (Ann Arbor, 1995), pp. 241-268. B. Macdonald, The Route of the Via Nova Traiana Immediately South of Wadi al Hasa, PEQ 128 (1996), pp. 12-15. A full publication of the milestones of Jordan, including the Via Nova, is in preparation by Thomas Bauzou.

6 For the two milestones of 120 C.E., see: B. Isaac and I. Roll, Judaea in the Early Years of Hadrian's Reign, Latomus 38 (1979), pp. 54-66. id., Legio II Traiana in Judaea, ZPE 33 (1979), pp. 149-156. See also, the remarks of J. R. Rea, The Legio II Traiana in Judaea?, ZPE 38 (1980), pp. 220-221; and our response: B. Isaac and I. Roll, Legio II Traiana in Judaea-A Reply, ZPE 47 (1982), pp. 131-132. Another milestone of 120 C.E. was identified recently at Beniamina, near the Caesarea-Gaba-Legio road, to be published soon. For other Hadrianic milestones, see: V. Corbo and S. Loffreda, Sarcofago e pietra miliare di Cafarnao, LA 26 (1976), pp. 272-276. Isaac and Roll, Roman Roads in Judaea, I (above note 4), pp. 67 and 91-92. I. Roll and E. Ayalon, Roman Roads in Western Samaria, PEQ 118 (1986), p. 119. A. W. McNicoll et al., Pella in Jordan, 2 (Sydney, 1992), p. 123.

7 See: B. Isaac, Milestones in Judaea, from Vespasian to Constantine, PEQ 110 (1978), pp. 49-51; with the following additions: Isaac and Roll, Roman Roads in Judaea, I (above note 4), pp. 67-70 and 92. I. Roll and E. Ayalon, Highways and Roads in the Sharon Plain during the Roman and Byzantine Periods, Israel-People and Land 4 (1986-7), pp. 156-157 (Hebrew). M. Fischer, B. Isaac and I. Roll, Roman Roads in Judaea, II. The Jaffa-Jerusalem Roads (Oxford, 1996), p. 294.

8 Edition of and commentary on the map: E. Weber, Tabula Peutingeriana. Codex Vindobonensis 324 (Graz, 1976); Palaestina and Arabia are depicted on segments VIII and IX. For general discussion, see: A. and M. Levi, Itineraria picta (Rome, 1967). L. Bosio, La Tabula Peutingeriana (Rimini, 1983). E. Weber, Zur Datierung der Tabula Peutingeriana, in: H. E. Herzig and R. Frei-Stolba (eds.), Labor omnibus unus. Gerold Walser zum 70. Geburtstag (Wiesbaden, 1989), pp. 113-117.

9 See: I. Finkelstein, The Holy Land in the Tabula Peutingeriana: A Historical-Geographical Approach, PEQ 111 (1979), pp. 27-34. For a similar conclusion on the provincia Arabia, see: H. I. Mac Adam, Studies in the History of the Roman Province of Arabia. The Northern Sector (Oxford, 1986), pp. 19-31.

10 See the articles and maps mentioned above in note 3. I discussed the topic of Jerusalem's centrality in a paper entitled: Roman Roads to Jerusalem presented at the 13th Congress of the International Federation of Municipal Engineers held at Jerusalem in March 1997; see: the Congress Abstracts, p. 16. The centrality of Bostra in northern Arabia is well emphasised by T. Bauzou, Les voies de communications dans le Hauran a l'époque romaine, in: J.-M. Dentzer(ed.), Hauran I (Paris, 1985), pp. 138-165, and especially in the attached map.

11 For a wider view of the road network's historical role, see: I. Roll, A Latin Imperial Inscription from the Time of Diocletian Found at Yotvata, IEJ 39 (1989), pp. 252-260. B. Isaac, The Limits of Empire: The Roman Army in the East (Oxford, 1992), pp. 107-134 and 163-178.

12 See: J. Wilkinson, Jerusalem Pilgrims before the Crusades (Jerusalem, 1977). H. Donner, Pilgerfahrt ins Heilige Land (Stuttgart, 1979). E. D. Hunt, Holy Land Pilgrimage in the Later Roman Empire, A.D. 312-460 (Oxford, 1982). P. Maraval, Lieux Saints et pélerinages d'Orient (Paris, 1985). A. Külzer, Peregrinatio graeca in Terram Sanctam (Frankfurt and Berlin, 1994). The topic was treated by many scholars during the 12th International Congress for Christian Archaeology held at Bonn in September 1991, the main theme of which was Peregrinatio. See: the two-volumes Proceedings of the meeting entitled: Akten des XII. Internationalen Kongresses für Christliche Archäologie, Bonn 22.-28. September 1991. Ed. by E. Dassmann and J. Engemann (Münster, 1995).

13 The milestones of Constantinian and later dates are listed in: I. Roll, Roads and Transportation in the Holy Land in the Early Christian and Byzantine Times in: Akten des XII. Internationalen Kongresses (above note 12), vol. II, p. 1168. See also: D. F. Graf, Milestones with Uninscribed Painted Latin Texts, in: Studies in the History and Archaeology of Jordan 5 (Amman, 1995), pp. 417-425.

14 Theophanes: P Ryl 627, 628, 638; for discussion see: A. Alt, Stationen der römischen Hauptstrasse von Ägypten nach Syrien, ZDPV 70 (1954), pp. 154-166. M. Schwabe, Documents of a Journey through Palestine in the Years 317-323 C.E., Eretz-Israel 3 (1954), pp. 181-185 (Hebrew). Itinerarium Burdigalense: Ed. P. Geyer and O. Cuntz, CCSL 175 (Turnhout, 1965), pp. 1-26; for a topographical discussion, see: R. Hartmann, Die Palästina-Route des Itinerarium Burdigalense, ZDPV 33 (1910), pp. 169-188. S. Klein, The Itinerarium Burdigalense on Palestine, in: Zion, Suppl. , vol. 6 (Jerusalem, 1934), pp. 12-38 (Hebrew). Jerome's Letter 108: Ed. I. Hilberg, in: F. Stummer (ed.), Monumenta historiam et geographiam Terrae Sanctae illustrantia (Bonn, 1935), pp. 22-69; for a topographical discussion, see: F. Stummer, Die Bewertung Palästinas bei Hieronymus, Oriens Christianus 3 (1935), pp. 60-74. J. Wilkinson, L'Apport de Saint Jerome à la topographie, RB 81 (1974), pp. 245-257. Theodosius: Ed. P. Geyer, CCSL 175 (Turnhout, 1965), pp. 114-125; for discussion, see: Y. Tsafrir, The Maps Used by Theodosius: On the Pilgrim Maps of the Holy Land and Jerusalem in the Sixth Century C.E., Dumbarton Oaks Papers 40 (1986), pp. 129-145.

15 E. Klostermann (ed.), Eusebius. Das Onomastikon der biblischen Ortsnamen (Leipzig, 1904); for topographical discussion, see: P. Thomsen, Palästina nach dem Onomasticon des Eusebius, ZDPV 26 (1903), pp. 97-141 and145-188. M. Noth, Die topographischen Angaben im Onomastikon des Eusebius, ZDPV 66 (1934), pp. 32-63. B. Isaac, Eusebius and the Topography of Roman Provinces, in: D. L. Kennedy (ed.), The Roman Army in the East (Ann Arbor, 1996), pp. 153-167.

16 The identification of to tetarton with Motza and of to ennaton with Abu Ghosh was suggested long time ago by F.-M. Abel, TO ENNATON, Oriens Christianus, NS 1 (1911), pp. 77-82, but was not accepted by later scholars. However, given the fact that those places have rich sources and, therefore, served as traditional road-stations on the way to Jerusalem, Abel's suggestion seems plausible; see: Fischer, Isaac and Roll, Roman Roads in Judaea, II (above note 7), pp. 178 and 195.

17 For the white-cubes road, see: H. Donner, The Mosaic Map of Madaba (Kampen, 1992), p. 25. For methods of transportation of large construction stones in Antiquity, see: A. M. Burford, Heavy Transport in Classical Antiquity, The Economic History Review 13 (1960), pp. 1-18. G. Raepsaet, Transport de tambours de colonnes du Pentélique à Éleusis au IVme siècle avant notre ère, L'Antiquité classique 53 (1984), pp. 101-136. M. W. Kozelj, Methods of Transporting Blocks in Antiquity, in: N. Herz and M. Waelkens (eds.), Classical Marble: Geochemistry, Technology, Trade (Leiden, 1988), pp. 55-64.

18 For Arabic milestones of the reign of 'Abd al-Malik, see: M. van Berchem, Materiaux pour un Corpus Inscriptionum Arabicarum II: Syrie du Sud, Jérusalem "ville", 1 (Cairo, 1922), pp. 17-29. M. Sharon, An Arabic Inscription from the Time of the Caliph Abd al-Malik, BSOAS 29 (1966), pp. 367-372. See also the discussion of Shulamit Sela in: Fischer, Isaac and Roll, Roman Roads in Judaea II (above note 7), pp. 25-29.

19 The outcome was the complete disappearence of wheeled traffic from the region for more than a millenium; see the remarks of G. A. Smith, The Historical Geography of the Holy Land (London, 1894; the 1966 Fontana reprint of the 1931 edition, pp. 448-451), Appendix V: Roads and Wheeled Vehicles in Syria.

This contribution was first published in: The Madaba Map Centenary, Jerusalem 1999, 109-113.

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