The Roman-Period Road Network in Southern Moab: A Geographic and Historical Enquiry

Uri Davidovich*, Chaim Ben-David, Roi Porat

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

In recent years, a well-preserved Roman-period road network was explored in southern Moab, descending the steep topographic gradient from the Moabite plateau to the south-eastern Dead Sea region. This network comprises three paved roads—Kathrabba, Kuniyeh and Zoar Ascents—installed according to Roman principles of road construction, sharing features such as minimal width of 4 m, kerbstones and retaining walls, built steps and paved sections. All roads were forced to overcome vertical height differences of 1200–1500 m over a short distance as well as high sub-vertical segments of Nubian sandstone cliffs and massive plutonic rock outcrops. The starting point for all roads was in the southernmost part of Moab, in the vicinity of the modern village of Mu’tah, and they led to three different points along the eastern coast of the southern basin of the Dead Sea. The article explores the geographic and structural traits of the newly discovered road system and delves into its historical context and significance. We argue that this meticulous, labour-intensive enterprise was most probably associated with the decades following the Roman annexation of Nabataea in 106 ce, and more specifically with the suppression of the Bar Kokhba Revolt, during which Jewish communities on both sides of the Dead Sea revolted against Roman rule.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)141-159
Number of pages19
JournalPalestine Exploration Quarterly
Volume154
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Palestine Exploration Fund 2022.

Keywords

  • Bar Kokhba Revolt
  • Judean Desert
  • Provincia Arabia
  • Roman Roads
  • South-eastern Dead Sea Region
  • Southern Moab
  • Zoar

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