The Cardo Maximus in Jerusalem

Reconstructing the Jerusalem of the time of Jesus and the Apostles is not as easy as one might think. We have little bits of evidence here and there in basements. I am thinking of the evidence of the pre-70 A.D. ruins such as the Burnt House and the Herodian Mansion. We also have the Herodian Temple Precinct walls, the Temple Mount steps and the street in the Tyropoeon Valley. (This is not intended as a complete list. Just suggestive.)

Some Roman ruins in Jerusalem date to the period after the Bar Kochba revolt in 135 A.D. One impressive site in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City is the Cardo. The Cardo Maximus was the main north-south street running from one end of the city to the other. An east-west street was called the Decumanus Maximus.

The Emperor Hadrian rebuilt Jerusalem and named it Aelia Capitolina. The photo below shows a portion of the Cardo of that city. We see paving stones and columns that ran along the length of the street. A mural has been placed at one portion of the street to illustrate typical life in the city at that time.

The Roman Cardo in Jerusalem. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Roman Cardo in Jerusalem. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

We are reminded of one of the many references Jesus made to the marketplace (Greek, agora).

And in his teaching he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes and like greetings in the marketplaces (Mark 12:38 ESV)

Hadrian was Roman Emperor from 117-138 A.D. Streets, arches, and gates were erected in his honor all over the Roman Empire during his reign. The photo below shows the head of a marble statue in the British Museum showing Hadrian in Greek dress. The statue comes from the Temple of Apollo at Cyrene in northern Africa (modern Libya).

Hadrian in Greek Dress. Temple of Apollo, Cyrene. British Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Hadrian in Greek Dress. Temple of Apollo, Cyrene. British Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A larger image of the Cardo scene suitable for use in teaching is available by clicking on the photo.

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2 responses to “The Cardo Maximus in Jerusalem

  1. I thought the boy with the backpack in the lower right corner is pretty cute!

  2. Thanks for noticing it. I didn’t. I suppose it implies that the modern meets the ancient.

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