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Hidden away under the well-known Damascus gate, is a number of Roman ruins, including the location of a pillar erected by Hadrian.  Access to under the gate was excavated by R. W. Hamilton in the 1930’s and led to numerous more recent discoveries.  This pillar is noted within the Madaba map at the northern end of the cardo maximus depicted above.

Following the Jewish war of 67-70 and the major destruction of the city, the ruins continued until 130 AD when Publius Aelius Hadrianus (Hadrian) rebuilt parts of the city naming it Aelia Capitolina. Further features of this building seen in the ecce homo arch on the via delarosa.  These building projects only possible because of the extent of levelling accomplished, as witnessed in the construction of cardo maximus the major north-south thoroughfare which can be seen under the modern Jewish quarter, a feat that would not have been accomplished if any houses remained. He also ploughed a furrow (pomerium) around the city, a Roman tradition of marking the boundaries of a city, and symbolically declared it a Roman asset, and  sowed the city with salt fulfilling the prophecy in Micah 3:12. This was a ritual indicating that the city was no longer suitable for habitation by the previous owners. This is a biblical tradition seen in the time of Abimelech who sowed Shechem with salt Judges 9:45.

A second revolt followed from aroused sentiments from these activities, and in 132 AD when Hadrian banished Jews from being present in the capital.

One interesting feature of the new Roman city was the apparent missing northern wall. There appears to be no remnants of this wall remaining below the existing Ottoman constructions.

The structure of Hadrian’s Jerusalem is preserved in the Madaba map, of which a portion is displayed in this article.


[Hadrian was considerably enterprising, with numerous building works from his endeavours present throughout the Roman world. Several other remnants are clearly seen in the middle east, including an arch, now reconstructed at the entrance of Jerash, Jordan]