7

The Babylonian Talmud recounts a story in which a sage, Yehoshua ben Perachaiah, and one of his students travel from Alexandria, Egypt to Jerusalem (Sotah 47a, Sanhedrin 107b). The story takes place during the time of King Alexander Jannaeus, circa the beginning of the first half of the 1st century BCE. I was wondering what route or routes would have been most plausible for them to have taken?

1 Answer 1

10

There were two great trade routes in the Ancient Near East, known today as the King's Highway and the Via Maris. The former cuts across the Sinai to Aqaba before turning north to Damascus, while the latter follows the coastal plains from Egypt to Antioch before linking up with the King's Highway.

Jerusalem did not lie directly on either international route, but the city is served by several regional east-west paths that linked into the greater network. Most likely, an overland travellers from Alexandria would have followed the Via Maris up to Gaza or Jaffa, where the Lachish Road and the Bethoron Ascent, respectively, leads to Jerusalem.

Alternatively, travellers could take a ship from Alexandria to Gaza or Jaffa, then made the last leg of the trip to Jerusalem as above. All three were ports that conducted significant maritime trade.

Less plausibly, a traveller could take the King's Highway to Rabbah, then follow the Red Descent to Jerusalem.

enter image description here
(Wikipedia map of the ancient trade routes)

4
  • 1
    @njuffa Travel by ship to Jaffa or Gaza is indeed another possibility. I had somehow gotten the impression that the question was asking about land routes, but upon re-reading, that's not the case.
    – Semaphore
    Mar 15, 2022 at 10:00
  • 7
    Looking around, I found an interesting tool for travel planning in the ancient world that I was previously unaware of: orbis.stanford.edu It seems Alexandria to Jaffa by ship, then from there by foot to Jerusalem would have taken about a week depending on what assumptions one dials in. I tried both the cheapest route and the fastest route and both start out with a coast-hugging sea journey.
    – njuffa
    Mar 15, 2022 at 10:06
  • Tanis is on that map. Time to go find the Lost Ark! :) But because of the movie, I am a bit surprised we currently know right where Tanis is. (Yes, I know Hollywood is loose with facts.) Mar 15, 2022 at 20:03
  • 1
    @Panzercrisis - Tanis was never really lost as a location (though the city was abandoned during the Roman period presumably when its branch of the Nile silted up), and there was even a bishop for most of the 1st millennium AD
    – Henry
    Mar 16, 2022 at 10:20

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.