Previously Unknown Stretch of 2,500-year-old Incense Route Found in Israel’s Negev Desert
The path of the overland trading route from southern Arabia to Gaza was known to researchers, but they thought this 7-kilometer stretch lay elsewhere
A section of the ancient Incense Route, stretching seven kilometers and marked with weather-beaten Roman-era milestones, has been discovered in the barren heart of Israel’s Negev desert.
The path of the trading route has been known all along, mainly from remnants rather than well-preserved tracks and signage. The exception was the section in the Negev – it was assumed that it had been destroyed by modern development. It turns out this was not the case. Surveyors now realize they had been looking for it in the wrong place.
Ravek says that on earlier treks, researchers had been captive to their own preconceptions and had insistently followed a different route, seeking signs they never found. They now know that the missing section was further west than they thought, explains Prof. Chaim Ben David, historian of the Kinneret Academic College, who was also on the trek.
One of the Roman milestones still bears all-but-indecipherable writing, which seems to be in Latin or Greek. Ben David believes that the milestones date back to the 2nd or 3rd century C.E.
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