On a recent trip, following Paul from Shipwreck on Malta to martyrdom in Rome, we stopped at a McDonald’s in Frattocchie—about 10 miles south of Rome. This was not an “I’m hungry for a Big Mac” type of stop, but we wanted to see the Roman road that was discovered when this McDonald’s was being constructed in 2014. We had been alerted to this site by two experts on the Appian Way—Drs. Mark Wilson and Glen Thompson who are writing a book on the subject!
A view of the Roman Road that was discovered when a McDonald’s was being constructed in 2014 in the modern town of Frattocchie (41.46672, 12.99778).
A view looking northwest at a portion of the excavated area that is about 150 ft. long. The well-preserved roadbed is about 6.9 ft. wide and is constructed mainly of basalt paving stones. On the left, or the south side is a walkway for pedestrians that is about 2.6 ft. wide. On the right (north) is a drainage ditch constructed of stone. In later times, after the road went out of use, people were buried here—note the skeletons in the ditch.
This was a branch road (diverticulum) from the via Appia that led from near the town of Bovillae to the east. This portion of the road is only about 200 ft. from the Appian Way on which Paul traveled, in custody, to Rome (Acts 28:13-16). The turn from near Bovillae seems to be between Roman Miles XII and XI on the via Appia—that is, about 10 mi. southeast of where the Via Appia ended near the Circus Maximus (now in modern Rome).
This picture is a screenshot of the interior of McDonald’s at Frattocchie taken from Google Maps.
By the way, Dr. Glen Thompson, who has studied all of the Roman Road systems from Puteoli to Rome, will be leading a trip from April 17-30, 2023. His group will travel from Malta to Rome, with an emphasis on what Paul would have seen as he walked along the Appian way—including this site! A descriptive brochure can be found Here.
Curbing on the Roman Road to Emmaus — Luke 24 — in the valley on a hill to the east of Motza that Bivin discuses in his article.
The Emmaus Road narrative is the climax of Luke’s Gospel. In it, two of Jesus’ disciples encounter their resurrected Lord as they follow the road leading west from Jerusalem. Not only do the hearts of the disciples burn as they speak with their risen Master, the hearts of the readers burn as well, since, unlike the disciples, we know that it is Jesus himself who is accompanying them as the disciples relate the sad tale of how all their hopes for the redemption of Israel were dashed when Jesus was crucified outside the walls of the holy city. Readers feel almost as if they were present with the disciples on the road as Jesus walked and spoke with them.
In his article he evaluates the arguments for the two most prominent candidates for biblical Emmaus. He rightly (IMHO) rejects the identification of biblical Emmaus with Emmaus/Nicopols and correctly argues for its identification with Qaloniyah (modern Mozah).
The materials from all the relevant sources are conveniently cited in the article along with a helpful map from Carta Publishers and a labeled aerial photograph 1917. In addition, detailed footnotes are included.
Bivin states that:
I conducted an experiment to put this hypothesis to the test. On October 2nd of the year 1987, I walked with my son Natan from the Western Wall of the Temple Mount (the Kotel) to the springs at Motza following the route of the Roman road (on which, see below) as closely as possible in order to measure how long such a journey would take. It was the eve of Yom Kippur, so no vehicles were moving on the streets to slow us down, and we set out from the Western Wall at 6:10 p.m. under a full moon, walking at a leisurely pace. Together we covered the distance from the Western Wall to the Motza springs in one hour and twenty minutes. My experiment proves that Jesus’ disciples could easily have made the trip down from Jerusalem to Motza-Emmaus and back again within the time frame Luke describes.
According to Luke, the two disciples who were heading to Emmaus set out from Jerusalem sometime after morning, for they knew of the women’s report of the empty tomb (Luke 24:22-24), but it could have been as late as mid-afternoon. The disciples did not head back to Jerusalem until after they had sat down for their evening meal in Emmaus (Luke 24:29, 33).
This is the most complete set of video clips and photos that I know of that document the road.
There are five short video clips:
Josephus on Emmaus — 3:00
Mishnaic Evidence on Emmaus — 3:00
Emmaus Road erosion — 0:50
Emmaus Road erosion 2 — 0:30
Emmaus Road: Hope for the Future — 1:26
There are a series of photos of the road from different years that document its condition.