Romans and Jews once lived in Palestinian neighborhood

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JERUSALEM, June 4 — Dig nearly anywhere in this city, and you hit the remains of an earlier civilization. One of the latest such finds is a narrow strip of antiquity that runs down the middle of a main road through what is now Shuafat, a Palestinian neighborhood in north Jerusalem.

Soon, it will be covered by tracks for a light railway, part of a new mass transit system for the city. Both the history being unearthed and the planning under way are filled with the kind of controversy that seems to be a Jerusalem specialty.

The urban community being uncovered existed for about 60 years, from A.D. 70 to 130, the period between two anti-Roman Jewish revolts, coins found at the site reveal.

“It’s an archaeological feast,” said Rachel Bar-Nathan, the Israel Antiquities Authority director of the dig.

One surprise is that the nameless community appears to have housed a mixed population of Romans and Jews. Several of the excavated private dwellings contained a mikvah, or Jewish ritual bath.

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