Via Maris is the modern name
for an ancient trade route, dating from
the early Bronze Age, linking Egypt with the
northern empires of Syria, Anatolia and Mesopotamia — modern day Iran, Iraq, Turkey and
The Via Maris (purple), King's Highway
(red), and other ancient Levantine trade routes, c.
Its earlier name was "Way of the Philistines
", a reference to a passageway
through the Philistine Plain. At this point the Way branches into two Ways
— one along the Mediterranean coast, through Megiddo, and the other following an
inland route through the Jezreel Valley, the Sea of Galilee and Dan.
" is Latin and means "the Way of the Sea". The
name is based on a passage from the Vulgate
(the New Testament
translation) from the Gospel according to Matthew ("Secundum
Mattheum"), chapter 4 verse 15:
- terra Zabulon et terra Nephthalim via maris trans Iordanen
- (the land of Zebulon, and the land of
Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the
There is also a reference to the Via Maris
("the way of
the sea") in .
Some consider the name Via Maris a misnomer and instead prefer to
call this route the Great Trunk Road.
with the King's Highway,
the Via Maris was one of the major routes connecting
Egypt and the Levant with Anatolia and Mesopotamia.
The Via Maris
crossed by other trading routes, so that one could travel from
Africa to Europe or from Asia to Africa. It began in al-Qantara and went east to Pelusium, following the northern coast of Sinai through
el-Arish and Rafah.
it followed the coast of Canaan through
Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Joppa, and Dor before
turning east again through Megiddo and the
Valley until it reached Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee. Again turning northward along the shore, the
Via Maris passed through Migdal,
Capernaum, and Hazor.
it crossed the northern River Jordan at Jacob's
Ford then climbed sharply over the Golan Heights and wound its way northeast into Damascus.
Here travellers could continue on the
King's Highway as far as the Euphrates
or proceed northward into Anatolia.