Armageddon and the Roman VIth Ferrata Legion: new excavations at Legio, Israel, and early Jewish-Christian-Roman relations

Thursday 1 February 2018,
BP Lecture Theatre
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In the late 1st and early 2nd centuries AD, dangerous Jewish (and incipient Christian) rebels were causing problems for the Roman Empire in Palestine. Though the First Revolt resulted in the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in AD 70 and in the establishment of a permanent base of the Xth Legion there, these groups continued to harass their overlords. Historical sources indicate that the Roman VIth Ferrata Legion was deployed to Palestine in the early 2nd century to provide support for the Xth, a sure sign that the rebels were acting up again. The VIth Legion established their base somewhere near Megiddo, but its exact location has been a longstanding question in the archaeology of the period.

In this lecture, Matthew J Adams, Albright Institute Jerusalem, reveals how the Jezreel Valley Regional Project searched for potential locations of the elusive fortress, using historical and geographical sources, aerial photography, and remote sensing. In 2013 and 2015, one of these locations was examined by excavation, providing the first glimpse of a 2nd-century Roman military base yet uncovered in the entire eastern Empire. Together with the early Christian Prayer hall discovered by Yotam Tepper of the Israel Antiquities authority in 2005 in the adjacent Jewish village of Caparcotani, the new excavations have new implications for Jewish-Christian-Roman relations and for the composition of the Book of Revelation.

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View of the site of Legio, Megiddo, in the Jezreel Valley. Courtesy of M J Adams.