Glimpses of Israel - Remains of the Romans

by Joy Hunting

During the construction of one of Jerusalem's many new buildings, the remains of a two thousand year old Roman military encampment were uncovered recently, and with it an earthenware factory was discovered, both belonging to the Tenth Roman Legion in Israel.

This was such an extraordinary and important find that the authorities in the city decided to incorporate the remains into the architecture of the International Convention Center's Teddy Kollek Hall which they were currently building.

Several years ago workers' spades had also come upon the remains of a Roman camp underneath a Jerusalem parking lot! It held up the work considerably while the archaeologists inspected and assessed the ruins.

The Tenth Roman Legion had a very important role in the history of Jerusalem and the whole Land of Israel. The Legion was encamped in Jerusalem for two hundred years all told, and left the city only near the end of the third century A.D.

The Legion had an earthenware factory among its many interests, and it produced ceramics and construction materials which were essential for constructing roads, buildings and water systems in Jerusalem. As well, a Roman quarry and tombs have been exposed through excavation.

The remains of their eight camps surrounding Masada near the Dead Sea tell the story of the occupation of the land of the Bible by the Romans, and as well we have Herod's fortress palaces – at Masada, at Herodotus on Coral Island in the Bay of Eilat, at Herodion near Bethlehem, and at Antipatris, built on the ruins of Aphek.

King Herod founded the city of Caesarea on the Mediterranean coast in about 22 B.C., dedicated it to the Emperor Augustus Caesar, and it was the Roman capital in the land for about five hundred years, and the headquarters of the Roman legions. The Roman hippodrome at Caesarea, the huge open-air theatre, and the ancient aqueduct -- their remains seem to be everywhere!

Visitors to the Convention Center can look down through glass windows in the floor of the foyer of the Hall at two of the eight kilns used by the Legion for firing crafts at the site.