Archaeologists Have Found the Roman Sixth Legion’s Base of Operations in the Galilee

Dec. 29 2017

For the past three years, a group of archaeologists have been excavating a Roman encampment in northern Israel, not far from Megiddo. Philippe Bohstrom writes:

The existence of the camp proves [beyond a doubt] the assumption, based on multiple sources, that ancient Rome maintained a massive military presence in the Galilee. . . . The camp at [the ancient city of] Legio (also known as Lajjun) dates to the 2nd and 3rd centuries CE. Today covered by crops, then it was home to the famous Sixth Legion.

It is the only full-scale imperial Roman legionary base found so far in the eastern [part of the Roman] empire. Camps of this sort are familiar from the western empire, and given the extent of local Roman presence, other major bases are likely to be found eventually in the east. For example, a full-scale Roman legion was known to have been based in Aelia Capitolina, the colony Emperor Hadrian had built on the ruins of Jerusalem following the city’s destruction in 70 CE. However, that legion’s base hasn’t been found, at least not yet. . . .

The legion’s task was to secure Rome’s hold over Syria-Palaestina, [the province that encompassed what is now Israel, Lebanon, and most of Syria], guard vital imperial roads, and maintain order in the region. It was probably also involved in quelling Jewish uprisings, such as the fateful Bar-Kokhba revolt that began in 132 CE and would end three years later in a decisive Roman victory.

The excavators also found a man-made cave dug inside the Legio base. Inside it, they found a Roman cooking pot with the remains of a cremated human, probably a soldier. Finding one’s final resting place in a cooking pot was not atypical of Roman burial practices at other Roman military sites, in Israel and around the Mediterranean.

Read more at Haaretz

More about: Ancient Israel, Ancient Rome, Archaeology, History & Ideas, Simon bar Kokhba


Mahmoud Abbas Comes to the UN to Walk away from the Negotiating Table

Feb. 22 2018

On Tuesday, the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, addressed the United Nations Security Council during one of its regular discussions of the “Palestine question.” He used the opportunity to elaborate on the Palestinians’ “5,000-year history” in the land of Israel, after which he moved on to demand—among other things—that the U.S. reverse its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The editors of the Weekly Standard comment:

It’s convenient for Abbas to suggest a condition to which he knows the United States won’t accede. It allows him to do what he does best—walk away from the table. Which is what he did on Tuesday, literally. After his speech, Abbas and his coterie of bureaucrats walked out of the council chamber, snubbing the next two speakers, the Israeli ambassador Danny Danon and the U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley, . . . [in order to have his] photograph taken with the Belgian foreign minister.

Abbas has neither the power nor the will to make peace. It’s the perennial problem afflicting Palestinian leadership. If he compromises on the alleged “right of return”—the chimerical idea that Palestinians can re-occupy the lands from which they [or their ancestors] fled, in effect obliterating the Israeli state—he will be deposed by political adversaries. Thus his contradictory strategy: to prolong his pageantry in international forums such as the UN, and to fashion himself a “moderate” even as he finances and incites terror. He seems to believe time is on his side. But it’s not. He’s eighty-two. While he continues his performative intransigence, he further immiserates the people he claims to represent.

In a sense, it was entirely appropriate that Abbas walked out. In that sullen act, he [exemplified] his own approach to peacemaking: when difficulties arise, vacate the premises and seek out photographers.

Read more at Weekly Standard

More about: Mahmoud Abbas, Nikki Haley, Politics & Current Affairs, United Nations