Uncovering a Roman Amphitheater at Armageddon

Aug. 11 2022

The New Testament famously describes a great apocalyptic battle that will precede the end of days as taking place at Armageddon—a name that is simply a transliteration of the Hebrew Har Megiddo or “Mount Megiddo.” Located on the edge of the Jezreel Valley in northern Israel, Megiddo is not a mountain, but a tel, i.e., a mound created by the remains of successive bygone settlements. It was the location of an ancient Israelite fortress as well as several historic battles: in 609 BCE the Egyptians defeated the Judean army there and slew King Josiah; in 1918 it was where Edmund Allenby led a British force to victory over the Ottomans. The ancient Romans built a military base in Megiddo, as Margaret Crable writes:

In 1902, the archeologist Gottlieb Schumacher began digging around Armageddon. . . . Schumacher’s primary interest was the ancient city of Megiddo, but he did do a bit of digging in the surrounding area. He uncovered evidence of occupation by the Roman army and noted a large, circular depression in the earth. An ancient amphitheater, he guessed.

It wasn’t until 2013 that a team of researchers began the first official excavation of the army base that Schumacher hypothesized was in the vicinity. They uncovered both the walls and administrative center of the Roman 6th Legion’s base and hypothesized that the odd depression was a military amphitheater associated with the legion. . . . It’s the first Roman military amphitheater ever uncovered in the Southern Levant, which encompasses Israel [and] Jordan.

Their work revealed enough of the structure to confirm the hypothesis that it was built for the local military base, occupied by Legio VI Ferrata (the 6th Ironclad Legion), which protected Rome’s holdings in what was then the Province of Judea. . . . Military amphitheaters were generally smaller than the civic amphitheaters designed for gladiator combat or executions (structures made famous again by the 2000 film Gladiator). These were used for troop training, marching, speeches and, perhaps most important, fun.

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Read more at USC Dornsife

More about: Ancient Israel, Ancient Rome, Archaeology

Will Costco Go to Israel?

Social-media users have mocked this week new Israeli finance minister Bezalel Smotrich for a poorly translated letter. But far more interesting than the finance minister’s use of Google Translate (or some such technology) is what the letter reveals about the Jewish state. In it, Smotrich asks none other than Costco to consider opening stores in Israel.

Why?

Israel, reports Sharon Wrobel, has one of the highest costs of living of any country in the 38-member Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

This

has been generally attributed to a lack of competition among local importers and manufacturers. The top three local supermarket chains account for over half of the food retail market, limiting competition and putting upward pressure on prices. Meanwhile, import tariffs, value-added tax costs and kosher restrictions have been keeping out international retail chains.

Is the move likely to happen?

“We do see a recent trend of international retailers entering the Israeli market as some barriers to food imports from abroad have been eased,” Chen Herzog, chief economist at BDO Israel accounting firm, told The Times of Israel. “The purchasing power and technology used by big global retailers for logistics and in the area of online sales where Israel has been lagging behind could lead to a potential shift in the market and more competitive prices.”

Still, the same economist noted that in Israel “the cost of real estate and other costs such as the VAT on fruit and vegetables means that big retailers such as Costco may not be able to offer the same competitive prices than in other places.”

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Costco, Israel & Zionism