BIBLE HISTORY DAILY

More of Megiddo’s Roman Legionary Camp Revealed

Salvage excavations uncover more of Legio

Roman legionary camp of Legio

Excavation of the Roman legionary camp of Legio. Courtesy Emil Aladjem. IAA.

During excavations at the site of Legio, at the foot of Tel Megiddo in northern Israel, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) uncovered the main road and monumental buildings of the Roman legionary camp of the VIth Ferrata Ironclad Legion. Uncovering roads, architecture, weapons, and more, the excavation sheds further light on the largest legionary camp ever discovered in Israel.

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Excavating the Roman Legion

Occupied from around 120 to 300 CE, Legio is one of only two permanent legionary camps located in Israel, the other being the Xth Fretensis Legion in Jerusalem, little evidence of which survives. Carrying out salvage excavations at Legio in anticipation of new roadwork, the IAA uncovered remains of the Via Pretoria, the main road of the camp, as well as the architectural remains of a monumental public building.

Roman legionary camp

The Via Pretoria of Legio. Courtesy Emil Aladjem, IAA.

According to Yotam Tepper, director of the IAA excavations, “Two main roads intersected at the center of the 600-yard-long and 380-yard-wide camp, and its headquarters were erected here.” Unfortunately, most of the buildings were not preserved to any height, as building projects in later periods frequently mined the legionary base for constructional materials.

In addition to roads and buildings, the excavation uncovered coins, weapons, pottery, glass, and lots of roof tiles. “The roof tiles,” said Tepper, “some of which were stamped with VIth Legion stamps, were used for various purposes, for roofing buildings, paving floors, and coating walls. The technology and know-how, the building techniques, and the weapons that the Legion brought with it from the home country are unique to the Roman army, reflecting specific Roman Imperial military footprints.”

Legio

Aerial photo of the excavations at Legio. Courtesy Emil Aladjem, IAA.

While the salvage excavations were required before upcoming construction, the Roman Legionary Camp of Legio has undergone nearly a decade of excavations by the Jezreel Valley Regional Project (JVRP). These excavations have revealed much of the fascinating history of Legio, including a small amphitheater used for combat and military training. Surveys using ground penetrating radar have revealed much of the camp buried beneath the wheat fields of nearby Kibbutz Megiddo. “In the course of the excavation seasons, the upper part of the commanders’ courtyard (Principia) was exposed southwest of Road 66, and in the present excavation, carried out on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, we are uncovering the northeastern part of the camp that extends alongside Road 66.”


Read more in Bible History Daily:

Roman Training Ground Found at Megiddo

Uncovering a Roman Army Base at Legio 

Legio

All-Access members, read more in the BAS Library:

The Regional Study—A New Approach to Archaeological Investigation

Hadrian’s Legion

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