During the reign of the Roman emperor Hadrian (117–138 A.D.), two imperial legions were stationed in the consular province of Judea: Legio X Fretensis in Jerusalem and Legio VI Ferrata in the north at a place called Caparcotna. The latter legion was deployed more than three decades after the First Jewish Revolt (67–70 A.D.) and sometime before the Bar-Kokhba rebellion (132–136 A.D.), and it remained stationed in Judea through most of the third century A.D.
Based in the Jezreel Valley somewhere near Tel Megiddo, the Legio VI Ferrata, or the Sixth Ironclad Legion, was well-situated to control imperial roads, with direct access to the Galilee and inland valleys of northern Palestine—important centers of the local, occasionally uproarious, Jewish population. Until recently, the exact location of the castra (“camp” in the sense of a permanent military base) of the Sixth Legion had not been confirmed, but textual evidence places it in the Jezreel Valley along the road from Caesarea to Beth Shean in the vicinity of Megiddo.
The 2013 and 2015 seasons confirmed the location of the Legion’s base, marking the first time a military base of this type for this particular period had been excavated in the entire Eastern Empire. Excavations revealed remains of the fortification wall and moat, barracks, headquarters building and commander’s residence. The excavation of a Roman military headquarters with clear ties to major political and cultural events in the formative years of Rabbinic Judaism and Christianity is exciting in itself, but Legio also provides an incredible new window into the Roman military occupation of the eastern provinces.
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Jezreel Valley, Israel
Roman (2nd-3rd centuries A.D.), Byzantine (4th-7th centuries A.D.)
Matthew J. Adams is the Dorot Director of the W. F. Albright Institute for Archaeological Research in Jerusalem. His primary research focus is on the development of urban communities in the third millennium in Egypt and Levant. In addition to directing the JVRP, he is a member of the Penn State excavations at Mendes, Egypt and the Tel Aviv University Megiddo Expedition. He is also president of the non-profit organization American Archaeology Abroad.
Yotam Tepper is a Ph.D. candidate at Tel Aviv University with a dissertation in progress on Legio in the Roman Period. As a researcher and archaeologist with the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), he has directed numerous excavations and surveys in Israel for the last 12 years. His research focuses on the Roman Period, with special interest in the daily life of civilians and soldiers.
Jonathan David is professor of Classics at Gettysburg College. He specializes in the history and archaeology of ancient Greece, but his particular interests involve earliest historiography and the interconnections between the Greco-Roman world and the Near East. In addition to working with the JVRP, he is involved with the ongoing Tel Aviv University Megiddo Expedition.