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Legion near Judea at time of Jesus
#1
What were the nearest legions in Judea, and if auxilia were the only troops in Judea, did the auxilia force have a senior centurion?

Also, if some cohorts were detached from a legion what cohorts would most likely be sent there (would it be one of the veteran cohorts like the First Cohort or a recruit cohort like the 4th Cohort), and would their pilus priors be part of the prefect's staff?
James Ajiduah
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#2
We get this question a lot in Legio VI Ferrata:

Legio VI was at that time actually based in Raphanaea, the fortress at Megiddo (Caparcotna/Legio) wasn't actually built until sometime after the First Jewish Revolt (66-73 AD). However, contingents of Legio VI were certainly operating in Judea: they were instrumental in Herod's rise to power in 37BC and they were present in Judea in 4BC (the evidence suggests Jesus was born between 6BC-3BC), where they had to suppress Messianic claimants (however this is not related to the slaughter of the innocents found in the bible).

I couldn't tell you exactly what Legion Jerusalem was garrisoned by: X Fretensis was there at one point, but not at the same time as Jesus. VI Ferrata was certainly operating in Judea, even if the main Legion was in Syria, throughout that time.
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#3
I am actually doing research on this topic and plan to make a video about it very soon. I'll try to shorten this as much as possible. There was no Legion stationed in Jerusalem, Pontious Pilate was only the rank of Equestrian so he could not garrison a full legion under his command. Jerusalem was garrisoned by Cohors II Italica, it was only one Auxiliary cohort. If you want my full research pm me and I'll send you my video when I'm done.
Salvatore Caretti, Legio IX Hispana
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#4
As I understand it, there were no legions in Judea, the closest being in Egypt and Syria. The Roman garrison in Judea consisted of six auxiliary cohorts (five infantry and one cavalry) recruited from Samaritans, originally by Herod the Great, on account of their antipathy towards Jews, and organised in imitation of Roman units. These were incorporated into the army of Rome in AD6. We only know the names of two of these units: Cohors I Sebastenorum, and Ala I Sebastenorum. Each of these units would have been commanded by a tribune, who might be an equestrian or otherwise a former legionary centurio. There is also a mention, in the Acts of the Apostles, of a centurio of an Italian cohort, which is otherwise unattested. There are various theories about which particular unit it should be identified with but none of them can be substantiated on present evidence.

This Italian cohort might have been supernumerary to the six Samaritan units or it may have replaced one which had been destroyed or disbanded. If I understand it correctly, two cohorts were based in Jerusalem, one at the Antonia fortress and the other at the old palace, with another of the cohorts being based at Caesaria.

Crispvs
Who is called \'\'Paul\'\' by no-one other than his wife, parents and brothers. :!: <img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_exclaim.gif" alt=":!:" title="Exclamation" />:!:

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#5
Quote:Also, if some cohorts were detached from a legion what cohorts would most likely be sent there (would it be one of the veteran cohorts like the First Cohort or a recruit cohort like the 4th Cohort), and would their pilus priors be part of the prefect's staff?

As mentioned above, the cohorts in Iudaea these times were most probably auxilia cohorts, commanded by a praefectus cohortis or a praepositus cohortis. This could be a former centurio in the early principate or an equestrian. 2nd in command was a centurio princeps, the centurio of the 1st centuria of the auxilia cohort.

A tribune just makes sense as a commander (praepositus) of a vexillatio of legionary cohorts (usually more than 1 cohort), or as a commander of a roman cohors ingenuorum or voluntariorum. But afaik there was no auxilia cohort of roman citizens in Iudaea these times.

However, there is no evidence, that a first cohort was ever used as a vexillatio. The first cohort played some role in the adminsitration of the entire legion (e.g. the princeps). So it is highly unlikely, that a first cohort was in Iudaea.

Afaik, Pontius Pilatus was a praefectus and not a procurator. The system of praesidial procurators was not fully established yet. So I guess in Iudaea you got praefecti cohortis reporting to the prefectus gentis Pontius Pilatus.

Regarding the legionary cohort mentioned above, which was perhaps deployed to Iudaea: We got no clue, who commanded a legionary cohort! Best guess is, that in case of deployment it was decided situationally. Could be a tribune, or the pilus prior was used as praepositus cohortis or any other centurio of the exercitus became the praepositus by whatever reasons.

Finally, every governor was almost fully free in composing his consilium. But it is a good guess, that the commanders of the cohorts (praefecti cohortis) were part of it; at least situationally.

PS: I forgot a 3rd option, which was possible until the Flavians: the commander of an auxilia cohort could have been a local noble. Most probably with roman citizen rights, like Arminius, but not a native roman.
Ut desint vires, tamen est laudanda voluntas
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#6
Legio X Fretensis had possibly a Vexillatio in Caesarea Maritima, as tiles with the Legion's mark on them were found there dating to the early 1st century AD.

Also VI Ferrata and X Fretensis, along with III Gallica and XII Fulminata, were part of the expedition in in 6 AD that exiled Herod Archlaeus and made Judea a Roman province (same year Augustus held the famous census in Judea).
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#7
Yeah, it makes a huge difference, what exactly the OP means with "Jesus' times". The composition of the exercitus iudaeae at the time of Jesus' birth was most probably very different to the time of Jesus' death.
Ut desint vires, tamen est laudanda voluntas
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#8
You're looking at a timeframe beginning 6-3 BC to 27-30 BC. A lot happens in 33 years.

When was Augustus' failed expedition to Arabia Felix?
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#9
Quote:When was Augustus' failed expedition to Arabia Felix?

26 BC afaik. I just don't get how Aelius Gallus is related to Iudaea. :unsure:
Ut desint vires, tamen est laudanda voluntas
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#10
Nevermind, I thought it was like 10 AD or something, was thinking they may have amassed in Judea for the expedition.
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#11
Since Pilate was a Roman Knight, and he could not command legions, couldn't the legion be place under its senior tribune or camp prefect? Didn't Egypt follow this pattern?
James Ajiduah
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#12
Quote:Since Pilate was a Roman Knight, and he could not command legions, couldn't the legion be place under its senior tribune or camp prefect? Didn't Egypt follow this pattern?

There was no legion permanently deployed to Iudaea in Jesus times. If legions from Syria acted in Iudaea in order to deal with revolts, they have been under command of the legatus augusti pro praetore of Syria.

The special command structure of the egyptian legions was not repeated until Severus, who raised Legio Parthica I-III. Of course a single legion could always be led by a simple legatus legionis, or if absent by the tribunus laticlavius or the praefectus castrorum. But such a legion commander would never report to an equestrian prefect.

Well, there was another exception: the praefectus legionis agens vice legati. The equestrian commander, who was sent to Mauretania, in order to defeat the revolt over there, had this title. Also some legion commanders during the Marcoman Wars. But that is all 2nd century and rather an exception until Gallienus. Such a construction was never used in Iudaea in the 1st century. The big syrian army was near and could always help, if needed.

I am also not sure, if Pontius Pilatus was already a fully independent praefectus provinciae like later procuratores, reporting directly to the emperor. Or if he was just another praefectus gentis reporting to the governor of Syria. Roman provinces were not all governed the same way. Especially in Syria the legatus Augusti pro praetore often fully delegated the civil administration of regions to legati legionis or praefecti. In this case everybody in Iudaea reported to the syrian governor anyways.

When the Flavians (?) finally deployed a legion to Iudaea permanently, the province was governed by a legatus augusti pro praetore of praetorian rank, iirc. Social rank had a strong meaning in the roman world; at least in the 1st century AD.
Ut desint vires, tamen est laudanda voluntas
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#13
There was no Legion deployed to Judea until VI Ferrata was placed in Caparcotna after the first Jewish revolt.
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#14
Why would Judea need legionary assistance most of the time, apart from times such as the Jewish Revolt in the AD60s, which is outside the time period being asked about anyway?

The period being asked about is c.6BC to c.AD36 (*).

During this time the prefect of Judea had c.500 cavalry and c.2880-3360 infantry at his disposal, which should have been ample to handle the day to day military needs of the praefecture. As the Judean praefecture was under the oversight of the governor of Syria, it would be for the governor of Syria, rather than Pilate or his predecessors, to decide on whether and what further military assistance was required if the situation appeared to demand it.


(*) As Herod the Great died in 4BC, Jesus must have been born before this, as Matthew's gospel specifically mentions that the family returned to Judea from Egypt after Herod the Great had died and when Herod Archelaus was king. Luke's reference to the census called by Quirinius, governor of Syria (presumably in the name of Augustus) would point to AD6, when Herod Archelaus was deposed, but Luke's emphasis on it being the first census might suggest that he has somehow confused the census in AD6 with a sort of census / survey of nobles and potential threats to the throne that Herod the Great had ordered in his dying days ten years earlier, which would then fit quite well with Matthew's account. Luke (who was writing in the late AD50s or early AD60s) says Jesus started his ministry when he was about thirty (so perhaps somewhere between twenty eight and thirty five) and it is clear from both the gospels and Josephus this this was after the appearance of John the Baptist in c.AD28. Pilate fell from office in AD36 so that year provides the cut-off date.

Crispvs
Who is called \'\'Paul\'\' by no-one other than his wife, parents and brothers. :!: <img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_exclaim.gif" alt=":!:" title="Exclamation" />:!:

<a class="postlink" href="http://www.romanarmy.net">www.romanarmy.net
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#15
Quote:There was no Legion deployed to Judea until VI Ferrata was placed in Caparcotna after the first Jewish revolt.

Slightly OT point - X Fretensis was stationed in Jerusalem after the first revolt, c.AD70. The fortress at Caparcotna likely dates to some time before the Bar Kokhba war - Galilee was one of the centres of the first revolt, but there seems to have been little disturbance there later, perhaps suggesting that the presence of a legion in the area was sufficient to deter any major outbreak.

Local milestones and building inscriptions from the site suggest that VI Ferrata was moved there around the 120s, although the exact sequence of legion movements during this period remains unclear: elements of II Traiana were also operating in the area around the same time, and the situation of XXII Deiotariana after AD119 is completely unknown.
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