Full Version: Roman Legion Symbols Found in Ancient Cave
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What was a quarry and may have been used as an underground sanctuary has been found in Israel. The presence of Roman legionary symbols might indicate that the cave was used by one of the religious sects (Essenes, Zelots, Sicarii) hunted down and destroyed by the legions during the Jewish Revolt of the 60's. Or perhaps it is just graffiti, like "Kilroy was here" left by soldiers wherever they have been.

Of course, the site has just been found and why the symbols are etched on the walls is pure speculation at this point. It will be interesting to see what more comes out of this find as detailed research is done. ... VudGhvbHls

[size=150:3am9o2pj]Ancient Holy Land quarry uncovered, team says[/size]

Sun Jun 21, 1:18 pm ET
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli archaeologists said on Sunday they had discovered the largest underground quarry in the Holy Land, dating back to the time of Jesus and containing Christian symbols etched into the walls.

The 4,000-square-meter (yard) cavern, buried 10 meters beneath the desert near the ancient West Bank city of Jericho, was dug about 2,000 years ago and was in use for about half a millennium, archaeologist Adam Zertal said.

The cave's main hall, about three meters tall, is supported by some 20 stone pillars and has a variety of symbols etched into the walls, including crosses dating back to about AD 350 and Roman legionary emblems.

Zertal said his team from Haifa University first discovered the site three months ago while they were putting together a detailed archaeological map of the area.

"We saw a hole in the ground ... and went down and discovered this giant cavern, originally a quarry, built uniquely with hall after hall," Zertal told Reuters.

The team believes the stones were used in buildings and churches in the region, but Zertal said further research was necessary.

The site may eventually be turned into one of the largest underground tourist sites in the Holy Land, he said.

(Writing by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Michael Roddy)


Very interesting! Any photos of the symbols?
Have not seen any yet, but we can hope some will be forth coming in the not too distant future. I could see this turning into a National Geographic special or something of that sort.


Thanks George, I'll be able to see that when I get home! Smile
Here is the only photo I have been able to find of that Roman legionary symbol:
[Image: legion-pennant.jpg]
It is added that "It is assumed that this is the pennant of the Roman Legion that was present in the region". That would be X Fretensis: but its symbols are a warship, a dolphin, the god Neptune, and a boar. At some stage, VI Ferrata appears on the scene: bull and wolf-with-twins. In Arabia Petraea, we find III Cyrenaica (symbol unknown); in Syria, III Gallica (bull). So, what do we think of this symbol?
Quote:So, what do we think of this symbol?
A wedding cake?! Smile
Hmmmm, what is the triangle supposed to represent?
Looks like what I used to draw as a kid!
Just a question: I have heard of legionaries working in quarries and even taking pride in it. At least, the cult of Hercules Saxanus was wide-spread in fort in Germania Inferior, even though the army's quarry itself was far away, in the Eiffel mountains. Has anyone ever heard of auxiliaries working in mines?
Not sure whether it was legionaries or auxillia responsible, but I recently heard a story of some graffitti in a quarry near
Hadrians wall, apparently it was along the lines of "Centurio so-and-so sucks"......
Quote:I have heard of legionaries working in quarries and even taking pride in it.
I think you may be confusing legionaries quarrying material for the construction projects (Hadrian's Wall is the familiar example; perhaps our German colleagues can comment on the situation on the Raetian wall?) with mining, which (as far as I know) was carried out by coerced labour (e.g. criminals sentenced to hard labour) supervised by military units (sometimes legionary, as in NW Spain; sometimes auxiliary, as in the Eastern Desert of Egypt). Of course, I may be wrong ...
Jona Lendering:1ds54hpi Wrote:I think you may be confusing legionaries quarrying material for the construction projects ... with mining
I gave my dictionary to an Iranian refugee who needed it more than I did - what's the difference? (Glad to improve my English!)
Quote:what's the difference?
This may exist entirely in my mind, Jona! Smile I can see a difference between the once-only task of quarrying stone along the line of Hadrian's Wall to provide the necessary raw material -- a task in which the legionaries clearly took a pride, with their "ownership" inscriptions -- and the disagreeable task of mineral mining -- a task that seems to have been imposed on slaves and criminals, supervised by military units.

In the context of the Israeli find, I cannot imagine why the Roman army would have been involved; there would be no reason for legions to quarry stone here -- there is no nearby construction work -- and no reason for auxiliaries to be supervising mining -- there are no minerals in evidence. In fact, it looks more like the underground hideaways common during the Bar Kokhba revolt, but only the associated finds can help to prove this.

Does that sound sensible?
Quote:Does that sound sensible?
That makes a lot more sense than the idea that the wedding cake is a legionary symbol.
Quote:Hmmmm, what is the triangle supposed to represent?
Looks like what I used to draw as a kid!

From the moment I saw this I knew it reminded me of something. Took a while to ponder it but it resembles the standard to the right of the Mars figure on the Oosterbeek sword scabbard mouth plate. I don't have a photo or drawing to hand but the Mars is the one I used as the logo for Arma back in 1989 and that standard (which is quite recognisable as such) features the same triangle (a triangular vexillum? A square vexillum blown back at the corners? Who knows...). For those of you who have Miks' book, it is A549 on Taf. 209.

If it is intended as a standard, then it is all crossbars and pendant straps, which makes it a little weird, but then life tends to be weird in my experience. Of course, standards are not what they used to be ;-) )

Mike Bishop
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