Conny Waters – – Archaeologists in Israel have unearthed the remains of the military camp of Legio VI Ferrata, along with buildings and roads.

The 1800-Year-Old Legio VI Ferrata Military Camp Uncovered In Israel

Legionary inscription: “VEXILLA TIO LEG VI FERR” (“Detachment of Legion VI Ferrata”), Hecht Museum, Haifa, Israel. Image credit: Golf Bravo – CC BY-SA 3.0

The 1,800-year-old Legio VI Ferrata military camp is the largest military base found and the only permanent base in Israel. It accommodated over 5,000 Roman soldiers for more than 180 years, from 117 to 120 to about 300 CE, according to Dr. Yotam Tepper, who led excavations on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The excavations revealed remains of the Via Pretoria (the camp’s main road). The IAA’s team also discovered a semicircular-shaped podium and stone-paved areas representing part of a large, monumental public building.

The 1800-Year-Old Legio VI Ferrata Military Camp Uncovered In Israel

 Image credit: Israel Antiquities Authority

Other discoveries include coins, weapon fragments, and shards of glass.

However, the most astounding find is the abundance of roof tiles. The roof tiles, some of which were stamped with the VIth Legion stamps, were used for various purposes: roofing buildings, paving floors, and coating walls.

The archaeologists said that the technology, know-how, building techniques, and weapons that the Legion brought with it from the home country are unique to the Roman army, reflecting specific Roman Imperial military footprints, according to Dr. Tepper.

The 1800-Year-Old Legio VI Ferrata Military Camp Uncovered In Israel

Image credit: Israel Antiquities Authority.

The archaeological site of this legionary base was not unearthed accidentally. Instead, it has been the subject of surveys and six seasons of archaeological diggings that have now resulted in uncovering a huge, complete camp.

No doubt, the findings are of significant historical and archaeological value.

Two main roads intersected the huge (550 m long and 350 m wide) Roman Legion camp at Legio. At the center, the Romans built the camp’s headquarters.

Strategically, the military camp of Legio VI Ferrata was of great importance for the ancient Romans.

It’s widely accepted that, according to historical sources, a permanent Roman legionary base of the Xth Fratensis Legion existed in Jerusalem, but the exact location of the remains of this camp has not been discovered yet.

The 1800-Year-Old Legio VI Ferrata Military Camp Uncovered In Israel

 Image credit: Israel Antiquities Authority

For now, the VIth ‘Ferrata’ Iron Legion base constitutes the only Roman military base of these dimensions that has been located and exposed in Israel.

From this place, all the distances along the Roman Imperial roads to the main cities in the north of the country were measured and marked with milestones that served a purpose beyond just indicating distances.

They were a symbol of imperial authority and a testament to the organizational skills of the Roman state.

The Legio VI Ferrata, which translates to “Sixth Ironclad Legion,” was a formidable part of the Imperial Roman army. In 30 BC, it became an integral component of Emperor Augustus’s standing forces, and its legacy extended well into the 4th century.

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This legion wasn’t just for show but it actively participated in the tumultuous Roman Republican civil wars during the 40s and 30s BC. Its importance can be further underscored by its deployment to safeguard the province of Judaea, where it stood guard for an impressive two centuries.

Written by Conny Waters – Staff Writer

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