Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Roman Tenth Legion

Guess what's under Jerusalem's International Convention Center!
Hint: today's post is for R Day at ABC Wednesday.
R is for Roman kilns from over 1,900 years ago!
Click on the photos to enlarge them.

The Roman Tenth Legion was stationed in Jerusalem for over 200 years. When they were not busy quelling Jewish rebellions (The Great Revolt, 66-70 CE, and the Bar-Kochba Rebellion, 132-135 CE), destroying the Temple and Jerusalem and killing her citizens, the Legionnaires were busy building infrastructure and army camps, public buildings, and bathhouses.
When foundations for the convention center were dug, the Roman factory was discovered.
For the full story, click on the photo above.
Two of the kilns were left in place and put on display under the blue glass.
Once, while at the Book Fair, I walked slowly on the glass floor, looking down in wonder. A woman sitting on the stool drinking coffee called to me, "Did you lose something?" Then I realized that many visitors don't even know the antiquities are there.
The kilns and some of the earthenware products are enclosed in a glass room. The door is more often than not locked.
Upstairs, glass cases on the wall show the roof tiles, pipe sections, and bricks that the Roman soldiers produced at the factory. Maybe tomorrow I can show you them.
But my favorite is the story (described in the sign above) of the hobnail sandal (cleats protruding from the bottom of the sole), called caliga.
Some of the square bricks had sandal-prints in them. Apparently while the bricks were drying, before they were fired, a soldier stepped on them by mistake! So, beside the prestigious Tenth Legion stamp of LXFRE, Legio X Frentensis, there is a footprint of a simple Roman soldier.
This is so very human! I almost cried.
Sometimes archaeology does that, lets you feel a bond with one individual, one in whose footsteps we now walk.


  1. It is impressive what the Romans managed. I have visited Hadrian's wall and some of the museums there twice, and it was an experience for life.

  2. So interesting ! I imagine your surprise and interest discovering this. As an archeologist yourself.
    Hope you'll show us more about it.

  3. What a very interesting post. We live in such a new country with a very limited history of civilization, - it is amazing and wonderful to learn of the very human and ordinary lives of those who lived so long ago.

  4. Anyone who doesn't want to delve into history does not know what they are missing. Never ending fascinating blog with posts like this.

  5. Absolutely fascinating! I love that the kilns survive. A wonderful post!

  6. ok...I wasn't late, maybe slow is more apt, I put my comment in the wrong post so with a little cut and paste.....

    I had to laugh at the kiln shelves stacked up. Some things don't change. Loading the kilt is an art in itself
    BTW: My partner, a few years, back fashioned a pair of sandals for me from a pattern he found through a Roman empire reenactment group. (thats a story in itself) Very similar to that of which you've posted. They're ill fitting but I like um anyhow

  7. How fascinating. What a great way to display the artifacts.

  8. Wow. That is so fantastic. Very informative. Those Romans were so far ahead of their time, weren't they? Impressive for sure!

  9. So interesting, Dina.
    How many things always to discover and learn!

  10. A salute from a Roman ....
    2000-year-old after

  11. I wonder what make a people native. One generation, two generations... 100 years, 200 years... Roman never become native in Jerusalem. Will the 200+ years of America make American native to its land someday?

  12. I'm reminded of a bit in the Monty Python movie about what the Romans have done for the area.

  13. How wonderful - I never knew it was there either!

    Summer Stock Sunday starts May 31st - come check it out!

  14. This is wonderful, Dina! We also have many Roman ruins on the basements of the buildings at Lisbon downtown, but they are only open to the public once a year. Just a few can be seen from the street or once you are inside (at least) one Bank.

  15. That is awesome! What a great way to preserve history and yet provide a new building!

    You are right - the footprint makes the display personal.

    Thanks for sharing - I always look forward to your ABC posts!

  16. Thank you so much for this post, for it's so interesting! The Romans were everywhere and they left their traces all over Europe. Once we were in Dover for a weekend and saw parts of Dover Castle that still showed Roman brickwork, like the Roman lighthouse. There was also part of a Roman villa, which had been excavated a short time before we saw it. The Romans had central heating under their floors. Amazing! Thanks also for your comment! Fair Dinkum!

  17. Those Romans really got around back then! They were even in Wales!

  18. what a great post! I can see how seeing that footprint could make you cry. We are all the same in at least some small way.

  19. I so enjoyed this "R". Very interesting!

  20. Dina, this is fascinating. And...I would have almost cried too...or not even almost, most certainly.

  21. You've just made history come alive, Dina! It's really amazing to actually see what the Roman occupation was like.

  22. Hello Dina! Thanks so much for directing me back to your discovery of the kilns... this is so exciting, I love this sort of thing. The stamp on the back of the tile, the sandal print, all from a couple thousand years ago. How very interesting is that? Thanks many times over.


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