Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Legio X

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Isn't she beautiful?!
And to think, she is just a terracotta antefix.
Made by the Romans here in Jerusalem between the 1st and 3rd centuries of the Common Era.

Our lovely mask-shaped roof edge decoration--or antefix--was used like this, on the covering tiles of a tiled roof.

But the reason this post is going to ABC Wednesday's X-day is because of what is stamped on these old tiles:
LEG X FRE which means TENTH ROMAN LEGION, FRENTENSIS.
When the Tenth Legion, stationed in Jerusalem, was not engaged in destroying the city it was busy building up the infrastructure of the area.

As the exhibit is described in the Israel Museum
In peacetime, Roman soldiers were employed in public works.
The most hated of these were the back-breaking construction projects: paving roads and building fortresses, walls, dams, and aqueducts.
The legions would record their labors for posterity with Latin inscriptions carved in stone.
The produced their own building materials in special workshops, stamping them with military symbols to prevent their sale on the open market.
The tiles shown above were made at the kilns discovered (and preserved!) under what is today Jerusalem's International Convention Center.
Notice the sandal-print of a poor Roman soldier who goofed and stepped on the tile as it was drying!

Here is another Roman numeral X.
The limestone stone reads LEG X FRE COH IIX.
It is the inscription of the Eighth Cohort of the Tenth Legion Frentensis.
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(For more about Jerusalem's Roman history you can click on my labels Tenth Legion, Romans, Roman kiln, Roman pavement, Roman theater.
Or, see Wikipedia about Legio X Frentensis.)
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UPDATE: As Rob reminds me in a comment now, it was the Legio X Frentensis, headed by Peter O'Toole--oh, I mean Roman governor of Judea Lucius Flavius Silva--that laid siege to Masada in the years 72-3.
And also that the Tenth Legion had a garrison at the present-day Arab village of Abu Ghosh, just outside Jerusalem. They chose to build a fortress there because it was close to the Roman road going from Emmaus to Jerusalem.
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20 comments:

Virginia said...

Amazing. I think she is beautiful. You have such an interesting job!
V

Roy Schulze said...

I often find these sort of everyday stories far more interesting than the grander histories. Things like the accidental sandal print brings it all down to the human scale. Thanks for sharing.

My unseasonal entry this week is Ex Mess.

VP said...

Our modern roof tiles aren't so different...

JM said...

Definitely beautiful, Dina!

Dina said...

Virginia, glad you agree.
Yeah, well, I don't work ALL the time in archaeology; but when I do go out to do some paid work it is in excavations.

Roy, shalom. You're so right. It makes it so human.

VP, right, and remember the pallets full of Italian roof tiles I saw being used at the Russian convent?
http://jerusalemhillsdailyphoto.blogspot.co.il/2011/01/italian-tiles-on-russian-roof-in-ein.html

JM, :)

Rob and Mandy said...

Abu Gosh? Wasn't it them as well in Masada?

Sara said...

I agree with Roy...all the little common everyday things are what really fascinate me. Love the soldier's sandal print on the tile...so how big is that tile and how big was his foot? I know people were generally smaller in those days. The antefix lady is lovely.

Dina said...

Rob, thanks. I added an update about that.

Sara, let's say the tile is almost a foot long. :)

chubskulit said...

The tile is gorgeous!

Xeronate
Rose, ABC Wednesday Team

Leslie: said...

Fascinating and eXcellent post today, not that your posts aren't always. lol It's always great to learn more history. Love your photos!

Leslie
abcw team

Spiderdama said...

Yes, she is beautiful! I see an interesting reflection of the image no 2:-)

zeder said...

Regards from Berlin,
Uwe-Jens

Robert Geiss said...

Thank you very much for your ability to discover such adventure.

Please have a good Thursday.

Roger Owen Green said...

lovely image
Rog, ABC WEDNESDAY team

Adullamite said...

Very interesting Dina.

Fran said...

a most interesting post. thank you. your blog is wonderful

Black Jack's Carol said...

She is indeed beautiful, and as always, your post has made me think of the hearts and spirits of people from a time so long ago that they would otherwise have seemed fictional.

zongrik said...

my cousin Tova is an Israeli tour guide and the stories are more interesting than even seeing the places!!

spaceship tanka

spacedlaw said...

Lovely detail.

Kay said...

Ahhhh... I have to smile with your reference to Peter O'Toole. :-)