Legio Excavations Reveal Roman Camp of VIth Ferrata Legion in Judea

The second-century C.E. Roman military headquarters played its part during the formative years of Rabbinic Judaism and Christianity.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 18, 2013)—This summer, the Jezreel Valley Regional Project (JVRP) teamed up with Israeli archaeologist Yotam Tepper to expose a Roman camp just south of Tel Megiddo. The first archaeological investigation of a second-century C.E. Roman camp in the Eastern Empire uncovered remains from the legendary Roman VIth Ferrata Legion. In a free web-exclusive report, directors Matthew J. Adams, Jonathan David and Yotam Tepper share dramatic discoveries from the 2013 Legio excavations. 

The legion was deployed during the reign of the Roman emperor Hadrian (117–138 C.E.), and it remained stationed in Judea through most of the third century C.E. Based in the Jezreel Valley near Tel Megiddo, the Sixth Ironclad Legion was well situated to control important centers of the local Jewish population. Surveys conducted by Yotam Tepper clarified the location of the military base, and in the summer of 2013 Tepper and the JVRP excavated part of the long-lost camp of the Legio VI Ferrata.

In a free, web-exclusive report, the directors describe discoveries from test trenches excavated over an area of 295 by 16.5 feet. Finds include defensive earthworks, a circumvallation rampart, barracks areas and artifacts including roof tiles stamped with the name of the Sixth Legion, coins and fragments of scale armor.

The excavation of a Roman military headquarters with clear ties to major political and cultural events in the formative years of Rabbinic Judaism and Christianity is exciting in itself, but Legio also provides a new window into the Roman military occupation of the eastern provinces. No military headquarters of this type for this particular period had yet been excavated in the entire Eastern Empire.

Legio and Tel Megiddo are identified with Biblical Har Megiddo, the gathering place for the armies before the Last Battle in the New Testament (Revelations 16:16), the origin of the modern term Armageddon. The Jezreel Valley Regional Project is only in its opening stages, but excavations at this theological and historical military gathering point have already yielded dramatic discoveries.


Click here to read the free online excavation report by Matthew J. Adams, Jonathan David and Yotam Tepper: www.biblicalarchaeology.org/legio


Press Release by Noah Wiener, Bibilical Archaeology Society

Cover Photo: Crop stamp found at 2013 Legio excavations. Courtesy JVRP 


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