Biblical Archaeology Review 32:6, November/December 2006

Hadrian’s Legion

Encamped on the Temple Mount

By Eilat Mazar

After the Romans destroyed the Temple and burned Jerusalem in 70 C.E., the Xth Legion (Fretensis) of the Roman army camped on the southwestern hill of the city, in the area known today as the Citadel, by Jaffa Gate.1 This was not, however, enough to stifle the resurgence of Jewish nationalism. In 132 C.E. what is known as the Second Jewish Revolt (the so-called Bar-Kochba Revolt) erupted, only to be suppressed, like the First Jewish Revolt, by the Roman army, this time led by the Emperor Hadrian. But it took him three years and many men. At its end, Hadrian ordered the city razed. Jews were forbidden to enter the city except once a year to mourn the destruction of their temple. In the report of his victory to the Roman Senate, however, Hadrian omitted the customary salutation: “I and the army are well.”

On the old Jewish city of Jerusalem, Hadrian erected a new Roman city that he named Aelia Capitolina. Aelia was his own name—Publius Aelia Hadrianus. Capitolina refers to the three Capitoline gods—Jupiter, Juno and Minerva. Hadrian also changed the name of the country from Judaea to Palaestina in an effort to eradicate any connection with the Jews.

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