Archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) have uncovered a papyrus paycheck belonging to Roman soldier during excavations at Masada.
Masada is an ancient fortress and palace, built by King Herod the Great between 37 and 31 BC, situated on a plateau overlooking the dead sea in the Southern District of Israel.
During the First Jewish-Roman War, also called the Great Revolt, Masada was taken by the Sicarii (meaning “dagger-man”), a splinter group of the Jewish Zealots, and one of the earliest organised groups that specialised in the act of assassination.
In AD 72, the legion X Fretensis, commanded by Lucius Flavius Silva, marched on Masada to break the Sicarii resistance. The legion was supported by several auxiliary units and Jewish prisoners of war (totalling some 15,000 men and women according to accounts by the Romano-Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus).
Masada – Image Credit : Shutterstock
The Romans encircled Masada with a circumvallation siege wall, running for 6.8 miles around the mountain plateau, supported by a series of fortified encampments or temporary forts.
After several attempts to breach Masada’s defences, the Romans constructed a giant siege ramp scaling the western side of the fortress to a height of 61 metres. A siege tower and battering ram was slowly moved up the ramp, where on April 16th, AD 73, the walls of Masada were breached.
The events that followed has divided historians and archaeologists. According to Josephus: “it [was] by the will of God, and by necessity, that [they, the Sicarrii] are to die” and that the defenders drew lots and killed each other in turn, down to the last man (as Judaism prohibits suicide). Josephus further stated that their leader, Eleazar ben Ya’ir’s, ordered all provisions to be destroyed, to demonstrate to the Romans that they defiantly chose death over slavery.
Excavations by the IAA have found a detailed military paycheck (one of only three legionary paychecks discovered in the entire Roman Empire), issued to a Roman legionary soldier from the period of the First Jewish-Roman War in AD 72. The paycheck is one of 14 Latin scrolls found at Masada by archaeologists – 13 of which was written on papyrus, and one on parchment paper.
The paycheck provides a detailed summary of a Roman soldier’s salary over two pay periods (out of three he would receive annually), including the various deductions that he was charged.
Dr. Oren Ableman, senior curator-researcher at the Israel Antiquities Authority Dead Sea Scrolls Unit, said: “The soldier’s paycheck included deductions for boots and a linen tunic, and barley fodder for his horse.”
“Surprisingly, the details indicate that the deductions almost exceeded the soldier’s salary. Whilst this document provides only a glimpse into a single soldier’s expenses in a specific year, it is clear that in light of the nature and risks of the job, the soldiers did not stay in the army only for the salary,” added Dr Ableman.
According to Dr. Ableman, “The soldiers may have been allowed to loot on military campaigns. Other possible suggestions arise from reviewing the different historical texts preserved in the Israel Antiquities Authority Dead Sea Scrolls Laboratory.
For example, a document discovered in the Cave of Letters in Nahal Hever from the time of the Bar Kokhba Revolt (AD 132–135), sheds light on some side hustles Roman soldiers used to earn extra cash. This document is a loan deed signed between a Roman soldier and a Jewish resident, the soldier charging the resident with interest higher than what was legal. This document reinforces the understanding that the Roman soldiers’ salaries may have been augmented by additional sources of income, making service in the Roman army far more lucrative.”
Header Image Credit : Shai Halevi, Israel Antiquities Authority
This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily
New chambers discovered in Ancient Egyptian pyramid of Sahura
An Egyptian-German archaeological mission has discovered several new chambers in the pyramid of Sahura, located in the Abu Sir Pyramid Field south of Giza.
Sahura, meaning “He who is close to Re”, was a pharaoh of Ancient Egypt and the second ruler of the Fifth Dynasty (2465 BC to 2325 BC). Sahure’s reign is seen as one of economic and cultural prosperity, opening new trading links to the land of Punt and expanding the flow of goods from the Levantine coast.
Choosing not to follow the tradition of being buried in the royal necropolises of Saqqara and Giza, Sahura instead chose for his pyramid to be constructed at Abusir. Although smaller in size than the pyramids of his predecessors, Sahura’s pyramid complex was decorated with over 10,000 m2 of finely carved reliefs, some of which are considered “unparalleled in Egyptian art.”
The interior chambers of the pyramid were extensively damaged by grave robbers during antiquity, making it impossible to precisely reconstruct the substructure plan.
Image Credit : Mohamed Khaled
A restoration project led by Egyptologist Dr. Mohamed Ismail Khaled of the Department of Egyptology at Julius-Maximilians-Universität of Würzburg (JMU) has discovered a series of storage chambers and passageways. The northern and southern parts of these chambers are badly damaged, however, remnants of the original walls and parts of the floor can still be seen.
Using 3D laser scanning with a ZEB Horizon portable LiDAR scanner, the team conducted detailed surveys to map the extensive external areas and the narrow corridors and chambers inside.
According to the researchers: “Careful documentation of the floor plan and dimensions of each storage chamber has greatly enhanced our understanding of the pyramid’s interior. During restoration, a balance between preservation and presentation was pursued to ensure the structural integrity of the chambers while making them accessible for future study and potentially the public.”
During the restoration work, the project was also able to uncover the floor plan of the antechamber which had deteriorated over time. Consequently, the destroyed walls were replaced with new retaining walls. The eastern wall of the antechamber was badly damaged, and only the northeast corner and about 30 centimetres of the eastern wall were still visible.
Header Image – Pyramid of Sahura – Public Domain
Archaeologists identify runesmith who carved the Jelling Stone runes
Archaeologists using 3D scans have identified who carved the Jelling Stone runes, located in the town of Jelling, Denmark.
The first of the two Jelling stones was erected by King Gorm the Old in honour of his wife Thyra. Following this, a second stone was raised by King Gorm’s son, Harald Bluetooth, to commemorate his parents and to mark his victorious rule over Denmark and Norway, as well as his role in converting the Danish people to Christianity.
Researchers from the National Museum in Copenhagen have conducted 3D scans to analyse the carving tracks of the runes. Similar to handwriting, the carving techniques are relatively unique to each runesmith, as each stonemason holds the chisel at a certain angle and strikes with a certain force with the hammer.
By studying the angle of the chisel grooves and the distance between them, comparisons can be made with other rune stones, such as the Laeborg Runestone which stands approximately 30 kilometres southwest of Jelling
The analysis has revealed that the Laeborg Runestone has the same carving technique, which also has the inscription: “Ravnunge-Tue carved these runes after Thyra, his queen”.
Queen Thyra is mentioned in the two Jelling stones as the mother of Harald Bluetooth, wife of Gorm the Elder and “penitent of Denmark”, but Thyra’s name is also mentioned in two other runestones, that of Læborg, carved by Ravnunge-Tue in honor of Thyra, his queen, and that of Bække 1, which bears the inscription “Ravnunge-Tue and Fundin and Gnyple, the three made the stop of Thyra.”
For many years, researchers have debated whether Læborgstenen’s Queen Thyra is the same as the Thyra mentioned on the stones from Jelling.
According to the researchers: “The discovery in itself is interesting because it can link another person to the Jelling dynasty, but it is especially interesting because the realization brings with it another startling revelation, explains Lisbeth Imer, runologist and senior researcher at the National Museum.”
“It is an absolutely incredible discovery that we now know the name of the rune maker behind the Jelling stone, but what makes the discovery even wilder is that we know Ravnunge-Tue’s boss. It is Queen Thyra from Jelling, i.e. Harald Blåtand’s mother, there can no longer be much doubt about that, and that puts the discovery in a completely different light,” says Lisbeth Imer.
Header Image Credit : Shutterstock
Ghosts1 year ago
Zozo: The Ouija Board Demon
Space12 months ago
Scientists claim to have found the answer what existed before the Universe
Archaeology7 months ago
New discoveries at Ekʼ Balam during conservation works
Ghosts1 year ago
Old Coot of Mount Greylock
Ghosts1 year ago
Jumbee: Demons of the Caribbean