Discovery in Israel reveals evidence of last Jewish revolt against Rome

Archaeological find in central Israel sheds light on lesser-known Jewish war against Rome after the Bar Kokhba Revolt – the last such attempt to drive Roman forces from the Land of Israel.

By World Israel News Staff

Israeli archaeologists have uncovered the first physical evidence of an additional revolt against Roman rule in the Land of Israel, the last such attempt by Levantine Jews to reject Roman forces from Judea.

On Sunday, the Israel Antiquities Authorities announced that it has discovered evidence in the central Israeli city of Lod for the Gallus Revolt, the last Jewish resistance against Roman rule.

The dramatic discovery was made in a large public building in whose foundations a 1650-year-old hoard was hidden.

An excavation on Nordau Street in Lod, led by the Israel Antiquities Authority and funded by the Lod Municipality, uncovered a public building dating back to the Late Roman—Early Byzantine period that suffered violent destruction.

Its foundations held 94 silver and bronze coins dating between 221—354 CE, which were deliberately placed there – in the hopes of returning to collect them when the situation would calm.

The latest coins are dated from the time of the Gallus Revolt (351-354 CE). Though written evidence is sparse regarding this revolt, there are texts reporting that major Jewish communities such as Lod, Zipori and Tiberias were destroyed by the forces of Roman Caesar Flavius Claudius Constantius Gallus.

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Among the various finds in the building were impressive stone and marble artifacts; Greek, Hebrew and Latin inscriptions, and one inscription bearing the name of a Jewish man from a priestly family, which is still being studied.

These inscriptions, coupled with the complete absence of pig bones from the bone assemblage uncovered in this site, attest to this building’s association with the Jewish community.

According to the site excavators, Shahar Krispin and Mor Viezel of the Israel Antiquities Authority, the building in question may have been used by local religious leaders.

“In all likelihood this is a magnificent Jewish building that housed the city’s elders. From Talmudic writings we know that Lod was a most significant Jews center in the aftermath of the Second Temple’s destruction in Jerusalem.”

“The renowned ‘Sages of Lod’ include Rabbi Eliezer ben Horkanos, Rabbi Tarfon, Rabbi Akiva, Rabbi Yosi HaGalili and many more. This building, destroyed down to its very foundation, is a clear indication that the revolt was forcefully put down with violence and cruelty, and was not simply a local uprising event, as some earlier studies contended. This is the singular witness, thus far, to the extent and power of this revolt in Lod, located in the country’s center.”

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Professor Joshua Schwartz, Israel Antiquities Authority Council Head, who studies Talmudic period Lod, said the building may have been a synagogue or yeshiva.

“It is difficult to determine if this magnificent building served as synagogue, study hall, meeting hall of the elders, or all three of these functions as one. But what is clear is that the building’s size, the coin hoard, and the assemblage of archaeological finds produced by the excavation, fit well Lod/Diospolis’ description in both Jewish and non-Jewish sources as a center of Torah-true Jewish life in the Mishna and Talmud periods.”

“Lod’s role as a leading community with elders continued from after the destruction though to this moment when it was cruelly cut down in the Gallus Revolt.”

Ancient coins

Hoard of ancient coins found in Lod. (Davna Gazit, IAA)Mayor of Lod Yair Revivo called the find “exciting and very emotionally moving”

It is “another link in the chain of Lod’s Tannaitic period heritage as host to the authors of the Mishna, and to Lod’s Jewish history. The finds in the area proves that Lod is the one of the oldest cities in the world. We wish to thank the Israel Antiquities Authority for revealing our city’s past glory. I believe that now that it is uncovered, this site will bring many tourists and visitors to the city: Lod is connecting to its past and is looking forward to a bright future.”