Bar Kochba Rebellion 132-135

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AELIA CAPITOLINA , name given to the rebuilt city of Jerusalem by the Romans in 135 c.e. Following the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 c.e. the city remained in ruins except for the camp (castrum) of the Tenth Legion (Fretensis), which was situated in the area of the Upper City and within the ruins of the Praetorium (the old palace of Herod the Great), protected, according to the first-century historian Josephus (War, 7, 1:1) by remnants of the city wall and towers on the northwest edge of the city. Although Jews were banished from the city (except apparently during the Ninth of *Av), some Jewish peasants still lived in the countryside, and remains of houses (with stone vessels) have been found immediately north of Jerusalem (close to Tell el-Ful). Following the disastrous *Bar Kokhba Revolt, the emperor *Hadrian began rebuilding Jerusalem, from 135 c.e., naming

it after himself (Aelius Hadrianus) and the god Jupiter Capitolinus. Some scholars believe that an impetus for the breakout of the Bar Kokhba revolt was the pagan construction activities in the city, but archaeological finds would appear to indicate that most of the principal building activities there (including those on the Temple Mount) took place only after the revolt had been quashed and when a colony was already established there. Jews were no longer allowed access to the city and it was populated by foreigners and settled Roman veterans. Aelia (approximately 120 acres in size) rapidly took on the character of a pagan city with special gates, civic centers (demosia), bathhouses, latrines, sanctuaries, and shrines, and pagan equestrian statues were even set up on the Temple Mount. The whereabouts of the Capitoline Temple is debated, with some scholars placing it in the area of the present Church of the Holy Sepulcher, while others suggest situating it in the area of the destroyed *Antonia Fortress on the north side of the Temple Mount. Shrines to Aphrodite and Serapis are also known. Most of the building activities took place in the northern sectors of the Old City of today (in the Christian and Moslem Quarters), and around the southwestern foot of the Temple Mount. The city remained unfortified until after the Tenth Legion had been transferred to Aila (Eloth), with a fortification wall built in the third century around the northern part of the city only. The name Aelia was perpetuated in the Early Islamic period as Ilia.


B. Issac, "Roman Colonies in Judaea: the Foundation of Aelia Capitolina," in: The Near East under Roman Rule (1998), 87–111; F. Millar, "The Roman Coloniae of the Near East: A Study of Cultural Relations," in: H. Solin and M. Kajava (eds.), Roman Eastern Policy and Other Studies in Roman History (1990), 28–30; D. Bar, "Aelia Capitolina and the Location of the Camp of the Tenth Legion," in: Palestine Exploration Quarterly, 130 (1998), 8–19; G.D. Stiebel, "The Whereabouts of the x Legion and the Boundaries of Aelia Capitolina," in: A. Faust and E. Baruch (eds.), New Studies in Jerusalem (1999), 68–103.

[Shimon Gibson (2nd ed.)]

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Usha, synod of. 2nd-cent. CE convention of Jewish sages. After the persecutions at the close of the Bar Kokhba revolt, a synod met at Usha to reactivate the Sanhedrin.

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Aelia Capitolina. The post-135 CE Roman name for Jerusalem when, after the Bar Kokhba revolt, the Emperor Hadrian tried to deprive the city of its Jewish character.

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Aelia Capitolina the new city which the Emperor Hadrian built c.130 ad on the site of Jerusalem (destroyed by Titus in 70 ad).