Roman Sword Unearthed

Holy Land Revealed

Excavation directors Eli Shukron of the Israel Antiquities Authority and Professor Ronny Reich of the University of Haifa made two important discoveries during excavations of a drainage channel in the ancient City of David including a Roman gladius from the time of the destruction of the Second Jewish Temple in 70 CE and an engraving of a Menorah on a piece of stone dating from 66 CE.

What Made the Gladius Such an Efficient Sword?

The finds were announced by the Israel Antiquities Authority. They show that the drainage channel which begins in the Siloam Pool and runs from the City of David to the archaeological garden; served as a hiding refuge for the residents of Jerusalem; during the Roman siege of the Second Temple built by King Herod

The gladius’ fine state of preservation is surprising; The preservation of the leather scabbard (a material that generally disintegrates quickly over time) and some of its decoration. The sword is the third Roman one found in Jerusalem.

The sword was about one meter long and could be used either as a dagger. In other words, it is easy to maneuver and stab your opponent. Or on the other hand, the sword could be used as a longsword. So the Roman Legionnaire could keep his enemy at a long distance. And to use the sword with a slashing movement; which can even sever limbs. First, soldiers used to throw javelins to disable the enemy’s shields; and disrupt enemy formations; before engaging in close combat. For which they drew the gladius. A soldier generally led with the shield and thrust with the sword. All gladius types appear to have been suitable for cutting; chopping, as well as thrusting.

Stabbing was a very efficient technique. Since stabbing wounds, especially in the abdominal area were almost always deadly. Though the primary infantry attack was thrusting at stomach height; they were trained to take any advantage; such as slashing at kneecaps beneath the shield wall. The sword found its way to the Colosseums of Rome very quickly. And used in the Arena to satisfy the bloodthirsty crowds. Hence the word Gladiators used the efficient Roman Gladius. Among the gladiators were even Jews. The Few Jews that the Romans spared, were sent to Rome to amuse the Roman people. 


Hi! My name is Arik Haglili, an Israeli native who decided to dedicate his life to share my knowledge about the Holy Land to those that are interested to know more about this amazing piece of land. My career as a private tour guide started at the International School For the Studying of the Holocaust and the rest is history. 

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