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"Roman Garrison in Jerusalem" Topic

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mosby65 Inactive Member25 Feb 2007 4:51 p.m. PST

Maybe you can help settle a dispute affecting a Roman miniatures game we're setting up. What was the size of the Roman garrison in Jerusalem at the start of the Jewish revolt? I know that the Casa Antonio could hold up to 3,000 troops. But that would be more than 6 cohorts. Would the garrison really have been more than half a legion? A standing garrison of a couple of cohorts seems more likely. Any sign of serious trouble; forify themselves in the Antonio and send for help from the legions in Syria.

Also, what legion would the garrison be from?

Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP25 Feb 2007 5:30 p.m. PST

Sounds more like 600:



Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP25 Feb 2007 5:50 p.m. PST

Part of the Tenth Legion, according to this:



aecurtis Fezian Inactive Member25 Feb 2007 8:09 p.m. PST

"Turris Antonia", perhaps? "Casa Antonio" sounds like a place to avoid the chimichangas.


Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP26 Feb 2007 7:03 a.m. PST

In time of need, it could house an entire legion:

"With great effort, Herod built Fort Antonia into a large enclosed area for the Romans to garrison an entire Legion along with their auxiliary personnel."
"During the Hasmonaean dynasty, the tower of Baris was expanded to become Fort Antonia. It adjoined the new city Bezetha and further obscured the Temple Mount from the north of Jerusalem. An aqueduct coming from Bethlehem supplied Fort Antonia with water that was stored in 37 cisterns for the Tenth Legion and their support personnel, which numbered approximately 10,000 men."
"A Roman Legion had 5,000 infantry troops and with them 5,000 support personnel. There were 833 military personal per acre within Fort Antonia.
The Roman garrison was the dominant feature of Jerusalem, a continuous reminder to the Jews of Rome's supremacy. Further, being four and one-half times greater in area than the Temple Mount, Fort Antonia was intimidating and therefore a successful tool of psychological warfare to secure Jewish conformity to Roman authority."
"The crowds that assembled at the Temple during the Holy Days were overseen by 2,000 Roman troops. In order to prevent disorder and riots among the Jews, they were stationed on a 45-foot wide walkway built atop the four colonnades that surrounded the Temple grounds. During the Jewish festivals, there were three rotations of guards, totaling 6,000 soldiers, each day."

"Judea was considered a minor province; its governor had at his disposal only a small force of about 3,000 auxiliary soldiers, mostly stationed at Caesarea. On festival occasions, such as the Jewish Passover, a cohort of about 500 soldiers would be stationed in the Fortress of Antonia in Jerusalem, overlooking the temple grounds."

"While overlooking Jerusalem, the Antonia Fortress was garrisoned with 600 Roman soldiers, who watched over the Temple courts in order to preserve order. The Bible spoke about the Antonia Fortress as a barracks (Acts 21:37), and it was here that Paul gave an address to the people (22:1-21). Paul was held in the fortress in protective custody until a military escort took him to Caesarea (Acts 23:12-24,31-35)."

I hope this helps.


Grizwald Inactive Member26 Feb 2007 9:46 a.m. PST

Which only goes to show how much different sources can disagree! From the quotes CC gives above:

"The crowds that assembled at the Temple during the Holy Days were overseen by 2,000 Roman troops."
"On festival occasions, such as the Jewish Passover, a cohort of about 500 soldiers would be stationed in the Fortress of Antonia in Jerusalem"
"he Antonia Fortress was garrisoned with 600 Roman soldiers"
- you pays yer money and yer choice!

"A Roman Legion had 5,000 infantry troops and with them 5,000 support personnel."

I'd love to know where they get that idea from. An Imperial Roman Legion consisted of 5,120 legionaries plus the legion command at full TOE strength. I have often seen this idea that were a large number of non-combatants associated with each legion but have never seen any evidence for this corroborated from original sources.

Certainly the archaeological evidence from Roman legionary fortresses in the UK does not appear to bear out this large number of non-combatants.

Can anyone shed any further light?

CooperSteveatWork Inactive Member26 Feb 2007 11:12 a.m. PST

In ACTS, from memory, it talks about Paul being snatched from the Temple Courts by a 'cohort' although that's probably referring to the unit not the actual number of troops on the operation.

Peter Conolly LIVING IN THE TIME OF JESUS OF NAZERETH has some nice pictures of auxilaries on duty on the temple porticoes.

Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP26 Feb 2007 12:00 p.m. PST

I agree. The figures are not consistent. That is one of the reasons I presented a few of those examples.

Apparently, the Antonia fortress was was not very large:

"It was rectangular in shape, measuring about 490 feet long (east to west) by 260 feet wide (north to south), with walls about 60-75 feet high. Each corner had a high tower, three of which were 75 feet high. The tower in the northwest corner, which overlooked the Temple area, however, was about 115 feet high. According to Acts 21 stairs connected the Antonia Fortress with the Temple area. The northwest tower was later known as Strato's Tower."

This archaeological evidence, combined with the possibility of adjacent garrisons and the possible support from the main military center in nearby Caesarea, may account for some of those wide ranging figures (speculative, for the most part).

This source, apparently drawn from Josephus' account, mentions a cohort:

"In September, Agrippa sent 2,000 horsemen. They entered the Upper City and fought a battle of mutual slaughter against Zealots led by Eleazar. After seven days of bloody strife, Sicarii reinforcements helped the Zealots drive Agrippa's men from the city. At about the same time, the Sicarii leader Menahem and his men took Masada and returned to Jerusalem with a veritable arsenal of weapons. Their blood up, the victors in Jerusalem burned the house of the high priest and the palace of Agrippa and Berenice. They stormed the fortress Antonia, adjacent to the northwest corner of the Temple, and killed its Roman cohort. They laid siege to Herod's palace, then massacred all but the leader of its Roman garrison after promising a safe exit. Those murders on the Sabbath put the entire city in fear of both human and divine reprisal."

I am sure that the garrison, however small, was boosted particularly during Jewish holidays:

"So Florus was troubled that the disturbances were over, and endeavored to kindle that flame again, and sent for the high priests, with the other eminent persons, and said the only demonstration that the people would not make any other innovations should be this, that they must go out and meet the soldiers that were ascending from Cesarea, whence two cohorts were coming; and while these men were exhorting the multitude so to do, he sent beforehand, and gave directions to the centurions of the cohorts, that they should give notice to those that were under them not to return the Jews' salutations; and that if they made any reply to his disadvantage, they should make use of their weapons. Now the high priests assembled the multitude in the temple, and desired them to go and meet the Romans, and to salute the cohorts very civilly, before their miserable case should become incurable. Now the seditious part would not comply with these persuasions; but the consideration of those that had been destroyed made them incline to those that were the boldest for action."

"They promised to keep good order if he would leave them one cohort, though not the one that had fought the Jews, as the people resented what they had suffered from that cohort, so he changed the cohort as they asked, and returned to Caesarea with the rest of his forces."

During Pilate:
"They amounted to five infantry cohorts and one cavalry regiment scattered throughout the province. One cohort was permanently posted in the Antonia Fortress in Jerusalem."


Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP26 Feb 2007 12:15 p.m. PST

Considering that there was unrest for quite a few months prior to the slaughter of the Antonia garrison (May-August), I would not be surprised if instead of a single "cohort", additional reinforcements from Caesarea were also on hand.


mosby65 Inactive Member26 Feb 2007 9:10 p.m. PST

With the political unrest, maybe 6 cohorts isn't so far-fetched after all. A couple in the fortress, a couple in Herod's palace complex, and the remaining manning the towers and gate houses protecting the main city gates (small fortresses) and other strategic or politically important ares in the city

Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP27 Feb 2007 6:08 a.m. PST

"With the political unrest, maybe 6 cohorts isn't so far-fetched after all."

That would definitely make sense.

I just can't see Procurator Gessius Florus waiting from May to August (of 66 AD) without reinforcing Antonia (from his headquarters in Caesarea), particularly with such a volatile province and with the consistently violent reactions to his perceived acts of provocation:



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