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Emet m'Tsiyon

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Roman Documents Showing Judea [IVDAEA] as the Roman name for Israel

The Roman Empire called the Land of Israel IVDAEA, Judea, in the heyday of the empire, not only in official documents but in books by Suetonius, Tacitus, and Pliny writing in Latin, and by Plutarch, Strabo the Geographer, and Ptolemy the Geographer writing in Greek. The name in Greek is transliterated Ioudaia, it is apparently pronounced identically to the Latin pronunciation of IVDAEA. These names come from the Aramaic word Yehudaya meaning "the Jews," according to the historian Felix Abel of the Ecole Biblique.

One kind of official document using the name Judea was the military diploma. In ancient Rome this was something like army discharge papers combined with what in the USA might be called Veterans Administration certification. They spelled out where and in what legions the veteran had served, as well as his veteran's rights. They are important for supplying information about which legions were stationed where and when, names of commanders and governors, etc. The diploma consisted of two bronze plates inscribed with the same text, one copy open and the other kept sealed for the purpose of verifying the open copy in case of doubt.

One such diploma of a legionary who had served in Judea is on display at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. See below the two surviving plates, the outer or overt plate coming down to us in better condition than the inner or sealed plate. Both plates show the name IVDAEA --Judea. In between are printed copies of the text of each plate.

On both plates note that the name IVDAEA appears on the fourth line from the bottom. The photos can be enlarged by clicking, and then clicking on the second image that appears.

These photos appeared in the journal, Israel Museum Studies in Archeology, 2: 2003.


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