Take a Guess at the Year
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Gaius is Rewarded
The papyrus pay sheet (below) tallied a legionnaire’s pay in the First Jewish-Roman War that ended in 73 AD. Archeologists found the scrap during excavation of 1,900-year-old Roman camp in Israel. Gaius Messius received 50 denarri following the Siege of Masada. Deductions were taken out for barely money, food, leather straps and more.
Because part of the deductions taken were for fodder, food for livestock, experts believe he was a legionary cavalryman and had to feed his horse and mule.
The pay slip was found where the Romans may have set up camp during the Siege of Masada and is dated for after the war – suggesting it was payment for participation.
It reads: ‘The fourth consulate of Imperator Vespasianus Augustus. Accounts, salary. Gaius Messius, son of Gaius, of the tribe Fabia, from Beirut.’
Gaius Messius acknowledges, “I received my stipendium of 50 denarii, out of which I have paid barley money 16 denarii. […]rnius: food expenses 20(?) denarii; boots 5 denarii; leather strappings 2 denarii; linen tunic 7 denarii.”
Masada is an ancient fortification in the Southern District of Israel situated on top of an isolated rock plateau (akin to a mesa) on the eastern edge of the Judaean Desert, overlooking the Dead Sea.
Herod the Great built palaces for himself on the mountain and fortified Masada between 37 and 31 BC.
The Siege of Masada by troops of the Roman Empire towards the end of the First Jewish–Roman War ended in the mass suicide of the 960 Jewish rebels and their families hiding there.
The Romans followed shortly after and surrounded Masada with about 8,000 soldiers at the base of the mountain.
When it became clear the Romans were going to take the fortress, the 960 Jews, excluding two women and five children, took their lives rather than become slaves of their enemy.
Masada is located 12 miles east of Arad and is Israel’s most popular paid tourist attraction. It was once an ancient fortification atop an isolated rock plateau, overlooking the Dead Sea. Herod the Great built the massive structure between 37 and 31 BCE
Josephus wrote down accounts of what he called, “The Jewish War,” including what he saw at the Siege of Masada: ‘They had died in the belief that they had left not a soul of them alive to fall into Roman hands; The Romans advanced to the assault … seeing none of the enemy but on all sides the awful solitude, and flames within and silence, they were at al loss to conjecture what had happened here encountering the mass of slain, instead of exulting as over enemies, they admired the nobility of their resolve.’
The rebels fled to the fortress, and thought it impregnable until the Romans built a ramp up to the fortification. Engineering was something that the Roman Army did not shy away from.
Masada had laid hidden from the world until it was rediscovered in 1828.