Archaeologists have discovered an ancient Roman “hand of god” – but the story it tells is tragically anything but heavenly.It is quite a remarkable artifact in itself, but it also has resonances for PaleoJudaica. I have posted before on the second-century C.E. epigraphic discoveries at Vindolanda. As I mentioned at the link, I'm going back there next month. More on that later.
The hand – unearthed near Hadrian’s Wall and made of 2.3 kilos of solid bronze – was almost certainly a gift to a military deity for giving the Romans victory in the largest military combat operation ever carried out in Britain, before or since.
The operation – a relatively little-known Roman invasion of Scotland in 209-210 AD – was also probably one of the bloodiest events in British history.
Most readers are probably also aware that I live in Scotland. And the ancient Roman campaigns in Scotland also have a connection with the Bar Kokhba Revolt. The earlier Roman invasion around 140 was headed by Quintus Lollius Urbicus, the commander who also led the defeat of the the Bar Kokhba rebels in 135. More on that Scottish campaign is here and here.
I'm looking forward to seeing the bronze "hand of Jupiter" in Vindolanda soon.
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