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Archaeologists excavating at the base of the Roman Sixth Legion near Megiddo believe they have found evidence of the first military amphitheater discovered in the Southern Levant. Compared to the elaborate amphitheaters used by civilians, the military amphitheaters were simpler, with wooden seats and less luxurious furnishings.
The amphitheater was built by soldiers with picks and hoes. It was used as a training ground and for entertainment such as gladiator fights and animal fights. The arena of the amphitheater was 50-70 meters long, and the seating was at a height of 8-9 meters.
The Roman Sixth Legion was based in this place in the second or third century AD, as evidenced by a recently found gold coin during the reign of the Roman emperor Diocletian in 294 AD. The military camp shared the territory with a Jewish village and a Roman-Byzantine city.
The German Society for Oriental Research excavated an area of almost 250 square meters, revealing parts of the arena, the remains of ramps made of layers of earth and stone, and two sections of the outer load-bearing wall.
The work of archaeologists is complicated by the fact that the stones from which an amphitheater was built, used as building material by subsequent residents of the area, including residents of a nearby Ottoman-era village and a British military camp garrison.
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