top of page
< Back

Were there Jews in Roman Britain?

Shimon Applebaum

<plain_text><page sequence="1">Were There Jews in Roman Britain ?1 By Shimon Applebaum, D. Phil. "Aquae Son's/' he repeated, "the best baths in Britain . . . You meet fortune-tellers and goldsmiths, and merchants and philosophers, and feather-sellers, and ultra-Roman Britons, and ultra-British Romans, and tame tribesmen pretending to be civilised, and Jew lecturers, and oh, everybody interesting."?Kipling, "Puck of Pook's Hill." KIPLING had several good intuitions about Roman Britain, and those of novelists frequendy arouse respect. The problem is esoteric to a degree; but let it to be said at once, that if the evidence is slight and disputable, the discussion is worth? while, because it has never been reviewed by a student of Roman Britain; and the result may be to shed a faint but additional ray of light on both the life of the province and the history of the Jewish people. I divide the subject into two sections : probabilities and evidence. I would emphasize that the probabilities are scientifically demonstrable probabilities and not conjectures ; but they are not more than probabilities. The evidence, it is hoped, will be discussed strictly on its merits.2 There are two subjects which may be dismissed for lack of evidence. One is the Jewish tradition in Cornwall, the other the legends of Joseph of Arimathea. There is no archaeological proof for trade-contacts by the Phoenicians with Cornwall, and the evidence even for Mediterranean contacts in the late Bronze and Early Iron Ages is not abundant; what there is, suggests trade rather by Greeks, and a Numidian coin found dates from a period after Carthage had lost control of the straits of Gibraltar.3 It was Camden who first made the suggestion giving rise to the Phoenician belief; the confusion between this and the Jewish tradition appears to be subsequent; and the latter is probably connected with Camden's own opinion4 that the Jews farmed the stannaries under John. The legend of Joseph of Arimathea is of mediaeval origin, but it has a value in so far as it indicates Glastonbury as an early centre of British Christianity. The Church was old in the 6th century;5 and the Christian finds at Frampton, Dorchester, Fifehead Neville, Rotherley, Tidworth, Chedworth, and Appleshaw (all in Dorset, Hampshire, and Gloucestershire) suggest Christianity penetrated early to south-west Britain; but that it had arrived as early as AD 100, the last date when Jews and Christians were regarded as members of one group, seems unlikely. There is, nevertheless, evidence for early contacts between Dorset, Devon, and the Near East. This is in the form of 1 Paper read before the Jewish Historical Society of England, on 14th December, 1950. 2 This paper was written at the suggestion of Mr. Cecil Roth whom I have to thank for a number of references and suggestions. I also gratefully acknowledge the assistance and criticisms rendered by Mr. C. E. Stevens, Prof. J. M. C. Toynbee,Mr. E. B. Birley, and Dr. Samuel Stern. 8 O'N. Hencken, "The Archaeology of Cornwall," London (1931), pp. 168 ff.; see there for a general survey of the problem of the Mediterranean contacts; but the Jewish tradition is not regarded by that author as worthy even of demolition. 4 "Britannia" (London, 1607), Damnonii, 9. But Max M?ller, "Chips from a German Workshop," (1870), III, 299 ff., extirpating the Cornish Jewish tradition with philological weapons, discredits the Jewish tin-mining under John. (321 ff.). Mr. C. E. Stevens has nevertheless reported to me a remark by the late Prof. R. G. Collingwood about the Cornish-Phoenician connection : "When you find clotted cream being eaten both in Syria and Cornwall, there may still be something in the tradition." 6 William of Malmesbury, De Antiquitate Glastoniensis Ecclesiae, and his "Life of St. Dunstan." See Antiquaries' Journal X, (London, 1930) 24 ff. for excavations at the Abbey. R* 189</page><page sequence="2">190 WERE THERE JEWS IN ROMAN BRITAIN &gt; coin-finds, which have been published by Milne,1 and can be added to. The coins of autonomous Greek cities and states, discovered in Dorset, are mainly from the central Mediterranean, focused on Carthage and Syracuse, with a smaller group from Syria. Those from the last country include six from Antioch, and ten of the Seleucid kings. Milne concludes that these arrived, on an average, some forty years after their issue. The Greek coins in question range from the fourth to the first centuries BC, the greater number falling between the fourth and the second. From the remainder of Britain, over which the distribution of Greek autonomous coins is relatively even, the grouping of provenance is similar (5 Seleucid, 14 Syracuse, 10 Ptolemaic, 10 from other places). But at Exeter it is important to note that the balance was in favour of the Levantine issues, and a collection at Farnham Museum (Dorset) shows a similar composition, all the coins there belonging to the 3rd century BC. All the Syracusan and Carthaginian coins were before the 2nd century, and were found in most cases south of the Thames; the Carthaginian coins tend to show a preponderance in the south-east of the country. It looks then as if the Carthaginian connection, which certainly existed, was as much up the Channel to Kent, or over Gaul, as from the south-west. Whereas the Dorset coins came in with trade-consignments, the Exeter finds appear to have been lost over a long period of time, and show that this was one of the first ports of call for sea-traffic coming from the Mediterranean up the Channel. The finds included Greek autonomous issues of Syria and coins of Carthage and Sidon. The analysis of the Graeco-Roman Imperial bronze pieces from Exeter is especially interesting for our purpose, since they are mainly from Syria : Antioch, Chalcis, Cyrrhus, Hierapolis, Edessa, Samosata, Zeugma, and Singara. There are also 57 billion issues of Alexandria from Trajan onwards. The high probability of Jewish participation in this traffic, which came from towns with so marked a Jewish population, needs no stressing. The Greek Imperial bronze coinage, Milne points out, was, as small change, not current except near its place of issue, and its presence therefore is likely to indicate that it was brought direct from the place of its origin in the pockets of travellers and sailors. From the rest of the country, all the finds known to Milne come, with two exceptions, from the Euxine and the Levant. Yet in all this, it is significant that not a single coin of the Hasmoneans appears; there are, however, one coin of the house of Herod, and two of the Jewish independence periods of 70 and 132, which we shall discuss later. Milne failed to notice these. The particularly strong link of Exeter and Dorset (probably Poole Flarbour) with the Orient, would form a fair basis for believing that early Christianity penetrated the country first by these ports, and would explain the Christian finds alluded to above. A jar with Chi-ro graffito was indeed found at Exeter in 1946 ;2 it is however of fourth century date (AD). Charles Roach Smith published in the last century3 a graffito on a Samian vessel found in the same town. This he believed read "Daoud made me" in a script resembling Arabic; but the letters are more likely, I think, to be Roman cursive in retro. When we are discussing points of entry to Roman Britain from the east, it is relevant to mention Bordeaux. When in the year 314 Britain sent bishops to the Council of Aries,4 the delegates came from towns with strong continental links?London, York, 1 "Finds of Greek Coins in the British Isles/' (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford), 1948. 2 Journal of Roman Studies, XXXVII (London, 1947), 182. Information on the date from Lady Aileen Fox. 3 Journal of the British Archaeological Association, IV (London, 1899), 20. 4 The Corbie Codex; see Haddan and Stubbs, "Councils and Ecclesiastical Documents," (Oxford, 1869-78), I, 7.</page><page sequence="3">WERK THERE JEWS IN ROMAN BRITAIN t 191 and Colchester.1 York and Lincoln had direct relations with Bordeaux in the third century ;2 Syrians were settled at the latter port before the fourth ,3 and Jews arrived there, according to tradition, soon after 70 AD., though literary evidence does not attest them there before the sixth century.4 But it should be noted that Dr. O'N. Hencken records, that the earliest "Chi-ro" symbols on Cornish Christian tombstones, dated to the fourth century, spread from northern France ;5 it is the later form with the open loop, regarded as sixth century, that spread to Cornwall and Ireland from south of the Garonne. Frey thought that the evidence does not show Jewish communities in Gaul of any considerable size prior to the third or fourth century, but individual Jews must have reached the country earlier, especially after the war of 70, which materially aided Jewish dispersion.6 In general, the spread of Christianity to Britain, probably from south-west Gaul or down the Rhine valley, during the third and increasingly during the fourth century, may have been bound up with oriental traders among whom Jews figured. In this connection, it might be asked whether the Jews had any part in the manu? facture and export of Terra Sigillata in the 1st, 2nd and earlier 3rd centuries. Bargates, a slave of M. Perennius, was signing Arretine ware in Italy in the Augustan period ;7 his pottery ceased to be exported a few years before the Roman invasion of Britain, but he is useful as showing that orientals were sometimes directly involved in the industry. He was presumably a Palmyran; the name occurs twice at Doura,8 and is the same as Barates, who figures on the well-known tombstones at South Shields9 and Corbridge.10 (The latter includes Tadmoritan script in its inscription). In Egypt Barates occurs as the name of a Jew.11 Mr. Roth has suggested to me that one of the Terra Sigillata potters, Vitalis, might have been a Jew, so common was the name among Jews during the Middle Ages.12 There were however at least three potters of this name working in Gaul, at le Graufesenque, Lezoux, and Rheinzabern.13 Moreover Vitalis is far too 1 Not Lincoln ; see Haddan and Stubbs., op. cit., and English Historical Review, XI, 419 ; XLII, 79. 2 Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, XIII (Berlin, 1899), 634; JRS XI (1921), 101. 3 CIL. XIII, 632. 4 For the tradition of early arrival, see "The Jewish Encyclopedia," (New York, 1901-6), sv. "Bordeaux" ; 6th century evidence?Gregory of Tours, de virtute S. Martini, in B. Krusch, Monumenta Germaniae Historica (Berlin, 1877), I, 644. 6 Op. cit., 211. 6 The earliest evidence is constituted by the exile of Archelaus to Vienne, and Herod Antipas to Lyon in 6 and 39 A.D. respectively. (Josephus Ant. XVII, 13; XVIII, 7, 2). Tradition connects the first communities with Aries, Lyons, and Bordeaux, after the destruction of the Second Temple (Siddur, Baer, 112). There are finds at Avignon and Bonn that perhaps precede the 4th century (Frey, CIJ, I, 667 ; "Jrhb. Ver. v. Altertumsfreunde in Rheinlande," XXII (1855), 74-6; at Poitiers Jews were present before 366 (Ven. Fort., Vita S. Hil, 3), at Cologne they were established before 321 (C. Theod. XVI, 8, 3), at Metz by 350 (Pauli and Petri, Carm., 25, 25). 7 E. Oswald and T. D. Pryce, "An Introduction to the Study of Terra Sigillata" (London, 1920), 7, etc. Fragments suspected to be the work of Perennius and Bargates have been found at pre-Roman Camulodunum.?C. F. C. Hawkes and M. R. Hull, "Camulodunum" (Report of the Research Committee of the Society of Antiquaries of London, no. 14, 1947), 168-9. 8 H. W?thnow, "Semitische Menschennamen in Griechische Inschriften und Papyri des vorderen Orientes" (Leipzig, 1930), ad voc. 9 Ephemeris Epigraphica (Additamenta ad Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum), IV (Rome and Berlin, 1878-81), 718a. 10 Ib. IX, (Berlin, 1913), 1153a. 11 C. C. Edgar, "Zeno Papyri" (Cairo, 1925-31), 59690?third century B.C. 12 See Indices, G. Saige, "Les Juifs de Languedoc " (Paris, 1881); Revue des etudes Juives, sv. "Vital" ; H. Gross, "Gallia Judaica" (Versailles, 1897). I do not find cases earlier than the twelfth century. 13 A. Oswald, "Index of Potters' Stamps on Terra Sigillata" (East Bridgeford, 1931), 9, ad. voc.</page><page sequence="4">192 WERE THERE JEWS IN ROMAN BRITAIN ? common a name in the Roman Empire to enable us to identify its holders as Jews solely on the strength of it. Certainly there are Jews called Vitalis : Frey has a case,1 another possible one ;2 a third Bitalio,3 a fourth Flavia Vitalina4?all from Rome. Diehl5 records a Jewish woman of this name. But in CIL VIII (Africa) the name occurs among gentiles no fewer than a hundred times for men, and tliirty-one times for women. It is nevertheless suggestive that Diehl6 records no fewer than fifty Christians so called.7 Of interest for our subject is the Lezoux potter Nunnus.8 His is a pronouncedly oriental name, frequently adopted by Jews. Most of the prominent men of the name recorded in Paully-Wissowa's "Realeneiklop?die des Klassischen Altertums," are Christians from the eastern provinces. Diehl has two Jews of this name,9 and a Nonna.10 Nonna also occurs among Jews at Teucheira, Cyrenaica;11 Nonos is found at Jerash,12 Besas Nonou and Nonna (both Jewish) at Jaffa;13 Nonna, a Jewess, is recorded by Frey from Milan.14 Both names are found in Asia Minor and Syria in Semitic contexts.15 It is further suggestive that Nunnus worked not only at Lezoux, but also at Clermont Ferrand, where Jews are recorded as living in the fifth century.16 But of his wares, next to nothing is known. The probability of the existence of Jews in Roman Britain can also be viewed in the light of what evidence there is for the presence of oriental civilian settlers as a whole. Flavius Antigonus Papias is a case in point. He was buried at Carlisle in the fourth century, and his epitaph17 led Haverfield and others to regard him as a Christian. The name Papias is Semitic; it occurs at Jerusalem,18 and Doura Europos;19 as Pappaios, at Der Ba'albe20 and among the Jewish burials at Leontopoly ;21 at Hierapolis as the name of a Jewess ;22 in central Asia Minor (Iconium) in the company of Semitic names;23 1 P. J. Frey, Corpus Inscriptionum Judaicarum (Rome, 1936), I, 522. 2 lb. 273. 3 lb. 99. 4 lb. 235. 6 Corpus Inscriptionum Christianarum Veterum (Berlin, 1925-31), 4862. 6 CI Chr. sv. Index. 7 The name occurs at least four times in Britain (CIL. VII, 72 ; EE III, 102 ; VII, 893 ; Hencken, op. cit., 241) with no Jewish associations. 8 Oswald, "Stamps on Sigillata" (1931), 222. 9 Op. cit.s 4858, 678. 10 Op. cit.3 4895. 11 SEG. IX, 642. 12 Ib. VIII, 907. 13 C. S. Clermont-Ganneau, "Archaeological Researches in Palestine" (English edn., London, 1899), II, 145. 14 CIJ., I, 525. 15 JRS IV, (1914), 59, no. 69; L. Jalobert and R. Mouterde, "Inscriptions grecques et latines da la Syrie" (Paris, 1929-50), 458b, 487, 695,; 2007; "American Archaeological Expedition to Syria," 1899-1900, III, 93-4. 16 Sidonius Apollinaris, Epistulae, III, 4, 1; Concilia, 535, can. 6 and 9. The incidents of a story concerning Jews at Clermont in AD 286 can be discredited on internal evidence (Vita S. Austremonii, 2 -Katz, "Jews of the Visigothic and Frankish Kingdoms of Spain and Gaul" (Paris, 1937), 9, 22 ; but it may still be evidence that the Jews were there in the third century. 17 CIL. VII (1873), 198. 18 Wuthnow, op. cit., ad voc. 19 F. Cumont, "Fouilles en Doura-Europos" (Bibliotheque archeologique et historique de la haute commission da la Republique francaise en Syrie et au Liban, IX) (Paris, 1926), 57. 20 M. Lidzbarski, Ephemeris f?r Semitische Epigraphik, III (Giessen, 1915), 641. 21 Annales du Service, XXII (Cairo, 1922), 15, n. 30; XVI, 33. 22 W. Judeich "Altert?mer von Hierapolis" (Berlin, 1898), no. 72. 23 JRS IV (1914), 61, no. 68.</page><page sequence="5">WERE THERE JEWS IN ROMAN BRITAIN ? 193 in Syria in a Semitic context.1 It is the name of one of the rabbis of the Mishnah2 who lived in the late first and early second century. Flavius Antigonus Papias, therefore, who describes himself as a "Civis Graecus," was almost certainly from the Levant, and may have been of Jewish extraction. He was a Roman citizen, and probably an official, for fourth century inscriptions are uncommon in Britain. One wonders whether he was one of the Jewish holders of high office alluded to by Jerome (see pp. 198-9). Greeks are also recorded at Lincoln,3 Chester,4 and in Derbyshire, where they contracted for lead-mining ;5 a Galatian lived at Maryport,6 a man of Commagene at Brough-under-Stainmore.7 Demetrius, a teacher from Tarsus, reached York.8 Mr. Birley is able to cite twelve more orientals from northern Britain,9 all Greeks, and two who were Syrians. It is to be noted that these are for the most part civilians settled near military cantonments, no doubt for trading purposes. The civil site where the largest oriental community is to be expected is London. Unfortunately the evidence is scanty. At least two of the Greek tombstones10 are suspected to be recent imports; three more authentic stones are known,11 and one or two other Greek names occur. It is possible that one12 refers to an Antiochean, but this is uncertain. To an oriental buried on the Scottish wall (of Antoninus) we shall refer later. Most of the oriental cults of whose existence there is evidence in Britain, were introduced and cultivated by the armed forces. A dedication to Mithras at London,13 for instance, is the work of a veteran. But Isis and Attis-Cybele are both witnessed in the city by finds.14 Orientals, then, there were, and there is no reason why there should not have been Jews among them. The evidence, such as it is, can be supplemented by archaeological finds that prove trade-contacts with the Near East. Wares of one sort or another came to Britain from Egypt (scarabs, silver and glass-ware, porphyry and granite),15 and of these, most came from Alexandria. A small bronze bull found at St. Just in Penrith, Cornwall, is regarded as Egyptian work of the Roman period.16 That the peculiar find of camel bones in a Roman building at Greenwich Park17 was not a "mare's nest," is suggested by Gregory of Tours' reference to the import of camels to the Garonne in his own day (sixth century).18 Bordeaux with its Jewish and Syrian element was evidently a way-station for traffic from the Orient, and was probably exporting wine to Britain in the third century.19 1 Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum, VII (Leiden, 1934), 681. 2 Shekalim, IV, 7; Nazikin, III, 2 : Eduyot, VII, 5-7; Temurah, III, 1. 3 CIL VII, 189. 4 76. p. 48 and EE III (1876-7), 69. 6 CIL. VII, 1214-6. 6 Ib. 405. 7 EE VII, 952 (p. 306). 8 ?J5 III, 312; c/. Plutarch, defensio oraculorum, 2. 9 Archaeologia Aeliana, ser. 4, XII (Newcastle-on-Tyne, 1935), 221 ff. 10 Royal Commission for Historical Monuments, Inventory, "Roman London," (London, 1928), 174, nos. 28, 31. 11 EE VII, 818; CIL VII, 29 and p. 21. 12 EE VII (1888-92), 818. 13 RCHM, Inv., "Roman London," pi. 10 and p. 170?mid-2nd century AD. 14 lb. pi. 53, p. 177; no. 144; pi. 4, p. 194, no. 3. 15 See L. C. West, "Roman Britain, the Objects of Trade" (Oxford, 1931), 88 ff. 16 ??Victoria Histories of the Counties of England," Cornwall, pt. v, (London, 1924), Roman Corn? wall, 39; Hencken, op. cit., 169. 17 VCH, Kent, III, (London, 1932), 116. 18 Hist. Francorum, VII, 35. i* CIL XIII (1899), 634; JRS XI (1921), 101.</page><page sequence="6">194 WERE THERE JEWS IN ROMAN BRITAIN ? In the later second and third century, Cologne was sending glass and pottery to Britain Syrian glaziers were at work in the Rhineland city,2 and perhaps Jewish glass-makers ;3 Jews seem to have been making glass north of Paris in the fourth century.4 Lamps, occasionally arrived in Britain from Syria or Palestine.5 The presence of British monks in Jerusalem in the fourth century6 shows that traffic was plying between Britain and the East at that time, as is indeed suggested by a Midrash of the same century (see p. 198). As late as the sixth century an Alexandrian ship brought grain to Cornwall7?no doubt via Bordeaux. When we come to consider whether there were Jews in the Roman forces in this country, two questions arise : The general position of the Jews in relation to military service in the Empire; and the presence of oriental units among the British garrison. Juster,8 who thoroughly discussed the problem of Jewish participation in the Roman forces, rightly concluded that the previous view that the Jews were completely exempted, could not be substantiated. But his argumenta e silentio do not inspire confidence (eg. in regard to Egypt) and he used them in a way that suggests he was over-anxious to prove his case. The exemption grants of Dolabella and Lentulus to the Jews of Asia were doubtless not meant to be permanent, but made as moves in the political game during civil war; the agreement to limit Roman recruiting rights in Judaea arose out of a treaty between Rome and a client kingdom, and its perpetuation depended on the political status quo. But Juster9 skates a little too easily over the protest of the Jews of Ionia against conscription ;10 it does not fit into the theory that no general temporary exemption existed, although it might be explained by an otherwise unknown local privilege. It is on the other hand practically certain that no Jewish units remained in Egypt after Actium, and the numerous Jewish katoikoi received the right to enrol indi? vidually if?and only if?they wished.11 So far we know of only one Jew (a centurion) who did so.12 The alleged Jewish names of Pap. Oxyrrinchus 735 (205 A.D.) have been regarded as Palmyran by Fraenkel,13 though granted this, the suspicion remains that Iebael (line 5) was a Jew;14 but this proves nothing about Egypt, since the unit was clearly wholly or partly Palmyran. Service with river-police in which Jews continued to serve15 was police-duty, not military service. All Jews who received Roman citizenship were presumably liable to be called up by a dilectus. In point of fact the legions were kept up to strength during the first two centuries of the Empire, except in extraordinary circumstances, by voluntary 1 Eg. the well-known "motto-beakers." Cf. CIL XIII, 8614, 8793. 2 A. Kisa, "Glas in Altertum" (Leipzig, 1908), 239. 3 Rivista Archiologia Christiana, XV (Rome, 1938), 327; H. Vopel, "Die Altkristliche Goldgl?se," (Freiburg, 1899), pi. lx and 78, n. 2. 4 Kisa, op. cit.y 952 ; Riv. Arch. Chr., XII (1935), 346. 6 W. R. Lethaby, "Londinium, Arts and Crafts" (London, 1923), 223, from Tidworth and Canter? bury ; cf. a fifth century lamp from Vigo Road, Andover, now in Andover Museum?O. Broneer, "Corinth" (Athens, 1927), IV, ii, type xxxi (pi. xxii), and pp. 118-9. 6 Epistula ad Eustochium, 2. 7 Leontius, Vita S. Iohanni Eleemosuni, III, 5. 8 "Les Juifs dans l'Empire romain" (Paris, 1914), II, 270 ff. 9 Ib. II, 275, n. 9. 10 Josephus, "Antiquities," XVI, 2, 3. 11 J. Lesquier, "Institutions militaires des Lagides" (Paris, 1911), 271-80. 12 "Fouilles Franco-Polonaises, Tel Edfou" (1951-), IV, 171. 13 Archiv fur Papirusforschung, IV (Leipzig, 1905), 171. 14 S. Baron, "Social and Religious History of the Jews" (New York, 1935), I, 50, refers to the name Yobel, Judges IX, 26-31, which was eliminated from the Masoretic text. 15 Josephus, Contra Apionem, II, 5.</page><page sequence="7">WERE THERE JEWS IN ROMAN BRITAIN ? 195 enlistment, or by the bestowal of civitas on non-citizens enlisted from the Romanised communities when a dilectus was ordered by the Princeps.1 We might therefore find individual Jews in the legions, but most of them would be irrecognisable behind their Latinised or Hellenised names, and enrolment must have been tantamount to social isolation or assimilation. As regards enlistment in the auxilia, the custom was, at least till Flavian times, to raise units as national bodies, but to move them far from their countries of origin and to reinforce them from the areas of their stations. After 70 A.D., whether or not local reinforcement continued, the names of the units no longer reflected the nationalities of their personnel, and in the second century drafts were distributed over the western armies from certain predominating recruiting areas.2 But the tendency was to hold eastern-raised auxilia in their own or adjacent provinces for climatic reasons, and if they were moved far afield, nevertheless to maintain them at strength from their native lands, because they were chiefly units specialising in a particular method of fighting (cavalry, archers).3 Clearly, an independent Jewish auxiliary unit could only be raised initially where a Jewish concentration existed: such areas were Judaea, parts of Syria, Rome, and perhaps Cyrene and Asia. For Egypt, as we have seen, the evidence is negative; the same applies to Cyrene and Asia, and the former ceased to have an appreciable Jewish community after Trajan. Of Syria we shall speak later. A forced enrolment of the Jews of Rome is recorded under Tiberius, but it applied to freedmen and was an exceptional penalisation, part of a general social purge. It nevertheless has parallels in the dilectus of the Roman population on several occasions in times of crisis. The Jews in this instance were sent to Sardinia to suppress brigandage, and in this performed precisely similar duties to the Idumaean and Babylonian Jews in Trachonitis and Bathanaea, who will be referred to. In Judaea, down to the war of 66-72, the treaty arrangement with Rome held good, in that auxilia were not raised from the country except from the non-Jewish towns. Clearly, after 66 recruiting from most of the country would be in any case have been undesirable, and the treaty continued valid for Herod Agrippa IFs kingdom till his death in 96 A.D. The forces maintained by Herod, the Tetrarchs, and the two Herod Agrippas, were their own, merely bound to aid Rome locally. They were only partly Jewish,4 and probably after Herod's death in 4 B.C., when a Jewish rising took place, and the greater part of the Jewish troops went over to the insurgents, the percentage of Jewish ranks was drastically reduced. There remained, however, considerable forces, Idumaean Jews and others, settled in Bathanaea and Trachonitis, where they did duty as frontier garrisons, and were retained because they were indispensible and far from the Jewish political centre. Moreover they followed Herod Agrippa in support of Rome in 67 A.D.,5 as did the troops of Sohaemas of Emesa.6 But it is doubtful if this has any direct bearing on the existence in the fourth century of a numerus regi(pnis ?) Emesenorum Iudaeorum? the only known regular Jewish unit of the Roman army. Our record of this body consists of the tombstone of a lady named Flavia Optata, who apparent? ly herself served in the unit! We know of no other instance of a woman serving in 1 H. M. D. Parker, "The Roman Legions" (Oxford, 1928), 48, 170, 185-6. * L. G. Cheeseman, "The Auxilia of the Roman Army" (Oxford, 1914), 75-9. 3 lb. 82-5. 4 A. H. M. Jones, "The Herods of Judaea" (Oxford, 1938), 76-7, believes too much in their exclusively pagan composition, which is not supported by events. Josephus, "Antiquities," VII, 2, 3. Josephus, Bell. Jud.&gt; III, 4,2. CiL. V (1872), 8764.</page><page sequence="8">196 WERE THERE JEWS IN ROMAN BRITAIN &gt; the Roman forces, and the inscription of this Jewish Amazon must remain a mystery to the student and an inspiration to the "ATS" of Israel.1 It may be assumed that Judaea from 70 A.D. until the late second century was too disturbed or too untrust? worthy to be a recruiting ground for Jewish units, but there was Jewish participation in the armies of Marcus Aurelius2 and possibly of Pescennius Niger and Severus3 under the abnormal circumstances of civil war. On the other hand, it is not at all impossible that part of the Jewish garrison settlers of the Trachonitis and Bathanaea was incor? porated in the various Ituraean cohorts raised from time to time, none of them being known to have served in Palestine itself.4 At least twelve of these units are known to have been in service from the first century. It is interesting that in Egypt, the Coh. Ituraeorum was stationed at Castra Iudaeorum in the Delta5?a circumstance hinting at the possibility that some of its ranks were Jewish. Whatever the truth of the matter, the numeri Palmyrenorum raised in the mid second century AD have interest for us, as there were Jews in their ranks ; a Palmyran soldier called Germanus, son of Isaac, was buried in one of the Jewish tombs of Beth Sh'arim (Sheikh Avrek) in the third century,6 and Oxyrrinchus Papyrus 735, already mentioned, probably records a Palmyran unit, including perhaps at least one Jew.7 In summing up, we may conclude that while there is no evidence of a permanent exemption of Jews from the Roman army in the first and second centuries, recruiting of Jews from Judaea was not feasible for diplomatic, afterwards for political, reasons. How far Jews responded to legionary call-up when it was carried out, we have no evidence, and in the legions we find few recognisable Jews; but most of the dilectus (as distinct from voluntary enlistments) appear to have been in the western provinces, except for Thrace and Cyrenaica, and only in the latter were Jews numerous until Trajan's time. The recruitment of Jewish auxiliaries was not carried out in Judaea for the same reasons as prohibited a levy for the legions. On the boundaries of Syria, on the other hand, where Jews were numerous, it was found useful to maintain the existence of Jewish frontier units in less civilised areas, and perhaps later, to raise a unit from an area (Emesaj where Jews had a tradition of loyalty to the Empire. In accordance with new tactical needs in the second century were raised Palmyran, perhaps Ituraean units, among whom Jews served. "The bulk of present evidence for Jewish military service dates from the middle of the second century onwards. The exception is the levy of the Roman Jews under Tiberius, which was extraordinary, but conformed to the tendency to see Jews as good garrison troops in wild districts or as efficient gendarmes on the Nile.8 1 If the restoration of "regi(onis)" is correct, a special area of crown-land colonised by veterans of an auxiliary corps non-Roman in origin, in this case Emesan Jews, may be implied. As a parallel may be cited the Regio Bremmetenacensis Sarmatarum in the Ribchester district of Lancashire, identified and studied by Richmond in JRS XXV (1935), 15 ff. It was settled by Samaritan cavalrymen, and is traceable from the later 2nd to the 4th century. 2 Dio, Historia Romana, LXXI, 25, 2. 3 Spartian, Vita Severi, XIV, 6. But this controversial; see Juster, op. cit., II, 273, n. 3. 4 An attempt has been made (Zeitschrift f?r die Geschichte der Juden in Deutschland), I (Mainz, 1886), 28 ff.) to prove that three Ituraeans buried at Mainz in the middle of the 1st century AD were Jews; but unsuccessfully, I think. 5 Notitia Dignitatum Orientis, XXVIII. 6 B. Maisler, "Beth Sh'arim" (Jerusalem, 1944), 110 and fig. 12. 7 Various references to burgi (eg. Mekhilta, 19, 1) in Mishnaic literature from the 2nd century onwards cannot, so far as I can judge, be interpreted as enforced military service by Jews as burgarii, but the question invites further investigation. 8 It is worth considering whether Jewish ranks may not have been found particularly fit for police and garrison duties under monotonous conditions, because they possessed a peculiar social leligious regimen that endowed them with a stable morale.</page><page sequence="9">WERE THERE JEWS IN ROMAN BRITAIN ? 197 Generally it may be assumed that for obvious political, religious and social reasons, there was not much volunteering among Jews unt? the later second century, when the crystallisation of the Patriarchate had attained a modus vivendi between Rome and Palestinian Jewry. The precise affect of the Constitutio Antoniniana on this situation cannot be stated, but both Severus and Caracalla adjusted formalities involved in holding office in such a way as not to offend Jewish susceptibilities,1 and in the fourth century Jews were numerous in the army,2 probably owing to their growing dispersion and proletarianisation, the immunities so gained, and the general upheavals of the period. In 404 A.D. they were excluded by law from military service.3 To the third century belongs the tomb of a Jewish soldier, Ruf inus, in a Jewish catacomb in Rome f probably to the fourth the epitaph of a Jewish kentenarios tes paremboles (a high-grade official of the camp [barracks]) at Jaffa.5 In Britain we have three or four oriental units, viz. the Cohors Hamiorum Sagittar iorum from Syria, who were stationed at Carvoran (Magna) and at Barr Hill, in the second century ;6 a numerus militum Syrorum sagittariorum1 at Kirby Thore (Brovonacae) Westmorland,; and a numerus barcariorum Tigrisiensium, based, in the fourth century, at South Shields (Arbeia),8 who were perhaps the same as the third century numerus barcariorum at Lancaster.9 It is improbable that Jews would have felt at home in pagan Syrian units, but touching the Tigrisienses, it may be commented that Babylonia became the largest Jewish centre in the course of the third and fourth centuries. This was outside the Empire, but there were also Jews in Mesopotamia, including communities at Amida and Mosul10 on the Tigris. Numerous rabbinical statements attest Babylonian Jewry's participation in river and canal traffic, and the Babylonian Talmud contains detailed regulations for river-movement and transport.11 Now comes the question, what is the concrete evidence for the presence of Jews in Roman Britain ? Literary. 1. Midrashim of the Mishnaic and Talmudical periods have several references to Britain, (a) Yalqut, Deut. 945 states that the people of Berberia and Britannia go about naked; but the alternative reading for Britannia is Mauretania, which is the accepted reading by Neubauer.12 In any case, this extract tells us nothing of importance, (b) 2Yalqut ad Canticles II, 8 says : "and (the Almighty) says to them : One of you is exiled to Berberia and one to Britain, as if you had all been exiled." This Midrash is transmitted by R. Yudan in the name of R. Eliezer the son of R. Jose of Galilee and by R. Huna in the name of Eliezer son of Jacob. The same Midrash is found in Canticles Rabba, but here "Samatria" appears instead of "Britannia." Yalkut is here the more reliable document, and the reading "Britannia" may therefore be accepted. As R. Jose of Galilee lived in the early second century, R. Eliezer must have flourished 1 Justinian, Corpus Iuris Civilis, Digest, 50, 2, 3, 3 (AD 212). 2 Sulpicius Severus, Chronicon, 2, 3, 6. 3 Codex Theodosianus, 16. 8, 16. * Frey, CIJ, I, 79. 6 "Sefer Hayishuv" (Jerusalem, 1939), I, 81, no. 114. 8 CIL VII, p. 97 ff. 7 EE VII, 957. 8 Not. Dig. Occidentis. 9 CIL VII, 285. A numerus equitum Stratonicianorum (EE IV (1879-81), 200) must also be from the east, on the authority of Mr. E. B. Birley. 10 Juster, op. cit., II, 194 ff. A. Neubauer, "Geographie du Talmud" (Paris, 1868), 335, 60. 11 Babeli Sanhedrin, 32b. Cf. Jewish Quarterly Review, XXXII (1941-2), 6-8. 12 Op. cit., 411, n. 6. Cf. Sifre, 5 Mos. 32, 21.</page><page sequence="10">198 WERE THERE JEWS IN ROMAN BRITAIN ? in the middle or later part of that century, and R. Yudan is likely to have been Yudan Beribbi, a second century rabbi. R. Eliezer ben Jacob was a pupil of R. Akiba, and flourished in the middle years of the same century. It would appear therefore that Palestine Tannaim knew of Jews in Britain at that time, perhaps driven there as the result of the Bar Kosiba revolt.1 (Cf. below, p. 200). (c) Yalkut ad Psalms, xix, cites R. Berachiah, who lived at the beginning of the fourth century, as comparing the sun to "a ship that comes from Britain possessing 365 ropes, the number of days in the year." Yalqut ad Eccles. I, 5, has the same Midrash, but in corrupt form, and the word "Britannia" has dropped out. The passage is interest? ing as supplying a little-known piece of information on what was apparendy a peculiarly British type of full-rigged ship of the fourth century, that was visiting the shores of Palestine at that time, (d) Josippon, the tenth century compilation, derived largely from the works of Josephus, Ch. 1, identifies Riphat (Gen. X, 25) with the Britons who dwelt by the Loire, i.e. in Brittany. Saadia Gaon in the same century, commenting on this passage, says that it is Paris, and Rashi in the eleventh century indicates its position as between Ashkenaz and Tugarma; both latter countries being possibly identified with Germany. The Kitab al-Tarich, a Jewish-Arabic chronicle of the twelfth century, places Riphat in Burgundy.2 Riphat was clearly therefore in France, where mediaeval Jewish writers were concerned, but one may ask how Josippon came to identify it with Brittany. Krauss' suggestion3 that the identification arose from a confusion of R-f-t and B-r-t seems unlikely. But in the fourth century Rutupiae (Richborough) was used synonymously with Britain ;4 its name in the eighth century was Reptacaister.5 Perhaps Josippon encountered some form of this name in his sources, and hearing that Riphat was in France, compromised by putting it in Brittany. He certainly read other classical works besides Josephus. Relevant are three passages from Jerome's biblical commentary written in the first decades of the fifth century. (1). On Amos VIII, 11, 12, he writes "The Jews move from sea to sea, and from the British to the Atlantic Ocean; in other words from west to south, and from north to east, wanderers over the whole world. . ." (2). On Zephaniah, II, 8, 2, "Just like the Jews who, being brought into straits by history, and in order to show the fulfilment of prophecy, leap into the Messianic epoch, and promise to themselves after many centuries everything they cannot explain; saying that Moab, the children of Ammon, Egypt, the Philistines and Idumaea, who now insult the Jews, will be punished then. We may therefore ask them, why God should punish these nations especially, and not the whole world in which the Jews are scattered. For if the Moabites deserved to be destroyed for offending the Jews, and the children of Ammon and the remaining peoples round about, why is Gaul not being destroyed ? Why is Britain not threatened? Why does Spain escape punishment?" (3). On Isaiah LXVI, 20, "When the Messiah comes to Jerusalem to reign, and the Temple is rebuilt, and Jewish victims are sacrificed, the children of Israel will be brought back from all over the world . . . Whoever of them is of senatorial rank, or has reached the post of 1 Magnus Maximus deported Priscillian heretics to the Scilly Isles (Sulp. Severus, Chron. II, 51); more interesting for us, M. Aurelius banished a refractory Armenian prince to Britain. (Dio, LXXI, 14, 2). 2 A. Neubauer, "Mediaeval Jewish Chronicles" (Oxford, 1887-95), II, 92. 3 "Jewish Studies in Memory of G. A. Kohut" (New York, 1935), 409-10. 4 Ausonius, Clarae Urbes; Parentalta, VII, 2; XVIII, 8. 5 Bede, Historia Ecclesiastica, I, 1; E. Eckwall, "Oxford Dictionary of English Placenames" (Oxford, 1940), 95.</page><page sequence="11">WERE THERE JEWS IN ROMAN BRITAIN r&gt; 199 princeps, will return from Britain, Gaul, the Morini furthest of men, and the two-horned estuary of the Rhine,?travelling in carriages of honour." Reference (1) has value in so far as it shows that Jews may have been settled in France on the west and northern coasts?and they were certainly at Bordeaux. As regards passages (2) and (3) "Gaul, Britain and Spain" may merely be Jerome's way of saying "Ultima Th?le." The same may be true of his reference to the Morini and the Rhine; yet Jerome travelled over most of Gaul between 366 and 370, and stayed for some time at Treves.1 No. 2 can hardly be other than a reference to some recent occurrence that concerned Jews in those lands. Whatever Jerome meant by no. 3, and whether or not Jews ever held high office in the western provinces (they were forced to take up the decurionate by Constantine in 321, and excluded from all official and rnilitary service in 404 and 438)2?his reference to the Morini makes sense, for residence in the neighbourhood of Boulogne would be natural for Jewish traders doing business with Britain; in the fifth and sixth centuries Jews are recorded as carrying on trade between the Mediterranean, the Seine, and the north of France ;3 and by the village of Jumel, Pas de Calais, near the port of Quentovice (near Etaples) there appears in the tenth century "terra Hebraeorum," and a "villa Iudaei Mansi" is recorded in 1042.4 This links up with evidence from Richborough that will be discussed shortly. The presence of Jews at Cologne on the Rhine has already been referred to. Gildas5 mentions two martyrs who accompanied St. Alban, namely Aaron and Julius,?"Legionum urbis cives," The Urbs Legionum of these later sources is generally Chester, but the date of the martyrdom of St. Alban is vague in the extreme. Aaron is uncommon as either a Jewish or Christian name in the Roman period,6 and the whole matter must be treated as doubtful. Archaeological. We may dismiss with little ado the record of a relief of Samson driving the foxes into the cornfield, found about 1675 on the keystone of the brick arch of a vault in Mark Lane, London.7 That a relief was found, we need not doubt; we might even accept its Roman date. But as the relief is neither extant nor illustrated, we cannot know what the subject represented really was, and, assuming that it was as alleged, whether it was Jewish or Christian. Three Jewish coins have been found in this country. (1) . Of the first revolt (66-72 A.D.), at Melandra Castle, Derbyshire.8 This coin is wrongly dated in the report to Bar Kosiba. The fort was occupied from the Trajanic period and rebuilt in stone under Hadrian. Its occupation lasted at least till the mid second century, and there was probably a skeleton reoccupation in the fourth.9 (2) . In London, at the Old General Post Office site, in St. Martin's-le-Grand, was 1 Hieronimus, Adversus lovianum, II, 7; epistulae, V, 2. 2 Cod. Theod.y 16, 8, 16. 3 Sidonius Apollinaris, Epistulae, III, 4; IV, 5 ; Gregory of Tours, Historia Francorum, IV, 35 ; VI, 5; cf. S. Dill, "Roman Society in Gaul in the Merovingian Age" (London, 1926), 243. 4 R. Anchel, "Les Juifs de France" (Paris, 1946), 21. 5 De excidio Britanntae, para. 10. ? Diehl has no cases; Frey has one Jew (CIJ. I, 497?Barzaharona); F. Preisigke, "Namenbuch . . Semitischen Menschennamen" (Heidelberg, 1922), cites one case only in the Byzantine period. 7 RCHMy Inv., "Roman London," 132; Leland, "Collectanea," preface. 8 K. S. Conway, "Melandra Castle" (Manchester, 1906), 96. 9 Derbyshire Archaeological and Natural History Society Transactions, new series, XVII (1943), 49 ff. s</page><page sequence="12">200 WERE THERE JEWS IN ROMAN BRITAIN ?? found a coin of the Second Revolt (Bar Kosiba?132-5 A.D.)1 Unfortunately it did not come from that part of the area that was scientifically excavated, therefore its strati? fication and associations are unknown.2 The area was covered by rubbish pits in use from the beginning of the Roman occupation to the late second or early third century; but the coins ran from Claudius to Valentinian I.3 Wattle and daub buildings also existed here ;4 a stamped tile of the procurators of the province came from the area.5 (3) . On Bingley Moor, West Riding, Yorkshire, was found in 1948 a coin of Herod Agrippa I of the year 42/3 A.D.6 This is near the Roman road from Manchester to Ilkley, not far from where it crossed the River Aire, and about thirty miles from Melandra, where the First Revolt coin was found. Of nos. 1 and 2, it may be said at once that neither coin was ever official currency in the Empire, and therefore they are more likely to have come to Britain as curiosities or mementos, ie., directly with travellers from Judaea. The Cohors II Frisavionum, who were in garrison at Melandra, probably in the second century, were in existence in 85 A.D., and probably earlier, but there is no evidence that they were ever in Judaea. Mr. E. B. Birley expresses the following opinion It is likelier, in my view, that if it (the Melandra coin) came there in Roman days, (which I am ready to suppose), it was brought by an individual officer rather than an O.R. Either a praefectus cohortis or a legionary centurion praepositus cohortis might so easily have seen service in an eastern province : compare the case of M. Censorinus Cornelianus in Hadrian's time (CIL, VII, 371, Maryport), who was a centurion of Legion X Fretensis sc. in Palestine, and then became an equestrian officer, praepositus coh. I Hispanorum. Such a transfer would give an excellent opportunity for a little small change to find its way from one end of the Empire to the other. This explanation, however, is less likely to apply to the London coin, since it would have to be a very senior official who was transferred from Judaea to Britain, and the G.P.O. site was a poor one; yet the official stamped tile should not be forgotten, and as Mr. Birley shows, military if not civilian transfers did take place under Hadrian. But it is also worth recalling Yalqut on Canticles II, 8, suggesting that Jews found their way to Britain in Hadrian's time. (4) . A non-Jewish coin of Gaza struck under Commodus was recently found four feet under peat at Glen Tarsan, Cowal, Argyllshire.7 This is likely to have been the product of a lively trade that grew up between the province south of Hadrian's Wall, and Scotland, from the later first century A.D.,8 and would have been engaged in by traders who had contacts with the Orient. Coins of Alexandria have been found at North Uist (Numerian),9 and in Islay (Diocletian) ;10 at Erskine, where the Clyde is 1 Archaeologia, LXVI (London, 1915), 241. F. W. Madden, "Coins of the Jews" (London* 1881), 244, no. 39. 2 Loc. cit. 3 lb. 240. 4 RCHM., Inv., "Roman London," 139. 5 lb. 43. 6 Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, XXXVII (Leeds, 1942), 237; "British Museum Catalogue of Roman Coins, Palestine" (London, 1914), Herod Agrippa I no. 7, pi. xxvi, 2. 7 Sunday Times, 19th October, 1949. 8 Proceedings, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, LI I (Edinburgh, 1918), 250-1, and table; cf. op. cit. LXVI (1932), A. Curie, "Inventory of Roman objects in Scotland." 9 PSA Scot., LII (1918), 250. 10 lb.</page><page sequence="13">WERE THERE JEWS IN ROMAN BRITAIN ? 201 still crossed to enter the western Highlands, was found a coin of Nimes (Augustus).1 A medal of Hadrianeia (the Hellespont-Severus, a coin of Ionian Magnesia at Carlisle, and an Alexandrian coin of Gallienus2 from Corbridge, may be taken with inscriptions of Syrians and Greeks at Corbridge, to supplement the evidence. We may add a coin of Ephesus (Elegabalus) at South Shields,3 where Barates, a Palmyran flag-dealer (above) buried his wife. That oriental traders were active in the Highland zone is shown by an epitaph from Auchindavy,4 a fort on the Scottish Wall, occupied between 140 and 190; it is of Salmanes son of Salmanes, whose name is irrefutably Semitic, from the root Shalom; the stone is decorated with two rosettes and a pair of palms that could be mistaken for M'norot if they did not possess eight arms each. In the Bedford Modern Schools Museum there is a Jewish lamp which is reputed to have been found locally.5 Its date is fourth century. Enquiries from Mr. F. Kuhlicke, the Hon. Curator, failed to elicit any further details on the place or circumstances of this find, which must therefore be regarded as doubtful. It may be an antiquarian's importation. There was considerable scattered Roman settlement about Bedford, but the place is not known to have been near any established Roman road. In 1915, at Richborough, near the monument that occupied the centre of the fort, a silver ingot was found stamped with the inscription EX OFFI (cina) ISATIS.6 A stamp of the same mould occurs on another ingot, part of a small hoard of silver objects, including two additional ingots stamped by other workshops, found at Balline twenty miles south-east of Limerick, Ireland, in 19407 and a third example comes from Dierstorf, near Minden, Germany.8 The stamps could be dated to the late fourth century. A Jewish convert named Isas (genitive Isatis) is mentioned in the fourth century;9 Bieler10 compares a Fabius Isas from Spain.11 Relevant also is Eisas Beniamin, on a Jaffa tombstone of the late Roman period.12 That this Richborough man was a Jew is therefore probable; it might be added that Isaac was the most frequent Jewish name at Beth Sh'arim (Palestine) in the later Roman period.13 The finding of other of Isas' ingots with late fourth century silverware shows that he was a silversmith in a government workshop, or at any rate working for government,14 and he also no doubt turned out silver utensils. Jews were engaged in minting and the production of expensive metal work in the sixth century in Gaul, and they purveyed jewels and objets &lt;Tart to Paris.15 Priscus, a Jew, engaged in striking coins for Chilperic about 570, presented the king with a costly golden bowl.16 There were Syrian glass-makers at Vermand in the late 1 Ib. 2 Archaeologia Aeliana, VI (1862), 254. 3 Ib. 4 G. Macdonald, "The Roman wall in Scotland" (Oxford, 1934), 351 ; CIL VII, 119. 5 I am indebted to Mr. S. Isserlin for drawing my attention to this find. 6 EE IX, 1257; Numismatic Chronicle, series 4, XV (London, 1935), 517. 7 JRS XXXV (1945), 91, no. 5; Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, LI (Dublin, 1941), 82, pi. i; R. A. S. Macalister, "Archaeology of Ireland" (London, 1949), pi. xi and xii, and p. 554, there mistakenly ascribed to Foynes. 8 VCH Kent, III, 35. 9 F. Maassen, "Geschichte der Quellen des canonische Rechts" (Gratz, 1870), 604. 10 Proc. Roy. Ac. IreL, LI (1941), 46, n. 29. 11 H. Dessau, Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae (Berlin, 1892-), 6903. 12 "Sefer Ha-Yishuv," I, 85, no. 38. 13 Kedem, I, (Jersualem, 1942), 76. 14 Cf. Antiquity, XI (Gloucester, 1938), 43. 15 Gregory of Tours, Hist. Francorum, IV, 35; VI, 5. 13 Ib. VI, 2.</page><page sequence="14">202 WERE THERE JEWS IN ROMAN BRITAIN ? second and third centuries,1 and a Jewish glassmaker's stamp of the late third or fourth century was found at Hermes, south-east of Beauvais ;2 Jews were probably settled near Boulogne in the late fourth century (see above), and the Isas ingot at Richborough is perhaps a link in the evidence for Jewish participation in the production and trading of silver and glass between Gaul and Britain in this period. The finding of no fewer than seventeen Alexandrian coins, from Antoninus Pius to Maximian, at Brighton, sixteen of which belonged to the third and fourth century,3 is very suggestive of cross Channel traffic conducted by merchants with eastern connections. At Richborough coin finds included some dozen imperial Greek issues, two of Antioch. The eastern influence in late Roman silverware is considered by some archaeologists to be considerable, though not always direct.4 Holmquist,5 treating of the derivation of Merovingian art in an exhaustive survey, holds that France was the area whence other techniques and styles of northern and western Europe in the post-Roman period were spread, and that they were moulded preponderantly by oriental influence mainly from Egypt but also from Syria and Palestine, transmitted chiefly in the fourth century, coincident with the spread of Christianity. Writing of the chip-carving technique, he says :6 The original material has now become so considerably enriched that one can demonstrate direct comparisons both in technique and decoration. It has been possible to show that chip-carving with its simple lace-motifs, rosettes, meanders, and spiral motifs is an indigenous and very ancient form of art precisely in Syria and Palestine, an art that succeeded in surviving sturdily during the whole period. Nearly every year new monuments are coming to light that prove this with complete clarity. As a striking example of this transmission of style from Palestine he cites the Jewish Palestinian and Alexandrian ossuaries of the first centuries B.C. and A.D. and their decoration. To these we shall return. Summing up, he says7 These circumstances can hardly be otherwise interpreted than that the Jews in their travels and colonizations brought their own art to the West. From a chronological point of view such an eventuality seems to encounter no obstacles . . . Technique and motifs are so individual that a separate emergence in both regions is quite unthinkable. The manufacture of gold-glass dishes, carried on by the Jews of Rome and perhaps of Cologne in the third and fourth centuries and transmitted within a short time to Christians8 is a proven case, of such a process.9 We have noted above that Syrian and probably Jewish craftsmen were at work in the north of Gaul in this period. Although distinctive Jewish silverware has not, to the best of my knowledge, been detected, Jewish 1 Kisa, op. cit., 239. ? lb. 952. 8 Milne, op. cit., 41 f. 4 F. Drexel in Bonner Jahrb?cher, CXVIII (Bonn, 1909), 232; A. Curie, "The Treasure of Traprain" (Glasgow, 1923), 101; "The Mildenhall Treasure," British Museum (1947), 24; F. Drexel, loc. cit., 183; "The Sutton Hoo Ship Burial," British Museum (1947), 44. 6 "Kunstprobleme der Merowingerzeit" (Stockholm, 1939), passim, and especially summary, 295 ff. Cf. A. Michel, "Histoire de l'art," (Paris, 1905-29), I, 396. 8 lb. 258. 7 lb. 8 Supra. 9 A fragment of Roman gold-glass dish has been found in a Saxon cemetery at Holme Pierrepont, Nottinghamshire (VCH Notts. II, 28); there is no reason to think that it is other than Christian.</page><page sequence="15">WERE THERE JEWS IN ROMAN BRITAIN ? 203 participation in the making of those types characteristic of eastern influence, and partic? ularly showing that of the chip-carving technique, is therefore very probable. There is one piece in the Mildenhall silver hoard (Cambridgeshire), which belongs to the fourth century, which invites investigation from this point of view. This is a fluted bowl with hexagram (interlaced triangles) and rosette on the boss, and alternately straight and winding foliate ornamentation on the fluting.1 It should be said immediately that the hexagram ("the Shield of David") is far from exclusively a Jewish symbol, and did not become the Jewish "coat-of-arms" until the nineteenth century. Prior to that it was a mystico-magical sign common to many currents more or less oriental, and less common than the pentagram.2 It does however appear casually with the pentagram, the swastika, and other like figures, on the carvings of the late second or early third century synagogue of Capernaum ;3 also on the mosaic of a Roman villa at Daphneh, Syria,4 and further on that of another villa at Keynesham, near Bristol.5 It occurs with sextupal rosette on the fragment of a flat dish from Coleraine, Ireland,6 contemporary with the Mildenhall hoard. It is further seen on a fluted bowl of the Mildenhall type and of Byzantine derivation, at Sutton Hoo, associated with the rosette and the cross.7 Clearly, then, it has no distinct Jewish connotation; but the rosette and foliate motifs, taken together, are more suggestive of a Jewish associa? tion. The foliate wreaths seem to be derived from the palm-branch which is common on Jewish epitaphs and was also adopted by the Christians. The palmtree, as a symbol of Judaea, figured on Jewish coins ;8 the palm-branch also.9 The palm tree is seen prominently on the corbels flanking the lintel of the western entrance of the Synagogue at Capernaum ;10 on the lintel of the main courtyard entrance the vertical palm-branch appears on the left, and a frve-petalled rosette on the right.11 On the east gate a nine petalled rosette is set between palm-branches.12 On the ossuaries from the tomb at Jerusalem, two vertical palm-branches occur between seven-petalled rosettes.13 A similar arrangement is seen on a Jewish ossuary from Lydda(here the rosettes are sextupal)14 and on another from Jerusalem, where rosettes of six and eighteen petals are framed by straight palm-wraths.15 At Kfar Bir'im synagogue, a rosette is surrounded by a palm wreath on the lintel of the main door.16 The rosette, the quatrefoil, and the sextupal star, despite their wide application as decorative motifs, seem to have a distinctively Semitic origin as sacred symbols, and they are either closely associated with one another or interchangeable. The multifoil 1 "The Mildenhall Treasure," no. 13. 2 G. Scholem, "The Curious History of the Six-Pointed Star" in Commentary (USA), Sept. 1949, 243 ff. 8 H. Kohl and C. Warzinger, "Antike Synagoge Galil?as" (Leipzig, 1916), pl. ivb. 4 G. W. Elderkin, "Antioch on the Orontes" (1934-38), II, pl. 57, no. 79. 6 Archaeologia, LXXV (1924). 6 Antiquity, XI (1938), 39 ff. and 45; pl. iv, left. 7 "Sutton Hoo Ship Burial," 15b. 8 J. Reinach, "Les Monnaies Juives" (Paris, 1887), pl. v, 6 (AD 66-70); Madden, "Jewish Coins," 172, no. 9 (AD 132-5). 9 Madden, op. cit.3 146, no. 9 (Julia); ib. 168, no. 2 (AD 132-5). 10 E. L. Sukenik, "Ancient Synagogues in Palestine and Greece" (London, 1934), pl. iia. 11 Ib. pl. iib. 12 Kohl and Watzinger, op. cit., 9, Abb. 11; 10, Abb. 3. 12 C. Watzinger, "Denkm?ler Pal?stinas" (Leipzig, 1933-5), II, Tafel 69-70. 14 "Jewish Encyclopedia" (New York, 1901-6), IV, 143, sv. Coffin. 15 Revue archeologique, 1875, 410. 16 Kohl and Watzinger, op. cit., 90, Abb. 174.</page><page sequence="16">204 WERE THERE JEWS IN ROMAN BRITAIN ? rosette figures as a sun-symbol on numerous Carthaginian tombs ? in one case it appears there in association with the palm-tree.2 In the first centuries B.C. and A.D. rosettes are practically invariable on Jewish ossuaries in Palestine,3 and occur also in Alexandria and Rome.4 They are seen in the tombs of Beth Sh'arim between the later second and fourth centuries.5 On their sacred character for the Jews there is no doubt; the five-leaf star alternates with the candelabrum on the capitals of the synagogue of Caper? naum ;6 the quatrefoil adorns the back of the "seat of Moses" at the synagogue of Khorazin, Galilee, built in the later Roman period.7 It is found on sacred building near Petra,8 on Syrian temples of the first century B.C.,9 and on Christian structures of Syria.10 It survived as a Jewish religious symbol on Jewish gravestones on the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries.11 On the other hand there is no doubt that both the palm-branch and rosette individually were of wide pagan and Christian application in Roman times, and it may be fairly asked whether they were not adopted by the Jews from pagan sources during Roman times. Rosettes, for instance, are common decorations on pagan military altars in Britain and elsewhere. Holmquist's view of the relatively late and Middle East origin of the "chip-carving" technique and its motifs is not accepted by all experts on that field. But the constant association of the rosette and palm-branch on Jewish monuments of the Roman period is so striking and frequent, that we may be permitted to remark on its occurrence on the Mildenhall bowl, especially in the light of the evidence of the connection of Jews with silverworking in fourth century Britain and with crafts and trading in contemporary northern Gaul. The part of Jewish craftsmen in the Mildenhall bowl may at least be suspected. We may sum up the probabilities of the presence of Jews in Roman Britain as follows. They amount to a few Jewish soldiers in oriental units in the later period, and dispersed traders. Some of the merchants may have been connected with the import of pottery, glass, and oriental wares. They may have formed small communities at such places as Colchester, York, Corbridge and London. There is a stronger possibility of an early Jewish community at Exeter, and all excavations there should be carefully watched for identifiable Jewish objects (coins, lamps) whose Jewish character might escape the notice of archaeologists not on the watch for it. There is also the probability that a few Jews found their way to London (as slaves ?) after the Bar Kosiba rising, and that one or two Jews were officials in Britain in the fourth century. But if we may be permitted to argue from the absence (with three exceptions) of autonomous Jewish coins in Britain, and on their complete absence from south-western sites where Greek 1 Eg., Corpus Inscriptionum Semiticarum (Paris, 1881-), I, iii, (tabulae), fasc. 1,3377, 3456, 3459 etc. 2 lb. 3666. 8 D. Schutz, "Die Ossuarien in Pal?stina" in Mitteilungen der Gesellschaft derWissen schaft des Judenthums, LXXV (Breslau, 1931), 286-92; L. H. Vincent, Revue Biblique, XLIII (1934), 564-7 ; C. Watzinger, "Denkm?le," 74 ff.; Holmquist, "Kunstprobleme," 258 ; A. Reifen? berg, "Pal?stinenische Kleinkunst"! (Berlin, 1927), Abb. 46-9; Deonna in Genava, VII (1929), 181. 4 E. Sieglin, "Die Nekropol von Korn al-Shukefa" (Leipzig, 1908-27), 381. Rome: Frey, op. cit., 483. 5 Maisler, op. cit., pl. xxxii, xxxiv. 6 Kohl and Watzinger, op. cit., 25, Abb. 46 right; Sukenik, op. cit., pl. viia. 7 Sukenik, op. cit., pl. XV. 8 H. C. Butler, "American Expedition to Syria, 1899-1900" (Leiden, 1920), (Architecture) 11,333. 9 Ib. 10 Eg., Birkiha, Babiska, and Zebed?see "Amer. Arch. Expdn. to Syria, 1899-1900" 11 Altona, 1701?"Encyclopedia Judaica" (1928-34), VII, 613, sv. Grab; Czernowitz Rumania, nineteenth century,?"Judisches Lexikon," (Berlin, 1927-30), II, 80, sv. Grab.</page><page sequence="17">WERE THERE JEWS IN ROMAN BRITAIN } 205 autonomous and oriental pieces are frequent?most of what connections there were belong to the Lower Empire. There may be evidence of Jews importing and working silver at that date, when British ships were visiting Palestinian ports. One day, perhaps, an unexpected discovery of some epitaph, or other object, will transform probability to certainty. ABBREVIATIONS USED IN THE FOOTNOTES Amer. Expdn. to Syria. The American Expedition to Syria, 1899-1900. CIChr. Corpus Inscriptionum Christianarum Veterum, Diehl, 1925-31. CIJ. Corpus Incriptionum Judaicarum, P. J. Frey, 1936. CIL. Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, ed. Mommsen, H?bner. Cod. Theod. Codex Theodosianus. EE. Ephemeris Epigraphica. Additamenta ad Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum. JRS. Journal of Roman Studies. 1910 seq. Not. Dig. Notitia Dignitatum utriusque Imperii, ed. Seeck. Proc. Roy, Ac. Irel. Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy. PSA. Scot. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. RCHM. Royal Commission of Historical Monuments : Inventories. SEG. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum. VCH. The Victoria Histories of the Counties of England.</page></plain_text>

bottom of page