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DOI 10.12887/31-2018-2-122-13

Ireneusz ŁUĆ – The Archaeology of Attrition Warfare: The Galilean War of Vespasian and Titus (May–November, 67 A.D.)

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In order to effectively pacify the land of Galilee, the Romans made very careful preparations for their military campaign. The forms of Roman military activity follow a certain pattern. Vespasian did not begin such a campaign without receiving the information about the location and the military potential of the Jewish rebels.

Having entered Galilee, the Romans used their traditional tactics of the so-called ‘marching camps,’ not to mention taking over some of the towns as permanent military bases. During the main campaign in Galilee—and certainly since the winter break from 67 to 68 AD—following Vespasian’s orders, soldiers from his army began to deploy military garrisons in designated Jewish towns and villages. In turn, the Romans deployed units of up to one hundred soldiers (centuries) commanded by centurions. The Romans deployed civilians of the Jewish land in other occupied towns, especially after the second phase of operations in Galilee (August–November 67 AD). It is possible that from the moment of the Roman invasion of Galilee, the duty of soldiers from the expeditionary army/force of Vespasian was not only to requisition of all movable goods, but also to confiscate the buildings and take over the Jewish land.

The Galilean campaign is an example of the so-called attrition warfare. By treating the inhabitants of Galilee so cruelly, the Romans wanted to punish them for supporting the Jewish rebels.

In order to effectively break their resistance, Vespasian sent off the soldiers of several formations who used various types of weapons in combat. The exhausting fights were felt by the Romans themselves. Vespasian and his soldiers also had to relieve stress tension after what they had witnessed. The loss of people on the Roman side could also be significant, although Josephus Flavius mentioned it very generally. Therefore, before the commencement of the summer-autumn operation in Galilee (August 67 AD) in Caesarea Philippi, Titus’s father ordered a twenty-day rest for his subordinates. He himself indulged in feasting and offered thanksgiving sacrifices to ‘God’ for achieved success, which was recorded by Josephus Flavius. Taking control of Galilee was the first step that opened the way for an attack on Jerusalem itself.

Keywords: First Jewish Revolt, Nero’s personnel policy, Vespasian’s promotion, Roman strategy and military tactics during the Galilean War

Contact: Zakład Historii Starożytnej, Instytut Historii,
Wydział Humanistyczny, Uniwersytet Marii Curie-Skłodowskiej,
pl. Marii Curie-Skłodowskiej 4/305,
20-031 Lublin, Poland

E-mail: ireneusz.luc@poczta.umcs.lublin.pl

Phone: +48 81 5372643


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  1. ISSN 0860-8024
  2. e-ISSN 2720-5355
  3. The Republic of Poland Ministry of Science and Higher Education Value: 100.00
  4. Quarterly “Ethos” is indexed by the following databases: EBSCO, CEEOL, Index Copernicus (ICV 2017: 55.26), Philosopher’s Index, ERIH Plus.
  5. DOI Prefix 10.12887