Sandal Print Found Near Sea of Galilee

Archaeologists working at Hippos (Susita) on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee have uncovered the footprint of the sandal of a Roman soldier.  From the story in Haaretz:

The discovery of the print made by a hobnailed sandal, the kind used by the Roman legions during the time when Rome ruled the region, led to the presumption that legionnaires or former legionnaires participated in the construction of walls such as the one in which the footprint was found…. Prior to this finding, the sandal prints of Roman legionnaires had been discovered only in Hadrian’s Wall in Britain.

The story is brief and worth reading for more details, but one note for those who know the Bible better than the geography of the Bible: the reason that Hippos (Susita) is not mentioned in the New Testament is that it was one of the cities of the (largely Gentile) Decapolis, and Jesus’ ministry was to the Jewish people.  There were a couple of occasions when Jesus visited the Decapolis, but it appears that these were not for the purpose of ministry.  One example is the story of Jesus casting the demons into the swine (Mark 5:1-20).  This event occurred as Jesus was trying to get away from the crowds, not do more ministry.  The presence of pigs makes sense as well given that this was in an area controlled by Gentiles.  Unfortunately many scholars have really flubbed the location of this miracle.  If it was where they say (at Gergesa), then Hippos would have been mentioned by some of the gospel writers, instead of Gadara and Gerasa.  But that is a subject for another day.  All can agree that this discovery at Hippos is fascinating and instructive.


6 thoughts on “Sandal Print Found Near Sea of Galilee

  1. I have heard it suggested that Jesus’ encounter with a Centurion in Capernaum must have been with one of Herod’s (Antipas) soldiers, not a Roman soldier, since Roman soldiers would not have been in the area.

    They don’t suggest a date for the footprint, but if it is early, it could stir the pot a bit.

  2. I thoroughly enjoyed the hike up to Hippos (Sussita) from En Gev, I recall we accidently hiked up through one of the mine fields. But the remains and the view is quite spectacular. It must have been quite the thriving city in its day.

  3. A little off-topic, but you started it, Todd; in the most recent BAR there is an article that comes to the radical conclusion that Galilee was mostly…Jewish during Jesus’ time! In all seriousness, the author does mention that the decapolis was very Gentile, and Galilee itself became much more so in the centuries just after Jesus’ lifetime.

  4. As far as I recall there is another preserved Roman footprint in the basement display in the Jerusalem ICC convention center. It is of the Legion X tile factory from the 2nd C. and has a footprint left in one of the tiles.

  5. You need to read the background on Doctor Walline who invented the Key West Sandal Factory back in 1932….It is quite amazing.

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