The Arch of Titus at Rome
A classic example of Roman plunder.
The siege of Jerusalem began in the spring of 70 and took 140 days. With two pro-Roman Jews, Vespasian’s early backer Tiberius Julius Alexander, and the historian Flavius Josephus on Titus’ staff, the Romans followed their best military practice and deployed four legions to make terraces, ramps, towers, and battering rams and smash through city’s formidable fortifications. Titus breached the walls of the New City, completed the circumvallation of the inner city, inflicted starvation on the defenders, and stormed the outer Temple court. No quarter was sought or given, and amidst the carnage the Temple was burned to the ground – something which friendly sources like Josephus Jewish Wars assert Titus tried to avoid, but hostile ones see as a deliberate policy decision. Overall, it had been ‘job done’ in the most efficient Roman manner. The treasures of Temple were displayed in the triumph which Titus and Vespasian celebrated in 71, and the golden menorah, silver trumpets and the table for the showbread are still visible on the Arch of Titus at Rome. Photos © S.P. Kershaw