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AELIA CAPITOLINA. - Under this name was distinguished the colony established by the Emperor Aelius Hadrianus, in the very capital of Judaea, which, under its ancient and sacred appellation of Jerusalem (Hierosolyma), was, A. D. 135, destroyed by Titus. -
Hadrian having suppressed a great rebellion of the Jews against the Roman government, proceeded to expel them from Jerusalem; and, after destroying the once Holy City, which he prohibited the Jews from approaching on pain of death, he built on its site a new city, and called it after his family name AELIA. He afterwards sent a colony there to people it, having commanded a temple of Jupiter Capitolinus to be erected on the spot where the Temple dedicated to the worship of the True God had stood. Hence the colonial title of the place, COL AEL CAP Colonia Aelia Capitolina.
The coins of this colony bear none but Latin legends, and are brass of the three modules. - Extending from Hadrian down to Hostilianus, they compromise the intermediate reigns of Antoninus Pius, M. Aurelius, L. Verus, S. Severus, Diadumenianus, Elagabalus, Trajanus Decius, and Herennius Etruscus.
Pellerin gives a middle brass of this colony, which is of material historic importance, inasmuch as its legend does what no other ancient monument appears to have done, viz. it corroborates the truth of the fact asserted by different writers, that Hadrian was the founder of the colony built on the ruins of Jerusalem. It is described as follows: -
Obv. IMP CAES TRAIANO HADRIAN. Laureated head of Hadrian
Rev. COL AEL CAPIT COND. A priest driving two oxen at plough, to the right; in the field, a military ensign. - (See the engraving above.)
Here we see the title of founder given to Hadrian, by the term CONDitor. "Probably (says Pellerin), it is one of the first of the medals that were struck at Aelia Capitolina, as it exhibits the type of a plough conducted by a minister of religion, who wears the sacerdotal dress. It also shews by the representation of a military ensign, that Hadrian began by forming this colony of veteran soldiers; but the legion to which they belonged is not marked on the standard." - Melange, i. 242.
The total expulsion of the Jews, the desecration of their capital by the extinction of its ancient name, and the profanation of its Zion to heathe idolatries, are events shadowed forth in a rare middle brass, engraved in Vaillant's valuable work on the colonies (vol. i. p. 152. )
On the obverse is IMP CAES TRAI HADRIAN, with the laureated head of that emperor. The reverse exhibits the name of his new colony, COL AED CAP, and a temple of two columns, within which are three figures, viz. Jupiter seated, between Pallas and the Genius of the city, standing.
The types adopted by the moneyers of this imperial colony, besides the legionary eagle, the trophy, and the victory, compromise Romulus and Remus with the wolf, Bacchus with his thyrsus, the Dioscuri, Astarte, "the abomination of the Tyrians and Sidonians;" also Isis and Serapis, "the abomination of the Egyptians." A coin of Aelia Capitolina, struck under Antoninus Pius, has on its reverse a hog walking ("an abomination" to the Jews). Whilst Capitoline Jove figures predominantly, with the eagle at his feet, and in one instance (Hostilianus), with a human head in his hand. In short, it would seem to have been the study of the Roman government in Judaea to insult, and horrify, as well as to oppress, the once-favoured people of Jehovah.