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The Roman military diploma discovered at Atmageaua Tătărască – Sarsânlar (Zafirovo, Bulgaria), Studia Antiqua et Archaeologica 22/2, 2016, p. 137-148

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A tabella II of a Roman military diploma, copied after an imperial constitution issued in AD 54 (CIL XVI 3) is published once again in these pages. On the basis of archival information and new research on the table, kept by the National Museum of
  137 Studia Antiqua et Archaeologica  22(2): 137–148 The Roman military diploma discovered at Atmageaua Tătărască – Sarsânlar (Zafirovo, Bulgaria) Florian MATEI-POPESCU 1   bstract .  A tabella II of a Roman military diploma, copied after an imperial constitution issued in AD 54 (CIL XVI 3) is published once again in these pages. On the basis of archival information and new research on the table, kept by the National Museum of Romanian History in Bucharest, the article provides a reconstruction of the text and short histories of the mentioned military units. Rezumat . O tabella II a unei diploma militare romane, copiată după o constituție imperială din anul 54 p. Chr. (CIL XVI 3) este republicată aici. Pe baza unor informații de arhivă și pe baza unei noi autopsii a tăbliței, păstrată în colecțiile Muzeului Național de Istorie a României, București, articolul oferă o reconstrucție a textului, precum și scurte istorii ale unităților militare menționate.   Keywords : Roman Army, military diploma, ala, auxiliary unit, Thracians. In the summer of 1929, the tabella II of a Roman military diploma (Figure 1) was discovered in Atmageaua Tătărască (today Zafirovo, Bulgaria). According to the information provided by its first editor, the diploma was discovered in a tumulus found at ca. 45 km southwest of Silistra ( Durostorum ), along the road linking the settlements of Sarsânlar and Atmageaua Tătărască, during excavations carried out by C. Zamfirescu, instructor at the local elementary school. The moment and circumstances of its discovery remain shrouded in mystery, since the first editor mentions that he only consulted a copy sent by a certain A. Florescu, a former pupil of his and secretary at the Silistra secondary school, and the one who, probably having the chance to witness the discoveries made by C. Zamfirescu, grasped the particular importance of the bronze tablet. When it was published, the tabled seemed to have disappeared “in the hazard of the antiquities trade” 2 . Sometime after, the diploma was “rediscovered”, and became part of the collections of the National Museum of Antiquities (inventory no. V 6479). The circumstances of its entry into the MNA collections are not known, but in any case this occurred after 1930–1931, if not even after 1936, when it was recorded in CIL XVI, which again states that the diploma had disappeared. Nevertheless, even 1  “Vasile Pârvan” Institute of Archaeology, Bucharest; florian.matei@gmail.com. 2  LAMBRINO 1930; 1931.  The Roman military diploma discovered at Atmageaua Tătărască – Sarsânlar (Zafirovo, Bulgaria) 138 though its first publisher mentions that he used a copy made by A. Florescu, in CIL XVI, H. Nesselhauf claims that he verified the text according to the photographs sent by S. Lambrino. In reality, the diploma was most probably discovered in the very area of the tell settlement investigated by Vladimir Dumitrescu in 1929 and 1931. Thus, Vl. Dumitrescu mentions that this diploma was discovered before the start of the archaeological campaign — most probably following the excavations carried out by C. Zamfirescu (not mentioned by Vl. Dumitrescu) —, while the investigations unearthed Roman coins and ceramics 3 . It would thus seem that a Roman occupation, likely brief, overlapped the prehistoric tell. At it can be seen, the context of the discovery is unclear. The information according to which the diploma was discovered in a tumulus, without mentioning its character, is entirely suspect, since such documents were not generally deposited in graves — if by tumulus  we were to understand it as such—, but were used by descendants to demonstrate the quality of Roman citizen of their ancestor. There are no known military diplomas discovered in funerary contexts, save for one: CIL XVI 10 is actually rather important, since it likewise concerns a veteran of Thracian srcin, ( natione Bessus ) Dules Datui f. , from the 7 th  of March 70 AD. He served in the fleet and in the II Adiutrix legion. The diploma was discovered in 1930 near Breznik, Bulgaria, in the valley of the Struma, in a funerary tumulus 4 . Note should be made of the fact that definite information on the place and conditions of discovery are available for an extremely limited number of diplomas — compared to the rather large number known so far, more than 1200 —, the great majority, particularly those discovered in the last two decades, being the result of metal detecting. Archaeological research of the Roman era in the areas of the border provinces has focused on the military fortifications and on the civilian settlements from their vicinity. Most of the military diplomas were discovered in these contexts, indicating a relative tendency of the veterans to settle in the area of action of the military unit to which they previously belonged. Nevertheless, without knowing the place of discovery, the great majority of the diplomas discovered in the last decades that ended up in Western Europe through via the antiquities trade, srcinate from the Balkans, suggesting a tendency of the veterans of Thracian, Moesian and Dacian srcin to return home 5 . In theory, there is also the possibility that the document was buried much later, in other historical conditions, when its initial significance had been lost, as in the case of a fragment of a military diploma discovered in a Chernyakhov settlement 6 . The diploma was bestowed to a 3  DUMITRESCU 1934, 40. 4  CIL XVI 10; GEROV 1961, 110. 5  See foremost DANA 2013. Also consult ZAHARIADE 2009 and MIHAILESCU-BÎRLIBA & DUMITRACHE 2012. For the veterans of Dacian srcin, see DANA & MATEI-POPESCU 2009. 6  IVANTCHIK, POGORELETS, SAVVOV 2007; DANA & MATEI-POPESCU 2009, 217, no. 35. Also see the two fragments of Roman military diplomas discovered in the Republic of Moldova, MATEI-POPESCU 2007.  Florian Matei-Popescu 139   Figure 1. The tabella   II   of the Roman military diploma from Atmageaua Tătărască/Zafirovo.    The Roman military diploma discovered at Atmageaua Tătărască – Sarsânlar (Zafirovo, Bulgaria) 140 to a former member of the Pretorian cohorts srcinating from Durostorum, but in unclear circumstances, probably in the context of the Gothic invasions from the second half of the 3 rd  century AD, the diploma ended up in the area of present-day Ukraine. The diploma became important in this new context probably on account of the high-quality bronze from which it was manufactured, or acted as a prestige good. Returning to the diploma at hand, it was most probably discovered in a rural settlement, possibly a villa rustica , which has not been investigated so far. The tumulus  appearance could have been given by the pile of rubble covered in time by a thick layer of earth. To my knowledge, no archaeological research or surveys, which could provide clues on the character of the Roman occupation, have been carried out during the last decades in the aforementioned area. Once the National History Museum of Romania was founded in 1972 (as the National History Museum of the Socialist Republic of Romania), the diploma became part of its collections, where it is still kept nowadays (inv. no. 16679). Rectangular bronze plate, broken only at the right corner, tabella II of a military diploma, dimensions: 15 × 12 cm; 0.3 cm in thickness; the sizes of the letters are not specified. The text on the outer side of the diploma is placed in a rather unusual manner. Generally, this place holds the name and seals of the seven witnesses. In our case, the left part of the diploma, where usually the  praenomina and nomina of the witnesses appear, contains the first part of the text of the imperial constitution after that the diploma copied, running along the length of the table. The right part — the diploma is divided into two parts by the place where the seals of the witnesses were found — contains the  praenomina , nomina  and cognomina  of the witnesses, as well as their functions. The text runs along the width of the table. This manner of placing the text is attested only in a wooden diptych discovered in 1909 in Philadelphia, Egypt, which likewise contains the text of a copy of a special imperial constitution issued for the veterans of Legio X Fretensis during Domitian reign 7 . On the exterior side, the text from the left part, rows 2–4, there are visible traces of the ink ( atramentum ) used for writing the text that was to be engraved (the omitted text is given in square brackets). LAMBRINO 1930, 131–137; 1931, 251–267; AE 1930, 72; CIL XVI 3; VULPE 1968, 294, fig. 2; HOLDER 1980, 203; CGLBI 652 (only the list of witnesses); FREI-STOLBA 2001, 99, no. 3; 2007, 41, no. 3; IACOB et alii  2012, 44, no. 2 (photo); ISM IV 1. Intus         CVM · VXORIBVS · QVAS · TVNC · HABVI SSENT · CVM · EST · CIVITAS · IIS AVT · SIQVI · CAELIBES · ESSENT CVM · IIS · QVAS · POSTEA · DVXISSENT 7  ILS 9059 = CIL XVI, suppl. 12.  Florian Matei-Popescu 141DVM·TAXAT · SINGVLI · SINGVLAS A · D · XIIII · K · IVLIAS MASINIO·MARCELLO M⁄ ·ACILIO·AVIOLA COS ALAE · GALLORVM ET·THRAECVM·ANTI ANA CVI · PRAE·EST·M·MILONIVS·VERVS· IVNIANVS ·EQVITI ROMAESTAE·RESCENTI · F · SPIVRO DESCRIPTVM · ET · RECOGNITVM·EXTA BVLA · AHENEA · QVAE · FIXA · EST· INCAPI TOLIO·IN·AEDEM·OPIS·INPRONAEVO LATERE·DEXTERIORE   extrinsecus left, text running vertically TI·CLAVDIVS · CAESAR·AVGVSTVS · GERMANIC PONTIFEX·MAXIM·TRIBVNIC·POTEST X[IIII] IMP · XX[VII P P] CENSOR COS [V] EQVITIBVS·QVI · MILITANT · IN · ALIS · QVIN[QVE] QVAE·APPELLANTVR · VETERANA·GALLORVM ET · THRAECVM ET · GALL[O]RVM·ET·THRAECVM [A]NTIANA·ET·GALLORVM·ET·THRAECVM   right, text running horizontally   SEX MAGI · B RVFI · NAVARCHI C·CASSI·LONGI NI TRIBVNI B M·VALERI·FIR MI·TRIBVNI L NVMERI·LVPI TRIBVNI B M·TITINI MACRI CENTVRIONIS SEX·APVLEI·MA CRI·CENTVRIO L ·VALERI·VOL SENI· M[I]SSI·CL BESSI   
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