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Two fragmentary Roman Military Diplomas

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Last year I had the opportunity to pick up two very interesting items and whilst I don't really stray outside of coins, these two pieces made too much of an impression on me to ignore. Knowing next to nothing about diplomas before buying them, I was extremely lucky to find both pieces had been studied and published in the definitive journal on the subject, Roman Military Diplomas IV (2003).


Domitian (81-96 AD). Roman military diploma, Æ, 37 x 52 mm, 33.41g. Issued in January/February of 85 in the consulate of Domitian and T. Aurelius. SINGVLI - IMP·CAESARE·DO[MITIANO] - T · AV[RELIVS] / C· MVNA[TI] / L· LVCRET[I]. RMD IV, 211 (This piece).

Restored legend per Margaret Roxan in Roman Military Diplomas IV:

Imp. Caesar, divi Vespasianus f( ilius), Domitianus
Augustus Germanicus, pontifex maximus, tribunic(ia)
potestat(e) IUI, imp(erator) VIII, p(ater) p(atriae),
co(n)s(ul) XI,
(auxilia) aut (classis)...
quorum nomina subscripta sunt, ipsis liberisque ...duxissent
dumtaxat] singuli [singulas.]
[a.d. ... ] Imp(eratore) Caesare Do [mitiano Aug(usto)
Germanico XI, ], T. Au[relio Fulvo II cos.]
(status of recipient)
[ ... ] C. Muna[ti ... ]; L. Lucre t[ i ... ]; [ ... ]

This fragment originally belonged to a military diploma issued during the first months of 85 AD, when T. Aurelius served as consul ordinarius with Domitian. Roman military diplomas were issued on two distinct tablets, one containing the full constitution and another the names of seven witnesses along with their seals. These tablets would then be connected to each other with wires to form one document. This fragmentary piece preserves the names of Gaius Munatius and Lucius Lucretius, both witnesses to attest that this diploma was authentic. Unfortunately, the name and unit of the recipient has not been preserved. Based on the constitution, this diploma was likely issued to a solder serving in one of Rome's fleets or in an auxiliary unit.


Hadrian (117-138). Roman military diploma, Æ, 51 x 38 mm, 21.58 g. Issued in sometime between 118 and 138 AD. IMP·CAESAR[...] - [NER]VAE NEPOS - [..]FEX MAXIM[..] / IMP·CA - DIVI NER - ANVS AV - TRIBVN - IIS·QVI MIL - TORIA·MI. RMD IV, 257 (This piece). 

Restored legend per Margaret Roxan in Roman Military Diplomas IV:

Imp. Caesar, [divi Traiani Parthici f.], divi Nervae nepos,
[Traianus Hadri]anus Au[g(ustus), [ponti]fex maxim[us],
tribun(icia) [potest(ate)..., co(n)s(ul) II/aut III?, p(ater)
iis qui m[ilitant/-ilitaverunt in classe prae]toria
Mi[senensi quae est sub ...

This fragment belonged to a diploma issued during the reign of Hadrian to a sailor of the fleet at Misene. Dating it to Hadrian is clear by the use of "[NERV]AE NEPOS" (Grandson of Nerva) on the inner side of the diploma. Narrowing it down further than that however is unlikely.


I'll leave you with an extraordinarily complete specimen from the Muzej Brodskog Posavlja in Croatia, fully preserving the seals of the seven witnesses:





Edited by zadie
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