Roman Military Diploma - thoughts and translations?

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by PaddyB, Jun 14, 2020.

  1. PaddyB

    PaddyB Eccentric enthusiast

    A friend of mine has asked me for help with investigating this item he acquired a few years back from a antiques shop (not an antiquities specialist) in the UK. The seller could only say he had picked it up at a "Country House Sale".
    20200501_164020.jpg 20200501_164125.jpg 20200501_164158.jpg 20200509_141901.jpg

    What we think know so far:
    Roman Military diplomas were issued to soldiers on completion of service to record their service and confirm their status as Roman citizens. When the recipient died they were broken into 4 to ensure nobody else tried to use them.
    I have tried deciphering some of the writing and note that "Pomponio Basso" was the name of two Roman consuls in the third century. Other parts may list campaign areas?
    The ticket on the base of the stand from Rolands Castle relates to an area in Hampshire that belonged to the Clarke Jervais family in the 19th century, and this ties in with the signature. Other records suggest they found a number of Roman artefacts there, but do not mention this item.

    So any more detailed translation of the texts on either side?
    Any reason this should not be genuine?
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  3. coin_nut

    coin_nut Well-Known Member

    That is some real history in hand. Love it.
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  4. Inspector43

    Inspector43 Collecting Since 1948 Supporter

    The letters look to be raised as if they were welded on. How could this be done in 150 AD? Or, am I misinterpreting it?
  5. coin_nut

    coin_nut Well-Known Member

    images can do that. I have no doubt they are incuse. They can trick your eyes.
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  6. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter 3rd Century Usurper

    Very interesting piece.
  7. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    SVNT IPSIS LIBERIS means "they are free." SVB T POMPONIO BASSO means "under T. Pomponius Bassus." STIPENDIA MERVERANT means "salaries earned."
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2020
  8. PaddyB

    PaddyB Eccentric enthusiast

    Yes - definitely incuse lettering. Just a trick of the light.

    There is one section that reads "BRACA RAUCUSTANO" which as far as I could make out means Coarse Trousers!
  9. Numisnewbiest

    Numisnewbiest Well-Known Member

    The word "Cantabro" may mean this soldier was either in an auxilliary of the Cantibri of Spain (, or served in the same province at the same time as Cantibri auxilliaries.
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  10. Evan Saltis

    Evan Saltis College Dorm Collector Supporter

    This is so awesome.
  11. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    I think it says AVGVSTANO, the masculine dative singular of the adjective Augustānus, meaning (duh!) "for/by (the) Augustan ..."
    PaddyB likes this.
  12. Numisnewbiest

    Numisnewbiest Well-Known Member

    Diplomas came as two "pages". The diploma text was written on the outside of page one, and the outside of page two listed the names of witnesses. Both "inside" pages also contained the text of the diploma. Your diploma fragment looks like page two, because there are only five lines on one side of it, which seems like it would be the list of witnesses.
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  13. Orielensis

    Orielensis Supporter! Supporter

    „BRACARAVGVSTANO[RVM]” likely refers to the Cohors III Bracaraugustanorum, an auxiliary unit which is attested to have been stationed in the Manchester area c. 103-158 AD.

    This is something your friend should probably show to an actual expert (e.g. Roman archeology expert at a university close to him, responsible person at county museum, etc.), and not only to ensure it’s authenticity.
  14. Ryro

    Ryro The last of the Diadochi Supporter

    I am highly professionalist oxpert in okology and this clearly states, "I walked around the corner and I walked around the block and I walked myself into a donut shop. I picked up a donut and I wiped off the grease and I handed the man my denarius. He looked at the denarius and he looked at me and he said kind sir as you can plainly see there's a hole in the denarius and it goes right through. I said, there's a hole in the donut too. Thanks for the donut, so long."
    galba68, Evan Saltis and rooman9 like this.
  15. PaddyB

    PaddyB Eccentric enthusiast

    My friend is trying to contact someone at the British Museum but struggling as they mostly seem to be off thanks to the virus. He is also in contact with an expert at Bonhams.
    Any suggestions as to the names on the reverse? I think I see a Licinius, though this may not be an emperor as it was quite a common name.
    Also, does anyone else see "..VSITANIA" on the main side? Is this likely to be Lusitania - modern day Portugal?
  16. jamesicus

    jamesicus Well-Known Member

    That is very very interesting. I am not familiar with the letterforms - they are certainly not Capitalis Monumentalis - the letterforms found on tombstones, edifices, monuments (and Roman Imperial coins),
  17. Milesofwho

    Milesofwho Omnivorous collector

    It is the genitive VSITANORVM, “of ...usitania”. Afterwards comes ET, but I can’t make sense of the end. Lusitania certainly seems possible to me.
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  18. Limes

    Limes Supporter! Supporter

    That is an amazing piece your friend has @PaddyB. I'm sorry I cant help with the translation. But I would love to know what it means!
    PaddyB likes this.
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