Inv.no.85.053.a. 66 x 33 mm. Plate VII.
Three joining fragments which belong to a single leaf. It is certain that the left-hand edge of the leaf is preserved and virtually certain that the top is also. It is probable that not more than about three letters are missing at the right in lines 3 and 5. At the foot we have lost the name(s) of the reporting officer(s). There are possible traces of writing on the back of the leaf.
The nature of the text is not in doubt but it poses problems to which we cannot offer any satisfactory solution, whether we suppose we have the conflation of two reports, a single text with some correction or addition by a second hand, or a palimpsest. We are confident that what survives is written in at least two hands, one hand responsible for lines 3, 5 and 6, and a different hand for line 4. So little remains of lines 1 and 2 that we are not sure whether they are written in the hand responsible for lines 3, 5 and 6, or the one responsible for line 4, or indeed whether both are in the same hand. However, the form of e in line 2 is strikingly different from the form in lines 5 and 6.
Two possible solutions occur to us. (a) Lines 1-2 contain a double date, the first the date of submission followed by renuntium, then perhaps by a preposition and a second date to which the report relates; after this the pattern would be regular except that a second hand has inserted line 4. The problem with this is that the inserted line does not correct what had already been written, since there is no sign of deletion, and does not appear to add anything new, but merely to repeat what is already stated in line 5 (but cf. the note to line 4). (b) If we ignore lines 2 and 4 we have a normal report in lines 1, 3, 5 and 6. We should then have to suppose that we have a poorly erased text in lines 2 and 4 (in which case a first hand wrote these two lines before a second hand wrote lines 1, 3, 5 and 6). We then need to explain the traces at the left in line 2 as not belonging to this line but to the feet of letters from the date in line 1 (e.g. the first two traces might be the foot of pr(idie)); line 2 would then be aligned with line 4 (where no traces are visible at the left) and the figure in the date would be either [x]v or [xi]v. Here the problem is that, if the normal pattern was followed, we then have to suppose that line 2 contained, after the date, renuntium coh viiii batauorum omnes. This would not only make this line more than twice the width of lines 1, 3 and 5, but it would also make it much broader than any other tablet in this group. On balance we are inclined to favour the second solution, but certainty is obviously impossible.