Tablet 646

description 175 x 68 mm.
Archaeological data. Location: N. Period: 2.
A diptych, of which all the margins are preserved in part, containing remains of two columns of a letter and an address on the back of the right-hand portion. The surface of the tablet is very pitted and much of the writing is illegible.
What can be established is that we have a letter to Optatus from a man called Montanus. It clearly concerns business transactions, probably connected with foodstuffs of various sorts. Montanus does not occur elsewhere in the Vindolanda material; for Optatus see i.1 note.


Moṇtanus Optato [ ].. sụọ salụṭẹ[m] n
mod traces .s misị f̣...eti n
traces Frontino n
traces n
5 traces ọptimọ
......[.]....s sị ḥaḅueris ọc̣cas- n
...... ]... ụendendi uacat n
..ọstạe traces n
10 .. carnar traces n
ẹṭ c̣o.ṭarium traces n
uin traces n
opto bene ụạleạṣ ........ n
ṣi.e n
15 uaḷ(e) n
ḍ......[ n n


'Montanus to Optatus, his brother(?), greetings. if you will have had the opportunity of selling I pray that you are in good health (Back) [Deliver at] Vindolanda. To Optatus the maltster from Montanus his brother. '


i.1. Something has been written between Optato and sụọ, which are on different fragments. Most probably the fragments do not directly join and we should read [frat]ṛị (not domino as in 647); cf. back 3. Optatus is perhaps the same man as the addressee of 647. In addition, an Optatus, occurs in two stilus tablets. In one, 87.689, see Tab.Vindol.II, pp. 364-5, he is the sender of a letter to Vindolanda. In the other, (cf. A.R.Birley (2002), 119), he is the addressee of a letter sent to York; in this text he may be, as Birley says, a freedman or slave of the emperor.

i.2. A name followed by misit would make good sense, but there is no sign of t after misị.

i.3. An eques with the name Frontinus occurs in 300.3.

i.4. Only the occasional letter can be read.

i.6-7. We suppose the text had ọc̣cas|[sionem because of the word division; for this spelling in the tablets see 225.5 and 16. There is room for a short word thereafter before ụendendi; although the traces permit ]ṇṭị, frume]ṇṭị is too long (even though the fragments may have a gap between them, see above). ụịṇị is perhaps just possible, cf. line 12.

ii.9. ostrea (cf. 299.i.3) cannot be read.

i.10. No doubt a reference to a place for storing meat (carnarium) or, more probably, to a butcher or meat-seller (carnarius); cf. 679 where we may have a reference to a scissor. There is later archaeological evidence for a butcher's shop at Vindolanda (II or III AD?), see Henig (1978), 45, 287.

ii.11. c̣oṇṭarium is perhaps just possible.

ii.12. Perhaps a reference to wine, but the traces are indecisive and would not rule out Vindolandam, perhaps as the last word before the final greeting.

ii.13-14. One expects frater karis|sime but the traces in line 13 hardly support this and in any case it seems to be too long.

ii.15. uaḷ(e): for the abbreviation see 505 and note.

ii.16. No doubt ḍọṃịṇẹ, perhaps followed by ḳạ[rissime, but the traces are very indistinct. Back

Back.2. ḅraciiario: the spelling is readily explicable, see Adams (2003), 00 and 00, where the word braciarius is discussed. Cf. also 595.i.3-4 note, where Dr Max Nelson is quoted as suggesting that a braciarius was a maltster rather than a brewer, which would account for the occurrence in the tablets of both braciarius and ceruesarius. bracis in that case should perhaps be translated ‘malt’ rather than ‘grain’; cf. also 645.14 note.

Back.3. Written on the slant as usual.

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