Tablet 154

description

Inv.no.88.841. 86 x 394 mm. Plate V. 'Bowman and Thomas (1991), 62-73 and Plate VIII. VRR II, Plate II.
A diptych on which the text is written across the grain of the wood; R.E.Birley informs us that this leaf is cut from oak. Only two lines of text run over on to the second half of the diptych, the great majority of which is apparently blank. There is one physical characteristic of the text which deserves special emphasis - the sheer size of the diptych; with the single exception of 161 which was found in close proximity, it is very large by comparison with all the other leaf tablets, which are no more than half its size. Given that almost half of the piece is blank, however, it cannot be envisaged that it was cut especially for this text, so we must conclude that it is merely accidental that almost no other leaves of this dimension have survived. The text is complete, although badly abraded in the middle section. The back of the tablet is blank.
The hand is a typical example of Old Roman Cursive of this period. It is competent without showing any pretensions to elegance. There is some use of ligature but this is found only rarely. We have noticed nothing unusual in any of the letter forms. It is possible that the same hand may be responsible for 161.
The text is a strength report of the First Cohort of Tungrians. There are three main elements. The heading contains the date, name of the unit, name of the commanding officer and the total strength of the unit. Then follows a list of those absent on detached duties, a total of the absentees and a total of the remaining praesentes. Then we are given the number of the praesentes who are unfit for active service, broken down into categories. This section concludes with the total of ualentes, obtained by subtracting the number of the unfit from the number of praesentes. In the ed. pr. we discussed the location of the tablet in the Period 1 Ditch and noted that the name of the prefect of the unit, Iulius Verecundus, suggested a connection with other documents in which this officer is named (see 210-212). It now appears much more likely that the material in this ditch was produced by the occupants of Period 2 (see VRR II, 23), which would place the presence of Iulius Verecundus and the First Cohort of Tungrians at Vindolanda in the years c. AD 92-7.
Apart from being the only document of its kind from Britain, this text provides us with our only known example of a strength report of an auxiliary cohors milliaria peditata. For a full discussion of the classification of military reports see the introduction to the ed. pr. (to the references in (4), pp.64-5, should be added ChLA XI 497, a fragment of a roll of a cohors equitata, with summary of strength at the bottom). It is evident that 154 cannot be straightforwardly classified as a pridianum: the date is inappropriate and it does not list accessions, losses and absentees in the appropriate form. Nor does it appear to be a daily report, although it does list those who are unfit for service and might, in the abraded section in the middle, specify what some of the detachments were doing. The documents which it most resembles fall into the “monthly summary” category of RMR (see Bowman and Thomas (1991), 64) but there is no doubt that the Vindolanda report does not fall on the first of a month. It is perhaps best to regard it as an example of an interim strength report from which a pridianum could eventually be compiled. We might go further and suggest that the “monthly summary” and the pridianum should perhaps be regarded as complementary types of document within the same category. It is also worth bearing in mind that the archaeological context of the Vindolanda tablet gives us no reason to suppose that this document went into the official archives of the unit - it is perhaps more likely to have been an interim report compiled for the commanding officer. There is some support for this in the text itself. In several places the numbers are rather crushed in, as if that part of the information was added after the outline of the report had been drafted and we are inclined to think that the left-hand side of lines 5-15 was written first, before the numbers were added at the right.
It should be noted that the readings of all the numerals are not absolutely certain (see notes to lines 3, 7, 17, 19, 26) but the orders of magnitude are certainly correct and the margin of error applies only to digits below 10. With this proviso, the dispositions may be tabulated as follows:

Line 3    Total   752          inc. 6 centurions
Absentees:
Line           Singulares      46
Line 7    Coria  337          inc. 2 centurions (?)
Line 9    Londinium     1centurion (?)
Line        ...          6inc. 1 centurion
Line 12 ...          9inc. 1 centurion
Line 14 ...          11
Line 1       ...          1
Line 16 ...          45
Line 17 Total   456          inc. 5 centurions
Present:
Line 19 296                        inc. 1 centurion
Of whom there are:
Line        Unfit   31
Line 26 Healthy            26 inc. 1 centurion
The first point which calls for comment is the overall strength of the unit and the number of centurions. The First Cohort of Tungrians was a peditate milliary unit which, according to orthodox dogma based on the statement of Hyginus 28, should have had 10 centuries. Although there is no positive proof of the notion that the centuries will have been 80 strong (see Frere and Wilkes (1989), 118), the figure of 752 is tolerably close to a notional strength of 800. There can be, however, no possible doubt that the Tungrian cohort had only 6 centurions. There is good evidence for the existence of only 6 centuries in equitate milliary cohorts (such as the Twentieth Cohort of Palmyrenes) and it has been supposed that they might consist of 6 centuries of 140/150 each plus 5 turmae; scholars differ in their views of how such an arrangement might have evolved (see Hassall (1983), 99-100). There is nothing in our Vindolanda text to indicate the size of the centuries. Six centuries in a notional strength of 800 would give us an approximately 130-strong century, but the dispositions of the unit listed in our text do not support such a figure. It may simply be that during a period of transition when the size of the unit fluctuated somewhat (being brought up to milliary size in the 80s and then reduced to quingenary between 103 and 122) it proved impractical to maintain a strictly “correct” number of constituent centuries (cf. VRR II, 6-7). If we have read the figures correctly, it is striking that only 3 of the 6 centurions are in charge of major sections of the unit, one at Vindolanda and 2 (?) at Corbridge (see below, line 15 note); of the remaining 3, one is at London on his own and the other 2 are in charge of 6 and 9 men respectively. Again, this may reflect the tendency to make ad hoc arrangements in frontier regions during periods of flux. Even so, given the small amount of documentary evidence for the actual size and organisation of auxiliary units, it is striking that almost all of it diverges in some degree from what orthodoxy regards as the norm.
The details of the disposition of the unit are also remarkable. The 46 singulares legati will have been the contribution of pedites made by the Tungrian unit to the governor’s guard (see line 5 note). Then there are 337, by far the largest single group, stationed “coris”. There is every likelihood this is Corbridge and this is the strongest single piece of evidence relevant to the debate about its Latin name - it was probably simply Coria (see line 7 note). It is remarkable that this large section of the unit, which outnumbers that left behind at Vindolanda, is probably under the command of just two centurions, possibly only one. Following this we apparently have a single centurion in London, presumably on some special mission or message (for another connection between Vindolanda and London see 310). The postings or activities of the following four groups are unfortunately impossible to elucidate; only the last is sizeable, consisting of 45 men (with no centurion). We have considered the possibility that these were thetati (the deceased), but this is the wrong position in the text for such an entry (at RMR 63.ii. 11 they are included among losses, not absentees, and at P.Brooklyn 24.ii.5, Thomas and Davies (1977), they are the last entry before summa qui decesserunt). The number might be suitable as a detachment for garrisoning one of the Stanegate fortlets, but then it would be odd to find it lacking a centurion in command. Finally, it is worth noting that of the almost 300 who remained at Vindolanda, with one centurion, more than 10% were unfit for service; this text is unique in dividing them into categories, aegri, uolnerati and lippientes.
The most striking feature is the division of the unit into two major sections of which the larger was away from base at Corbridge. This strength report attests a degree of fragmentation which is by no means unique; accumulating evidence suggests, indeed, that it might well have been relatively normal, at least on the British frontier at this period. Corbridge may be a case in point (see line 7 note). This text supports evidence which has accumulated in the last two or three decades strongly militating against any notion that units would remain in relatively permanent garrisons constructed for them according to a model which can be reconstructed on the basis of the composition of particular types of units (see Maxfield (1986), 59).

edition


xv K(alendas) Ịuṇịas n(umerus) p(urus) [co]ḥ(co) ị Tụng̣rọ-
ṛụṃ
n n cui prae<e>st Iulius Vere-
c̣ụndus
n n n praef(ectus) dc̣c̣lịị in is ( centuriones) vi n n n
ẹx ẹis absentes    
5 sing̣ulares leg(ati)                              xlvi n
officio F̣ẹrocis n
Coris                              c̣c̣cxxxvịị n
                              ịn is (centuriones) iị n
Londinio                               (centurio)[ i] n
10 uạṣ..aḍ[....]...ap̣aḍụṇ...                              vi n n
                              in is (centurio) i n
]ạc̣.........aḷlia                              viiii n n
                              in is (centurio) i n
...c...ip̣ẹndiaṭuṃ                              xi n n
15 ịṇ.ạ                              ị n n
                             xxxxv n n
ṣụṃma absentes                              cccclṿị n
                              in is (centuriones) v
reliqui praesenṭes                              cclxxx̣x̣ṿị n
20                               in is (centurio) i
ẹx eis
aegri                              xv n
uolnerati                              vi n
ḷịp̣p̣ientes                              [x] n n
25 summa eoṛ[um]                              x̣xxi n
reliqui ualent[es]                              [cc]lx̣ṿ n
                              in [is] (centurio) [i]  n

translation

'18 May, net number of the First Cohort of Tungrians, of which the commander is
Iulius Verecundus the prefect, 752, including centurions 6
of whom there are absent:
guards of the governor 46
5at the office of Ferox
at Coria 337
including centurions 2 (?)
at London centurion 1 (?)
... 6
10 including centurion 1
... 9
including centurion 1
... 11
at (?) ... 1 (?)
15 45
total absentees 456
including centurions 5
remainder, present 296
including centurion 1
20from these:
sick 15
wounded 6
suffering from inflammation of the eyes 10
total of these 31
25remainder, fit for active service 265 '

commentary

1-3. None of the elements in the heading is unexpected but as a whole it is not precisely comparable to the headings of other military documents, of which comparatively few survive intact. That of RMR 64, the pridianum, has much more detail including the consular date and the station. The morning report from Dura (RMR 47) has a more detailed breakdown of the cohort, followed by the password. Reports of other types have less detail. RMR 62 (“monthly summary”) has simply the date followed by the number of equites; in the daily reports from Bu Njem (O.Bu Njem 1-62) the date is followed by a bare number; 15has a date followed by fabricis h(omines) cccxxxxiii; 156.1 has no total after the date heading. xv K(alendas) Iunias: the date suggests no obvious connection with pridiana. It must reflect the state of the unit at the period of maximum military activity (early summer). Gilliam’s view ((1986), 263-72) that strength reports were made at intervals (probably monthly) throughout the year and then summarised at the end of the year seems to us persuasive. But our Vindolanda strength report would then have to be seen as an internal, interim report from which the monthly pridianum was compiled. It is difficult to find any evidence for regularity in dates. RMR 66 b.ii.9 (“unclassified”) records the strength of the Twentieth Cohort of Palmyrene Archers at xv Kal(endas) Octobr(es), followed by a string of dates against which is entered n(umerus) p(urus) mansit. In the so-called Moesian pridianum Fink originally read xv K(alendas) Octobres (RMR 63.i .23 note) but Marichal (ChLA III 219) prefers xvi (see his note ad loc.); the facsimile seems to support this reading which Fink has accepted in RMR.

1. There are difficulties in reading what follows the date. n with a superscript bar is clear. The next letter looks like o, but p (or c) is also possible and parallels (e.g. RMR 47.i.1, ii.1, 50.i.5, ChLA X 454, XI 479) make it virtually certain that we must here have the expression numerus purus; it is not clear whether the superscript bar extends beyond the n but n p is the usual abbreviation for this expression and it is certain that purus cannot have been written in full in our text (O.Bu Njem 57.1 may have n(umerus) pur(us) but the reading is doubtful). The next clear letter is a t; before this we might have another t, but it can just be read as i with a superscript bar (i.e. the number one), and before this we might read part of h in the capital form. What we expect here is the name of the unit and the only possibility we can envisage is coh(ortis) i Tungrorum, which fits the other evidence for the identity of units in this area at this period. After t it is very difficult to read u; then n is clear; the next letter looks most like a square o but may be read as g if we assume that the tail is no longer visible; then r is clear; of the rest of tungrorum all that can be said is that the reading would at least suit the meagre remaining traces. All in all, the reading is palaeographically fragile, but the historical evidence makes it overwhelmingly probable that it is correct. For recent evidence for the unit’s presence in Britain see Britannia 18 (1987), 369, no.10, an undated inscription from Housesteads reading coh(ors) I Tu(ngrorum); Britannia 19 (1988), 502, no.70 (a spear-head from Vindolanda, after AD 120, with a punched inscription reading tung).

2. prae<e>st: this haplography is also found in ChLA XI 501.5.

2-3. Iulius Verecundus: for other texts concerning this prefect see 210-212.

3. praef: unusually for a milliary cohort, the First Tungrian was regularly commanded by a prefect rather than a tribune, see Smeesters (1977), VRR II, 8. dcclii: the first two digits are relatively clear. Thereafter the readings are more conjectural. Palaeographically, we cannot exclude dcccl, but since the number in line 17 is clearly 450 + and that in line 17 250+, a number in the 700s is required. It would be possible to read dcclxi but the reading we have adopted fits more easily with the other numbers. in is: is could be explained as a contracted form of iis (cf. coris < coriis (line 7 note)). In lines 4 and 21, however, the writer uses the form eis with ex. Would he have written one form of the ablative plural of is with in, but another with ex(?) Contrast ChLA X 454 which has in eis in line 12 and ex eis in line 40. It is obviously possible that is represents his, with loss of h (for in his see, e.g., O.Bu Njem 5.3, 13.2). But since one cannot be certain that the writer would not have alternated between in i(i)s and ex eis, the form he intended in is should be left open. i(i)s and (h)is are later hopelessly confused in manuscripts (see TLL VI.3 2692.25) and the ambiguity of this form illustrates the reason. (centuriones) vi: there is no doubt about the reading and the number is guaranteed by the individual dispositions and the total given below. This is a major surprise. For the difficulties involved in assessing unit strength and organisation see the introduction. If this strength report is to be dated in the early 90s it may attest the Tungrian unit at a time when its enlargement and reorganisation were still uncompleted (cf. VRR II, 6-7).

5-6. leg: this is not an easy reading - the last letter looks more like s than g, but the sense renders leg(ati) inescapable. We are in some doubt as to how we should interpret these lines. It is worth comparing RMR 63.ii.25, singulares fabi iusti legat in is carus dec e[, Fabius Iustus being the governor of the province; that is followed (line 26) by officii latiniani proc aug and on that basis we might expect that our officio Ferocis refers to a detachment serving with the procurator. However, we do not think there are any traces of ink visible at the end of line 6 and it is very unlikely that ink would not show up at this point where the tablet is less abraded than on the left. We are therefore inclined to suggest that we should take the two lines as a single entry, see further below. On the singulares in general see Speidel (1978), and on the British singulares, Appendix 1, 126-9, Davies (1976), Hassall (1973), 231-7, Britannia 19 (1988), 496. The provincial governor’s corps of singulares consisted of 500 pedites and 500 equites. The contribution of the First Cohort of Tungrians to this corps was 46 pedites. It is generally agreed that the singulares of the governor of Britain were based in London at the Cripplegate fort (Hassall (1973)). They might be employed on special duties (see Speidel (1978), 44). xlvi: the numeral is here written xlvi whereas in line 16 a number in the forties is written in the more usual form xxxxv. The reading seems secure, however, and the use of both conventions in the same document can be paralleled in RMR 68.ii.19, 31, 69.18, 25a. officio Ferocis: the location of this group of singulares depends on the interpretation of this phrase. If Ferox is some official other than the governor to whom the singulares were detached we would expect him to be high-ranking. One possibility is that he was a legionary legate, to whom some of the governor’s singulares were attached (leg(ati) without further qualification must surely refer to the provincial governor). It is a difficulty, but perhaps not a decisive one, that an inscription of the reign of Trajan proves that a legatus legionis could have his own singulares (AE 1969/70, 583.6-7 = Speidel (1970), cf. id. (1978), 78-9). Ferox is not a common cognomen. The two consuls of this period who bear it are Cn. Pompeius Ferox Licinianus (suff. 98) about whom nothing else is known and Iulius Ferox (suff. (?)99, PIR2 I 306), who had held a provincial governorship at some time before the date of Pliny, Ep. 10.87 (i.e before c. AD 110), in which post he is said to have recognised the merits of Nymphidius Sabinus. The chronology of his career suggests the possibility that he might have held a legionary legateship c. AD 90 and the most likely unit would surely be legio IX Hispana, based at York. The archaeological context of the tablet seems to rule out the possibility that the reference is to Iulius Ferox as provincial governor, a post which he could, in theory, have held c. AD 105, where there is ample room in the fasti between Neratius Marcellus and Metilius Bradua (see A.R.Birley (1981), 87-94). If lines 2and 26 of RMR 63.ii are also a single entry the troops at the officium of the procurator Latinianus will also be singulares and the parallel will be all the more striking. officium: compare P.Brooklyn 24.iii.(Thomas and Davies (1977)), officio epistrategi theb..os.

7. coris: this can hardly be anywhere other than Corbridge and it provides the clearest piece of evidence relevant to the long-standing doubt about the Latin name of the site. The natural assumption must be that it was Coria and that Coris is a locative form, = coriis. The contraction of -ii- is standard by this time in all but the most formal writing. For Vindolanda see 343.i.9, Tab.Vindol.I, p.713 and cf. Adams (1990a), 235. We may have the uncontracted form in 412 and the contracted form again in 175.3. In 312.back 1 we may have coris followed by an ethnic or tribal name, referring to a different place (see note ad loc.). The root corio- is Celtic, AS I 1126, cf. PNRB 317-9. In the case of some place-names there may have been interference from the Latin curia, as PNRB suggests, but obviously not in this name. The form of the locative shows that Latin speakers interpreted Coria as a neuter plural. Hind (1980) argues for Corioritum as a Roman adoption for the successive bases and forts at Corbridge. cccxxxvii: only the reading of the last two digits of the numeral is open to any serious doubt, so the figure must be well in excess of 300 and it is very surprising to find almost half of the strength of the Tungrian cohort at Corbridge in the charge of only two centurions (see note to line 15). There are no solid clues as to the nature of the garrison of the early forts at Corbridge (Phases 1a and 1b), see Bishop and Dore (1988), 129. Fort 1a may be about 13 acres in area, larger than the standard auxiliary cohort-sized fort, but smaller than a legionary fortress, and it seems to fit into the pattern of the so-called “vexillation fortress”, see Frere and St. Joseph (1974), 6-7. There is no doubt, therefore, that the section of the Tungrian cohort will have been only one element in the garrison of Corbridge at this time.

8. (centuriones) ii: for the reading of the numeral see note to line 15.

9. The entry seems to suggest one single centurion at London, see note to line 15, but no trace of a numeral survives after the centurial sign. For contacts between Vindolanda and London, see 310.back 1 and introduction, and cf. our note to lines 5-6, above.

10-16. These lines present major problems of reading and interpretation, mainly because of severe abrasion of the writing at the left-hand side. It is clear from the figures at the right that the entries concern small detachments of troops. We might expect simply to have place-names at the left, as we have in lines 7 and 9, but the amount of writing in lines 10, 12 and 14 seems too great for this, unless all the names were composite ones such as Isurium Brigantum. Any attempt to elucidate these lines on this assumption is further hampered by the high degree of probability that the place-names, if that is what we have, are unknown. A second possibility is that the entries describe the activities of different groups, such as we find, for example, in RMR 63.ii.27-37, sometimes with places specified. Lines and 14 seem more likely to be of this type than the other entries.

10. The first three letters seem relatively clear and suggest the beginning of a place-name, though there is no known name in the region which begins like this. A short place-name followed by ad plus gerund(ive)(?)

12. In the ed.pr. we rejected the reading Gallia but we now think that it is at least a possibility, cf. 255.i.3-4.

14. The traces invite the reading stipendiatum or something like it and one could adduce stipendiari in Pliny, NH 6.68 (“to serve for pay under”), cf. ad opinionem stip and ad opinionem peten (RMR 66 b.i.29-30, ii.1) and [ad opin]ionem peten(dam) in the Caerleon tablet, Tomlin (1986); see Davies (1967). Then we would have a reference to a group which had gone off to collect pay; Tomlin suggests (op.cit., note to line 1) that the size of such a party for a cohors milliaria would be about men, but this is not decisive against such an interpretation of the entry in the Vindolanda text. The much greater problem is that stipendiatum is hard to explain grammatically.

15. The length of line makes it look as if we simply have a place-name and ]in.a, possibly ]inna, would be suitable, though it does not look like a locative; but other readings are possible. What we have read as the digit i might, alternatively, be read as a centurial sign. The same possibility exists in line 9 (see note) and both entries need to be considered against the reading of the number of centurions in line 8 and the fact that we must arrive at the total number of five absent centurions (line 18). It is conceivable that we have only one centurion at Coria (line 8), one in London and one in line 15. The traces in line 8 favour ii, however, and the character in line 1looks very much like the numeral at the end of line 13; whereas that in line 9 is much more sharply angled.

16. Given the lack of any trace at all at the left of line 16, it is difficult to know what to make of the entry as a whole. Perhaps the entry at the left was very short and has left no trace. We have considered and rejected the possibility that this refers to thetati (deceased). Forty-five soldiers would perhaps be an appropriate force for the garrison of a small outpost. It is worth noting that the writer has left a noticeably larger than usual space after line 16, where the detailed account of the absentes ends.

17. The reading of the first five digits of the numeral is beyond any reasonable doubt. v is probable after this but nothing thereafter can be read securely. The number of absentes must be between 450 and 459. For summa absentes cf. RMR 50.1.6, 12, 63.ii.23, 38.

19. The reading of the first five digits of the number is secure, so we must have at least 270 praesentes. The small figures depend on calculation.

22-25. Daily reports from Bu Njem (O.Bu Njem 1-62) include entries for aegri and name the individuals. See also RMR 63.ii.44 and ChLA X 443.ii.3. What is remarkable in our Vindolanda text is that the unfit are broken down into categories and comprise, in all, over 10% of the praesentes. See the note by Jackson (1990a), 13 and note also Doc.Masada 723.

24. lippientes: palaeographically, the reading of the first four letters is unclear but the traces are compatible with the reading suggested. The term refers to chronic general inflammation of the eyes. See Kind, RE XIII (1927), 723-6, Jackson (1988), 82-5, Boon (1983), Jackson (1990a), (1990b), and cf. RIB II 2446, A.R.Birley (1992).

26. We can find no parallel in strength reports for the recording of the ualentes, but the reading is not in doubt. The numeral cannot be read in full, however, and the restoration is based entirely on arithmetical calculation.

27. We can see no clear sign of writing below this, and we might well expect the document to end at this point. The lower half of the second section of the leaf, on which lines 26-7 are written, is clearly blank, but there are possible traces of two or three lines below line 27.

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