Tablet 586

description

Inv.no.93.1495. 88 x 63 mm. Plate 5.
Archaeological data. Location: SG (bonfire site). Period: 3.
Two fragments of an account written along the grain. Both fragments are more or less complete at the left and right sides and incomplete at the top and bottom. There is a detached piece with traces of two lines, both erased; it is not clear where this should fit and we have not attempted to transcribe it. It is probable that the pieces belong to a single diptych which contained an account written in two columns, like 182. Several features suggest that this is a rough summary account of some sort. The dated entries in ii.4-7 extend over a period of almost three months. There are several deletions which may mean that the amounts have been repaid. There is an intercolumnar addition, probably by a second hand, and it is not clear which entry or entries it relates to; it would make sense to see it as a note on the deleted entry in i.1, indicating that an outstanding amount was owed and was repaid on the same day.
The surviving parts of the account deal with only two cereal commodities, siligo and halica, both of which occur in other Vindolanda texts (siligo in 591 and 673, halica or alica in 193 and 233). Siligo is conventionally identified as soft bread wheat (triticum uulgare, triticum aestiuum), while Pliny, NH 18.112 says that alica is a kind of gruel made from zea which is a regional name for emmer-wheat. In the present account the quantities recorded are fairly small and it seems possible that in the case of siligo we are dealing with amounts of flour rather than raw cereal. For further detail on the identification of cereals at Vindolanda see Pearce (2002).
The first part of the account records dispensations, either sales or loans, to various named individuals. The second part is headed recepta, presumably meaning "received" (see 649.i.2 and cf. 698.2). The intercolumnar note uses the verb accepi, which we take also to indicate amounts received. It is to be noted that the writer also uses accepi in ii.6 under the heading of recepta; the verbs seem to be more or less synonymous and it is not clear whether there is any distinction intended.
The occurrence of Masc(u)lus the decurio firmly establishes the connection with the Ninth Cohort of Batavians (see 628 introduction) and there is a certain pattern to the entries: in all cases except i.2 the quantity of siligo credited to an individual is 1 modius; there are three entries for halica, two of 1 modius and one of 5 modii. This suggests that these may be in some sense standard distributions of rations. The occurrence of a seplasiarius in i.7 is noteworthy (see note).
The main hand is a neat squarish cursive with few ligatures, using both the square and the long forms of l, and n made in two strokes, the second u-shaped (but contrast ii.1 where there is a form in three strokes with an extended diagonal). In i.4 and 7 (corniclario, seplasiario), i is a short almost horizontal, bowl-shaped stroke. The abbreviation for modius is m with o written above it, a less common form than the superscript bar but one which can be paralleled at Vindolanda and elsewhere (673.2, 205, Tab.Luguval. 2.5, ChLA X 436, P.Mich. VII 449). It is odd that the writer once abbreviates it differently, in ii.7, and in a form not found elsewhere at Vindolanda, by using a high diagonal after the m; the entry in ii.6-7 is also the only one where he uses interpunct.

translation

' (Col.i)To (?)
[[Soft wheat, modii 2]]
[[Gruel, modius 1]]
To Atticus, cornicularius
Gruel, modius 1
Soft wheat, modius 1
To Vitalis, pharmacist
Gruel, modii 5
[[Soft wheat, modius 1]]
To Decimus, cornicularius
Soft wheat, modius 1

(Between cols. i and ii)
He owes the remainder (?), modius 1,
I received it on the same day.
(Col. ii)

[[soft wheat, modii 50]]
Received
11 June, from Masclus the decurion, soft wheat, modii
19 June, from Vitalis, soft wheat, modii
2 September, I received from Masclus
soft wheat, modii 1+
'

commentary

i.2. There is a descender from a line above at the left.

i.4. The same person can now be recognised in 414 (see Appendix, ad loc.). The name Atticus had not occurred before at Vindolanda but it is common everywhere in the north-west, including Belgica/Germany; cornịclario: for this senior staff position see 215.back 2 and note, the only previous occurrence at Vindolanda; see also i.10 where it is abbreviated and our re-reading of 301.back (Appendix, ad loc.). On the form of the word see Adams (2003).

i.7. seplasiario: normally sesplasiario, but reasonably well attested in this form. This is the second occurrence in Britain; for the first see Tomlin (1991), 300, no.24 and note 35, where the meaning is discussed (we have followed his translation of "pharmacist" rather than "unguent-seller"). This man could be a medical orderly and therefore a member of the unit; he is clearly not to be identified with Vitalis in 263 who was a decurio or the one in 181.8 who was a balniator. The name is a common one, and it also occurs in 662; it may occur in 601.2 and 544 (= I 75).

i.10. This line looks as though it was squashed in afterwards. D]ẹc̣imo seems to be the obvious restoration. The name is reasonably common as a cognomen and the highest number of occurrences give by NPEL is in Belgica/Germany. There is no abbreviation mark after cor and there would have been space to write it in full but the resolution is hardly to be doubted.

intercol.1. Intercolumnar insertion. For our interpretation of this see introduction. We suggest that this should be resolved as deb(et) rel(iquum) etc. There seems to be a mark after die, which might be either dirt, or the cross-bar of e written as a diagonal ascending from the base of the vertical.

ii.1. A couple of descenders from this line are visible.

ii.4. For the decurion Masc(u)lus see introduction. There is no mark of abbreviation after dec, cf. cor in line i.10.

ii.5. Vitale: presumably the same man as in i.7.

ii.6. The writer seems to have begun writing in exact alignment with the previous line then deleted the first figure and inserted iv to the left of this.

ii.7. It is odd that the form of abbreviation of modius is different only here. The instances in i.8 and 9 are flattened almost to a single stroke but are clearly intended as o. There may be a medial point before the digit.

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