Tablet 591

description

Inv.no.93.1350. (a) 45 x 80 mm. (b) 45 x 80 mm. Plate 5.
Archaeological data. Location: SG/N. Period: 3.
Two fragments of a diptych containing an account or list written parallel to the short edge of the leaf and across the wood-grain. Each of the leaves preserves one complete notch and one tie-hole in matching positions. One of the fragments probably also preserves the left-hand side of a second notch and tie-hole; in both cases the right-hand section of the leaf has been lost. It is probable that we have the top and bottom of a single diptych, though we have considered and rejected the possibility that these pieces belong to a concertina format (like 190 and 581) or to a folded strip of the type identified by Tomlin (1998), no.1, and are the bottom half of one diptych and the top half of another. The main argument in favour of the latter would be the fact that it would give us a continuous text with the blank part of one fragment coming at the end, whereas the single diptych arrangement puts the blank part between two sections of text. On the whole we think that the physical characteristics of the leaves make the latter preferable and it is possible to suggest an explanation for the blank (see below). Each of the fragments is incomplete at the point where they would join, i.e. the bottom edge of (a) and the top edge of (b). The backs are blank.
The list or account contains various natural products, minerals and other commodities, all but two (bitumen, b.3, glutem, b.4) probably in the genitive singular case (the feminines in a.2, 3, 5 and b.2, 7, 11 and 13 could be nominative plural but we think are more likely to be collective singular). In (b) several of the entries are followed by p(ondo); although (a) is preserved to the same width at the right, there seems to be no writing corresponding to what we have in (b) (there are some marks visible at the right in line 1 but they are probably not ink). The other words and digits specifying the weight, on which the genitives depend, in most cases have been lost (traces remain at the right in lines b.2-3 and b.5-13), cf. Adams (1995a), 115. The heading, if there was one, is lost, so we cannot be sure of the nature or purpose of the list. Furthermore, if our reconstruction of the format is right, we need to explain the fact that the lower part of (a) is blank. At first sight it looks like an odd miscellany, juxtaposing some foodstuffs and some other, inedible natural products. The most attractive hypothesis is that it is an inventory of medical supplies or a list of substances used for medical purposes. Such uses are attested for all the items mentioned and seem to be the only obvious common link, although it must be said that almost all foodstuffs and natural substances are credited with medical uses or properties by the ancient sources. It is plausible that the list might have some connection with the unit's medical facilities (cf. 154.20-4, 155.6, 156.2). An alternative, attractive possibility, which would explain the uacat between the two sections of text, is that there are two separate lists of ingredients for prescriptions or medical recipes. Such collections of medical prescriptions are well-known in papyri. The number of points of contact offered by the collection of recipes in the Michigan Medical Codex (Youtie (1996)), signalled in the notes below, strongly supports the idea that the present text concerns medical matters and may be part of a compendium of recipes. A large number of these ingredients appear in various sources as constituents of eye-salves, the use of which is particularly well-attested in Roman Britain; we have evidence at Vindolanda for lippientes in 154.24 (cf. Scarborough (1986), 59-85) and for a seplasiarius (586.i.7). We tentatively suggest that these lists might include ingredients for prescriptions for an eye-salve, (collyrium, cf. perhaps 592.9 and see A.R.Birley (2002), 79), and for the treatment of wounds (see b.10 note).
The most useful general reference guide for ancient pharmaceutical matters is Opsomer (1989), from which most of the references, by no means exhaustive, given in the notes below are taken. See also Nielsen (1974), 22, Davies (1989), ch.10, Nutton (1969), 260-70 and on the terminology in the Greek papyri Marganne (1981). We are particularly indebted to Ralph Jackson for helpful discussion of this text and for pointing us to relevant references, especially in Celsus.
The hand is quite a practised one using squarish letter forms with occasional serifs. There are one or two interesting link strokes between letters. A medial point is used after the abbreviations in b.3 and 5.

edition

a:
anesi [ n
nucule [ n
uuae [ n
siliginis [ n
5 fabae [ n
aluminis [ n
uacat
. . . . . . . .

translation

'(a)Anise
Nuts
Berries (?)
Soft wheat (-flour?)
Beans
Alum '
'(b)Wax, by weight (?)
Bitumen, by weight
Bull's glue
Pitch, by weight
Blacking, by weight
Anchusa, by weight (?)
Mustard-seed, by weight
Verdigris
Linen soaked in honey (?)
Resin
Cummin
Oak-gall '

commentary

a.1. anesi: for the spelling see Pliny, NH 20.185 cf. line 8, note; according to LSJ the basic form is ênnhson or ênhson; P.Mich. Inv.21K v.5 (Youtie (1996)) has the former; 588.ii.1 has anisi. Many medical uses including stings and insomnia, Pliny, loc.cit.

a.2. nucule: for nuculae; for the digraph ae see Adams (1995a), 87-8 and cf. id. (2003), and for diminutives id. (1995a), 106-8. Medical uses for different kinds of nuts at Pliny, NH 23.142-3.

a.3. uuae: might be grapes, see Pliny, NH 23.10ff., but perhaps more likely to be black bryony berries (uua taminia), used for treatment of wounds (Celsus 5.5.2, 5.6.2, 5.8, 5.15).

a.4. siliginis: soft wheat (-flour?), see 586. Pliny, NH 22.119: the grain roasted and ground was used for medical purposes (eye discharge, frostbite, poultice).

a.5. fabae: e.g. Pliny, NH 33.109. Note also Celsus 5.18.21, for fabae fresae which are also found at Vindolanda (302.1, probably as food), 5.18.24 (bean-meal plaster).

a.6. aluminis: e.g. Pliny, NH 34.106, 116, 35.183ff. Widely used by Celsus, see De Med. (Loeb) Vol.II, pp.xviii-xix.

b.1. Only the foot of a vertical stroke is visible at the broken edge.

b.2. ceraẹ: very common in medical recipes and several occurrences in the Michigan Medical Codex (Youtie (1996), see index s.v. khrÒw) and cf. Pliny, NH 34.115, Celsus 5.15, 5.17.2C.

b.3. bitumen: this and the following line are the only cases where the genitive singular is not used, though here there is a clear p followed by a medial point. bitumen could be either nominative or accusative. Perhaps simply a slip, but the switch from one case to another can be paralleled (e.g. in 181, 185). For discussion of the syntax of the Vindolanda accounts see Adams (1995a), 114-6, (2003): the accusative case is much used in recipes, lists etc. where no verb is expressed. Pliny, NH 35.180-2 cites multifarious medical uses for bitumen; see also Celsus, De Med. (Loeb), Vol.II, p.xxiii.

b.4. glutem tauri[nam: presumably the accusative of glus, see Adams (2003), TLL VI 2110.43, citing Pelagon. 85 for adiunges …glutem taurinam (and cf. VI 2117.69 for taurinus gluttis). Pliny, NH 28.236, notes that the best glue is made from the ears and genitals and that it is a good remedy for burns; Celsus 5.5.2 (gluten taurinum). The Greek equivalent taurÒkolla occurs in the recipes in P.Mich. 21G.6 and L.9 (Youtie (1996)).

b.5. picis: e.g. Pliny, NH 20.55, garlic mixed with pitch for drawing arrows, Celsus 5.15.

b.6. atramenti: various kinds including atramentum sutorium which is used in eye-salves, see Nielsen (1974), 31; other medicinal uses, Pliny, NH 34.126, Celsus 5.8.1.

b.7. ancusae, l. anchusae: bugloss, see Pliny, NH 22.51-2, Dioscorides 25.25, cf. Scarborough (1986), 72-3.

b.8. senạpidis: e.g. Pliny, NH 28.165 (sores), 219-20 (gout). The commoner form is sinapi (-e) neuter, or sinapis feminine, cf. 588.i.4 and note and see Adams (2003). For the interchange of e and i see Adams (1995a), 91 and cf. line 1, anesi.

b.9. aeruginis c[: the last trace clearly looks much more like c than p = p(ondo). If this is correct there are various possibilities for restoration: Pliny, NH 34.114 mentions aerugo Cypria in the context of eye-salves, along with atramentum, cf. b.6; NH 33.93 mentions cruda aerugo and TLL I 1065.65ff. cites aerugo campana. There are many medical uses including eye-salves, see Pliny, NH 34.113-6, Nielsen (1974), 26-7. There are several references in the Michigan Medical Codex, e.g. P.Mich. Inv.21D r.3-4 and 11 in the context of cicatrization (Youtie (1996)).

b.10. lini mellarị[: we can find no direct parallel for this phrase, and its explanation is therefore somewhat conjectural. Two possibilities occur to us which fit a medicinal context. linum might mean "linen", and the adjective might indicate linen soaked in honey; medical uses of honey are multifarious, including treatment for wounds, Pliny, NH 22.107-14, and we might then explain it as a reference to linen bandages soaked in honey. There are also references in the Michigan Medical Codex to the practice of straining mixtures of ingredients through linen or applying medications to linen (P.Mich. Inv.21E v.12-3, 21A.2-4, Youtie (1996)). There is some support for this in the fact that there are examples of linamentum used with honey for the cleaning of wounds, see TLL 1430.76ff, especially e.g. Celsus 5.28.12N, linamentum in modum collyrii compositum tinctum melle demitti, 5.29, et id optime faciunt tincta in melle linamenta, supraque idem emplastrum uel enneapharmacum dandum est. The ingredients of the plaster given at 5.19.9 are cera, pix, resina and sebum taurini; it is suggestive that the first three of these occur in (b), but the ox product is different. There is also the possible evidence for strained honey as an ingredient in eye-salves (see Choularia-Raïos (1989), 111, 147, but cf. Youtie (1983), 57, suggesting éph[frism°nou ("skimmed") rather than éph[yhm°nou ("strained"). Alternatively, we might be dealing with linseed mixed with honey; Pliny, NH 19.16 states that linseed has medicinal uses and it occurs in P.Mich. Inv.21H v.8 (Youtie (1996)), but it is not clear that linum on its own can refer to the seed and we might rather expect semina lini.

b.11. resinae: mixed with garlic and sulphur for drawing pus, Pliny, NH 20.55, Celsus 5.1 Occurrences in P.Mich. Inv.21D recto.13-4, E recto.6 (Youtie (1996)).

b.12. cummini: an ingredient in many medical concoctions, e.g. Pliny, NH 28.175. There is no other example of gemination of -m- in the tablets (cf. Adams (1995a), 88-9); the spelling might be influenced by cummi.

b.13. gallae: see Pliny, NH 35.184, Celsus 5.6.1, 5.16, 5.20.4 and note the citation at TLL I 1065.59 where oak-gall is associated with aerugo.

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