Tablet 649

description (a) 204 x 62 mm. (b-c) small scraps. Plate 17. Birley and Birley (2003), 431-4, Plate XXV.
Archaeological data. Location: N. Period: 2.
Birley and Birley (2003), offered a preliminary edition of this letter; we refer to this as but have not thought it necessary to indicate all the places where our reading is different. The diptych is almost complete apart from a section which has been lost at the upper left and right, and a small loss at the foot in the centre. There are two small detached fragments with remains of two lines and one line respectively, and another two which appear to be blank. The fragments with writing are located in the left-hand portion (column i) in the plate in the, but this poses some difficulties in the case of the piece with remains of two lines, which ought to fit on the right-hand side (see the note to fragment (b)). There are two v-shaped cuts with two tie-holes between them in the left and right margins, precisely and neatly made.
The hand is squarish and upright; b can have a very tiny bow (e.g. i.3 bracis) and g a long tail (e.g. i.5 and 6). It is a workmanlike rather than an elegant hand. In itself it would not be too difficult to read, but the tablet is somewhat abraded and stained, especially at the left; furthermore the ink has faded very unevenly and in several places leaves no more than a blur. Word division is occasionally indicated and interpunct probably occurs at least twice (ii.12, 13).
There is one remarkable feature: although the remains of the first line of column i can be read as the end of a salutation, lines 2 and 3, which are certainly the work of the same hand, are written upside down in relation to the rest of the text (not recognised in the We could perhaps explain this by supposing that the writer began the letter with a salutation in the normal way and then left a space before beginning to write the body of the letter; when he got to the end of the second column he realised that he needed to add a little more, so he turned the tablet upside down and squashed in two more lines between the salutation and the letter proper. It is possible that what we have is only a draft or file copy, in which case this oddity would matter less and might have been corrected in the fair copy. It is impossible to be sure whether the traces visible on the back of column ii are or are not ink; hence we cannot say whether the letter had an address on the back.
The name of sender may be Probus, see fragment (a), note; only the end of the name of the recipient survives. The subject of the first part of the letter is the transportation of cereal (bracis) and implies the use or requisition of transport vehicles from the native population (see the note to i.2). The second column also refers to transport of some kind and to payment. The occurrence, twice, of the very rare word uelatura is noteworthy, as is the mention of Vindolanda.


]no ṣụọ salụṭẹm n
2 lines upside down (see below)
rẹc̣ịp̣ies de c̣arris Brittonum n
...ịịi ạṛạc̣ ..ṛomauco bracis n
ṃ. ṭ....c̣ịs m(odios) trecentos octo-
n unụṃ onerarunt aụ-
n in singla carra m(odios) liii n
ḷ...ẹṛ quẹm ueḥ...ṣ[ n n
ṭ[...].ṛe aḅet m(odios) lxiii
.]...uc̣ụsụ[ . 12 . ] n
10Vindolandạ c̣u.[ ......... ] n n
et uelatura abent ạ.[ ....... ] n n
ḍias uecturas · id eṣt ( denarios ) sing̣lọs n n
et omnem uelaturaṃ · eṭ quam
uecturam eis solues mẹṛce n
151 tibi recte .dṃẹ...r c̣.c̣ẹṛ si ... n n
c̣eṃ offeres Verecundo ..... n n
ṣụịs si quid eị .... fueriṭ [ n
..ṛ...qu.s traces n
]ṭis uaḷẹ sịṃ...sụ...

Upside down in col. i between lines 1 and 2:
20Gauọṛig̣ṇuṣ onerauiṭ [ n n
ut ego uoluị [ n n
c: n


' to his -nus greetings. You will receive out of the Britons' carts from Rac..romaucus(?) three hundred and eighty-one modii of grain. Furthermore, they have loaded 53 modii into each individual cart. The container(?) which they(?) are conveying(?) holds 63 modii. from(?) Vindolanda with(?) and uelatura. Furthermore(?), they have half(?) the carriage-monies, that is one denarius each, and all the uelatura; and the (part of the) carriage-money which you will pay them, I(?) shall duly measure out to you as your fee(?) If you offer Verecundus , whatever will have been Farewell (Col. i, upside down) Gavorignus(?) has loaded as I wanted '


i.1. Apart from the fact that ṣụọ must have been somewhat cramped, the reading is satisfactory. For the possibility that fragment (a) fits before this, see below.

i.2. rẹc̣ịp̣ies: the reading is uncertain. It is quite likely to be future for imperative. c̣arris: we would not rule out the reading ḳarris, but the word certainly has an initial c in line 6. For the requisitioning of transport vehicles from the native population see Mitchell (1976), 106-31, esp. 114-5, citing a number of inscriptions and papyri attesting to the widespread abuses of this common feature of the military administration. It is clear from lines ii.12-15 that payment of transport charges was involved in the present transaction, although it is not certain that any of these were received by the native Britons.

i.3. The first three letters in the line are wholly uncertain. Thereafter ịịi looks to be the easiest reading (as in but we would not rule out ṿịi or ṇi, if the top-stroke of has been lost. If ịịi is correct it must be a numeral; ṿịi need not be: -ụịi or -ṇi might point to a place-name in the locative. Thereafter we suspect a followed by a long name ending -ṛomauco (mauco is certain). The name appears to begin Ṛạc̣- but a Ricarromauco, suggested in the, is a possible reading. Rigo- is very common as a name element, particularly in place-names, meaning "royal", cf. AS II 1186-9, where there are many examples of Rigomagos as a place-name ("Konigsfeld"), but it not easy to read Rigoromauco. For bracis see 646.back.2 note.

i.4. At the beginning of the line we would expect an adjective agreeing with bracis or possibly with modios. The first letter seems to be m, possibly ṃạṭ, and the word (or words) seems to end -c̣ịs, though ṣịs is also possible. m(odios): m with a superscript bar, as often elsewhere in the tablets; so line 8.

i.5. Since the line begins gi we are forced to read octo|ginṭa; t looks more like r, but the apparent tail cannot be ink. After it un is reasonably clear and we therefore suggest unụṃ, although the traces after un could be read quite differently. We have the greater confidence in the correctness of this reading since, if we suppose the Britons were supplying six cart-loads each with 53 modii (line 6) = 318 modii, and if we then add the 63 modii of line 8, we arrive at a total of exactly 381 modii. It is true that we should have expected the writer to have specified that six carts (or cart-loads) were involved, but there does not seem to be anywhere where we can read either sex or vi. onerarunt: the subject is presumably the Britons.

i.6. carra: for the neuter see 315.2 note, 343.16-18 note, 642.ii.6. In lines 4 and 8 m for modios has a bar over it, but, as remarked in the, there is no sign of a bar over the letter in this line.

i.7. We are far from confident of the readings in this line. The first letter in the line is most like l, but we would not rule out b or p. There is hardly enough room for praeter and we should then need to find a noun to agree with quem. We think we should look for a noun in the nominative to govern (h)abet in the next line. ḷịṇṭẹṛ (perhaps spelt lunter) might be a possible reading (the word is usually feminine but examples of the masculine are found, see OLD); if right, it would have to be understood to refer to a container of some kind (cf. OLD, and TLL VII.2 1466.53ff.).

i.7-8. after ue is odd, with a short first stroke, but there is no other h in the tablet for comparison (ueḍ is the more obvious reading but leads nowhere). Just before the tablet breaks off s is fairly certain and we could probably justify reading ueḥịṃụṣ. The switch to the first person plural would be unexpected, however, and perhaps we should read ueḥụṇṭ ṣ[. At the start of line 8 we have tried to read comprendet, especially as ḍet is possible instead of ḅet; but the letter before this is clearly a. For aḅet see ii.10-11 note. Dirt obscures the three or four letters at the start of the line, after which we have ṛe or ạe. If the doubtful is correct, a possible reading would be ṣ[uo] | ṭ[emp]ọṛe, referring to the subject of ueho; cf. OLD s.v. 2b. The tablet appears to be blank after the numeral.

ii.9. There does not seem to be room for a line above this, in which case this is the first line of this column and follows on directly from the foot of column i. We have therefore numbered the lines continuously. Only the feet of the first three or four letters survive, the last apparently b or d; then u followed by c or just possibly e; the next letter is odd but we cannot see what it could be other than u; then s is certain. The whole may be a personal name ending -bucus or -ducus; neither Albucus nor Viducus (attested in NPEL) really suits the traces. Ricarro]ṃạục̣ụṣ (cf. i.3), tentatively suggested in the, is not possible. If we have a personal name, there should be a second name following in view of (h)abent in line 11. See further the note to fragment (b).

ii.10. There is a slight gap between Vindolandạ and c̣u, but neither Vindolandam nor Vindolandae can be read. As the nominative is hardly likely, we either have the ablative or the accusative with omission of final m (on which see Adams (2003), §7). The ablative creates difficulties in a letter written to Vindolanda; but it is quite possible that the letter is a draft written at Vindolanda, cf. introduction and 225.24-5. After this c̣uṃ is quite a good reading (so, but see the note below on fragment (b).

ii.10-11. There is a substantial gap after uelatura, which may indicate a heavy stop. Perhaps the construction was c̣uṃ [noun] et uelatura. OLD records uelatura only from Varro, LL 5.44 and RR 1.2.14 (it is not recorded in LS). In the former passage Varro says uelaturam facere etiam nunc dicuntur qui id mercede faciunt. merces ... huic uecturae qui ratibus transibant quadrans; in the latter item dicuntur qui uecturis uiuunt uelaturam facere. Thus in both places uelatura and uectura are associated, as in this tablet. See further on uelatura and the whole of the passage in lines 10-15 the discussion in Adams (2003), §7. abent: read alent. abent looks secure. This must be for habent (cf. also i.8); for the (rare) omission of the aspirate see Adams (1995a), 89-90. a or m follows; if a, it may be just possible to read ạụ[tem (cf. i.5-6), though this is not easy; ạ ṃ[e is also possible but looks too short for the space available.

ii.11-12. The reading at the start of 12 could equally well be ḅias, but we cannot suggest a suitable adjective ending with these letters. If ḍias is correct, and d is much like the first one in Vindolanda above, we suggest dimi]ḍias uecturas (cf. TLL V.1 1204-5 for this use of dimidius). Payment of part of the transport costs up front, with the balance due on delivery, was the normal practice for transport along the Nile, as attested in a number of papyri, e.g. P.Oxy. XLV 3250 (c. AD 63). For the meaning of uectura here see Adams (2003), loc.cit., p.433 foot, says the word "seems to appear at Vindolanda in Inv. 978". This is the text now published as 183, where in line 5 we prefer to read uector[i.

ii.12. The interpunct is not certain. eṣt: may be a correction. sing̣lọs: we are confident of the reading (cf. i.6) and that it is not a figure as suggested in the 13. Between uelaturaṃ and eṭ there is an appreciable gap, but nothing seems to have been written except (probably) an interpunct. read eọ for eṭ, but we do not see how this could construe.

ii.14. mẹṛce: so The first e is a difficult reading, but the rest is good and we cannot think of any other word which can have stood here. The passage from Varro, LL, cited above (10-11 note), may be thought to support this reading, though the word used there is mercede not merce. For its possible meaning here see Adams (2003), loc.cit.

ii.15. .dṃẹ...r: there is a gap after this suggesting a word-ending. The word which seems to be called for is ạdṃẹṭịạr (as assumed in the translation), but we would not claim to be able to read tia between me and r; indeed, the penultimate letter appears to have a diagonal stroke at the top, which should mean c, e or s in this hand. If ạdṃẹṭịạr is correct, this stroke must be dirt and not ink.

ii.15-16. Between the word just discussed, after which there is a gap, and offeres the suggested Sạcer si ḍẹ | ceṛa, none of which is impossible, but it is hard to see how it could make sense in the context. There is a gap before si; the word before it seems to begin with c but s is just possible. Sacer, as the indicates, would have to be a personal name. It is very hard to read the second letter as a, and, if this is the way to solve the problem, we should prefer to suggest ṣọc̣ẹṛ (a family business is by no means unlikely). At the start of 16 we agree that the first letter looks most like c, though we think t is also possible; after it we sugges eṃ rather than eṛạ, with the final stroke of m prolonged. We think it would be possible to read si ạụ|ṭeṃ. However, if c̣eṃ is right, ḅṛạ|c̣eṃ would fit the context very well; but we would not claim to be able to read ḅṛạ at the end of 15.

ii.16. Verecundo: there are numerous references to men called Verecundus at Vindolanda, see Tab.Vindol.II, Index s.v.; also 594.a.3, b.5, 745.back, 814.2, 828.2. After Verecundo the traces are too blurred to permit a secure reading. If ṣụịs is right at the start of the next line, a third-person verb in the future would suit the required sense (not dabit; the first letter might be m but it does not seem possible to read metietur).

ii.17. fueriṭ: read fụẹris; this is less likely as a reading and fuerit construes more easily. Before it there are some four smudged letters, either a separate word or a compound of -fuerit, but we cannot suggest a reading (not superfuerit). There may be traces after fueriṭ.

ii.18. ṛ...qu.s: there is a gap before and after this which suggests it is a word by itself. ṛẹḷịquịs may be possible, but the letter between qu and s looks most like e (read ṛẹḷịquẹs for relinques?). After this no more than blurred traces of some 12 letters. 19. ]ṭis: this is the obvious reading (so, but it may be just possible to read ]. ṣis if the foot of the first s has been lost. We might then think of opto felicissi|mus sis as in, e.g., 310.20-1, 645.19; it would be possible to read ss[i- at the end of 18. For just uale at the end of a letter see 320.ii.5, 343.45, etc. Presumably the writer ended the letter with uale but then continued with a postscript (the hand does not change). There is too much ink for Similis. It would be possible to read Siṃịḷịụs, suggested in the It is not clear how many of the blurred traces following are ink, but they are insufficient to confirm or invalidate the reading te salutat, suggested in the A sentence with saluto follows bene ualeas in 260.

upside.20-21. As indicated in the introduction, we think it likely that these two lines formed a PS.

upside.20. Gauọṛig̣ṇuṣ: no such name is attested, but since Gavo has appeared in several tablets (192, 207 and 218), we have considered reading Gauo followed by a description, beginning rig- or ric-. The last letter could be r but the letter before this is clearly u, and we cannot suggest anything suitable. It may be relevant to mention that we now read a somewhat similar name, Gnavorix, in Appendix, 353.back.

upside.21. This line is inset, as indicated in the transcript, and clearly squashed in. The marks before ut are not likely to be ink.

b. This fragment ought to fit somewhere in the first line of column i and so be part of the name of the writer or recipient. The third letter looks superficially more like l, but there is a slight bow at the foot, matching the form of b elsewhere in this hand. The slight trace at the start is consistent with r and P]ṛoḅụ[s is a possible reading. The name has not occurred elsewhere in the tablets.

c. This ought to belong to column ii, presumably forming part of lines 9-10 or lines 10-11. However, there is no obvious physical join and we cannot suggest any connected sense. The second line seems to begin with a or m and to end with t. It would be possible to fit it so as to produce c̣uṃ in line 10, with m broken on both pieces; but cuṭ to follow is not attractive. If our suggested reading dimi]ḍias is correct, as it seems to be, it is not likely that the fragment belonged in lines 10-11. If the first line belongs in line 9, it may contain part of a personal name (see 9 note), but there hardly seems to be room in this line for two personal names together with et and a verb.

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