Gephyra (May 2021)

Roman Soldiers and Imperial Properties in the Galatian-Phrygian Borderland: A New Inscription from the Eskişehir Museum

  • Hüseyin Uzunoğlu

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 21
pp. 65 – 89


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In this paper I introduce a new inscription from the Eskişehir Archaeological Museum which houses a numerous collection of inscribed material from the main civic centres such as Pessinous, Midaion, Nakoleia and chiefly of course from Dorylaion. This inscription, carved on a marble slab was discovered in the county of Mihalıccık, ca. 100 km north-east of Eskişehir (ancient Dorylaion). According to the some previously published inscriptions, a large part of this county was called Choria Considiana in antiquity, which comprised seven villages and was incorporated into the patrimonium Caesaris as early as the reign of Hadrian. Given the find-spot and the expressions διὰ τῶν Καίσαρος χωρίων κωμῶν and ἐν ταῖς τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Καίσαρος κώμαις, it can be securely said that the imperial estate recorded in this new inscription is identical with that named Choria Considiana. The attestation of the “misthotai = leaseholders” in the estate demonstrate that it was not a compact estate run by an imperial slave (=oikonomos), without the supervision of a procurator, as had previously been suggested. The inscription in all likelihood concerns a letter issued by the imperial legate of the province of Galatia and it shows that the inhabitants of Choria Considiana experienced tough times due to the inappropriate and illegal behaviour of military men and some imperial staff such as freedmen of the emperor, tabellarii, presumably conspiring with the misthotai. This letter stipulates that the soldiers and other officials shall not be provided with free lodgings and hospitality and they are required to buy the remaining things (τὰ δὲ λοιπά) at a fixed/ an offering price (παρεχούσης τειμῆς) in each place (ἑκάστῳ τόπῳ) from the coloni (παρὰ τῶν παροίκων). The inscription offers a list of punishments whose details are not known due to the fragmentary condition of those parts of the stone, if these gubernatorial orders are not adhered to. We are not sure whether these became effective in the long term based on the fact that the Skaptopara inscription manifestly records it had become a habit after some time that the orders of the governors began to be ignored, although they may have been followed for a while. There is unfortunately no hint as to the date of the inscription, because the name of the emperor or the governor is not recorded. Considering the parallel texts which also contain the complaints of the villages to the emperors and the responses they receive and which are mostly found within specific time span, ranging from the end of the 2nd century to the first half of the 3rd century A.D., one can also propose a similar date for this new inscription, which is also supported by the lettering forms employed.