Bronze Fragment Of A Roman Military Diploma Found In Bulgaria

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In what has been termed as a unique discovery, after 40 years, archaeologists have found a fragment of a bronze-made Roman military diploma in the central part of Deultum, an ancient site located in Bulgaria. The 4-cm-square piece was a part of a whole bronze plaque – typically issued to the Roman auxiliary soldiers who had served more than 25 years in military service and thus were often awarded Roman civil rights. To that end, this particular diploma fragment reveals an excerpt from a decree of the Roman Emperor Hadrian issued in circa 122 AD. The order clearly mentioned how members of the auxiliary forces were to be released from service from the Roman province of Lower Dacia.

Now in terms of history, the city of Deultum (or Develtos in Greek) was an important ancient settlement in Thrace that initially served as a trade emporium between the Greeks and the Thracians. However, its autonomy was extinguished after the Roman Empire annexed the city in circa 46 AD. After post 69 AD, a Colonia, for veterans of the VIII Augusta legion, was established in Deultum, probably completed during the reign of Emperor Vespasian, and was named Colonia Flavia Pacis Deultensium, or Colonia Flavia Pancensis Deultum.

Deultum rather thrived under Roman rule, with the settling of more veterans in the following centuries, along with the establishment of a mint and temples (dedicated to Asclepius and Cybele). And while the city was already sacked by the Goths in circa 377 AD, it was rebuilt, albeit on a smaller scale – but was ultimately destroyed by the roving Avars and Slavs in the 6th century. And lastly, reverting to the current archaeological excavation (conducted by members of the Deultum Archaeological Reserve), the endeavor is mainly focused on the Roman colony, with the team’s next objective pertaining to the discovery of the forum.

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