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19th Jan 07

These are not uncommon unfortunately.

And sometimes they are deliberately broken into several fragments and disposed of on the market separately.

Fortunately, the engraving skill of the forgers is not good and their Latin and understanding of history is rather limited.

Here is one for sale on eBay


Complete Roman silver four page Legionary diploma





I'm not aware that there are any silver diplomas!


  From Jnr

19the Jan 07

.....and a bad copy too!

The authentic ones do include other details (not always)such as the wife's name.Also the names of witnesses.This one is wrong in style and containsquite a few errors that show it has been engraved bysomeone on the basis of real diplomas but who does'nt know latin.If it had been authentic it should be dated 133-134 AD.

PS. In the past months there has been a flood of fake diplomas and fake fragments coming to the art markets. Beware.




From Ittai

19th Jan 07

This is a bizarre fake of a diploma purporting to date from AD 133-4, Hadrian's reign. Diplomas are on bronze, not silver, and the letter forms here are very odd-looking; lastly, and decisively, the Latin is quite garbled: not merely minor 'typos' (which can happen), but written by someone who knew no Latin at all. Now, diplomas were written by engravers by the hundreds, and it is therefore quite impossible that a version so faulty would ever have been produced, or left the issuing office in Rome.


Note e. g. the bungled imperial titulature (which was of course totally standard and thus unlikely to go that much wrong): 'f(ilius)' left out after 'part(ichi)' in line 1, 'neros' in line 2 rather than 'nepos': At a time when Hadrian had been emperor for many years (reigned 117-38), it is impossible that his correct titulature - well known by then - could have been so unknown or so messed up. Note also EQVITIR ET PEDITIST for the standard EQVITIB(us) ET PEDITIB(us).


I am amazed that forgers, when they go to the trouble of making these diplomas, do not copy a correct text (if too busy to learn Latin...), readily available online, but I have seen time and again that these gross textual errors reveal them immediately. 


Another forgery which shows up as false because the faker does not understand about military diplomas!


 From Ittai


The text is misplaced: in the formulaic language of these diplomas, the formula (same text front and back: repeated on back of tablet, but turned 90 degrees) should end with details of the placement of the original in Rome. Here the bottom of the tablet is clearly preserved on the back, but the words '[cum u]/xoribus)' should not be towards the end of the text, as here, but much higher up in the textual formula (also a strange place to divide '[u]/xoribus' ...). Name of emperor (Domitian) is botched in the first line: written D(, but this could be an argument either way...



The fragment purports to date AD 83-84, but I am certain it is a modern fake by someone unfamiliar with Latin and the proper formulas of these diplomas, copying bits from a genuine text at random - and in the wrong place. See below for an example of the formulaic text of a genuine tablet from Domitian's reign. Also, the writing does not look right for this period, where the diplomas are more neatly written than this.



Text of a genuine example from Domitian's reign (AD 88-89): 




Imp(erator)   Caesar   divi   Vespasiani   f(ilius)   Domitianus   Augustus   Germanicus   pontifex   maximus tribunic(ia) potestat(e) VIII imp(erator) XVII co(n)s(ul) XIIII censor perpetuus p(ater) p(atriae) equitibus et peditibus qui militant in alis quinque et cohortibus duabus quae appellantur praetoria singularium Gallorum et Thracum constantium Phrygum Sebastena Gallorum et Thracum Antiana I Gaetulorum I Augusta Thracum et sunt in Syria sub P(ublio) Valerio Patruino item dimissis honesta missione ex iisdem alis et cohortibus qui quina et vicena stipendia aut plura meruerant quorum nomina subscripta sunt ipsis liberis posterisque eorum civitatem dedit et conubium cum uxoribus quas tunc habuissent cum est civitas iis data aut si qui caelibes essent cum iis quas postea duxissent dumtaxat singuli singulas a(nte) d(iem) VII Idus Novembr(es) M(anio) Otacilio Catullo Sex(to) Iulio Sparso co(n)s(ulibus) alae praetoriae singularium cui prae(e)st A(ulus) Furius Saturninus gregali Gisuseti Heptasae f(ilio) Thrac(i) descriptum et recognitum ex tabula aenea quae fixa est Romae in Capitolio in latere sinistro tabulari(i) publici




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