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Home > Auctions > 5th December 2023 > Roman Inked Wooden Tablet for the Tutorship of Iulius Maianus

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LOT 0141

GBP (£) 4,000 - 6,000
EUR (€) 4,620 - 6,930
USD ($) 5,080 - 7,620

Current bid: £2,600 (+bp*)
(11 Bids, Reserve met)

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(11 Bids, Reserve met)   |   Current bid: £2,600
9 5/8 in. (110 grams, 24.5 cm).

A reused tablet with a recessed writing field on side one, containing twenty-one lines in younger Roman cursive script, the lower edge slightly damaged but not affecting the text; side two with a broad flat-bottomed groove (sulcus), originally containing the cord with which the tablets of a legal document were bound together, the cord was fixed with wax, and on the wax the witnesses’ seals were impressed to certify that the document was not opened, since both the wax and the older text had been removed; this tablet had been reused at least once; the tablet shows similar features (material, use of ink, writing style etc.) like several other similar tablets and as far as can be seen, it was part of a private archive of legal documents probably of a family bearing the nomen gentile Iulius and living in the 3rd and 4th century A.D. in the north African province of Byzacena; this unique tablet is the copy (Latin exemplum, see page 1, line 1) of a document regarding the tutorship of Iulius Maianus, who is well known from several other tabulae, he was the son of Iulius Dontiquus, who died in 282 A.D.; in his will (from 281 A.D.) his father appointed as tutors for his son his two paternal uncles Iulius Felix and Iulius Fortunatus, both are mentioned on this tablet, as well as a specialised judge (iudex tutelarius) Iulius Faustus who was involved with the supervision of the tutorship; Iulius Maianus was at that time still a very young child, unable to write himself (sine litteris). [No Reserve]

From an important London collection since 1975.

Accompanied by a copy of an academic report by Prof. Dr Peter Rothenhoefer.
This lot has been checked against the Interpol Database of stolen works of art and is accompanied by search certificate no.11957-209850.

Rothenhoefer, P., Neue römische Rechtsdokumente aus dem Byzacena-Archiv / New Roman Legal Documents from the Byzacena Archive, (forthcoming).

Cf. Rothenhöfer, P., Blänsdorf, Jürgen, Sana mente sanaque memoria testa-mentum feci: Eine testamentarische Verfügung vom 12. April 340 n. Chr., Gephyra 13, 2016, pp.153-163; Rothenhöfer, P., Neues zum Testament des Pomponius Maximus aus dem Jahr 371 n. Chr., (forthcoming); see also Masi Doria, C., Dal testamento di Pomponius Maximus: prospettive del diritto ereditario tardo antico, in: Isola, L. (ed.), Klauselgestaltungen in Römischen Testamenten, Berlin, 2022, pp.151-175; also see Thomas, J. D., Vindolanda: The Latin Writing Tablets, Britannia Monograph Series No 4, London, 1983, for examples of wooden tabulae re-used as writing surfaces; for examples of testamentary documents on wooden tablets that have survived, see FIRA III, p.47, for Anthony Silvanus from 142 AD, also see BGU VII 1695 for Safinnius Herminus; for another from Transfynydd, North Wales, see Arch. Camb. 150, pp.143-156; and see Bowman, A.K., Life and letters on the Roman frontier : Vindolanda and its people, London, 1994, for discussion of the uses of Roman writing tablets.

This extraordinary document contains references to properties of Iulius Maianus, which were to be administered by his tutors. Among other things, auctoritates agrorum (ownership titles over land) are mentioned. The language is typical for Roman legal documents and contains highly developed legal formula which apparently was well known in Roman North Africa.