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Home > Auctions > 23rd May 2023 > Roman Inked Wooden 'Will of Pomponius Maximinianus' Tablet

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LOT 0077

GBP (£) 1,500 - 2,000
EUR (€) 1,730 - 2,300
USD ($) 1,860 - 2,480

Sold for (Inc. bp): £5,200


CIRCA 320 A.D.
7 5/8 - 7 7/8 in. (64 grams total, 19.5-20 cm wide).

Two adjoining parts of an inked wooden tablet, comprising 13 lines of text to the recessed upper face with two piercings to the lower edge; the reverse with an inked inscription reading 'TESTAMENTVUM / POMPONIMAXIMI' (the will of Pomponius Maximus); the 13 lines of inked cursive text following the grain of the wood, the text containing instructions from a will concerning the inheritance of fields on the Mustulo estate (fundus Mustulo), to a Iulius Dancharrus (son of the testator); a field with eight fig-trees, bought from a Iulius Castricius, and several sheep to 'my beloved daughter Zabullania'. [2, No Reserve]

From an important London collection since 1975.

This lot has been checked against the Interpol Database of stolen works of art and is accompanied by searcher certificate no. 200269.

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

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.

The text is written in a very formulaic language typical of Roman legal-documents (among other things, familia testamenti faciundi erga emit Iul. Maianus: the entire possessions, in order to make a will, was bought by Iul. Maianus).