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LOT 0245

Sold for (Inc. bp): £16,740

6 x 8" (50 grams, 15.7 x 20.0cm).

A bifacial wooden tabula made from atlas pine or cedarwood, with seventeen lines of Roman cursive script in black ink to the recess of one face, forming part (one third) of the testament of Julius Pompeianus, in favour of his sons Iulius Ianuarius and Iulis Iahin and his daughter Iulia Victorina; the long edges pierced with two holes each to allow attachment to adjoining tablets with cords; supplied with a detailed academic report (in German, with an English translation), including a full transcription of the text; this reading, for the first three sentences:

1) Post co(n)ss(ulatum) dd(ominorum) nn(ostrorum duorum) Constanti II et Constatis Augg(ustorum) pri-
2) die idus Apriles. Iulius Pompeianus ex fundo Thurgen-
3)TE ++QDE+LI in QVINTARIV, sana mente sanaque memo-
4) ria testamentum feci

The whole text transliterating to English as:

'After the consulates of both Constantius II and Constans, the Augusti, a day before the ides of April (= 12 April 340 AD). I, Iulius Pompeianus from the estate of Thurgens that are located in quintario, a testament I have written with sane (sound mind) and (clear) memory. And this I had to [a document consisting of] three panels with smooth sides, they are inscribed with ink writing. Because I do not have the Testament Code to hand, I have dictated to Iulius Praianus, my friend, and after seeing it read, I have had it sealed by me. And if I in due course I will have returned to my death of nature, then you shall, Iulius Ianuarius and Iulius Iahin and my daughter Victorina, my dearest, be my heirs to my total assets. The others, men and women, are not heirs. This under the condition that should my daughter Iulia Victorina have died (before me), her brothers Iulius Ianuarius and Iulius Iahin shall have her share. The remaining, both men and women, all to be disinherited. All I through this my Testament would have given what I paid...'

From an important London collection since 1975; acquired by a London dealer 1973; formerly the property of Monsieur Alain Sfez, a Belgium collector; acquired by gift from his father Albert Sfez, 1965; acquired by Albert in the early 1950s; accompanied by a copy of a witnessed statement from Alain Sfez.

A paper on this item by Prof. Juergen Blaensdorf has been submitted for publication in 2016.

For examples of wooden panels used as a writing surfaces, see Thomas, J. D., Vindolanda: The Latin Writing Tablets, Britannia Monograph Series No 4, London 1983; for examples of testamentary documents on wooden tablets that have survived, see FIRA III, p.47 for Anthony Silvanus from 142 AD and see BGU VII 1695 for Safinnius Herminus; for another from Transfynydd, North Wales, see Arch. Camb. 150, pp.143-156.

The testament follows Roman legal practices and phrasing and this part concerns the testator's legacy to his three children, including specific reference to the share to be inherited by his daughter passing to his sons in the event of her death between the date of the will and the death of the testator. Apart from the general interest and rarity of the text, the writing itself is palaeographically very interesting, providing an excellent and rare example of mid-4th century Roman cursive script and showing transition from early to late forms.