MILITARY DIPLOMA OF DISCHARGE
AND ROMAN CITIZENSHIP 160 AD
ROMAN EMPIRE: Antoninus Pius. AD 160. AE military diploma.
A bronze military diploma, dated Martius VII, CMXIII AUC (March 7, 160AD), 132 mm / 5.25 inches high and 100 mm / 4 inches wide, with a well-rendered, nearly complete exterior inscription, three-quarters of which is repeated in the less carefully engraved interior inscription. Two holes near the center and the lower right corner are for attachment to second plaque, which is now missing.
The Latin text is as follows:
TRIB POT XXIII IMP II COS IV PP
EQVITIBVS ET PEDITIBVS QVI MILITAVE
RVNT IN ALIS TRIBVS QVAE APPELLANTVR
GALLORVM ET THRACVM CONST ET ANTIA
GVM ET COHORTIBVS DECEM ET DVABVS V GE
MELLA ET I THRACVM — ET I SEBASTENORVM
— ET I DAMASCENORVM ARMENIACVM SAG
ET I MONTANORVM ET I FLAVIAE CR ET I ET
II VLPIAE GALATARVM ET III ET IV CALLAECO
RVM BRACARAVGVSTANOR ET IV ET VI VLPI
AE PETREORVM ET SVNT IN SYRIA PA
LAESTINA SVB MAXIMO LVCILIANO LEG
QVINQVE ET VIGINTI STIPENDIS EMERI
TIS DIMISSIS HONESTA MISSIONE QVO
RVM NOMINA SVBSCRIPTA SVNT CIVITA
TEM ROMANAM QVI EORVM NON HABERENT
DEDIT ET CONVBIVM CVM VXORIBVS QVAS
TVNC HABVISSENT CVM EST CIVITAS IS DA
TA AVT CVM IS QVAS POSTEA DVXISSENT DVM
TAXAT SINGVLIS NONIS MAR
A PLATORIO NEPOTE
M POSTVMIO FEST O
COH I SEBASTENORVM = CVI PRAES
VAXADE VAXADI F SVEDR
DESCRIPT ET RECOGNIT EX TABVLA AERE
QVAE FIX EST ROM IN MVRO POST TEMPL
DIVI AVG AD MINERVAM
The translation of the Latin text is:
The emperor Caesar T Aelius Hadrianus Augustus Pius, son of the deified Hadrian, grandson of the deified Trajan Parthicus, great grandson of the deified Nerva, Pontifex Maximus in the twenty-third year of his tribunician power, twice imperator, four times consul, father of his country grants Roman citizenship to the cavalrymen and infantrymen who do not already possess it, that served in the three alae
(cavalry) which are called  Gallorum and Thracum Constantia and  Antiana Gallorum and Thracum Sagittariora and  VII Phrygum, and in the twelve cohorts
(infantry) called  V Gemella and  I Thracum (milliaria) and  I Sebastenorum (milliaria) and  I Damascenorum Armeniacum Sagittarioria and  I Montanorum and  I Flaviae civium Romanorum and  I and  II Ulpiae Galatarum and  III and  IV Callaecorum Bracaraugustanorum and  IV and  VI Ulpiae Petraeorum and are in Syria-Palestine under the governor Maximus Lucilianus, who have served twenty-five years and have been honorably discharged, whose names are written below, and conubium (legal marriage) with the wives they had when citizenship was given to them, or with those wives whom they later marry, but only one wife each.
On the 7th of March when A. Platorius Nepos and M. Postumus Festus were (suffect) consuls.
On behalf of the cohort I Sebastenorum (milliaria) under the command of Cavellius Maximus.
To the ex-infantryman Vaxadus, son of Vaxadus of Syedra (in Cilicia).
Copied and checked from the bronze tablet which is affixed in Rome upon the wall behind the temple of the deified Augustus near the shrine of Minerva.
The following comes from Andreas Pangerl:
serving twenty-five years in the Roman auxiliary units, a soldier was
granted Roman citizenship as well as the legalization of his existing or future
marriage. This was of relevance for his children who thus became Roman
citizens and his full legal heirs under Roman law. His wife was not
granted Roman citizenship. A diploma, copied from an original posted in
Vaxadus, the recipiant of the present diploma, born in Syedra in Cilicia, was discharged after 25 years of service from Cohors I Sebastenorum Milliaria, that had been based in Syria Palestina (the name to the former province Judia upon the defeat of the Bar Kochba Revolt in 135) at least since the Flavian period. His unit had surely been actively involved in the military action during the Bar Kochba revolt and seems to have lost a substantial number of soldiers.
Vaxadus had been one of those new recruits starting his military service in 135, likely in that same unit. Vaxadus himself was more lucky than his predecessors, his period of service was marked by relative peace in the eastern provinces.
The interior side of the plaque/tabula repeats the first two thirds of the exterior text, but with less well-rendered characters. A second plaque/tabula - here missing - of the same size, listing outside the names of seven witnesses and inside completing the exterior text would have bound to the first by a wire brad through the two central holes and sealed with wax seals in the name of the seven witnesses. The purpose of this duplication was to allow remote Roman officials to break the seals in case of doubt and compare ther possibly manipulated outer text with the hidden inner text. The original in Rome was obviously too far away for a timely cross-check.
This diploma has been published by Werner Eck and Andreas Pangerl in Scripta Classica Israelica, Vol. XXIV, 2005.
The above was taken from a description of a military diploma at auction in Dec-2004, with an estimated value of $25,000