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Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Legion XV Apollinaris, plaque, Vagharshapat, Armenia

You may recall a previous post of mine, my sketch of a fragmentary Roman plaque in the National Museum Of Armenia, Yerevan.
That turned out to be commemorating a work done by the Legion IIII Scythica in the Armenian capital, Artashat, which had come under Roman control in 116 A D.

The following is taken from another sketch of a Roman plaque in that museum, this was found in the old Arsacid town of Vagharshapat (Etchmiadzin) said to be made by Legionaries and the date given was 185 A D.
It is about 1.5 metres in length, and about 1 metre in width.

The following is taken from my sketch.

_ = where a sentence has been deliberately chisiled away, defaced.

IMP ● CAES ● M AVREL ANTO
NINO AVG _                          GER
MN SARM MAX TRIB ● POT
IMP ● VII COS III P P VEX III
LES XV APOII SVB CAEIIOCM
VINO LEG AVG P P_
AGENIELLCIN LOS NIVRN EN OIPIB
MILEI AVRELIA BRA SEN EC EIV SOEM


From what I could find, the emperor stated was likely to be Marcus Aurelius, rather than the other "Marcus Aurelius Antoninus" otherwise known as Caracalla.


Lucius Verus campaigned into Armenia and Parthia from 161–166 A D, and the Legio XV Apollinaris, based at Satala in Cappadocia, took a major part in that campaign.

The sentences "CAEIIOCM
VINO LEG AVG P P_
AGENIELLCIN LOS NIVRN EN OIPIB
MILEI AVRELIA BRA SEN EC EIV SOEM" did not make any sense, though I sketched them down.

The "VEX III" I think is actually "VEXILL" and that the plaque notes the work of a Vexillationes (detachment) from the Legion XV Apollinaris.

Still trying to figure out the rest of the wording, I wondered if the word "AVRELIA" may have been the Roman name for Vagharshapat.
After all, during the occupation of Armenia from 163 - 186 A D, the old Armenian capital, Artaxata, was renamed to "Kaine Polis".

On learning that Legion XV Apollinaris was based at the fort of Satala, I was curious to learn about this place, and came across the MAVORS Institute for Ancient Military History, website.
http://www.mavors.org/en/projects_3.htm

With thanks to Dr. Michael Speidel of MAVORS as he replied to my e-mail on what I thought was a new reference to Legion XV Apollinaris on a Roman plaque.
It turned out it was recorded over 100 years ago by an incredible scholar, Hermann Dessau, in his monumental work, "Inscriptiones latinae selectae".
http://archive.org/stream/inscriptioneslat01dessuoft#page/n11/mode/2up

Below is my rendering of what the plaque states. Rather than Marcus Aurelius, it is in the name of his son, Commodus.
However, like all his monuments and inscriptions, it got "Damnatio Memoriae".

A member (Sharum) on Forum Ancient Coins stated that the father of the emperor Balbinus is mentioned on this plaque, Caelius Calvinus.
He was the legate of Cappadocia in and around 184 A D.

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