Bronze military diploma

Period: Mid-Imperial, Antonine

Date: ca. A.D. 149

Culture: Roman

Medium: Bronze

Dimensions: A: Overall: 5 3/16 x 4 1/8 x 1/16 in. (13.2 x 10.5 x 0.2 cm)
B: Overall: 4 3/16 x 5 3/16 x 1/16 in. (10.6 x 13.1 x 0.2 cm)

Classification: Bronzes

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1923

Accession Number: 23.160.32a, b


Although the legions, made up of Roman citizens, formed the backbone of the Roman army, large numbers of provincials were also recruited to garrison the frontiers in smaller, auxiliary units. They served for twenty-five years and, at the end (if they survived), were rewarded with discharge papers that granted them Roman citizenship and the right to legal marriage. Their service and the privileges they had earned were recorded on two small, portable bronze tablets fastened together with wire. This example of one such diploma (from the Greek word meaning a folded document of two sheets) records a list of veterans of foreign birth who were discharged in 149 A.D. The copy belonged to an infantryman named Dasmenus Azalus, clearly a man of Near Eastern origin.