A fragment of a Roman military diploma has been discovered during excavations in the central part of the Roman city of Deultum near the village of Debelt in Bulgaria’s Sredets municipality.
The director of the archaeological reserve, Krassimira Kostova, described the find as “unique”.
It was the first such discovery in close to 40 years of archaeological excavations of the site of the former Roman colony, Kostova said.
Deultum, about 10km west of the Bulgarian Black Sea city of Bourgas, was annexed to the Roman Empire in 46CE and became part of the province of Thrace. After the civil war of 69CE, a colony was built there for military veterans.
The colony was built during the reign of Emperor Vespasian, and was named Colonia Flavia Pacis Deultensium, or Colonia Flavia Pancensis Deultum.
The August 2019 find is of part of a bronze plaque, of a kind issued to auxiliary soldiers who had served at least 25 years and were rewarded with full Roman civil rights.
“The fragment is extremely valuable to us, and although it is only four square cm, it is informative enough,” Kostova said.
She said that graphologist Professor Nikolai Sharankov had examined the fragment and established that the diploma contained an excerpt from a decree of the Roman Emperor Adrian, issued on July 17 122, which dismissed serving soldiers from auxiliary units in the Roman province of Lower Dacia.
Analysis shows that half a century after the colony was founded, Roman emperors continued to settle veterans in the city and thus maintain the Roman spirit of Deultum.
Currently, a team headed by Associate Professor Hristo Preshlenov is examining the site and will be seeking to find where the forum of the Roman colony was. The assumption is that it was south of the spa.
(Photo via the Facebook page of the Deultum archaeological reserve)