A ROMAN BRONZE MILITARY DIPLOMA RELATING TO THE JEWISH WAR
Reign of Vespasian, 71 A.D.
The rectangular plaque with a finely incised Latin inscription on both sides, one side with a grooved molding at the perimeter, perforated for attachment to its now-lost adjoining tablet, three times along one long edge and once along the long edge opposite, one face of the tablet inscribed for the recipient, Cersus, a cavalryman with over twenty-five years of service in ala I Brittonum (the First British Cavalry Unit), an auxiliary unit of the legio XV Apollinaris (15th Legion Apollinaris), and therefore likely a veteran of the Jewish War in Jerusalem and the sack of the Second Temple in November 70 A.D.; the second face of the tablet inscribed with the names of seven witnesses, including M. Faltonius Fortunatus, identified as a centurion of the legio XV Apollinaris, certainly a veteran of the Jewish War and participant in the triumph in Rome in June 71 A.D.
The inscription would have begun on the now-missing first tablet, and from the dating of the consuls on the surviving tablet, we know that the standard formulae would have said, "Emperor Caesar Vespasian Augustus, Chief Priest, holder of the power of the tribune for the fourth time, hailed as general for the eighth (?) time, father of his country, consul for the third time, designated as consul for the fourth time. For the cavalry men and foot soldiers, who have served in...cavalry units and...foot units, which are named...First British Cavalry Unit... who are in Pannonia under..., who have served for twenty-five or more years, whose names are written below, to them and their children...;" the surviving plaque reading, on one side, "...are granted citizenship and legitimate marriage with the women they have at the time of the grant of citizenship or if they are not married, with whom they later marry, provided only one woman per man. Three days before the calends of August, the consuls being L. Flavius Fimbria and C. Atilius Barbarus. First British Cavalry Unit, commanded by M. (son of M.) Coelius Sergia Honoratus, to the cavalry trooper Cersus, son of Denturasadus, a Thracian. Copied and checked against the bronze tablet which is put up in Rome on the Capitolium at the Julian family altar in front of the balcony," and witnessed on the reverse side by, "L. Lucci Atratini; L. Aviiani Saturnini; C. Aponi Firmi; Sex. Iuli Proculi; C. Titi Recepti; Cn. Cetroni Verecundi; M. Faltoni Fortunati, Centurion of the XV legion Apollinaris"
7¼ in. (18.4 cm) wide