The purpose of this database is to collect the various written documents (whether ostraca, epigraphs, papyri, or literary) that attest to military situations in Palestine during the period 63 BCE-132 CE. The contents of which can be browsed here. An English translation has been provided for texts, the source is noted with an asterisk (*) in the bibliography, though it may be slightly modified for consistency across DMIPERP. No corpus of this sort has ever been attempted, but Baruch Lifshitz (1969; cf. 1959) collected major inscriptions from Palestine mentioning the legions – though it is severely out of date. More recently Werner Eck (2016a) made a helpful list of relevant inscriptions. I use the term “Palestine” to refer to the contiguous lands controlled by Herod the Great and/or his descendants at their fullest extent (i.e., Judaea, Galilee, Peraea, Batanaea, Gaza), as well as the entire Decapolis (including Damascus) and other independent cities in the area like Ascalon – the boundaries of this definition are visualized in the Map and Gazeteer. The primary reason for defining Palestine as such is to distinguish lands marked by Herodian history from other nearby land (e.g., Syria, Nabataea, Emesa). This distinction corresponds closely with the region in which the Gospels depicts Jesus’ activity, omitting only Tyre and Sidon. The word “Judaea” will almost always refer to the province/kingdom of Judaea to avoid confusion with the geographic region of Judaea in southern Palestine. That is, I employ “Judaea” on the same register as Syria, Italia, and Egypt; it is not here an informal regional designation (like, e.g., Samaria, Idumaea, Golan Heights).
The present collection of texts is inevitably arbitrary in its selection and categorization. I have divided the database into five sections: 1) texts attesting to the military that were found in Palestine, 2) texts attesting Jews and Palestinians either in or interacting with the military found outside Palestine, 3) military diplomas awarded for duty in Judaea/Syria Palaestina or to Palestinian units or soldiers, 4) selected Palestinian milestones, and 5) pre-Constantinian Christian military inscriptions. Texts are presented in rough chronological order within each section.
The first group includes a variety of inscriptions and papyri found in Palestine. The purpose of this section is to collect data regarding those soldiers who can be confirmed to have served a significant portion of time in Palestine – sometimes from their initial recruitment. Completely undateable finds, however enlightening they might otherwise be, are omitted. Many finds relating to the Bar Kokhba Revolt are also omitted, given their simultaneously extensive nature and ancillary relevance to the era of discussion. However, if a given soldier is known from other textual finds elsewhere in the Empire, that text is also included. Bibliographic entries are limited and simply to the most important discussions of the text; for inscriptions, an up-to-date and exhaustive bibliography can be found at the CIIP entry.
The second section includes texts attesting Jewish or Palestinian individuals in the military or Jewish interactions with the military in foreign lands. Though there is nothing particularly cohesive about this collection of texts, all of them attest soldiers from the time of Bar Kokhba or earlier. Finds discussing the Bar Kokhba revolt in retrospect (e.g., CIL 3.7334, 3.2830) are too numerous to be productively included here.
The third section includes diplomas awarded in Palestine extending well beyond the cut-off date of 136 CE. The reason for this extension is that diplomas until 161 CE were awarded to soldiers present at the Bar Kokhba revolt 25 years earlier. Auxiliary soldiers, beginning with the princeps of Claudius, were granted Roman citizenship after either 25 years of military service or major injury sustained whilst soldiering; soldiers would often retire upon receiving their diplomas. Diplomas provided physical proof of this citizenship for the veteran and his family. These were small bronze plates containing information not only regarding the retiring soldier, but also other cohorts in the region. One copy of the diploma was given to the veteran and another archived in Rome. The high number of possible finds from the Balkan region should only be attributed to the sheer number of diplomas found in that region in recent years by amateurs (e.g., metal detector enthusiasts). These are often not properly provenanceable because they proceed to the hands of private collectors before undergoing scholarly analysis; diplomas are rarely discovered outside of Europe. Though formulaic and often fragmentary, diplomas are an indispensable source of information about the troops in Palestine and the movement of regiments originating therein.
Fourth are milestones. There is no purpose in collecting all milestones produced before the end of the Bar Kokhba revolt, thanks to the announcement that the publication of the final volume of CIIP “will include milestones from the entire territory [of Judaea/Syria Palaestina], including those that no longer bear an inscription, as well as items with unknown or uncertain provenance, in museums and private collections.” Because Hadrian was responsible for a large number of milestones – many (most?) of which have not been published yet – the present collection is limited to those before Hadrian’s reign and select ones from his princeps.
Finally, all inscriptions that can – with reasonable confidence – be attributed to Christians in the army before Constantine are included. It should also be explicitly stated that possible evidence of Christians serving in the military can only be found in literary works during the period of interest. George Kalanztis has collected all early Christian literature on the topic in English translation with commentary. The earliest inscription indicating Christians in the military is from 201 CE, which is among the earliest Christian inscriptions of any type.
This scope naturally results in the omission of important finds that might be included on related grounds; one thinks of undateable Mauretanian epigraphs mentioning ala Sebastenorum or third century data regarding Jewish soldiers. To briefly summarize the logic: all writings below render draw attention to matters military and attest directly to the questions of present interest, namely how Jewish and Palestinian civilians experienced the military during the time 63 BCE–135 CE. It should be clear that all of these are non-literary, but nevertheless written sources; thus, numismatic, artistic, and non-textual material finds are not included. Army brick stamps are omitted as well. Likewise inscriptions that only refer to governors, legates, and other high level commanders (typically, those serving in the rank of legionary tribune or above) and not any lower level military figures, their unit, or their activities are omitted. One can find an overview of Palestinian military sites in the map and gazetteer, which shows the extent of what the present study understands to be “Palestine.” Briefly, term “Palestine” will refer to the contiguous lands controlled by Herod the Great and/or his descendants at their fullest extent (i.e., Judaea, Galilee, Peraea, Batanaea, Gaza), as well as the entire Decapolis (including Damascus) and other independent cities in the area like Ascalon. The primary reason for defining Palestine as such is to distinguish lands marked by Herodian history from other nearby land (e.g., Syria, Nabataea, Emesa). This distinction corresponds closely with the region in which the Gospels depicts Jesus’ activity, omitting only Tyre and Sidon. Excluded from my definition of Palestine are Chalcis and other regions over which Herodians or those marrying into the family acted as Roman governors (e.g., Egypt). The precise extent of this definition is evident in the map section.
There is no effort to be comprehensive in the bibliography, only to note the most significant publications on the text, with an eye toward accessibility (e.g., AE, CIL, CIIP) or secondary literature cited elsewhere. More important texts thus receive longer bibliographies. Texts reproduced here are not critical and the present “purely textual” approach to papyrology and epigraphy has well known problems – problems that are present here as well.
Latin and Greek Sigla
Ɔ centuria/centurio (note that χ is a common abbreviation for “centurion” in Greek)
– one ounce (?)
= two ounces (?)
hederae (❦) are omitted