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Tablet 180

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Vindolanda Inventory No. 88.943


               This document consists of three sections of a tablet (designated (a), (b) and (c) for the sake of clarity) each approximately the size of a normal half-leaf. On one side is the present text, an account, and on the other is a draft petition (344). The fact that the account occupies all three pieces whereas the petition only covers two suggests that it is probably correct to regard the latter as secondary, but our designation of the account as the front and the petition as the back can only be offered with caution. The format naturally invites comparison with 190 (see Tab.Vindol.I, pp.38-44 and Bowman (1975)). The offsets show that the fronts of (a) and (b) were folded face-to-face and that the back of (c) faced the back of (b). This tablet differs from 190, however, in that there are apparently no tie-holes or notches. This may well mean that we have a large leaf which was cut and folded into a triptych, concertina-fashion; there is no other tablet like this but it should be noted that the vertical dimension of the whole tablet which this hypothesis implies is smaller than that of 154. We would still have to suppose, however, that the beginning of the petition was on another tablet, now lost. The alternative is that we have two diptychs of which the lower half of the second has completely disappeared; this would make it more difficult to explain the offsets in 344. Grouped with (c) there are 5 unplaced scraps of which 3 may each have remains of one letter.


               The tablet is one of a group found together and attributed to the Period 4 building; see also 181, 182 and 343, the first of which is undoubtedly written by the same hand as 180 and 344. Some of the names in this account also occur in other texts in this group (Primus, line 28 and 181.6; Spectatus, line 5 and 343.iv.42; Firmus, line 23 and 343.iv.43; Candidus, line 24 and 181.3, 343.i.1). The name of the person who compiled this account is not known, but several deductions can legitimately be made from it and from the related documents (cf. Bowman, Thomas and Adams (1990), 43). The familiar and familial tone of some of the entries (mihi, tibi in lines 3, 20, 25 etc., patri in lines 7, 16, 33) suggests that this is not an official account but a private one made by one person for a close associate; it seems possible that we have two partners (perhaps brothers) and the father of one or both of them. It is certain that the draft petition on the other side was written by the same hand (the idiosyncratic form of f in lines 23, 25 and 344.i.10 is particularly distinctive) and since the author refers to trade (mercem, line i.2) and describes himself as a hominem trasmarinum (line ii.15), it is very likely, as the whole tone of the petition suggests, that he was a civilian trader and that his associates were also. The account shows that wheat was supplied to military personnel, including a beneficiarius (line 18) and some legionary soldiers (line 22). Spectatus and Firmus, on whose instructions the disbursements in lines 5-6 and 22-3 were made, were surely military personnel. The nature of the business and the find-spot of the tablets suggests that they are likely to have been either centurions or optiones (the latter perhaps slightly preferable since these are known to have had responsibilities for matters connected with the food-supply in their units, see RMR, p.311, 81.ii.5-12; cf. A.R.Birley (1990a), 17, suggesting that they might be legionary centurions). If these inferences are justified, they leave us with the need to explain how non-official accounts generated by a civilian trader came to be discovered in a room of a barrack-block. Any such explanation can only be speculative, but it is perhaps worth noting that some of the footwear discovered in the same context also implies the presence of non-military personnel (VRR III, 44-6).

The evidence for the involvement of civilians in army supply, and especially in the supply of wheat, the basic commodity, is of considerable importance and contributes to filling an important gap in our knowledge (Breeze (1984), 58-9). The unknown author of this account must have been a crucial link between the producers and the army personnel who authorised the distribution within the unit; contrast O.Bu Njem 74-109 and pp.57-63, "lettres de voiture", sent to a praepositus by soldiers detached to producers of wheat, via transporters, stating the quantity carried. At the same time, several of the entries incidentally bear witness to a certain amount of agricultural activity in the penumbra of the fort: line 9, bubulcaris; line 27, ad porcos, cf. 183.4; line 33, ad i[uu]encos.

The account itself does not concern itself with money and gives no indication how the wheat was paid for (it is to be noted that the entry in lines 5-6 is described as a loan). The traders might have been working under some kind of contractual arrangement. An arrangement of this sort might be inferred from 343.i.6-ii.14 where Candidus at Vindolanda is asked to send Octavius the considerable sum of 500 denarii to help him avoid financial embarrassment over an amount of 5000 modii of (unthreshed?) grain which he specifically says that he has bought.

The dates in the present account (lines 11, 17) fall between 6/11 and 26 September, appropriately close to harvest-time. The total disbursement in the account is 320_ modii and the largest surviving individual entry is 26 modii. Some idea of the scale of this operation may be obtained from the calculation that if a very active male requires 3822 calories per day for subsistence (Foxhall and Forbes (1982), 48-9), the wheat equivalent needed to supply this

would be about one seventh of a modius. This account therefore represents the wheat equivalent of a day's calorie requirements for more than 2000 soldiers (cf. 343.i.7-8).

n 1 _ratio frumenti em[ensi ex quo
n 2 ipse dedi in cupam [
n 3 mihi ad panem [
4 Macrino m(odii) vii
n 5 Felicio Victori iussu Spectati
n 6 comodati m(odii) xxvi
n 7 in follibus tribus patri m(odii) xix
8 Macrino m(odii) xiii
n 9 bubulcaris in siluam m(odii) viii
n 10 item Amabili ad fanum m(odii) iii
n 11 [..]. Idus Septem(bres) Crescenti
n 12 iussu .[.]..i m(odii) iii
n 13 item .[ c.6 ]e[ ]..
n 14 Macr[..][ ]. m(odii) xv
n n 15 item ma.[ c.6. ] m(odii) [ ]iii
n 16 patri ad [ c.6 ].as m(odii) ii
17 vi Kal(endas) [O]ctobr[es
n 18 Lu[..].[.. ben]eficiar[io] m(odii) vi
n 19 Felicio Victori m(odii) xv
n 20 ad turtas tibi m(odii) ii
n 21 Crescenti m(odii) ix
n 22 militibus legionaribus
n 23 iussu Firmi m(odii) xi[
n 24 Candido m(odii) [
n 25 tibi in folle br.gese [
26 tibi [
n 27 Lucconi ad porcos [
n 28 Primo Luci [
29 tibi [
n 30 Lucconi in ussus suos [
n n 31 item [.]uos m[.]..i.[
n n n 32 in [.]uotur[.].
n n 33 patri [a]d i[uu]encos [
n n n 34 item inter metrum [
n n n 35 libr.s xv redd. librae xv[
n n n 36 fiunt m(odii) [
n n 37 item mihi ad panem m(odii) i[
n n 38 summa frumenti m(odii) cccxx s(emis)


"Account of wheat measured out from that which

I myself have put into the barrel:

to myself, for bread ...

to Macrinus, modii 7

to Felicius Victor on the order of Spectatus

provided as a loan (?), modii 26

in three sacks, to father, modii 19

to Macrinus, modii 13

to the oxherds at the wood, modii 8

likewise to Amabilis at the shrine, modii 3

.. September, to Crescens

on the order of Firmus (?), modii 3

likewise ..., modii ..

to Macr... ..., modii (?) 15

likewise to Ma... (?), modii ..

to father ..., modii 2

26 September

to Lu... the beneficiarius, modii 6

to Felicius Victor, modii 15

for twisted loaves (?), to you, modii 2

to Crescens, modii 9

to the legionary soldiers

on the order of Firmus, modii 11+

to Candidus, modii ..

to you, in a sack from Briga (?), ...

to you, ...

to Lucco, in charge of the pigs ...

to Primus, slave (?) of Lucius ...

to you ...

to Lucco for his own use ...

likewise that which I have sent ... modii .. (?)

in the century of Voturius (?)

to father, in charge of the oxen ...

likewise, within the measure ...(?)

15 pounds yield 15+ pounds (?) ...

total, modii ...

likewise to myself, for bread, modii ..

total of wheat, modii 320_."