1,800 year old Roman inscription discovered in Alba Iulia

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An artifact discovered during the archaeological research that brought to light vestiges of Principia (the building of the command of Castrum Legio XIII Gemina) in the ancient city of Apulum, nowadays Alba Iulia, situated in central Romania, reminds one of a bloody political episode that took place more than 1,800 years ago in ancient Rome. 

According to managing director of the National Museum of the Union in Alba Iulia Gabriel Rustoiu, this is an inscription from which the name of joint Emperor Geta (Publius Septimius Geta) was crossed out by Emperor Caracalla (Marcus Aurelius Antoninus), his brother. The two emperors, sons of Emperor Septimius Severus, ruled together after their father’s death, which occurred in AD 211. The same year Caracalla kills Geta and orders his brother’s name to be crossed out of history, explained Rustoiu. 

Given the importance of this inscription they decided to lift it and carry it to the National Museum of the Union in Alba Iulia. 

In ancient times, especially in the Roman time, political confrontations often ended in the physical destruction of the enemy. Revenge haunted the defeated man beyond death too. This is why a much harsher sentence in the Romans’ eyes was crossing out the name of the defeated one from history (damnatio memoriae). In this case the name was crossed out on all inscriptions and the statutes erected to him were taken off their bases and melted. This kind of settling political disputes used to appear especially in case of struggles for the position of emperor, said Gabriel Rustoiu. 

Vestiges of Principia were discovered during the archaeological research carried out lately in the area of the former Custozza Park in Alba Iulia, which was deforested this summer. The walls that used to house it will be covered in sand for them to be protected in winter, when the City Hall of Alba Iulia will look for financial resources for Principia to be conserved, restored and turned to account in point of tourism, said Gabriel Rustoiu. 

The Roman castrum at Apulum was the largest one in Roman Dacia, it started being built at the time of Emperor Hadrianus, probably about AD 125. For one century continuously Apulum was the headquarters of Legio XIII Gemina. 

Source: Agepres [September 27, 2011]

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