IRCyr   Inscriptions of Roman Cyrenaica

M.3. Military presence inscription of a soldier

Description: Outcrop of natural rock, on which texts are cut more or less roughly, in a series of different hands, with dates ranging from 15/16 to 52 CE: M.3, M.4, M.5, M.6, M.7, M.8, M.9, M.10, M.11, M.12, M.13, M.14, M.15, M.16, M.17, M.18, M.19, M.20, M.21, M.22, M.23, M.24, M.25, M.26, and perhaps M.27. They may be described as graffiti although the surviving example and the photographs show that their production often involved much more effort than the normal graffito.
Text: Graffito within a tabella ansata (1.40).
Letters: Lunate epsilon, lunate sigma, probably L for ἔτους, cursive omega.

Date: 25/26 CE

Findspot: South of Berenike: On the west side of the ancient road from Corniclanum/Ajdabia, leading south to the oasis of Gialo; recorded in 1923.
Original location: Findspot.
Last recorded location: Last reported 1923; now covered by modern houses.


(ἔτουϲ) νϛ´ Ω̣(λοϲ) [..]ϲτράτ̣ι-
οϲ Λονγεῖνοϲ
ϲτράτω̣ρ̣ [..]ΡΟ̣
[c. 6]Τ[...]Υ̣Ν[.]




1: L Ο[ . . .E]ὐϲτράτι Ferri, 1926 who ignored the first two characters, read ϲ as (ἔτουϲ), then Ο[.] giving 70+ of the Actian era = CE 39/40+.; Λ ΟϹΛΥ ϲτρατι SEG
3: ϲτράτον Ferri, 1926; ϲτρατ(ι)ώ[τηϲ Ϲύ]ρο[ϲ] SEG

English translation

Translation by: Editors

Year 56, ... -tratios Longeinos, strator . . ..


Items in this series dated with reasonable certainty range from CE 15/16 (M.26), to CE 51/52 (M.5, M.6)

The texts indicate the presence of a Roman garrison in the first century CE. Goodchild originally conjectured that the Roman fort underlay the Fatimid fort, but Abdussaid found no signs of any Roman occupation there; it may in fact have been on or near the site of the Fatimid Mosque. Many of the inscribers record that they were soldiers (M.3, M.5, M.6, M.11, M.14, M.18, M.20) and a number that they were Syrians (M.8, M.12, M.22) and/or from Antioch (M.9) or Apamea (M.5, M.6, M.11). Since few or none were Roman citizens, Cumont, loc. cit., was clearly right to argue that they belonged to an auxiliary unit, perhaps recruited in Apamea. Ferri made the attractive suggestion that they first came to the Syrtica with Sulpicius Quirinius for the Marmaric War, but for this there is no positive evidence. While it is probable that all the Syrians were soldiers, whether so described or not, there are also inscribers whose names seem to be local (M.4, M.13, M.15). They may be local recruits into the unit; but it is possible that the site had some significance as a place of pilgrimage (it is near the wells, which may have been sacred to the Nymphs) and so attracted civilians as well as military inscribers. The recurrence of the formula ἥκω in the texts (M.5, M.6, ?M.7, M.12, M.14, M.18, M.23, M.27) would be consonant with this interpretation.

Line 3: Ϲτράτωρ, if correct, indicates that he was equerry to the commanding officer and so that his unit should be at the least a cohors equitata, if not an ala. For another strator see M.48.

Bibliography: Ferri, 1926, 1, photograph, 371, whence SEG 9.773; discussed by Cumont, 1927
Text constituted from: From previous publications (Reynolds).


   Fig. 1. Text (Department of Antiquities, F. 1333)