Ancient fleet diploma unearthed near Roman fort

A metal detectorist discovered a metal object with an inscription near near Lanchester Roman fort in County Durham, United Kingdom. The object turned out to be an ancient Roman fleet diploma.

The diploma on display (by Tom Banks)

Researchers believe that the individual who was presented with the copper alloy diploma on his honourable retirement is Britain’s first named sailor, called Tigernos. The artefact details his 26-year naval career. The name Tigernos means “king” or “master” and his father is referred to as Magiotigernus, which means “great master”. The individual served in the Classis Germanica – the Roman fleet in Germany, and spent a large chunk of his life on Roman ships. The diploma consists of two rectangular breast plates which were once attached together with metal wires. It was issued around 150 AD, by the Emperor Antonius Pius. The diploma details the career record of the holder on the inner side and lists seven witness on the outer.

Roman fleet diploma before conservation (by Chronicle Live)

Similar diplomas were issued to Roman soldiers after 25 years of army service. They granted the holder and his children Roman citizenship and the legal right of marriage. Pieces would be broken off and given to the children to prove their rights, which is why finding complete examples is so rare. The diploma granted to Tigernos was found stacked in eight pieces. It has been undergoing conservation treatment and research at Oxford University.

(after Tom Banks, The Northern Echo & Chronicle Live)

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