BMCR 2014.03.58

Die lateinischen Inschriften aus Albanien (LIA)

, , Die lateinischen Inschriften aus Albanien (LIA). Bonn: Dr. Rudolf Habelt Verlag, 2012. iv, 724. ISBN 9783774938199 €98.00.

After a less than successful attempt to gather and publish the Latin inscriptions from Albania,1 the task was undertaken in a project developed by the German Archaeological Institute in Lissus (Lezhë, Dalmatia province) and within the larger framework of a long expected new edition of the third volume of Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum (CIL).

Due to the political context of Albania during the Communist regime, it was practically impossible for foreign scholars to have close contacts in the country and to work with their Albanian counterparts. The only way to get in touch with the new discoveries was the Albanian publications, which reached Western libraries only with difficulty. The anarchic period that followed prevented any foreign projects being developed and the situation began to normalize only in 2000. Meanwhile the Latin inscriptions were published in different venues, which are not always easy to find. These are the reasons why such a corpus is welcome in an era when “national corpora” are making space for regional or (Roman) provincial corpora. This is in fact the future of the epigraphy of the Roman Empire, arrangement by the ancient administrative divisions and not the modern ones.

The book is divided into four main sections: the introduction (p. 1-12), the inscriptions (p. 13-700, without instrumentum), the indices (p. 701-717: onomastic, historical, linguistic, orthography and history of the inscription, type of monument and representations) and the concordances (p. 719-724: CIL, L’Année Épigraphique, Corpus des inscriptions latines d’Albanie (CIA); unfortunately concordances with other publications, especially the articles published in the different journals, are missing). There are 302 inscriptions included in the corpus, following geographic criteria from north to the south and ordered after the CIL model: votive inscriptions, inscriptions mentioning emperors, senators, Roman knights and members of the urban magistracies, funerary inscriptions in alphabetical order following the nomen gentile of the deceased and varia, badly preserved inscriptions and Late Roman ones. For all these inscriptions relevant information is given concerning the place of their discovery (see also the map, p. 17) and the place where they are now kept, the type of the inscription (votive, honorary, building and funerary), the stone and the type of the monument itself (altar, architrave, base, block, cippus, plate, column, sarcophagus and stele), as well as the measurements.2

The readings can in general be conveniently checked through the given images, although conditions of preservation mean that the quality of some of the images is not entirely satisfactory and so one must also consult the photos published in the CIA. The commentaries were kept to a minimum, understandably since some of the most interesting inscriptions were already published and commented on in previous articles. Therefore only the most relevant issues were discussed, including possible chronology (sometimes only conjectural, especially for the funerary inscriptions) and literature (cited in chronological order after the model of the Epigraphic Database Heidelberg).

Most of the epigraphic documents come from the three Roman colonies: Dyrrachium (LIA 31-148; see also L’Année Epigraphique 1984, 811-813, stamped lead water pipes from the Hadrianic period, an important addition to LIA 148, which attests the construction of the aqueduct during the reign of Hadrian), Byllis (LIA 188-226), and Buthrotum (LIA 243-302).3 There are also inscriptions from rural communities such as vicani Scampenses (modern Elbasan: LIA 165, a funerary inscription for a former centurion of the Roman army, decorated by Hadrian in the bellum Iudaicum 4), or from imperial domains, such as the one attested in the area of Baldushk, probably in the territory of Dyrrachium (LIA 154, a dedication to the Castores Augusti raised by Epictetus, an imperial freedman and by another person).5 Another vicus of Dyrrachium may be attested by LIA 156 and 159, funerary inscriptions of the soldiers, or former soldiers, of the prima Macedonica legion (in LIA 159 only legio I appears). They were settled in the territory of Dyrrachium probably before the year 27 BC.6

The exact judicial status of another community, Scodra (LIA 8-19) in the Dalmatia province, is unknown, but there is an inscription at Doclea (Dalmatia) that seems to attest that it was also a colonia (CIL III 12695: [p]on[t(ifex)] in col(onia) Sc[o]dr(a); and Pliny the Elder, NH 3, 144, mentions the town as oppidum civium Romanorum, which could be understood as being a municipium, which thereafter became a colonia. Lissus, also in the Dalmatia province, a former civitas of the Illyrians, became a municipium during the Roman age (LIA 20-26; Pliny the Elder, NH 3, 144, oppidum civium Romanorum).

In addition to providing information on the history of local communities, the Albanian inscriptions add to our understanding of Roman military and political practices. One of the most interesting inscriptions is that of M. Valerius Lollianus at Byllis (LIA 188).7 This Roman knight, being in his third militia equestris, was commissioned with command of the war vexillations, groups of horsemen belonging to several units of Syria province, during Lucius Verus’ expedition against the Parthians. Lollianus’ inscription attests that such vexillations were made up of troops from many units, probably because taking 50 horsemen from a unit is less damaging than taking 100-200 horsemen. Upon his retirement Lollianus seems to have become one of the most influential persons in his colonia, as the inscription attests his activity in the construction of a public road ( via publica), probably at the request and with the approval of the city council. This is our only epigraphic information about the involvement of local benefactors in the construction of public roads.

Also of interest is the new reading of an inscription discovered at Margegaj, Dalmatia province (LIA 1), where a dec(urio) II(iterum) is attested. The decuriones are known in the urban ( ordo decurionum) or military ( decurio equitum) milieus, but this seems not to be the case here and the meaning of decurio iterum is not at all clear.8 Two parallels are given by the authors, one from Rome (CIL VI 244 = ILS 7358) and one from Dalmatia, Ivangrad (ILJug 1818) . Leaving aside the Roman attestation, which refers to another context, I wonder if the two Dalmatian attestations could not be connected to the division of the Illyrian native civitates into decuriae (Pliny the Elder, NH 3, 142-143, without any doubt financial districts).

In closing, I want to add something on LIA 38, a very badly preserved inscription. The key to interpretation might be the mention of divi V[eri] and divae Fau[stinae] in l. 3-4, in the genitive case, combined with the possible reading [Gem vel Marc]ella ux[or] in the following line. To have on the same inscription both divus Verus and diva Faustina is very unusual. Divus Verus in the genitive case is always a part of Marcus Aurelius’ title, but there is no place for diva Faustina, the wife of Antoninus Pius. A possible solution could take into account the mention of a person who had close relations with both divus Verus and diva Faustina9 in the missing part followed by the name of his wife, most probably Gemella or Marcella, in the nominative case, the one who erected the inscription for his husband. 10 The new corpus of the Latin inscriptions from Albania is a welcome improvement over the CIA. The inscriptions conveniently gathered and commented on here give us insights into the Roman provincial society of this part of the Empire and provide a starting point for future studies. ​


1. Skender Anamali, Hasan Ceka, Élizabeth Deniaux, Corpus des inscriptions latines d’Albanie, Rome, 2009. See also the review published by Dan Dana in L’Antiquité Classique 80, 2011, p. 438-440.

2. Unfortunately no short presentations of the different findspots are added, though some information can be found in the introductory chapter, which must be completed with the information provided by the authors of CIA (p. 9-17). Historical information, only for the cities located in Macedonia province, can be also found in Jens Bartels, Die städtische Eliten im römischen Makedonien. Untersuchungen zur Formierung uns Struktur, Berlin-New York, 2008, with the older bibliography.

3. Interesting in this context is LIA 252, which attests that Germanicus as duumvir quinquennalis, was replaced by a praefectus, C. Iulius Strabo; in LIA 258, the unknown Roman knight was very likely tribunus legionis V Macedonicae. See also Johannes Bergemann, Die römische Kolonie von Butrint und die Romanisierung Griechenlands, Munich, 1998, with Peter Riedlberger’s review in BMCR 1999.02.23 and Inge Lyse Hansen, Richard Hodges, Butrint 4: The Archaeology and Histories of an Ionian Town. Butrint archaeological monographs 4, Oxford, Oakville, CT, 2013, with Ivan Vranić’s review in BMCR 2014.02.18.

4. He was buried on a place given by his fellow villagers, the convicani Scampenses; the village was located in the territory of Dyrrachium: LIA 163-175, 178; LIA 166 is a funerary inscription raised in the memory of a former duumvir, probably of the colonia.

5. In the same area another dedication to the Dioscuri, in Greek, was raised by another imperial freedman, Italikos, SEG 38, 1988, 463. Discussion of the rural territory of Dyrrachium and the status of the attested imperial domain would have been welcome here. It seems, as in other cases, the imperial domain was located in the middle of the rural territory of Dyrrachium, if we consider that vicus Scampa belonged to Dyrrachium as well.

6. This could also proof that the colony of Dyrrachium was a veteran settlement (something that can also be understood from Cassius Dio 51, 4, 6, which mentions that the veterans were settled at Dyrrachium and Philippi, both being thereafter attested as enjoying the ius Italicum, and Digestae 50, 15, 6 and 8, 8), and this is probably the reason why Dyrrachium received the ius Italicum.

7. The corpus follows the new readings and comments in Rudolf Haensch, Peter Weiß, Ein schwieriger Weg. Die Straßenbauinschrift des M. Valerius Lollianus aus Byllis, Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts. Römische Abteilung 118, 2012, p. 435-454, the new and the best edition of this very important inscription, CIL III 600 = ILS 2724, cut into a rock from the vicinity of Byllis, with a brilliant epigraphic and historical commentary, especially concerning the military units, and a new photo and a drawing.

8. The older reading was decurio II(vir). The only attestation in a military context seems to be the inscription discovered at Künzig, Quintana, Raetia, an auxiliary fort, where CIL III 11978 gives the following reading: MILES LEG DEC II. Here too the meaning is not clear, but the inscription is now lost and so it is impossible to check the reading.

9. Faustina II died in 176 and was consecrated as diva Faustina Pia or diva Augusta Faustina, see D. Kienast, Römische Kaisertabelle. Grundzüge einer römischen Kaiserchronologie, 5. Auflage, Darmstadt, 2011, p. 141-142.

10. An imperial freedman or a priest of the imperial cult? If we admit the second solution, it is highly probably that his wife also was involved in the cult celebration and therefore mentioned in the inscription. ​