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604Re: Is this a known inscription?

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  • Tom Elliott
    Sep 29, 2012
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      I was aware of two inscriptions carrying this text, but neither (according to published editions I have consulted; I have not seen them) have the line distribution shown in this photo, so this is either a new instance, or I don't know the publication, or an earlier publication is erroneous. The earlier publications describe the inscriptions as appearing on cippi; I would not have considered this to be a cippus, but I'm not sure whether my definition (a cylinder) was shared by earlier editors in this case.

      Here's the portion from my dissertation dealing with the cousins:

      An Official Demarcation of the Territorial Boundaries of Musti

      Date(s): AD 138-161

      Two identical boundary markers from the area of Musti (mod. Henchir-Mest in Tunisia) commemorate the resolution of a boundary dispute sometime during the reign of Antoninus Pius. The markers derive their legal authority from the emperor (ex auctoritate) and stem from his legal decision (ex sententia).

      The unique phrase determinatio facta publica (a public boundary determination has been made) ties the markers to a specific legal investigation and description of Musti’s boundaries that would have been recorded in a legal document to ensure its lasting validity and accessibility. The explicitness of this relationship between legal document and boundary marker would have facilitated future verification of the markers and their locations (if fraud or repositioning was suspected) in the very manner described by the agrimensores.1

      The emphasis on a determinatio, and the use of cippi (i.e., boundary markers) to carry it, indicates that the case focused at least in part on boundaries. It is therefore likely that Pius’ verdict consisted primarily in delegating authority for resolution of the dispute, as well as survey and description of the boundaries, to an appropriate official in the province. In other cases, this official is often indicated on the boundary marker. Here, we would be expected to have recourse to a public copy of the determinatio to learn such details. It may well be that the Mustitani petitioned the emperor for assistance in dealing with encroachments on their territory by other communities or extra-civic latifundia, and the emperor responded by ordering a survey and the creation of a legally valid, public boundary description, accompanied by the placement of corresponding boundary markers.2 We can assume that this process would have taken into account any available earlier markers, maps, documents and testimony. That a public determinatio was explicitly required implies that pre-existing documentation had been inadequate to prevent problems or resolve disputes. It is a pity that the text of the emperor’s legal decision, together with the text of the determinatio itself and other related documents, have not come down to us. That such an inscribed dossier once existed seems likely, given examples from Delphi, Istria and Coronea.3

      46.1.DOC69: *EDH HD011851; CIL 8.27459; AE 1895.27; Carton 1895, 62.

      ex auctoritate et senten/tia / Imp(eratoris) Caesaris T(iti) Aeli Anto/nini Aug(usti) Pii determina/tio facta publica Mustita/5norum
      By the authority and according to the decision of the emperor Caesar Titus Aelius Antoninus Augustus Pius. The determinatio of the Mustitani was made public.4

      46.2.DOC68: *EDH HD024385; ILT 1560; AE 1929.71.

      [ex auctoritate] / [et sententia] Imp(eratoris) / Antonini Aug(usti) Pii determina/tio [fac]ta publi/ca M[us]titanorum
      See Text 46.1.

      1 Campbell 2000, 32.30-34.35.

      2 The present inscriptions were discovered along the ridgeline of the Djebel Bou Khil to the south of Musti. Two imperial estates, one to the northeast and one to the southeast, probably bordered Musti’s territorium, with the Fossa Regia providing an eastern border. Summary and citations: Beschaouch 1968, 135-137, with sketch map.

      3 Instances 39, 16 and 43.

      4 R. Talbert suggests an alternate translation for determinatio facta publica: “the determinatio was made in the public interest.”

      Tom Elliott, Ph.D.
      Associate Director for Digital Programs and Senior Research Scholar
      Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (NYU)

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