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A Fort and Inscription from the Time of Diocletian at Yotvata / מצודה וכתובת מימי דיוקלטיאנוס ביטבתה

זאב משל, ישראל רול, Z. Meshel and I. Roll
Eretz-Israel: Archaeological, Historical and Geographical Studies / ארץ-ישראל: מחקרים בידיעת הארץ ועתיקותיה
Vol. יט‎, MICHAEL AVI-YONAH MEMORIAL VOLUME / ספר מיכאל אבי-יונה‎ (1987 / תשמ"ז), pp. 248-265
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23621237
Page Count: 18
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A Fort and Inscription from the Time of Diocletian at Yotvata / מצודה וכתובת מימי דיוקלטיאנוס ביטבתה
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Abstract

A Roman fort (castellum) and bath-house were uncovered in excavations at Yotvata (Ein Ghadian) in 1975— 76. The site is located along the main Arava road, some 40 km north of Eilat. The fort (39.70 × 39.40 m) is typically Late Roman in plan, with a gate on the east and four corner towers (quadriburgium). The two nearly-contemporaneous occupation levels can be dated to the 4th century CE on the basis of the finds, including coins of Constantius II, found in both levels. In the summer of 1985, a monumental inscription from the time of Diocletian was found incidentally, in the area opposite the gate of the fort. It was originally of nine lines, of which two and a half were purposely obliterated already in antiquity. The dedication to Perpetual Peace, by the Augusti Diocletian and Maximian and the Caesares Constantius and Galerius, commemorates the erection of "the wing with the gate" (in fact, the entire fort) under the supervision of the governor Priscus. Line 9 included the name of the province — probably Syria-Palaestina, but possibly Arabia. No provincial governor named Priscus is known, and hence this name forms an addition to the list of governors of one of these provinces. The inscription was incised sometime between 293 and 305 CE, with the historical context indicating 297 CE as the most likely date. On either side of the tabula ansata is an abbreviated formula, congratulating (the Emperor) on the completion of a 20-year cycle of his rule and wishing him an additional 20-year cycle. These formulae were apparently added in 303 CE. The unsuccessful attempt to obliterate the name of Maximian in line 3 probably occurred in 311—12 CE, when Constantine decreed his damnatio memoriae. The obliteration in line 9 can perhaps be dated to 357—58 CE, when the administrative status of the Negev and Edom was modified, the entire region becoming "Palaestina Salutaris".

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