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There is a clash going on in the Netherlands at this moment between the archaeologists of the city of Nijmegen and the city of Venlo, about which city is the oldest.

Some amusing news articles in several Dutch newspapers have shed some light on this pretty ridiculous clash.

The Nijmegen archeologists seem miffed that the archeologists of the city of Venlo claim that theirs is the oldest Roman city.

According to these articles :

http://www.gelderlander.nl/voorpagina/n ... erland.ece

and:

http://www.ad.nl/ad/nl/1012/Binnenland/ ... jker.dhtml

(use babelfish or any other online translator you are comfortable with to translate the texts...)

The city of Nijmegen claim their city is the oldest "official" city because around 100 AD they got official municipal rights bestowed on them by the emperor Trajan and therefore can be called a city.

This claim was parried by the Archeologists of Venlo with the rather surprising claim that because the Romans came from the south, they were in Venlo earlier, so Venlo is the oldest. :oops:

The city of Maastricht, even more to the south is not very amused since they also tried to claim to be the oldest city but lost it to Nijmegen.

Apparently the finds of some celtic coins and some Roman pottery are used to stake the claims, after which both cities started annoying one another by referring to the age of their separate coin and earthenware finds. The celtic coins in Venlo are supposed to have been used as pay for Legionaries .... (if those Legionaries were at all happy with worthless coins is a second question left unanswered)

To this day, no Roman military base has been found in Venlo, contrary to the Drusus camp in Nijmegen itself.

The difference in claims to city status should lie in the recognition by Emperors of Municipal status, which in the Netherlands was bestowed on two cities we know of, namely Nijmegen and Voorburg (near The Hague) and not by whether or not some Legionary lost his bits, or some farmer had a Roman or celtic coin in his house or even if some Roman soldiers marched through a settlement of some sort.

Whether or not the Venlo case could be seen as official settlement also remains to be seen. The small village of Buggenum, also to the south of Venlo was the finding spot of a republican montefortino helmet. This village keeps quiet for now...

The debate is still going on.

We often criticize archeologists like Zahi Hawass and others who state ridiculous claims, but apparently it is part of the trade of Dutch archaeologists too.

Confusedhock:

M.VIB.M.
Quote:The difference in claims to city status should lie in the recognition by Emperors of Municipal status
The funniest thing is that the existence of a municipal status is a mirage. I can not now discuss the details, but it all goes back to F.F. Abbott, Municipal Administration in the Roman Empire (1926). Archaeologists have not read more recent books, and do not read sources either: Aulus Gellius writes that a “municipium” is a town with pre-Roman rights (Noctes Atticae 16.13). Not even the mighty emperor could grant pre-Roman rights.

There never existed a municipal status. And if you don't believe me, read Fergus Millar, The Emperor in the Roman World. What does exist, of course, is a group of archaeologists that talk and talk about interdisciplinary research, but refuse to read books by ancient historians.

Q.E.D.
True Jona, but sadly we still keep seeing these kinds of statements even in modern day literature, as well as the very very flawed interpretations of for instance a Roman well made of barrels coming from Caligula's wineries (which apparently puts him at the sea near Katwijk for his sea shell collecting party) and the silver disc inscribed with a name found inside the Drusus encampment attributed to a high ranking Roman noble whose name we find in the sources, thus overstating or beefing up the importance of the encampment by several degrees of awe...

It is as if constructive debate is shunned, and personal gain and status form the main interest of the scientific community..... QvOD NOVvM .... :roll:

M.VIB.M.
Quote:a Roman well made of barrels coming from Caligula's wineries (which apparently puts him at the sea near Katwijk for his sea shell collecting party) and the silver disc inscribed with a name found inside the Drusus encampment attributed to a high ranking Roman noble
I think those cases, put forward by Wynia and Haalebos, are both defendable, especially the Caligula example. The Aquilus medal is indeed more dubious, although the name is -combined with the rank= pretty rare.

But there's a difference. Wynia and Haalebos have announced these as hypotheses and are aware that their theory is precisely that: a theory. Our archaeologists discussing city rights, are unaware of the tentative nature of our reconstruction of Roman Law. We all know that people who confuse theories and facts, do not belong on universities. The system, as I said before, is rotten to the core.
Quote:There never existed a municipal status. And if you don't believe me, read Fergus Millar, The Emperor in the Roman World. What does exist, of course, is a group of archaeologists that talk and talk about interdisciplinary research, but refuse to read books by ancient historians.

What exactly do you mean? I know of inscriptions throughout empire attesting settlements as "muncipium <emperor name> <city/tribal name>".
E.g. two Hadrianic municipia in Dacia are Napoca and Drobeta:
CIL III 14465: mu/nic(ipii) Aeli / Hadr(iani) Napoc(ae)
AE 1980 0771: m[u]/nicipii Hadria/ni Drob(etae)

Considering the province was conquered by Trajan, why is Hadrian's name showing if there's no some kind of grant (and maybe also an elevation in status)? By the way, weren't municipia granted with ius Latii?
Quote:What exactly do you mean? I know of inscriptions throughout empire attesting settlements as "muncipium <emperor name> <city/tribal name>".
Here's one from Tongeren. The word "municipium" certainly spreads in certain provinces, but we don't know what this means. My personal opinion is that it is just a change in language. The use of the word coincides with the linguistic fashion of archaism. The problem may be connected to several other phenomenons, like the codification of municipal law (which started a bit earlier, though). But whatever it is, a municipal status cannot be granted by any emperor, as a municipium is by definition a town with ancestral rights.
Quote:By the way, weren't municipia granted with ius Latii?
That has been claimed by Abbott, and indeed, an emperor can grant Latin rights. But Latin rights are not ancestral rights.

Please note, BTW, that there is only one inscription that explicitly refers to a grant of municipal status - and that refers to Praeneste, which had been made a colonia (if I recall correctly), and preferred not to have Roman laws but its ancestral ones. To the best of my knowledge, there are inscriptions in which a town calls itself a municipium, but there are no inscriptions that refer to a grant. That ought to have worried Abbott, and it ought to worry Dutch archaeologists.

Of the hundreds of towns, of the hundreds of thousands of inscriptions, we simply don't have one text that confirms Abbott's idea that ordinary towns or tribes were called civitates, and that they, upon receiving Latin rights, were entitled to the rank of "municipium". Not a single town or tribe has made a grateful dedication - for every gift they erected a statue or a temple or whatever, but not for the grant of municipium rights. Isn't that strange?
Sidestepping from the Munipicium discussion and how archaeologists use wishful thinking et cetera ( and not ecsetera like too many of the English say these days. [but not Mike Bishop :mrgreen: ] ).

The Caligula story is partly defendable if you do not take into account the possible gifting of a barrel out of his personal wineries to a higher officer.
But as long as off the coast of Katwijk 1000+ Pilum heads, scorpio bolts, arrow points and what have you have not been found, or when in Rome itself shells are not found which match 1:1 the shells we find near Katwijk, i am not convinced Tongue

You are totally right about the fact both Wynia and Haalebos state that their theories are a hypothesis and nothing else and the fact that the city archaeologists do not seem to have much understanding of Roman Ius let alone have studied Gaius, Scaevola et cetera is indeed a valid point.

M.VIB.M.
Quote:et cetera (and not ecsetera like the English say)

No we don't! :roll:

Mike Bishop
Quote:Here's one from Tongeren. The word "municipium" certainly spreads in certain provinces, but we don't know what this means. My personal opinion is that it is just a change in language. The use of the word coincides with the linguistic fashion of archaism. The problem may be connected to several other phenomenons, like the codification of municipal law (which started a bit earlier, though). But whatever it is, a municipal status cannot be granted by any emperor, as a municipium is by definition a town with ancestral rights.

I doubt that definition because Aelius Gellius says the municipia are made that way (16.13.7). The same text mentions the intervention of emperor Tiberius which confirms the epigraphic evidence that the status of municipium is related to an emperor (probably granted by him). This text suggests those ancestral rights were a privilege coming with the municipal status, not a datum beyond Roman jurisdiction.

Also, I find very unlikely it was just a fashion in naming. This hypothesis doesn't explain why we have the emperors names near the town/tribe names. I know of municipia from the times of Julio-Claudians to the times of Severans, in various provinces of the empire. Why in a territory conquered for a long while a settlement shows as a Severan municipium (in Dacia, AE 1998 1079: m/[uni]c(ipii) Sep(timii) Ap[ul(ensis )?


And if it was just about ancestral laws and no Roman grant, how do you explain documents like lex Irnitana?

Quote:That has been claimed by Abbott, and indeed, an emperor can grant Latin rights. But Latin rights are not ancestral rights.
Well, I'm wouldn't go to Abbott, but to more recent texts like this one or this one or this one

Quote:Of the hundreds of towns, of the hundreds of thousands of inscriptions, we simply don't have one text that confirms Abbott's idea that ordinary towns or tribes were called civitates, and that they, upon receiving Latin rights, were entitled to the rank of "municipium". Not a single town or tribe has made a grateful dedication - for every gift they erected a statue or a temple or whatever, but not for the grant of municipium rights. Isn't that strange?
There are some hundreds inscriptions mentioning this term, and we do have inscriptions of emperors restitutori/conditori of municipia (see that chapter about city status change under Hadrian, especially footnote 5 for inscriptions; another possible such inscription is analyzed here)

However how many inscriptions do we have for status changes in general?
Quote:Also, I find very unlikely it was just a fashion in naming. This hypothesis doesn't explain why we have the emperors names near the town/tribe names.
But that's something completely else... that's just flattery, and as the Sabora inscription proves, if you renamed a town, that did not change the legal position of the town.
Quote:if it was just about ancestral laws and no Roman grant, how do you explain documents like lex Irnitana?
I can't. It may have something to do with the spread of Latin rights, as indicated by the elder Pliny. But there is simply no proof that the Flavian Municipal law has something do with offering a presumed rank of municipium.
Quote:However how many inscriptions do we have for status changes in general?
If a city became a colonia, it was celebrated; there are texts about offering this title. So it's odd that there's only one text about the offering of municipium rights - although the Praeneste case proves exactly Millar's point: the city wanted to return to ancestral rights, and did not move "up" from colonia to municipium.

Thanks for the references; will look at it later - it half past two over here...
Quote:But that's something completely else... that's just flattery, and as the Sabora inscription proves, if you renamed a town, that did not change the legal position of the town.

The Sabora inscription attests the re-location of an oppidum which was granted by Vespasian (sub nomine meo). Even if in the local inscriptions from that moment on Vespasian's name would have been omnipresent, that re-location is an important event in the history of that settlement, isn't it ? That inscription proves, if anything, that it was not "just flattery", that there were real events behind those words and names. Are all the Hadrianic municipia (for instance) relocated? Having their territories enlarged? Newly settled? Isn't strange to search for various other reasons but the obvious, that municipium was also a status, not just a meaningless name?

In some periods and in some provinces it may be like Gellius suggets, that names were loosely used and municipium and colonia were sometimes interchanged. But certainly there was more to it and Gellius makes this particular point.

Quote:I can't. It may have something to do with the spread of Latin rights, as indicated by the elder Pliny. But there is simply no proof that the Flavian Municipal law has something do with offering a presumed rank of municipium.
I beg to differ. We cannot have a municipal law if municipium is not something more than a name. And if a municipium can be submitted to other regulations but his own laws, can we simply equate this name with a "town with ancestral rights"?

Quote:If a city became a colonia, it was celebrated; there are texts about offering this title. So it's odd that there's only one text about the offering of municipium rights - although the Praeneste case proves exactly Millar's point: the city wanted to return to ancestral rights, and did not move "up" from colonia to municipium.

Gellius however mentions the Caerites were the first to receive municipal status. Even if that account is quasi-legendary, it testifies for a status which is also acquired from bottom up, and probably it was a reality in Gellius' times.


In conclusion I think those Dutch archaeologists should be vindicated. I don't think they ignore (recent) history books and Millar's thesis is far from being proven or even universally accepted.
I disagree with your request on vindication.

The problem here, apart from the question how, if any, city rights were granted by Roman rulers and how it is discussed in Roman law, is the fact that archaeologists boast ridiculous claims out of publicity motives which serve the status of the city they are working for.

This has nothing to do with scientific and academic research, but everything with petty arrogance, commercialism, politics and a lot of other vices which are ruïning proper and impartial fact finding.

M.VIB.M.
Quote:The Sabora inscription attests the re-location of an oppidum which was granted by Vespasian (sub nomine meo). Even if in the local inscriptions from that moment on Vespasian's name would have been omnipresent, that re-location is an important event in the history of that settlement, isn't it ? That inscription proves, if anything, that it was not "just flattery", that there were real events behind those words and names. Are all the Hadrianic municipia (for instance) relocated? Having their territories enlarged? Newly settled? Isn't strange to search for various other reasons but the obvious, that municipium was also a status, not just a meaningless name?
I disagree. The relocation from hillforts/oppida to new sites was a common practise for Roman settlements. Yet these settlements did not become municipia as a rule. Therefore an inscription which mentions such a relocation and the name of an emperor, that does not automatically mean that this emperor personally granted the relocation, nor that he personally granted certain rights.

I think it's very hard to determine what territory belonged to what settlement, so it's even harder to determine whether this increased or decreased. If we take Britain as an example, all the civitates were either newly founded or relocated tribal centres. Yet only Verulamium became a municipium. Relocation does not necessarily mean more rights than usual, and therefore a relocated municipium need not differ from a relocated civitas.
Quote:I disagree. The relocation from hillforts/oppida to new sites was a common practise for Roman settlements. Yet these settlements did not become municipia as a rule. Therefore an inscription which mentions such a relocation and the name of an emperor, that does not automatically mean that this emperor personally granted the relocation, nor that he personally granted certain rights.
I don't know why you disagree because I did not claim any of what you suggest. I am not pointing out a connection between relocation and municipal status.

I have refuted the idea that emperors' names on such inscriptions show up only for flattery. This particular inscription proves something important for that town happened during the reign of Vespasian and that's also why Vespasian's name (sub nomine meo) shows up.

It has nothing to do with emperor doing something "in person". It is about a central decision in emperor's name. It could have been a bunch of functionaries for all I care. But certainly it weren't the Saborenses deciding to relocate their hometown whenever and however they pleased.
Quote:I disagree with your request on vindication.

The problem here, apart from the question how, if any, city rights were granted by Roman rulers and how it is discussed in Roman law, is the fact that archaeologists boast ridiculous claims out of publicity motives which serve the status of the city they are working for.

This has nothing to do with scientific and academic research, but everything with petty arrogance, commercialism, politics and a lot of other vices which are ruïning proper and impartial fact finding.

M.VIB.M.
I wouldn't take this so harshly. After all, there are so many aspects of Roman history unresearched, undug, unknown because there's not enough publicity, commercialism, politics etc. around them.
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