Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-55597f9d44-vkn6t Total loading time: 0.44 Render date: 2022-08-19T11:41:48.654Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true } hasContentIssue true

Lost Along the Way: A Centurion Domo Britannia in Bostra*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 March 2016

Laurens E. Tacoma
Institute of History, Faculty of Humanities, Leiden
Tatiana Ivleva
School of History, Classics and Archaeology, Newcastle
David J. Breeze


This article discusses a not well-known funerary monument commemorating a centurion of British descent. IGLS 13.1.9188 records the centurion, T. Quintius Petrullus, ‘from Britain’, of the Third Cyrenaican Legion, who died aged 30 at Bostra in Arabia. This was a young age for a centurion and the article suggests that he had entered the army by a direct commission rather than risen through the ranks. Accordingly, he is likely to have belonged to a high-status family. The Bostra appointment was probably his first. The appointment is put into context alongside other similar equestrian career paths and the Jewish War during the reign of Hadrian is proposed as a possible occasion for the posting. In addition, the article examines this Briton alongside other Britons abroad.

Copyright © The Author(s) 2016. Published by The Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)



This article finds its origin in a simple query of Tacoma to Ivleva in the course of research for Tacoma and Tybout (forthcoming) about the reading of IGLS 13.1.9188. Ivleva in her turn discussed the inscription with Breeze. The three decided to join forces and to report their developing arguments into the present study. We would like to thank A.R. Birley, L.J.F. Keppie and R.S.O. Tomlin for their suggestions and comments. All mistakes and errors in the interpretation remain our own. The following abbreviations are used: AE

L'Année Épigraphique (1888–)


Carte archéologique de la Gaule


Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum (1863–)


F. Hild, Supplementum epigraphicum zu CIL III: das pannonische Niederösterreich, Burgenland und Wien 1902–1968 (1968)


C.M. Ternes, ‘Les inscriptions antiques du Luxembourg’, Hémecht 17 (1965), 267–481


Inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie (1929–)


H. Dessau, Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae (1892–1916)


Inschriften griechischer Städte aus Kleinasien (1972–)


B. und H. Galsterer, Die römischen Steininschriften aus Köln (2010)


B. Gerov, Inscriptiones Latinae in Bulgaria repertae (1989)


Inscriptiones Latinae quae in Iugoslavia … repertae et editae sunt (1963–86)


H. Devijver, Prosopographia Militiarum Equestrium quae fuerunt ab Augusto ad Gallienum (1977–93)


C.C. Edgar, A.E.R. Boak, J.G. Winter et al., Papyri in the University of Michigan Collection (1931–)


B. Lörincz, Die römischen Hilfstruppen in Pannonien während der Prinzipatzeit (2001)


The Roman Inscriptions of Britain


M.M. Roxan, Roman Military Diplomas (1978–)


Tyche. Beiträge zur Alten Geschichte, Papyrologie und Epigraphik (1986–)


Alföldy, G. 1968: Die Hilfstruppen der römischen Provinz Germania inferior, Dusseldorf Google Scholar
Birley, A.R. 1979: The People of Roman Britain, London Google Scholar
Birley, A.R. 2005: The Roman Government of Britain, Oxford CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Birley, A.R. 2016 forthcoming: ‘Viri militares moving from west to east in two crisis years (AD 133 and 162)’, in Lo Cascio, E. and Tacoma, L.E., with Groen-Valkinga, M.J. (eds), The Impact of Mobility and Migration in the Roman Empire, Impact of Empire 12, Leiden Google Scholar
Birley, E. 1953: ‘The equestrian officers of the Roman army’, in Birley, E., Roman Britain and the Roman Army, Kendal, 133–53Google Scholar
Birley, E. 1988a: The Roman Army, Papers 1929–1986, Amsterdam Google Scholar
Birley, E. 1988b: ‘The origins of legionary centurions’, in E. Birley 1988a, 189–205 (= Laureae Aquincenses 2, 47–62)Google Scholar
Birley, E. 1988c: ‘Promotions and transfers in the Roman army II: The centurionate’, in E. Birley 1988a, 206–20 (= Carnuntum Jahrbuch 1963/64, 21–33)Google Scholar
Birley, E. 1988d: ‘Pannonians in Roman Britain’, Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 73, 151–5Google Scholar
Breeze, D.J. 1974: ‘The organisation of the career structure of the immunes and principales of the Roman army’, Bonner Jahrbuch 174, 245–92Google Scholar
Breeze, D.J. 1997: ‘The regiments stationed at Maryport and their commanders’, in Wilson, R.J.A. (ed.), Roman Maryport and its Setting, Kendal, 6789 Google Scholar
Breeze, D.J., and Dobson, B. 1993: Roman Officers and Frontiers, Stuttgart Google Scholar
Chenery, C., Müldner, G., and Eckardt, H. 2011: ‘Cosmopolitan Catterick? Isotopic evidence for population mobility on Rome's northern frontier’, Journal of Archaeological Science 38, 1525–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cheesman, G.L. 1914: The Auxilia of the Roman Imperial Army, Oxford Google Scholar
Clay, C.L. 2007: ‘Before they were Angles, Saxons and Jutes: an epigraphic study of the Germanic social, religious and linguistic relations on Hadrian's Wall’, in Gilmor, L. (ed.), Pagans and Christians – from Antiquity to the Middle Ages: Papers in Honour of Martin Henig Presented on the Occasion of his 65th Birthday, Oxford, 4763 Google Scholar
Cool, H.E.M. 2010: ‘Finding the foreigners’, in Eckardt 2010a, 27–44Google Scholar
Collins, R. 2008: ‘Identity in the frontier: theory and multiple community interfacing’, in Fenwick, C., M. Wiggins and D. Wythe (eds), TRAC 2007: Proceedings of the Seventeenth Annual Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference, London 2007, Oxford, 4553 Google Scholar
Derks, T., and Roymans, N. (eds) 2009: Ethnic Constructs in Antiquity: The Role of Power and Tradition, Amsterdam CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Dessau, H. 1912: ‘British centurions’, Journal of Roman Studies 2, 21–4CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Dietz, K., and Weber, G. 1982: ‘Fremde in Rätien’, Chiron 12, 409–43Google Scholar
Dobson, B. 1970: ‘The centurionate and social mobility during the Principate’, in Nicolet, C. (ed.), Recherches sur les structures sociales dans l'Antiquité classique, Paris, 99115 Google Scholar
Dobson, B. 1972: ‘Legionary centurion or equestrian officer? A comparison of pay and prospects’, Ancient Society 2, 193207 Google Scholar
Dobson, B., and Mann, J.C. 1973: ‘The Roman army in Britain and Britons in the Roman army’, Britannia 4, 191205 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Driel-Murray, C. van 2003: ‘Ethnic soldiers: the experience of the Lower Rhine tribes’, in Grünewald, T. and Seibel, S. (eds), Kontinuität und Diskontinuität: Germania Inferior am Beginn und am Ende der römischen Herrschaft. Beiträge des deutsch-niederländischen Kolloquiums im Nijmegen 2001, Berlin, 200–17Google Scholar
Eck, W., and Pangerl, A. 2008: ‘Moesia und seine Truppen. Neue Diplome für Moesia und Moesia Superior’, Chiron 38, 317–87Google Scholar
Eckardt, H. (ed.) 2010a: Roman Diasporas: Archaeological Approaches to Mobility and Diversity in the Roman Empire, Portsmouth, RI Google Scholar
Eckardt, H. 2010b: ‘A long way from home: diaspora communities in Roman Britain’, in Eckardt 2010a, 99–130Google Scholar
Eckardt, H. 2012: ‘Foreigners and locals in Calleva’, in Fulford, M. (ed.), Silchester and the Study of Romano-British Urbanism, Portsmouth, RI, 246–56Google Scholar
Eckardt, H., and Müldner, G. forthcoming: ‘Mobility, migration, and diasporas in Roman Britain’, in Millett et al. forthcomingGoogle Scholar
Forni, G. 1953: Il reclutamento delle legioni, Milan and Rome Google Scholar
Haley, E.W. 1991: Migration and Economy in Roman Imperial Spain, Barcelona Google Scholar
Handley, M. 2011: Dying on Foreign Shores: Travel and Mobility in the Late-Antique West, Portsmouth, RI Google Scholar
Hope, V. forthcoming: ‘Inscriptions and identity’, in Millett et al. forthcomingGoogle Scholar
Ivleva, T. 2011: ‘British emigrants in the Roman Empire: complexities and symbols of ethnic identities’, in Mladenovič, D. and Russel, B. (eds), TRAC 2010: Proceedings of the 20th Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference, Oxford 2010, Oxford, 132–53Google Scholar
Ivleva, T. 2012: ‘British military units and the identity of British-born recruits in the Roman army, between the first and third centuries AD’, Orbis Terrarum: Internationale Zeitschrift für historische Geographie der alten Welt 10, 5992 Google Scholar
Ivleva, T. 2014: ‘Remembering Britannia: expressions of identities by “Britons”’ on the Continent during the Roman Empire’, in Alroth, B. and Scheffer, C. (eds), Attitudes Towards the Past in Antiquity: Creating Identities, Stockholm, 217–31Google Scholar
Ivleva, T. forthcoming: ‘Britons on the move: mobility of British-born emigrants in the Roman Empire’, in Millett et al. forthcomingGoogle Scholar
Kakoschke, A. 2002: Ortsfremde in den römischen Provinzen Germania inferior und Germania superior: eine Untersuchung zur Mobilität in den germanischen Provinzen anhand der Inschriften des 1. bis 3. Jahrhunderts n. Chr., Möhnesee Google Scholar
Kakoschke, A. 2004: “Germanen” in der Fremde: eine Untersuchung zur Mobilität aus den römischen Provinzen Germania inferior und Germania superior anhand der Inschriften des 1. bis 3. Jahrhunderts n. Chr., Möhnesee Google Scholar
Kennedy, D.L. 1980: ‘Legio VI Ferrata. The annexation and early garrison of Arabia’, Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 84, 283308 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kramer, J. 1993: ‘Die Wiener Liste von Soldaten der III und XXII Legion: (P. Vindob. L 2)’, Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 97, 147–58Google Scholar
Leach, S., Lewis, M., Chenery, C., Müldner, G., and Eckardt, H. 2009: ‘Migration and diversity in Roman Britain: a multidisciplinary approach to the identification of immigrants in Roman York, England’, American Journal of Physical Anthropology 140, 546–61CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Leach, S., Eckardt, H., Chenery, C., Müldner, G., and Lewis, M. 2010: ‘A lady of York: migration, ethnicity and identity in Roman Britain’, Antiquity 84, 131–45CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lőrincz, B. 2000: Onomasticon Provinciarum Europae Latinarum, Vienna Google Scholar
Malone, S.J. 2006: Legio XX Valeria Victrix: Prosopography, Archaeology and History, Oxford Google Scholar
Mann, J.C. 1983: Legionary Recruitment and Veteran Settlement during the Principate, London Google Scholar
Mann, J.C. 1985: ‘Epigraphic consciousness’, Journal of Roman Studies 75, 204–6CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mann, J.C. 1996: Britain and the Roman Empire, Aldershot Google Scholar
Mattingly, D. 2004: ‘Being Roman: expressing identity in a provincial setting’, Journal of Roman Archaeology 17, 525 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mattingly, D. 2011: Imperialism, Power, and Identity: Experiencing the Roman Empire, Princeton Google Scholar
Matthews, K.J. 1999: ‘Britannus/Britto: Roman ethnographies, native identities, labels, and folk devils’, in Leslie, A. (ed.), Theoretical Roman Archaeology and Architecture: The Third Conference Proceedings, Glasgow, 1433 Google Scholar
Millett, M., Revell, L., and Moore, A. (eds) forthcoming: The Oxford Handbook of Roman Britain, Oxford CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mócsy, A. 1983: Nomenclator Provinciarum Europae Latinarum et Galliae Cisalpinae: cum Indice Inverso, Budapest Google Scholar
Noy, D. 2001: Foreigners at Rome: Citizens and Strangers, London Google Scholar
Noy, D. 2010: ‘Epigraphic evidence for immigrants at Rome and in Roman Britain’, in Eckardt 2010a, 13–26Google Scholar
Oltean, I.A. 2009: ‘Dacian ethnic identity and the Roman army’, in Hanson, W.S. (ed.), The Army and Frontiers of Rome: Papers Offered to David J. Breeze on the Occasion of his Sixty-Fifth Birthday and his Retirement from Historic Scotland, Portsmouth, RI, 90103 Google Scholar
Rowland, R.J. 1976: ‘Foreigners in Roman Britain’, Acta Archaeologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 28, 443–7Google Scholar
Roymans, N. 2004: Ethnic Identity and Imperial Power: The Batavians in the Early Roman Empire, Amsterdam CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Russu, I.I. 1974: ‘Das römische militärdiplom von 123 für Dacia Porolissensis und Pannonia Inferior’, Dacia 18, 155–76Google Scholar
Solin, H. 2013: ‘Analecta epigraphica CCLXXXV–CCXCI’, Arctos 47, 265300 Google Scholar
Spaul, J. 1994: Ala2: The Auxiliary Cavalry Units of the pre-Diocletianic Imperial Roman Army, Andover Google Scholar
Spaul, J. 2000: Cohors2: The Evidence for and a Short History of the Auxiliary Infantry of the Imperial Roman Army, Oxford Google Scholar
Speidel, M.P. 1986: ‘The soldiers’ homes’, in Eck, W. and Wolff, H. (eds), Heer und Intergationspolitik. Die römischen Militärdiplome als historische Quelle, Cologne, 467–81Google Scholar
Speidel, M.P. 1994: Die Denkmäler der Kaiserreiter Equites Singulares Augusti, Cologne Google Scholar
Stanley, F.H. 1990: ‘Geographical mobility in Roman Lusitania: an epigraphical perspective’, Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 82, 249–69Google Scholar
Swan, V. 1992: ‘Legio VI and its men: African legionaries in Britain’, Journal of Roman Pottery Studies 5, 133 Google Scholar
Swift, E. 2010: ‘Identifying migrant communities: a contextual analysis of grave assemblages from continental Late Roman cemeteries’, Britannia 41, 145 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Tacoma, L.E., and Tybout, R.A. forthcoming: ‘Inscribing Near Eastern mobility in the Hellenistic and Roman period’, in Zerbini, A. and Yoo, J. (eds), Migration, Diaspora and Identity in the Near East from Antiquity to the Middle Ages Google Scholar
Thompson, L.A. 1972: ‘Africans in northern Britain’, Museum Africum I, 2838 Google Scholar
Tomlin, R.S.O., and Hassall, M.W.C. 2007: ‘Roman Britain in 2006. III. Inscriptions’, Britannia 38, 345–65CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wallace-Hadrill, A. 2007: ‘The creation and expression of identity: the Roman world’, in Alcock, S. and Osborne, R. (eds), Classical Archaeology, Oxford, 355–80Google Scholar
Wierschowski, L. 1995: Die regionale Mobilität in Gallien nach den Inschriften des 1. bis 3. Jahrhunderts n.Chr.: quantitative Studien zur Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte der westlichen Provinzen des römischen Reiches, Stuttgart Google Scholar
Wierschowski, L. 2001: Fremde in Gallien, “Gallier” in der Fremde: die epigraphisch bezeugte Mobilität in, von und nach Gallien vom 1. bis 3. Jh. n. Chr. (Texte, Übersetzungen, Kommentare), Stuttgart Google Scholar
Wilmott, T. 2001: ‘Cohors I Aelia Dacorum: a Dacian unit on Hadrian's Wall’, Acta Musei Napocensis 38(1), 103–23Google Scholar
Woolf, G. 2013: ‘Female mobility in the Roman West’, in Hemelrijk, E. and Woolf, G. (eds), Women and the Roman City in the Latin West, Leiden, 351–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cited by

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Lost Along the Way: A Centurion Domo Britannia in Bostra*
Available formats

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Lost Along the Way: A Centurion Domo Britannia in Bostra*
Available formats

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Lost Along the Way: A Centurion Domo Britannia in Bostra*
Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *