Inscription honoring previously-unknown Roman senator found in Turkey

An inscription honoring a little-known senator has been unearthed at the ancient Roman theater of Patara, Turkey. The inscribed marble slab was discovered in May in a fire layer near the theater’s proscaenium (stage area) broken into 27 large pieces. It was puzzled back together and reviewed by epigraphists. It is a dedicated to Tiberius Claudius Flavianus Titianus Celer by his mother Vilia Procula.

Located on the southweast Mediterranean coast of Lycia, Patara was an important hub of maritime trade and travel thanks to its large natural harbor. Paul of Tarsus changed ships there to sail to Tyre en route to Jerusalem (Acts 21:1-3). It was one of the leading cities of the Lycian League and was one of only six of the 23 cities to have the maximum number of votes (three).

The Vilius familes was one the richest and most politically important families in Patara.  Vilia Procula was a native of the city and a major patron. Her father commissioned the construction of the proscaenium in the theater which she completed after his death. It was dedicated in 147 A.D. and was responsible for a plethora of other dedications includes one to the Emperor Hadrian, his wife Sabina Augusta and Salonia Matidia, niece of Trajan and grandmother of Marcus Aurelius.

The inscription contains previously unknown details about Celer: that he was a Roman senator, that he was governor of Cyprus and of the province of Pontus on the Black Sea (today northeastern Turkey), that he held a number of civic and judicial roles — criminal judge, member of the city grain dole committee. His mother immortalized his many fine contributions with a prominent inscription in the proscaenium.

“This is a very important inscription. We had information about Celer’s mother and father with the same name. However, we did not have enough information about him. We had a detailed knowledge. There is really valuable information for scientists specialized in ancient history. It became a gift of the Year of Patara to us,” she added.

Turkey announced 2020 as the year of Patara in a bid to promote and draw attention to the ancient city.

The inscription will be exhibited at the Demre Museum.

6 thoughts on “Inscription honoring previously-unknown Roman senator found in Turkey

  1. Me gusta! – Perfect timing, Sir!:

    Just last week, we buried my Grandma, and I had to sift through about 20 full boxes of diapositives from the last 70 years. Back in the early 1950ies, Grampa spent a few years in Turkey , and there were also pictures from several ancient sites, but with only vague descriptions.

    The coolest slides I kept, and I am pretty sure now -having consulted the Wikipedia entries in addition- that he also was in Patara. However, I am not sure if those Patara pictures had been among the ones that I kept. What I still need, unfortunately, is a dia scanner.

    PS: I was having the idea of some sort of ‘quiz’ 😆

  2. As I was reading this, I knew the area sounded familiar. Thanks for the Bible link. Oh to be able to travel again!

  3. “…with Alexander the Great, Emperor Nero, St. Nicholas, otherwise known as Santa Claus, and Abdulhamid II, the city is well known as the cradle of civilizations.”


    PS: Where exactly does it read “tiberiusclaudiusflavianustitianusceler”?

  4. I noticed the ‘Kyprou’ and the ‘Klaudious’ in the inscription, but did Celer have ancestors?

    In 62 BC, Quintus Caecilius Metellus Celer’s brother, Quintus Metellus Nepos, challenged the legality of Cicero’s actions in dealing with the Catiline conspiracy. Celer, however, who was serving as governor of Gaul, wrote in support of Cicero.

    As governor in Gaul, Quintus Metellus Celer had received “Indians” that had ended up there as a present from the chieftain of the Suebians.

    According to Pliny:

    “idem Nepos de septentrionali circuitu tradit Quinto Metello Celeri, Afrani in consulatu collegae, sed tum Galliae proconsuli, Indos a rege Sueborum dono datos, qui ex India commercii causa navigantes tempestatibus essent in Germaniam abrepti. sic maria circumfusa undique dividuo globo partem orbis auferunt nobis, nec inde huc nec hinc illo pervio tractu.”

  5. Dear,

    Here we are again four years from my last anniversary post! It’s crazy to think that it has already been 14 years since you started this incredible blog!!!

    I love this inscription, just like I love all of your other posts! I really enjoy learning and would also like to give an update on my blog. One of my top items (hydroxychloroquine has been completely ruined by this a**hole of a fricking president!!!) has been ruined and I don’t want to say that he directly targeted my blog but as the 2394th most read home items blogger I really think that the coincidence is a bit too stark.

    Anyways justice for Jorge Floid and #ACAB. I really hope that we can get some change in this country and I know that your blog will go a long way to doing that. #FightDaPowah :hattip:

    😎 :p :yes:

  6. Marc,

    Please take down this post! Your comment was very offensive! As an Armenian immigrant, saying me gusta to Turkey is just not ok! :ohnoes: :no: :confused: :angry: :blankstare: :blankstare:

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