The Roman Near East, 31 B.C.-A.D. 337

By Fergus Millar | Go to book overview
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The inscriptions of the Tetrarchic land-surveyors have never been collected in full, and represent important evidence both for the working of the Tetrarchic state at the most local level and for local toponomy, communal nomenclature and forms of land-ownership. They divide into three main groups: (1) from the limestone massif of northern Syria; (2) from the Huleh Valley (the upper part of the Jordan valley) and the Golan Heights (Gaulanitis); and (3) the plain to the east of Gaulanitis, ancient Batanaea. There is also one important one (no. 35), and possibly a second (no. 36), from the Hauran (Auranitis).

In broad terms of function and character, they represent a single group, though with marked variations in the verbal formulae employed. As indicated above (5.2), the erection of these inscriptions clearly reflects the Tetrarchic taxation-reform of AD 297, and several of them are explicitly dated to this year. The attempt by W. Goffart, Caput and Colonate ( 1974), 44 and 129-130, to deny any connection between this process and the reform of taxation is not convincing. But it must certainly be admitted that the precise connection between these inscriptions marking out boundaries, on the one hand, and the forms of taxation on the other, is obscure.

The inscriptions will be presented in the order indicated above, which in Roman terms means taking in sequence the provinciae of Syria Coele, Syria Phoenice, Syria Palaestina (probably) and Arabia. Whether any come from Syria Palaestina remains uncertain, because all of the known markers come from the east side of the Huleh Valley (or actually on the Golan Heights), and none from Galilee proper or Judaea. In any case we do not know exactly where the 'borders' between Syria Phoenice, Arabia and Syria Palaestina lay in the Tetrarchic period. Discussion of the provincial boundaries has


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