Fragmentary base for statue of Marcus Vibius Annianus Geminus Amelius, priest and duovir. Lepcis Magna (Tripolitania). Earlier fourth century; probably 324-326

Partly preserved in eleven lines:

Fragment A: Amelii. / [- - -?]++NT++NTE+VS+++[.]ATISPRI++IPI+[- - -?] / (6-7 lines missing) Fragments B: L[.. a]etate[- 19? -] / nito patriae [- 15? - in]/nocentiae co+[- 12? -] / [M(arco)] Vibio Annia[no] Gemin[o v(iro) p(erfectissimo)], / (5) fl(amini) p(er)p(etuo), pont(ifici), praef(ecto) o[m]nium s[acr(orum)], / sacerdotali [prov(inciae) Tr]ipol(itanae) bi[s, IIvir(o)] / ob meritum o[peris] volun[tate] / eiusdem praesi[dis dispositi?], / ex populi sufr(agio) [et] decr(eto) s(plendidissimi) o(rdinis).

'Statue of Amelius. …at age … of the fatherland …of innocence …. To Marcus Vibius Annianus, of perfectissimus rank, perpetual flamen, pontifex, prefect of all sacred things, high priest of the province of Tripolitania twice, duovir. On account of his merits for the work set up (?) by the will of the same governor (praeses), by acclamation of the people and by decree of the most splendid council (ordo) [this was set up].'

Letter height 3.5 – 5 cm.

We were able to reconstruct our inscription from three portions previously published as separate texts (IRT 581, 608, 627) and a fourth one, unpublished so far (see below, ‘Description’).

The mutilated inscription could partly be completed from the similar one to the same honorand that was set up on the Severan forum (LSA-2204).

Monolithic base of Proconnesian marble, with mouldings at top and bottom; H 118, W 71.5, D 42 cm. The front face was decorated with a moulded frame a portion of which is preserved at the beginnings of lines 7-11. Of the lateral faces only the left one is preserved. It is decorated with a large feline, perhaps a lion, in relief, which is striding towards the front. The relief was carved by deepening the surface and was therefore made after the base was completed (see below, and ‘Honorand, Awarder and Date’).

A portion of the left side of the base and five fragments of the inscribed front face are preserved; one of these belongs to the upper part, the rest to the lower part of the inscription. These fragments correspond to three texts previously published as separate inscriptions (see above, ‘Inscription’): Fragment A and lines 1-4 with the central portion of line 5 of Fragments B: IRT 608; initial portions of lines 5-9: IRT 581; final portions of lines 8-9: IRT 627; parts of lines 4-7: unpublished fragment visible on the photo BSR XXV.68.”

Our inscription is carved over an erased earlier one; the base had at least two phases of use. It is hard to determine to which phase the relief on the left side belongs; however, its stylized forms and simplified technique appear to better suit a late-antique than an earlier date. There are no secure indicators to determine the date of first use of the base; however, the proportions in general and particularly of the socle are similar to examples from the late 2nd/ early 3rd century.

The base was later re-used as building material, perhaps at the time of the late occupation of the macellum.

IRT 581 was found at the theatre, IRT 627 in an unknown location; they are preserved in the storerooms of the Lepcis Museum. IRT 608 was found at the eastern side of the macellum where it is still lying; this was probably the original location of the base.

The honorand, Marcus Vibius Annianus Geminus signo Amelius (lines 6 & 1), was honoured with another statue at Lepcis set up on the Severan forum (LSA-2204). He was a local notable who held several priesthoods and municipal offices. Although a relevant portion of the text is lost, its find spot at the macellum suggests that honoured the role the honorand played in the reconstruction of the building. The reference to a governor (eiusdem praesidis, line 10) makes it likely that Geminus in some way supported the efforts of the governor Laenatius Romulus who promoted the restoration of the macellum in 324/6 (for the date of Romulus, see the building inscription Tantillo & Bigi 2010 no. 73). This is supported by the similarities in the letter forms of our inscription to the inscriptions that refer to Romulus’ activities (Tantillo & Bigi 2010 no. 71, 73).

The inscription was set up by the civic bodies of Lepcis Magna, people (populus) and council (ordo) (line 11).

A secure terminus post quem is provided by the reference to the province of Tripolitania which was founded in 303 (line 8).

Ignazio Tantillo & Francesca Bigi

Main Reference

Tantillo, I. and F. Bigi (eds.), Leptis Magna. Una città e le sue iscrizioni in epoca tardoromana, Cassino 2010, 429-433, no. 59, fig. 10.67, pl. 18

Reynolds, J. M. & J. B. Ward-Perkins, The Inscriptions of Roman Tripolitania. In collaboration with S. Aurigemma, R. Bartoccini, G. Caputo, R. Goodchild, P. Romanelli, Roma 1952, no. 608