19 April 2024 The Future is the Product of the Past

The first time in Anatolia, a legionnaires’ cemetery belonging to the Roman Empire unearthed

In the ancient city of Satala, in the Kelkit district of Gümüşhane in the Eastern Black Sea region of Turkey, a multi-layered legionnaires’ cemetery carved into the bedrock in the Roman Empire castle was unearthed.

Also, a fragment of a 2,000-year-old bronze document called “Diplomata,” given to Roman soldiers who completed their 25-year tenure, was also found in a tomb.

Bartın University Archeology Application and Research Center of Director in the last days of the excavations carried out by Associate Professor Şahin Yıldırım and his team, the cemetery of legionnaires, who were the soldiers of the Roman Empire that ruled Anatolia for centuries, has been unearthed for the first time in Anatolia.

According to historical records, the ancient city, which is located 28 kilometers from the district’s center, was founded as a military garrison by the Roman military legion Legio XV Apollinaris. The ancient city served as a military post and was strategically located at the crossroads of key military routes from Anatolia to Cappadocia and the Black Sea region.

A fragment of a 2,000-year-old bronze document called “Diplomata,” given to Roman soldiers who completed their 25-year tenure, was also found in a tomb.

Serving as a strategic garrison during the reign of the Roman Empire, the city was ruled by Assyria, Macedonia, and Byzantine. Satala is also thought to have been visited by Roman Emperors Trajan and Hadrian, and in the 15th century, an aqueduct, or water bridge, with 47 holes was built in the city to bring fresh water to its residents.

Şahin Yıldırım noted that they completed the 2022 excavations in Satala and found a cemetery structure dating to the Roman Imperial period in the last days of their work.

 A multi-layered legionary cemetery, carved into the bedrock in the Roman Empire castle, has been unearthed in the ancient city of Satala.
A multi-layered legionary cemetery, carved into the bedrock in the Roman Empire castle, has been unearthed in the ancient city of Satala.

“In the photographs of the past years, the remains of a structure drew attention. We found a necropolis during our excavations around it. For the first time, a cemetery belonging to Roman Legionnaires was unearthed in Anatolia. We found many graves here. Most of these tombs belong to Roman soldiers. We found war equipment such as weapons, spears, and arrowheads belonging to these soldiers,” he said.

Noting that they found a person, who was likely a cavalry officer, buried in the main grave in the cemetery, Yıldırım stated that they found a bronze plate, called “Diplomata,” next to this person along with the horse harnesses and terracotta artifacts.

“Diplomata was a document given to Roman Imperial soldiers after completing their military service. We can call it a kind of discharge certificate. The piece of diplomata we found was severely damaged. We could not find its written part but we found its back part. Almost all of the tombs were carved into the bedrock and the skeletons were inside them. A significant part of the finds we found date back to the third century. These are the dates when the Roman Empire lost its former glory and began to weaken. At the same time, this cemetery is a multi-layered cemetery. We have also obtained similar findings dated not only to the Roman period, but also to the Byzantine period and even to the years 607-608, the period when the Sassanids seized this city for the second time. It is not just a single-layer cemetery. It is very important that this diplomata was found here. During the Roman Imperial period, soldiers had to serve 25 years. When this period is over, these documents were given to them,” he said.

Yıldırım stated that for the first time in Anatolia, they obtained important data about both the city walls, the plan type, and the structures inside the city walls of a legion castle, and continued:

“So far, not much data has been obtained about the Roman-era castrum structure, which hosted the 15th Apollinaris Legion. Castrums were the main bases and encampments of the legions in the Roman Empire. During the excavations last year, we uncovered some of the walls, but these walls were mostly medieval. However, during our work this year, we found the entrance gate of the castle, which is known to have been built during the reign of Emperor Hadrianus of the Roman Empire. Thus, for the first time in Anatolia, we have obtained important data about both the city walls, the plan type and the structures inside the city walls of a legion castle.”

Handmade ceramics and Hellenistic period find, as well as military armor, numerous arrowheads, theater masks, oil lamps, Roman state coins, and late Roman period bricks with the stamp of the 15th legion, were discovered in the excavation area.

Related Articles

Ancient rituals recorded on 2,000-year-old bamboo slips deciphered

18 December 2023

18 December 2023

Scholars of China’s Tsinghua University have deciphered five documents recorded on bamboo slips dating back to the Warring States period...

Over 4 feet long sword found in a medieval grave in Sweden

29 December 2023

29 December 2023

An unusual and exciting discovery was made during archaeological research at Lilla Torg in the port city of Halmstad on...

2500-year-old Aphrodite Temple Discovered

4 February 2021

4 February 2021

Archaeologists have discovered a 2500-year-old temple built in the name of Goddess Aphrodite around Çeşme and Urla districts of Izmir...

Parts of the City of the old city of Ghadames called the pearl of the desert collapsed due to rainfall

28 January 2022

28 January 2022

Some parts of the Old City of Ghadames, located in an oasis about 600km southwest of Tripoli near Libya’s border...

Antikythera underwater excavation digs up new discoveries “huge marble head”

20 June 2022

20 June 2022

The second phase of underwater archaeological research (May 23 to June 15, 2022) on the Antikythera shipwreck resulted in the...

The earliest known depiction of biblical heroines Jael and Deborah was discovered at a Jewish synagogue in Israel

8 August 2022

8 August 2022

The earliest known depiction of biblical heroines Jael and Deborah was discovered at a Jewish synagogue at Huqoq in Israel,...

3,000-year-old weavings discovered in Alaska’s Alutiiq settlement

3 September 2023

3 September 2023

Archaeologists have uncovered fragments of woven grass artifacts estimated to be 3,000 years old during excavations at an ancestral sod...

Japan Researchers Uncover Lost Villa Believed to Belong to First Roman Emperor

19 April 2024

19 April 2024

Researchers from the University of Tokyo have discovered a nearly 2,000-year-old building at a site with ancient Roman ruins buried...

A Child’s Skeleton was Unearthed During the Tozkoparan Mound Excavations

12 August 2021

12 August 2021

The skeleton of a child was unearthed during the rescue excavations carried out in the Tozkoparan mound located in Tozkoparan...

Structures in Turkey’s Panaztepe pointing out a 5,000-year-old settlement found

8 November 2021

8 November 2021

In the 5000-year-old Panaztepe settlement located in the Menemen district of Izmir, structures thought to belong to the oldest period...

Hundreds of silver coins have been found near the castle of Lukov in Moravia

4 September 2021

4 September 2021

In the forest near the Southern Moravian Fortress Lukov, two members of the Society of Friends of the Lukov Fortress...

500-year-old curse tablet found in Germany

15 December 2023

15 December 2023

In the city of Rostock on Germany’s northern coast, archaeologists found a lead curse tablet invoking Satan and two other...

The largest embalming cache ever found in Egypt unearthed at Abusir

10 February 2022

10 February 2022

Archaeologists from the Czech Institute for Egyptian Science have discovered a cache of artifacts related to the practice of Egyptian...

Archaeologists Discovered the Largest Inscription Ever Found in Sri Lanka

10 February 2024

10 February 2024

Archaeologists discovered the largest inscription ever found in Sri Lanka. The largest inscription ever discovered in Sri Lanka was found...

Thor’s hammer amulet discovered in Sweden

23 October 2022

23 October 2022

Archaeologists have unearthed the Thor’s Hammer amulet, which they call “one of its kind” in Ysby in southwestern Sweden’s Halland...