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Honorary base for the emperor Caracalla from Salona – reuse, reassemble and rereading

Dino Demicheli ; Odsjek za arheologiju Filozofskog fakulteta Sveučilišta u Zagrebu, Zagreb, Hrvatska
Ana Demicheli

Puni tekst: hrvatski pdf 1.623 Kb


str. 39-51

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The article describes an honorary base with an inscription for the statue of Emperor Caracalla (211-217), once embedded in third floor of the Romanesque bell tower of St. Duje (Domnio) cathedral in Split. In the 13th century, this base was sawn and transformed into architectonic-decorative elements of the bell tower, a console and a cornice-beam
(both with inscription). For the building of the Romanesque bell tower many spolia from the Roman period were used whose provenance was the Diocletian’s palace and the ruins of Salona. The most important epigraphic monuments found as spolia in this bell tower are
the so-called tabulae Dolabellae, four inscribed panels containing the information on road building activity under the provincial governor Publius Cornelius Dolabella at the time of emperor Tiberius (fig. 1).
During the restoration of the bell tower at the end of the 19th century, parts of the Caracalla’s base were extracted along with other stone material. Their appearance differ from each other so much (fig. 3a-d, 4a-d), that these parts were perceived as parts of two different inscriptions (fig. 2). These parts are kept today in two locations in Split (the left part is in the Garden of Archbishopric and the right part is in the Archaeological Museum). In the scholar literature they were published in 1897 and 1899 respectively, and then in 1902,
in the third volume of Corpus inscriptionum Latinarum under the nos. 142437 and 14684. During the reusing process of the Caracalla’s base, some of the letters were chiseled off, but the restored text of both pieces reads (fig. 7, 8): [Imp(eratori) Cae]sari / [M(arco) Aurel]io / Ant[onino P]io Aug(usto) / Felic[i Part(hico)] maxi(mo) / Brit{t}[an(nico) m]aximo / pont[if(ici) ma]ximo / patr[i patr]iae / co[(n)s(uli) I]II / Respu[bli]ca / Saloni[tan]orum
Caracalla is mentioned as an emperor, so the lower limit for the date of this inscription is February 4th 211, when he entered the throne. Of the official titles that help in narrower determination of the time frame are the third consulate, which he held from the beginning of 208 to the beginning of 209, and two cognomina ex virtute (Britannicus and Parthicus). Inscribed title consul III means that the inscription should be dated no later than the end of 212, when Caracalla was appointed consul for the fourth time. Thus, the inscription can be dated from
February 211 to December 212, but with the presumption that it was an honorary base for the statue set for the occasion of his entry into the throne, we could date this inscription in year 211. This opinion is supported by the information that the citizens of Salona (res publica
Salonitanorum) set up this monument. According to the authors’ opinion, Caracalla's name on this inscription in the antiquity suffered a damnatio memoriae, which might be a result of the endeavors of emperor Maximinus Thrax (235-238) who tried to erase the memory on
Severi upon all the inscriptions pertaining to the members of that dynasty. There are circa thirty inscriptions in Dalmatia related to the imperial Severan family, which lasted from 193 to 235. Of these, there are six inscriptions directly related to Caracalla. Only two inscriptions
from Salona are dedicated to Caracalla, but this one is the only thus far confirmed Salonitan epigraphic monument of the Severan dynasty which was exposed in a public space.
Salona was a metropolis of the province of Dalmatia, where the imperial cult had to be at the highest level. Despite the relatively small number of imperial inscriptions found there, there is no doubt that in the squares and in the imperial shrine inscriptions with statues for the members of the imperial families should have been placed. In this collection one
can expect those dedicated to the members of the Severan family. Two portraits found in Salona attributed to Publia Fulvia Plautilla, Caracalla’s wife, could refer to it. One can assume that for the purposes of the imperial cult and the recognition of legitimacy of the Severan
dynasty in Salona in the first decade of the 3rd century, beside the statue of Plautilla, there were also the statues of Septimius Severus, Julia Domna, Caracalla and Geta, and even some other member of this family.

Ključne riječi

bell tower of St. Duje; Salona; Split; Caracalla; epigraphy; honorary base; damnatio memoriae; spolia

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