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Remarks on the logistics and infrastructure of the Annona

Militaris in the Eastern Meditteranean and the Aegean

Efthymios Rizos

Cet article explore l’organisation et l’infrastructure matérielle du réseau de l’annone
militaire dans l’empire Romain de l’Est, sur la base d’inscriptions et d’entrepôts
publics. Les informations les plus anciennes sur les pratiques et l’infrastructure de
l’annone militaire viennent de l’Anatolie méridionale. Les fameux horrea d’Hadrien à
Patara et Myra pourraient être mieux expliqués comme des édifices reliés à
l’approvisionnement de l’armée impériale plutôt qu’à l’annone civique ou au
commerce, comme on le croyait jusqu’à maintenant. Cela était certainement le cas
durant l’antiquité tardive, quand l’inscription d’Eutolmius Tatianus incisée sur
l’horreum de Myra décrit les procédures de collecte et entrepôt temporaire de
l’annone militaire dans les entrepôts de l’Etat. Les deux grands ports lyciens
s’inscrivent parmi d’autres points sur les côtes méditerranéennes où on concentrait
les produits provenant des provinces côtières avant de les envoyer aux frontières de
l’empire, comme on le voit aussi dans une inscription de la province d’Achaïe/Grèce.
Des exemples d’entrepôts publics de l’époque tardoromaine, localisés sur des sites à
Anatolie méridionale (Maximianopolis, Korasion), à Caesarea Maritima et au port de
Maronea sur la côte égéenne de la Thrace, pourraient être aussi associés avec le
même réseau annonaire.
L’impact de l’annone militaire sur la vie des populations provinciales se retrouve
dans les inscriptions de primipilaires trouvées à Novae et Oescus en Moesie
Inferieure, qui préservent la mémoire des officiels qui voyageaient des provinces
Méditerranéennes au Danube en assurant le service de l’organisation, du transport et
de la livraison des provisions annonaires. La manifestation la plus tardive des efforts
de l’Etat pour maintenir le réseau annonaire est l’affectation de l’annone de Thrace à
la quaestura exercitus sous Justininien.

Under the Principate, the Roman army relied for its supply mainly on the productivity
of the frontier provinces and on the networks of villas and towns which flourished in
the limes regions. During the 3rd-century wars, however, this productive landscape
was undermined or radically destroyed in large parts of the Danube frontiers.1 The

A. G. Poulter, Cataclysm on the Lower Danube: the Destruction of a complex Roman landscape, in:
N. Christie (ed.), Landscapes of change: rural evolutions in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages,
Aldershot, 2004, p. 223-254; J. Henning, Südosteuropa zwischen Antike und Mittelalter.
Archäologische Beiträge zur Landwirtschaft des 1. Jahrtausends u. Z., Berlin, 1987 (Schriften zur Ur-
und Frühgeschichte, 42), p. 35-41.

Tetrarchs undertook to set up an extensive supply network in the Balkans for the
support of the Danube troops, but it seems that local resources were still insufficient
and had to be supplemented with overseas imports. Based on the model of the annona
civica of Rome, a new state service was created, which brought to the Danube food
extracted from the Mediterranean through taxation in kind. The bureaucratic apparatus
of the late Roman annona militaris is well documented in laws and papyri and has
been studied in great depth.2 At the same time, however, the annona was also a
logistics network entailing immense needs for built infrastructure and equipment, the
material traces and geographical background of which remain very partially and
unsystematically studied.3 This article discusses some of the epigraphic and
archaeological evidence for the storage and transportation of fiscal goods in parts of
the Eastern Empire, with a special emphasis on identifying gathering centres and
areas involved in the annona network, and on the question of the evolution of the

General on the annona militaris in Late Antiquity: D. van Berchem, L’annone militaire dans l’empire
Romaine, in MSNAF, 8, 1937, p. 117-202; F. Carlà, Tu tantum praefecti mihi studium et annonam in
necessariis locis praebe: prefettura al pretorio e annona militaris nel III secolo d.C., in Historia, 56.1,
2007, p. 82-110; J. M. Carrié, Diocletien et la fiscalité, in AnTard, 2, 1994, p. 33-64; A. H. M. Jones,
The Later Roman Empire 284-60 2: a Social Economic and Administrative Survey, Oxford, 1994, p.
448-69; J. Karayannopoulos, Das Finanzwesen des byzantinischen Reiches, München, 1958, p. 94-112.
A comprehensive survey of the documentary evidence from Egypt is available in: F. Mitthof, Annona
Militaris. Die Heeresversorgung im spätantiken Ägypten. Ein Beitrag zur Heeresgeschichte des
römischen Reiches im 3. bis 6. Jh. n. Chr., Firenze, 2001 (Papyrologica Florentina, 32). The legal
evidence from the Theodosian Code is analysed by: S. Schmidt-Hofner, Reagieren und Gestalten. Der
Regierungsstil des spätrömischen Kaisers am beispiel der Gesetzgebung Valentinians I., München,
2008 (Vestigia, 58), p. 117-163. Fundamental studies on annonary logistics: B. Sirks, Food for Rome:
the Legal Structure of the Transportation and processing of Supplies for the Imperial Distributions in
Rome and Constantinople, Amsterdam, 1991 (Studia Amstelodamensia ad Epigraphicam, Ius
Antiquum et Papyrologicam Pertinentia, 31); C. Virlouvet, Tessera Frumentaria: les procédures de
distribution du blé a Rome a la fin de la République et au début de l’Empire, Paris, 1995 (BEFRA
286), p. 165-371. Studies on military logistics: T. Kissel, Untersuchungen zur Logistik des römischen
Heeres in den Provinzen des griechischen Ostens (27 v. Chr. - 235 n. Chr.), Sankt Katharinen, 1995
(Pharos, 6) (focusing on the early Roman period); A. Kolb, Transport und Nachrichtentransfer im
römischen Reiche, Berlin, 2000 (Klio Beiheft, 2 [neue Folge]), p. 221-222, 233-234; G. Rickman,
Roman Granaries and Store Buildings, Cambridge, 1971, p. 264-290. Some of the evidence from Syria
and Africa is discussed by: N. Pollard, Soldiers, Cities and Civilians in Roman Syria, Ann Arbor, 2000,
p. 101-104; L. Pons Pujol (2008), The annona militaris in the Tingitana: observations on the
organisation and provisioning of the Roman troops, in P. P. A. Funari, R. S. Garraffoni, B. Letalien
(eds.), New Perspectives on the Ancient World: Modern Perceptions, Ancient Representations, Oxford,
2008 (BAR IS, 1782), p. 145-153.

On the built infrastructure of the annona: E. Rizos, Centres of the Late Roman Military Supply
Network in the Balkans: a Survey of Horrea, in Jahrbuch des Römisch- Germanischen Zentralmuseums
Mainz, 60, 2013 (2015), p. 659-696; A. Rushwort et al., Housesteads: Roman Fort- The Grandest
Station. Excavation and Survey at Housesteads, Swindon, 2009 (English Heritage Archaeological
Reports), vol. 1, p. 307-308; C. Fernández Ochoa, A. Morillo and J. Salido Domínguez, Ciudades
amuralladas y annona militaris durante el Bajo Imperio en Hispania: una cuestión a debate, in J. Arce
and B. Goffeaux (eds.), Horrea d' Hispanie et de la Méditerranée Romaine, Madrid, 2011, p. 265-285;
Rickman, Roman Granaries (n. 2), p. 264-270; C. Whateley, El-Lejjun: Logistics and Localisation on
Rome’s Eastern Frontier in the 6th c. AD, in A. Sarantis and N. Christie (eds.), War and Warfare in
Late Antiquity, Leiden, 2013 (Late Antique Archaeology, 8.2), p. 893-924. On the ceramic evidence:
O. Karagiorgou, LR2: a container for the military annona on the Danubian border?, in S. Kingsley and
M. Decker (eds.), Economy and Exchange in the East Mediterranean During Late Antiquity, Oxford,
2001, p. 129-166.

annonary practices and institutions from the Principate to the end of Antiquity.

The Annona Militaris in South Anatolia

The role of the provinces of the Mediterranean in the annona was directly connected
to the advantages of maritime shipping. The main gathering bases were port-towns, to
which fiscal goods were transported through a transport network operated through
labour liturgies. Their collection was managed by susceptores, while the monitoring
and storage of the supplies at the state depots was a responsibility of the praepositi
horreorum.4 At the time when the late Roman annona militaris was organised, public
storehouses and a network of naval transport were already available in regions
involved in the Early Roman civic annona, namely Egypt and Africa, and it is certain
that the new transport system made use of the infrastructure available.5
Among the surviving early Roman warehouses which have been tentatively associated
to the civic annona are the Hadrianic horrea of Myra (at the port-town of Andriake)
and Patara in Lycia (Figs. 1, 2).6 Both buildings are monumental structures of great
size (Patara: 70 x 27 m; Myra: c. 65 x 32 m), bearing inscriptions which define them
as Horrea Imp. Caesaris Divi Traiani Parthici F. Divi Nervae Nepotis Traiani Augusti
Cos. III. This allows their dating to the reign of Hadrian, after his third consulate in
AD 119. The buildings are often mentioned in bibliography as granaria, although all
the known epigraphic sources referring to them use the neutral term horrea, without
specifying whether they were used as granaries or stores of other goods. Earlier
scholarship has mostly associated the warehouses of Myra and Patara with the Roman
civic annona. G. Rickman suggested that Myra served as a station for the corn
transport from Egypt to Rome. There is currently no direct evidence to confirm this,
though, as K. Belke pointed out, Procopius informs us that Justinian built a granary of
similar size on the Isle of Tenedos, providing for the storage of the Constantinopolitan
civic annona in periods when adverse winds prevented the Egyptian freighters from
entering the Dardanelles.7 Patara and Myra were important shipping stations between
the Aegean and the East Mediterranean, as suggested by the fact that Saint Paul
stopped and changed ships at both ports on his journeys from and to Palestine.8 We

On the transport of the annona, see : A. Kolb, Transport und Nachrichtentransfer (n. 2), p. 221-222,
233-234; Mitthof, Annona Militaris (n. 2), p. 175-217. On the collectors and functionaries of the
annona, see n.9.
Sirks, Food for Rome (n. 2), p. 23. Sirks states that the annona militaris used the maritime transport
network set up for the distributions of the two capitals, but he does not discuss at all the peculiarities of
the military leg of the transport network.
Rickman, Roman Granaries (n. 2), p. 140-144. The sites are visible on Google Earth. Coordinates:
Myra – 36.13.33 N 29.57.20 E; Patara – 36.15.58 N 29.18.39 E.

Procop. Build. 5.1.7-16; Rickman, Roman Granaries (n. 2), p. 137-140; K. Belke, Prokops De
Aedificiis Buch V, zu Kleinasien, in AnTard, 8, 2000, p. 115-117; H. Hellenkemper and F. Hild, Tabula
Imperii Byantini 8: Lykien und Pamphylien, Wien, 2004, p. 436-7, 784.
Acts 21.1; 27.5-6.

therefore cannot exclude that the local port facilities were at least occasionally used
for the temporary storage of grain from Egypt to Rome and later to Constantinople.
Yet, as we shall argue here, their primary purpose must have been the storage of
annonary supplies for the army.
G. Manganaro, and more recently L. Cavalier, associated the warehouse of Myra with
the market authorities, and described its use as commercial. Cavalier, in particular,
suggested that the warehouse was an imperially owned facility leased to private
contractors like the imperial horrea of Ostia.9 These views were partly based on the
following inscription which was incised on the wall of the warehouse of Myra in c.
A.D. 390 (fig. 3):

Ἐπὶ τοῦ κυρίου μου καὶ τὰ πάντα θαυμασιωτάτου | τοῦ λαμ(προτάτου) καὶ
μεγαλοπρεπεστάτου Φλ(αουΐου) [[Εὐτολμίου]] | [[ἐπάρχο]]υ τῶν ἱερῶν πραιτορίων
κατεσκευάσθη κατὰ τὰ | ἀποσταλέντα φραγέλλια σιδαρᾶ β΄ καὶ ξ(έσται) χαλκέοι β΄
ἔχοντες || τρί<α> αὐγούστια καὶ μόδιοι [τρῖ]ς κατὰ τὴν ποιότητα τῶν ἀποσ|ταλέντων
παρὰ τῆς μ[εγί]στης ἐξουσίας ἀφ’ ὧν ἓν μὲν φρα|γέλλιον δέδοτε τῇ Μυρέων
μητροπόλι τὸ δὲ ἕτερον τῇ Ἀρναι|ατῶν ὁμοίως δὲ καὶ ξέστης εἷς Μυρέων καὶ ὁ
ἕ[τερος] τῇ Ἀρναια|τῶν καὶ τῶν μοδίων δύο μὲν Μυρεῦσιν καὶ ἡμιμόδια δύο ἓν δὲ ||
Ἀρναιάτες καὶ ἡμιμόδιον ἓν∙ ἐπὶ τῷ φροντίδι τ[ῶ]ν κατὰ καιρὸν | πρεποσίτων
φυλάττεσθαι τά τε μέτρα καὶ τὰ σταθμὰ | ἀνεπιβούλευτα τοῖς ὁρρίοις

Under my lord and most admirable in all things, the lamprotatos kai
megaloprepestatos (= vir clarissimus et magnificus) Flavius Eutolmius, Praetorian
Prefect. According to the items delivered (apparently specimens of standard
measures), two iron fragellia, two copper xestai with three augoustia, and three
modioi were produced according to the quality of the items delivered by the Supreme
Authority [i.e. the Praetorian Prefecture of the East]. Of these, one fragellion was
given to the metropolis of Myra and the other to the city of Arnaiai; similarly, one
xestes to Myra and the other to Arnaiai; two of the modioi and two half-modioi to
Myra, and one modios and one half-modios to Arnaiai. At the responsibility of the
praepositi at the time, both the measures and the weights are to be kept untampered at
the horrea.10

G. Manganaro, Due note tardoantiche, in ZPE, 94, 1992, p. 283-286; L. Cavalier, Horrea d' Andriakè
et Patara: un nouveau type d' édifice fonctionnel en Lycie à l'époque impériale, in RÉA, 109/1, 2007, p.
J. Borchhardt (ed.), Myra. Eine lykische Metropole in antiker und byzantinischer Zeit, Berlin, 1975
(IstFor, 30), p. 79, Tafel 35B (M. Wörrle). SEG, 42 1240 contains the most recent edition of the text by
Manganaro, Note tardoantiche (n. 9), p. 283-286. I follow the transcription of Manganaro with a few
corrections. The translation is mine.
The inscription is also analyzed in: C. Morrisson, Weighing, Measuring, Paying: Exchanges in the
market and the Marketplace, in C. Morrisson (ed.), Trade and Markets in Byzantium, Dumbarton Oaks
Byzantine Symposia and Colloquia, Washington DC, 2012, p. 379-398 (esp. 383-386). Morrisson
interprets the three augustia of the text as marks in the shape of the emperors’ busts, stamped or
engraved on the modii. This ingenious interpretation has the problem that it leaves us with measures

The fact that the inscription mentions weights and measures produced for the
landlocked city of Arnaiai, and that these items included xestai/sextarii (measures for
liquid products) refutes the view that the horreum was used exclusively for keeping
and transhipping Egyptian corn on its way to Rome or Constantinople – at least that
was not the main use of the building in Late Antiquity. The items under discussion
were evidently used for other products, including wine and oil, which were probably
copiously produced in Lycia. This is why Manganaro and Cavalier thought that the
inscription pertained to the market authorities and the regulation of commerce. Their
hypotheses, however, ignore the institutional framework within which the warehouse
operated: the weights and measures were entrusted by the Praetorian Prefecture to the
praepositi horreorum, namely the depot administrators who, together with the
susceptores, managed the collection and storage of the annona and reported directly
to the vicars and praetorian prefects.11 In the hands of this authority, the horrea of
Andriake must have served as a shared gathering and storage base for fiscal products
exacted from the territories of Myra and Arnaiai as annona, before being shipped to
the frontiers or Constantinople. The two cities apparently shipped their goods down
the river Myros (Demre Çayı) to Andriake.
The inscription reports that weights and measures were produced κατὰ τὰ
ἀποσταλέντα and κατὰ τὴν ποιότητα τῶν ἀποσταλέντων. It seems that these
ἀποσταλέντα were specimens of standard weights and measures sent from the
headquarters of the Praetorian Prefecture of the East in Constantinople. These pieces
were reproduced locally by the praepositura horreorum at Andriake, most probably in
order to be used for the measuring and quality controls of cargoes of annonary goods.
Such controls and measurements were carried out every time the goods were unloaded
at horrea or loaded onto ships, and they were vital for the prevention of fraud and for
securing that the goods would reach their destination intact and in acceptable quality –
a concern echoed in legislative texts.12 The weighing and quality controls were the
responsibility of functionaries known as mensores (measurers), who are mentioned
among the staff of the state horrea.13
Under the Principate, the mensores frumentarii involved in the delivery of the annona

only (modii and sextarii), whereas the inscription talks of both μέτρα (measures) and σταθμά (weights).
I therefore find it safer to accept Manganaro’s reading, who interprets augoustia as counterpoises in the
form of imperial busts (augustia aequipondia).
CTh 12.6.24; Rickman, Roman Granaries (n. 2), p. 185-188; Karayannopoulos, Finanzwesen (n. 2),
p. 72, 91, 101-103, 109; Schmidt-Hofner, Valentinian (n. 2), p. 121-126; Carlà, Prefettura e annona (n.
2), p. 98-105; Mitthof, Annona Militaris (n. 2), p. 83-195.
CTh 14.4.9; Rickman, Roman Granaries (n. 2), p. 188-191. Also see the Abydos Tariff where the
same weights and measures are mentioned in relation to the taxation imposed to freighters entering the
Dardanelles: A. Guillou and J. Durliat, Le tarif d'Abydos (vers 492), in BCH, 108, 1984, p. 584.
A decree of Valens and Valentinian orders the Praetorian Prefect to employ trustworthy mensores in
order to mix spoilt and good grain, so as to reduce the loss for the fisc: CJust. 10.26.1. An
Oxyrhynchus papyrus of AD 220 preserves a receipt by a γεωμέτρης certifying the quantities of bread
and wine delivered for the troops of the praefectus Aegypti: Mitthof, Annona Militaris (n. 2), p. 167,
344 (Cat. Nr. 31). For a good analysis on the mensores frumentarii in Rome, see: Sirks, Food for Rome
(n. 2), p. 260-264.

civica were organised as a guild (corpus) and had their own aula in Ostia, where an
early 3rd-century mosaic depicts them at work (fig. 4).14 An inscription describes the
scene as v[…]s exhagihi[…], thus being the earliest known instance of the term
exagium (‘weighing’), which is mainly known from the Theodosian Code and from
late antique Greek inscriptions (in the form of the verb ἐξαγιάζω).15 On the right part
of the scene, two mensores measure a sack of grain poured into a modius by an
attending porter. One of them raises in his hand the strickle used for levelling the
surface of the grain in the modius: this tool was known in Latin as rutellum (‘paddle’)
and in Greek as ἀπόμακτρον.16 On the left part of the mosaic, there is a little man
addressing a porter, holding in his left hand an object which looks like a branch. The
same object is also depicted in the scene of grain measuring of the Isis Giminiana
mural, from the necropolis of Ostia. This object could perhaps be what the Myra
inscription calls fragellion (whip).17 But was it a real whip? Scholars who studied the
Ostia scenes have proposed interpretations of it as a kind of abacus or counting tool.18
If that was the case, it may have been called flagellum due to its appearance. Of
course, it may have been a real whip used for punishments: suspects of fraud in wheat
shipments were indeed liable to torture.19
In conclusion, we can confidently propose an interpretation for the inscription of
Myra as referring to measuring equipment produced for the weighing and controlling
of annonary cargoes delivered at Andriake on behalf of the cities of Myra and Arnaiai.
By analogy, the horrea of Patara may have served in a similar way the cities of the
Xanthos valley, Xanthos, Pinara, Sidyma and Tlos. Since there is currently no
evidence for rupture in the use of the warehouses of Patara and Myra, it can be
assumed that they were originally constructed for the storage of fiscal goods.
Lycia et Pamphylia was an imperial province, the revenue from which was directly
exploited by the crown, and it also played an active role in supplying the army during
the 3rd century AD: five inscriptions from Side, Kasai and Pogla in Pamphylia
commemorate the dispatching of imperial annonae (ἱεραὶ ἄννωναι) to Syria and
Alexandria, organised by local notables. The honorands of Side and Kasai organised

G. Becatti, Scavi di Ostia 4. Mosaici e pavimenti marmorei, Roma, 1961, p. 33-36, Tav. 188. R.
Meiggs, Roman Ostia, Oxford, 1973, p. 294; Virlouvet, Tessera Frumentaria (n. 2), p. 85.
The inscription was wrongly read as an abbreviation in its publication: Becatti, Scavi di Ostia (n. 14),
p. 35. On exagium see: B. Pittarakis, Daily life at the marketplace in Late Antiquity and Byzantium, in
C. Morrisson (ed.), Trade and Markets in Byzantium, Dumbarton Oaks Byzantine Symposia and
Colloquia, Washington DC, 2012, p. 399-426 (esp. 412-414).
Hesychius interprets: «ἀπόμακτρα· ξύλα. τὰς σκυτάλας, ἐν αἷς ἀποψῶσι τὰ μέτρα»: Lexicon A 6491.
In Modern Greek, the same tool is known as ρῆγλα/ρίγλα/ρίγα, derived from the Latin regula (ruler).
Adamantios Koraes interprets ρίγλα as: «Ἐργαλεῖον χρήσιμον εἰς ὀρθογραμμίαν. 2) Εἰς ἀπόσυρσιν τοῦ
ἐξέχοντος ὑπὲρ τὸ μέτρον καρπῶν σιτηρῶν, ὀσπριωδῶν, καὶ ἄλλων καὶ ἐξίσωσιν μὲ τὰ χείλη
(racloire)»: A. Koraes, Ἄτακτα, Paris, 1832, vol. 4.2, p. 476.
C. Morrisson (Weighing, Measuring [n. 10], p. 383-386) recently interpreted the fragellia of Myra as
length measures in the form of iron rods, thus accepting a view earlier proposed by W. Kubitschek,
Eine Inschrift des Speichers von Andriake (Lykien), in Wiener Numismatische Zeitschrift, 51, 1918, p.
For bibliography, see: B. Sirks, Food for Rome (n. 2), p. 260.
B. Sirks, Food for Rome (n. 2), p. 214-216. Tortures of navicularii were abolished under Maurice:
John of Nikiu, Chronicle 103.1-3.

the transport (παραπομπή/prosecutio) of supplies to Syria, perhaps during the Persian
campaigns of Alexander Severus in 233 and Gordian III in 243.20 Some of the
honorands are said to have performed the liturgy several times, while a decurion from
Pogla is said to have dispatched the annona to Alexandria. The latter is somewhat
surprising, since we are used to thinking of Egypt as an exporter rather than importer
of supplies. How is it to be explained that a little town of Pamphylia sent provisions to
Alexandria? Rostowtzeff believed that Pogla was actually the seat of an imperial
domain, of which Pamphylia had several.21 If this is true, its produce was imperial
property which could be channeled directly to military units or the imperial court
wherever they happened to be stationed – even in a land of bounty like Egypt.
Alternatively, the dispatchment may have been an extraordinary act, instigated by
food shortages in Alexandria due to bad harvest or unrest in Egypt. It is unclear if the
early Roman liturgants performing the parapompe accompanied the supplies all the
way from the ports of Pamphylia to their destinations. Under the Principate, this must
have been managed by military primipilarii whose presence is epigraphically
documented at Patara, Balboura, Attaleia, and Side.22 In any case, the number of
epigraphic references to the annona in Pamphylia is unparalleled in the rest of
Anatolia, and it probably demonstrates that the the south Anatolian provinces were
active suppliers of the imperial army under the Principate. Their annonary
contributions must have been more regular than the extraordinary demands of
imperial campaigns, and, in this context, the construction of imperial depots at Patara
and Myra must have provided a permanent storage infrastructure.23
In Late Antiquity, the provinces of south Anatolia retained their importance in the
military annona-network. During this period, the provinces of Lycia, Pamphylia,
Isauria and Cilicia experienced an unusual degree of militarisation, due to unrest
caused by marauding Isaurian and Pisidian mountaineers. A small limes was created

G. E. Bean and T. B. Mitford, Journeys in Rough Cilicia 1964-1968, Wien, 1970 (Ergänzungsbände
zu den Tituli Asiae Minoris, 3), p. 38-45 (nrs. 19-21). Nr. 19 (Side):… παραπέμψαντα ἱερὰς ἀννώνας
εἰς / τὸ Σύρων ἔθνος τρίς… Nr 20 (Casae): … παραπέμψαντα εὐετηρ[ίαν] / τ[ο]ις εἱεροῖς στρατεύμασι
δίς…. Nr 21 [Casa]: … καὶ ἄν/[νων]αν παραπέμψα[ν]τα ἰς τὸ Σύ/ρων ἔθνος…. IGRP III 407 [Pogla]: …
παραπέμψ[αντα] / τὸ δ΄ ἱερἀν ἄννωναν …; IGRP III 409 [Pogla]: … πέμψαντα ἄννωναν εἰς τὸ
Ἀλεξαν/δρέων ἔθνος…; Kissel, Untersuchungen (n. 2), p. 40-41; Mitthof, Annona Militaris (n. 2), p. 73-
74. On Pogla and Kasai: Hellenkemper and Hild, TIB 8 (n. 7), p. 611, 805. Παραπομπή is mentioned as
a liturgy in a number of inscriptions from Nicomedia and Prusias in Bithynia, though the case there is
most probably the ceremonial escorting and the supplying of provisions for the itinerant imperial court
and army passing through the cities’ territories: H. Schwarz and K. Stauner, Die Parapompè des
Kaisers und seines Heeres im nordwestlichen Kleinasien, in Gephyra, 4, 2007, p. 1-35.
M. Rostowzew in Jahreshefte ÖAI 4, 1901 (Beiblatt), p. 38. Also Hellenkemper and Hild, TIB 8 (n.
7), p. 805; Schwarz and Stauner, Parapompe (n. 20), p. 24 (with earlier bibliography and
interpretations of the inscription).
F. Onur, The lamp-stand offerings of the primipilarius Flavius Bassus to Apollo Patroos in Patara, in
Epigraphica Anatolica, 33, 2001, p. 169-173.
J.-M. Carrié, Developments in Provincial and Local Administration, in CAH, 12, 2005, p. 284-286.
The idea that the warehouses of Myra and Patara were used for the storage of military supplies was
also proposed by: E. Winter, Staatliche Baupolitik und Baufürsorge in den römischen Provinzen des
kaiserlichen Kleinasien, Bonn, 1996 (Asia Minor Studien, 20), p. 127; J. Howard-Johnston, Military
Infrastructure in the Eastern Roman Provinces North and South of the Armenian Taurus in Late
Antiquity, in A. Sarantis and N. Christie (eds.), War and Warfare in Late Antiquity: Current
Perspectives, Leiden, 2013 (Late Antique Archaeology, 8), p. 865.

in these Mediterranean provinces, thus triggering the rise of substantial local demand
for military supplies.24 The efficient extraction of taxation from the region was
perhaps the purpose of the creation of a number of new civic territories and
administrative centres: the late-antique cities of Maximianopolis, Iovia and
Eudokia(s) were probably detached from the old civic territory of Termessos, under
the tetrarchy and the Theodosian dynasty.25 Maximianopolis of Pamphylia is
tentatively identified with the ancient settlement at the mouth of the Döşeme Boğazı
near Kovanlık (north of Antalya, Turkey). Located at the beginning of the upland
stretch of the Hodos Sebaste connecting the Pamphylian plain with Pisidia, the
settlement probably developed around a road station (mansio) and became a
prosperous village and base of landownership in the imperial period. Its promotion to
civic status can be ascribed to the times of the tetrarchy – Maximianopolis was
apparently named after Maximian Herculius or Maximian Galerius. Next to
Maximianopolis, the Synekdemos of Hierocles also mentions the ‘domain of
Maximianopolis’ (Κτῆμα Μαξιμιανουπόλεως) as a separate fiscal district. It is
possible that this was an imperial estate served by a large complex of late Roman
horrea (about 80 x 50 m in size), the remains of which still stand to a height of several
metres, dominating the site (fig. 5). It is currently impossible to define its date with
accuracy, but an interpretation can be proposed for it being the gathering base for the
annona collected from Maximianopolis and the local imperial ktema.26 It is striking
that this great storage facility was the only notable public building provided for the
newly-designated city of Maximianopolis.
Another important fortified gathering base in the tumultuous province of Isauria must
have been Korasion (Susanoğlu, Turkey). A natural sheltered port on the delta of the
river Kalykadnos, Korasion remained a rather unimportant settlement until the mid-4th
century when the praeses of Isauria Flavius Uranius fortified it with a wall. Korasion
had the size of a small town (c. 10 ha) and developed into a significant civilian
settlement, but it is not mentioned as a city by the civil and ecclesiastical sources of
Late Antiquity. It must have played a role in the provisioning network, since its port
was equipped with a two-aisled horreum (fig. 6).27 Not far from Korasion, to the west
of the Kalykadnos delta, Ammianus Marcellinus mentions the harbour of Palaea (the

F. Onur, The Roman Army in Pamphylia: from the third to sixth centuries A.D., in Adalya, 12, 2009,
p. 299-318; H. Hellenkemper, Legionen im Bandenkrieg – Isaurien im 4. Jahrhundert, in Studien zu
den Militärgrenzen Roms III, 13. Limeskongreß (Aalen 1983), Stuttgart, 1986 (Forschungen und
Berichte zur Vor- und Frühgeschichte in Baden-Württemberg, 20), p. 625-634.
Hellenkemper and Hild, TIB, 8 (n. 7), p. 189-190.

S. Mitchell, Archaeology in Asia Minor (1990-8), in Archaeological Reports, 45, 1998-9, p. 173;
Hellenkemper and Hild, TIB 8 (n. 7); Hierocl. 681.5-6. The site is visible on Google Earth.
Coordinates: 37.10.21 N 30 36 07 E.

J. Keil and A. Wilhelm, Denkmäler aus dem Rauhen Kilikien, Manchester, 1931 (Monumenta Asiae
Minoris Antiqua, 3), p. 102-107; Hellenkemper, Legionen im Bandenkrieg (n. 24), p. 631; H.
Hellenkemper and F. Hild, Tabula Imperii Byzantini 5: Kilikien und Isaurien, Wien, 1990
(Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Denkschriften, phil.- hist. Kl., 215), p. 311.

site of Tahtalimanı), as a base used for the storage and distribution of supplies for the
Isaurian garrisons.28 Like Korasion, Palaea was fortified and was thus used by the
troops during conflicts with Isaurian bandits in 354.29

A major gathering base in the Levant: Caesarea Maritima

The broader supply network of the East Mediterranean extended to the coastal
provinces of the Levant, where archaeology has revealed a major storage base at
Caesarea Maritima in today’s Israel. After the suppression of the Jewish revolt of AD
70 and the destruction of Jerusalem, Caesarea Maritima became the capital of Judaea
and seat of an imperial legatus of senatorial rank residing at the palace of Herod. At
the same time, the city became the seat of a financial procurator of equestrian rank,
whose praetorium was located and excavated immediately north of the so-called
hippostadium of the city. As one of the main tasks of financial procurators was to
manage all kinds of revenue exacted for the supply and payments of the army, the
presence of a procurator and his headquarters at Caesarea is suggestive of heavy
taxation, which can be plausibly assumed for Judaea after its humiliation in the
second and third Jewish Revolts.30 In the early 230s, the procuratorship of Palaestina
was held by the famous C. Furius Sabinius Aquila Timesitheus who is epigraphically
known to have managed the collection and dispatching of overdue parts of the annona
(reliqua annonae) collected from Palaestine for the support of the Parthian campaign
of Alexander Severus in 232-33.31 This suggests that the city was a centre of gathering
and transport of annonary goods, which would demand storage infrastructure. Indeed,
the archaeological excavations on the site have produced ample evidence for storage
facilities, making Caesarea a prime site for the study of the subject.
A probable complex of late Roman state warehouses are the vaults built against the
western front of the Herodian Temple Platform. Direct evidence for the identification
of these structures as warehouses is currently missing, but their position on the port
(the Inner Harbour) and their plan, which is closely reminiscent of the horrea of Myra
and Patara favours their interpretation. Consisting of two rows of six vaulted cellae
flanking a broad staircase, the warehouse was erected over the open square below the
Herodian temple platform (fig. 7). The cellae communicated through arched openings
at each end of the side walls, which is also observed at Patara and Myra. The west
side of the cellae was open, which leaves it unclear how they were closed. Initially

Amm. Marc. 14.2.13: Et quoniam inedia gravi adflictabantur, locum petivere Paleas nomine,
vergentem in mare, valido muro firmatum, ubi conduntur nunc usque commeatus distribui militibus
omne latus Isauriae defendentibus adsueti.
The site was recently surveyed by Günder Varınlıoǧlu and her team: G. Varınlıoǧlu, Built like a city:
Boǧsak Island (Isauria) in Late Antiquity, in E. Rizos and A. Ricci (eds.), New Cities in Late Antiquity,
Turnhout, forthcoming (BAT).
H. G. Pflaum, Procurator, in RE, 23.1, 1957, p. 1269-1270.
CIL XIII 1807 = ILS 1330; T. Gnoli, C. Furius Sabinius Aquila Timesitheus, in Mediterraneo Antico,
3.1, 2000, p. 274-280.

thought to be of Herodian date, they were eventually dated to c. AD 300, which
allows the hypothesis that they were built for the needs of storing the annona, or
military supplies requisitioned during the wars of the Tetrarchs with Persia. Their
continuous use until the end of the sixth century favours their association with the
fiscal system.32
Another significant storage building was located north of the Inner Harbour, on the
site called Area LL by the excavators of Caeasarea (fig. 8). The ground plan recalls
the three-aisled hangar-like horrea known from Europe, but it seems that this is a very
different warehouse: an oblong rectangular building, it was divided lengthwise into
three corridors, of which the middle one was used for access, while the side ones were
divided into smaller storage rooms. The building is believed to have been erected
around AD 400, having replaced an earlier, probably Herodian structure. Pottery
deposits, believed to come from the warehouse were excavated in the surroundings,
and produced copious quantities of late Roman amphorae and smaller quantities of
fine ware and local cooking ware. The warehouse has been interpreted as a storage
base for the annona and it seems to have remained functional until the Arab conquest
of Caesarea.33
A building also interpreted as a horreum in the past is the vaulted substructure of the
praetorium of the procurator, built in AD 77/78 (fig. 9). It consisted of four oblong
vaulted rooms (30 x 5 m each) which survive to their full height of c. 5 m, one of
them preserving its barrel vault intact. Although the layout of the structure does look
like that of a warehouse/granary, and parts may have occasionally served as storage
rooms, it is misleading to call it a horreum, for there is no evidence to suggest that it
ever functioned as a fully developed warehouse.34 Its main role was to create a high
vaulted basement for a large hall of the praetorium, but its vaults had various uses.
Under the Principate, one of the vaults served as a sanctuary of the Mithraic cult. At
some point, a refurbishment of the superstructure necessitated the extension and
strengthening of the vaults. Originally open to the west, the vaults were closed by a
wall with doorways, and an arcaded portico was constructed in front of them. In a still
later phase, the portico was converted into a corridor entered from a stone paved
courtyard in front of vault 2. A hall decorated with a mosaic floor was constructed in
J. Patrich, Studies in the Archaeology and History of Caesarea Maritima: Caput Iudaeae, Metropolis
Palaestinae, Leiden, 2011 (Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity, 77), p. 228-29. (The chapter was
originally published as a paper entitled Warehouses and Granaries in Caesarea Maritima, in A. Raban
and K. G. Holum [eds.], Caesarea Maritima: a Retrospective after two Millennia, Leiden, 1996, p.
J. Stabler, K. Holum, F. H. Stanley, M. Risser and A. Iamim, The Warehouse Quarter (Area LL) and
the Temple Platform (Area TP), 1996-2000 and 2002 seasons, in K. G. Holum, J. Stabler and E. G.
Reinhardt (eds.), Caesarea Reports and Studies: Excavations 1995-2007 within the Old City and the
Ancient Harbor, Oxford, 2008 (BAR IS 1784), p. 1-17.

J. Patrich, Caesarea Maritima (n. 32), p. 225-236. On the two praetoria, see ibid., p. 205-223 (with
references to earlier publications and excavation reports). Also, see: L. Lavan, The residences of late
antique governors: a gazetteer, in AnTard, 7, 1999, p. 135-164; idem, The praetoria of civil governors
in late antiquity, in L. Lavan (ed.), Recent Research in Late Antique Urbanism, , Portsmouth, 2001
(JRA Suppl. 42), p.

the 6th century to the west of the corridor. In each vault, several levels of plaster floors
or flagstones were uncovered, suggesting multiple phases of repair. In Late Antiquity,
the Mithraeum ceased to function, but, at some point in the 5th or 6th century, the
second vault from the south (vault 11) was decorated with mural images of Christian
saints, perhaps becoming a chapel. Faint remains of murals were found also on the
north wall of vault 12. At an even later phase, vault 12 appears to have been converted
into a stable, while an oven was located near the front of vault 11. All these finds
probably preclude the use of the site as a horreum.35 The praetorium of Caesarea
became the residence of the governors of the new province of Palaestina Prima,
established in the 390s. A decree of Leo I mentions that praetoria of provincial
governors could be used for storing fiscal products wherever horrea were
unavailable.36 However, given the presence of horrea at the Inner Harbour and Area
LL, it seems unlikely that the governors of Palaestina Prima would ever need to resort
to such an emergency solution, and turn their praetorium into a makeshift granary.
The excavations at Caesarea also revealed granaries, which were most probably
privately-owned, at the insulae of the sumptuous 6th-century domus south of the
praetorium. These belong to a very different architectural type, consisting of cells
with well isolated underground silos arranged in rows around central courtyards.
Their layout follows the tradition of the courtyard-type horrea of early Roman Ostia,
which are known to have been commercial in character. The silos themselves,
however, represent an even earlier tradition in granary building known in the Near
East since Bronze Age.37 It would be interesting to know if (and how) the emergence
of these private establishments in the 6th century relates to the much earlier public
warehouses of the Inner Harbour and Area LL. They probably attest to a strong
privately run grain trade during the last century of Roman/Byzantine domination, but
did that include private involvement in the state network of grain supply as well?

Gathering points in the Aegean

More than ten years ago, O. Karagiorgou argued that the distribution of LR2
amphorae documents the strong involvement of the Aegean provinces in supplying
the Danube with olive oil.38 In further support of this idea, we can adduce a
significant epigraphic document concerning the gathering of the annona at the ports
of the province of Achaea/Hellas. In c. AD 402, a regulation concerning the amounts,
and probably the time-schedule of payments due by the cities of the province to the
depots administration (preapositura horreorum-ὁρρεοπραιποσιτία) was inscribed in

Patrich, Caesarea Maritima (n. 32), p. 217-218; 227-228.
CJ 1.40.15.

Patrich, Caesarea Maritima (n. 32), p. 229 ff.
Karagiorgou, Container (n. 3).

several copies and sent to various cities. Fragments of two copies of this tariff have
been found in Megara and Corinth, the most complete of which (from Megara, now
lost) reads as follows:39

[ὑ]πὲρ σωτηρίας καὶ ν[είκ]ης [καὶ αἰ]ωνίου δι[α]μον[ῆς] | [τῶ]ν δεσποτῶν τῆς
[οἰ]κουμ[έν]ης Φλ(αβΐου) Ἀρκ[αδ]ίο[υ] | καὶ Φλ(αβΐου) Ὁνωρίου κ(αὶ) Φλ(αβΐου)
Θεοδοσίου τῶ[ν] αἰωνίω[ν] κ(αὶ) τρο|πεούχων Αὐγγγ(ούστων) διετυπώθη μεταξὺ τῶν
Ἑ[λ]ληνίδ[ων] || πόλεων εἰς ταὐτὸ συνελθουσῶν ἐν τῇ Κορινθίων μητρο|πόλει ἐπὶ τοῦ
λαμ(προτάτου) κ(αὶ) μεγαλοπρεπεστάτ[ου ἀ]νθ(υπάτου) Κλ(αυδίου) Βαρίου ὁπ[όσα] |
χρὴ ἑκάστην πόλιν κ(αὶ) πό[τ]ε [εἰς] τὴν ὁρρεοπραιποσιτίαν <λ>ύειν τῶ[ν] | μὲν
Βοιωτιακῶν κ(αὶ) Εὐβοϊκῶν κ(αὶ) τῆς Αἰτωλίας πόλεων εἰς | τῆν Σκαρφιαίων
παρ[εχου]σῶν τῶν δὲ Πελοπονησσιακῶν || εἰς τὴν Κορινθίων κ(αὶ) ἔστιν ἡ γνῶσις
καθὼ[ς ὑ]ποτέτακται | εἰς τὰ κατὰ Σκάρφιαν ὅρρια ἐπὶ τῆς ει΄ ἐπι[νεμήσεως ---]

To the safety and victory and eternal reign of the lords of the civilized world Fl.
Arcadius and Fl. Honorius and Fl. Theodosius, the eternal and triumphant Augusti. It
was agreed among the Hellenic cities, convened together at the metropolis of Corinth
under the proconsul Cl. Varius, of clarissimus et magnificus rank, in what quantities
and when each city should pay off its debts to the depots administration
(horreopraipositia), the Boeotian, Euboean and Aetolian cities delivering at
Skarpheia, while the Peloponnesian ones at Corinth. And the schedule is as following:
at the depots (horrea) of Skarpheia in the 15th indiction (…)

The city councils of Achaea convened on how to divide among themselves the tax
obligations of the province with respect to the quantities and time-schedule of their
payments. Sadly the part of the schedule proper is missing. The regulation of payment
periods should be understood in the light of the late-antique practice of paying off
fiscal obligations in three instalments per year, which is first attested in Western laws
from the AD 360s, but was observed in East and West alike into the 6th century.40 The
use of the verb λύω in the inscription refers precisely to these periodical payments,

IG VII.24 = SEG 40 402 (Megara). The text was briefly mentioned in Rickman, Roman Granaries
(n. 2), p. 187-188. A smaller fragment with the same text was later found in Corinth (SEG 42 262).
Both pieces are discussed by: E. Sironen, The Edict of Diocletian and a Theodosian Regulation in
Corinth, in Hesperia, 61, 1992, p. 224-226.
CTh 5.15.20; 11.1.15; 11.19.3; 11.25.1; Cass. Var. 2.6; CJ 1.42. Schmidt-Hofner, Valentinian (n. 2),
p. 157-61; Jones, Later Roman Empire (n. 2), p. 458; Karayannopoulos, Finanzwesen (n. 2), p. 190.
The earliest known exemplar of a quadrimenstruus brevis (a report submitted by state functionaries on
the collection and management of taxes every four months) is a papyrus of AD 339/340 from the Nome
of Hermopolis: O. Seeck, Brevis, in RE, 3, 1897-9, p. 832. It seems reasonable to assume that the
practice was adopted together with the establishment of the indiction calendar system: O. Seeck,
Indictio, in RE, 9, 1330.

corresponding to the annonaria solutio of the Latin legal texts.41 The purpose of this
procedure was probably to avoid overloading the transport system and the depots, and
to adapt the collection to the different times of harvest of the various categories of
taxed produce. Due to its geographical formation, Achaea had two central horrea
bases, at Corinth (most probably Kenchreai) and at the Boeotian port-town of
Skarpheia, serving the Peloponnese and mainland Greece respectively. 42 The goods
gathered at the two bases, conceivably mostly oil, were shipped up the Aegean to
Constantinople and the Danube.43
A major gathering base can also be located in the north Aegean. Two storehouses were
recently excavated at Maroneia (Hagios Charalambos, Greece) which was probably
the only notable port in the western part of the Late Roman province of Rhodopa in
the 4th century. The buildings were two parallel two-aisled halls, 8.90 by 45 m, located
near the port, in what seems to be an area of monumental buildings (Fig. 10). The
excavator ascribed them to the early 3rd century and their abandonment to the late
4th.44 Their architectural form follows the type of the hangar like warehouse, which
was common in the northern Balkans, Pannonia and the Rhine provinces under the
Tetrarchy and during the 4th century.45

The journeys of primipilarii to the Danube

Once gathered at the storage bases of the ports, the annonary goods were shipped to
their recipients at the frontiers. As we saw earlier, in early 3rd-century Pamphylia, the
transport of the military annona involved decurions who organised and perhaps
funded the shipping of the goods (παραπομπή/prosecutio) as a liturgy.46 How broadly
this was practiced is unknown, as it is currently documented only in Pamphylia. In the
framework of the late Roman annona, however, it became a bureaucratic service
(called pastus militum, pastus primipili or lustrum primipili).47 The official charged
with it was known by the title primipilarius, which should not be confused with the

CTh 11.19.3: …ab emphyteuticariis possessoribus annonariam quidem solutionem per quattuor
menses ita statuimus procurari …
It is probably no coincidence that the otherwise obscure town of Skarpheia features first in the list of
cities of Achaea in the Synekdemos of Hierocles: 643.7.
Olive oil was the main exported product of the otherwise poor province of Achaea, according to the
Expositio Totius Mundi et Gentium lii 4-16. See also the ceramic evidence discussed in: Karagiorgou,
Container (n. 3).

N. Kokotaki, Ρωμαϊκή Μαρώνεια. Έρευνα και ανάδειξη, in Το Αρχαιολογικό Έργο στη Μακεδονία
και Θράκη, 17, 2003, p. 14-15. The site is visible on Google Earth. Coordinates: 40.52.27 N 25.30.40
Rizos, Supply network (n. 3) (with bibliography on the architecture of late Roman granaries).
Supra, n. 20.
On the transport of the annona, see Kolb, Transport (n. 2), p. 225-247; Schmidt-Hofner, Valentinian
(n. 2), p. 163-178.

homonymous Early Roman military title. Under the Principate, the primi pili were
senior centurions who managed the lucrative business of purchasing provisions for
their legions, thus concluding their career in the army with great profits.48 By contrast,
the late Roman pastus primipili was a service performed by civilian members of the
provincial governors’ staff. A law of AD 317 demanded the fulfilment of this service
prior to one’s promotion to the equestrian ranks of perfectissimus, egregius,
ducenarius or centenarius, while a law of 361 added it to the requirements for
decurions wishing to join the clergy.49 The fact that the emperors tied this service into
promotion to public and ecclesiastical office demonstrates that people sought to evade
it, which is hardly surprising given the expenses and dangers it entailed.50
The journeys of primipilarii from the Mediterranean to the Danube are attested in
twelve epigraphic documents found at the riparian cities of Novae and Oescus,
headquarters of the Legions I Italica and V Macedonica respectively. 51 These
inscriptions, whose number was recently augmented by new discoveries at Novae, are
dated by the 3rd and 4th centuries, except for the two latest ones, dated by consulship
years to AD 431 and 432.52 They belong to statue bases dedicated at the headquarters
of the legions, continuing, rather unassumingly, an old tradition of the army from the
times of the Principate, when the military primipilares used to set up monuments at
the principia of their legions celebrating the end of their service. Besides honouring
tradition, the inscriptions described here may have supplemented the written records
kept by the military authorities as an alternative lapidary record of discharged
primipilarii. One of the Oescus inscriptions reads:

On the primipilarii, see: Jones, Later Roman Empire (n. 2), p. 67, 458-459, 594-596, 626-627; A.
Mócsy, Das Lustrum Primipili und die Annona Militaris, in Germania, 44, 1966, p. 313-326; B.
Dobson, Die Primipilares. Entwicklung und Bedeutung, Laufbahnen und Persönlichkeiten eines
römischen Offizierranges, Köln, 1978 (Beihefte der Bonner Jahrbücher, 37) (focusing on the early
Roman military office); Kissel, Untersuchungen (n. 2), p. 161-166; J. M. Carrié, Primipilaires et taxe
du „Primipilon“ à la lumière de la documentation papyrologique, in J. Blingen and G. Nachtergael
(eds.), Actes du XVe Congrès International de Papyrologie 4: Papyrologie Documentaire, Bruxelles,
1979 (Papyrologica Bruxellensia, 19), p. 156-176; Schmidt-Hofner, Valentinian (n. 2), p. 87-93;
Mitthof, Annona Militaris (n. 2), p. 192-197; Carlà, Prefettura e Annona (n. 2), p. 102-105.
CTh. 8.4.3 (317); 8.4.7 (361); 8.4.8 (364). Jones, Late Roman Empire (n. 2), p. 594; Schmidt-Hofner,
Valentinian (n. 2), p. 87-97.
Libanius Or. 49.2; Ep. 21.6.

T. Sarnowski, Die Principia von Novae im späten 4. und frühen 5. Jh., in G. v. Bülow and A.
Milčeva (eds.), Der Limes an der unteren Donau von Diokletian bis Heraklios, Sofia, 1999, p. 58 ff.;
idem, excavation reports in Archeologia (Warsaw), 54, 2003, p. 71 and Archeologia, 51, 2000, p. 81-
83; idem, Drei spätkaiserzeitliche Statuenbasen aus Novae in Niedermösien, in M. Mirković (ed.),
Römische Städte und Festungen an der Donau, Beograd, 2005, p. 223-230.

A. Bresson, T. Drew-Bear and C. Zuckerman, Une dédicace de primipilaires à Novae pour la
victoire impériale, in AnTard, 3, 1995, p. 143-146; entries by U. Gehn in LSA-1102, 1103, 2445, 2590,
2596, 2597 and 2598 (Last Statues of Antiquity, online database searchable at; A. Łajtar, A newly discovered Greek inscription at Novae (Moesia
Inferior) associated with pastus militum, in Tyche, 28, 2013, p. 97-111; T. Sarnowski, Accepta
pariatoria und pastus militum. Eine neue Statuenbasis mit zwei Inschriften aus Novae, in Tyche, 28,
2013, p. 135-146.

[Lib]ero patri | conservatori | dd(ominorum) nn(ostrorum) Augg (ustorum) | Fl(avius)
Zosimus p(rimi)p(ilarius) || ex provincia Asi | a civitate Efisia | norum votum | posuit |
[p]os(t) pastum militum53

To Liber Pater, protector of our lords the Augusti. Flavius Zosimus, primipilarius from
the province of Asia from the city of the Ephesians, dedicated this offering after
fulfilling the service of provisioning the soldiers

Perhaps for the same purpose of mere recording, a certain Antoninos added his name
in Greek at the bottom of the Latin inscription of another primipilarius at Oescus:

[---d(ominorum) nn(ostrorum)] | [Au]gg(ustorum) Fl(avius) | Tatianus |

[pr]imip(ilarius) ex pro|(vi)ncia Suria [Pal]estina || [po]st pastum | militum | votum
po|suit (branch with five leaves) | Ἀντωνίνου54

(...) of our lords the Augusti. Flavius Tatianus, primipilarius from the province of
Syria Palaestina, set up this offering after fulfilling the service of provisioning the
soldiers. (By/Of) Antoninos

The name Ἀντωνίνου has been interpreted as the stonemason’s signature, but an
alternative interpretation may be that it was secondarily added by another
primipilarius. The 5th-century inscriptions from Novae are thought to record also the
name of an eye-witness, Dionysius, who may be a textually attested magister militum
per Thracias.55 The reference to him perhaps stressed the presence of a high-ranking
officer as witness at the moment when the primipilarii arrived with supplies at Novae,
thereby fulfilling their liturgy. One of them reads:

FF(lavii) Agapitus | et Diogenis pp(rimipilarii) ex pro[v(incia)] | insulanea pasto

mili|te statuam eregeru||nt in vulto Dionisisi [sic] ind(ictionis) | xiiii in
conss(ulatibus) Anthioci [sic] | et Bassi vv(irorum) cc(larissimorum)56
The two Flavii, Agapitus and Diogenis, primipilarii from the province of Insulae, after
provisioning the soldiers, set up a statue in the presence of Dionysius, in the
fourteenth indiction year, during the consulship of the viri clarissimi Antiochus and
Bassus [=AD 431]

It is less than certain whether the phrase in vulto Dionisisi must be read as ‘in the
presence of Dionysius’ – following Sarnowski’s reading – rather than ‘in the form of

ILBulg. 8b; Bresson et al., Dédicace de Primipilaires (n. 52), p. 141; LSA-2596.
ILBulg. 9; Bresson et al., Dédicace de Primipilaires (n. 52), p. 141; LSA-2597.
Sarnowski, Spätkaiserzeitliche Statuenbasen (n. 51), p. 226-227.
Ibid. 224-225; also discussed by U. Gehn in LSA-2445 (n. 52). My translation.

Dionysus’ referring to the statue.57 Whatever the case, the religiously neutral phrasing
of these late inscriptions is striking compared to the traditional, openly pagan,
character of the 4th-century ones. The latter characterise the statues as vota to Good
Fortune or Liber Pater and dedicate them to the health and victory of the emperors,
while the former merely state that statues were set up in the form of Dionysus (or in
the presence of Dionysius), without any reference to the emperors or the meaning of
the act.
All the primipilarii of these inscriptions came from cities within the Praetorian
Prefecture of the East, but some of them delivered their cargo also at Oescus, a city of
Illyricum: this shows that the annona crossed the borders of the praetorian prefectures
on the Lower Danube, which, until the 390s also formed the border between the
Eastern and Western Roman Empires. The inclusion of West Roman territory within
the Eastern supply mechanism was a considerable administrative anomaly, but its
existence is also confirmed by a decree of 389, which is addressed to the Praetorian
Prefect of the East, while concerning the shipment of the annona in Illyricum.58 The
region concerned by this exceptional arrangement must have been the small section of
the Danube between the Illyrian/Thracian border (at Oescus) and the cataracts of the
Danube at the Iron Gates, namely the ripa within Dacia Ripensis, with the cities of
Oescus, Augustae, Bononia, Ratiaria and Aquae. This area would have been difficult
to reach for the supply network of the West, but it was easily accessible for the
annonary convoys of the East, which could sail as far upstream as the cataracts. The
Danubian ripa west of the Iron Gates, in Moesia Superior and Pannonia, with its
major centres of Viminacium, Singidunum and Sirmium, must have relied on
deliveries from Italia Annonaria, the Adriatic and North Africa via Aquileia, and on
shipments from the central Balkans, transported down the river Margus (Velika
Morava) and its tributaries. This is reflected in the presence of an extensive network
of tetrarchic/Constantinian horrea in both of these regions.59

The supply network in the 5th and 6th centuries and the quaestura iustiniana exercitus

The two primipilarii inscriptions from AD 431 and 432 demonstrate that the supply of
the Danube troops remained unaffected or was quickly restored after the late 4th-
century crisis in the Balkans and the settlement of the Goths as autonomous foederati.
The Hunnic invasions of the 440s, however, must have disrupted the imports, since a
great part of the Danube frontier lapsed out of imperial control. It is unknown if the
annona resumed under Marcian and Leo and how far the Gothic revolts of the 470s
and 480s affected it. The foedus between Zeno and the Goths in 478 provided for cash

Sarnowski, Spätkaiserzeitliche Statuenbasen (n. 51), p. 226-227. In a more recent article, the author
abandons his initial view and accepts that the inscription probably refers to the deity: Sarnowski, Neue
Statuenbasis (n. 52), p. 144.
CTh 8.4.17.
Rizos, Supply Network (n. 3), p. 680-681.

payments and food supplies for 13,000 men, but it was probably never implemented.60
After the departure of the Ostrogoths, Anastasius and Justinian gradually restored a
tighter imperial control over the Danube areas. The foreign troops lost their autonomy
and were subjected to Roman commanders like the comes foederatorum Vitalian who
controlled the payment of φοιδερατικαὶ ἄννωναι, probably in both kind and cash,
under Anastasius.61 A letter of the emperor Anastasius to a legion stationed at Perge in
Pamphylia shows that the total payments in kind to the military personnel of the time
were still higher than those in cash.62
The need to organise the supply of the northern Balkan troops from the Mediterranean
is directly associated with the establishment of the new government structure of the
quaestura exercitus in AD 536, probably in the framework of a plan to restore Roman
administration and defence in the northern Balkans. Two years earlier, a
reorganization of the civil diocese of Dacia had been undertaken, with the foundation
of Justiniana Prima as the new diocesan capital.63 The quaestura exercitus was an odd
administrative union of the provinces of Scythia Minor, Moesia Inferior, Insulae,
Caria and Cyprus, based at Odessus (Varna, Bulgaria). The quaestor was head of a
bureaucracy detached from the Praetorian Prefecture of the East, and was responsible
for managing the annona of the frontier and reserve army forces.64 The establishment
of the quaestura exercitus coincides with the year of extreme weather phenomena
which probably caused food shortages across the empire, but the two events are
probably unrelated: the new government unit existed at least until the 570s and it
seems that it was a serious administrative project rather than an emergency measure.65
Its main task must have been the management and restoration of regular annonary
deliveries after a long period of disruptions.
Many aspects of the quaestura remain obscure. According to the founding Novel, it
administered only the Thracian limes: how was the frontier within the civil diocese of

Malchus Fr. 18.4.
John of Antioch, fr. 311, 1-18 (ed. U. Roberto, Berlin, 2005); D. Ruscu, The Revolt of Vitalianus and
the “Scythian Controversy,” in ByzZ, 101.2, 2008, p. 773-785.
F. Onur, The Military Edict of Anastasius from Perge: a Preliminary Report, in C. Wolff (ed.), Le
métier de soldat dans le monde romain, Actes du Congrès (Lyon 2010), Paris, 2012 (CEROR, 42), p.
22-37; idem, Monumentum Pergense. Anastasios’un Ordu Fermanı, Istanbul, 2014 (Gephyra
Monografi Dizisi, 3).
A. Sarantis, Military Encounters and Diplomatic Affairs in the North Balkans During the Reigns of
Anastasius and Justinian, in in A. Sarantis and N. Christie (eds.), War and Warfare in Late Antiquity:
Current Perspectives, Leiden, 2013 (Late Antique Archaeology 8), p. 787-790.

Nov. Iust. 41 (537). Recent studies on the quaestura exercitus with earlier bibliography: S. Torbatov,
Quaestura exercitus: Moesia Secunda and Scythia under Justinian, in Archaeologia Bulgarica, 13,
1997, p. 78-87; F. Curta, Quaestura Exercitus Iustiniani: the Evidence of Lead Seals, in Acta Byzantina
Fennica, 1, 2002, p. 9-26; A. Gkoutzioukostas, Published Lead Seals concerning Quaestura Exercitus,
in I. Iordanov (ed.), Юбилеен Сборник: Сто години от рожденство на проф. Васил Хараланов
(1907-2007), Shumen, 2008, p. 109-118; A. E. Goutzioukostas and X. M. Moniaros, Η περιφερειακή
διοικητική αναδιοργάνωση της Βυζαντινής Αυτοκρατορίας από τον Ιουστινιανό Α΄ (527-568): η
περίπτωση της Quaestura Iustiniana Exercitus, Thessalonike, 2009 (Εταιρεία Βυζαντινών Ερευνών,
A. Arjava, The Mystery Cloud of 536 CE in the Mediterranean Sources, in DOP, 59, 2005, p. 73-94.

Dacia supplied? As we saw above, the section between Oescus and the Iron Gates had
been part of the Eastern annona network in the 4th and 5th centuries. Did it form part
of the quaestura exercitus as well? What was the rationale of subjecting to the
quaestura only three Mediterranean provinces? These must have provided a very
modest base of resources in comparison to the 4th- and early 5th-century annona
network. Does this mean that the quaestura catered for a much smaller military
population and a much lower demand for supplies?
The three Mediterranean provinces placed at the direct disposal of the quaestor
included an area with highly developed maritime shipping traditions, namely the
islands.66 These would have been able to provide much needed support in the
sensitive domain of logistics. Egyptian papyri show that the lack of ships for annonary
transports was a pressing problem in the 6th century, and it is reasonable to assume
that this was also a major concern in the government’s effort to revive the Danubian
annona.67 Since the 4th century, annonary transport must have involved private
freighters (navicularii/ναύκληροι), according to the model of the annona civica of
Rome and Constantinople.68 Of course, the long and dangerous journey to the Danube
and the economically depressed north Balkan provinces must have made the
participation in military supply shipments unattractive for freighters, so that the state
would either have to offer them economic motives, or, more probably, requisition
their services by coercion. The quaestura exercitus was probably set up for the latter
purpose, but how it organised the transport is not documented. It also remains an open
question whether the primipilarii kept a role in the process, as in the earlier period.
Although their presence is documented in Egyptian papyri until the 6th century, their
role as officials organising the annonary fleets is not explicitly attested.


In the framework of his great economic reform, Diocletian established a new fiscal
calendar with years beginning in September, thus extending to the whole empire a
custom peculiar to the calendars of Egypt. This major calendrical change was very
probably instigated by the expansion of annonary practices hitherto characterising
Egypt to the rest of the empire, and it is probably indicative of the importance of the
annona for the political economy of the Late Empire: the whole Roman oikoumene
had to adjust its diaries to a cycle of works related to the production, gathering,

G. Deligiannakis, The Economy of the Dodecanese in late antiquity, in Ch. Papageorgiadou-Banis
and A. Giannikouri (eds.), Sailing the Aegean. Readings of the Economy and Trade Routes, Athens,
2008 (Meletemata, 53), p. 212-223; Goutzioukostas and Moniaros, Quaestura Exercitus (n. 64), p. 149-
Mitthof, Annona Militaris (n. 2), p. 272-273.
On the employment of freighters in the transport of the annona, see Sirks, Food for Rome (n .2),

transportation and delivery of the annonary goods, which had to be finished by
September, before the seas were closed to maritime transport.69 The annona was one
of the economic pillars of the late Roman state, and an institution with a major impact
upon the lives of the empire’s subjects: farmers in the inner provinces worked to feed
soldiers thousands of miles away, while freighters and primipilarii travelled with the
annonary fleets to the far ends of the empire, witnessing with their own eyes the
vastness of its size and the needs of its defensive machine. Given the distances
involved and the means of transport and communication available, the running of
such a complex system for so many years was a superlative achievement of Roman
In a recent article, I argued for an interpretation of the numerous late antique horrea
excavated in the Balkans as the built infrastructure provided for the collection and
storage of the annona militaris in the frontier provinces and in their hinterland.70 The
epigraphic and architectural evidence discussed in this paper sheds light on the
logistics of the same institution in the Eastern Mediterranean, attesting to a network of
central gathering bases at the main ports, where supplies were gathered, before being
shipped to the Danube. Although the examples of excavated late Roman horrea
known from the Mediterranean are few, they allow us to identify some sites where the
provincial authorities organized the gathering, storing and shipping of the annona.
The continuity from the early Roman period must be stressed in this picture, since
important warehouses/granaries, like those of Lycia and perhaps Caesarea Maritima,
seem to have functioned from the Principate to Late Antiquity without changes. The
imperial provinces of the eastern Mediterranean, like Lycia, Pamphylia, and Palestine
were actively involved in supplying the army already in the 2nd and early 3rd centuries,
and they are likely to have been the areas where the models for the practices of the
Late Roman annona militaris were first developed.
The horreopraipositia inscription from Megara and the primipilarii inscriptions from
Oescus and Novae allow us to add several more dots onto the map of the vast
transport network of the annona militaris: the province of Achaia/Hellas had two
central storage bases at Corinth and Skarpeia, whereas the two Danubian legionary
bases were visited by primipilarii from the provinces of Hellespontus, Asia, Insulae,
Phoenicia and Syria Palaestina. The inscriptions of the primipilarii from Asia name
specifically the ports of Ephesus and Phocaea as departure points, while a
Hellespontus inscription seems to mention Alexandria Troas. Other departure ports
must have included Caesarea Maritima, Gaza, Sidon, Tyre, Rhodes, Chios, Mytilene,
Alexandria Troas, Abydus, and Cyzicus. The presence of these ports as export gates of
coastal plains and valleys must have played a central role in the shaping of the new
Diocletianic provincial division of the Mediterranean coasts. For example, the
extensive littoral of the senatorial province of Asia was divided into the late Roman
provinces of Hellespontus, Asia and Caria which can be described as ‘bundles’ of

On the indictions, see: W. Kubitschek, Grudriss der antiken Zeitrechnung, München, 1928
(Handbuch der Altertumswissenschaft I, 7), p. 106-107; O. Seeck, Indictio, in RE, 9, p. 1327-1332.
Rizos, Supply Network (n. 3).

small plains and valleys with access to the sea through rivers. The products
contributed by these regions probably varied, with emphasis given to oil, cereals and
wine. Olive oil probably formed a major part of their exports, since it was not
produced in the frontier provinces and its supply depended exclusively on the
Mediterranean.71 The only delivery points on the Danube identified by inscriptions so
far are Oescus and Novae, both of which were major military bases, hosting the
headquarters of the legions V Macedonica and I Italica respectively. Central
destination points for the annonary deliveries on the Lower Danube, may have
included Noviodunum, Troesmis, Capidava, Durostorum, Transmarisca, Sexaginta
Prista and Ratiaria. These must have coordinated the distribution of supplies to
secondary forts.72 The assignment of the Danubian annona to the quaestura exercitus
in the 6th century is one of the latest manifestations of this network, and of the efforts
of the empire to maintain it. A few decades later, both the Roman frontier on the
Danube and Roman domination in the Eastern Mediterranean collapsed, and, with
them, the overseas supply network became a thing of the past.

The contribution of the various Mediterranean provinces to the annona is probably reflected in the
main products mentioned in the ETMG. On which, see K. Ruffing, Ökonomie als Kategorie in der
antiken deskriptiven Geographie. Berichtsweise und Eigenart der Expositio totius mundi et gentium, in
Münstersche Beiträge zur antiken Handelsgeschichte, 23.1, 2004, p. 88-130.
ND (Or.) 39-42.