Dating Using Titles

Titles can also be important in dating inscriptions, because certain titles and positions were only held in certain years.  We can see this dating system in an inscription found in modern day Germany.  We see a similar name and title trend as the inscriptions from Rome with the addition of a few new names, but this time we can use the titles to date the inscription.  Working through the names, one of the easier titles to date is “CO III,” meaning that Commodus held the Consulship for the third time.  Commodus held this position for the third time in the year 181, as seen by looking at a timeline of Commodus’ political positions.  By comparing the years of the other positions held, it becomes increasingly evident that this inscription must have been written in the year 181.  After dating the inscription, what is written becomes even more meaningful and useful.  A rough translation reveals an inscription for veterans, which in conjunction with its place of finding, may be in regard to the Germanic campaigns conducted by Marcus Aurelius and Commodus.

Raetia, Germany, 181

Imp(eratori) Caes(ari) Luc(io)(!) Aur(elio) Antonino
Aug(usto) [[Commodo]] Armen(iaco)(!) Parth(ico)(!)
 Germ(a)n(ico) Sarm(atico) tri(bunicia) pot(estate) VI co(nsuli) III p(atri) p(atriae)
Spicio Cereale leg(ato) Aug(usti) pr(o) pr(aetore) vex(illarii)
leg(ionis) III Ital(icae) vallum fece(runt) c(uram) a(gente) Iul(io)
Iul(l)ino(?) c(enturione) leg(ionis) III Ital(icae) item portas cum
turrib(us) IIII perfec(tas) ab Ael(io) Forte c(enturione)
leg(ionis) III Ital(icae) praep(osito) c[o]h(ortis) I Br(eucorum) Imp(eratore) III Bur[ro co(n)s(ulibus)]