204 elL 8. 2728 = ILS 5795, inscription, Lambaesis, Africa, AD 152 (extracts)
Endurance Courage Hope
Varius Clemens greets [Marcus Valerius] Etruscus (legate of III Augusta): The most illustrious community of Saldae and I, along with the citizens of Saldae, ask you, sir, that you ask Nonius Datus, veteran of the legion III Augusta, hydraulic engineer, to come to Saldae to complete what remains of his work, which he seems to have forgotten.

I (Nonius Datus), after leaving my quarters set out and on the way encountered bandits, who robbed me even of my clothes. and wounded me severely. I got away with my companions and came to Saldae. I met the procurator, Clemens, who, after allowing me some rest, took me to the tunnel. There I found everybody sad and despondent; they had given up all hopes that the two opposite sections of the tunnel would meet, because each section had already been excavated beyond the middle of the mountain, and the junction had not yet been effected. The excavations seemed to have wandered off line, the upper turning to the south and right, the lower likewise turning to the right and north, and both leaving the line. The true line had been calculated over the mountain from east to west. Lest any reader should go wrong about this word 'excavations': by 'upper' and 'lower' is meant, the 'upper', where the tunnel receives the water, the 'lower' where it emits it. When I was allocating the work so that they should know who was responsible for each section of the tunnelling, I arranged for there to be rivalry in the work between men from the fleet and the auxiliary troops, and on this basis they worked together in tunnelling through the mountain. Therefore I, who had originally conducted the survey and marked out the course, decided that it should be done in accordance with the plan which I had given to the procurator Petronius Celer (procurator of Mauretania Caesariensis in AD 137).

As always happens in these cases, the fault was attributed to the engineer, as though he had not taken all precautions to insure the success of the work. What could I have done better? I began by surveying and taking the levels of the mountain; I marked most carefully the axis of the tunnel across the ridge; I drew plans and sections of the whole work, which plans I handed over to Petronius Celer, then governor of Mauritania; and, to take extra precaution, I summoned the contractor and his workmen, and began the excavation in their presence, with the help of two gangs of experienced veterans, namely, a detachment of marine-infantry (classicos milites), and a detachment of Alpine troops (gaesates). What more could I have done? Well, during the four years I was absent at Lambaese, expecting every day to hear the good tidings of the arrival of the waters at Saldae, the contractor and the assistant had committed blunder upon blunder; in each section of the tunnel they had diverged from the straight line, each towards his right, and, had I waited a little longer before coming, Saldae would have possessed two tunnels instead of one.

When the work was completed and the water was sent through the channel, Varius Clemens the procurator (AD 152) dedicated it. Five modii (quantity of water flowing in the channel at one moment ?).

I have appended some letters so that my work on this tunnel at Saldae may emerge more clearly.

Letter of Porcius Vetustinus (procurator of Mauretania, AD 150) to Crispinus (legate of III Augusta, AD 147-50): You acted very kindly, sir, and in keeping with your consideration and goodwill on other occasions, in sending me Nonius Datus, reservist, so that I could discuss with him the work which he undertook to look after. So, although I was pressed for time and was hurrying to Caesarea, nevertheless I made the journey to Saldae and inspected the water channel which had started well, although it was a large undertaking and could not be completed without the attention of Nonius Datus, who dealt with the matter carefully and conscientiously. I was therefore going to ask that we be permitted to detain him for several months to take charge of the work, if he had not been taken ill as a result of [ _

Campbell, Brian. The Roman Army: A Sourcebook (Routledge 1994).

Questions for Research:
1. What is the significance of having the Roman army stationed in North Africa?
Ancient Civilizations in Africa (pg. 261 – 280)
Roman Empire in Modern Day Algeria
Engineering Influence

2. What was the Roman influence in North Africa?
Roman Provinces in Africa
Africa under Roman Rule

3. How were the Romans able to build construct tunnels and channels?
The Construction of Roman Aqueducts
Engineering and Technology in the Classic World (pg. 256-273, 282-296,300-336)
Technological History of Roman Army
Construction Techniques

4. What is occurring during the time this was written?
Timeline of 2nd Century AD

5. Who are the bandits, as discussed in the piece, that rivaled the Romans?
Piracy in the Mediterranean (pg. 195 – 212)

6. What type of tunnels and other construction projects were employed by the Roman army similar to what is discussed here?
Roman Military Engineering
Syrian Tunnel: Roman Tunnel Building
Discovering Roman Military Technology
Roman Tunneling

7. Where was the construction taking place?
Saldae, Africa


This documents provides insight into the development of mass civil engineering, which allowed Rome to transform into a technologically superior empire. We can learn from this document that projects similar to this were crucial in maintaining the sustainability of the Roman Empire as it transported water to the urban areas. The problems discussed in this document also acknowledge the difficulties in establishing prominent aqueducts, tunnels, and other civil projects without the use of modern technology. Due to this fact, it enlightens the amazing successes of Roman engineering.

The location of this project, present day Algeria, demonstrates the magnitude of the Roman Empire. Controlling the entire Mediterranean, the influence of the Romans extended throughout Europe and North Africa. Each province provided value to the empire. Saldae was a major port in the western Mediterranean and a crucial part in Roman trade.

Although the Romans controlled the Mediterranean, the existence of pirates, vandals, and bandits challenged the empire. These types of hostile interactions are synonymous with the persistency of the Roman military and their constant struggle for extending their power. Like the bandits, Rome was on a constant search for resources to help maintain their existence.

Soldies' Duties: This document discusses the "strength report" that was conducted to measure the current position of their force. In addition to securing and maintaining power throughout the empire, Roman soldiers had other duties. In times of peace, the soldiers' duty extended beyond warfare, as the Roman army was used as a valuable contracting resource. With great man power, Army engineers used soldiers to conduct and finish civil projects such as building roads and aqueducts.

Praise for Nero: The expansion of Roman territory led to the mass growth of Roman influence. There was an ongoing relationship between the Empire and its provinces. In order to maintain unity, support was given both ways. The Roman empires influence and attempt to maintain control of their provinces led to the growth of public works, granting Roman citizenship, or reducing taxes.

A Civil Servant Remembered: For the construction of public works, there was a connection between civil servants and the army. In this document, they are remembering the accomplishments of a servant of Rome and a superintendent of public works. His praise stems from his workings with the Roman army. There was a major connection between the civil projects and the army. Often engineers or contractors were hired and ultimately used Roman soldiers as a work force.

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