A military diploma is the personal copy of the imperial grant (constitutio) of rights and privileges bestowed on a Roman soldier who had served in one of the provincial forces of the empire for a minimum period of twenty-five years. Usually issued when the soldier's service came to an end, the original, legally binding constitutio was inscribed on bronze tablets in a public place in Rome, while the diploma was given to the beneficiary himself. The most important right it bestowed was that of citizenship for the soldier, his spouse, and his children-a powerful incentive for inhabitants of the provinces to join the Roman army. The text of the personal diploma was inscribed on two bronze tablets, which were closed together with twisted wire. This was done in order to avoid forgery: by inscribing the text on the inside of both tablets and, on the outside of one tablet and affixing the seals of seven witnesses to the outside of the second tablet, it was possible to verify that the text had not been tampered with.
Credit: Acquired in memory of Chaim Herzog, sixth President of the State of Israel, by his family and Yad Chaim Herzog; The Carmen and Louis Warschaw Fund of Archaeological Acquisitions; and David and Genevieve Hendin, New York Israel Museum, Jerusalem