TIB. Plautius Silvanus and «a Ghost Squadron» of the Ravennate Fleet on the Euxine in the 1st Century AD

Sarnowski Т.

The paper summarizes the results of old and new researches on the beginnings of Roman military presence in the Crimea and brings a critical review of archaeological, epigraphical and literary evidence usually refered to the hostilities between the Tauro-Scythians and the Greeks of the Crimean Chersonesus in the Nero's reign, in the early 60s AD. The following data and sources are discussed: destruction layers dated to the mid 1st с AD in the late Scythian coastal settlements in the southwestern part of the Crimean Peninsula, two Roman marching (?) camps to the north and north-east of Olbia, two Chersonesan decrees (IOSPE. I2. 369 and 420) and one gravestone of two freedmen killed by the Taurians (IOSPE. I2. 562), one passage in Josephus Flavius Bell. Jud. II. 16. 4 reporting for the 66 AD presence of 3000 legionaries and 40 ships in the Black Sea region, two tituli of P. Tullius Varro, tribunus militum leg. VIII bis Augustae с 68-69 (CIL.XI. 3004 = ILS/ 1002), from Viterbium, and Tib. Plautius Silvanus, legatus propraetore Moesiae с 60-67 AD, from Tibur, tile stamps from Charax (CIL.III. 14215.5: VEX/G RAV SP). It was earlier suggested that the stamp might refer to the otherwise unknown vex(illatio) c(lassis) Rav(ennatis) from the Nero's reign. The author of the present paper reads the stamp as vex(illatio) (sub) G(aio) Rav(onio) Sp(erato) or vex(illatio) (per) G(aium) Rav(onium) Sp(eratum) and dates it to the mid 2nd с A.D. There is little doubt that this vex(illatio) should be understood as vexillatio exercitus Moesiae inferioris known from the tile stamps VEMI from Balaklava, Chersonesus, Alma Kermen, Kazatskaya Hill (AE. 1998. № 1155) and from one inscription found recently in Balaklava (AE. 1998. № 1162). The only reliable piece of evidence for disturbances in the Crimea early in the 60s A.D. are the lines 23 and 24 of the famous titulus of Plautius Silvanus. They point to the interpretation that the Scythian king was «removed from the siege of Chersonesus» because of Plautius' operations on the Danube and over it on the Sarmatian territory. There are good reasons to believe that the presumed expedition of Plautius Silvanus to Chersonesus Taurica did not take place at all.