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Translations of Hellenistic Inscriptions: 215


ROMAN CUSTOMS LAWS AT EPHESUS


Greek text: AE_(1989).681
Date: 62 A.D.
Format:   see key to translations

This long inscription, which was found in Ephesus in 1976, contains regulations issued by the Roman government at various times to control the taxes on imports and exports from the province of Asia.   The inscription is written in Greek, although the original regulations were no doubt in Latin, and the regulations are arranged in chronological order.   A full edition of the inscription, with translation, notes and some explanatory essays, was published in 2008 as "The Customs Law of Asia", by M.Cottier et al. ( Google Books ).

See key to translations for an explanation of the format of this translation. The line number at the start of each paragraph is shown in red.


[1] When [Quintus Manlius Tarquitius] Saturninus and Publius Petronius Niger were consuls {62 A.D.}, on the 9th day of July, [this was written out and examined at Rome . . .] of the Basilica Julia, in the record-office of the superintendents of the public revenues, from the tablets [of the superintendents of the public revenues, in which was inscribed] what is written below.

[3] When Aulus Pompeius Paullinus, Lucius Calpurnius Piso and Aulus Ducinius [Geminus were superintendents of the public revenues, this was extracted from the laws] on contract-leases, in the first year, in the first revenue period, in the first tablet; by authority of Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus [Germanicus, pontifex maximus, consul for the 4th time, holding tribunician power] for the 8th time, imperator for the 9th time, pater patriae, and by decree of the senate; the permanent regulations for the taxes of Asia [were extracted from the documents . . .] of these superintendents on 14th day of April; from the permanent regulations of Titus Domitius Decidianus, [the quaestor of the treasury, in the first year of the revenue period, and years] 2, 3, 4 and 5 of the revenue period.

{ Although this is not stated explicitly in the inscription, it appears that the first group of tax regulations (lines 8-71) are derived directly or indirectly from a law on the taxation of the province, passed by Gaius Gracchus in 123/2 B.C. }

[7] The tax law of Asia, for imports and exports by land and sea; [including the coastal districts of Asia, and where the borders] of Cappadocia, Galatia and Bithynia surround Asia, and the territories of Chalcedon and Byzantium within [these borders which have tax-stations for the purpose of collecting tax] on sea-borne imports and exports at the mouth of the Euxine Sea, and those places where by decree of the senate or by law [of the people . . .] a contract has been let for collecting taxes; in these places, whatever is imported or exported overseas, [and whatever is imported or brought in by land], and whatever is exported or driven out or brought out by land, on all of these a portion of one-fortieth shall be given to the tax-collector.

* * *

[22] If anyone imports or exports anything by sea, he shall register it with the tax-collector in [all the following places:   Hieron by the Euxine] Sea,   Chalcedon,   Dascyleium,   Apollonia by the mouth of the Rhyndacus,   Cyzicus,   Priapus,   Parium,   Lampsacus,   [Abydus,   Dardanus,   Sigeium,   Alexandria,   Hamaxitus],   Assus,   Gargarus,   Poroselene,   Antandrus,   Astyria,   Adramyteium,   Atarnea,   Pitane,   Elaea,   Myrine,   the old [. . .,   Cyme,   Phocaea,   Erythrae,   Smyrna],   Colophon,   Teos,   Ephesus,   Priene by the mouth of the Maeander,   Miletus,   Iasus,   Bargylia,   Ceramus,   [Halicarnassus,   Myndus,   Cnidus,   Physcus,   Attaleia,   Aspendus],   Perge,   Magydus,   Phaselis,   Side "Coryphe".

* * *

[67] As for the buildings and royal stations which king Attalus, son of Eumenes, maintained for the purpose of collecting taxes, let the tax-farmer raise money from them in a similar manner; and whichever of them he takes over, let him pass them on to [the subsequent] tax-farmer, according to the judgement of an upright man.

[69] Whichever cities or peoples were not subject to king Attalus, son of Eumenes, in those cities or [regions of Asia] where according to the revenue law it is necessary to register or declare to the tax-collector, in each coastal city in these areas, for the purpose of making declarations or registering, let there be a building, 40 feet long and 40 feet wide, in a public place which is neither on temple property nor in a sacred precinct nor [on consecrated ground]; and the tax-collector shall be permitted to build there.

[72] In whatever matter it is necessary to give to the tax-farmer a tenth of the crops produced by the plough or a fifth of wine or oil . . . and this tax-collector collects the taxes on the terms set forth by the consuls Lucius Octavius and Gaius Aurelius Cotta {75 B.C.}; [whatever is imported or] exported from Asia into Asia, as long at the transportation is not for the sake of avoiding tax rather than the stated purpose, for this no tax shall be given.

[74] Whatever persons [or goods] the tax-farmer imports or exports from Asia into Asia, for which the consuls Lucius Octavius and Gaius Aurelius leased out the tax, for these no tax shall be [given].

[76] And as regards the boat and the fittings of the boat and the slaves and everyone (male or female) whom they bring or summon from home; and as regards the books [and all tablets] that contain writing, and all provisions; and as regards the animals that anyone brings from home, for the sake of the journey; for all of these [things], no tax shall be given.

[78] Whatever minerals are exported from Asia to Rome according to the law on mining, as regards these minerals and the vessels in which they are contained, let them give [to the tax collector] four asses per one hundred pounds. Apart from this, they shall not owe any tax. If anyone [holds back the vessels] with malicious intent, contrary to these provisions, so that the minerals cannot be transported, then however much is held back, the tax-collector shall be made to pay twice that amount to the transporter, and the partners who have leased the mining rights shall be able to take a surety [for this matter].

[81] In any territory which is held under the discretion or authority of the Roman people, [whatever people or goods anyone] exports from this territory or from their home for their private use, or imports into this territory or to their home for their private use, no tax [shall be paid] for this import and [export].

[83] Whoever has been granted exemption from paying tax on the export or import of certain items by a treaty with the Romans, they shall [not] give [tax to the tax-farmer] for these items.

[84] The consuls Lucius Gellius and Gnaeus Lentulus {72 B.C.} added: whatever anyone imports or brings in while travelling to the country or city [of which he is a citizen], for his own private use, he shall not give any tax for this. And whatever he [either imports] or brings in from that country or city of which he is not a citizen, this shall be registered and he be obliged to pay tax for it. And for this matter, similarly as for the other matters, [it is permitted] to confiscate or [take] a surety.

[87] Whatever anyone registers under the terms under the terms of this law, he shall pay the tax on it to the tax-collector according to the valuation of the item; if he does not do this, he shall give double the amount [of tax], and for this matter the tax-collector is permitted to confiscate or take a surety.

[88] The consuls Gaius Furnius and Gaius Silanus {17 B.C.} added: . . .

{ The rest of the inscription (lines 89-154) contains further tax regulations, dating from 17 B.C. onwards. }

inscription 11


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