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Tesserary (from Lat. tessera-clay tablet) - commander of the guard in the Roman army, also performed administrative functions. The Tesserary was a principal-a junior officer, reporting directly to the centurion.

There was one tesserary for each century. He was responsible for the reports and reports of the guards of his unit, which were received by senior officers, was engaged in organizing duties, as well as storing and transmitting passwords that were recorded in tesserae, which is where the name of this military rank came from. He received a salary one and a half times higher than a regular legionnaire. During the Republic, according to Polybius, a tesserary was simply a legionary who was chosen to be on duty for one night and entrusted with a password.

The Tesserary's appearance was probably no different from that of a mere legionnaire. A fairly large number of bas-reliefs were found, where a wax tablet is stuck behind the legionnaire's cingulum-probably the tesserae on the bas-relief is a sign that it depicts a tesserary, but there is no direct evidence of this.

Tombstone bas-relief of Gaius Largennius from legio II Augusta with tesserae. Found in the vicinity of Strathsburg. Inv. Nr. 2431. 1st century AD
Fragment of the stele to Annaius Daverzus, which depicts a soldier from the 4th cohort Delmatarum (cohors IIII Delmatarum) with a tessera. Early 1st century AD

Related topics

Legion, Centurion, Tesserae


Alfred von Domaszewski: Die Rangordnung des römischen Heeres. 3. Auflage. Böhlau Verlag, Bonn 1981, ISBN 3-412-05280-9.

Michael A. Speidel: Sold und Wirtschaftslage der römischen Soldaten. In: Géza Alföldy, Brian Dobson, Werner Eck (Hrsg.): Kaiser, Heer und Gesellschaft in der römischen Kaiserzeit. Gedenkschrift für Eric Birley. Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart 2000, ISBN 3-515-07654-9, S. 65-96 (Beiträge in dt., engl. französ. und ital. Sprache).

Gabriele Wesch-Klein: Soziale Aspekte des römischen Heerwesens in der Kaiserzeit. Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart 1998, ISBN 3-515-07300-0 (zugl. Habilitationsschrift, Universität Heidelberg 1995).