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B R I G H A M   Y O U N G   U N I V E R S I T Y
L. Tom Perry Special Collections Exhibit
Image of 2 ancient Roman plates

Trajan was emperor of Rome from AD 98 to 117. He is known mostly for his impressive military career, during which he conquered King Decebalus of Dacia in two military campaigns. His victory over Dacia extended the Roman Empire to its largest-ever geographic size. Trajan is also remembered for his correspondence with Pliny the Younger, which resulted in peaceable treatment of the Christians in the Roman province of Bithynia-Pontus, south of the Black Sea. Trajan’s conquering spirit, coupled with his diplomacy, caused him to issue a high number of military diplomas as systematic rewards for his large and diverse army.

In AD 113, a massive column was erected in Rome to celebrate Trajan’s impressive rule and military success. This 120-foot monument to Emperor Trajan dominated the north end of Trajan’s Forum. The column still stands today atop a massive rectangular base and has a statue of Trajan on top. The spiraled frieze (656 feet) depicts in detail scenes from the two Dacian wars won by Trajan (see frieze below). In addition to showing the Dacian battles, its scenes cover all aspects of Roman military life — including food, building
projects, marches, foreign lands, and award ceremonies. The plates in this exhibition were discovered near Dacia (roughly modern-day Romania) in 1986. From the text we learn that the ancient owner of the plates fought in Trajan’s Dacian military campaigns.

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These two plates were issued by imperial decree on October 14, AD 109 during the rule of emperor Trajan in Rome.

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