Survey of the Eastern Roman Limes

Location: eastern Turkey, Armenia, and Georgia

Years: 1964-1966

Project Director: Timothy Mitford

Funding: BIAA


In 1964 the BIAA Institute Fellow, Timothy Mitford, carried out an investigation of epigraphic and other material in Eastern Turkey, particularly in areas with Roman limes (or the marked boundaries delimiting the erstwhile borders of the Roman Empire).  He found some significant inscriptions, including some in Latin. 

This survey was continued in 1965, when Mitford surveyed the Malatya plain and hills of northern Commagene on foot.  He found very little in these areas, apart from some coins and a tombstone from Arslantepe.  South of the Taurus mountains he followed the Samosata aqueduct to Kahta Çay (Chabina), where he discovered sections of a minor aqueduct.  Some inscriptions were found and recorded at a ruined temple site at Derik Kale.  In August he continued to Armenia and Georgia by car, and recorded all the inscriptions he was aware of south of the Caucasus in addition to examining Kainepolis, Corneae, Harmozica, the Darial pass, and a section of Abkhazian wall.  He discovered a tombstone and some fragments on his return. 

From mid-July to the end of August 1966 Mitford continued his investigation, finding traces of the frontier’s military road as he followed it for over 160km, from the Antitaurus to the area west of Kemaliye.  No milestones were reported.  The Keban dam was reported as being a danger to important Roman sites.

Following a career as a British naval officer, Mitford resumed exploration of the Euphrates frontier of the Roman empire in the 1990s and early 2000s.  His work will be published, probably in 2015, as a monograph by Oxford University Press.


1965: ‘Report of the Council of Management and of the Director for 1964’ Anatolian Studies 15: 6

1966: ‘Report of the Council of Management and of the Director for 1965’ Anatolian Studies 16: 6

1967: ‘Report of the Council of Management and of the Director for 1966’ Anatolian Studies 17: 6: 13-14

See also:

Mitford, T.B. 1972: The Roman Frontier Based on the Valley of the Upper Euphrates, Vol 1-4. Oxford

Mitford, T.B. 1974: ‘Some Inscriptions from the Cappadocian Limes’ The Journal of Roman Studies 64: 160-175

Mitford, T.B. 1980: Cappadocia and Armenia Minor: Historical Setting of the Limes’ in H. Temporini and W. Haase (eds.), Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt II.13: 1169-1228

Mitford, T.B. 1988: ‘High and low level routes across the Taurus and Antitaurus’ in D. French and C. Lightfoot (eds.), The Eastern Frontier of the Roman Empire 2, Oxford.

Belongs to;
Archaeology and Related Disciplines

View other research