Based on contents by Ulrich Gehn published on the EAGLE Mediawiki.

Tiles where used for roofs in the Roman Empire quite extensively and that is no news. This must have been a busy market and in continuous flow of demand and supply throughout Europe. We have insights into this in a text from Valencia, in Spain.

Tile with two graffiti CIL II2/14, 35

This is composed of two inscriptions, from two different men at different times, both graffiti on a same tile. There is no certainty on which one was written first, but clearly the tile was delivered with the lot and then returned and redelivered. We might think the store was not too far but also not close enough for the two to get to each other.

[I]ulius a ratio/ne tegularia An/thimus cum cen/sum par{i}avit / DXXXIII / ago gratias / domine Solve quod mi/nus fecisti et / sic gratias a/ge et duas / amplius quia min/us numerasti
 

Besitzer-/Herstellerinschrift auf Ziegel


  • Trismegistos-Id: 231279
  • Material: ton
  • Type: ziegel
  • inscriptionType: besitzer-/herstellerinschrift
  • originDating: 201 AD – 400 AD
  • findingSpotAncient: Valentia, Hispania citerior
  • findingSpotModern: Valencia, Spanien
  • entityType: visual
  • Repository: Epigraphische Datenbank Heidelberg
 
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(231279, Transl in ES, EN, DE, IT)

After counting all the tiles ordered Iulius, who held the position of “accountant of tiles”, wrote the receipt on one of them: thanks for your order at Iulius-Tiles, here are your 533 tiles. And that would have been the end of the story. We do not know if this was a tile-transaction involving a payment, it might well have been internal commissioning, but we know that the customer satisfaction was quite low (twice minus). The second text, if the texts are to be read in this order, is in fact a complaint from whoever received the tiles: some were of lower quality and two went missing. At least this tile, but we have to think also the all lot went back to the poor Iulius who then needed to fix the problem.

This discussion could be read the other way around. The first to write a comment on the tile would have been the master (domine) being also quite merciful in his own view, and Iulius would have just replied relating on the number of tiles substituted and added so that the number would only involve the second shipment. One of the variable is actually the meaning of par{i}avit which can be, in the first case “make ready”, in the second “make equal”. In the first reading we have a careless accountant and a request to fix a problem, but we do not know what then happened. Turning the tile, we know what happened till the end, but not how many tiles where in the initial lot. the irony of the master saying sic gratia age, would make one think he was quite frustrated with Iulius.