Gunnar Heinsohn: Diocletian: Ingenious or Insane?

Diocletian: Ingenious or Insane?
The Simultaneity of Principate and “Dominate”

Note: Click on the images to view to at a larger scale.

Diocletian (284-305 AD) is considered a new Augustus, because with the so-called Dominate at the end of the 3rd century AD he recreated – cum grano salis – the power of the Principate erected by Augustus (31 BC – 14 AD) at the end of the 1st century BC:

“The modern term Dominate is derived from the Latin dominus, which translates into English as lord or master.
However, it was only under Diocletian that the term was adopted as part of the emperor’s official titulature, forming part of Diocletian’s radical reforms that transformed the Principate into the Dominate”
(Dominate 2018).

One could call this statement from the English Wikipedia a straight-out lie.

In Roman history there was no Dominate.

It was therefore not part of Diocletian’s titulature.

But one would be wrong to call the authors “liars”.

They have no intention of lying.

They are only trapped in a deep chronological confusion.

By taking a quick look at the German Wikipedia entry on Dominat they could have corrected their mistake.

But they felt no need for correction:

“Dominate (derived from dominus “master”) is a term – especially used in the earlier period of research on Antiquity – for the Late Antiquity period of Roman history between Diocletian and Justinian (or Heracleios), i.e. approximately the period from the 4th to 6th century A.D. This term was coined by Theodor Mommsen [1817-1903]”

[Dominat {abgeleitet von dominus “Herr”} ist eine besonders in der älteren althistorischen Forschung übliche Bezeichnung für den spätantiken Abschnitt der römischen Geschichte zwischen Diokletian und Justinian (oder Herakleios),
in etwa den Zeitraum vom 4. bis 6. Jahrhundert n. Chr. Der Begriff wurde von Theodor Mommsen geprägt]
(Dominat 2018).

Even the scholar, Inge Menne, who is cited by the English authors as their source for Diocletian’s supposed Dominate-titulature (Menne 2011, 21) does not write such nonsense on the cited page.

Thus, they supplement their unintentional lie with an outright falsification based on good faith.

In their defence, it must be said that the German Wikipedia authors work more correctly only on the Dominate terminology.

In questions of chronology, they share the same ideological convictions.

Theodor Mommsen had praised, in 1886, Diocletian as “a first-rate statesmanly genius” (ein staatsmännisches Genie ersten Ranges; Demandt /Demandt 2005, 473).

Yet he could not bring himself to finish his famous history of the Roman emperors because he did not know where to locate the capital of the empire after 284 AD.

Rome, he believed, could not have served as capital.

After all, Diocletian had visited the city only once, together with his co-Augustus Maximinian (286-305).

Constantius Chlorus (293-306) and Galerius (305-311), the two Caesars of the Tetrarchy, did not even visit the city a single time.

After Elagabal (218-222), no emperor had ever resided on the Palatine again.

Moreover, from the 3rd to the 10th century, no apartments, aqueducts, roads or latrines were built in Rome.

Theodor Mommsen couldn’t have known that yet.

Today’s archaeologists, however, cannot evade that striking lack of evidence.

Therefore, they present a series of speculations for the missing residential quarters.

The EMPERORS, it is believed, did not build in Rome for 300 years after the 3rd century because they felt “it was enough to reflect themselves in the monumental buildings of the developed Principate” (sich an den Großbauten der fortgeschrittenen Prinzipatszeit spiegelten; Behrwald 2009, 281).

The SENATORIAL CLASS did not build in Rome after the 3rd century because there was still so much 1st/2nd century urban substance left that “a return to a generous building policy would not have turned a profit“ (von einer Rückkehr zu einer umfangreichen Baupolitik wäre deshalb […] kein Gewinn zu erwarten gewesen; Behrwald 2009, 281).

The ARISTOCRACY did not build domus (town mansions) in Rome after the 3rd century “because impressive buildings [of Antiquity] were probably still in use (but for how long?) whilst others were given to a modest occupation, and still others simply fell apart” (Imposante Häuser wurden wahrscheinlich weiter genutzt (aber für wie lange?), während andere eine bescheidenere Nutzung erfuhren und wieder andere schlicht zerfielen; Machado 2012, 130 f.)

For the Early Middle Ages, the lack of housing is merely laconically noted, but no longer theorized.

“Nothing is known of the shape of the residential houses. / Of houses and streets only few traces remained” (über den Zustand der Wohnhäuser ist nichts bekannt. /Von Häusern und Strassen sind nur wenige Spuren übriggeblieben; Krautheimer 1987, 126/257).

One could not even say where Diocletian or Maximinian with their large retinues would have lodged in Rome in the 3rd/4th century.

Of course, this also applies to all their successors.

Luxurious domiciles or simple apartments are built in Rome only until the 230s.

Then in the 10th century, after a catastrophic destruction of city and world (Heinsohn 2017), housing construction started again, simply and poorly.

Even in the 16th century of the Renaissance, only a fraction of the surface of Imperias Rome was rebuilt.

All Roman history between about 230 and 930 must therefore be accomodated in the city’s urbanism until the early 3rd century.

And yet the unfortunate Wikipedia-authors rightly feel that Diocletian strongly resembled Augustus in countless aspects.

Diocletian renewed the custom of the adoption of successors.

As with Augustus, proven capability should take precedence over kinship.

Also the Panegyrici, pompous speeches to the ruler, were revived by Diocletian.

Even the evolution of Latin was stopped in order to be able to admire the language of the 1st century again.

In 290 AD he and Maximinian received the panegyricus Item eiusdem magistri Mamertini genethliacus Maximiniani Augusti.

As a contemporary of Emperor Augustus, Dionysius von Halicarnassus (54 BC to 8 AD) had characterized Panegyrici speeches as an effective way of ensnaring an audience.

Counted among the Panygyrici were already the verses that poets like Virgil (70-19 BC) wrote to glorify Augustus (Aeneis 6: 791-805).

But after the younger Pliny (61-112 AD), who still wrote a eulogy on Emperor Trajan (98-117), the Panegyrici came to an end, until Diocletian finally had them renewed in a 300-year-old style (Goltz 2004, 105).

The diadem – a symbol of power of Hellenistic rulers – in Rome first worn by Augustus, was also renewed by Diocletian 300 years later:

“Only with Diocletian was the custom revived”
(erst mit Diokletian kam die Sitte wieder auf; Diadem 2018):

“No attribute aroused the minds as much as the diadem, the badge of Hellenistic royal dignity.

Caesar, the temporary partner of Cleopatra, failed because his autocracy […] came too close to royal rule.

A diadem, which Mark Antony offered him publicly, also played a role, and which Caesar demonstratively rejected after displeasure was expressed by those present.

In Rome, the diadem was regarded as a hated symbol of the oppression of republican freedom. […].

Only in Late Antiquity did this change”

(Kein Attribut erregte die Gemüter so sehr wie das Diadem, das Abzeichen der hellenistischen Königswürde. […] Caesar, der zeitweilige Partner der Kleopatra, scheiterte daran, dass seine Alleinherrschaft […] zu nahe an eine Königsherrschaft heranrückte. Dabei spielte auch ein Diadem eine Rolle, das Antonius ihm öffentlich anbot, und das Caesar nach Unmutsäußerungen der Anwesenden demonstrativ ablehnte. In Rom wurde das Diadem als ein verhasstes Symbol der Unterdrückung republikanischer Freiheit angesehen. […] Erst in der späten Kaiserzeit änderte sich das; AIG 2018).

To this day, scholars cannot explain why “Diocletian’s bent was markedly conservative.”

They cannot make sense of “Diocletian’s appeal to tradition”, his “distinctly old Roman concept” and his “insistent old Roman-ness” (all Williams 1985, 161 f.).

Who, in his right mind, would want to do everything the way it was done 300 years ago?

That Diocletian‘s “judicious blend of conservatism […] was rooted in ‚Roman‘ moral values” of the Augustan period (Bowman 2005, 88) continues to confuse modern researchers.

Nobody understands “the intensive insistence on traditional norms” (das intensive Beharren auf traditionellen Normen; Kuhoff 2004, 23).

And indeed, Diocletian looked like a full-blown imitator of Rome‘s first emperor.

Diocletian also attempted administrative reforms and a coin reform in which 300-year-old styles, concepts and images were taken up again 1:1.

Augustus had created an administrative district with the Latin name REGIO.

But he did so only for Italy, which was divided into eleven regions.

It is not known how the reform was implemented in the rest of the empire.

It was not until 284 AD that Diocletian transferred the regional concept for Italy to the entire empire in the form of the PROVINCIA.

However, since 241 BC in Sicily and 237 BC in Sardinia, the PROVINCIA was already the Roman administrative unit for regions outside Italy.

Another Diocletian innovation, according to modern scholars, was the combination of several provinces into one DIOIKESIS (διοίκησις; latinized DIOCESIS).

It was presided over by a DIOIKESOS (latinized VICARIUS).

To the amazement of the researchers, however, the Roman administrative term DIOCESIS also existed more than 300 years before Diocletian.

The Republican period had thus anticipated not only Diocletian’s PROVINCIA, but also his DIOCESIS (Noethlichs 1982).

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 to 43 BC) already mentioned the DIOCESES Cypria, Apamea and Synnada for Asia Minor.

Diocletian’s supposed fanaticism of tradition even led him to reestablish, after almost three centuries, the ancient and formalized office of PRAEFECTUS URBI.

Under Augustus, the incumbent was elected from among the senators.

From then on, he acted as mayor of Rome, who in turn appointed secondary mayors for water supply, fire fighting, road construction etc. (Ruciński 2009).

Under Diocletian the office was not only created a second time, but again it was taken care that – as in the Augustus period – the office holders came from the senate, had no military duties, and wore a toga and no armour in public (Chastagnol 1960).

All these Augustus similarities of the Tetrarch seemed so outstanding, even moving, that Diocletian was celebrated as “the light of a golden age” (Oxyrhynchus Papyri LXIII: 4352).

He had returned to the empire its greatness of 300 years before.

Augustus was already praised by Ovid as the initiator of a “golden age” (aurea aetas; Metamorphoses I: 89).

It is therefore no surprise that Diocletian also wanted to repeat the Augustan era in religious matters.

In 4 BC, under Augustus, messianic Jewish sectarians were executed in the Roman province of Judaea by governor Publius Quinctilius Varus (46BC-9AD).

Diocletian also had messianic Jewish sectarians executed (called Manichaeans or, in later redactions of the sources, Christians).

He personally spent several months in Tiberias/Israel (286 BC; Barnes 1982, 50).

In the 4th century, however, this city did not build residential layers with homes, latrines or streets.

There are also no rabbinical texts pertaining to 4th century Tiberias.

Only the city walls are attributed to Late Antiquity, although they were built in the style and technology of Imperial Antiquity.

So we don’t know where Diocletian and his retinue might have lived.

The great writer of letters (some of them preserved), Saint Paul, was born in the time of Augustus.

The great letter writer Paulus the Confessor (not one epistle preserved) was born in the time of Diocletian.

The most important bishop of Sicily in the early 1st century was Marcianus of Syracuse.

In the early 4th century, the most important Sicilian bishop was also a Marcianus.

He too lived in Syracuse.

But archaeologically proven strata with residential buildings and latrines were built in Sicily’s metropolis, which lost its superior art treasures to Rome after its defeat in 212 BC, only in Imperial Antiquity, not in Diocletian’s time.

With the cult of worshipping the emperor Diocletian once again lived out his excessive love of tradition.

Not only did he reintroduce the deification of the emperor, but he did so from the city of Nikomedia, which also, 300 years earlier, took the initiative in the first deification of a Roman emperor, his idol Augustus.

Ammianus Marcellinus (330-395 AD) wrote about the history of the deification of Roman emperors: “Diocletian was the first to introduce the alien and royal way of adoration” (History 15.5.18; Rees 2004, 119).

But doesn’t that sound absurd, 300 years after Augustus was deified?

Ammianus gives the impression that none other than Diocletian deified Augustus.

And it is indisputable that, in 30 or 29 BC, a delegation to Rome from Nikomedia had proposed the divinization of Augustus.

And it was this Augustus, who had a first temple for his deification built in Nikomedia, not in Rome: “He allowed the non-Romans, called by him Hellenes, to dedicate holy districts to himself, to the inhabitants of Asia in Pergamon, to the Bithynians in Nikomedeia” (Cassius Dio LI, 20: 6-7).

What sounds chronologically bizarre cannot come as a surprise due to the stratigraphic parallelism of both personalities.

The deification – including the choice of divine bynames by Diocletian (Jupiter) and Maximinian (Hercules) – also became an instrument for the preservation of the unity of the empire.

Its eastern part, split off by Mark Antony, was used to this Hellenistic custom anyway.

It should now serve to strengthen the loyalty of the Hellenes for the empire as a whole.

The use of outdated weapons makes it particularly difficult to defend Diocletian against scientific accusations of insanity.

This seems much more absurd than the return to milestones in the style of the time “between 14 and 41 AD” (Cullen 2018b).

Diocletian and his fellow rulers carried swords that had been obsolete for some 300 years.

To this day, no swords of Roman origin can be found for his 4th century legions (Miks 2007/I, 211; see Heinsohn 2018b).

Thus, the archeologists cannot tell from the excavated weapons whether they date from the 1st or the 4th century.

Diocletian also repeated the small polygonal military camps from the early phase of the imperial era (Fischer 2009, 492 f.; 497).

Diocletian even endangered his cavalry because he sent them into battle without stirrups, as in the Augustus period.

Moreover, no weapon factories (fabricae) of Diocletian’s time have ever been found, although Late Antiquity at least has text sources that describe them in detail (Epitoma rei militaris of Vegetius).

However, there is hard evidence for weapon factories in the Augustan period.

Why would a defender of the unity of the empire do without such elementary industries?

Diocletian’s military conservatism and restraint was – with all due respect for the worship of the original – quite life-threatening, because no opponent could be expected to fight with outmoded weapons, as well.

Diocletian even returned to the annual military draft of Roman citizens: “Conscription was again necessary” (Lo Cascio 2005, 173).

The original number of 25-33 legions (Pollard/Berry 2012, 213) was also reintroduced by Diocletian.

The paradox of Roman arms manufacture can be illustrated with a simple table.

Stratigraphy shows the parallelism of text sources and archaeological finds and thus overcomes the paradox.

The extremist military conservatism of Diocletian’s time was even applied to armour.

The public presentation of the rulers of the 4th century by statues and cuirass should also express fidelity to the traditions of the 1st century.

Even the postures were chosen in such a way that a 300 years earlier impression was created.

The religious-pagan iconography of the Augustus family was also imitated by the Tetrarchs 300 years later.

On the Galerius arch (306 AD) in Thessaloniki, two Victorias offer textile stola wreaths to each of the two Augusti above them – Diocletian (Jupiter) and Maximinian (Hercules).

Outside stand the two Caesares, Constantius Chlorus and Galerius.

The decorative sculpture of Galerius from the 4th century shows an astonishing stylistic allusion to the Augustan “Ara Pacis“ in Rome (begun 13 BC), which, however, is of higher artistic quality and much better preserved due to the catastrophic covering of mud that protected it.

Textile stola wreaths and similar acanthus friezes were already used there.

Even in death the rulers of the early 4th century wanted to be buried like the emperors of the early 1st century.

The typical rotunda-mausoleum is indisputably a “copy of the Pantheon” (Johnson 2009, 90).

But also the magnificent sarcophagi with garlands, putti and grapes, which were produced in middle-class and imperial qualities, were revived once again.

But Diocletian is not only considered a crazy copycat.

He is also praised for very basic insights, which allegedly remained unknown to the Romans for 300 years.

That an invasion with a fleet would not only require a port of call, but also a port for landing, is considered one of his ingenious findings.

That it was necessary to build a Limes against the Parthians close to the Roman border with Parthia and not 1,000 km further southwest, was another stunning discovery of Diocletian.

Were the Romans really 300 years too stupid for such ordinary insights?

Since Licinius Crassus (115-53 BC) was killed by Parthians in the Battle of Carrhae/Haran, the powerful eastern foe intervened in Roman affairs.

Mark Antony lost an army to the Parthians in 37 BC, only to later ally himself with Parthian units against Octavian.

The latter achieved peace by 20 BC.

The Parthians merely returned the legionary eagles of Crassus but kept their territorial gains.

It was only a matter of time before the continuation of the Roman-Parthian wars.

The construction of border fortifications, indeed a stable Limes, would have been the obvious preparation.

But that was not done.

Only Trajan (98-117) who, with the changing fortunes of war (117-117) fought against the Parthians, could bring himself, more than 130 years later, to do something about the Parthian frontier.

His Via Nova was begun in 111 AD.

But Trajan is believed today to have made a fatal mistake.

Instead of building a Limes against Parthian deployment areas close to the Euphrates and Chabur, he built fortifications between Aqaba and Bostra, far from the Parthians.

Thus they were able to continue undisturbed left flank attacks into the soft underbelly of the Roman Empire.

This grave strategic failure had gone unnoticed for almost 200 years until Diocletian added the missing chain of fortifications from Bostra to Souriya, close to Carrhae/Haran where Crassus had lost his life and the legionary eagles.

With the masterful construction of the Via Diocletiana and its many forts, strategic mistakes since the time of Augustus had finally been corrected.

But the ancient Romans weren’t that ignorant.

That they look like this today is due to the anti-stratigraphic chronology ideas of modern historians and archaeologists.

In reality, Diocletian did not build his streets and fortresses about 200 years after Trajan, but about 100 years before in the time of Augustus.

Therefore he did not repeat the conquest of Egypt by Augustus in love with tradition, but was the organizer of this very conquest.

His troops did not use 300-year-old swords, but weapons of the Augustan period in this very period.

Trajan – to rehabilitate him – made no ludicrous mistake, but extended Diocletian‘s Limes south to the Red Sea.

Also by this measure he brought the empire to the climax of its expansion.

Both rulers thus proved to be fully capable and competent strategists.

Another strategic stroke of genius was created by Diocletian in England.

Little is known about Rome’s influence there between the conquests of Caesar (55 and 54 BC) and the invasion under Claudius (43 AD).

If one looks for a well-secured landing place for the Roman ships leaving from Bononia/Gesioracum (Boulogne sur Mer) for his landing port on the south coast of England in the 1st century “archaeological evidence is tantalizingly scant“ (Classis 2018).

Under Diocletian, however, the Classis Britannica was in full force again with enough ports for any endeavour, including the invasions of 306 and 343 AD under Constantius Chlorus and Constans.

So overwhelming was the love of tradition that even the legions of the 1st century (XX Valeria Victrix and II Augusta) were revived (Keppie 2000).

Only the prince of the Tetrarchs would have realized that the Romans needed ports on both sides of the Channel as well as the same experienced troops.

Yet even in Londinium no residential quarters with houses, latrines and streets were built during this period (Heinsohn 2018a).

Where then would the ships have taken their goods?

The fights of the Tetrarchs against Saxons on the south coast of England are nevertheless undisputed.

When did they take place?

This could only have happened between Caesar and Claudius when the Romans and the Germanic tribes competed for power in the British Isles.

This explains why early Saxon pottery in England belongs to the late Latène period of the 1st century BC (Hines 1996, 260), i.e to the time of Caesar and Augustus.

The English ports of the late 3rd century were actually built in the Augustus period.

Claudius’ legions and horses did not have to disembark through pounding surf on beaches or beneath cliffs.

Rutupiae (Richborough/Kent) and Portus Adurni (Portchester Castle, Hampshire) had existed for decades when the Claudius expedition arrived in 43 AD.

The concept of the Diocletian tetrarchy thus followed only a short time after the tetrarchies had been developed in the Middle Eastern regions of the Empire (Syria, Judaea) in the time of Mark Antony (86/82 to 30 [suicide] BC) and Octavian/Augustus (31 BC to 14 AD).

In the year 30 BC, after Octavian’s victory over Mark Antony, the division of the Roman Empire did not come to an end.

Instead, the empire was partitioned into militarily defensible realms.

It was the splitting of the empire by Mark Antony’s donation (34 BC) of its eastern part to his children with Cleopatra, which was turned into a mere administrative boundary by Diocletian.

To replace secession by subdivision was his greatest achievement.

As head of the Tetrarchy Diocletian became the highest authority for the defense of the empire’s borders.

The unity of the empire was achieved by giving the leading commanders their own capitals – each one received at least one little Rome with palace and circus – so that the four co-rulers of the Tetrarchy were no longer seduced to occupy the empire’s heart.

The capitals of the 4th century Tetrarchs strikingly resemble the building outlines and construction techniques of 1st century Rome, because they were not separated by 300 years but belonged to the same period of time.

There has therefore been no standstill of evolution over 300 years.

This parallelism, however, occurred neither in the 1st nor in the 4th century, but –– in real time, i.e. stratigraphically –– in the early 8th century.

Reconstructions of these capitals – conceived as a bunch of powerful cities to shield the mega-metropolis Rome – are shown below.

All cities went through important developments between 1 and the 230 AD.

Evolution never stood still.

In the plague crisis with Antonine Fires in the time of Mark Aurel and Commodus (162-192 AD), many cities experienced destruction, reduction in size and also the immigration of strangers.

After the reductions in size, new and shorter walls were erected between preserved and destroyed districts.

They were often constructed of building stones (spoliae) from the abandoned parts (well researched, for example, at Ephesus; Heinsohn 2016).

These events are usually well recognized by archaeologists.

However, they are not dated into the 2nd but into the 5th century.

This is anti-stratigraphic but not illogical because they are dated about 160 years after Diocletian, which repeats the distance between Augustus and Marcus Aurelius.

In this “5th” century, too, foreigners ethnically similar to those of the 2nd century (such as “proto”-Hunnish Iazyges in the 2nd and Huns in the 5th century) immigrated into the land.

Therefore, modern scholars believe in two migration periods, one in the 2nd and another in the 5th century.

But nowhere are there cities with two or even three separate urban evolutions on top of each other for Imperial Antiquity, Late Antiquity and Early Middle Ages.

Only one such evolution is found per place.

This is the reason why cities supposedly 700 years apart exhibit basically the same architecture.

Below are exemples for Londinium/England in the 2nd and Preslav/Bulgaria in the 9th century.

Only Preslav is – cum grano salis – stratigraphically dated, whereas Londinium follows textbook chronology (Heinsohn 2018a).

Other designs of the Augustus period are also repeated 300 years later.

Well known is the basilica in the form of the halls of thermal baths.

It was first built in 33 BC as Basilica Nettuno by Agrippa (63-12 BC).

A larger but similar basilica of Maxentius (270-312 AD) followed in 307 AD.

Stratigraphically, there are approximately 70 years between the two buildings, not 340.

Like in the time of Augustus, Rome’s splendid Basilica Iulia burned down again under Diocletan.

He restored it 1:1 in the 300 years outdated style of Augustus.

The same he did with the Curia.

Yet, let us look not only at individual buildings, but at complete cities.


The purpose of the empire’s subdivision by Diocletian and his tetrarchy was to permanently end the civil wars that had been raging since 88 BC (Marius [died 86 BC] against Sulla [died 78 BC]).

This transformation from a more central to a more decentralized administration did not take place 300 years after these massive strifes, but during the time that Augustus was still emperor.

Diocletian did not organize decentralization to weaken Rome, but to protect the capital.

Diocletian was not an obsessed imitator of Augustus’s reforms.

He was directly responsible for their implementation.

In order for Rome to remain untouchable, the Tetrarchs, who provided its protection, were given their own capitals with the power emblems of Rome, i.e. primarily a large palace and a majestic circus.

These capitals did not by chance look like smaller versions of Rome, but belonged to the same time and culture.

The real time of this simultaneity was – stratigraphically seen – not the 1st or 4th century, but – cum grano salis – the 8th century.

Diocletian’s swords look like the weapons of the Augustan period because they were both made during the same era.

That’s why he could not help but employ the legions of the 1st century.

He couldn’t forbid his cavalry to use stirrups because there weren’t any yet.

Rome has no settlement layers with dwellings, latrines, roads and water pipes for the Tetrarchs on buildings or ruins of the Severans (193-234 AD), because the tetrarchy was active before and not after the Severans. Elagabal (218-222) was the last emperor ever to reside on Rome’s Palatine Hill.

Diocletian knew nothing of a physically destroyed empire.

He did not see himself as a rebuilder of ruined cities.

According to his own statement, “the greatest thing he succeeded in […] was the preservation of imperial unity” (das Grösste, was ihm gelungen, sei die Erhaltung der Reichseinheit; Demandt/Demandt 2005, 474).

Diocletian never bragged about wanting to do everything like Augustus.

The man was no impersonator.

He had no idea of a distance of 300 years between himself and Augustus.

For him (like for stratigraphy), these 300 years simply did not exist.

Diocletian and Augustus were contemporaries.

Stratigraphically, Imperial Antiquity and Late Antiquity belong to the same period of the 8th to 10th century.

They experienced their downfall in the cataclysm of the 930s.

By reuniting written reports and material findings that had previously been split into two eras, historiography can gain reasonable narratives for the first time.

Today, history is plagued with fragments and perplexities.

The parallels in the following table provide only a few examples from the wealth of evidence for the simultaneity of “both” epochs and thus for devising a combined narrative.


-AIG (2018) ==
Archäologisches Institut Göttingen, “Ikonographie: Attribute“,; retrieved 24-08-2018

-Barnes, T.D. (1982),
The New Empire of Diocletian and Constantine, Cambridge/Mass & London:
Harvard University Press

-Beaufort, J. (2013),
Einige Heerführer und Kaiser von Caesar bis Diocletian gemäß Heinsohn-These mit um 284 Jahre rückdatierten Soldatenkaisern, PDF

-Behrwald, R. (2009),
Die Stadt als Museum? Die Wahrnehmung der Monumente Roms in der Spätantike,
Berlin: Akademie Verlag

-Bishop, M.C. (1985),
“The military fabrica and the production of arms in the early principate” (1984),
in M.C. Bishop, ed.., The Production and Distribution of Roman Military Equipment.
Proceedings of the Second Roman Military Equipment Research Seminar,
Oxford: BAR International Series, vol. 275, 1-4 (

-Bowman, A.K. (2005),
“Diocletian and the First Tetrarchy, A.D. 284-305,
in Cambridge Ancient History. Second Edition. Volume XII:
The Crisis of Empire A.D. 193-337, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 67-89

-Chastagnol, A. (1960),
La préfecture urbaine à Rome sous le Bas-Empire, Paris: Presses Universitaires de France

-Classis (2018),
“Classis Britannica“,; retrieved 27-08-2018

-Cullen, T. (2018a),
“Enigmatic Egypt: Roman Ruination – Red Sea Hills”

-Cullen, T. (2018b),
“ L for Leaguestone“;

-Cullen, T. (2018c),
“P for Porphyry”;

-Dabrowa, E. (1993),
Legio X Fretensis. A Prosopographical Study of its Officers (I-III c. A.D.), Stuttgart: Steiner

-Demandt, B., Demandt, A. Hg. (2005),
Theodor Mommsen: Römische Kaisergeschichte nach den Vorlesungs-Mitschriften von Sebastian und Paul Hensel 1882/1886, 2nd edition, München: CH Beck

-Diadem (2018),
“Antike“,; retrieved 24-08-2018

-Dominat (2018),; retrieved 24-08-2018

-Dominate (2018),
“Origin of the term”, in; retrieved 23-08-2018

-Fischer, Th. (2009),
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Editorial Assistance

Thanks to Clark Whelton (New York/NY) and Tim Cullen (Malaga/Spain).

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13 Responses to Gunnar Heinsohn: Diocletian: Ingenious or Insane?

  1. It is more likely the post catastrophe scholars fabricating history were and remain insane as a direct result of the traumas they kept suppressed in humanity’s species memory.

  2. Yry says:

    The pictures of the cities being compared + the very last picture showing the multi-layered stratigraphy of Rome are most helpful.

    The texts do help as well, they have to be read several times to fully digest the scope of your significant findings.

    Thanks a lot for sharing with us this precious knowledge.

  3. johnm33 says:

    It seems entirely plausible that in a time of transiton or weakness that apart from Italia the Maximian area could be easily conquered by a new warrior elite, more acceptable locally. With minimal disruption to their economy, the ‘peasants’ need hardly notice.
    You seem to be dating by accepting todays date and working back in time, given the chaos thats as good as any but is that the case?

  4. This gets more interesting and intriguing. Not my cup-o-tea on personalities. But the Roman edged armour I see has potential in resolving some basic questions on chronology.
    The raw material and method of construction of the sword, unlike the plough-share, has seen continuous development, which may be traced through the centuries with modern investigative techniques. Wiki -see manufacture- may be an interesting introduction.

    • Carsten says:

      Well interesting though describing the Romans as kinda different from Etruscans seems odd to me. Of course they continued Etruscan ironworking as they had been party to that culture during their time as a kingdom. Talk of being cautious.
      I don’t get the chronology resolving on basis of swords as the article says the Romans continued working swords from both single blooms and several blooms?
      I know the Norse made swords from three blooms – saw such on telly time ago.
      BTW the Etruscan/Greek Kopis looks seriously like a Sax predecessor of the Celtic longsword in Norse lands.

      • Agreed, up to a point.
        Etruscan as a language is still basically an unknown; which make it quite distinct from the other Italic groups. See That alone makes distinct Roman from earlier Etruscan.

        The metallurgy and manufacturing methods of the sword may have and show a specific chronological timeline. Any large gaps in that timeline may indicated where additional centuries could have been inserted. Knowledge in the working of steel did not fall from heaven, and one can probably trace how it diffused.

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  7. johnm33 says:

    Alan Wilson tried using medieval welsh/coelbrin to read Etruscan it consistently made sense. That would make them part of the ‘Celtic’ retreat from the eastern med. I’ve said elsewhere but I’ll repeat it, given their liberated attitude to women, despite the charge that they arrived without any and bought them as slaves, one would guess that they were the non inheriting sons and [bodyguards?] of some king who moved them away before the depradations of the succession began.

  8. tiami says:

    But why are Diocletian’s (and later emperors’) coins so different to Augustus’ if they were contemporaries? Diocletian’s coins were minted and are being found throughout Roman world. Also judging by coins inscriptions Augustus’ (or Caesar’s) identity is hardly convincing. Looks like Augustus is mideval copy of tetrachic emperors, Diocletian and Constantine..

  9. tiami says:

    I want to thank you for fantastic blog and share something that might interest you.

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