The bridge crosses the Cendere Creek, also known as the Chabinas Creek (the name found on the dedicatory inscription blocks), which is a tributary of the Katha River (known in ancient times as the Nymphaios River). The arch of 34.2 meters makes this span the second largest single arched Roman bridge known. It’s length is 120 meters, while it’s width is 7 meters.
Pictured above, the Cendere Bridge as seen from the new road and bridge half a kilometer away. The creek flows out of the mountain gorge under the massive arch, and into ancient Commagenean lands.
The Roman era Cendere/Chabinas bridges (I say ‘bridges’, because apparently there were at least two Roman bridges built at this site), both to supply and defend Eastern Anatolia.
The first Roman Cendere Bridge is thought to have been built during the reign of Emperor Vespasian 69-79 CE, then rebuilt by the Roman Legion XVI Gallica (garrisoned at ancient Samosata) 193-211 CE. The most precise date for the building of the current bridge is 200 CE, not 197 CE as previously thought, as the Eastern campaign against the Parthians began in 197 CE. By 200 CE the war was over, and the new bridge was constructed to facilitate communications and movement.
The 9-10 meter high columns at both ends of the bridge are a dedication to the Roman Emperor Lucius Septimius Severus, his second wife Julia Domna, and their sons Caracalla and Publius, as stated in the inscriptions, except one is missing.
Pictured above, the column dedicated to Caracalla remains in situ, however, the column dedicated to Publius was met with a fatal blow.
After Caracalla had his brother Publius assassinated, all inscriptions and monuments to him were removed throughout the empire by order of Caracalla. This is the reason only Caracalla’s column stands at the Sincik or, Northern end of the bridge.
Pictured below, the dedicatory inscription to Caracalla from the cities of Commagene.
The bridge was restored in 1951 and again in1997, and initially, traffic was allowed up to 5 tons, but with the new road and bridge, all vehicular traffic has been stopped.
Please imagine a kilometers long column of Roman soldiers and equipment passing over this bridge on their way to Samosata.
Pictured below, one of the repetitive inscriptions explaining the construction of the bridge by the Roman Legion XVI Gallica, garrisoned in Samosata.
The massive rock slab seen beyond the bridge peaks above the bend in the river, and descends to the foot of the bridge on the Katha or Southern end.
Fresh water, a roof over your head, a bountiful valley before you, those caves must have been prime property for their ancient dwellers.
The inscription pictured here as translated by French explorers Louis Jalabert and Rene Mouterde in 1929 in “Inscriptions grecques et Latines de la Syrie” reads:
Imp(erator) Caes(ar) L(ucius) Septi/mius Severus Pius / Pertinax Aug(ustus) Ara/bic(us) Adiab(enicus) Parthic(us) / princ[e]ps felic(um) pon/tif(ex) max(imus) trib(unicia) pot(estate) / XII imp(erator) VIII co(n)s(ul) II / proco(n)s(ul) et Imp(erator) Caes(ar) / M(arcus) Aurel(ius) Antoni/nus Aug(ustus) Augusti / n(ostri) fil(ius) proco(n)s(ul) imp(erator) III / et P(ublius) Septimius [[Ge]]/[[ta]] Caes(aris) fil(ius) et fra/ter Augg(ustorum) nn(ostrorum) / pontem chabi/nae fluvi a so/lo restituerunt / et transitum / reddiderunt / sub Alfenum Senecionem / leg(atum) Augg(ustorum) pr(o) pr(aetore) curante Ma/rio perpetuo leg(ato) Augg(ustorum) leg(ionis) / XVI F(laviae) F(irmae) [CIL 03, 06709]
With some very slight variation in the bridge dedicatory/information blocks, the same inscription is repeated on both ends of the bridge.