Wien Museum Short Guide „Vindobona - Roman Vienna“

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VINDOBONA ROMAN VIENNA Editor Michaela Kronberger



Edited by Michaela Kronberger



Vindobona Roman Vienna Exhibition Directors Wien Museum: Wolfgang Kos, Christian Kircher Curators: Michaela Kronberger, Kristina Adler-Wölfl Exhibition Architecture: querkraft architekten Exhibition Graphics: Larissa Cerny Wall Illustrations: Bernhard Münzenmayer-Stipanits Animated Films: 7reasons Interactive Objects: Walter Pehn Computer Stations: Lisa Liebert Curatorial Assistance: Sandro Fasching, Constanze Sarbiak

Catalogue Editor: Michaela Kronberger Authors: Kristina Adler-Wölfl, Michaela Binder, Sigrid Czeika, Michaela Kronberger, Ursula Thanheiser Translation: Elvira and Ralph de Ocampo, Andrew Horsfield Graphic Design: Larissa Cerny Editing: Michaela Binder, Kristina Adler-Wölfl Picture Credits: All objects were provided by the named institutions. Photos of the Objects of the Wien Museum: Stiegler/Massard, Vienna, Birgit & Peter Kainz, Vienna Location Shots and Stereograms: Birgit & Peter Kainz, Vienna Cover Picture: Michael Klein/7reasons, Alfred Havlicek 1st Edition Publisher: Self-published by Wien Museum Copyright: 2009 by Wien Museum All rights reserved, also for the partial print or reproduction of a picture. The work, including all its parts, are copyrighted. Any use without authorisation from the publisher is prohibited. This applies especially to reproduction, translations, microfilming, and saving and processing in electronic systems. ISBN 978-3-902312-18-1 (3-902312-18-1)

Roman Museum 1010 Vienna, Hoher Markt 3 Telephone: (+43-1) 5058747/85180 E-Mail:


With the support of:


Preface Wolfgang Kos


About the Concept of the Exhibition Michaela Kronberger


Orientation Map


Ground Floor Entrance Area Chapter 1 Vienna during Roman Times


Ground Floor Exhibition Tour


Chapter 2 Settlement before the Romans

Chapter 6 A Soldier’s Daily Life

20 22 24 26 38

First Floor Exhibition Tour


Chapter 7 A Colourful Mix of People

Religion Urban Centres – Canabae Legionis and Civilian Town Chapter 10 Daily Life in Civilian Vindobona

50 53 56 70

Lower Ground Floor Excavation Site


Chapter 11 The Officers’ Houses of Vindobona Chapter 13 Layers of Rubble

88 92 94

List of Illustrations Literature

95 95

Chapter 3 The First Romans Chapter 4 Roman Vienna Chapter 5 The Legionary Fortress as an Urban Centre

Chapter 8 Chapter 9

Chapter 12 Late Vindobona


Preface Wolfgang Kos

The numerous locations of the Wien Museum, with the Roman Museum being one of them, offer a unique opportunity. A range of sites reveal various aspects of urban culture to a wider audience. At the same time, our ‘outposts’ have always posed a challenge – whether visibility in the city (keyword here: effective signposting), infrastructure at the location, or the permanent exhibits on display and their re-adaptation or new conception based on the latest scientific findings. And this was exactly the case with the new Roman Museum. Up to 2007, the ‘Roman Ruins at the Hoher Markt’ were particularly problematic. Difficult to spot from the outside, being located in the basement of a building, they remained undetected by many passers-by. Nevertheless, approximately 15,000 visitors found their way to the most important Roman excavations in Vienna. For many school classes, a visit to the remains of the Roman officers’ houses, discovered during work on the sewers in 1948, was compulsory. Yet the lack of infrastructure was striking – even toilet facilities for visitors to this modern cultural location were lacking, let alone other amenities. When it became known in 2007 that the restaurant on the building’s ground floor was to close down, the Wien Museum management immediately contacted the owner of the property with a view to renting the space, as well as an additional floor. Excavations below ground could now finally be completed to enable life in Roman Vienna to be put on display. Within a few months, a rather unimpressive ‘outpost’ was transformed into a small, modern, highly attractive museum that has drawn enormous attention, not only from the media, but also from the wider public.

Did all Romans come from Italy? Chapter 7


After the structural redesign carried out by querkraft architects, we can finally present to visitors a location that does full justice to Vienna’s significance in Roman times. The f­ acade already attracts the attention of passers-by, pointing to the fascinating ‘interior’ which, given the limited area, is as generous as can be expected. Expanding the area also increased the range of contents on display. The new permanent exhibition tells much more than just the story of the excavations – it covers Roman Vienna in general. Two main questions catch the visitor’s eye from the outset: How did the Romans live in Vindobona? Were all Romans legionaries? Some 300 fascinating archaeological finds provide answers to such questions, supported by informative texts, computer visuals, graphics and wall illustrations. Traditionally, the depiction of Vindobona focused on the legionary fortress, which was located between today’s Danube Canal and the Graben. The latest research, however, shows a much more complex picture with both a large civilian settlement outside the fortress and a civilian town situated in today’s 3rd district. The new permanent presentation impressively conveys these aspects of Roman Vienna, too. Complemented by tangible replicas and a play station for children, the exhibition also includes, for the first time, a video guide offering information in sign language. Hopes of a positive reception of this new cultural offering have so far been more than fulfilled. The Roman Museum attracted more than 30,000 visitors in the first year following its opening in May 2008. Many were families and school classes, but also tourists. The only thing missing was a publication accompanying the new permanent exhibition. Given that this short guide has turned out as attractive as the museum itself, I would like to thank all the participants, especially Michaela Kronberger and Michaela Binder, as well as Larissa Cerny for the superb graphics.

Who were here before the Romans? Chapter 2


About the Concept of the Exhibition Michaela Kronberger

The Museum Vindobonense, Vienna’s first Roman museum which opened on May 27, 1903, was destroyed during a bombing raid in 1945. With the redesign of the Roman Museum located above the best preserved structural remains of Vindobona, a unique chance arose to display Vienna’s Roman history in more extensive format. Intensive research into Roman Vindobona in recent years has significantly increased our knowledge of the legionary headquarters and its surroundings. The deeper we immerse ourselves into this early period, the more questions emerge. Yet these questions are the driving force for even more intensive research into the environment and living conditions of those who lived in Vienna long before us. Selected questions and their answers provide the structure for the exhibition. Due to limited space, it concentrates on the growth of Vindobona during the 2nd and 3rd century A.D. Besides the location of the settlement centres, the daily life of its inhabitants is the key focus. Aside from the few literary sources, inten­tionally and carefully chosen objects provide the main link to the lives of those people who once owned them. The debate surrounding the exhibition room, which was difficult to design, was especially fascinating.

Why is present-day Vienna three metres higher than Vindobona? Chapter 13


It was particularly challenging for the team of architects to develop creative ideas. Thus a construction framework was created that provided the basis for an exhibition concept in which the varying strands of archaeological objects, graphics and text design were unified in terms of context. Graphics were employed for a range of purposes: to link settlement areas of Vindobona based on a large central map, to emphasise large objects by shades, to illustrate texts, to ensure easier interpretation, and to restore archaeological artefacts which are only preserved in fragments. Illustrated paintings and computer animation are intended to encourage the imagination and allow a better understanding of the exhibition’s contents. Young as well as adult visitors sometimes wish to touch things during an unobserved moment, especially in museums; they want to appreciate objects. This was allowed for by the integration of replicas and interactive exhibits. Special attention is given to children, who were allocated space in the middle of the exhibition. Three computer stations distributed throughout the Roman Museum encourage visitors to undertake further research. Additionally, a small exhibition area offers various institutions the chance to present their latest research into Roman Vienna.

What did legionaries do in peacetime? Chapter 6

Were Romans allowed to marry locals? Chapter 7

Could women vote? Chapter 10


Orientation Map Ground Floor Entrance Area 1 Vienna during Roman Times Ground Floor Exhibition Tour 2 Settlement before the Romans 3 The First Romans 4 Roman Vienna 5 The Legionary Fortress as an Urban Centre

5.1 Defence System / 5.2 Fortress Gates / 5.3 Fortress Roads / 5.4 Headquarters Building / 5.5 Commander’s House / 5.6 Military Hospital / 5.7 Soldiers’ Accommodation / 5.8 Workshops /

5.9 Baths / 5.10 Officers’ Houses


A Soldier’s Daily Life

6.1 Soldiers’ Duties / 6.2 Marcomannic Wars / 6.3 Arms and Equipment of the Troops /

6.4 Writing / 6.5 Food / 6.6 Sewage Water System, Latrines and Waste / 6.7 Water

First Floor Exhibition Tour 7 A Colourful Mix of People 8 Religion 8.1 Sacrifices / 8.2 Cygnus Relief 9 Urban Centres – Canabae Legionis and Civilian Town 9.1 Temple / 9.2 Theatre/Amphitheatre / 9.3 Forum / 9.4 Administration / 9.5 Baths /

9.6 Industry / 9.7 Town Walls / 9.8 Handicrafts / 9.9 Streets and Roads

10 Daily Life in Civilian Vindobona

10.1 Work / 10.2 Man and Animal / 10.3 Food / 10.4 Trade / 10.5 Leisure /

10.6 Jewellery and Fashion / 10.7 Hygiene / 10.8 Family / 10.9 Living /

10.10 Death and Burial / 10.11 Health and Disease

Lower Ground Floor Excavation Site 11 The Officers’ Houses of Vindobona 11.1 Who Lived Here / 11.2 Underfloor Heating 12 Late Vindobona 13 Layers of Rubble Legionary Fortress Urban Centres Everyday Life


Ground Floor


4 5.4–5.10


5 5.3



6.6 6








First Floor

7 10.1–10.9



10 10.10–10.11

Lower Ground Floor


11.2 11

12 13


9.1–9.3 9.9


8 8.1





Vienna during Roman Times Visitors to the Roman Museum find themselves in Vienna’s inner city, where the legionary fortress of Vindobona once stood nearly 2,000 years ago. On the lower ground floor of the museum, the remains of two officers’ houses can be seen, the most important excavation in Vienna. On the ground and first floor, the military town, the large urban settlement in front of the fortress and the civil town are presented. What did Roman Vienna look like? How did people live then? The Romans were in the area of Vienna for about 350 years. In 97 A.D., one of the 30 legionary fortresses of the Imperium Romanum developed here. The empire stretched from Britannia to Syria. Vindobona served as a means to secure the northern frontier. Beyond the Danube lay the Germanic region. Vindobona experienced an economic and cultural period of prosperity from the 2nd to the middle of the 3rd century A.D. The exhibition concentrates on this crucial era, when more than 30,000 people lived here. Around the legionary fortress, civilian settlements flourished with a colourful mix of inhabitants: Romans, Romanised Celts, and immigrants from all corners of the empire. Since the late 19th century, remains of Vienna’s Roman past have been unearthed in the course of construction works. Through scientific analysis of walls, layers of earth, and daily necessities, not only information about buildings can be obtained, but also about the daily life of people who once lived here. Nearly all the exhibits presented come from the Wien Museum’s own collection.



Timeline A.D. 6 Campaign of Tiberius against the Germanic king Marbod; First Roman legions in the Vienna Basin. 9 Demarcation of the province of Pannonia. 17– 41 Occasional presence of the legio XV Apollinaris in Vindobona. 54 – 69 First Roman settlement activity. 89 – 92 Construction of the fortress for a Britannic cavalry unit, possibly in the area of today’s Scottish Monastery (Schottenkloster). 97 Vindobona becomes one of 30 legion headquarters of the Roman Empire. 97 –101 Deployment of the legio XIII Gemina. 101 –114 Deployment of the legio XIIII Gemina Martia Victrix. 106 Partition of the province of Pannonia; The legion headquarters of Carnuntum (provincial capital), Vindobona and Brigetio are now part of Pannonia Superior. 114 The legio X Gemina is based in Vindobona and remains there until the end of Roman rule. Around 150 in “Geography” by Ptolemy, Vindobona is mentioned with longitudes and latitudes. 166 –180 Vindobona and Carnuntum become starting points for the Roman campaigns during the Marcomannic Wars. 193 Provincial Governor Septimius Severus is proclaimed Emperor by the troops in Carnuntum. 193 –235 Economic prosperity and the largest expansion of the settlement areas under the Severan Emperors. The Edict of Caracalla (Constitutio Anton­in­ iana) grants Roman citizenship to all free inhabitants of the Empire.



235 –285 Border conflicts and secessions from parts of the empire lead to a crisis. In rapid succession soldier emperors strengthen the military at the expense of the civilian population. 250 –300 Gradual decline of the urban settlement outside the fortress and the civilian town of Vindobona; a landslide destroys large parts of the legionary fortress and the urban settlement. 284 –313 Emperor Diocletian divides imperial authority among four individuals (Tetrarchy) and decrees comprehensive reforms. Vindobona is now part of the province of Pannonia Prima. 306 –337 Under Emperor Constantine I, the legionary fortress changes into a fortress town. The civilian population completely withdraws behind the walls. 313 Recognition and advancement of Christianity through the Edict of Milan. Around 350 Catastrophic earthquakes in Carnuntum and possibly in Vindobona as well. 364 –375 Massive reinforcement of the fortifications along the NoricPannonian Limes under Emperor Valentinian I, so in Vindobona as well. 350 –400 In the Notitia Dignitatum – a late Roman government register – Vindobona is mentioned as a legionary and naval base. 378 Emperor Valens is defeated at the Battle of Adrianople by the Goths. After this, the settlement of Huns and East Germanic allies (foederates) in Pannonia increases, and possibly in the Vienna area as well. 395 Invasion of the Marcomanni and the Quadi. Further settlement of allied Germanic people in the Roman area. Around 395 – ca. 430 The military-structured administration of Vindobona dissolves gradually. Further settlement is documented. After 430 In the Roman settlement area of Vindobona, no further archaeo­ logical evidence of a settlement can be found until approximately the 9th/10th century A.D.

Exhibition Tour Ground Floor



Settlement before the Romans


Thaya March

Oberleiserberg Danube Leopoldsberg near Vienna


Devin Bratislava

Braunsberg BOII

The most important Celtic settlement areas in the Vienna region around 80/70 B.C.

Sopron Schwarzenbach

The Celtic tribe of the Boii settled in the Viennese Basin in the 1st century B.C. Around 70 B.C., an important Celtic centre, or so-called oppidum, developed on the castle hill of B ­ ratislava. Thirty years later, a military conflict between the Dacians and Scordisci erupted due to the expansion of the realm further east. It ended catastrophically for the Boii. Their defeat, and the destruction of the settlement on the castle hill in Bratislava, signified the end of the Boii’s supremacy. Further areas turned into badlands, which Plinius called “Deserta Boiorum” – “the Boii Desert” – in his Naturalis Historia. These areas might have come under the realm of Noricum, a Celtic kingdom, which was annexed by the Romans in 15 B.C. It is difficult to know what happened to the common people during this period. When the Romans arrived in the area of Vienna following the conquests of Emperor Augustus, the region was still inhabited by the Boii. They were politically part of the Celtic Regnum Noricum. It is thought that there was a larger settlement on the Leopoldsberg. Traces of settlement of the late Celtic period could be found in today’s 3rd district of Vienna, where the civilian town of Vindobona developed from the 1st century A.D. onwards. Besides the Celts, Germanic peoples – allied with the Romans – settled in our area from 50 A.D. onwards. Their tribal area was originally situated north of the Danube, outside the Roman Empire. After internal political difficulties, they were granted asylum south of the Danube. Celtic and Germanic names and decorations lasted far into the 2nd century A.D. when the area of Vienna had already long been part of the Roman Empire. In the course of time, the local people mixed with the Romans.


Grave Items from the Grave of a Germanic Nobleman, c. 50 A.D.

Bucket, casserole, candelabra, ladle (Simpulum), fitting for a drinking horn, riding spores Silver, Bronze

For the Germanic tribes, bronze and silver dishware were not only an expression of great luxury but also a chance to demonstrate knowledge of the Roman way of life. This grave was likely to be of a Germanic noble­ man who had settled here. Most of the grave items show traces of burns and deformations as though they have been put into a pyre. A large bucket was probably used as an urn.

Late Celtic Ceramic Fragments, End of the 1st Century A.D.

Individual finds from the late Celtic Period have accumulated in Vienna’s 3rd district. Due to the discovery of two kilns in Engelsberggasse/Riesgasse, traces of settlement were detected in 1926. These stretch over an area of approx. 78 ha, as new finds and research show. To the present day, no settlement of Celts and Romans existing at the same time could be found for this early period.




The First Romans River Elbe

Teutoburg Forest (battle site) Rhine


MARCOMANNI Mogontiacum (Mainz)


QUADI Danube

Planned Campaign of the Romans

Vindobona Carnuntum

By 5 A.D., the Roman Empire had brought large parts of the Germanic area between the Rhine, the Elbe/Saale, and the Main under its influence. Permanent military bases and towns were erected. North of the Danube, the empire of the Marcomannic king, Marbod, became too powerful for the Romans to tolerate. For the campaign against the Marcomannians, Rome mobilised all twelve legions that were based in Germania, Raetia and Illyricum. The troops based in Germania left Mainz for the Elbe, while Tiberius was to push forward from Carnuntum to Bohemia. The campaign, however, had to be postponed, because a revolt broke out in Pannonia that required the intervention of Tiberius. Previously, he succeeded in negotiating a peace treaty with Marbod, the king of the Marcommani. Shortly after the suppression of the Pannonian revolt, the Roman Empire was dealt one of its largest defeats. In 9 A.D., the Cheruscans destroyed three Roman legions commanded by Varus in the Teutoburg Forest, including auxiliary troops and baggage train. The Romans had to withdraw back to the borders along the Rhine and the Danube, the defence of which kept them occupied for another 400 years. Hence, legionary fortresses were built along the Danube, with Vindobona being one of them.


Burial Stele for C. Atius, 6–41 A.D.

Plastercast Long before the construction of the legionary fortress in Vindobona at the end of the 1st century A.D., the Roman military was already present in the area of Vienna, the oldest inscribed evidence for this being the gravestone of Caius Atius. It dates from 6 A.D. – the time of the wars of conquest under Augustus – up to the end of Tiberius’s reign in 41 A.D. Caius Atius was a legionary of the 15th Legion who died on active duty in Vindobona aged 28. At that time, he had already served 10 years in the legion. Details of his tax district enable us to conclude that he originated from Upper Italy or South Gaul. The gravestone is the only extant proof that the 15th Legion was present in Vienna prior to its deployment to Carnuntum. No structural remains could yet be found, however.

Photo of the filling of a v-shaped ditch in Schottenkloster

This v-shaped ditch most likely belonged to the auxiliary fort of the Ala I Britannica.

Inscription for C. Atius: C(aius) Atius Q(uinti) f(ilius) Anie(n) s(i) miles leg(ionis) XV Apol(l)inaris an(n)oru(m) XXIIX stipendioru(m) X h(ic) s(itus) e(st) C. Atius, son of Quintus, from the tax district (Tribus) Aniensis, soldier of the 15th Legion, 28 years old, 10 years of service, is buried here.

The Ala I Britannica Two burial steles of cavalrymen from the Ala I Britannica were discovered during the con­ struction of the Stallburg in 1559. Another stele, which is from T. Flavius Draccus and displayed at the Wien Museum in Karlsplatz, came to light in 1901. The inscriptions show that this unit, comprising 1,000 men during

Burial Stele of T. Flavius Draccus, 93–96 A.D.

Lime Sandstone, coated with stucco, painted Found: 1st District, Habsburgergasse 9, 1901 The soldier came from present-day western Switzerland, and died at the age of 45 after 22 years of service.

the reign of Emperor Domitian (81–96 A.D.), was based in Vindobona even before the per­ma­ nent assignment of a legion. The most plausi­ble location of its 4-hectare large cavalry fort is in the area of the Freyung, where the Schotten­ kloster (Scottish Monastery) is located today.



Roman Vienna The political and economic development of the Danube region was strongly influenced by the Roman military. Up to the time of Emperor Trajan (98–117 A.D.), four legions were stationed in Pannonia to protect the northern border of the Roman Empire marked by the River Danube (Vindobona/ Vienna, ­Carnuntum, Brigetio/Sz´óny-Komárom and Aquincum/Budapest). In Vienna’s flat elevated area, the Romans found an ideal place for the con­struction of a 20-hectare large legionary fortress. They positioned the fortress in a way that the north side was protected by a steep slope to the Danube and the Ottakringer Bach formed a natural barrier to the west. The river and its harbour were important for the transport of food and economic goods that were supplied to the legionary headquarters. Supplies were also guaranteed through rural road connections, which were also necessary for the quick deployment of troops. An urban settlement quickly developed around the fortifications of the military base. It had a close relationship with the military administration providing space for shops, workshops, taverns and recrea­ tional facilities. The civilian settlement, grand country houses, and rural ­settlements were situated further away. Vindobona’s period of prosperity lasted from around the middle of the 2nd to the middle of the 3rd century A.D. Inscriptions and material evidence such as ceramics or parts of garments show that people from all parts of the Roman Empire lived in Vindobona together with the local population. The ravages of war, a devastating flood that destroyed large parts of the ­central settlement area, and a series of administrative and military reforms at the end of the 3rd and beginning of the 4th century A.D. all led to the population withdrawing into the fortress. Over time, the settlement waned in i­ mportance, and by the beginning of the 5th century A.D was of no significance whatsoever.






The Legionary Fortress as an Urban Centre





1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Principia Praetorium Valetudinarium Barracks Fabrica Baths Officer’s House




Schematic layout of the Vindobona legionary fortress

Roman military fortresses such as Vindobona were mostly standardised. They were built for one legion, which had a maximum of 6,000 soldiers. Their commanders (legatus legionis) were very senior in the empire’s hierarchy, subordinate only to the emperor and the provincial governor concerned. A legionary fortress not only had a military function, but was also a ­centre of administration. Because of their monumental stone buildings, fortresses looked like urban settlements. The central buildings were some of the greatest architectural examples of their time in the provinces, and undoubtedly made an intimidating impression on local inhabitants. The soldiers based in the outermost frontiers of the empire did not have to sacrifice their habitual way of life. Large baths, a freshwater supply, and special food such as olive oil were all available. A legionary fortress affected the whole region’s economy. Roman cultural skills and m ­ oral concepts were adopted by the local population, who, for their part, also influenced the ­Romans. A new Roman provincial culture eventually developed.


Outlines of the legionary fortress in Vienna’s cityscape

Wien Museum RĂśmermuseum

Wien Museum Ausgrabungen Michaelerplatz




The Legionary Fortress


West: Tiefer Graben South: Naglergasse / Graben East: Rotenturmstraße / Stephansplatz North: Gonzagagasse / Schwedenplatz SIZE

22.5 ha (approx. 400 x 500 m) OCCUPYING FORCES

97–101 A.D.: Legio XIII Gemina 101–114 A.D.: Legio XIIII Gemina Martia Victrix since 114 A.D.: Legio X Gemina INHABITANTS

approx. 8,000 –12,000, including 4,000 – 6,000 troops civilians: officers’ relatives, slaves, stable hands, and horses PERIOD OF SETTLEMENT

End of the 1st until the beginning of the 5th century A.D. Legionary fortresses were built following a similar pattern. This now allows us to make the link between small wall fragments and specific buildings – even in today’s heavily built-up cities. The command headquarters, baths, hospital and impressive officers’ residential houses gave the fortress an urban appearance. Nearly all main buildings were built of stone, many of them two-storeyed. Taverns and workshops, as well as granaries, stables and latrines, were all located along the main roads. The regular troops’ quarters comprised the largest area.


Fabrica Am Hof














Marc AurelStraĂ&#x;e

Hoher Markt


Valetudinarium Granary

(presumed) Salzgries


Officer’s House