14. New research along the Danube

14. New research along the Danube

Session Chair: Gerld Grabherr
Affiliation: University of Innsbruck


Time Presenter (s) Presentation
09.00 Introduction
09.20 Gerard Grabherr Military border control in the procuratorial province of Noricum
09.40 Barbara Kainrath & Eva Thysell One thing leads to another: settlement development in Stein – Enns
10.00 Stefan Groh A Tale of Three Fortresses
10.50 Felix Lang The lime kilns of the legio II Italica in Lauriacum/Enns
11.10 Tino Lelekovic Roman burials on the Croatian part of the Danube Limes
11.30 Kristin Opitz Life and death at the edge of the Roman Empire – Archaeological and anthropological data from late antique cemeteries at the Danube Limes
11.50 Ana Kovačič Military small finds from Castra Ad Fluvium Frigidum (Slovenia)

Military border control in the procuratorial province of Noricum
Gerald Grabherr, University of Innsbruck, Stefan Traxler, OÖ Landes-Kultur GmbH

New archaeological research and lucky accidental finds in recent years have considerably increased the knowledge about the Roman military presence along the Danube in Noricum for the period before the stationing of the legio II Italica and the subsequent substantial reorganisation. This requires a reassessment of the changed state of facts. On the one hand, previously assumed garrison positions have to be reassessed or deleted from the list and, on the other hand, there are indications of further military sites. Some recently found fragments of Roman military diplomas allow a better understanding of the Roman regiments stationed at the ripa Norica in the late 1st and the first half of the 2nd century CE.

One thing leads to another: settlement development in Stein – Enns
Barbara Kainrath, RA Researchaeology, Eva Thysell, Universität Innsbruck

The military hotspot at the Noric Limes can be located in Lauriacum/Enns and St. Pantaleon/Stein. Before the legion reached Lauriacum the garrison in St. Pantaleon/Stein was responsible for the military control of the crossing over the Enns. In the west of this camp, which was discovered only a few years ago, aerial photographs show the vicus. At the current state of research the chronology of both the camp and the settlement can only be determined by means of scattered finds. But due to the large number of chronologically relevant finds alone (including a large number of militariarepresenting a unique collection at the Noric Limes) the end with 180 AD is on solid ground. At this time a brisk building activity starts in Lauriacum, which extends the civil residential areas enormously. The developments can be traced in a special way by the example of the so-called Plochberger Fields in the area of the southern canabae legionis. For Lauriacum they offer the unique opportunity to study the development of the settlement from the 1st to the 5th century AD. There it shows the change from burial place to residential area and back again. In St. Pantaleon/Stein and Lauriacum/Enns settlement activities strongly influenced by the Roman military are clearly visible. The reciprocal relationship between the arrival and departure of the troops and the civil life accompanying them is impressively reflected here.

A Tale of Three Fortresses
Stefan Groh, Austrian Academy of Sciences/Austrian Archaeological Institute

The legio II Italica was raised in 165/166 AD in Aquileia (Italy) in the course of the Marcomannic Wars (166-180 AD). Within 50 years, this unit establishes three legionary fortresses in Ločica (Slovenia), Enns and Albing (Austria), of which, however, only one (Enns/Lauriacum) is completed and used in the long term. The analysis of all newly generated and available data (geophysics, LiDAR, excavations) yields a conclusive insight into the different construction progresses, functions and military-historical considerations for the construction of a legionary fortress. Ločica, located near Celeia (Celje) on the Amber Road, controls as praetentura Italiae et Alpium access to Italy. Here oversized horrea, valetudinarium, principia and 12 barracks for equites singulares were built. At the time of the construction of the thermae, however, construction ceased around 170/171. Under Marcus Aurelius, the focus of the Marcomannic wars shifted from the hinterland to the Danube limes. Here, as part of a military offensive strategy, a temporary camp was designed in Lauriacum around 171 AD with a ground plan in the shape of a parallelogram adapted to the topography. However, with the abandonment of offensive plans against the Marcomanni under Commodus, the legion remained in this provisional camp until the 5th century AD. Lauriacum, however, was to be replaced by the larger and “well-shaped” fortress at Albing under Caracalla. But in this legionary fortress, only the foundations of the fortification and the principia were built, and construction probably ceased with the death of the emperor in 217 AD. On the base of the three ground plans, it is possible to trace not only the individual building sequences, but also the development of fortification techniques and representative architecture from the late Antonine to the Severan period.

The lime kilns of the legio II Italica in Lauriacum/Enns
Felix Lang on behalf of Stefan Traxler, OÖ Landes-Kultur GmbH, Felix Lang, University of Salzburg

Twelve Roman lime kilns were located immediately north of the castra of the legio II Italica in Lauriacum/Enns. Four of them were completely excavated in course of a road construction by the Federal Monuments Office. In preparation for the Upper Austrian State Exhibition “The Return of the Legion” another kiln (IX) has been investigated in 2016/2017. Kiln IX is exceptionally well preserved with a height of 4.2 m and a diameter of 3.8 m. It is, like the other kilns, undoubtedly connected with the establishment of the legion camp in the last third of the 2nd century A.D. After its abandonment in the second half of the 4th century, Kiln IX served as an oversized “trash can.” Besides countless pieces of limestone, it contained large amounts of rubble (including over 1000 kg of broken bricks), as well as glass and ceramic shards, metal objects and several coins. Numerous animal bones are, on one hand, to be interpreted as food waste and give an insight into eating habits in the Danube Limes. On the other hand, the partial skeletons of mules/horses and dogs also document the disposal of carcasses. The reason why even a few human bones gnawed by animals got into the kiln remains one of the unsolved mysteries. The most interesting group of finds is the “Roman stones,” which are associated with the Hercules cult. They consist of fragments of Hercules statuettes and dedicatory inscriptions to the god. A completely preserved votive altar was dedicated by Aelius Marcellus. He was the immunis calcariensis – the military administrator of the Lauriacum lime kilns.

Roman burials on the Croatian part of the Danube Limes
Tino Leleković, Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts

The paper will focus on the burial customs from the Croatian part of the Danube limes. During the past two decades, nine sites along and in the rear of the Croatian part of Limes revealed remains of the Roman cemeteries. Over 1000 graves have been excavated with clear and accurate context, producing a reasonable basis for the research of the burial rites. Also, due to these excavations, a typology of graves can be given, along with the historical and cultural contextualization of each defined type. The paper will give an insight into the diachrony of the burial customs, using primarily new finds with clear archaeological and chronological context. The article will focus on two features. One are busta, a burial custom that in Pannonia seems to be characteristic for the cemeteries of the 2nd and 3rd in the Limes area. The origin and interpretation of the bustum type of grave have not yet been explained. One theory has it that such graves originated in northern Italy and that the legionaries spread them to the provinces, especially those of the Rhineland and the Danube/Balkan regions. On the other hand, it is possible to perceive the bustum as a funerary feature originating from the Balkan (southeast Pannonia included) ethnic communities. The focus will also be on Late Roman burials from the 4th and 5th centuries. These cemeteries are frequent in this part of the border zone, revealing the change in social dynamics in the region, representing the militarization of the society. This paper will try to give a satisfactory explanation of this feature and the possible implication of local identities, social status, or ethnic origin on the burial rites for each of the buried individuals whose graves have been discovered.

Life and death at the edge of the Roman Empire – Archaeological and anthropological data from late antique cemeteries at the Danube Limes
Kristin Opitz, Leibniz Institute for the History and Culture of Eastern Europe (GWZO)

The late antique cemeteries of the Danube Limes have been a source of ever-increasing archaeological and anthropological interest especially since the 1980s. Even though a more comprehensive database has been available since that time, there is a wealth of additional information that has not been integrated accessibly yet. This includes data from morphological skeletal analyses as well as archaeological data, for example, on the structure of cemeteries and grave construction, which, in contrast to grave goods, were often neglected in the past. Without this knowledge, understanding of the cemeteries will be only unilateral and challenging. Based on the late antique cemetery of Ratzersdorf an der Traisen, St. Pölten (Austria), a representative selection of archaeological and anthropological data from the former Roman provincial parts Noricum ripense and Pannonia prima will be analysed in a sytematically and source-critically way. The contribution will outline similarities and differences with regard to the surviving material culture, the human bodies as well as the organisation and structure of Ratzersdorf and other cemeteries between Passau (Batava) and the Danube Bend, drawing a more detailed and textured picture of the life and death of the people of the late antique Danube Limes. In this framework, the important aspect of research data management, particularly the digital handling of published and newly generated data, will also be involved.

Military small finds from Castra Ad Fluvium Frigidum (Slovenia)

Ana Kovačič, Maruša Urek, Kaja Stemberger Flegar, PJP d. o. o., Ana Kovačič, University of Primorska (PhD candidate)

This paper aims to present the newest military small finds from Castra, the northernmost fortress of the Claustra Alpium Iuliarum fortification system that shielded Italy from threats coming from the East. Castra is nowadays mostly known as the potential infantry encampment of Eugenius’s army before his battle against Emperor Theodosius I in AD 394, known as the battle of the Frigidus. Castra was strategically built near Via Gemina between Aquileia and Colonia Iulia Emona. It was protected by the confluence of the river Hubelj and Lokavšček creek. The settlement predating Castra can be traced back to the end of the 1st century BC, when the area became of interest to the expanding Roman state. Somewhat removed from major towns in the region, Castra likely served as a coach station, meaning that military presence was probably very common, perhaps constant. Between AD 270 and 290, the settlement was heavily fortified with walls and towers. The fortress survived until 451, when it was demolished by the Huns. In this paper, we will present the preliminary results of the recent 2017–2019 excavations inside the fortress. A bathhouse, several storehouses, and a central complex had been unearthed previously inside the fortification; the recent excavations suggest that this cluster of buildings could be interpreted as constituting the praetoria. Besides strong indications for (military related) trade, over 150 confirmed military metal finds including pieces of military dress such as silver trumpet brooches, propeller belt fittings and belt buckles, as well as several pieces of horse gear including one hackamore were unearthed, as were over 2000 iron objects that are currently undergoing conservation. The earliest finds come from the 1st and 2nd century AD, while the majority belong to the 3rd and 4th century AD.