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Roman and Late Antique Architecture

Based on the buildings of Aguntum, Roman architecture builds another exploratory focus that includes private and public buildings.

City Walls

Gebäudereste östlich der Stadtmauer
Remains of a building east oft he city walls

After I. Ploner discovered the city walls, E. Swoboda and F. Miltner carried out extensive excavations on this feature. The latter managed to unearth the Eastern part of the city walls on total lengths of 350 meters and found several gates in the course of the wall. The excavation on the wall is so far limited to its eastern side, and here no corner in the south or north is present. Therefore, it is unclear whether the wall surrounded the whole town. Also, in older research, there is an intensive discussion about the dating of the city wall. In the course of the excavations carried out by the Institute for Archaeologies, it was possible to clarify this question.

From two buildings known on the East of the wall, the southern one was already partially excavated by E. Swoboda. It is striking that these buildings are parallel to the city wall, which is not the case for most buildings in the West of the wall. This fact allows an erection of these two buildings only after the wall was already there. According to the finds, these two residential buildings date to the first decades of the second century AD. As a part of the Atrium House excavation, it was possible to study the stratification along the city wall. The most important discovery in this area is a waste dump dumped against the wall containing finds from the late first century.

Zweiphasiges Stadttor und östlich davon festgestellte Gebäude
Phases of the city gate and buildings east of the gate

With this evidence, it is clear that the wall was not built in Late Antique times, as suggested in older publications. The first phase of construction dates from the time of the granting of city rights) during the reign of Emperor Claudius I) until the turn of the first to the second century AD. In this construction phase, the currently known city gate consists of a simple opening in the wall, measuring only 3.5 meters. The second phase of construction resulted in the widening of the passage (to a width of 9.5 meters) and the addition of two towers. A hint for dating these events is again given by the residential buildings east of the wall. According to the findings, the abandonment of these two buildings took place towards the end of the second century AD. It seems likely to connect the abandonment with the reconstruction of the city gate. As a result, the construction of the gate took place towards the end of the second century.

The construction phases and the dating of the city gate and its towers to the late second century raise the question about a big city gate in the first phase of the wall. Miltner examined the entire southern part of the wall. Therefore, an older gate is possible only north of the known one. A promising area in this regard is the intersection of the so-called decumanus I sinister with the wall. However, geophysical prospection in this zone did not yield any usable results.

Literature

E. Swoboda, Aguntum. Ausgrabungen bei Lienz in Osttirol. 1931-33. ÖJh 29, 1935, 5-102.

F. Miltner, Aguntum. Vorläufiger Bericht über die Ausgrabungen 1950-1952, ÖJh.40, 1953, Beiblatt, 93-156.

V. Gassner, Zur Funktion und Datierung der Stadtmauer von Aguntum, Römisches Österreich 13/14, 1985-86, 77-100.

M. Auer, Municipium Claudium Aguntum - Zur Datierungsfrage der Stadtmauer, ÖJh.77, 2008, 7-38.

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Atriumhaus

Atriumhaus_Grabungsgeschichte
Atrium House – History of excavatio

Research at this building began already with F. Miltner, and W. Alzinger continued this work. The Institute for Archaeologies at the University of Innsbruck completed the excavations, beginning in 1994. The area of the Atrium House is divided into three architectural complexes. A garden in the West and South, the Atrium House itself in the center of the lot, and a representative wing of the building to the East interpreted in older research as a private thermal bath. The eponymous Atrium is in the central part of the building. The most characteristic feature is the water basin (Impluvium), which collects the rainwater that enters through the open roof (Compluvium). From the impluvium, a channel leads south, bringing water to the marble basin in the peristyle.

Osttrakt des Atriumhauses
Eastern Wing of the Atrium House

According to the findings, the Atrium House construction dates around the middle of the first century AD. Several modifications of the building followed, which were necessary to adapt this Mediterranean type of house to the southern alpine climate. These concern the installation of hypocausts and the creation of smaller rooms that made the house usable even in winter. The heating of the hypocaust system was from the southern and western gardens. In the East of the central Atrium House, there is another building. This wing was added in the second century AD and built over older structures in this zone. The east wing includes large, heated rooms with wall paintings that showed no traces of a former water supply. Therefore, it seems likely to see the Eastern wing as a representative building that was, despite some architectural adaptations, in use until Late Antique times.

Literature 

F. Miltner, Aguntum. Vorläufiger Bericht über die Ausgrabungen 1950 -1952, ÖJh 40, 1953, suppl. 93-156.

F. Miltner, Aguntum. Vorläufiger Bericht über die Grabungen in den Jahren 1953 und 1954, ÖJh 42, 1955, suppl. 71-96.

W. Alzinger, Aguntum. Vorläufiger Bericht über die Grabungen in den Jahren 1955 bis 1957, ÖJh.44, 1959 suppl. 75-140.

L. Gomig (Hrsg.), Aguntum. Museum und archäologischer Park (Dölsach 2007).

M. Tschurtschenthaler, Municipium Claudium Aguntum: römischer Wohnluxus in den Alpen, in: L. Dal Ri / St. di Stefano (Hrsg.), Littamum – Una mansio nel Noricum / Eine Mansio in Noricum, BAR Intern. Series 1462 (Oxford 2005), 106-126.

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Macellum

The macellum was a market for meat, fish, oysters, and other fancy food, coming from different parts of the Roman Empire. In the networked economy of the Roman Empire, such markets were widespread. Most of the Macella show a rectangular ground plan. However, in the Near East and Northern Africa, circular layouts were widespread. In the European part of the Roman Empire, well-preserved circular Macella is an absolute exception. The most important European examples come from Italy (Aquileia [Venetia], Alba Fucens [Abruzzes], Herdonia [Apulia], Saepinum [Molise], Aeclanum [Kampanien], Corfinium [Abruzzen]) and Albania [Durres]). The erection of most of these buildings dates to the first half of the second century, which also applies to the macellum of Aguntum.

Macellum
Macellum after its excavation

The ground plan of the macellum is a sophisticated architectural conception with careful implementation. The circular interior room was inbuilt in a square with side lengths of 18.5 meters. A decagon with side lengths of approximately 3 meters and a diameter of 10 meters builds the core of the building. Eight radial and two rectangular walls divide the zone between the circle and the decagon in nine equal segments and the main entrance in the South.

The main entrance is oriented towards the decumanus maximus and leads from there to the interior of the macellum. The latter consists of eight shops (4 on each side) and a central room vis-à-vis the main entrance. According to comparable buildings in other parts of the Roman Empire, this room may have served as a sacellum. The access and the decagon were paved with stone slabs (marble, gneiss, and mica-slate), while the stores had a simple mortar floor. Between macellum and decumanus maximus, there is a porticus. In the North of the building, open space lies between macellum and the so-called "Prunkbau". The function of this zone is still under investigation.

Literature

L. Gomig (Hrsg.), Municipium Claudium Aguntum. Das Stadtzentrum (Dölsach 2016).

M. Auer, Municipium Claudium Aguntum. Excavations in the city centre (2006-2015), in: M. Janežič / B. Nadbath / T. Mulh / I. Žižek (Eds.), New Discoveries between the Alps and the Black Sea. Results from Roman Sites in the period between 2005 and 2015. Proceedings of the 1st International Archaeological Conference, Ptuj. 8th and 9th October 2015. In memoriam Iva Mikl Curk (Ljubljana 2018), 93–113.

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Forum

Forumsareal
Forum area

The forum Area is under investigation since 2010. It consists of a central square with side lengths of 32 m to 35 m, surrounded by a 3 m wide corridor. In the South and East, the symmetrical arrangement of small rooms is accessible through the hallway. Bigger rooms (75 sq m in the South and 45 sq m in the East) exist in approximately the middle of the enfilades. During the first building phase, the western wing did not include a comparable room that would have extended beyond the building line. Only the second phase of construction, taking place in the second century AD, brings the building of two big rooms – each of them with an attached small, heatable room. This wing of the building is currently under investigation.

The smaller rooms of the forum had an adobe floor, white walls, and a niche oven. The two larger ones, which already existed in the first building phase, had a mortar floor and wall paintings. Almost all rooms were accessible through the corridor. Only the big one in the Eastern wing was accessible through neighboring rooms. The rooms built during the second building phase in the Western part of the forum were interconnected and not accessible through the corridor. A small niche oven was present in most rooms.

Nordseite Forum
 Rooms on the Northern side of the forum
 

A big room in the Northeast that measures 230 sq m, and is the largest room at the forum, dominates the Northern wing of the building. Here, several construction phases are present. The oldest remains belong to the construction phase of the forum. These consist of small terrace walls and water channels. In a second phase, the finished room was accessible from the decumanus I sinister in the North. Near to the entrance and along the northern wall of this room, the excavators discovered three child burials in 2015. During the second century, the Northern Wall became unstable and was rebuilt. During this construction phase, the northern entrance was closed and replaced by a new door in the east. The erection of a furnace for metal processing in the western part of the room followed after the destructive fire, which affected the forum in the 3rd century AD.

In the West of this big room follows a corridor-like, smaller one. Two large deposits of rock crystals belong to this room. In the middle of the Northern wing a room, measuring 45 sq m was excavated. This room was in use as a storeroom when the destructive fire preserved its content. A very heterogeneous assemblage of findings proves this secondary use of the room. To name only some materials found in this room: pottery, bronze, glass, coins, gaming pieces, stone weights and a dial balance, iron tools, marble slabs, ornaments, pumice stones, parts of cartwheels, burnt barley, and blue pigments (Egyptian Blue).

According to findings from the oldest layers in this zone, the first building phase dates around the middle of the first century AD. Several alterations are dating mainly to the second century. During the 3rd century, a destructive fire led to a vast abandonment of the building. Late antique features are recognizable at the central square and in the southwestern and northeastern corners of the building.

Literature 

L. Gomig (Hrsg.), Municipium Claudium Aguntum. Das Stadtzentrum (Dölsach 2016).

M. Auer, Municipium Claudium Aguntum. Excavations in the city centre (2006-2015), in: M. Janežič / B. Nadbath / T. Mulh / I. Žižek (Eds.), New Discoveries between the Alps and the Black Sea. Results from Roman Sites in the period between 2005 and 2015. Proceedings of the 1st International Archaeological Conference, Ptuj. 8th and 9th October 2015. In memoriam Iva Mikl Curk (Ljubljana 2018), 93–113.

M. Auer / H. Stadler (Hrsg.), Von Aguntum zum Alkuser See. Zur römischen Geschichte der Siedlungskammer Osttirol, Ager Aguntinus. Historisch-archäologische Forschungen 1 (Wiesbaden 2018).

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Artisans Quarter

Insula C während der Grabung 2020
Insula C during the excavation in 2020

The term Artisans Quarter refers to simple residential buildings that have been excavated mainly from 1960 up to the 1980ies. Archaeologically, the houses show several construction phases. In contrast, the walls shown in the current Archaeological Park represent different construction phases and are hard to read. For a better understanding of these zones of the city, archive work and excavations are necessary. The first campaigns concentrated on Insula C - these excavation results are under investigation in a Master Thesis.


Literature 

G. Langmann, Bericht über die Grabungskampagnen 1958 und 1959 in Aguntum, Osttirol, Jahreshefte des Österreichischen Archäologischen Instituts 49, 1968/71,143–176.

G. Luger, Der Raumkomplex ›Weggrabung Nord‹ von Aguntum und die in diesem Bereich gefundene grobtonige Keramik (unveröffentl. Dissertation Universität Wien 1989).

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Thermae

Luftbild der Therme
Aerial view of the Thermae

The excavation of the thermae took place in the 1960ies and 1970ies. The excavators recognized several construction phases but never published them in detail. Silvia Schoitsch did the processing of most of the finds. Based on her Dissertation, the first construction phase dates to the reign of Tiberius or Claudius I. This first building is very similar to the thermae at the Magdalensberg or in Pompeji and Herculaneum. The following construction phases led to a change of the layout according to the imperial custom to arrange all rooms in one row. At the moment, knowledge of succeeding construction phases and the water management of the thermae is limited. Therefore, a reassessment of the original documentation is crucial. In a university course with archaeology students in Innsbruck, we undertook the first steps in this direction. The students were able to clarify some questions regarding the construction phases by using the original documentation provided by the Austrian Archaeological Institute (ÖAI).

Literature 

S. Schoitsch, Kleinfunde aus der Therme Aguntums (unveröffentl. Dissertation, Wien 1976).

M. Auer / M. Tschurtschenthaler , Municipium Claudium Aguntum – Die frühen Befunde, in: U. Lohner-Urban / P. Scherrer (Hrsg.), Der obere Donauraum 50 v. bis 50 n. Chr., Region im Umbruch Band 10 (Berlin 2015), 337-349.

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Suburbs

Grabungsgelände der Vorstadt in den 1930ern
Suburbia during its excavation in the 1930ies

Erich Swoboda excavated several buildings east of the city walls in the 1930ies. Although he published his first excavation campaign, later works remained unpublished, and there is almost no original documentation left. However, the findings are still stored in Schloss Bruck (Lienz, Osttirol) and reflect a surprisingly wide dating range of the buildings in this zone from the first up to the fifth century. From Swoboda´s results and additional GPR-prospection, it is clear that the zones near the streets were densely populated. The suburb continues at least 200 m to the East from the city walls.



Literature

E. Swoboda, Aguntum. Ausgrabungen bei Lienz in Osttirol. 1931-33, Jahreshefte des Österreichischen Archäologischen Instituts 29, 1935, Beiblatt, 5-102.

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The Municipium Claudium Aguntum in Late Antiquity

Kanalheizung_Forum
Y-shaped heating channel in the forum area (Room 283)
  

A severe change in the cityscape takes place during the Late Antique period. The forum loses its function as a market and gathering place. The thermae and the macellum are subject to similar developments. Simple dwellings and workshops are erected all over the former administrative and economic center. A characteristic feature of these late antique houses is the heating system that no longer uses hypocausts but heating channels that often show a Y-shape. The same heating system is present in the Eastern wing of the Atrium House, but here in a big hall, which is deferring substantially from the simple dwellings in the former city center.

North of the forum, the thermae were under maintenance until the 4th century, whereas in the macellum dwellings, comparable to the forum area, were built. South of the macellum, in the former porticus, a furnace for processing of bronze, which cast drops and a semi-finished belt tongue prove, was built. Dr. Veronika Sossau analyzed the transformation processes starting in the 3rd century AD in a research project funded by the Tiroler Wissenschaftsfonds (TWF). She managed to create an overview of all features pointing to these transformation processes in the city of Aguntum.

Literature

M. Auer, Municipium Claudium Aguntum. Keramik als Indikator für spätantike Sozialstruktur, RCRF Acta 44, 2016, 453-458.

M. Auer / H. Stadler (Hrsg.), Von Aguntum zum Alkuser See. Zur römischen Geschichte der Siedlungskammer Osttirol, Ager Aguntinus. Historisch-archäologische Forschungen 1 (Wiesbaden 2018).

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Early Christian Church

During the 19th century, local peasants found and removed several sarcophagi around the area of the church. Following this evidence, Egger started his investigations in 1912 and 1913 and found the early Christian church constructed above older structures in this zone. The excavation stopped in 1913, and until today it was not possible to continue this work. In any case, the church and the sarcophagi led Egger to interpret the building as a "cemetery church."

Literature

A.B. Mayer / A. Unterforcher, Die Römerstadt Agunt bei Lienz in Tirol. Eine Vorarbeit zu ihrer Ausgrabung (1908).

R. Egger, Ausgrabungen in Noricum 1912/13, Jahreshefte des Österreichischen Archäologischen Instituts 17, 1914, Beiblatt, 5-16.

M. Auer / H. Stadler (Hrsg.), Von Aguntum zum Alkuser See. Zur römischen Geschichte der Siedlungskammer Osttirol, Ager Aguntinus. Historisch-archäologische Forschungen 1 (Wiesbaden 2018).

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The "episcopal church" in Lavant

„Bischofskirche“ während der Ausgrabungen
„Episcopal Church“ during excavation

Franz Miltner excavated the church in the 1950ies, and it took him just a few weeks to excavate the entire building. This rush left some questions about the construction phases of the church unanswered. In any case, the church was built over a leveling that contained finds from the 3rd century AD. The church consists of two main parts: The "parish church" (interpreted by Miltner as the "episcopal church") and the memorial church. The latter is a later addition to the East of the parish church and contained the relic(s). The reliquary pit belonging to the memorial church is in good condition. Although Miltner interpreted it as a baptismal font, its function is well understood today. In the opposite western part of the church, the real baptistery lies behind the Narthex. The church has several construction phases, but several questions about the exact construction sequence are still open. Current research, initiated in 2017 in cooperation with the Federal Office for the Protection of Monuments (Bundesdenkmalamt) and the province of Tyrol (Land Tirol), try to answer these open questions.



Literature

F. Miltner, Die Ausgrabungen in Lavant/Osttirol. Zweiter vorläufiger Bericht, Jahreshefte des Österreichischen Archäologischen Instituts 40, 1953, Beiblatt, 15-92.

F. Miltner, Die Grabungen auf dem Kirchbichl von Lavant/Osttirol. Dritter vorläufiger Bericht, Jahreshefte des Österreichischen Archäologischen Instituts 41, 1954, Beiblatt, 43-84.

F. Miltner, Die Grabungen auf dem Kirchbichl von Lavant/Osttirol. Vierter vorläufiger Bericht, Jahreshefte des Österreichischen Archäologischen Instituts 43, 1956-58, Beiblatt, 89-124.

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