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Material Culture Studies

In addition to simple identification and dating, the analysis of finds focuses on the broader methodological approach of material culture studies.

Atrium House

Keramikherkunft und Funktion im Atriumhaus
Provenance and funtion of Pottery in the Atrium House

The architecture and the finds indicate that the owners of the Atrium House house were members of a wealthy social upper class. They supplied themselves with foods and commodities from the entire Mediterranean area. Tableware was imported from Gallia, Germania, Asia Minor, and Northern Africa. Oysters and wine from Italy, Gallia, and the Aegean region, and olive oil imported mainly from Istria underline the strong connections of the inhabitants to the Mediterranean World. The Atrium House was in use from the first until the fifth century AD. Especially in the Eastern wing, the late antique phases are well represented. The features of the last occupation phase still point to a wealthy group of residents. This is especially true for dining habits reflected in animal bone remains. The FWF (Austrian Science Funds, P20846-G02) funded the processing and interpretation of the Atrium House findings from 2008 to 2013.


M. Auer, Late Roman local production in southwestern Noricum. Municipium Claudium Aguntum – a case study, Acta RCRF, 42, 2012, 419-422.

M. Auer, Municipium Claudium Aguntum. Keramik als Indikator für die spätantike Sozialstruktur?, REI CRETARIAE ROMANAE FAVTORVM, ACTA 44, 2016, 453-458.

M. Auer, Municipium Claudium Aguntum. Kitchen Residues from the Atrium House, in: G. Nutu, S.-C- Ailincai, C. Micu (Hrsg.), The man, the river and the sea. Studies in Archaeology and History in honour of Florin Topoleanu on his 65th anniversary (Cluj-Napoca 2017), 327-340.

S. Deschler-Erb / M. Auer, In cibo veritas – Zur wechselhaften Geschichte des Atriumhauses von Aguntum/Tirol (1.-4. Jh. n. Chr.) im Spiegel der Ernährungssitten, Annalen des Naturhistorischen Museums Wien, Serie A, Band 120, 2018, 5-17.

M. Auer, Das Municipium Claudium Aguntum und der östliche Mittelmeerraum. Neues zur materiellen Kultur der römischen Stadt, in: S. Hye / U. Töchterle (Hrsg.), UPIKU:TAUKE. Festschrift für Gerhard Tomedi zum 65. Geburtstag, Universitätsforschungen zur prähistorischen Archäologie 339 (Bonn 2019), 43-50.

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Finds Archive Aguntum

Arbeitsablauf bei der Inventarisierung der Altfunde
Workflow for the inventory of the finds

The long history of archaeological excavation in Aguntum results in a well-stocked finds deposit at the "Grabungshaus" in Aguntum. The inventories of finds up to 1991 is strongly fragmented, so it was necessary to create a new inventory to transfer the "deposit" into a finds archive useful to solve research questions. This work started in 2013 and was funded by the University of Innsbruck and the province of Tyrol (Land Tirol, Kulturabteilung). Thanks to the students involved, it was possible to document a large part of the "old" finds and create a digital inventory.

The archive comprises the findings from 1951 to 1978 and is extended continuously (1930ies and 1979-1989). The archive will provide the chance to re-examine older excavation results. This was already possible with some of the buildings excavated by Miltner in the 1950s. Based on a reassessment of the material, these are interpreted as a part of a river port.


M. Auer, A river port in Aguntum?, M. Auer (Hrsg.), Roman Settlements along the Drava River, Ager Aguntinus. Historisch-archäologische Forschungen 3 (Wiesbaden 2019), 1-9.

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Roman Pottery in Noricum

Natural science investigation

Within the project "Das Atriumhaus von Aguntum / The Atrium House of Aguntum" (FWF P20846-G02), scientific analyses of the pottery from Aguntum started. The methods include post-firing, petrography, and chemical analyses carried out by Dr. Gerwulf Schneider (FU Berlin) and Dr. Malgorszata Daszkiewicz (FU Berlin / ARCHEA Warszawa). They created a reference for the local ceramic production using hut clay from the atrium house. Based on these results, the so-called "locally produced Norican Pottery" can be described as a mixture of local products and regional imports.


Auer / M. Daszkiewicz, Archaeological expectations and archaeometric results. Some considerations on imported coarse wares and local pottery production in Aguntum, Austria, in G. Lipovac Vrkljan / B. Šiljeg / I. Ožanić Roguljić / A. Konestra [Hrsg.], Rimske keramikčarske i staklarske radionice, Proizvodnja i trgovina na jadranskom prostoru (Crikvenica 2017), 97-125.

Morphology and Style of Pottery

Verbreitungskarte des Typs X
Distribution of Type X

The starting point is the comparison of gray pottery found in Aguntum (fired in reducing / not fully oxidizing atmosphere) with morphologically and stylistically similar vessels from other sites in Noricum and northern Italy. The comparison did not focus on rim morphology but included technology and decoration. With these parameters, it was possible to define 18 vessel types and their subtypes that show definable distribution areas, although their size is variable.


M. Auer, Municipium Claudium Aguntum. Keramikregionen als Interaktionsräume. Eine Westnorische Perspektive, Ager Aguntinus 2 (Wiesbaden 2019).

Circulation of Pottery – transfer of commodities or transfer of ideas

The varying extent of the distribution areas of pottery produced in Noricum raises the question as to how these pottery regions developed and how vessel production was organized. One approach to this question is to extend the natural history data beyond Aguntum. Complementary to this work, a project on pottery production in the Aguntum region will be carried out starting in 2020. The focus of this project is on the operational and organizational modes of pottery production. 


M. Auer, Zur Organisation des Töpferhandwerks in Noricum – Familienunternehmen oder Großbetrieb?, Ethnographisch-Archäologische Zeitschrift [EAZ] 55, 1/2, 2014 [2016], 121-158.

M. Auer, Pottery Regions in Noricum. Evidence for Communities of Practice?, RCRF Acta, 2018, 467-476.

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Content Analyses

Archaeozoological analyses carried out by Dr. Sabine Deschler-Erb (IPNA, Basel) and content analyses of different vessels carried out by Dr. Lucy Cramp (University of Bristol) address the research on dining habits in Aguntum. The last results show that specific vessels named “Aguntiner Napf” (a term introduced by W. Alzinger) may have been used to produce/sell dairy products..


M. Auer, Überlegungen zur  Keramikproduktion im Territorium von Aguntum, in: C. Reinholdt / W. Wohlmayr (Hrsg.), Akten des 13. Österreichischen Archäologentages in Salzburg (Wien 2012), 311-316.

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Rusty Iron

Eisenfunde aus Aguntum
Iron objects found in Aguntum 

As collaborate of the Restoration Lab at the Institute for Archaeologies we provide freshly excavated iron findings for the project “Rostiges Eisen” (Rusty Iron). This project aims to avoid already on the excavation some of the problems associated with the conservation of iron. The results will help develop an ideal method for recovering and packaging iron finds at the excavation site.

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Firmalampen produced by EVCARPVS

Firmalampen aus Aguntum
 „Firmalampen“ found in Aguntum

Beginning with the study of Firmalampen from the Munisipium Claudium Aguntum, a research project on the producer of Firmalampen named EVCARPVS started (funded by the TWF – Tyrolian Science Funds). Firmalampen bearing the Name EVCARPVS were analyzed stylistically and scientific, which allowed a glimpse of the organization of large-scale pottery production. The structure of the EVCARPVS-workshops was oriented on the market and flourished during the first two centuries AD.


M. Auer, Die römischen Firmalampen aus dem Municipium Claudium Aguntum, in: L. Chrzanovski (Hrsg.), Le Luminaire antique. Lychnological Acts 3. Actes du 3e Congrès International d´études de l´ILA. Université d´Heidelberg 21-26.IX.2009, Monographies Instrumentum 44 (Montagnac 2012), 11-23.

M. Auer / S. Sitz, Die Firmalampenproduktion des Eucarpus – eine Studie zur römischen Keramikproduktion, Germania 92, 2014 (2015), 85-12).

M. Auer, Names on Lamps- Distribution / Quantity of Firmalampen and regional trade, Roman and Late Antique Lamps: Production and Distribution, Contacts on the Mediterranean, Zbornik Instituta za arheologiju / Serta institute aechaeologici, E-ZIA 1 (Zagreb 2016), 38-46.

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