With currently around 100,000 objects, the Wien Museum houses the largest collection of Roman artefacts from the Vienna city region. It derives from the late 19th century when the major reconstruction of Vienna’s inner city began, resulting in the chance discovery of numerous archaeological remains. Since then we know that the Roman legionary fortress Vindobona was located in the area of today’s 1st district together with the surrounding urban settlement. A civilian Roman settlement extended over parts of today’s 3rd district. The mass of objects grew apace with the number of discovery sites, and soon exceeded the storage capacity of the Historical Museum opened in the new City Hall on the Ringstrasse in 1887. This led to the foundation of a specific “Museum Vindobonense” in Rainergasse 13 in the 4th district in 1903. After its destruction in 1945, the collection, now bereft of its most precious objects, was taken over by the Historical Museum of the City of Vienna, today’s Wien Museum.
The collection strategy around 1900 was to make a selection of findings and to focus on outstanding objects. As archaeology evolved as a science, however, this approach was dropped. Instead, consideration today is given to the entire material yield from an excavation, as cultural-historical conclusions can only be drawn from analysis of all objects found at a site.
The largest part of the Wien Museum’s Roman Period Collection, which is sorted by topographical criteria, is made up of ceramic objects, followed by artefacts made of glass, bones and metal. In contrast to other collections, relatively few stone objects have been preserved: they were seen as valuable building material and time and again used for building projects throughout the almost 2,000 year long history of the city. Besides the archaeological objects themselves, evidence of the history of archaeological exploration of the Roman Period since 1900 can be found in the historical excavation documentation.
MAG. DR. MICHAELA KRONBERGER
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