What was life like in ancient Vindobona?
Vindobona was the name of a Roman army camp that existed nearly 2000 years ago in what is now the historic city centre of Vienna. The legionaries’ mission was to protect the northern border of the Roman Empire. The underground area of the Roman Museum contains the remnants of two tribunes’ houses, Vienna’s most important archaeological finds from this era.
The Roman presence in and around Vienna lasted about 350 years. In its heyday, the regional population – a colourful mix of Romans, local people and immigrants from all parts of the empire – peaked at more than 30 000. The buildings of ancient Vindobona are one focus of the exhibition, the everyday life of the soldiers and the civilian population are another. Digital reconstructions complement the 300 objects on display.
Thermal baths, taverns, theatre
In addition to their military duties, the approximately 6000 soldiers living in the camp engaged in administrative activities and worked in trades and crafts. The periods of peace were longer than those of warfare. The legionaries also enjoyed recreational facilities, from taverns and baths to brothels.
Ancillary and civilian settlements
The present exhibition not only looks at the military camp, but also focuses on the other major settlements that grew up alongside it. These ancillary and civilian settlements played an important role in supplying the military base with everyday items and commodities such as grain, bacon and cheese. The settlements also housed the soldiers’ families. Since the start of excavations in the late 19th century, vestiges from Vienna’s Roman past have continued to come to light, telling the story of a new, mixed Roman-Celtic culture. Finds from the major excavations are on display at the Roman Museum.
Films, children’s station, video guides
With animated films (including one about Vindobona’s water supply system), replicas made for touching and a Playmobil legionaries’ camp, a visit to the Roman Museum offers an experience for all five senses that helps to understand life in Roman times. Video guides (in German, English and sign language) are available to provide additional in-depth information.
WHEN ROMANS ENCOUNTERED CELTS
THE ROCHUS MARKET EXCAVATIONS
12 May 2016 to 8 April 2018 (extended until 28 April 2019)
Recently concluded excavations of the Rochus Market offer fresh insights into the history of Vienna. With the uncovering of an early Neolithic long house, researchers established that the oldest currently-known settlement in Vienna dates to the “Linear Pottery Culture” period (5500-5000 BCE). In the first century BCE, a cluster of Celtic workshops arose on the same site. Bronze casting took place alongside the manufacture of coin blanks, the production of ceramics, and the crafting of decorative beads made from amber.
Archeologists came across Roman artifacts at the site as well. The discovery created a sensation, offering the first tangible evidence of a direct encounter between the Romans and the Celts in these latitudes. What is more, several writing implements and seal boxes bear witness to the first written correspondence in Vienna. Other objects from diverse European regions leave additional room for interpretation: Did such “exotic” wares flow into Vienna by way of trade? Or were battles, enslavements, or diplomatic relations responsible for this influx of goods?
The archeological investigations at the Rochus Market have also opened a window onto the late Middle Ages. For the first time, researchers have been able to document the impressive moat (Graben) which traversed the Rochus Market as part of Vienna’s outer fortifications.