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Carnuntum: tombstone of a Roman Legionary captain


Strategically situated for trade at the Danube crossing of the Amber Road leading from the Adriatic Sea, the civilian town of Carnuntum (near Vindobona, modern Vienna) grew in importance in the early 2nd century AD. When Trajan (AD 98-117) divided the province of Pannonia into two parts, Carnuntum became the capital or governor's seat of Pannonia Superior. Hadrian (AD 117-138), succeeding Trajan as Roman emperor, visited in AD 124, and granted Carnuntum the rights of an official town or municipium. After the region was overrun by Germanic tribes including the Marcomanni and Quadi in the mid-2nd century AD, Marcus Aurelius (AD 161-180) launched a counteroffensive from his headquarters at Carnuntum, where from AD 172 to 174 he also wrote the second book of his Meditations.

Located about an hour east of Vienna is the Archaeologisches Museum Carnuntum. Comprehensive exhibits introduce Roman emperors and legions who lived on the banks of the Danube from the 1st to 5th centuries AD, covering everything from the gods worshipped by Romans, and the military equipment they fought with, to the burial practices of both legionaries and civilians (fig.1)

[Fig 1: Tombstone of a Roman legionary captain at Carnuntum Museum (BFA Documentary Photography, 1999).]


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