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Part of the northeastern border of the Roman Empire from 9 BC until the late 5th century AD, Roman Pannonia was bounded on the south by the river Sava, on the west by the alps, and on the north and east by the Danube. Soon after the Roman conquest of Pannonia in 12 BC, Carnuntum became a base for military operations led by Tiberius against the Marcomanni, a Germanic tribal confederacy. Between AD 35 and 40, legio XV erected a military camp which initated the local Roman settlement. Carnuntum was to become one of the largest and most important legionary fortresses on the Danube, with headquarters of the provincial governor and the civic forum located nearby (fig.1).
Situated where the Danube crossed of the western fork of the Amber Road from the Adriatic Sea, and at the crossroads of the Roman northwest, Carnuntum was also well situated to prosper from trade. Through five centuries of wars and barbarian incursions, Pannonia's civic settlements or canabae such as that at Carnuntum experienced the advantages of belonging to the Roman Empire: urbanization, transportation, culture and entertainment, literacy, and security of a sort. Flanking the east-west road was the town necropolis, source of many inscriptions and other evidence from burials of the town residents.
[Fig.1: Plan of Roman Carnuntum including legionary fortress, canabae, necropolis, and roads (after Cornell and Mathews 1982).]
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