The geographer Ptolemy mentions Vindobona in his Geographica. The historian Aurelius Victor recounts that emperor Marcus Aurelius, whose headquarters were here during the Marcomannic Wars, died in Vindobona on the 17th of March 180. Today, there is a Marc-Aurelstraße (English: Marcus Aurelius street) near the Hoher Markt in Vienna. Vindobona was part of the Roman province Pannonia and the regional administrative centre was Carnuntum. The Vienna Basin was included into the Roman Empire by 9. A.D. At this point the area of today's Vienna was included into the province of Pannonia. The local inhabitants were probably of Celtic and Illyrian origin. Latest under Emperor Traian were stationed in Pannonia four legions to secure the border of the river with the camps of Vindobona, Carnuntum, Brigetio und Aquincum.
Vindobona was a military camp with an attached civilian city (Canabae). The existence of a Germanic settlement with a large marketplace on the other bank of the Danube from the second century onwards has been proven. Followingly Vindobona was the base of a legion and a settlement with a diverse population. The military centre was an area of around 20 hectares, with a base that 6000 men strong. The camp is located within what is today the 1st district. The military camp was constructed along the Danube, which was the border to free Germania to the north. Around it a centre of trade with a developed infrastructure as well as agriculture and forestry developed. Civic communities developed outside the fortifications (canabae legionis), as well another community that was independent of the military authorities in today's III. district.
The asymmetrical layout of the military camp, which was unusual for the otherwise standardised Roman encampments, is still recognisable in Vienna’s street plan: Graben, Naglergasse, Tiefer Graben, Salzgries, Rabensteig, Rotenturmstrasse. The name “Graben” (English: ditch) is believed to hark back to the defensive ditches of the military camp. It is thought that at least parts of the walls still stood in the Middle Ages, when these streets were laid out, and thus determined their routes. The Berghof was later erected in one corner of the camp.
Vindobona was provisioned by the surrounding Roman country estates (Villae rusticae).
Wars, administrative and military reform in the 3rd and 4th century as well as devastating floods led the population to retreat more and more to the military camp. Beginning of the 5th century the area lost its importance.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, the population lived within the walls of the formers legionary camp. The walls and the main roads remained in use. Therefore some of the Roman structures and landmarks are still visible today, such as the street Graben.
Remains of the Roman military camp have been found at many sites in the centre of Vienna. The centre of the Michaelerplatz has been widely investigated by archaeologists. At this site, traces of a Roman legionary outpost (canabae legionis) and of a crossroad have been found. The centrepiece of the current design of the square is a rectangular opening that evokes the archaeological excavations at the site and shows wall remains that have been preserved from different epochs.
Part of a Roman canal system is underneath the fire station am Hof .
Directly under the Hoher Markt are the remains of two representative buildings of the Roman legionary camp of Vindobona. They were unearthed during the canalisation works of 1948/49 and made accesible to the public. After further excavation a showroom was opened in 1961. For this purpose some of the original walls had to be removed, white marks on the floor show the spot.
Of the original buildings, which were separated by a road, an officer lived there with his family. Only a small portion can be seen, since the majority of the remains are still located underneath the square and south of it.
The remains of the walls from different phases date from the 1st to 5th century A.D. The houses were typical Roman villas, with living and economic spaces set around a middle courtyard with columned halls.
The responsibilites of the officer included being the representative of the main commander of the legion, administration and jurisprudence. He was also responsible for the training of the soldiers. The normal serving time of a subordinate officer was around one to two years. The officers were considered a part of the senatoral or equite class.
In the Roman camp around 6000 soldiers were stationed. Many of them were free from active duty during peaceful times and had other jobs. These so-called immunes were needed for the supply with goods and for the production and maintenance of weapons and commodities. Furthermore they were needed for the exploit of stone quarries and the forrests, the production of bricks, as well as maintenance of streets, bridges and the water system. The administration of the camp and the provision of security also required a large staff.
Excavation over the course of the last 100 years have revealed findings at Zemlinskygasse 2-4 (23. district, found in 1924), Breitenfurter Strasse 422 (23. district, in 1959), Rudolf Zeller-Gasse/Anton-Krieger-Gasse (23., 1992), Atzgersdorf (23., 1902-1907), Tullnertalgasse 76 (23., 1973), Lainergasse 1 (23., 1958), Wundtgasse (12., 1951), Rosenhügelstrasse 88 (12., 1926), Fasangartenstrasse 49 (12., 1916), Pacassistrasse (13., 1928), Sechshauserstrasse 7 (15., 1879) leading towards the 1. district.
Waste from the Roman camp was transported through an elaborate canalisation system that was planned from the beginning. For the Romans personal hygene in order to avoid illnesses was well known. The canals were lined with bricked walls and plates, running underneath the main roads. The gradient was used in such a way that the waste water descended through the moats into the Danube. Since the canals were up to two metres deep, they could be cleaned out regularly. Large waste was probably deposed at the slope of the river. In the civic settlement waste was deposed in former wells and dumps.
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