Who lies there? Late antique inhumation graves at Augusta Raurica
According to traditional research, the Upper Germanic limes collapsed in the late 3rd c. AD and the Roman settlements were overrun by Germanic Barbarians who slaughtered every Roman that crossed their way. Although this approach has been criticized and disputed, archaeological research has, in fact, indicated a certain abandonment and decline of large Roman settlements, thus proving a diminishing residential population. Such is the case in the former Roman colony of Augusta Raurica, situated directly at the Rhine limes, close to the present-day city of Basel in north-western Switzerland. The present paper will discuss the late antique and early medieval cemeteries surrounding the castrum, examining the fluctuation of the population and the possible continuity of the site as a settlement area till the 8th c. AD.
But who were actually buried in the cemeteries? Romans, who followed their traditional customs and conventions? Barbarians, who had taken over existing structures? Is it even possible or reasonable to differentiate between ethnicities through archaeological finds, notably grave goods? The paper will give a short overview over the different cemeteries in the area of the former colony of Augusta Raurica, their chronology, indications of the buried populations’ cultural background and their potential for further research on the subject of continuity or discontinuity at the limes.
Coins, Chronology, Continuity, and the Castrum Rauracense: New research on the Castrum and its ‘suburbium’ during Late Antiquity
When assessing Late Roman settlement continuity, several factors such as transformations within the finds spectrum, changes in coin circulation, as well as differing construction methods and the formation of “Dark Earth”, are recurrently proving to be a challenge for archaeologists. This not only concerns the Late Roman Castrum Rauracense (CH) and its surroundings, but other sites along the Northwestern frontier as well.
The project “The Castrum Rauracense and its ‘suburbium’ between the late fourth and the sixth century AD” aims to refine the settlement history for the period and site in question, focusing not least on continuity, whilst also addressing the above-mentioned problems. A recent excavation outside the Castrum walls, where an imperial-period quarry had been abandoned, filled up and superimposed with several Late Roman.
The post-Roman life in the former castra of Dacia – an overview
In 275 AD at the latest – with some exceptions on the Danube line, kept as bridgeheads – the castra of the province of Dacia were abandoned by the Roman military, as Aurelianus assumed the official abandonment of the whole province. The evolution of the former castra of Dacia in the centuries which followed is to be enlightned to an overhelming extent by archaeology as any sure literary evidence regarding at least one of them is missing – untill the the 17th c. (the possibility that some literary mentions of the 16th century to be related to certain camps is not to be excluded), or maybe was not yet detected. Than, just for the legionary fortress of yersteryear from Apulum, were identified cartographic depictions (one dating in 1687 and the second in 1711), scientifically exploited for the issue of this camp curtain reuse in the Middle Ages.
We will adress in our paper especially the reuse for habitation – and we emphasize reuse for habitation – of the camp structures: the reuse in different measures and ways of some internal structures, of the structures belonging to the curtain (bastions, towers and portals of the gates) and the reuse of some short segment of the curtain. If the interest will be focused primarily on the reuse for habitation of the structures, the situations when the traces of habitation were detected on the surface of the camps (also in the Middle Ages), in places free of construction and apparently, in no relation with the former internal structures, will also be addressed. In this kind of situations, it was maybe the curtain wall that played a role in choosing the surface surrounded by it to settle: the role of enclosing-marking the property or one’s just used terrain, the defensive role against the animals and perhaps in some special situation against the enemies. Or maybe in some of the mentioned situation the curtain wall played no role at all and it was just the hazard in settling inside a Roman camp of yore.
Also other various aspects of the reusing of the camps structures for habitation or settling inside a former camp without detectable connection to the internal structures (but in particular cases in relation with the curtain wall), like the ethnic or the cultural assignment of the individuals involved, will be touched within our presentation.
New research concerning the first phase of the Capidava roman fort (Moesia Inferior)
Alexandru Rațiu, Ioan Caol Opriș
From the Capidava of the beginnings, that of the 2nd century AD, all that remains today are the traces of one of the main gate towers and the first phase of the military baths. The plan of the mentioned tower is specific to the stone forts of the auxiliary troops of the time. Parallels are found in Dacia at Gherla, Gilau, Ilişua or Breţcu. Identified by Grigore Florescu between 1928-1936, the tower was researched much more rigorously in 2015.
The original trajanic fortification, probably repaired after the devastating of the costoboci raid from 170 AD, will be restored from the foundations (a fundamentis) not until the second half of the next century, after the end of the terrible bellum Scythicum. The fort, along with most of the roman towns in northern Moesia Inferior, had been severely affected by the Gothic attacks from the middle of the 3rd century. Gregory Florescu assumed (and some newer or older epigraphs seem to agree) that the general restoration (Phase II) is to be placed in the days of the emperors Aurelian or Probus (270-275 and 276-282). With successive repairs in the following centuries, caused by the destruction attributed to the Goths or Huns in the 4th and 5th centuries AD, the new fort will survive until the beginning of the 7th century.
Our presentation aims at reviewing the state of research regarding the first constructive elements known in Roman times at Capidava: the eastern gate and the baths complex raised in the decade of the great bellum Dacicum Traiani using the tegular material of Leg(io) XI C(laudia) p(ia) f(idelis), but also the most recent results of the archeology intra muros research (Sector VII of the archaeological site). Here, new early roman contexts occurred during the excavation of an edifice with an south-east oriented basilica plan. It measures 26 by 16 m and its functionality seems to be so far that o principia in the 4th c. AD. Its foundations overlap and embed walls laid directly on the natural rock on which the first fortification was erected. The archaeological contexts that correspond to these first constructive elements provided an unexpected amount of material, composed mainly of wine amphoras, but also from fragmented samian ware or military equipment, all dated in the 1st and 2nd c. AD.
The Late Roman limes in the Low Countries: (dis)continuity in a frontier zone.
Berber Van der Meulen
The publication of Luttwak’s extensive work on the defence of the Roman Empire (Luttwak 1976), has become central to the study of frontiers in the Late Roman period. His third and final “system” of defence-in-depth is still a matter of debate, especially in the archaeology of the western Empire. The standard narrative describes how the Roman army struggled to cope in the West as a result of the Limesfall of the later 3rd century, and deserted their perimeter defence in favour of a defence-in-depth, with a dual army (comitatenses and limitanei) and fortifications in the hinterland.
Evidence for such a shift in military strategy in the archaeological record, however, has been scarce. Furthermore, Luttwak forgoes any function the Late Roman limes might have had beside defence (cf. Whittaker 1994), and his definition of frontiers is clearly too linear and anachronistic (inspired by the Cold War). The necessity for collapse is a by-product of such thinking (Whittaker 1994, 194).
This paper provides an archaeological survey of the Dutch Lower Rhine region, focussing on coins, crossbow brooches and military architecture. This combined dataset strongly suggests that there is no solid evidence for a sudden Limesfall triggering defence-in-depth, but rather that the Late Roman limes showed great continuity with earlier periods in both form and function.
At the same time, however, this paper would like to argue that the Late Roman limes was not simply an unchanged continuation of the 2nd and 3rd centuries, purely dictated by path-dependency. Innovations can be identified in site location choices regarding natural landscape features and in the functions of individual sites within the broader infrastructure, representing both an adaptation to changing geophysical circumstances and an overhaul of military logistics and strategy. This paper will therefore place both developments in the framework of a flexible limes that adapted itself gradually to a changing socio-economic and political climate, rather than through singular dramatic events.
Rise and Fall of Apsaros (Gonio, Georgia). Latest Findings on the Chronology of a Roman Fort on the Eastern Edge of the Empire
Piotr Jaworski, Radosław Karasiewicz-Szczypiorski, Shota Mamuladze
The Polish-Georgian Archaeological Expedition has been conducting fieldwork within the Roman fort at Apsaros since 2014. The excavation spot was chosen basing on results of geophysical measurements obtained two years earlier. Already in the first field season, the research team found the remains of a balneum, including i.a. a room with a floor mosaic decorated with geometric motifs, constructed probably in the end of the 1st c. AD and rebuilt under Hadrian. Excavations undertaken in the following years showed that in the same spot another building had been previously located . Based on the discovered architectural remains, it can be stated with high probability that this had been a horreum, built in the last years of Nero’s reign or at the beginning of Vespiasian’s rule. Latest discoveries shed additional light on both the earliest and the later stages of the presence of the Roman army on the Colchis coast as well as on the history of the Apsaros fort itself. The intent of the present paper is to report the new findings on the chronology of the Roman Fort at Apsaros, based on results of archaeological excavations conducted in the past five years. An essential part of the conclusion is based on the analysis of numerous coin finds brought to light at Apsaros recently.