On Austrian National Day, a lot of the museums in the city waived their entry fees. MD, HA, NM, TN, JS, and I took advantage of this to visit the Rome Museum: filled with artifacts from the Roman period in Austria. Most of modern Austria was part of the Roman Empire by 15 BC, with the Danube River as its most northern border at that time. Today’s Vienna was the site of a Roman settlement called Vindobona that was primarily a military camp founded in the first couple centuries AD.
Vindobona is also recorded as the site of Marcus Aurelius’ death in 180 AD – you know, the emperor who died at the beginning of Gladiator? The movie’s nowhere near accurate, but it’s a fun watch all the same.
Some of the remains of the military camp were uncovered in the early 90s (that’s 1990s) just outside the Hofburg Palace in Michaelerplatz, They have been left there for posterity, but the rest of the artifacts found in and around Vienna have been stored in the Rome Museum. Some were rather whimsical, as you can see by the pictures.
One other thing I found quite interesting about Austria during the Roman period – Christianity came here as early as the 2nd century AD with church organization starting as early as the 4th century AD. Things got a lot more complicated after the so-called “Great Migration” of Germanic tribes swept across Austria, also in the 4th century, but the foundation for Christianity had been laid here at that time. Irish missionaries would build on it in the 7th century. Fun facts.
Title quote: Marcus Aurelius