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OLTEN Solothurn, Switzerland.

Vicus and fort on the left bank of the Aare, between Aarau and Solothurn. The ancient name Ollodunum is conjectured from mediaeval Oltun. The name and the location at the S foot of two passes over the Jura ridges make the existence of a pre-Roman oppidum probable, but in any case the vicus developed because the military road from Aventicum to Vindonissa crossed the Aare here. In the 4th c. a fortress was built to protect the Rhone-Rhine waterway, one of a chain of similar defenses on the Aare.

The vicus is attested mainly by tombstones and some few remains discovered accidentally. The walls of the mediaeval city, however, correspond roughly to those of the late Roman fortress, the plan of which was bell-shaped with the base towards the river (area ca. 1.23 ha). Parts of the ancient walls are visible in basements of the mediaeval town. The present wooden bridge is probably on the site of the Roman one; here also was the main gate, in the middle of the wall along the river front. The Historisches Museum is on the Konradstrasse.


E. Häfliger, “Das römische Olten,” Festschrift E. Tatarinoff (1938) 26-40; F. Staehelin, Die Schweiz in römischer Zeit (3d ed. 1948) 309-10, 363, 620P; V. von Gonzenbach, BonnJbb 163 (1963) 95; Jb. Schweiz. Gesell. f. Urgeschichte 49 (1962) 82-83; 51 (1964) 118; 56 (1971) 221-22; E. Müller, “Das römische Castrum in Olten,” Oltner Neujahrsblätter 27 (1969) 37-43PI.


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