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AGUNTUM East Tyrol, Austria.

Located ca. 4 km E of Lienz in the Drau valley. It was on the road from Virunum-Teurnia-Puster valley to the Brenner Road, the most important E-W connection in S Noricum. According to the name it must have been an Illyrian settlement (nt-suffix). Aguntum belonged to the settlement area of the Celtic tribe of the Laianci, but the Celtic oppidum has as yet not been found. The town was founded—as is known from Pliny (HN 3.146)—under Claudius (41-54) as Municipium Claudium Aguntum. The expanding town was destroyed ca. 275 by a raid of the Alemanni, as is indicated by the discovery of a coin hoard; soon rebuilt, it was again destroyed by a raid of the Visigoths ca. 400. Venantius Fortunatus saw the town on his journey: “sedens in colle superbit Aguntus.” The last Roman municipium in the region of the E Alps, Aguntum succumbed in 610 to the Slavs, who were moving upward into the Drau valley.

Although the extensive ruins had been known for centuries, excavations were begun only in 1912. Since the end of WW II they have continued without interruption. However, knowledge of the town's plan is relatively limited. In particular the center with its public buildings is still unknown. It is probably situated W of the present excavation area.

The town wall, built on the E side of the settlement, is almost 2.5 m wide. Erected in the 2d c. (under Hadrian?), it seems to have been built not for defense but for prestige. The two-lane main gate (for the passage of the Drau valley road) has an inner width of 8.6 m and is flanked by two towers. The most impressive building is the house with the atrium, a structure unique in the E Alpine region for its plan. It is a luxurious dwelling, 65 x 60 m. In its latest form it dates to the 3d c. but is located on a building of the 1st c. The complex includes the residence with atrium, baths, storage rooms, and work rooms. An extensive quarter for craftsmen is located N of the decumanus maximus, and adjoining are (as the first public building) large baths which, with several enlargements and modifications, were used until the beginning of the 5th c.

When Aguntum became the seat of a bishop in the 4th c., a simple hall church (29.5 x 9.5 m) with a horseshoe-shaped bench for the clergy was constructed on the foundations of an older Roman building. A cruciform funeral chapel with two apses dates from the 5th c. Both buildings are E of the town wall. An extensive part of the excavation area has been transformed into a remarkable open air museum. Some of the finds are shown in the Grabungshaus Aguntum, others are exhibited in the Heimatmuseum Schloss Bruck (Lienz).


W. Alzinger in EAA 1 (1958) 161ff; id., “Aguntum,” Das Altertum 7 (1961) 85ffMPI; id., Aguntum und Lavant. Führer durch die römerzeitlichen Ruinen Osttirols (1974)MPI. The two preceding entries include early bibliography. St. Karwiese, “Aguntum,” RE Suppl. XII (1970) 4ffP.


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    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.24
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