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BRIGANTIUM (Bregenz, capital of Vorarlberg) Austria.

Situated on the SE bay of Lake Constance, the settlement was first mentioned by Strabo (4.206). It belonged to the province Raetia and is listed by Ptolemy (2.12.3) among the towns of that province. It marked the most important intersection of roads near Lake Constance: here the road from Gaul via Basel intersected that leading from the S (Mediolanum) across the Alps. From here the road went via Cambodunum to the provincial capital Augusta Vindelicum. Consequently, Brigantium is mentioned repeatedly in antiquity (It.Ant. 237, 251, 258, 259, etc.; Tab.Peut. 3.5). The significance of the place is evidenced by the fact that Pliny (9.63) even calls Lake Constance lacus Brigantinus (lacus Brigantiae in Amm. Marc. 15.4.1).

The Celtic oppidum is thought to have been on the rise of the old town, whereas the Roman settlement stretched out over the terrace called Ölrain, ca. 30 m above the shore of the lake. It was an open town which developed on both sides of the wide main street, but it was also a planned settlement with rectangular insulae. The public buildings were apparently situated mainly along the lakeside edge of the terrace, while the private ones and the quarter for craftsmen were on the opposite side of the street. On the terraces toward the lake were single buildings (villas, etc.). The forum (97 x 55 m) departed from the customary arrangement in that the capitol did not face the forum but was located offside. Great baths had been constructed on the main street SW of the forum. In addition, numerous public and private buildings have been uncovered although their exact function is not easily determined. Outside the town to the NE is the principal necropolis, one of the largest Roman cemeteries of Raetia. The more than 1300 graves (1st c. to 4th) indicate through their furnishings the solid wealth of a town that must have had a certain importance as a trade center; an inscription speaks of negotiatores Brigantienses.

Brigantium possesses the oldest inscription of Raetia—an inscription from A.D. 4-14 commemorating Drusus the Younger. In Early Imperial times there were earthworks on the SW Ölrain (time of Tiberius); up to the days of Claudius a cavalry unit was garrisoned there; it was eventually shifted to the Danube.

When ca. A.D. 260 the limes collapsed, the border of the empire retracted to Lake Constance, making Brigantium a frontier town. The lower settlement gradually moved to the level of the fortified upper town. Later it became from time to time the headquarters for the commander of the Lake Constance fleet (Not.Dign. 35.32).

It is not known whether Brigantium had the status of a municipium. The only visible remnants of Roman Brigantium are a wall in the Protestant cemetery and a part of the Roman pier. The numerous finds are in the Vorarlberg Landesmuseum in Bregenz.


R. von Scala, Archiv für Geschichte und Landeskunde Vorarlbergs 10 (1914) 29ff; A. Hild, Jahrbuch des Vorarlberger Landesmuseumsvereins 95 (1952) 28ffMPI; B. Saria in EAA 2 (1959) 170ff; E. Vonbank, in L. Franz & A. Neumann, Lexikon ur- und frühgeschichtlicher Fundstätten Österreichs (1965) 175ff.


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    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 9.63
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