previous next

CAMBODUNUM (Kempten) Bavaria, Germany.

A Raetic provincial town in the foothills of the Alps at the intersection of important roads leading from Italy to Augusta Vindelicum and to the Danube. The name originated as a major place of the Celtic Estioni but the location of the place (hardly an oppidum) has not yet been fixed for lack of characteristic finds. During the first years of the emperor Tiberius (about A.D. 17), a garrison was stationed on a plain above the banks of the Iller and a new urban settlement was developed systematically. The first representative buildings were erected under Claudius ca. A.D. 50. The economy of the town was based on commerce, agriculture, and cattle-breeding. During the turmoil of the Three Emperor Year (68-69), the town and its public buildings were largely destroyed. Reconstruction was soon started, and the public buildings were rebuilt on a larger scale. The town contained now a forum with temple, curia, basilica, and a guest-house, as well as three public baths, a walled-in area (238 x 178 m) with an altar for burnt-offerings, and a separated area with numerous small temples. The forum, of the type called a temple forum, can be compared with that of Pompeii, e.g., the basilica is comparable with measurements of 47 x 23.5 m and a middle nave 12.5 m wide. The large baths with a square ground plan of 75 m correspond roughly to the Stabiani baths in Pompeii. Streets at right angles divided the center of the town into at least a dozen insulae. Stone buildings usually had porticoes facing the street. To the N, E, and S were other sections with wooden houses. The town continued to grow in size although economic development decreased owing to a shift of trade routes after the incorporation of the limes area N of the Danube. In the second half of the 1st c. A.D. the old necropolis in the N was abandoned and built over. The town area had then a N-S extension of 1 km, and a width E-W of 0.5 km. Probably the town was elevated at the end of the 2d c. A.D. to a municipium. After 200 A.D. there existed for some time a potter's workshop, producing decorated ceramics and sigillata like the factory in Westerndorf in the town. Numerous finds of ornaments and other traces testify to the complete destruction by the Alamanni in 233.

Another catastrophe in 259-260 caused a relocation of the town to the left bank of the Iller. There, on the isolated mountain of the Burghalde and behind strong walls, a smaller town developed. The Notitia Dignitatum mentions in Cambodunum a praefectus legionis III Italicae who commanded that sector of the limes (Not. dig. [occ.] 35). Thus troops were stationed in the late Roman town; under their protection the settlement must have continued for some time. That the mediaeval town Campidona developed there (documented for the first half of the 8th c.) argues, together with the name, for the continuity of the settlement. The finds are in the Allgäuer Heimatmuseum in Kempten and in the Prähistorische Staatssammlung in München.


F. Wagner, “Die römische Provinzstadt Kempten,” Allgäuer Geschichtsfreund NF 36 (1934) 65-69I; W. Krämer, Cambodunumforschungen 1953 I (1957); U. Fischer, Cambodunumjorschungerl 1953 II (Ceramics) (1957)I; H.-J. Kellner, “Der Schatzfund von Cambodunum,” Germania 38 (1960) 386-92; W. Kleiss, Die öffentlichen Bauten von Cambodunum (1962)MPI; G. Krahe, “Ausgrabungen im frührömischen Gräberfeld von Cambodunum,” Jahresber. d. Bayer. Bodendenkmalpflege 3 (1962) 78-91MPI.


hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: