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IUVAVUM (Salzburg) Austria.

One of the five oldest towns of Noricum, it was, according to Pliny (HN 3.146), founded during the reign of Claudius (A.D. 41-54) as Municipium Claudium Iuvavum. The name is pre-Roman but it is uncertain to which prehistoric population it should be ascribed. It should be noted that of these five towns, Iuvavum was situated farthest N, in the foothills of the Alps, yet still behind the frontier, ca. 90 km from the Danube. This is evidence that Roman rule extended beyond the Alps around the middle of the 1st c. A.D.

Iuvavum was on the Salzach river (Isonta, Ivarus) at the point where it enters the plain (Flachgau), and on the Salzach road which led N from Teurnia or Virunum across the Radstädter Tauern Alps. It was an important traffic junction a) for the continuation of the Salzach road N in the direction of Castra Regina (Regensburg) and b) for the Noric road in the direction of Ovilava (Wels) and Launiacum (Lorch-Enns) on the Danube limes.

The territory of the settlement was circumscribed by the island mountains of the Salzburg basin: the Mönchsberg, Festungsberg, and Nonnberg on the left bank, and the Kapuzinerberg on the right bank of the Salzach. The steep slope of the mountains offered ideal possibilities for defense, increased by the formerly divided river which was forced into a narrow trough at the foot of the Kapuzinerberg. Here was the best place for crossing the river or building a bridge. The swampy plain offered added security as did the extensive moors (Untersberger moor in the W, Schall moor in the E). The center of the prehistoric (Celtic) settlement was located on the Rainberg, as evidenced by a concentration of finds there. The Roman settlers, as usual preferring the plain, chose the area confined by the Salzach and the arc of the Stadtberg.

Almost nothing is known of the history of the town. Whether it suffered in the Marcomannic wars is debatable. Iuvavum never was a garrison and did not have walls, but it must have been a flourishing and prosperous town. This is indicated by the finds, which are more numerous and impressive here than in many other municipia of Noricum. Roman pulchra habitacula were still known around A.D. 700 when the Franconian bishop Rupert took up residence there. Excavation of Iuvavum has been hampered by the fact that the mediaeval town completely covered the center of the municipium and the deep cellars largely destroyed the Roman ruins. The center of the Roman settlement was situated on the left bank of the Salzach, in the bay formed by Mönchsberg, Festungsberg, and Nonnberg. From the 1st c. A.D. On, a larger section of the town developed on the right bank, its lesser density indicating a suburban character. Both parts were connected by a bridge at the narrowest part of the river. On the right bank large necropoleis were located, as usual, on roads leading out of the town (Bürglstein, N rim of the Kapuzinerberg).

The plan of the site cannot be reconstructed as only occasional remains of buildings have been found. The exact location of the town center (with forum and capitol) is not known but can be assumed to have been in the area of the cathedral. This is suggested by fragments of inscriptions in the medineval cathedral, referring to a building erected in honor of Septimius Severus, of which possible remains were discovered during the 1958 excavations in the Residenzplatz. These remains have been interpreted as the foundations of a Roman triumphal arch (quadrifrons). This would establish the first public civilian structure. The discovery on the Residenzplatz of an altar to Jupiter and all the gods, and of remains of large buildings in the interior of the cathedral argues for locating the forum on this site. Nearby a block was found with a fragment of an inscription which also points to a monumental structure from the time of Septimius Severus. At what probably was the E edge of the forum, the foundations of a large temple (29.6 x 45.4 m) were recently excavated which may have been a Temple of Asklepios since many pertinent sculptures have been found in this area (statuettes of Asklepios, of Hygieia, a votive altar for Asklepios Augustus, a Serapis head). An inscription in honor of a mayor also indicates that the area was part of the public center of the municipium, a place for official tributes to emperors and other persons of merit.

Building remains found in many parts of the town indicate residential dwellings. Their luxurious appointments and beautiful mosaic floors are characteristic of Iuvavum. They confirm the prosperity of the town as does the quantity of sculptures, whose stone came partly from the marble quarries, already used by the Romans, of the nearby Untersberg. Also at the edge of the town notable building remains exist: e.g. a small native peripteral temple in Salzburg-Gnigl, and in Salzburg-Liefering the first Roman country estate known in this area. Also in the Loig fields SW of the town there is a Roman villa with a well-known Theseus mosaic (now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna).

Hardly anything is known of the Late Roman period of Iuvavum. We know from Eugippius (Vita Sancti Severini 13 and 14) that there existed in the second half of the 5th c. a monastery with a basilica. However, the Christian character of architectural finds in the town section on the right bank, attributed to a hypothetical church, is as questionable as the Christian origin of the so-called catacombs in the Mönchsberg.

The numerous finds from Iuvavum are primarily in the Museum Carolino Augusteum in Salzburg, which was reopened in 1967.


Synopses: O. Klose & M. Silber, Iuvavum (1929); L. Eckhart in EAA 4 (1961) 278ff; Cathedral area excavations: H. Vetters in Beiträge zur Kunstgeschichte und Archäologie . . . (Akten zum VII. Internationalen Kongress für Frühmittelalterforschung, 21-28 Sept. 1958) (1962) 217ff; Temple of Asklepios; M. Hell, Mitteilungen der Gesellschaft für Salzburger Landeskunde 100 (1960) 29ff; “Basilica”: id., ibid. 107 (1967) 71ff; Catacombs: R. Noll, Österreichische Zeitschrift für Kunst und Denkmalpflege 10 (1956) 13ff.


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  • Cross-references from this page (1):
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.24
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