Tag Archives: Roman life in Austria

The Physician, religions, work and fun – A day amongst the Romans (Part 1)

Carnuntum Roman Fest – Part 1

It’s not every day that you learn how to take an arrow head out of someone’s skull, sit in a Roman Villa with soldiers and citizens milling about, or find out about the latest cosmetics and fashions in (Ancient) Rome.

Carnuntum Archaeological Park is always worth a visit but yesterday was somewhat different as my family  joined hundreds of other visitors attending the Roman Fest.  Carnuntum which is situated next to the Danube River, about 30mins drive from central Vienna, was a Roman Provincial Capital and today visitors can experience the feel of Roman life by spending time exploring a set of wonderfully reconstructed buildings. Images of the site on a normal visitor day can be seen here and here.

My daughter is a bit of a history fanatic, something I’d like to claim comes from me but in reality it’s more a result to exposure to places like Carnuntum where you can touch and feel the past, alongside watching and reading everything connected to Terry Deary’s Horrible Histories. So for her history is something real, alive, accurate, and fun. As for me, my interested in history unfortunately makes me one of those sad people who mumbles loudly in cinema’s at ‘historical movies’ or around tour guides whose historical presentations are full of inaccuracies. My daughter and I are therefore a rather tough audience to impress and it was, I suspected, something of a relief to my wife that the Roman Fest lived up to the high expectations we have of the Carnuntum site.

A few images of the day:

Tools of the trade for a Roman Physician…..


Luckily the Romans had a good command of German as I don’t think most of us could manage the Latin…..


All the instruments where made by the Physician himself and based upon original Roman descriptions. His talk enthralled H, especially the bits about cutting open the skull…..


The main Villa was full of visitors listen to the talk by the Physician or exploring the building, but also some of the City’s military……


Outside the main Villa near the shops order was being maintained by the local auxiliary…..


I wonder if this chap was in need of the Physician or had already been to see him?……………..


I was outvoted as we passed this cosmetics stall on the main street and some time was spent chatting about (and buying) some Roman creams etc……


As the discussion of perfumes and creams continued, I was distracted by the public announcements on the new status of the Sect known as the Christians……..


Not to be distracted by this talk of the Christians, I wandered further down the road to watch the priest perform a more traditional ceremony……















The Roman Fest had plenty for the kids to get their hands dirty and minds active. From designing mosaics…….


….or ceramic painting……


While other children painted shields and swords, H decided to practice her catapult (sling shot) skills….



Then on to exercising the brain with a Roman board game…..



While wandering around you had to keep an eye out for the traffic……


…..but wandering was the thing to do as there were so many sights to see, people to talk to and things to do. Other distractions meant that we missed the wedding but I did get some shots of the wedding party preparing……




In addition to the slaves, there were some free Celts at the festival and H had her name translated……



Finally, visiting military units were encamped around the edge of the site and here are a selection of images from the camps…..


















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Filed under Activities for kids, Austrian Roman History, History, Out and about in Lower Austria, Vienna Life

A glimpse of Roman life – Carnuntum

Sitting by the Danube River, at about the half way point between Vienna and Bratislava, is the site of the Roman City of Carnuntum. An important location within the Empire, part of the City has been brought back to life with the reconstruction of a small number of Roman buildings on the original site.

Combined with an excellent visitor’s centre, the reconstructed Roman buildings provide a wonderful opportunity for young and old alike to gain a sense of what living in the Roman world would have been like. Testament to this was H and her friends (all eight or under) abandoning the climbing frames to return to the reconstructions to ‘play Romans’. They were the ones who insisted that the adults wait whilst they listened to the video presentations on the history of the settlement and life in the Roman Empire. My adult companions also took a genuine delight in wandering around the site and I found myself drawing on the depths of my knowledge as the walking through the buildings inspired them to more and more probing questions.

The highlight of the day for young and old was oddly enough Roman central heating. The discovery that the under floor fires were actually lit caused a great deal of discussion and excitement. This grew further as we entered the building which was wonderfully warm and everyone in our party knelt down to touch the warm floor. As we moved through the room everyone was fascinated by the two bath rooms, one with a cold bath and the other with warm water. Whilst not quite real life, this ability to touch and feel the past created additional interest in the more traditional sights such a excavated stone walls and historical descriptions of the Roman world.

 As the site is located in wine country we ended our trip with a visit to a Heuriger for a little light food and of course a glass of wine. The consensus in our party was that, all in all, it had been a very enjoyable day for young and old.  



Filed under Austrian History, Austrian Roman History, Out and about in Lower Austria, Vienna Life