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Poetovio - from legionary fortress to autonomous town

Basic Info


In the proposed project, we are interested in two key periods in the development of Poetovio: the legionary fortress and the emergence of the civilian town. The research aims to compensate for the lack of material evidence of the army's presence in Poetovio and its construction activities. Furthermore, we are interested in how the area of the legionary fortress was transformed into a town. We would like to investigate how the many supra-regional functions that Poetovio assumed as a large autonomous town were reflected in its architecture.

Panorama in Ptuj with the excavation field in 2020. View towards south-east.

There are three sets of main research objectives:

  1. The army in Poetovio. The location of the legionary fortress, its size, the construction features of the walls and the buildings inside is studied as well as the detailed chronology of the constructions and alterations. We are particularly interested in the beginnings and the manner and chronology of the abandonment of the military buildings. The possible existence of several military fortresses in the wider area of Ptuj is being examined as well. These questions are addressed through field research of selected buildings (walls, buildings in the interior of the fortress) and through the analysis of small finds of military character. An epigraphic study of the tombstones of active soldiers and veterans will provide new insights into the composition of military units.
  2. The transformation of the legionary fortress into a town. We would like to know what happened to the military facilities when the army left Poetovio and how the fortress influenced the urban design of the civilian town. Were the walls demolished or preserved? Were the military barracks given new functions and how did these change over time?
  3. Central functions of the town. According to the building remains, epigraphic monuments and small finds, it is assumed that one of the central sanctuaries of Poetovio stood on the top of Panorama. The hypothesis about the existence of the sanctuary will be verified as well as the phases, the chronology and the method of construction. We would like to enquire the relationship between the fortress and the alleged shrine. We are also interested in the role of the possible shrine in the town and the wider area, and not least in its end.

Panorama in Ptuj. Roman walls according to GRP image (Horvat, Mušič, Dolenc Vičič, Ragolič 2020). 1 – excavation field of the defensive wall in 2020. Planned archaeological excavations: 2 – defensive wall, 3 – Building XI, 4 – Building XIV, 5 – Building XVIIa.

The research programme is divided into four sections according to the method of work: archaeological trenching of four areas (the walls of the legionary fortress, the alleged military barrack, the circular room in Building XIV and the alleged sanctuary), analysis of the material remains from earlier research, which are held by the Ptuj-Ormož Regional Museum and the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage of Slovenia (remains of military equipment, military tombstones), synthesis of the results of the research, and public information.

The search for answers to the questions raised will give us a broader insight into the course of the Roman conquest of the periphery of the Eastern Alps and the central Danube region in the 1st century, in which Poetovio played a key strategic role. The role of Poetovio will be better understood in the following period, the 2nd century, when it became one of the most important towns in the region.

The Municipality of Ptuj, which is a co-financer of the project, sees in the continuous research an opportunity to upgrade the contents of the Archaeological Park of Poetovio and thus indirectly influence also the wide-ranging development of the town.

Project steps