Roman legion's headquarters in Serbia

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Roman Collector, Nov 29, 2020.

  1. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Interesting story here.


    Buried under a Serbian cornfield close to a coalmine, the well-preserved remains of a Roman legion's headquarters are being excavated by archaeologists who say its rural location makes it unique.

    Covering an estimated 3,500 square meters, the headquarters - or principium - belonged to the VII Claudia Legion. Its location was deduced in the spring during a survey.

    The compound, which lies east of Belgrade and around one meter (3 ft) under the surface, had 40 rooms with heated walls, a treasury, a shrine, parade grounds and a fountain.

    So far only a quarter has been explored, with excavations scheduled to resume next spring.

    Inside one room, archaeologists found 120 silver coins that "must have been lost during an emergency" such as an invasion or a natural disaster, said the principium's lead archaeologist Nemanja Mrdjic.

    "The distribution of coins from a corner to the door, ... suggests they (coins) spilled while someone was fleeing."

    The VII Claudia Legion was active between 2nd and 5th centuries AD, and its walled camp and principium were separated from the rest of Viminacium, which had its own fortifications.
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  3. ominus1

    ominus1 Well-Known Member

    ..always love a good story and pics! thanks for the upload RC! :)
  4. gsimonel

    gsimonel Well-Known Member

    Are the coins in the photo supposed to be silver? They look like 3rd century antoniniani.
  5. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    The authors of articles like this are not typically versed in numismatics. Since the find dates to the third century, I suspect they are silver-washed examples, as shown.
    DonnaML likes this.
  6. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter I dig ancient coins...

    Very interesting article @Roman Collector. Like you, I doubt that they were silver coins but probably were just run-of-the-mill antoniniani.
    Roman Collector likes this.
  7. Jovian363

    Jovian363 Well-Known Member

    More precise info with additional photographs from the site can be found on the ArcheoSerbia facebook profile

    New updates and photos about latest discovery of Roman legion command headquarters in ancient Viminacium in eastern Serbia:
    In the last several weeks archaeologists are excavating remains of large ancient building with 40 rooms, covering surface of more than 3500 square meters, which most likely was a principium – main building or headquarters of VII Claudia Legion, whose main camp was Viminacium.
    This finding is important and unique, because around 100 principiums have been known all over the territory of Roman empire, but almost all of them are now beneath modern cities and their excavation in almost impossible. But, principium in Viminacium can be excavated entirely, because whole area of principium is preserved and undisturbed by buildings from later periods.
    It is also possible that in this building was an office of high ranked ancient Roman officer mentioned in 4th century text “Notitia Dinutatum”, which makes the discovery even more important.
    The principium was founded in 2nd century AD, and was in use until mid-5th century AD, when it was destroyed in Hunnic invasion.
    At first, remains of this building were discovered with help of modern technologies – geo-radar and magnetometer. After seeing the results of measuring, archaeologist Nemanja Mrđić insisted on excavations to begin as soon as possible – the results suggested that beneath the surface are laying remains of large ancient building, 70 meters long and 50 meters wide, with total surface of 3500 square meters and more than 40 rooms! Considering the dimensions and location of the building, he thought that it could only be a principium – main building or headquarters of a Roman legion, in this case VII Claudia Legion, whose main camp was Viminacium.
    And when excavation campaign started it revealed stunning finds – just one meter below the surface a massive ancient wall made of stones and bricks appeared.
    Out of 3500 square meters of surface, so far around 800 square meters have been excavated in eastern part of the building, and results are confirming the theory that it was a Legions principium.
    Principium was central object of a Roman military camp, home of Legion officers, where armory (armamentia), shrine (sacellum) and treasury (aerarium) of the Legion were placed, along with rooms in which were kept holy symbols of the Legion – standards, banners and other insignia. This one, as many others, also had an inner court used for gatherings, basilica and large halls.
    Average height of preserved walls is 1.5 meters, with thickness of around 0.8 meters. During the centuries, local people were using these ancient remains as a source of constructing material for their homes and other buildings.
    Very interesting are the remains of floor and wall heating systems, consisting of hollow ceramic pipes. Besides that, in inner court they discovered remains of the water network system consisting of lead pipes and a fountain whose pool has dimensions of 2.8 x 2.8 meters.
    One of the significant discoveries are multiple pieces of ancient weapons and military equipment and large amount of Roman silver coins, found below the remains of a collapsed roof. Some 120 silver coins have been found, denarius and antoninianus minted by several emperors in 3rd century AD – Gallienus, Claudius Gothicus and Aurelian. Most coins were found scattered below the remains of a collapsed roof, which suggest that they could have fall out from ceramic vessel or leather bag when their keeper was running away from the building.
    Floor in one room is paved with decorative bricks shaped as butterflies or hourglass, and in several rooms are found remains of wall paintings and Latin inscriptions. Some bricks bare the seal LEG VII CL, the official seal of VII Claudia Legion.
    Within the inner court archaeologists found several large stone pillars, which once were part of peristyle, a passage with pillars.
    Ancient Viminacium was very important town in Roman empire, capital of Moesia Superior province and base camp of VII Claudia Legion, build on intersection of important roads and significant military outpost on the Danube limes. It was a place of gathering of Roman army, starting point of many Roman military campaigns against barbarians on the other bank of the Danube river. With population of around 30 000 people, Viminacium was larger than famous Pompeii.
    Site of Viminacium covers area of 450 hectares, and so far, only 2% have been excavated. Archaeologists say that there is enough material for the next 300 years of digging and exploration.
    More than 14 000 graves and tombs with more than 30 000 interesting and valuable grave goods inside them have been found at Viminacium necropolises, which makes them the largest Roman cemetery in the world.
    Findings include beautiful pieces of jewelry, coins, weapons and tools, pottery, sculptures, reliefs and frescoes and objects for everyday use.
    They also excavated remains of amphitheater, thermal baths, aqueduct, many workshops, military and public buildings, temples and basilicas and many other buildings.
    Unfortunately, most of Viminacium’s remains were found at the foot of a massive coal-fired power station and above the coal mine deposits, and archaeological excavations are being carried out before new units of the plant and intensive coal mining devastate this ancient site
  8. Jovian363

    Jovian363 Well-Known Member

    Archeologist with his find


    Spaniard and Roman Collector like this.
  9. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter I dig ancient coins...

    Thanks for the info @Jovian363 - fascinating stuff. When I was last in Egypt an ancient fort was found in the city of Luxor dating to the time of Diocletian. A German archaeological team had cordoned off the area (which in fact was quite close to Luxor temple (pretty much across the street). It was speculated on the placards that it was a staging place for campaigns against the Blemmeyes which had threatened southern Egypt at the time, and may also have played a role in halting support for Domitius Domitianus, a usurper in Alexandria that had gained the backing of the population in Upper Egypt.
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