Emergence of vici

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Origin of the vici

From the earliest periods, we can notice the presence of civilians – men, women, children – moving together with the army. In one respect, the relatives of the soldiers, merchants, sacrificers from the lixae, actors, musicians and courtesans made up the group of civilians. These social groups could be the core of the vicus, which came into being beside the military camps in the early periods. The civil settlements next to the military camps were established simultaneously with the camps as a result of conscious organization. The inhabitants of the settlements were buried into common cemeteries with the soldiers, and the population of the vicus was made up mainly of soldier-families. Natives could get into the vicus after demobilizing or they could be the elements of the earliest population of the vicus as well. The native population is provable by the examination of the inscriptions, respectively, on the evidence of the dug-in houses characteristic of the natives and the finds. On the basis of the inscriptions, natives’ presence can be proved in the vicus of Nyergesújfalu, Esztergom, Dunabogdány, Szentendre, Albertfalva, Nagytétény, Százhalombatta, Adony, Dunaújváros, Dunakömlőd and Várdomb. The greatest number of native inscriptions are known from Szentendre and Dunaújváros, but it’s because of the large number of inscriptions founded here.

Continuation of native villages

In the earliest palisade-period of the vici, dug-in houses and wooden constructions were built. Most of the dug-in houses can be connected to the native population. In the territory of the vici, there are only a few signs of the living on of a concrete native settlement, demonstrateable only in case of Esztergom’s vicus. In the earliest period of the vici, however, dug-in houses and La Tène findings often turn up in connection with the native population. Certainly, only in the instance of archaeologically well-investigated vici can we draw conclusions referring to native population and settlements.

Albertfalva: The most is known about the palisade-period of the vicus of Albertfalva. Three types of houses can be separated from the earliest time dating back to the Flavian-period:

1, rectangle-shaped semi subterranean pit houses with rounded corners

2, houses supported by posts

3, oval-shaped houses

These pit houses were connected to the celtic aboriginal inhabitants. The houses possessed plastered floor in general, their walls could be built up from mud bricks, and there could be plastered walls with wicker-work. The pit houses were placed according to two different orientations ( N-S, E-W ), which could refer to two distinct periods. Both outside and inside the houses ovens appeared. Besides the pit houses different economic buildings are known, a 8 X 2,5 m sized building, probably used for food storing, and pits in different forms and sizes. There can be found a fragment of a work shop consisting of rounded vats with plastered wall, as a record of early industrial activity.

Solva: On the basis of the findings excavated on the hill at Esztergom, a celtic oppidum could stand there, which was eliminated by the roman conquest, and its inhabitants were removed into the Víziváros. On the strength of the LT D finds from the Víziváros, it can be stated, that the inhabitants had been removed into the Víziváros before the foundation of the vicus, so the vicus was established in the place of an earlier Late Iron Age – settlement, or in other case the native findings could have been connected to the first period of the vicus.

Matrica: In this vicus, early pit houses appeared with horisontal plastered base and vertical aisle wall. In general, the pit houses don’t posses postholes, although types with postholes occur as well.

Vetus Salina: The first period of the palisade-camp is partly known, where besides four wooden constructioned houses, only one pit house was found. Archaeologists observed great LT D influence on the findings. In the palisade-period, the territory of the vicus was smaller than in the stone-period.

Intercisa: We know from the palisade-period of the vicus pisay, dug-in houses with plastered wall and mud-brick; borrow pits, subterranean workshops and cellars. The area of the vicus in the palisade-period – similarly to the vicus of Vetus Salina – was smaller than in the stone-period.

Budapest-Víziváros: In the vicinity of the Király Baths round-cornered pit-houses came up, but these can be connected to the first period of the vicus, and not to the celtic aboriginal inhabitants. However, the place of the LT D settlement on the Corvin Square is known, which was probably destroyed by fire and the lack of metalfindings indicate that it could have been left systematically. In this area there can be found a cremation cemetery of the vicus from the I. century A.D. The earliest mud-brick building in the vicus can be dated back to the ages of Augustus and was uncovered on Bem Square.

Acumincum: The earliest roman fortress was built in the place of the celtic oppidum, so the oppidum was included in the system of the frontier defence. After that the inhabitants of the oppidum were moved into the vicus.

Burgenae: Before the roman conquest, the region had already been inhabited, on the Beljanica hill the remains of a native settlement and cemetery were excavated, which could have had a significant link to the vicus.

Apart from the aforementioned auxiliary vici (Solva, Albertfalva, etc.), the vicus that was excavated in the Budaörs-Kamaraerdő field can also be enumerated here. There was an eraviscus settlement here from the late La Téne ages, which imported Roman terra sigillata of the Augustus ages already from the 1st century. From the 2nd century, new inhabitants moved here, and with the rise of local nobility, a new age of stone architecture began which prevailed until the end of the 4th century or even longer. The size of the Celtic settlement is around 14 hectare, the structure of it, however, cannot really be determined. There are pit houses built right next to each other, ovens and cellar pits, which are more or less serially arranged. This arrangement remained in the Roman ages either, when new rows of houses were built in a native style. The real change, though, begins from the 2nd century. In the western part of the settlement a centre is evolved, with semi-bow stone houses and paved roads, whilst in the eastern part of the settlement there are still pit houses. The latter are used until the 3rd century; Celtic names can be found on objects with inscription also until this time. This is the era when the general boom of the provinces reaches this vicus; the majority of the streets become paved, the centre is relocated to the south-eastern side, however, the western houses are also inhabited. In the northern / north-eastern part an "industrial area" is created, where there are ovens, slag pits, i.e., metallurgy was also performed in the premises of the vicus. Interestingly, the streets were also paved here. Finally, the settlement was demolished in the end of the 4th century.

There are two further settlements, which are not located nearby a military camp: Ménfőcsanak, Szekály and Halimba

Ménfőcsanak: This is the biggest native, Celtic settlement in Pannonia. It had been excavated between 1990 and 1991 before the motorway next to Győr was built. The majority of the settlement was uncovered: 57 huts, 42 wells with varied inner covers of wood and stone, several cellar pits and other features were found.
The 57 huts represent 3 groups. The first group contains simple, rectangle-shaped houses with traces of props on the narrower sides. The props held the gabled roof in position. The surface of the houses is 4,5 X 3 m on average and the level of their floors can be seen with 10-80 cm under the ground level. Their walls could have been made of mud bricks.
Only one house can be ranked among the second group. The rectangular-shaped house was completed in the centre of its longer side. The amplification (1 X 2 m) was propped by a third post. This kind of house didn’t have walls, its gabled roof could have rested upon the ground.
The lack of post-holes is the main characteristic of the third group. These houses could have had timber-systems. Stairs at the entrance of the houses were also found in some instances and 2 such houses had plastered floor. The huts were surrounded by ditches and arranged into groups and rows.
The settlement was populated from the second half of the 1. cent. AD. to the last third of the 2.cent. AD. Most part of their ceramics reflects Celtic influence. Using money, import goods from the western and southern part of the Empire and provincial products is a proof of Romanization.

Szekály: The vicus existed in the La Téne C and D period and lived on in the Roman times as well. As contrasted with the oppidum of Gellérthegy, Szakály wasn’t evacuated by the Romans and it was populated till the 4. cent. AD.
During the excavation in 1978-79 several pit-houses and houses supported by posts of the early Roman period were found. All of the houses were rectangular-shaped, but none of them were built from stone.
Apart from the houses cellar-pits and from the later period wells, open air ovens and granaries bulit above the surface were uncovered. In the beginning only some fragments of TS indicate Romanization and only 1 or 2 pieces of stamped pottery show provincial connections.
Proofs for industrial activity: they produced native pottery and working of metals is also proved by spoilt pieces of Nor-Pannonian winged brooch.
The population of the village could have been Celts of the Hercuniates tribe.

Halimba: During the excavation of Halimba between 1952 and 1955 six circular- and rectangular-shaped ditches from the Roman period were found and were thought to be houses and outhouses by the excavator, Gyula Török. But these features were only surrounds of urn burials, so they can’t be considered as proofs of circular building in the Pannonian vici.

There are great differences between the settlement system of the auxilarian and "civic" vici. The former are not scattered but well-arranged, most of the buildings are oriented at the same direction according to the excavations. It can be concluded from this that some kind of dividing of the building site was executed here. The vicus of Arrabona was built with some kind of regularity, the house and road system of it were built along the road leading to the camnp. The orientation of the vicus is the same as that of the castrum. The centre of the vicus is more desnely populated, the houses become sparser on the way out.
In Albertfalva, for example, two periods can be observed: the houses were either oriented East-West or North-South. In Pannonia, where the field mad it possible, the settlement surrounded the fortress from three sides. This was not really like this in the other parts of the empire where the vicus lies either along the road coming from the camp or between the camp and a road.
Those village-like settlements which did not lie next to the camps are less arranged. One part of the settlement in Ménfőcsanak is arranged in lines, whereas the other part in groups. In Halimba, some excavated buildings from a group.

A significant part of the auxilary vici - the establishment of which is of course can be connected to the creation of limes-camps- was established without Iron Age antecedents. The same kind of settlements were established in the early ages right next to the camps of the inner areas of the province, e.g. in Gorsium. In general, the inhabitants of these settlements were natives, who moved to these settlements in the Roman ages because of the economic upswing generated by the army. Some of the native settlements were established due to the resettlement policy of the Romans, e.g., on the edge of Savaria territory: the natives moved here because of the centuriatio. A vicus of pure Roman foundation without native inhabitants has not yet been found - nevertheless, their existence of such vici is possible, since, for example, the well-to-do veterans often moved to the villages. Notwithstanding, based on the currently available information, they moved to already-existing communities, and, in general, they became the leaders of those communities. This could happen e.g. in the vicus Vindonianus of Békásmegyer, where the aliens called possessores (the majority of whom was decurio of Aquincum) set up an altar in honour of the Triad of Capitolium, on behalf and for the request of the village inhabitants called vicani.(CIL III 10570 = 3626). These veterans most likely had holdings nearby and lived in the villa rusticae located in or near the village.

Continuation of auxiliary vici after the withdrawal of the military unit

In Pannonia, in contrast with other western provinces, there wasn’t living on in the vici after the army had been evacuated from the castella. In the territory of the vici, there aren’t any late roman finds as settlements are given up and inhabitants move to castella. In the territory of the vici, late roman cemeteries often came into existence, so the population withdrawn to castella from the vici, buried into the place of the earlier vicus (Arrabona, Intercisa, Ulcisia Castra, Vetus Salina, Lugio, Malata, Taurunum). As the example of the vicus of Arrabona suggests, the giving up of these vici could have happened in the middle of the IV. cent. AD. (about 355 AD.). Besides the graves there is another proof for the abandonment: the appearing of agricultural tools, which can be connected to civilians, from the military camp’s level of the 4th cent. AD. (e.g. Ács-Vaspuszta).

Ulcisia Castra


Relation to traffic routes

In most cases, the pannonian auxiliary vici situated along the limes-road. Their street-structure and orientation goes after the limes-road and the castella streets nearby. We have a few data on the inner street-structure of the vici. The excavated road-section in the vicus of Albertfalva was the elongation of the camp’s via decumana, and crossroads perpendicular to the road-section also came up. The road consisted of a 50-cm-thick limestone and sandstone, the late usage of it was proved by a Valens coin. In general, most part of the uncovered vici are connected with the limes-road, and sometimes it passed through the territory of the vicus. From Arrabona came up a milestone with inscription XXX, which is equal to the distance of Brigetio-Arrabona according to the Itinerarium Antonini. It is supposed to have passed through the camp or passed round from the south. We know side-roads approaching to the limes-road from Odiavum, Ulcisia Castra, Albertfalva, Matrica and Intercisa.

The closeness of the vici to the limes-road was commercially important. The production of the vici couldn’t satisfy the army’s claim alone, there was a need for food, clothes and personal belongings transported by merchants. So, we have to take a great number of settled merchants into account, who were attracted by the stratum of potentially solvent soldiers to the vicinity of the camp and the limes. On the basis of inscriptions only a few negotiatores are known from the vici, however, the great number of imported goods prove the importance of trading. In the 1st cent. AD. trade along the limes was arranged by italicus merchants, as the general use of north-italien TS and thin-walled beakers proves this. In the beginning of the 2nd cent.AD., the italiens were displaced by merchants of the western provinces and TS from Gallia, Rhenish and Raetian ware were spread. Most part of the imported goods appeared along the limes in the 2nd-3rd cent.AD., proving prosperity of the Severan-ages. Transit trade with the Barbaricum was also significant.

Function of these places

The essential function of the vici was to utilitate the economical claims of the army stationing in the camps. Activities in the militarian territory (fabricae, militarian pottery workshops) must be separated from the activities in the territory of the vici. It could have been much more industrial activity than is currently known.

On the north side of Albertfalva traces of metal processing workshop came up, from where bronze-findings, bronze- and iron-clods, molten iron- and lead-findings prepared for secondary use are known. The workshop could have functioned in the 2nd-3rd cent. AD. Besides these, parts of tanners with round-cornered vats also turned up. West from the vicus functioned Hilarus master’s pottery workshop.

On the basis of a bronze strigilis (with VRBAN(VS) maker’s stamp), a bronze patera and a fragmentary wagon-decoration came up from a mud-brick building dated into the 1st cent. AD, it is supposed that in Budapest-Víziváros a repair-workshop could have functioned.

From Intercisa in the vicinity of the castellum’s southern vallum 19 ovens for bronze-working turned up; next to one of them parts of a bellows from stone were found. Besides them, a glass-workshop and a tanner functioned as well. At the edge of the vicus, two pottery kiln were uncovered, where lamps and terracotta were produced – as it is proved by press moulds. A stamp with the name of potter FEROX was also found. Probably a stone-masonry could have worked in the territory of the vicus.

In the vicus of Arrabona from the 4th period a 110 X 135 cm quadrate oven with iron-nails, iron-tools and a basin-shaped fired pit came to light. The spoiled bronze findings corroborate the existence of a smithery.

In Matrica, on the basis of borrow pits and a grape-shaped seal it is supposed that a pottery functioned there.

In the southern region, ther could have functioned pottery-workshops as well e.g. in Rittium, Burgenae and Taurunum.

Agricultural production was also important in the vici and agricultural tools often turn up. From Intercisal, besides other iron tools, pruning knife and terrazzo-lined stone-basin were found, which can be proofs for wine culture. Metal-tools are known from Esztergom, Nyergesújfalu, Őcsény, Kiskőszeg, Zimony and Cornacum. From the vicus of Arrabona, bread oven and a millstone came up. The agricultural production took place in the villa rusticae near the vici (see Relation to villas). On the strength of animalbones and tools connected with animal husbandry, it may be concluded that animal husbandry was also done there. From the territory of Ulcisia Castra a hand-bell, a mould-board and a bit came up; in Matrica, a bit and hand-bells were found; from Intercisa a bit, hand-bells, sheep-shears and branding-irons came to light.

Typical building structures

The houses of the vici were in general buildings with stone foundation put into clay and with mud-brick walls. There are examples of pisay walls as well. The buildings posses packed clay floor. In Matrica, only the mansio and the bath possesed terrazzo-floor. In buildings with floor heating, which situated in the central room possesed terrazzo-floor (Intercisa, Ulcisia Castra, Albertfalva). Hypocaustum could only be found in baths and in the most important central buildings (Ad Mures, Ulcisia Castra, Intercisa), in other cases they used stone-loaded fireplace for heating. The residential buildings were in general decorated with fresco and stucco. In most cases, buildings were rectangular-shaped and one-roomed (Matrica, Ulcisia Castra), but multi-roomed, heated buildings with terrazzo-floor also occured (Albertfalva, Intercisa (Pic.III. 5.-6.)).

For the moment only a few baths can be identified, the inhabitants of the vici and the soldiers probably used the same bath. So the baths were always placed in the vicinity of the camp (Ulcisia Castra, Albertfalva, Matrica, Intercisa, Malata. Some of those buildings that were reputed as bath or forum, were probably mansiones, like in Albertfalva, Matrica and Intercisa.


Curia and forum could also be found in vici, however, we haven’t got archaeological proofs yet, same to the defences of the vici.

Horrea can be classified as economical buildings. In Intercisa, a 18 X 11 m building reputed as a horreum was uncovered, just as economic-purposed big buildings with mud-bricks, ovens and wells.

It can be stated in connection with the settlement-construction that the orientation of the vici conforms to the limes-road and to the roads leading to the camps. The bigger and wealthier houses, were in general placed along the limes-road.


Changes in the way of constructing

Pit houses and wooden constructioned houses are characteristic of the earliest period of the excavated panninian vici. However, these earlier palisade-periods rarely can be noted. The earlier research thought that the sporadically and disorderly situated buildings were characteristic of the pannonian vici. In Intercisa and in the canabae of Aquincum, the existance of insulas can be proved already in the earliest palisade-periods.

In the earliest period, most of the houses were pit houses consisted of mud or wattle-and-daub walls. Besides these wooden constructioned buildings could be found (e.g. Arrabona), but more examples can only be revealed by extensive excavations. After the earlier palisade-period, the vici were built into stone at the same time as the camps. It can be dated to the second half of the II. cent. AD. Nevertheless, Albertfalva and Intercisa alresdy had stone buildings in the palisade-period; on the other, building into stone just started together with the camp’s building operations, and only in the 3rd cent. AD. were stone-houses built in large number.

The best example where we can examine the differences between the palisade. And stone-periods, the steps of the building and the changes of techniques is the vicus of Arrabona:

> From the earliest period of the vicus fragments of wooden constructioned houses and sleeper-beams came up. Two levels of the earlier houses can be observed; the second level was probably lifted up by 20-25 cm because of the subterranean water. The houses of the period were probably built of wood, their walls could have consisted of thick timbers and planks plastered with clay. From the levels red fragments of fresco turned up, which indicates that the houses were decorated in their earliest period as well. From the lack of tegulas we can conclude for cane- or tiled-roof. On the basis of the findings, the first period of the vicus can be dated to the Claudian-Domitian period.

Before the next period of the building of the vicus the layer above the wooden constructioned houses was filled up with 1-m-thick rubble to cut off the way of the subterranean water. On top of this, a similar wooden constructioned house was built in the late 1st cent. / first decades of the 2nd cent. AD.

In the III. period of the vicus, in the era of Hadrian, the vicus was built into stone, which is indicated by a large building with three longitudinal rooms; its foundation consists of sandstone and rubble without binding material. 50-80 cm stone-walls were built on this and then wicker-worked and with cane plastered mud-walls came. In this case, the lack of tegulae represent tiled roof as well. The house hasn’t got any traces of floor, it could have had packed clay floor. Next to the stone-house, a timber-framed house with clay-plastered walls was found, which could have been an economical building in close connection with the stone-house.

The IV. period of the vicus can be dated back to the Antoninian-period. In the large building of the III. period, only smaller lifting up was executed, and this is the time when the smithery could have functioned in the building.



After the IV. period, a large destruction level can be observed in the vicus, which is in connection with the Marcomannian-wars. In the V. period the large building was rebuilt with opus spicatum technique and more buildings with mud-walls and economical units were built. This period can be dated back to the Severian-time.

At the middle of the 3rd cent. AD. there is onemore destruction level, then a mud-building with portico can be noticed, but there are no significant constructions from that time on. The big building lived on the 4th cent. AD. (VI. period), but the latest, VII. period of the vicus contains the cemetery established in the place of the vicus in the second half of the 4th cent. AD.

> The periods and the history of building of the vicus of Albertfalva are similarly well-observable. In the earliest time, from the Flavian-age, circular dug-in houses with wattle-and-daub walls are known. There are signs of a contingent earlier palisade-period, but only in the levelling; buildings cannot be identified. In the ages of Trajan-Hadrian, a building with stone-foundation appeared, which indicates the building of the vicus into stone. The levelling layers show the Marcomannian-war’s destruction. In the Severan-time, the biulding from the Trajan-Hadrian-period was rebuilt, and new stone-buildings with dry stone walling appeared. Living on after the late roman period cannot be noticed here; the modifications could have been in connection with the building of the limes in the Valentinian-period.

>Presumably, the other, pertly excavated pannonian vici could have had the same history of building. General touchstones were: the rebuildings of the earlier palisade-period into stone in the Hadrian-time, the devastigation of the Marcomannian-wars, the rebuilding of the earlier buildings, the reflection of prosperity of the Severian-time on the buildings, the ceasing of the significant buildings from the middle of the 3rd cent. AD., then the giving up of the vicus in the 4th cent. AD., moving into the camp and establishment of cemeteries in place of the vicus.

Relation to villas

Most part of of the agricultural activity can probably be connected to the villae in the vicinity of the vici. Near the pannonian vici and the camps, there are villa-holdings, but because of the lack of research we have only a few data on the connection between vicus and villa.

>We can reckon with more villa in the vicinity of Ulcisia Castra, one villa situated 3 kms from the vicus was uncovered, which was built in the Severian-period.

>In Matrica, in the territory of the camp there supposed to be more villae, but in this case as well we have only a few data. In Intercisa and Öcsény, existance of villae in the vicinity of the vicus and the camp can be proved.

Indication of cult

> From the vici altar-stones, inscriptions came up in large number in connection with cults, but we haven’t got any data about concrete sanctuary, for the lack of excavations. In Campona, 2 kms from the camp a Mithraeum was uncovered, where an altar, frescos and fragments of walls also came into light. Activities of Mithraeum’s cults could have been connected to the camp and the vicus. In the territory of Intercisa, a Mithraeum probably functioned, one of them was identified at the western side of the limes-road, south from the camp. In Vetus Salina, 90 ms from the south corner of the camp, in the territory of the vicus, a Dolichenum came into light. The sanctuary was constructed of mud-walls decorated with frescos, its size was 17x6 m. On the basis of the stamped bricks it can be concluded that the Dolichenum was established in the end of the 2nd cent. AD., and it devastigated about 235 AD.
Besides the uncovered sanctuaries, as many altars and inscription show in the vicinity of the vicus there could have existed significant activity of cult:

>Azaum: Iuppiter, Liber Pater

>Crumerum: Fortuna, Serapis, Neptunus, Nymphae

>Solva: Liber Pater, Libera

>Cirpi: Silvanus, Iuppiter, Vulcanus

>Albertfalva: Lar

>Campona: Mithras, Silvanus, Iuppiter

>Vetus Salina: Dolichenus, Silvanus, Iuppiter

>Intercisa: Mithras

>Annamatia: Aescylapius, Hygieia, Iuppiter

>Lussonium: Dolichenus, Mithras

>Lugio: Liber Pater, Libera

>Cornacum: Liber Pater, Sabazios

>Malata: Iuppiter, Neptunus

>Acumincum: Dolichenus, Mithras

>Rittium: Dolichenus, Mithras, Venus

>Taurunum: Liber Pater, Libera, Venus, Iuppiter, Aescylapius, Hygieia


>Most part of the pannonian vici haven’t been excavated yet, so the few fully excavated vici form the basis of our knowledge. Establishment of auxiliary vici can be connected to the establishment of camps. On the basis of pit houses coming up from the earliest periods and the LT D finds we can reckon with significant native population, however, the living on of the native settlements cannot be noted. The chronology and building phases can be reconstrueted on the basis of the vicus of Albertfalva and Arrabona.

>Pit houses and wooden construction houses are characteristic of the earliest period of the pannonian vici. Buildings were built into stone in the Hadrian-period, at the same time as the camps, however, it took much more time in the vici and most part of the buildings were rebuilt only in the Severian-era. From the time of Marcomannian-wars we know in general destruction levels, which were followed by the rebuilding of the earlier buildings and new buildings as well. After the first half of the 3rd cent. AD. there weren’t significant buildings; from the IV. cent. AD. the vici were left, the population moved into the camps, and in the place of the earlier vicus cemeteries were founded.

There were significant industrial activities in the vici as well as in the villae: parts of potteries, workshops for metal-working, tanners came up. The agricultural activity can be connected to the villae in the vicinity of vici. It was because of the closeness to the limes-road and the potentially solvent group of soldiers that the vici were commercially important.



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