Archeological Park Magdalensberg

  once upon a time ...
a cut above the rest
business as usual
going to pot
Bon appetit!
the writing on the wall
This is a bust!
Take me to your leader!
courtly love!
a popular bloke!
Naturel mystique!
construction kings





About 500 years ago a farmer found a bronze statue of a youth under the summit of the Magdalensberg. This statue belonged to a city which was built by the Romans about 50 B.C.  The Celts had made their tools and weapons out of the Noric iron.

For the production of iron you need ore which the people found in the area around the city and especially near the place which is today called Hüttenberg. The citizens could afford a lot of luxurious things, because trading iron made them very rich. But by 50 A.C. the people left the city, because life on this high mountain was too exhausting. They built at the Zollfeld a new city called Virunum.
Every summer people are still excavating on the Magdalensberg. To get to the beautiful and ancient houses you have to dig through many layers of soil.
Why do you think life on a mountain was so exhausting?



In Roman times the famous Noric iron was mined and worked in Carinthia. At that time the iron was well-known all over the world. The iron was so famous that the Romans conquered the Kingdom of Noricum about 15 B.C. in order to own the very important metal.
Tools made from Noric ironThe Romans needed iron for the production of knives, sickles, weapons and other utensils. Then these goods were sold at a special knife-market.From different Roman writers we nowadays know how expensive Noric iron was. From a Roman novel about rich families in Rome we know that they used knives made of Noric iron because they were the best to cut things.There is even a series of coins on which the emperor Hadrian praised Noric iron. Hve a look at the glass case showing the different knives in the iron-museum! Guess how many knives there are! Which instruments do we still use today?





Small stores Even in Roman times you could go shopping. This was easy and also great fun, due to the stores, that were directly on the streets or on the pavement. There were stores, but “Standln”, just like the ones that can be seen on markets were more common. In many countries people sold their handmade articles. Most stores were a combination of private property, shop and workshop. All the stores were open for the whole day until dusk. You also could go shopping on holidays. There were no window displays, but they used the door-frames as an advertising area. The range was great. Goods from all over the world were offered. But you had to go to different stores to get different articles. There were great mega-stores as well. After having bartered about the price you could buy the article. Bargaining was one of the most popular pastimes. If you just think about our flea-markets, you will be able to imagine what it was like in those days.



Going to Pot

Earthenware goods - TERRA SIGILLATA   Video-Clip (4.1 MB)

There were two kinds of clay. If you look at the display case, you will know for sure how you can tell the difference. Receptacles which were made here have a grey to black colour. In Upper and Middle Italy they are yellowish to brown/red. All kinds of big and smaller bowls, jars, bottles and plates were produced. The crockery made from “terra sigilate” was a very high qualitiy. It was red, shiny and therefore easy to clean. In the middle of the bowls and plates you can find a stamp with the name of the head of the firm. Take paperplates and make a stamp with your name on it out of a potato. Now you can put insignia branding on the plates. Choose a genuine Roman Christian name for yourself.


  Felix   happy  
  Beate   blessed  
  Leo   lion  
  Barbara   stranger  
  Viktor   winner  
  Amanda   beloved  
  Clemens   gentle  
  Renate   reborn  

This is how it looked in an ancient clay oven.






Cellar for storing amphorae


The Romans knew how to enjoy life. Just as today good wine and food were a part of that enjoyment. The main meal “latine -cena” was taken in the afternoon and was eaten in a lying position using their fingers.
At that time they didn’t know about sugar, so they sweetened their food with honey which was plentiful.
Vinum (wine), oleum (olive oil) and garum (a fishsauce for seasoning) were imported. It was transported and stored in amphores.
Don’t you want to try an easy, fasty recipe from Apicius, the cookbook author of the ancient times?


And now bon appetit. Now taste it and enjoy it like the old Romans did AB OVO AD MALUM. That means that they didn’t have a soup for starters like we have, but mostly they had eggs (latine: ovum=egg; think of the word oval). For dessert, like today, they had fruits (latine: malum=apple).





The rich Romans often decorated their houses with mural paintings. The centre of this handicraft was the city of Pompeji near Naples.

Lime dust and buttermilk, this formed the foundation of this work. When you are doing a fresco, you are working on a wet wall. The finished picture is covered with beeswax.


On the fresco you can see a dancer. She seems to move in a graceful way. In her hair, she is wearing a “mitra”. A “mitra” is a small cap which is worn by female worshippers of the god Dionysos. Dionysos is the Greek god of wine and the Romans called him Bacchus. The god of wine had a “Thyrsos-staff”, on the top of it is a pine cone as a symbol of fertility.

You are a champion (latin: maximus - the greatest). Ask your parents, friends and relatives what a fresco is. Then you can show them what you know!

Look at the picture of Dionysos/Bacchus. What is on the top of his “Thyrsos-staff”?

This was how the fresco painters worked





Marble was and is a preferred building material and it was taken from quarries of the surrounding areas.

You can make many things out of marble: busts, columns, stairs, statues and decorations. 

What do you think s a marble bust?

It is a sculpture that shows the human head with the shoulders and the whole breast.




Imagine yourself as an artist. Imagine that the marble bust of an angry man should be made to look amusing. What do you have to change? Watch angry and amusing people.






For praying or celebrating a mass, we go to the church. The Romans worshipped their gods in temples.

Yes, you are right: I said gods. There were three very important principal gods. The others were responsible for various small, less important things.

For every god, there are two names. The first one, is the Roman one, the second name, in brackets is Greek.

Let’s start with the chiefgods:

Jupiter (Zeus):
the most important one, father of all gods. He hurled lightning and thunder bolts. His symbol was the lightning- bolt.

Juno (Hera):
Zeus’ wife, the goddess of marriage and family.

Minerva (Pallas Athene):
The goddess of wisdom and truth. Her symbol: the owl.



And now the rest of them:

 Neptunus (Poseidon):
god of the sea. His symbol is the trident.

Pluto (Hades):
god of the underworld. Down there he lives and rules with his wife Proserpina (Persephone)

Mars (Ares):
god of war, very bloodthirsty. His festivals used to be quite gory. His symbol: the sw

Venus (Aphrodite):
goddess of beauty and love.

god of music, arts and healing. The god with the bow. His symbol: The lyre.

Diana (Artemis):
goddess of hunting and wild animals. Her favourasing animal: the hind. Her symbol: the bow and arrow.

Mercurius (Hermes):
the divine messenger, god of merchants and thieves. His characteristics: winged shoes and a winged helmet.

Vulcanus (Hephaistos):
the god of craftsmen, particularly of blacksmiths. His symbol: the hammer and anvil.

Ceres (Demeter):
goddess of fertility, she showed the people how to cultivate the land.

Bacchus (Dionysos):
god of wine, fertility and festivals (which couldn’t take place without him and his gifts). His symbol: the grapes

Vesta (Hestia):
goddess of the fireplace. Her symbol:the fire.

There are lots of gods and goddesses, but you may already know some of them. The next time you go shopping in Austria, you’ll find some of them as names of products, e.g. Ceres (coconut oil), Diana (rubbing alcohol), there is a shop called Merkur etc. Hope you enjoy this “holy” shopping!

The ancient sight of the temple






The „praetorium“ was the seat of the Roman administration. If you go up the stairs you come to the podium (tribunal); it belonged to the administration. On the podium sat the judge and the advisers, administered justice, announced prescriptions and taxes, and took the votes.

The Roman law today is still one of the most important elements of the western culture. Many names came from the Latin language






presentation of the young man from the 16th century

The young man of Magdalensberg has already had to withstand a lot.

The Greeks imagined the young man to be an Olympic winner, because he was taller than the average Greek and naked, like an Olympian athlete. The Romans also liked the good-looking youth and so Roman sculptors copied it, from the Greek original.

Two merchants from the Italian port of Aquileia brought the statue to the city on Magdalensberg where the local inhabitants worshipped it as an imagine of Mars Latobius (=god of war), in a temple on top of the mountain.

When the city was deserted, the poor guy was buried and forgotten, until about 500 years ago in 1502, when a farmer found the statue while he was working on his field on one of the southern slopes. The youth was first taken to Salzburg, by the Archbishop of Salzburg and later taken to Spain, where he vanished in 1860.

Luckily, before the journey to Spain, a copy was made of the statue and this is the one that we can see in the museum of art-history in Vienna.

The statue of the youth that we can see in the excavation-museum is a copy of the Viennese one.

During the 1st century B.C. people used to be about 1,55 m to 1,60 m tall. Can you guess how tall the Olympic winner is?

Take a closer look at the right thigh of the young man. You can see two Roman names.Which two people signed their names here?




ancient harvester

Actually agriculture didn’t take place on the mountain itself but all around it. This work was very honourable and a farmer was definitely more respected than for eg. A trader. A farmer’s position in society was very high.

If you have a close look you’ll find showcases, in which plates filled with nuts, peas and rye were kept without air.

People always believe that roman meals were very extravagant but actually it was quite simple: a lot of grain and vegetables. Things we see as obvious today actually didn’t exist at that time: tomatoes, potatoes, maize, etc.

Bread was the most important nutrition source. With the following recipe and some skill you can soon enjoy it just like Romans did:








The Romans were not just very good commanders, but also excellent builders. In many places in Europe today there can be seen a variety of buildings which tell us about their culture and building -style. The Romans especially were famous for their arch- technique.

They’ve used many lightweight building boards, like today Ytong. People were able to order these plates in the size they needed. In Peratschitzen near Kühnsdorf there was such a tuff-manufacturing.

Tuff had place the advantage that it was easy to produce and transport.

As you know, the transporting once wasn’t as easy as it is today because there were no trucks or rail. Everything had to be transported by horse- or donkey carts.

Because the Romans were good builders, there was a good system of streets in the roman empire, and therefore the delivery was fast. The word “street” comes as with many other words in the German and English language from the Latin.





hypocaust-heated bath 

The old Romans often liked to have a bath. They therefore often liked to go to public baths, the so called “therms”. These were luxurious baths, open to the public. One could spend one’s free time by having a bath doing gymnastics, reading, eating in the park and so on.

In every bath were different compartments: Cold bath, warm bath, hot bath, sweethbath and so on. The heating was interesting. It started from the floor, the so-called Hypokaustenheating, and over the walls, where, through hollowed-out bricks, warm air could stream in.

Nowadays men return to the ancient bathing culture and build similar thermal bathes. Like Bad Kleinkirchheim, Warmbad Villach, Bad Bleiberg and so on.

Visit these places or take brochures in travel agencies and you can begin to imagine, how popular such a day in the therms must have been.




tombstones of the VETTIUS brothers and of Vettia prima

A roman family not only consisted of father, mother and children, but also of slaves. The father (lat. pater) had a duty to protect the family. He had the patria potestas. Every member of the family had to honour, respect and listen to him.
The mother (lat. mater) was in charge of the home and the slaves. In wealthier families the children were mostly taught by Greek slaves and not by their parents. Even around the turn of this century it was also common to us to have a French Gouvernante or an English Nanny.

In ancient times slaves were not human beings or possessions, but things. They were often called “instrumentum vocale”.
You know the word “instrument” and the vocals a, e, i, o and u. So slaves were working things with a voice. They had no rights. If they did their work probably, they could be freed.
So now you know that in Latin the word for slave was servus, maybe you will think about whom you great next with the word “Servus”.