Due to its industrial exploitation as a quarry, the Pfaffenberg is a very conspicuous landmark. In ancient Roman times, the plains served as a temple district for Jupiter Optimus Maximus and deified emperors. Three sanctuaries and numerous columnar monuments with statues were most probably also visible from the adjacent Barbaricum. Under surveillance of the so-called magistri montis, construction projects and rites were carried out over several centuries. Ritual communities consisted of consistentes Carnuntni intra leugam, the citizens of the canabae legionis.

In contrast to the presumption that the Pfaffenberg was already exploited in Celtic times, the earliest findings can be traced back to the second half of the 1st century A.D. A heroon (hero’s shrine) for Antinoos documents the first constructional activities (Temple I). The consecration was entrusted to Lucius Aelius Caesar, Hadrian’s adopted son who sojourned in the province Pannonia superior for a couple of months. The first emperor’s altar and a ritual theatre date from the first half of the 2nd century A.D. In a further step, a second temple and cult building were added to already existing places of worship. Besides, more than 380 fixed and mobile altars for Jupiter Optimus Maximus were erected. Scientific research has meanwhile identified the epithet K[   ] as K[arnuntinus].

The Pfaffenberg’s inscriptional evidence in respect to ritual activities is overwhelming. Careful evaluation of the temple district’s sculptures unearthed an abundance of emperor and god statues of fine quality. The last consecration on the Pfaffenberg in honour of Jupiter Optimus Maximus took place in 313 A.D. This year also saw the Edict of Milan between Constantine and Licinius
legitimating Christianity throughout the Roman Empire. The statues bear traces of destruction, the cult buildings decayed in the course of the following centuries.


I. Piso, Das Heiligtum des Jupiter Optimus Maximus auf dem Pfaffenberg/Carnuntum. Die Inschriften, Der römische Limes in Österreich 41, 1 (2003).

G. Kremer, Das Heiligtum des Jupiter Optimus Maximus auf dem Pfaffenberg/Carnuntum. Die rundplastischen Skulpturen, Der römische Limes in Österreich 41, 2 (2004).

W. Jobst, Der römische Tempelbezirk auf dem Pfaffenberg/Carnuntum (2006).

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