Rome's Eagle

The focus of the special exhibition in the Archaeological Museum Carnuntinum is on the Roman army: “Rome's Eagle – Carnuntum and the Caesars' Army”. The exhibit is based on the results of the ambitious research project “ArchPro Carnuntum” which was carried out in cooperation with the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology. This project ended in 2015 after the whole area of ancient Carnuntum – covering 10 sq. km – was investigated using geophysical methods. Evidence of at least 16 temporary military camps, the gladiator school as well as the garrison of the governor's guards have been established without doubt.

The Roman City Carnuntum was situated at the crossroads of the Limes and the Amber Roads and was for centuries one of the most important military centres along the mid-Danube as well as capital of the province and seat of the governor.  Key aspects of the Roman army can be superbly illustrated with the military camp, auxiliary fort and marching camp as well as a wealth of militaria.

Exhibition concept

Rome’s Eagle epitomized the Roman emperors’ universal claim to power. As a symbol of the supreme god Jupiter, it also represented the legions and the Roman military as a whole. The exhibition echoes the eagle in its architectural design which divides the museum into two visual axes: the former legionary camp’s standards shrine as repository of the legionary eagle is linked to the Roman deities by a vertical axis. On the upper floor, a visual horizontal axis between the north and south wings conjure up the path leading from Rome to the barbaricum on the other side of the Danube limes along which Carnuntum was situated. Symbolizing the Roman military pars pro toto, a rider in full armour is depicted on his journey from Rome to barbaricum via Carnuntum. Owed to the army’s presence the city expands, eventually becoming a provincial capital and metropolis along the Danube limes.

Content-related focal points

The new exhibit summarizes the most recent results of research into the military topography and settlement development in ancient Carnuntum. In a specially created newsroom, scientists will present the ancient metropolis‘ individual military venues. Another emphasis will be placed on life within the Roman army. Where did the soldiers come from, what was their daily and private life like, how did they build up military careers and which equipment did they use? The most spectacular exhibits on display will be the world’s last surviving Roman cornu, a brass instrument used in battle to translate military commands, and a series of fully preserved helmets. Original findings from Carnuntum offer highly personal insights into careers and destinies of Roman soldiers.

Special attention is also lent to life along the border of the Roman Empire, formed by the Danube Limes in the case of Carnuntum. Thanks to both border control and cultural exchange secured by the Roman army, trade and culture thrived for centuries in the rich metropolis located directly on the frontier river separating the Roman Empire from the so-called Barbaricum.


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