A glossary of important terms

Römerregion Chiemsee from A to Z

From Alounae to Zwiebelknopffibel (onion-head fibula)



Alounae, Alonae (Latin: alonae, alounae, German: Alonen)

The Alounae were local female deities worshipped by the Alauni, a Celtic people living in Noricum. They shared a cult place near Lake Chiemsee with the god Bedaius. We know nothing of their cult other than their names, preserved in four inscriptions, all of which were found in the region of the Chiemsee. (IU)

Archaeological survey (German: Bodenprospektion)



Named after the local deity Bedaius, the Roman town of BEDAIUM arose around a temple and the sentry posts at the bridge over the River Alz on the site of present-day Seebruck. 

Beneficiarii (Latin, singular: beneficiarius, German: Benefiziarier)

The Beneficarii, a type of military police, maintained and supervised the strategically and economically important Roman road system. Beneficarii were stationed at posts on the major roads and supply routes and usually served a standard number of years. One such station was built around 50 A.D. at Seebruck / BEDAIUM near the bridge over the River Alz. This was probably the starting point for the Roman settlement of the Chiemsee region. (IU)


A bulla was a capsule made of metal or leather containing an apotropaic amulet to avert evil. Children often wore a bulla around the neck. (IU)


Covered archaeological site (German: Bodendenkmal)

Covered archaeological sites are the largely hidden remains of buildings or other man-made structures (e.g. graves) lying partly or completely beneath the surface of the ground.

Cohort (Latin: cohors, German: Kohorte)

The cohort was a Roman military unit. A legion with ca. 6000 men consisted of 10 cohorts. The term was also used to designate a body of non-Roman auxiliary troops.


Detectorist (German: Sondengeher)

Disc fibula (German: Scheibenfibel)

The disc fibula with a disc-shaped bow was the pin commonly used by Roman soldiers to fasten their cloak. (IU)

Duovir (Latin: „one of two men“, a joint office-holder, also written as: duumvir, II vir)

The duoviri were the highest magistrates in a Roman municipality. They jointly held a position similar to that of a mayor’s office.


Earthenware pottery (German: Tongeschirr)


Fibula (plural: fibulae, German: Fibel)

Fibulae were a type of decorative safety pin, usually made of bronze. In Celtic and Germanic traditional female costume, two large fibulae were used to fasten outer garments around the shoulders, while smaller fibulae were also worn on the chest as brooches. Men wore a fibula at the right shoulder to fasten their cloak. For various fibula forms see: double knot fibula, winged fibula, knee fibula, disc fibula, and onion-head fibula. (IU)

G ↑ 

Geophysical prospection

Geophysical prospection uses areal magnetometer measurements to locate building remains hidden under the surface which may then be studied non-invasively with ground penetrating radar or electrical resistance meters.


Indigenous population (German: Urbevölkerung)

The question of whether indigenous peoples inhabited the Chiemgau region during the Hallstatt age (ca. 1000 B.C. to 500 B.C.) is the subject of much discussion, since there are no archaeological finds to document their presence. One explanation for this lack of finds is that the region was completely depopulated at this time. Another theory is, however, that harsh climatic conditions may have led to a local crisis, causing the population to live in extremely constrained circumstances without the means to produce metallic or ceramic wares (thus explaining the lack of such artefacts). Correspondingly, we can either conclude that the Chiemgau was continuously populated with indigenous Celtic peoples, or that the Celts first moved in and settled the area around 500 B.C.

IUVAVUM/ Salzburg …


Knee fibula (German: Kniefibel)

The knee fibula is a small fibula with a smooth-surfaced bow bent in the form of a knee. Women wore it on the chest as a brooch. (IU)

M ↑ 

Milestone (German: Meilenstein)

Roman milestones are as a rule cylindrical stone obelisks erected along important road routes. They usually indicated the distance from the next large town in the province, but also served propaganda purposes with inscriptions praising the emperor as the builder or restorer of the roadway. The inscriptions contained not only the emperor’s name, but also his titles, epithets, and offices, and could thus, be extremely long, especially at times when Rome was ruled by a number of emperors (often fathers and sons). A versed traveller would therefore simply skip to the end of the inscription, where the distance was recorded, mostly in larger letters: e.g. “a Vindobona M P XII” (12 miles from Vienna), see also M P. (UI)


The cult of the light god Mithras originated in Persia and spread throughout the Roman Empire after the first century A.D. Carved reliefs often depict episodes of the Mithras legend which revolved around the killing of a bull. Wearing oriental dress and a Phrygian cap, the god is shown standing over the fallen bull. The Mithras cult was popular in military circles, but also a number of emperors were inducted into its mysteries. The initiation ceremony involved a ritual baptism with bull’s blood. (IU)


M P is the abbreviation for milia passuum, the Roman mile (ca. 1,5 km). It was used to indicate the measure of distance on Roman milestones. The mile stone inscription begins with the name of the emperor who built or repaired the road and ends with the distance from a large town measured in miles, e.g. “a Viruni” or “ab Aq(uinco) m p … (IU)


In the Roman provinces, a municipium was a large town with its own laws and self-government. The administrative body was a city senate (ordo decurionum) structured according to Roman law with elected honorary magistrates. The highest offices were those of the joint mayors (duoviri iure dicendo), assisted by the aediles and quaestores who administered the finances. Public services were provided by wealthy citizens, particularly council members, at their own cost. Each municipium had a territory with country estates and rural settlements. In the provinces north of the Alps, municipia had a central function in the Romanisation of the indigenous population. (IU)



Noricum was a Roman province covering the region of the Eastern Alps south of the Inn and the Danube and bordering on the Vienna Woods in the east (originally it comprised areas further east which were then allocated to the province Pannonia) and the River Sava in the south. The provincial capital was Virunum (modern-day Zollfeld, north of Klagenfurt). Originally a Celtic kingdom and largely populated by Celtic peoples, Noricum was famous for its montane resources, such as Noric iron, and held good economic and diplomatic relations with Rome since the 2nd century B.C., before being peaceably integrated in the Roman empire in 15 B.C. A Roman legion was first stationed in Noricum at Enns (Lauriacum) in ca. 200 A.D. (IU)


Onion-head fibula (German: Zwiebelknopffibel)

The onion-head fibula has a spring in the form of a crossbow with onion-formed knobs at its ends. This form of fibula appeared in the 4th century A.D. and was a decoration of honour conferred to men. (IU)



Pannonia was a Roman province situated east of Noricum. It extended over western Hungary to the Danube and, in the south, from the River Sava to Belgrade. The province was conquered under Emperor Augustus and remained thereafter heavily fortified with four legions stationed on the Danube border (at Vindobona, Carnutum, Brigetio and Aquincum) and numerous other fortified castra manned by auxiliary troops. The seats of government were Carnutum and Aquincum (Budapest). (IU)

Peregrini (Latin: stranger)

Peregrini were free subjects of the Roman Empire who did not hold Roman citizenship. Their legal rights were regulated by the ius gentium. Through the Constitutio Antoniniana in 212 A.D., all free inhabitants of the empire were conferred Roman citizenship, thereby eliminating the peregrinus status. (IU)

Procurator Augusti

The procurator Augusti was a Roman official originally entrusted with administering imperial assets such as mines or quarries. Later, his duties were expanded to include general state administration and the government of smaller border provinces. (IU)


A Roman province was a geographically defined administrative area outside Italy which belonged to the Roman Empire and whose citizens were obliged to pay Roman taxes. Provinces in which a Roman legion was stationed were designated senatorial provinces: These were governed by a Roman senator with the title “legatus Augusti pro praetore” and were viewed as being more important than procuratorial provinces, which were governed by an Imperial procurator of the equestrian order and manned by auxiliary troops. (IU)


Raetia (German: Rätien)


Stele (plural: stelae)

A stele is a gravestone of upright rectangular form with a text field for the epitaph and usually topped with a gable. Stelae were often decorated with relief portraits of the deceased, ornaments, or mythological scenes. They were mortised into solid stone blocks and erected over cremation graves lining sepulchral paths or in enclosed grave districts. (IU)


The stylus was a pen-shaped writing instrument made of wood, bone, or metal. The sharpened point was used to engrave the surface of a wax tablet (diptychon), while the flattened end served to erase the script. (IU)

Strip house (German: Streifenhaus)

Strip houses were long rectangular buildings combining living quarters, a workshop, and sales rooms. They were commonly located on main streets or byways in commerce and trade districts and positioned with the entrance to the commercial rooms at the front end of the house facing the street. The living quarters were at the back and often had floor heating (hypercaust) but no windows: sunlight entered the rooms through openings in the roof. Strip houses were built for tradesmen and dealers who needed direct access to the street. (IU)


Terra sigillata


The titulus was a quadratic stone plate, usually with a frame, into which epitaphs were engraved. They were inset into walled tombs, grave constructions such as urn caskets, or over the entrance to tumuli (tumulus dromos). (IU)

Traditional costume (German: Tracht)

Traditional costume (German: Tracht)

Grave reliefs in the province of Noricum often depict women and girls wearing local traditional costume. Typically, this included a bonnet of various forms, an undergarment with long sleeves, and a sleeveless outer garment which was girdled at the waist with a belt and held together at the shoulders with large fibulae. Some women additionally wore jewellery, such as a necklace made of discs and chains or a small brooch fibula. A shawl or mantle symmetrically draped over the shoulders completed the costume. (IU)

W ↑ 

Winged fibula (German: Flügelfibel)

Winged fibulae were worn as part of female traditional costume in Noricum. They are notably large, long fibulae with a winged bow extension and often have a perforated pin rest quite similar to the double knot fibula. (IU)


Zwiebelknopffibel (see onion-head fibula)