Topic, tasks, goals and history of the museum.

Guiding principles

Tasks and goals of the museum

Aguntum strives to have a national and international significant collection of ancient roman findings. Those will be evaluated, conservated and preserved according to the latest scientifical and museological knowledge. Another main goal of Aguntum is to present the findings to the public, as well as to assure that the findings are set into a historical correct context by means of guided tours and suitable presentation.

We refer,therefore, to the ICOM-Code of Ethics for Museums.

Subject of the museum

The idea of the permanent exhibition is to present findings of the archeological research in Aguntum until the end of the 3rd century AD. Those findings are added by replica and reconstructions from other archeological sites in order to highlight certain coherences with other settlements in the Alps during this time period.


A very important task of the museum is the educational work and museum communication with people of all ages. We want to inform about the findings that can be seen in the museum and the archeological park. Moreover, we want to provide an insight into the ancient eurpean world especially in the area of East Tyrol and to arouse one’s interest in visiting more museums and archeological sites in the surrounding area.


In 1999 the decision was made to rebuild the dimensions of the so called Atrium house but also to combine it with modern architectural shapes. Thus it happened that a suitable architect was needed for this project, because there were some restrictions for this building. Because of former floodings from a nearby stream new regulations were made to ensure the preservation of the findings and the ruins.
Due to the complicated and maybe dangerous situation for the small archeological findings it was decided to finish the rebuilding of the Atrium like mentioned above but also to build a whole new museum.

“Die verfeinerte Kiste beherbergt auf ca. 1.200 m² das in Sicherheit gebrachte rahmenförmige Marmorbecken des Atriumhauses in ihrem von Tageslicht durchfluteten Südteil und eine sachliche Präsentation der archäologischen Sammlung mit einigen inszenatorischen Elementen in der dunkleren Mitte. Die Cortenstahlfassade im Norden zitiert den Grundriss des Atriumhauses in verfremdeter Form. Sie ist gleichzeitig Anreiz zum Besuch und Schutz des Inneren vor den Verkehrsauswirkungen. Im Süden ist der hallenförmige Raum völlig verglast und öffnet sich zu den Baumkronen des Auwaldes. Ein optischer Abschluss, der sich im Laufe des Tages und des Jahres ständig verändert.”

Architekt Thomas Moser

Quote from the architect about his concept for the new museum.

The permanent exhibition

The heart of the permanent exhibition is the big marble basin that was brought from the garden of the Atrium house to the museum. Lifesized dolls wear roman and noric clothing. It shows the development of fashion in ancient times in this area. In addition to this the museum also contains examples of roman relievo, secular and sacral epigraphs, a late antiquity roadmap, imported and local made pottery, amphoras, fibulae, lamps, coins, tools, partially preserved mosaics and frescoes.

Inside a big cube we show a rebuilt roman kitchen including depictions of roman recipes that are still known today. Miniatures and models show the uncovered parts of the archeological park, an ancient construction crane and how underfloor heating worked. With the new virtual reality glasses one can take a look into the roman everyday life and how the city of Aguntum looked like many centuries ago.


In the middle of the 1st century AD the emperor Claudius granted Aguntum the status of municipium. The official name was Municipium Claudium Aguntum, which was the only roman city in Tyrol. The city was administrated by 2 Mayors (duoviri iure dicundo), who were also responsibel for the local jurisdiction, and also by hundred members of the local councils (decuriones), as well as 2 persons responsibel for economy and safety (aediles) and the local council for finance (quaestor).

Aguntum was the center of economy, traffic and administration of an area, which is now known as East Tyrol and also comprised the part in the west up to the Mühlbacher Klause in the valley of Pustertal. Due to the very good strategic position, Aguntum could grow in the calm and peaceful times of the 1st and 2nd century AD into a flowering trading and industrial city. Because of the resources of the Tauern range (low carbon steel, copper, argent and especially gold) and of exports of mountain crystal, wood, fossil resin, cattle and cheese it was an area of prosperity. One of the quality products, well known in the Roman Empire was the noric low carbon steel. Very famous for its durability. From the south luxury goods like wine, olive oil, cochlea and oysters were imported. First disturbances by invading GErmanic tribes in the 3rd century, causing remarkable damages, can be reported.

During these uncertain times, the Roman population took more and more refuge in the hill-top settlement in Lavant. After heavy devastations around 400 AD, Aguntum recovered but was destroyed shortly after another time of prosperity, during the major battle in 610 AD between the ancient Bavarians and Slavs. In course of the centuries high sand avalanches repeatedly covered the remains of the once important city.

Roman findings have been reported from Aguntum since the 16th century. After different, sometimes unsystematic and unscientific excavations, the archeological excavations were led and executed by the University of Vienna of the Austrian archeological department of Vienna starting in 1912. In 1991 the University of Innsbruck, department of classical and roman archeology, took over the responsibility of the excavation and has been leading the archeological research ever since. Every year in summer archeologists and students come to Aguntum for research purposes.