Antiquity of Southeastern Europe
Research Centre
University of Warsaw


Research history
      Late Roman town
     Everyday life


    PhD studies














The late Roman town at Novae

The first phase of the civilian settlement

After the hospital went out of use – which, to judge by the presently available archaeological evidence, must have occurred sometime in the reign of Caracalla – the area seems to have been abandoned, at least for a while. New civil settlers returned in the 280s. They established a new street grid, as suggested by the so-called via inscriptionum , a street surface incorporating parts of funerary stelae and structural elements from a nearby necropolis destroyed presumably during the raid of the Goths in 250 and the marble head of Maximin Thrax – roman emperor which was probably born at Novae 9 A variety of buildings of earth-bonded stone and of mudbrick originates from this time. Not all of them have been fully investigated yet, but among the ones which have been identified in terms of structure and function there is a mudbrick building serving as a glass works and a horreum . In the wall of this structures we have found ananother unique roman marble portrait of emperor Carrinus. The first residence of a villa urbana type was constructed over the southeastern part of the hospital ruins. The first rooms of another villa, the so-called Building of Porticoes, also date from this period. Most likely in the late 4 th century AD, a row type of bath was erected in the southern wing of this structure. Also uncovered is a mixed residential-and-workshop building from the second half of the 5 th century and two inhumation cemeteries, one of the 5 th -6 th centuries and the other of the 10 th -11 th .

The Building with porticoes

This late villa was built most probably in the 3 rd century and remained in use until the 6 th . It was erected partly of reused architectural elements from the legionary buildings, enriched with some intricately carved column bases and capitals. The principal unit of the plan is a courtyard with two porticoes and the domestic and habitation quarters grouped around it. The Roman bath with hypocaust system and bathing pools is clearly distinguishable. Also uncovered was a glass-working atelier with furnaces and waste products, as well as horn and bone working workshop.

The late antique settlement

Soon after the barbarian assault in the second half of the 5th century, the terrain of the Building with porticoes became inhabited again. A new coutyard was set with large slabs, some walls were raised and some new, small rooms of irregular shapes were built. Their function remains unclear because of later destructions. The walls were made from dried clay bricks set on a stone foundation. We can assume, based on their plan and location, that their purpose was also representational. The layout of the Eastern Villa, built on the east side of the former villa urbana, is easier to read. It was completely built with dried clay bricks, save the stone foundation. It also consisted of a number of small workshops. A large number of iron knives, nails, hooks, whetstones, lamps and iron parts of a cart were found here.


The eastern building was in use for a relatively short period, to the half of the 6 th century AD. Subsequently, on its ruins a cemetery was laid out. The skeletal inhumations devoid of any grave goods were laid in pits that often made it necessary to remove hindering remains of walls. All burials were facing east (the heads being on the western side), the hands were crossed over the hipbones.

Just below the surface, another burial ground was found on sector IV, as well as pits containing items that might be remnants of funerary rituals. This necropolis was larger and obviously linked to a small church (of three distinguishable architectural phases) which was situated not far to the south, at sector X (the Bulgarian sector). These skeletons were likewise laid on the east-west axis. Jewelry found within the graves suggests the 9 th and 10 th centuries as the main period, when this cemetery was in use. Medieval pottery was found scattered in the corresponding layers, although scarcely in the graves themselves


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