(Liv|in’ past, Vienna, Austria)

Outline: Based on the results of various extensive excavation-projects in the Roman civilian town of Carnuntum (Lower Austria) this paper wants to combine the data of geophysical and aereal prospection with the multi-layered, four-dimensional structure of the archaeological record. Transcending the conventional, rather static interpretation of prospection-data, this approach will provide a valid historical synopsis of the dynamics and continuities of urban development in Carnuntum from the late 1st to the early 5th century AD.

Abstract: Following the first major excavations by Erich Swoboda in the 1940ies and 1950ies, the urban structure of the Roman provincial capital of Carnuntum (Lower Austria) has frequently been the subject of scientific research. Recently, a new 3D-model was elaborated, showing the urban and suburban landscape of Carnuntum in its largest extent during the 3rd century AD. Abundant geo-physical and aereal prospection data formed one of the main sources for this model. Despite the amazing scrutiny and thoroughness in assessing such kind of archaeologial information there is still a major deficit in extrapolating aspects of transformation and chronological change from the rich data-sets. Thus, the proposed paper wants to clarify the confidence limits of both prospection and excavation in an urban environment, putting both into a reasonable interpretive balance. As a case study we will use the vast excavation projects conducted in the civilian town of Carnuntum from 2001-2011 which yielded a huge amount of valuable information about the initial design and the diachronic evolution of the Roman settlement. By evaluating the archaeological record it will be possible to reconstruct the basic parameters of town planning like street grids and building lots. In comparison to the available prospection data (e.g. covering the areas of the Forum as well as most of the eastern part of the town) the wider scope of urbanistic change and continuity can be tackled, leading to a synoptic picture of a settlement in time and space which transcends the rather static qualities of a single model.

Keywords: Carnuntum, prospection, evaluation