Roman Fort in Iža - Kelemantia

The importance of a strategic point at the confluence of the Váh and the Danube raised during the Marcomannic wars. Brigetio was highly probably one of the Roman starting points for the military campaigns against the Quadi. At these times a first fortification was build on the opposite bank of the Danube - an earth-and-timber fort. Its exact size is still unknown, but its area was certainly larger than 3 hectares. The fortification system of the fort was of two deep V-shaped ditches and probably the earth ramparts. From its inner area the remnants of the eleven military barracks with regular spacing organised in the street system were excavated. They were constructed of the mud-bricks and probably had pitched and reed or thatch thatched roofs. These spacious barracks with thick outer walls were of a rectangle shape (44-48 m long and 11-12 m wide). Their inner area was split by the narrow walls to two sections with three rooms in each of them. The individual rooms were further split into smaller units by wattle-and-daub walls. The floors were mostly of the trampled earth, but also mud-brick floors were found in few rooms. The post holes in the floors, fireplaces and remnants of the heating system are the only sources documenting their simple furnishing. The entrances to the individual rooms are showed by the gaps in walls with the width 90-100 cm. The rain water from the roofs was drained into gutters dug along the walls and led to the central drainage system.



In the excavated barracks and also in their proximity the traces of a fire were visible. On the floors of the rooms, in the gutters and on the streets the fragments of broken and also complete pots, weapons, other military equipment, and a large amount of the iron nails from the sandals, still in the shape of the original sole were found. Therefore, an unexpected German attack, could be considered as a cause of this catastrophe.




The coins gives the most important dating information about the time of the destruction of this fort. Most of the coins were issued in the time of Marcus Aurelius from the period of the Marcomannic wars. The latest ones were issued between December of 178 AD and the spring of 179 AD. The destruction of the earth-and-timber fort in Iža than could be dated to an extraordinary date of 179 AD. According to the historical sources the Marcomanni and Quadi invades the Roman territory first time in 170 AD. At this time a high number of North-Pannonian fortresses on the frontier were destroyed, and badly damaged was also a legionary fortress in Brigetio. The Roman counterattacks started in 172 AD and lasted until 175 AD, when the Emperor signed the peace with Marcomanni and Quadi tribes. The Germanic tribes had to abandon the proximity of the frontier along the Danube and leave it under Roman control. In 177 AD the riots on the northern frontier broke out again. One year later Marcus Aurelius and his son Commodus had to leave Rome and start a new war campaign. The new main counterattack took place in 179 AD. On the territory of Marcomanni and Quadi tribes, numerous military units with the total force of 40 000 men were placed and stayed over winter.

The earth-and-timber fort in Iža was therefore destroyed during the second phase of the Marcomannic wars. This precise dating, and the fact that the Germanic tribes were able to invade and destroy the fort in the close proximity of Brigetio, points to still week position of the Romans at the frontier during this period. The same way it is clear, that the fort was not founded before the Marcomannic wars. Only with the great difficulties it would be able to avoid the first attacks, which destroyed the main legionary fortress in Brigetio itself. It is therefore probable, that it was founded after 175 AD, after the declaration of peace. It was not build as a temporary starting point for the war campaigns to the territory of Quadi, but as a permanent frontier fort. The role of the soldiers seated at this fort was perhaps to secure that the agreements of peace are kept, control the movements of Quadi in the wider grounds of Brigetio and to protect the adjacent frontier against the invasions of the enemy. The weapons - namely the long cavalry swords (spatha), but also numerous arrowheads and bone components of bows, spear- and lance-heads suggest that the local garrison included mostly mounted archers. In the existent written sources or preserved inscriptions no information about this fort is left. Therefore it is very difficult to specify which military unit served here. Moreover, it was not able to fulfil its role, as it was not able to protect their own fort, but left it in a rush and chaos.


    © ElenaBlazova