A Hypocaust in Austria!

Whilst attending the conference on Cultural Heritage and New Technologies in Vienna last week I took the opportunity to visit the city’s Roman Museum.  The museum tells the story of Vindobona, a Roman legionary fortress on the Danube frontier which now lies beneath Vienna’s inner city. Accompanied by Frank Giecco of Wardell-Armstrong Archaeology Ltd, we were hoping to find some parallels with our own excavations at Derventio. Neither of us were prepared for the startling coincidence encountered in the museum basement!  Here, preserved in-situ, are the excavated remains of two officers houses complete with hypocaust. Crucially, these hypocaust remains are preserved to above-floor level, offering a cross section of the hypocaust structure and the means by which the hot air vented through the box tiles. We had discussed at great length on-site during the 2012 dig how the box tiles would be supported and how the interface worked between the hypocaust, floor level and wall flues. Although none of the three hypocausts discovered at Papcastle in 2012 survived above floor level, the images posted here from Vindobona show how the box tiles we found would have functioned. Please note the style of the box tiles. They are almost identical in size and form to the ones found at Papcastle, with smooth surfaces and triangular holes.

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