Noricum is the
Latin name for a Celtic kingdom, or federation of
tribes, that included most of modern
Austria and part of Slovenia.
In the first century AD, it became a province of the Roman Empire. Its
borders were the
Danube to the north,
Vindelicia to the
Pannonia to the east and southeast, and Italia (Venetia et
Histria) to the south. The kingdom was founded around 400 BC, and had
its capital at the royal residence at
Virunum on the
1 Area and population
3 Steel for Roman weaponry
4 Roman rule
5 In modern politics
6 Episcopal sees
9 External links
Area and population
Its area corresponded to the greater part of modern
Austria west of Vienna, Salzburg, a part of
Bavaria, and a part of Slovenia. The original population appears to
have consisted of Illyrians, who after the great migration of the
Gauls, became subordinate to various
Celto-Ligurians tribes, chief
amongst them being the Norici (so called after their capital Noreia),
who were possibly identical with the
Taurisci of Roman sources.
The country is mountainous and the soil relatively poor except in the
southeastern parts, but it proved rich in iron and supplied material
for the manufacturing of arms in Pannonia, Moesia, and northern Italy.
Noric steel was largely used in the making of Roman weapons
(e.g. Horace, Odes, i.16.9-10: Noricus ensis, "a Noric sword").
Gold and salt were found in considerable
quantities. The plant called saliunca (the wild or Celtic nard, a
relative of the lavender) grew in abundance and was used as a perfume
according to Pliny the Elder.
The inhabitants were a warlike people, who paid more attention to
cattle-breeding than to agriculture, although when
the area became a Roman province, the Romans probably increased the
fertility of the soil by draining the marshes and cutting down
Noric steel was famous for its quality and
Celts had superseded the Illyrians,
Noricum was the southern
outpost of the northern Celtic peoples, and during the later period of
the Iron Age, the starting point of their attacks upon Italy.[citation
needed] In Noricum, almost all those Celtic invaders are mentioned.
Archaeological research, particularly in the cemeteries of Hallstatt,
has shown that a vigorous civilization was in the area centuries
before recorded history, but the
Hallstatt civilization was a cultural
manifestation prior to the Celtic invasions and close to the earlier
Hallstatt graves contained weapons and ornaments from
the Bronze age, through the period of transition, up to the "Hallstatt
culture", i.e., the fully developed older period of the Iron
age. William Ridgeway made a strong case for the
theory that the cradle of the Homeric Achaeans was in
The Noric language, a continental Celtic language, is attested in only
fragmentary inscriptions, one from Ptuj and two from
Grafenstein, neither of which provide enough information for
any conclusions about the nature of the language.
Steel for Roman weaponry
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The kingdom of
Noricum was a major provider of weaponry for the Roman
armies from the mid-Republic onwards. Roman swords were made of the
best-quality steel then available from this region, the chalybs
The strength of iron is determined by its carbon content. The wrought
iron produced in the
Greco-Roman world generally contained only
minimal traces of carbon and was too soft for tools and weapons. It
thus needed to be carburised to at least 1.5% carbon content. The main
Roman method of achieving this was to repeatedly heat the wrought iron
to a temperature of over 800 C (i.e. to "white heat") and hammer it in
a charcoal fire, causing the iron to absorb carbon from the
charcoal. This technique had been developed empirically, as there
is no evidence that ancient iron producers understood the chemistry
involved. The rudimentary methods of carburisation used rendered the
quality of the iron ore critical to the production of good steel.
The ore needed to be rich in manganese (an element which remains
essential in modern steelmaking processes), but also to contain very
little, or preferably zero, phosphorus, whose presence would
compromise the steel's hardness. The ore mined in
Noricum) fulfills both criteria to an unusual degree. The Celtic
Noricum (predominantly the
Taurisci tribe) empirically
discovered that their ore made superior steel around 500 BC and
established a major steel-making industry around it.
At Magdalensberg, a major production and trading centre was
established, where a large number of specialised blacksmiths crafted a
range of metal products, especially weapons. The finished products
were mostly exported southwards, to Aquileia, a Roman colony founded
in 180 BC.
From 200 BC onwards, it appears that the tribes of
gradually united in a native Celtic kingdom, known to the Romans as
the regnum Noricum, with its capital at an uncertain location called
Noricum became a key ally of the Roman Republic, providing a
reliable supply of high-quality weapons and tools in return for Roman
military protection. Although there was no formal treaty of military
alliance, the Norici could count on Roman military support, as
demonstrated in 113 BC, when a vast host of
Teutones invaded Noricum.
In response to a desperate appeal by the Norici, the Roman consul
Gnaeus Papirius Carbo rushed an army over the Alps and attacked the
Germanic tribe or tribes near
Noreia (although, in the event, he was
Noricum was incorporated into the
Roman Empire in 16 BC. For a long
time previously, the Noricans had enjoyed independence under princes
of their own and carried on commerce with the Romans. In 48 BC they
took the side of
Julius Caesar in the civil war against Pompey. In 16
BC, having joined with the Pannonians in invading Histria, they were
defeated by Publius Silius, proconsul of Illyricum.
Noricum was called a province, although it was not
organized as such and remained a kingdom with the title of regnum
Noricum, yet under the control of an imperial procurator.[citation
needed] Under the reign of Emperor
Claudius (41–54) the Noricum
Kingdom was ultimately incorporated into the
Roman Empire apparently
without offering resistance. It was not until the reign of Antoninus
Pius that the Second Legion, Pia (later renamed Italica) was stationed
in Noricum, and the commander of the legion became the governor of the
Noricum was divided into
Noricum along the river", the northern part southward from the
Noricum mediterraneum ("landlocked Noricum", the
southern, more mountainous district). The dividing line ran along the
central part of the eastern Alps. Each division was under a
praeses, and both belonged to the diocese of Illyricum in the
Praetorian prefecture of Italy. It was in this time (304 A.D.) that a
Christian serving as a military officer in the province suffered
martyrdom for the sake of his faith, later canonised as Saint
The Roman colonies and chief towns were
Maria Saal to
the north of Klagenfurt),
Teurnia (near Spittal an der Drau), Flavia
Solva (near Leibnitz), Celeia (Celje) in today's Slovenia, Juvavum
(Salzburg), Ovilava (Wels), Lauriacum (Lorch at the mouth of the Enns,
the ancient Anisus).
Knowledge of Roman
Noricum has been decisively expanded by the work of
Richard Knabl, an Austrian epigrapher of the 19th century.
In modern politics
In 1919, Heinrich Lammasch, the last prime minister of Imperial
Austria, proposed to give the young republic the name of Norische
Republik or Noric Republic, because the ancient borders were
similar to those of the new state which, at that time, did not wish to
be considered the heir of the Habsburg monarchy but an independent,
neutral and peaceful state.
Episcopal sees of
Noricum that are now listed in the Annuario
Pontificio as titular sees include:
^ Mackensen, Michael (1975). "The state of research on the 'Norican'
silver coinage". World Archaeology. 6 (3): 249–275.
doi:10.1080/00438243.1975.9979607. JSTOR 124094.
^ Heather, Peter (2010). The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History.
Macmillan. p. 407.
^ Cunliffe, Barry (1997). The Ancient Celts. Oxford, England: Oxford
University Press. p. 218. ISBN 978-0-19-815010-7.
^ While Pliny states that they are identical (Pliny the Elder,
Naturalis Historia), the Reallexikon der germanischen Altertumskunde
places the Celtic Norici northwest of the Celtic Taurisci. Hungarian
Géza Alföldy suggests that the Norici were a federated
tribe of the Taurisci. Alföldy, Géza (1966). "
Taurisci und Norici".
Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte (in German). 15 (2):
224–241. JSTOR 4434926.
^ From a statement of Polybius, in his own time in consequence of the
great output of gold from a mine in Noricum, gold went down one-third
in value. Ridgeway, William (1892). The Origin of Metallic Currency
and Weight Standards. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Naturalis Historia xxi. 20.43)
^ William Ridgeway, The Early Age of Greece, vol. I, chapter 5.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1901
^ Goodale, Stephen Lincoln (1920). Speer, James Ramsey, ed. Chronology
of iron and steel. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh Iron &
Steel Foundries Company. p. 21. OCLC 345148.
^ a b Eichner, Heiner; Istenič, Janka & Lovenjak, Milan (1994).
"Ein römerzeitlisches Keramikgefäs au
Ptuj (Pettau, Poetovio) in
Slowien mit Inschrift in unbekanntem Alphabet und epichorischer
(vermutlich keltischer) Sprache" (PDF). Arheološki vestnik (in
German). 45: 131–142. Archived (PDF) from the original on 17
^ "Vase de Ptuj". Encyclopédie de l'arbre celtique. Archived from the
original on 29 June 2008.
^ a b Eska, Joseph F. & Evans, D. Ellis (2009). "Continental
Celtic". In Ball, Martin J. & Müller, Nicole. The Celtic
languages (second ed.). London: Routledge. p. 42.
^ "Tuile de Grafenstein". Encyclopédie de l'arbre celtique. Archived
from the original on 29 June 2008.
^ Healy (1978) 231
^ Buchwald (2005) 124
^ Buchwald (2005) 115
^ Healy (1978) 236
^ "The province of
Noricum Ripense extended along the right or
southern bank of the Danube, between the river and the Noric Alps, and
was bounded on one side by
Raetia Secunda and the river Inn (Aenus)
and on the other by the confines of
Pannonia Superior — the district
included in the modern province of
Carinthia in Austria. Noricum
Mediterraneum lay directly to the south, beyond the Noric Alps."
Mierow, Charles C. (1915). "Eugippius and the Closing Years of the
Noricum Ripense". Classical Philology. 10 (2): 166–187.
^ Stülz, Jodok (1835). Geschichte des regulirten Chorherrn-Stiftes
St. Florian: ein Beitrag zur Geschichte des Landes Österreich ob der
Enns (in German). Linz: Haslinger. pp. 2–3.
^ Anna Maria Drabek, Der Österreichbegriff und sein Wandel im Lauf
der Geschichte, in: Marktgemeinde Neuhofen/Ybbs (ed.): Ostarrichi
Gedenkstätte Neuhofen/Ybbs, no date (1980), pp. 32–41
^ Dieter Köberl, Zum Wohle Österreichs. Vor 90 Jahren starb Heinrich
Lammasch, in: Die Furche, 18 February 2010
Annuario Pontificio 2013 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2013
ISBN 978-88-209-9070-1), "Sedi titolari", pp. 819-1013
Géza Alföldy. Noricum. Routledge & K. Paul, 1974
Healy, John F., Mining and Metallurgy in the Greek and Roman World,
Thames and Hudson, 1978.
This article incorporates text from a publication now in
the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Noricum".
Encyclopædia Britannica. 19 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Noricum.
Noricum (in German)
Noricum, its cities and traffic routes in the 2nd century
Provinces of the early
Roman Empire (117 AD)
Bithynia and Pontus
Corsica and Sardinia
Crete and Cyrenaica
Lycia et Pamphylia
† Italy was never constituted as a province, instead retaining a
special juridical status until Diocletian's reforms.