Station: [19] Auxiliary Units

During the High Empire, the forts on either side of the Inn in Passau were garrisoned by auxiliary units who controlled the provincial border and the river frontier. The Romans also recruited foreigners to serve in these auxiliary units; they fought alongside the Romans as confederates or mercenaries. Some were also pressed into military service. An auxiliary unit was made up of between 150 and 300 soldiers. This made them considerably smaller than a legion, which had 6,000 men. The nearest legions were stationed at Regensburg to the west and Enns to the east. Auxiliary soldiers received less pay than legionaries and, unlike the latter, were not Roman citizens. A number of pieces of equipment associated with auxiliary soldiers have been found in Passau. Generally, only the metal pieces have survived. Organic materials such as cloth, leather or wood have long since decomposed. All that remains of the soldiers’ weapons are the tips of spears, arrows and projectiles. The pelta shaped fitting and a stud are all that remains of a small wooden shield that would have been covered in leather. The other fittings and the strap end would have been attached to a belt. The brooch, also called fibula, would have held together the soldier’s cloak, but it was also a symbol of rank. The small decorated fragment is part of a parade armour. The figurine depicts an auxiliary soldier from the period around AD 200. You can find out more about how soldiers equipped themselves for battle via the touch screen. When an auxiliary soldier retired after 25 years of service, he received a certificate granting him Roman citizenship. This is called a military diploma. A fragment of such a diploma is shown in the small freestanding display case next to the touch screen.