Livius.Org Anatolia Carthage Egypt Germ. Inf. Greece Judaea Mesopotamia Persia Rome Other

Mogontiacum (Mainz)

Tombstone of Gnaeus Musius, standard bearer of XIV Gemina. Landesmuseum, Mainz (Germany). Photo Marco Prins. Mogontiacum: Roman city, capital of Germania Superior, important military base, modern Mainz.
History Photos


On these pages, you will find photos of the tombstones of several soldiers, all from the Landesmuseum, where the Mainz Pedestals, Jupiter Column, and the Arch of Victor are also on display.

The history of ancient Mainz can partly be deduced from inscriptions, which prove that it was in the first place a military base. At the time of the Battle in the Teutoburg Forest (9 CE), the First legion Germanica and the Fifth Alaudae were staying in Mainz. After the battle, they were replaced by XIV Gemina and XVI Gallica.

This is the tombstone of Gnaeus Musius, standard bearer of the Fourteenth. Musius' tombstone shows him with the standard (the 'eagle'). He died at the age of 32 after fifteen service years (CIL 13.6901).

Edge of Empire. The book Arjen Bosman and I wrote about Rome's Lower Rhine Frontier.
Edge of Empire. The book Arjen Bosman and I wrote about Rome's Lower Rhine Frontier (order; review)
Potrait of a prince. Steinhalle in the Landesmuseum, Mainz (Germany). Photo Marco Prins.
From Mainz' first phase of occupation also comes this head of a prince, perhaps Gaius Caesar or Lucius Caesar, sons of Agrippa and Julia and grandsons of the emperor Augustus. Alternatively, it is Augustus as a young man ('puer Octavianus').

The bust, which is of an exceptionally high artistic quality, was probably made by the Greek sculptors employed by the emperor in Rome; sending statues and busts to towns in the provinces was not unique, and proves that Mainz was already regarded as an important city during the reign of Augustus (31 BCE - 14 CE).

Tombstone of Titus Pompeius, soldier of XVI Gallica. Landesmuseum, Mainz (Germany). Photo Marco Prins.
This is the tombstone of a soldier of the sixteenth legion named Titus Pompeius; he was born in Viana, a town in Raetia (CIL 13.6944). As usual, the text is largely made up from abbreviations that every literate Roman understood. Two spelling errors in the fifth line inform us about the pronunciation of Latin in Mainz.
Titi Filius VOLtina tribv VI-
ANa MILes LEGionis XVI
ANnorum XXXX STIPendiorum
XIX Hic Situs Est hERES POSu
Titus Pompeius, son of Titus, of the Voltinian district, born in Viana, a soldier of the sixteenth legion, forty years old, in his nineteenth year of service, is buried here. His heir and fellow-citizen erected this monument.

Tombstone of Publius Urvinus of XIII Gemina. Landesmuseum, Mainz (Germany). Photo Marco Prins.
The legionary base, castra in Latin, was in the part of Mainz that is still known as Kästrich, in which the ancient name survives. It measured about 36 ha and offered accommodation to two legions.

The years after the Teutoburg disaster were difficult, because it was believed that the Germanic tribes were dangerous and would attack the cities along the Rhine. Sometimes, reinforcements from other units were needed.

This is the tombstone of a scout from the Thirteenth legion Gemina called Publius Urvinus (CIL 13.6884). Under normal circumstances, this unit was in Augsburg (on the Upper Danube) or Windisch (south of the Upper Rhine). The man must have seen action in Slovenia and Hungary. He died in his eighteenth year as a legionary.

Most soldiers of his unit were recruited in Italy or the plains along the river Po, and one wonders what he must have thought about the cold country north of the Alps.

Tombstone of Gaius Julius Niger of II Augusta. Landesmuseum, Mainz (Germany). Photo Marco Prins.
This is the tombstone of a soldier of the Second legion Augusta named Gaius Julius Niger, who was born in Gaul, joined the army on the Iberian peninsula and must have served in the recently pacified area called Cantabria (CIL 13.7234). Like XIII Gemina, it supported XIV Gemina and XVI Gallica in the years after the disaster in the Teutoburg Forest, and it is known that II Augusta took part in the retaliatory campaigns conducted by prince Germanicus, the son of Drusus, founder of Mainz.

During these campaigns, sometimes no less than four legions were staying in Mainz. A second legionary base was therefore founded at the Weisenau, four kilometers south of the first base. It remained in use during the first century, although it was often used by auxiliary troops, and not legionaries.

Tombstone of Lucius Varius Sacco of XV Primigenia. Landesmuseum, Mainz (Germany). Photo Marco Prins.
The opposite bank of the Rhine was occupied by a tribe known as Chatti. In 39, the emperor Caligula decided to attack them. According to our sources, Caligula's campaign were not really important, but archaeological finds suggest that this is not true. Two new legions were founded, the Fifteenth and Twenty-Second Primigenia. The fifteenth legion was added to XIV Gemina (hence the number). Lucius Varius Sacco of Milan in northern Italy was one of the recruits (CIL 13.11855). He died in Mainz after only one year of service, which almost certainly means that he was killed in action. He was twenty-five.

Tombstone of Gnaeus Coelius Marullinus of IIII Macedonica. Landesmuseum, Mainz (Germany). Photo Marco Prins.
In the winter of 40/41, Servius Sulpicius Galba (the future emperor) overcame the Chatti, which lessened the tensions. Two years later, when the emperor Claudius invaded Britain, there was a new reshuffling of units, and both legions of Mainz were replaced. The new units were IIII Macedonica and the recently founded XXII Primigenia.

This is the tombstone of Gnaeus Coelius Marullinus, born in Narbo in southern France (CIL 13.6863). He died before the Roman armies disgraced themselves in the winter of 69/70. One year before, the emperor Nero had committed suicide and had been succeeded by Galba; but the commander of the Rhine army, Vitellius, had revolted. The garrison of Mainz supported him and joined his march on Rome. At that moment, however, the Batavians revolted. Because the garrisons were depleted, they were able to conquer parts of the Rhineland and the city of Mainz was captured by other rebels. Kästrich was besieged but remained in Roman hands.

Tombstone of Lucius Valerius Fronto of I Adiutrix. Landesmuseum, Mainz (Germany). Photo Marco Prins.
In 70, order was restored by Quintus Petillius Cerialis, a relative of Vitellius'  enemy and successor Vespasian, and Mainz was fortified. The new troops were the recently founded I Adiutrix and (again) XIV Gemina.

This tombstone dates to the decade after the reconquest of the Rhineland. The soldier, Lucius Valerius Fronto, must have been a marine from Misenum in Italy first. He was honorably dismissed before the legion was transferred to Hungary.

Tombstone of Quintus Marcius Balbus of XXI Rapax. Landesmuseum, Mainz (Germany). Photo Marco Prins.
Although order had been restored and the civil settlement between the fortress at Mainz and the river was rapidly growing, the Rhine frontier was not safe yet. In 83, the emperor Domitian, a son of Vespasian, subdued the Chatti on the east bank. The Mainz Pedestals belong to this period.

One of the legions that was in these years added to the garrison of Mainz was XXI Rapax, which arrived from Windisch in Switzerland. Quintus Marcius Balbus and his son Celer did not survive his stay in Mainz.

After this war, the Romans occupied positions on the east bank, where they started to build the Taunus limes. Mainz no longer was a frontier city and continued to grow. Domitian reorganized the military zone and gave it the status of a province, which was called Germania Superior. Mainz became its capital and the seat of the governor. However, the emperor was not successful in finding a good representative, because in 89, governor Lucius Antonius Saturninus revolted. The rebellion was soon repressed.

Tombstone of Gaius Faltonius Secundus of XXII Primigenia. Landesmuseum, Mainz (Germany). Photo Marco Prins.
The rebellious legions were transferred and Mainz received a new unit: XXII Primigenia, which had already been in the city before. Gaius Faltonius Secundus was one of the legionaries. He was born in Liguria, served for twenty-one years, and died at the venerable age of forty-six. He is shown with two servants or slaves (CIL 13.6960).

The Twenty-Second never left Mainz, and was -after a century in which the city had been occupied by two legions- the only unit. (The reference to a Sixth legion Gallicana in the Historia Augusta ["Aurelian", 7.1] is almost certainly incorrect.) It comes as no surprise that in the second century, the inscriptions of Mainz are predominantly made for citizens. The city rapidly lost its military nature.

History Photos
© Jona Lendering for
Livius.Org, 2006
Revision: 2 Jan. 2009
Livius.Org Anatolia Carthage Egypt Germ. Inf. Greece Judaea Mesopotamia Persia Rome Other