THE PRINCIPIA MUSEUM
It is a new museum, opened for public in 2015. The archaeological excavations in 2011 underlined, among others, the Principia building of the Roman Castrum of Apulum, that is to say the headquarters of the 13th Legion Gemina. This legion was brought from Vindobona (the area of Vienna today), being the only legion that remained in Dacia province during the entire Roman domination period. The development of the city of Apulum, become, in time, the largest in the entire province, its economy and military center are in close connection with the presence of the legion. Such a military unit had over 5000 soldiers, mainly heavy infantrymen, under the command of a legatus who was the member of a senatorial family. Under him, a strict hierarchy followed which, alongside the strict discipline of the troops and the significant salaries of the soldiers, were the main arguments in favor of the Roman army success. Beside the military attribution, the soldiers were an important working force in building roads, bridges, etc. AT the entrance of the museum bronze image of a Roman soldier can be seen, equipped according to the standards of the beginning of the 2nd century, when Dacia became one of the last territories grabbed from the barbaricum and included within the borders of the empire.
The museum has a courtyard in which the main archaeological discoveries are exhibited, discoveries made during the excavations in the Citadel Square (mainly altars with incriptions), and also two pieces from the older collections of the history museum, a Jupiter tronans and a statue, found without the head, dedicated to high rank officer (interpreted also as a representation of emperor Caracalla).
The inner part preserves in situ important vestiges of the Principia itself. Not the entire surface of this complex was researched and made visible because the surface of the Principia ensemble was 80 x 60 m, and a large part of it is under the nowadays Nicolae Iorga Street and under the December 1st, 1918 University. But, inside the museum, one can see the ruins of some essential rooms for the functions of the complex 1,800 years ago: the aedes, the main room of the Principia, the tabularium with the standards room, the armamentarium, where the briefing of the officers and soldiers was conducted. The original floor of some rooms, the hypocaustum or the heating system, as well as an early medieval well that goes through the Roman layer, witnessing the continuity of the dwelling onto the city territory, are the elements that can be checked when visiting the museum. The visitors can see inside numerous pieces of historical reenactment items like the famous gladius, the Roman sword, or the lorica segmentata and lorica hamata armor types, standards and flags. Besides, there is an ancient reenactment group in Alba Iulia, reviving the atmosphere of the ancient world through Roman soldiers, Dacian warriors, gladiators and dancers, during the touristic season.
Also, the museum is the host for temporary exhibitions, with historical themes and more, but for different cultural events as well.
It is worth to notice that inside and outside the museum there are five bronze statues (modern replicas) of some emperors who were important for the evolution of the city of Apulum and for the history of the empire as well: Trajan (98-117 A.D.), the conqueror of Dacia, Hadrian (117-138), the one who organized Dacia province (but also the entire empire) and under whose reign the primary phases of the existence of the castrum in Apulum were conducted, Marcus Aurelius (161-180), the philosopher emperor, under whose authority the first urban center of Apulum (there were actually two cities in Apulum) received the status of municipium, Septimius Severus (193-211) under his authority the second city, the one emerging around the castrum, received the status of municipium, and Caracalla (211-217), who probably visited Apulum in 213 together with his mother Iulia Domna. Some medieval interpretations regarding the name of „Alba Iulia” are trying to connect the city with the name of this empress.
Scientific consultant: Tudor Roșu, PhD historian
Translation made by: Ciprian Dobra, PR expert
Located in the Citadel Square, the Principia Museum is the place where a part of the Principia building of the Roman castrum in Apulum is touristically highlighted. The headquarters of the 13th Legion Gemina was here, the 13th being the only legion that remained in Dacia province during the entire period of Roman occupation. The museum is one of the places where you can find the story of the castrum built by the Romans in Apulum. Principia was only partially researched and highlighted because a large part of the ensemble is under the street near the „December 1st, 1918” University.
The exhibition in the museum courtyard presents artifacts discovered during the archaeological research campaign in the area or from the older collections of the History Museum in Alba Iulia, that is to say some statues and altars. The bronze statue at the entrance of the museum shows us how the Roman soldier was equipped 1900 years ago, the times when Dacia became one of the last territories included within the borders of the Roman Empire.
The inner area preserves in situ important traces of the Principia. The visitors can see the rooms where the treasure and the standards were kept or the place where the briefing of the officers and of the soldiers was performed. Also inside the original pavement of some rooms is highlighted or the hypocaustum, the well-known heating system of the Romans.
You are probably wondering what were the reasons for choosing the five emperors whose bronze statues are placed inside and outside the museum? All had an important role in the evolution of the ancient Apulum but also for the history of the Roman empire in general. Traian was the one who conquered Dacia. Under Hadrian the primary stages for the construction of the Apulum stone castrum were initiated. Under Marcus Aurelius the first urban center in Apulum received the status of municipium and Septimius Severus gave the same status to the second urban center in Apulum, the one developed around the castrum.
The sources tell us about Caracalla that he arrived in Apulum accompanied by his mother (Iulia Domna) around 213. Some medieval interpretations regarding the name „Alba Iulia” connect the name with the name of this empress.
Inside the museum you can live a few moments from the life of a Roman soldier by being equipped with the complex reconstruction replica of a military gear. Even more, the atmosphere of the ancient world with its Roman legionnaires, Dacian warriors, gladiators and dancers is revived by the reenactment group from Alba Iulia which has had a very intense public presence during the touristic season.
The museum was opened for public in 2015 and it is a place where more and more events and temporary exhibitions take place.
The traces of the Principia and other Roman objectives researched and highlighted in Alba Carolina Citadel is part of the „European Cultural Route of the Roman emperors and wine along the Danube”.