Noricum

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Noricum, in ancient geography, was a Celtic kingdom (perhaps better described as a federation of, by tradition, twelve tribes) stretching over the area of today's Austria and a part of Slovenia. It became a province of the Roman Empire. It was bounded on the north by the Danube, on the west by Raetia and Vindelicia, on the east and southeast by Pannonia, on the south by Region 10, Venetia et Histria.[1]

Contents

Area

Noricum roughly corresponded to the greater part of modern Styria and Carinthia, Austria west of Vienna, Salzburg, a part of Bavaria, and a part of Slovenia. It may be thus seen as the beginning of Austrian history, and in 1918 there was the concrete idea aired by Karl Renner, Austria's first head of government (1918-1920), 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.

Characteristics

The original population appears to have consisted of Pannonians (a people kin to the Illyrians), who, after the great migration of the Gauls, became subordinate to various Celto-Ligurians tribes, chief amongst them being the Taurisci, who were probably identical with the Norici of Roman sources, so called after their capital Noreia, whose location is, as yet, unknown.

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. The famous Noric steel was largely used in the making of Roman weapons ("Noricus ensis," Horace, Odes, i. 16. o). Gold and salt were found in considerable quantities. From a statement of Polybius we learn that in his own time in consequence of the great output of gold from a mine in Noricum gold went down one-third in value.[2] 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.[3]

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