The Iseum - History and Facts | History Hit

The Iseum

Szombathely, Vas, Hungary

The Iseum is a 2nd century AD Roman temple site dedicated to the Egyptian goddess Isis.

Antara Bate

24 Nov 2020
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About The Iseum

The Iseum, also known as the Isis Szentély Romkertje, in Szombathely is a restored 2nd century AD Roman temple site dedicated to the Egyptian goddess Isis.

Excavated since the 1950’s, the ruins of the two temples of the Iseum can be seen today and part of the site has been reconstructed. The remains of the original site, some of which have undergone significant modern restoration, are now contained within a wider museum complex.

The Iseum history

The Iseum is the third-largest Toman era church of Isis known in the world today, only the main churches of Alexandria and Rome were larger. The enormous shrine complex was built in the first half of the 2nd century BC outside the walls of the Roman town.

Evidence suggests that the shrine was in use until the middle of the 4th century when it was pulled down, its marle carvings used for lime burning and its stones used in construction. The site then became an Early Christian cemetery.

The ruins of the shrine were first discovered in the 1950s and excavation continued for may years after this.

Experts believe that based on its size, standards of construction, the richness and diversity of material finds found here, the Savaria shrine was the centre of the cult of Isis in the Danube-region.

Recent research has significantly shaped the image of the sanctuary and provided important data on the site. In the period before the church was built, an important industrial area of ​​Savaria operated on the site of the Iseum.

The most important of the finds found in the Iseum are the façade reliefs already mentioned, which are unique in Pannonia in terms of size and design. Fragments of the cult statues preserved in the sanctuary are also beautiful in their fragility: the head of a small image of Serapis, and the finely carved marble torsos of Amor and Psyche, considered to be ancillary figures of a group of Venus statues.

Important memorabilia were also found from the fountain of the church: vessels, bells, bells, which may have played a role in the ceremony held here.

The Iseum today

The most recent innovation of the site was completed in 2012 was part of a significant investment project and present a myriad of Iseum’s archaeological finds, and feature a historical exhibition of Pannonia, an ancient province of the Roman Empire.

The former shrine built for the goddess Isis, is now extraordinarily renovated and provides a peculiar, eerily beautiful open air place for operas and plays during the summer. In the Ruin Garden, there are still the traces of a sanctuary for Mercurius and an eight-angled bath as well as the cobbles of the Amber Road which once sliced through whole Europe from the Baltic Sea to the Mediterranean.

The Iseum Savariense Archaeological Workshop and Archipelago Isis Savaria Home is the name of the modern museum building built on Roman foundations that is operating today.

Getting to the Iseum

The site is accessible by public transport. The nearest train station is Szombathely and the nearest bus stop is Városháza.


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