Customs official

Augusta Raurica - customs official - drawing Bernard Reymond, Yverdon

“As an official attached to the Raurica customs post, I ensure that the emperor receives his dues: the customs revenues! As you can see from this inscription, Augusta Raurica has a customs post. And before you ask: no, our town is not on the border, and it has not been for a long time! It is in the middle of the Gallic customs district of “XXXX Galliarum”, a huge area that encompasses several Roman provinces and stretches from Massilia (today’s Marseille, F) in the south to Trajectum (today’s Utrecht, NL) in the north. Translated into your language, our customs district is called “the one-fortieth from Gaul”. A tax of one fortieth, or 2.5%, of the value of all imported and exported goods is charged here. Because Augusta Raurica is a transport hub where many goods are reloaded, for instance from cargo ships to oxcarts, business is booming here. In any case, there is no need for anyone to complain; once the tax is paid, the transaction is validated by a lead seal, which ensures that no one is charged more than once”.

The customs post is attested to by an inscription

Augusta Raurica - Fragments of an inscription found in the forum, which mentions the Raurica customs post. Height: 16.5 cm; AD 150-250. Photo Susanne Schenker, Augusta Raurica



(…official) of the Raurica customs post in the customs district of Gaul (…)

A peek into the clothes chest

Tax collector with a codex on a relief depicting a sales and lease agreement scene. Neumagen (D), 2nd/3rd century. Collection of the Rheinisches Landesmuseum Trier (D).

The illustration shows the customs official wearing an undertunic and a long-sleeved tunic without a belt. He has laced gaiters and leather shoes. He is carrying a bundle of writing tablets that have been bound together to form a so-called codex, a kind of “book”. The official’s clothing was reconstructed from depictions on Roman stone monuments from the Moselle region (D).

Granary administrator

Augusta Raurica - granary administrator - drawing Bernard Reymond, Yverdon

“Allow me to introduce myself – my name is Fortis and I am an imperial slave; I serve as a dispensator, an administrator of granaries. On behalf of my master, the emperor, I manage the precious grain that is levied every year by the state on all farmsteads in the area. It goes without saying that the levy is only paid grudgingly. I am dedicating an altar to the gods, as I promised I would do some time ago. As an imperial slave I am one of only a few men of my class who can afford to make such a costly donation”.

The administrator is known from an inscription

Augusta Raurica - Votive altar. Reused as building material in the grounds of the Castrum Rauracense (Kaiseraugst). Height: 57 cm; AD 50-250. Photo Susanne Schenker, Augusta Raurica

… FOR? TIS AVG(usti servus)

DISP(ensator) HOR(reorum)

V(otum) S(olvit) L(ibens) L(aetus) M(erito)

… Fortis(?), slave of the Emperor, administrator of the granary, has gladly and duly fulfilled his vow.

A peek into the clothes chest

Augusta Raurica. Key on a chain. Iron. 1st–3rd centuries AD. Augusta Raurica, Upper Town.

As a figure of respectability and as an imperial tax collector, the administrator is shown wearing a tunic with two stripes (clavi) and a cloak wrapped around the body in the Roman style. Closed leather boots (calcei), the preserve of the wealthy, finish off the picture. The key on the chain is an artefact that was found at Augusta Raurica.

Long distance trader

Augusta Raurica - long distance trader - drawing Bernard Reymond, Yverdon

“My name is Marcellus; I am a merchant from the area around Augusta Raurica, a colonial town that was established in the former territory of the Celtic tribe of the Rauraci. I trade in wine and other goods up and down the River Rhine. Sometimes my fleet even crosses the stormy sea to Britannia, the outer reaches of the Roman world. Like many of my colleagues, I dedicated a magnificent altar to the goddess Nehalennia at her sanctuary on the North Sea. The gift cost a small fortune and the goddess is, of course, Germanic, but luckily, she also protects people like us and our wealth. I hope she will continue to do so! Needless to say, the best place on the altar is reserved for the goddess. But on the narrow sides I have had my ships depicted with their heavy barrel loads and – I am sure you have guessed it – my humble self. Last but not least read the inscription and be amazed: I have come far in life. I am rich and have even become a member of the seviri Augustales. I am a prominent man in Augusta Raurica”.

Marcellus is known from an inscription

Colijnsplaat (NL) - Altar dedicated to the goddess Nehalennia. Height: 97.5 cm; AD 150-250. Photo (c) National Museum of Antiquities, Leiden (NL).





RAVRACORVM L(ibens) M(erito)

Marcellus, member of the Seviri Augustales of the municipality (or the tribal community) of the Raurici, has gladly and duly dedicated (this altar) to the goddess Nehalennia.

A peek into the clothes chest

Altar dedicated to the goddess Nehalennia, Colijnsplaat (NL), view from the side.

Der auf dem Altar für Nehalennia dargestellte Mann diente als Vorbild für die Figur des Händlers auf dem Forum. Er trägt die typisch einheimische und dem hiesigen Wetter angepasste Tracht bestehend aus einer langärmligen Tunika, einem rund geschnittenen gallo-römischen Kapuzenmantel (cucullus) und dazu Wadenbinden und Lederstiefel.