AT THE CROSSROADS OF BUSY TRAFFIC ROUTES
Roman roads were primarily intended for the army, state administration, and express state mail. They were used by ordinary passengers and for trading goods. Stations with lodgings and horses were built alongside them. Pedestrians or draft animals could travel about 30km, ox carts 12km, wagons up to 50km, horsemen around 56km, and express courier mail 250km per day.
One of the most important roads connecting the eastern and western parts of the Roman Empire ran through Poetovio. East of the town, the road branched towards the north to the border on the Danube in Carnuntum (present-day Petronell in Austria). Express courier mail needed three and a half days from Poetovio to Rome, to Constantinople (present-day Istanbul), the capital of the eastern part of the Empire, five and a half days, and one day to Carnuntum.
Transport on rivers and seas was most appropriate for the transport of heavy loads. Pottery and stone products from Poetovio travelled along the Drava and Danube far towards the east. Ships needed about 10 days to reach Viminacium (present-day Kostolac in northern Serbia).
A road was a commodity which turned out to be a curse in the turbulent time of Late Antiquity. Large army divisions moved over Poetovio in the civil wars of the 3rd and 4th centuries, while two large battles took place near the town in 351 and 388. Barbarian peoples were invading Italy by way of Poetovio. Living along the main roads started to be too dangerous, hence Poetovio was abandoned before the mid-5th century. Small fortified settlements were newly built in distant, hilly areas, such as Kozjansko. A part of Poetovio’s inhabitants probably moved there.
Just like all Roman towns, Poetovio encompassed a large territory. A dispersed type of settlement prevailed in the countryside. The basis was isolated and rounded agricultural estates, in the centre of which were houses and outbuildings – the so-called villas. Larger settlements were rare and some of them developed as roadside stations. Marble quarries were located at Pohorje, and the settlement in Šmartno was probably connected to them. The spa town of Aquae Iasae was conceived along the hot water springs in Varaždinske Toplice.