mothwing: Image of a death head hawk moth (Adventure)
Mothwing ([personal profile] mothwing) wrote on March 28th, 2015 at 10:22 pm
Day 5: Saturday: Saalburg
Living with a church musician means having to be back by Sunday, so we went back on day five of our little roadtrip.

Since Crocky loves all things Roman and has fond memories of going to this place when she was a child, we decided to stop by the Saalburg to look at the ruins of the Roman fort there. It was established in 90 AD and abandoned in the middle of the third century when the Limes fell.

The site was heavily rebuilt on order of Willhelm II so it looks more impressive than it ordinarily would. This is the entrance with Hadrian's adopted son Antony. Crocky doing this pose standing in front of it looks way cooler, I assure you.

The battlements are part of the things that didn't turn out quite right in the reconstruction.

Reconstructed buildings on the site where the Roman cohort with its 500 soldiers and officers once lived.


There was a special exhibit of Roman bath culture. I've become interested in baths and bathing culture after we saw the Carracalla baths, which made me realise first how stupendously elaborate they could get. And that they were lost. They were just sitting there in Rome, in their huge size, and many of the tricks that made them work (which must have been known) basically were forgotten or at least not used for hundreds of years. The loss of all that knowledge just... baffles me. How does a culture simply forget basic plumbing? And how bad do things have to get before other things become so important that nobody can afford to bother?

These baths here were more modest, having been constructed for the six hundred soldiers during the times the fort was largest and the around one-thousand Roman civillian townspeople living nearby.

The tour guide brought along the typical Roman bathing utensils - sponge, ladle for pouring water over you, oil flask, and skin scrapers to remove the oil along with the grime and loose skin cells. One of them was sharpened so as to also serve as a razor.

These are the smaller baths that were in use in earlier days, before the camp was so big. In front you can see the heating room, a changing room was off to the right, the steam room was in the middle, the caldarium (hot-water-bath) behind it, the tepidarium of medium temperature in the room behind it at the very back.
The frigidarium, the cold-water-room, was in an adjoining building on the left that can't be seen on this photo. It's unclear if Roman soldiers really left the nice and warm rooms of the baths to walk, naked, to an adjoining house, both to cool down after sweating and beforehand, after having removed the top layers of grime, but that's apparently how the place is laid out.

A better view of a common bath layout can be seen on this diorama.

So these Roman troops sent to the end of the world had heated bath houses, using heated air and smoke from the fires guided through brick poles the floor was resting on as well as hollowed-out bricks up the walls designed to keep the air both warm and the walls dry, which made it possible to decorate them as elaborately as they did. The glass windows kept the cold air outside and let the light in.

Meanwhile, what did my historic compatriots have? Wooden planks and one central hole in the middle of the house to let out the smoke from the hearth fire.

They found over a hundred wells at the site.

Some could still be used today.

Since the disused ones had been filled with all kinds of rubbish, many artefacts could be recovered from them, like...

...oil lamps in all sorts of designs...

... the soles of the famous leather sandals (Roman soldiers seem to have worn size 5 a lot)

... though that wooden one with the cork heel, the second one from the right in the bottom row, is a flip flop for the bath house because the floors in the sauna got so hot.

And look how pretty they could get, too:

I'd wear that.

They also recovered a lot of tools, whose designs, once discovered, apparently never change. There were shoemakers' tools...

... pliers! The shiny metal ones ar reconstructions, and the ones on the very right are dental equipment:

...and shovels - the plaques told us how the Romans very often won by construction rather than fighting since they were very good at fortification and infrastructure. And spades.

Ancient Tubas confuse me.

Roman soldiers ground and baked their own pay, wheat grain, in these ovens.

Which we sadly didn't eat, but I did have a bit of Roman mead (Mulsum), which was good, too.
( Read comments )
Post a comment in response:
Anonymous( )Anonymous This account has disabled anonymous posting.
OpenID( )OpenID You can comment on this post while signed in with an account from many other sites, once you have confirmed your email address. Sign in using OpenID.
Account name:
If you don't have an account you can create one now.
HTML doesn't work in the subject.


Notice: This account is set to log the IP addresses of everyone who comments.
Links will be displayed as unclickable URLs to help prevent spam.