The Romans in Germania - A Geography Lesson
In order to make it easier for you to put a location to the places I keep mentioning in context of the Romans in Germany, this post will provide you with some maps.
The first one shows the Roman provinces at the time of Augustus. The provinces have been restructured and renamed several times in Roman history. For example, part of what on this map is Gallia Belgica about 90 AD became Germania Inferior, and the land between Rhine and Danube then protected by the Limes would be called Germania Superior.
The Roman provinces at the time of Augustus
The red and orange ones are all provinces of the Roman Empire that started in the middle of Italy (that high heel boot kicking Sicily) a few hundres years earlier. You can see that there's a nice chain of provinces all around the Mediterranean Sea. After they, ahem .... collected those, the Romans pushed north. Southern Britain was conquered after Augustus' time, so it's still green on that map.
The borders of Germania (also green) are marked by the Rhine (running south-north) and the Danube (running west-east into the Black Sea). Under Hadrian, the angle formed by those two rivers was integrated into the Empire and protected by the German Limes. The provinces along the Danube include Pannonia where Arminius fought on the Roman side against rebellious tribes prior to his return to Germania.
Next comes a map of the Romans in northern Germany during the time of Drusus' and Tiberius' invasions in 16-9 BC until Germanicus' campaigns in 14-16 AD. Roman supply bases and forts in Germania Magna
Since I photographed both maps in the Hedemünden
exhibition, that fortress / supply base figures prominently right in the middle (the map only shows the northern half of Germany) at the Weser/Werra (Visurgis) river. Göttingen is a bit north of it, and if you follow an imaginary line to the Leine river, you'll see the Harz on the right, that's where the recently discovered battlefield of Kalefeld
You can see the two legionary forts at Mainz (Moguntiacum) and Xanten (Castra Vetera). The Limes would later start a bit north of Mainz. The Lippe (Lupis) river that from Xanten runs east into Germania was the location of several Roman forts, among them Haltern
that also had a naval base. Kalkriese
, the probable Varus battlefield, lies further north.
Close to the Rhine, but on the 'wrong' side lies Waldgirmes, a Roman town in Germania that was destroyed after the Varus battle. Another place on my To Visit list. The Elbe, the river that for some time was supposed to become the new frontier of a Roman empire that included Germania Magna, runs in the east.Germany (map found here)
Germany today extends the borders of the planned Roman province. Since not all towns are shown on that map, you'll have to place Mainz near Wiesbaden. The Limes cut from there to Regensburg at the Danube. Xanten (also not shown) is at the border to the Netherlands; the Lippe runs between the line Duisburg, Essen Dortmund and Münster further north.
You can see that the whole Berlin area and Baltic Sea coast is north-east of the Elbe which confluences into the North Sea near Hamburg, while in the south part of the old province of Raetia in the Alpes now is Germany (the other part is mostls Switzerland), and in the west, Germany stretches towards Trier on the 'Roman' side of the Rhine.
Hedemünden is situated between Kassel and Göttingen, Kalefeld a third on the way between Göttingen and Hannover, and Kalkriese near Osnabrück.
Roman Leisure Centre Caerleon
So, that's where Aelius Rufus whom we last met in Segedunum, is hanging out these days: the baths - or better to be called a leisure centre - in Caerleon legionary fort. Greetings, Aelius. How do you manage to get so many holidays?
Aelius grins. It's called research trips. Well, look at that weather, a nice, warm Roman bath is the best place to be these days.
But you're from Raetia, you're used to frost and snow.
Sure, but it doesn't mean I can't appreciate civilisation. And these baths are really impressive. You've seen your share of baths in forntier fortresses that usually hold a cohort. Caerleon can house ten times as many soldiers, and those baths are huge.
Model of the Baths as they may have looked
They are. Remind me a bit ot the Imperial baths in Augusta Treverorum
. And like in Trier, as it's now called, not much is left of the baths.
That's a pity. Why don't you dig them out? You people from the Future love that.
We do. The problem is that people built a town over the Roman remains at some point, and you can't tear the houses down in order to dig up more Roman stuff. Though I'm sure people would find interesting things in their cellars if they poked around with a shovel a bit.The excavated part of the outdoor swimming pool
(Today roofed in to protect the remains)
The visible remains of the baths in Caerleon are only a part of the entire complex. For comparison of the model size, the swimming pool is 42 metres long, that's close to the 50 metres standard of today.
Aelius sinks deeper into the warm water pool and wiggles his toes. So, what remains are left?
The features that have been excavated and conservated are half of the outdoor swimming pool (natatio
), and the cold bath (frigidarium
, part of the building in the upper right of the model above, the one with the cupola roofs). The great basilica to the left has vanished, as have the colonnades that sourrounded the palaestra
yard. The swimming pool is covered with a roof today, and part of the museum. Remains of the cold bath
That's a pity about the basilica or exercise hall. It is larger than the exercise hall
in my home fortress Saalburg and very beautiful. A welcome place to train on cold days when the outdoor training facilities are too uncomfortable. Look at them right now, just lots of damn mud, partly frozen.
Yeah, that's a British winter for you. Mud and rain. The photos of the baths in Trier give some impression of the dimensions of such a building.
Heh, I bet the baths in Augusta Treverorum were even fancier. Emperors like it fancy for the most. Except our friend Tony, he's more the practical sort. Well, and you people from the Future can tell how the baths may have looked from that heap of stones?
With some imagination, yes. And there are books with drawings, models, and some fun features like the curtains here that indicate the places where pillars have stood.Caerleon Baths, visual display
Nifty. I really like those lights that work with ... what did Merlinus call it? Electricity? But why is this tablet written in two languagues? One looks like that barbarian dialect they speak here only with too many d and l, the other is an odd mix of Germanic and badly misspelled Latin words that makes no sense.
Oh, that's English. It is an odd mix of a language indeed, but it does make sense. The other one is called Welsh.
Well, I'm glad I don't need to learn those; Latin was bad enough.
Can't blame you. Sometimes I suspect the Romans have come up with some really complicated grammar only to annoy the people who have to learn it.
Boy did they ever, Aelius said in his best imitation of soldiers' Latin drawl. Caerleon Baths, floor level with part of the hypocaust ventilation
So, Aelius continues, you got something more you want to show your Future friends? I hope you won't chase me over to the arena in that weather.
Don't worry, we'll wait for the rain to stop. So there's nothing more today, but I have a reconstructed Roman river patrol ship in my archives.
Oh fun. I've been on one, but my shoulders didn't like it much.
Heh, nor did mine, but it was worth the effort.
You people from the Future are a bit crazy, but I like you.
Let it Snow
With the new year, the winter has come to Germany with snow and temperatures of minus 10°C -15°C during the nights and still below zero during the days. The sort of winter I like, though I'm part of a minority there. ;)
The pretty pillows in the foreground are some of my potted heather. Yep, we got a nice amount of the white fluff this time, and more is to come next weekend, hopefully.My balcony
My balcony is somewhat sheltered by the balcony above, but some snow found its way inside to powder my conifers.Gardens in the snow
The summer gardens in the Leine valley offer a beautiful view from my balcony all year round. Now they are snowed in - let's hope for some time. Rainy winters are so dreary.