Saturday, 10 December 2016

Aalen (Limes Germanicus)

At the times when the Roman Empire was still strong and growing, its emperor Augustus decided to build a line of frontier fortifications that would protect Rome from the German tribes. His successors kept on adding new forts and  watchtowers. At the end, the fortification line was 568 km long and run through a large part of Europe.

Another line runs in Africa and the Middle East. The reason for this is simple - the Roman Empire was one of the largest states in history (the largest was the British Empire, which before World War II covered over 20% of Earth's surface and population).

This frontier fortifications line, often referred to by its Latin name limes, is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Today I invite you to take a closer look at what remains from this fantastic idea. We will visit the limes museum in the German town of Aalen.

Aalen was the largest Roman cavalry fort North of the Alps and was built around 160 AD.

Inside the museum you can see some reconstructions that may guide your imagination to this period. Next to a model of a fort with a palisade ...

... you can see what remains of such palisades, built two thousand years ago.

You can see the faces of some of the Roman emperors.

This one was called Caracalla and has a reputation of being one of the nastiest amoungst his peers. Well, he does look like one.

Since the Aalen fort was used by the cavalry, obviously my ancestors are omnipresent. You can see them on sculptures ...

... on reconstructions ...

... and there are even some of the remainings of the previous inhabitants of the place.

I propose that we leave the museum building and go outside. First, we can see a reconstruction of the rooms in which the soldiers spent most of their time relaxing ...

... and working. And yes, in time of peace they were mainly a kind of customs office.

Obviously these are only recent reconstructions, since after two thousand years all that is left from the original Roman fort are the foundations.

The building itself must have been quite large.

Even after all these centuries, the rocks hold on remarkably well.

An information signs in Roman time was much more solid than nowadays. But imagine to make a spelling mistake in the first line and only discover it once you have finished it, three weeks later ...

The gentleman here was one of the leaders of the troops. I can understand than in Italy they were wearing this type of clothes. But I wonder how they were surviving the cold winters of Baden-Württemberg without long johns.

If you are wondering how the Romans were building their forts in time when cranes and bulldozers did not exist you can look here - this is a reconstruction of a typical building machine from Roman times.

I hope that you have liked this little glimpse into the history. Life in the Aallen fort must have been tough. But its inhabitants have really known what it means "living on the edge".

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