Dead Romans all over the Place – A Field Trip

The original intro to this post read like this:

“I couldn’t come up with a better title, honestly. I guess I’m still a bit down the drain from the trip and the bit of work I had during the last days. Don’t worry, I’ll be fine and socially available/acceptable again in no time, I just didn’t sleep that much lately. It’s funny what four days permanently surrounded by colleagues/fellow students/archaeology nerds who really don’t have any other interests will do to your bullshit tolerance level.

Anyway, I took a few *cough*oversixhundred*cough* photos for you to look at while my soul catches up with my body and I adjust to being at my comfortably people-free flat.”

I’m better now, several weeks later, much better, and I finally managed to sort through all the pictures. I usually don’t talk much about my major at uni here (or uni in general), but the field trip was really extraordinarily nice, so it deserves a mention.


The field trip was set for four days at the very beginning of our holidays. We started out in the early morning by train when it was still dark outside, but gladly I’m far more of a morning person than most of the other students who came along so I didn’t find it too hard. They did quite the job renovating the central station, so the waiting hall wasn’t too ugly to stay in, too. I really like those starburst lights.


Our first stop was Cologne, and every time I see it in person I wonder how the Cologne Cathedral must have looked for a person from the middle ages, someone who wasn’t used to skyscrapers and modern city skylines.

We were far too early for the appointment with our professor, though, which resulted in hordes of students invading the local donut and Lego shops. Time got by, finally, and we went to the Romano-Germanic Museum. The RGM is a charming 70s style building, a bit dusty perhaps, but with an amazing array of artifacts.

Statuette of Minerva, goddess of wisdom, war tactics, artisan crafts and poets. Maybe I should get a small shrine for my home.
Bacchus/Dionysos themed tessellation.
Fantastic peacock detail of the mosaic.
Vintage model of the area where today stands the museum.
I’ve got quite the faible for Roman glassware. Look at all those wonderful shades of green and yellow and white!
More glassware that could hold itself perfectly against any Art Nouveau ware anytime. Lovely.
I love this late Roman inlay jewelery. It’s made with faceted foil under the garnet/glass/almandine pieces to make them shine.
Another favourite artifact group of mine are kitchen and table utensils. These spoons are beautifully crafted, and I wish the museum’s shop had their replicas.
More spoons. I love how they used the oyster shell for display. Which reminds me that I need a few oyster shells for my summer table settings.
I saw several of these massive quartz crystal spheres with silver fittings during the course of the trip. While you could certainly bash a persons head in with one of these if used properly, I find them immensely beautiful.

These are only my favourite pieces of their exhibition, the museum is huge and has a lot more to offer, of course. We then stopped by an excavation in the middle of the city where we were shown not only progress but also the subterranean walls of a praetorial palace.


That one’s not from the palatial structure, if I remember correctly, but I have a weakness for decorative stonemasonry.


We went back to the Cathedral afterward, and inside, to see the clerical treasure beneath and two late roman/medieval grave inventories.

I’m always impressed by the litheness of Gothic architecture.
The jokes I could make about slightly spooky angel statues if I were a Doctor Who fanatic now…
The vibrancy of those old tapestries was so fascinating, I would have loved to take a picture of every single inch separately.


I can but imagine how heavy this gold-embroidered fabric is. This one was from a tapestry, but there were also garments made of similar material.


You can say a lot of things about the Roman Catholic church, but if they know something it’s their opulence.
I love the colours in this one. Add a little mustard yellow and you’ve pretty much got my palette for this summer.
Another one with beautiful colours. Aren’t those gradients amazing?
Part of the grave inventory of an upper class woman. The object in front is a little canister made for sponges soaked with scented oils.


We left Cologne in the late afternoon for our next and longest destination: Xanten.


Xanten is an adorable little town close to the Dutch border. There are old windmills practically everywhere. The one above was set in the town walls and there was a little organic food shop inside (ooh, I love the smell of those).


I definitely want to go there again, just to do a little more sightseeing. Siegfried, hero of the Song of the Nibelungs, was allegedly born here, and they are rather proud of that. I’m more interested in the windmills and the cute brick houses, though.



We practically walked everywhere, starting with the way from the train station to our hostel. Being from a town settled snugly between steep hills, the flatland made these walks incredibly easy and pleasant.


Our main reason to visit Xanten was this: The Archeological Park (APX for short). It’s amazing, really, but it deserves a post of its own, so I’ll end this one here. I hope you’re having a great weekend!


3 thoughts on “Dead Romans all over the Place – A Field Trip

  1. Nach Köln wollte ich vorallem wegen des Doms schon immer, und du hast mich mit deinem Post noch einmal darin bestärkt, dieses Jahr noch einmal eine Wochenendtour dorthin zu machen. Die Bilder sind wirklich fantastisch!

    In Xanten und dem archäologischen Park war ich dank einer Klassenfahrt mit meiner Lateingruppe schon mal. Es war sehr schade, als die drei Tage um waren, denn ich hatte bei Weitem noch nicht so viel gesehen, wie es mir lieb gewesen wäre.

    1. Köln lohnt sich, nächstes Wochenende bin ich schon wieder da (dann aber hauptsächlich in der Messe/auf der RPC). Das RGM kann ich auch nur wirklich empfehlen, ist auch direkt beim Dom um die Ecke, auch wenn es ein bisschen 70er-Jahre-Zeitreisefeeling hat. Die Quasi-Vorhänge aus Glaswaren an Schnüren ließen sich leider nicht gut fotografieren, davon war ich hin und weg.
      Wir haben in Xanten übrigends auch zwei Tage statt dem geplanten einen gebraucht. ^^

  2. Oh, that sounds like a very interesting and informative trip. I really like the kitchen utensils and the colour palette of the carpet is also totally “my cup of tea” ;). So when I´m in Cologne (maybe arround december) I think I have to stop at the RGM.

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