On a hot August evening in the year 16 BC, Venus appeared to the Emperor Augustus.
The heat in Rome was absolutely unbearable. Venus said, â€žMy darling, you should build a summer residence in Allgovia (German: AllgĂ¤u), the climate there is wonderful, the countryside and the inhabitants tooâ€ť. Augustus was very surprised
and asked her where this Allgovia was, after all, he had already conquered half the world and had never heard of it.
Venus explained: â€śWhen my grandmother Gaia had finished creating the world, she suddenly noticed that there was
a very small corner which she had completely forgotten. She thought about things for a long time and then came to a really divine decision. She selected the best ingredients from all the different parts of the world, mixed them all together
and placed them on this barren spot. And that is how Allgovia was created, the most beautiful area in the whole world.
It lies behind the high mountains, north of the Alps.â€ť
Because of his love for Venus, Augustus gathered together an army and the following year he sent his two stepsons Drusus and Tiberius over the Alps, to build his summer residence there.
Of course, this legend is a very free interpretation, but it could just be true!.
The following version is the officially recorded one:
The Roman Province of Rhaetia
(With thanks to Jens Peuser from Cologne for the following text)
The Province of Rhaetia included what is today southern Bavaria,
the eastern part of Baden-WĂĽrttemberg, the south and east of Switzerland,
western Austria and parts of northern Italy.
In 15 BC, Emperor Augustusâ€™ stepsons, Drusus and Tiberius, conquered large parts of the Alps
with its foothills. Some of the Rhaetian and Vindelician tribes living here fought to resist the advance of the Roman troops, others submitted voluntarily. The Romans named this province:
provincia Raetia et Vindelicia, often shortened to Rhaetia, after the tribes who lived here.
In the beginning, the province ended on the banks of the Upper Danube: here, up to the middle
of the 1st century AD, auxiliary troops (auxilia) constructed a series of forts, e.g. in Ehingen-RiĂźtissen and BurghĂ¶fe (Submuntorium). The capital of the province (caput provinciae) and residence of the governor (procurator Augusti) was probably originally in Kempten (Cambodunum).
A number of important roads crossed through Rhaetia: The road which led from the legionary camp of Windisch (Vindonissa) via Bregenz (Brigantium) and Kempten (Cambodunum) to Salzburg (Iuvavum) connected the provinces of Rhine and Danube.
The Emperor Claudius (41â€“54 AD) expanded and improved the roads leading back to Italy which had existed since the time of Augustus:
The Via Claudia Augusta began in Altino (Altinum) on the Adriatic, ran through the Alps to the later capital Augsburg (Augusta Vindelicum) and ended at the border fort of BurghĂ¶fe (Submuntorium) on the Danube (Danuvius). Another important road led from Milan (Mediolanum) via Como (Comum) and Chur (Curia) to Bregenz (Brigantium) and Kempten (Cambodunum). It was however preferred to transport goods by river.
In the late 1st and early 2nd centuries, the border was extended north. New forts were built in Heidenheim (Aquileia), WeiĂźenburg (Biriciana) and KĂĽnzing (Quintana).
From the beginning of the 2nd century, the governor of Rhaetia resided in Augsburg (Augusta Vindelicum). The Emperor Hadrian raised the town (117â€“138 AD) to the status of a municipium;
it was now called municipium Aelium Augusta Vindelicum and became the largest town in Rhaetia.
Antoninus Pius (138â€“161 AD) extended the border in the west of Rhaetia; new forts were built, e.g. in SchwĂ¤bisch-GmĂĽnd, Aalen and Rainau-Buch. When, during the war with the Markomannen (165â€“175; 177â€“182 AD), some towns in Rhaetia were destroyed, the border troops were reinforced by the legio III Italica. The legion had been stationed since 179 AD in Regensburg (Reginum). Their senatorial commander took over the post of governor: Legatus Augusti pro praetore provinciae Raetiae).
During the 3rd century there was an increase in the attacks and plundering expeditions of the Germanic tribes, particularly the Alamannen und the Juthungen. In spite of numerous Roman victories, it proved impossible to retain the west Rhaetian areas north of Lake Constance for any length of time. From the last quarter of the 3rd century, the Danube-Iller-Rhine-Limes formed the northern Rhaetian border. Forts were built, among others in Pfyn (Ad Fines),
Kempten (Cambodunum), Isny (Vemania), KellmĂĽnz (Caelius Mons), BurghĂ¶fe (Submuntorium) and Eining (Abusina). In the 4th century, Rhaetia was divided into two provinces: Rhaetia I with Chur as its capital and Rhaetia II with its capital in Augsburg. In spite of a drastic reduction in trade and an increasing atmosphere of insecurity, some individual border troops together with a fairly large Roman population remained on in Rhaetia until the end of the western Roman empire in 476 AD. For some time now, various Germanic tribes had settled here and taken up service with the Romans. It was this mixture of peoples which gave rise to the early mediaeval dukedom of the Bajuwaren.
During the extended migration movements which followed, very many different peoples came and left their cultural mark here, right up to recent times, so that the descendents of the Bajuwaren have become the most multicultural population in the world.
The villa rustica in Kohlhunden
The Roman estate (villa rustica) in Kohlhunden was discovered at the end of 2001 during the building of a bypass. The remains of ten buildings have been discovered so far. The three buildings in the east and the south part of the main house were revealed by geo-electrical exploration. Geo-electrical investigations use sensors to measure the electrical resistance and the results reveal the existence
of monuments which are under the surface.
The main house is on the hill in the middle of the estate (fundus). It was the largest building and visible from a long way away. This is where the owner lived with his family The main house in Kohlhunden is typical of the buildings to be found north of the Alps: on the front side, an open passage with columns (porticus) between two corner buildings (Risaliten). Behind these stretched
a high hall. The exterior was designed to impress visitors and demonstrate the ownerâ€™s wealth.
In Borg, the main house of an estate has been reconstructed with an annexe and a complete bathing wing. These country houses were in no way small, modest or poor functional buildings.
Unfortunately, it is no longer possible to identify the function of the various rooms. There is often a cellar (cella). There was certainly a kitchen (culina) and a dining room (triclinium). The dining room in Roman houses was often generously decorated and was frequently used to entertain guests. The living rooms (cubicula) were usually on the 1st floor.
Excavations of the north risalit on the ground floor have revealed a floor of lime mortar.
Fragments of painted plaster walls are evidence that the decoration indoors was extremely colourful. A small set of steps led to the porticus.
The bath house lies 40 m to the west of the main house. The function of the nine remaining buildings is very difficult to establish. Some of them must have been stalls for the animal, others were certainly barns, sheds, storage buildings and workshops. Perhaps there was also a small temple.
So far, there has been no trace found of a cemetery.
The 10,5 x 10,5 m large wooden building was later replaced by an equally large construction with stone foundations. Such unimpressive outbuildings could often be as much as 12 m high.
Characteristic for the Roman period is the provision of the populationâ€™s needs from such scattered individual estates. The villae rusticae did not just produce for themselves, they produced a surplus which, in the case of Kohlhund would have been used to provide for the people of Kempten and perhaps also the soldiers in the military forts.
The owners belonged to the well-off classes in Roman society. They often leased out their estates. On the estates lived not only the owners or their tenants, but also workers and casual day labourers. The Kohlhunden family probably also owned several slaves.
The villae rusticae grew crops, kept animals and had their own handicraft workshops. They mainly bred and kept cattle, but also had horses, pigs, sheep, goats, bees, hens, ducks, geese and pigeons. Hunting for wild boar, stags, hares, deer, partridge etc in the nearby forests often provided a tasty addition to the menu. Dogs and cats also lived on the estate. The archaeo-zoological examination of bones found on the site will also soon provide information about the animals kept and eaten in Kohlhunden.
The Kuhstall lake was probably used not just to provide drinking water for the animals but also to breed fish, as a water reservoir in the case of fire and an idyllic place to relax. The surrounding forests provided wood for building and fuel.
The Romans planted a wide variety of grain crops, mainly spelt, wheat and barley, more rarely einkorn, emmer, oats, millet and rye. They also grew lentils, peas, beans, flax, poppies and hemp. Fruit trees provided them with apples, pears, plums, damsons, sloes and cherries. They also grew salads, onions, turnips, cabbage, cucumbers, radish, cress and carrots. The Romans of course used
a wide variety of herbs and spices such as dill, cumin, parsley, thyme and marjoram.
They also collected nuts, berries, mushrooms and edible chestnuts.
At modern archaeological excavation sites, soil samples are gathered which contain the remains
of plants which can be analysed by archaeo-botanists. These investigations can provide us with information about the crops and plants which were grown in Kohlhunden.
In the stone well, the high humidity helped to preserve some wooden articles, including the juniper wood handle of a woven basket. A few meters south of the small building, a cache was discovered which contained more than 20 clay dishes and bowls, some with inscriptions scratched into the surface, two glass receptacles, an inkpot, a bronze spatula and a clasp knife. This sensational discovery has been interpreted by researchers as being the remains of a sacrificial cult meal involving a number of persons.
The latest state of research into the Kohlhunden villa rustica seem to indicate that it was built in the middle of the 2nd century AD and abandoned in the middle of the 3rd century. No traces have been found to indicate that the buildings were deliberately destroyed.
Roman baths in Rhaetia
The widespread existence of Roman bathhouses in the province show how widely the Roman way of life has spread even into the most remote regions of the Imperium Romanum. Even the soldiers on the border and the estate owners on their lonely farms maintained, if possible, this symbol of a high standard of living.
The rooms required for the usual bathing procedure are always present: the cold bath (Frigidarium), the warm room (Tepidarium), the hot room (Caldarium), a sweat-room (Sudatorium) and a changing room (Apodyterium). In the public baths in the large cities, these rooms were larger and sometimes duplicated. Some baths also had additional rooms such as a large courtyard (palaestra) and a large swimming pool (natatio).
In Rhaetia, numerous baths have been discovered which show the wide range of Roman bathhouses. In addition to Kohlhunden, there are examples of baths in the villae rusticae in Peiting and Schwangau. The bathhouse of the Schwangau villa was extensively and richly decorated, proof that the small country bathhouses were by no means just simple, functional buildings. Fragments of coloured wall decorations were also found in the Kohlhunden bathhouse.
Both the legions and the auxiliary troops built baths in their camps. These were also used by the civil population. The remains of fortress baths have been found in WeiĂźenburg, Theilenhofen and Rainau-Buch.
Members of the armed forces also often used the spas in the northern provinces. This led to the construction of a thermal bath near the sulphur springs in Bad GĂ¶gging shortly after the legionary fort was built in Regensburg at the end of the 2nd century.
Several baths have been found in what was presumably the first capital of the province Rhaetia, Kempten (Cambodunum): The â€žThermal Houseâ€ś from the first half of the 1st century, the â€žGreat Spaâ€ś and the â€žSmall Spaâ€ś. The Great Spa â€žGroĂźe Thermenâ€ś was built in the late 1st century. They were a monumental public baths, an magnificent example for a proud Roman town. The Small Spa â€žKleine Thermenâ€ś belonged to the governorâ€™s residence and provide proof of the fact that the procurator Augusti was a person of extremely high rank.