It was a rainy day in Germany, so a visit to a Museum came to mind. Only 45 minutes from where I was staying is Ahrweiler in the North of the Rhineland. There, in 1980, construction workers discovered the remains of an ancient building at the foot of the so called “Silberberg”.
It turned out to be a sensational find. After ten years of excavation by local archeologists, it is attested that the discovered building is a large well preserved Roman Mansion with a separate spacious bathhouse. The villa was built at the end of the 1st century when the area was still under a Roman province.
Arriving at the parking lot on the outskirts of Ahrweiler, I climbed up a couple stairs to the entrance. While there, I was advised to watch a 20 minute video to understand the Roman Villa excavation and the techniques used.
The ancient walls of the Roman Mansion were buried in a landslide in the 5th century AD, the Roman site survived the centuries like in a time capsule. Even the original colored wall paintings with their figural and floral motifs can still be admired in in many places.
I was able to take a look into the kitchen, the bathhouse and even the underfloor heating. Another highlight I thought was a ceiling vault, reconstructed from original parts with its ceiling painting. The everyday luxury of the Romans is still impressive today!
This huge Roman country mansion was inhabited by a large, extended family that lived there permanently in the 2nd and 3rd century. It is believed there were about 10 to 20 inhabitants. It is not known if they were original Romans or romanised Germans.
Since there was latin Graffiti found on the walls, it is certain that the Latin language was spoken in the home
At the end of the the 3rd century the Villa was transformed into a roadside Guesthouse (Gaupona) or brothel. In the 5th century the villa was covered by a landslide which covered the complete building and left no traces above. Eventually a graveyard was erected above in the 7th and 8th century.
Remains of a second house were found underneath the mansion, dating to the middle of the 1st century. This building had been torn down systematically to make room for the larger Villa #2 above
To shelter the site while excavation, a glass timber construction was erected. This covering spread over the whole length of excavation without any supporting pillars to block the views of visitors.
The archeologists did not want to damage the surprisingly well -preserved mansion, examinations of the previous building were held to the minimum. The examiners understood the basic layout of the first building. Also part of the cellar was unearthed.
The floor heating installation was hardly damaged, and could be most likely fired up to demonstrate how the heating system worked
The excavation and restoration of the Roman villa by archeologists is now completed and the best preserved example North of the Alps, comparable to similar structures found in the Mediterranean.
A very impressive remnant is the barrel shaped vault ceiling, which plaster was restored to its original design from pieces found in the debris
This Roman country mansion offered me the opportunity to familiarize myself with the manner of high class living and culture of ancient Rome, the high standards of the 2nd and 3rd century in architecture and design so far from the motherland.
Unfortunately with the disintegration of the Roman administration in the 5th century it meant the disappearance of this class of culture and the high development in this area.
In addition to impressive finds from the excavation, I was able to see other exhibits from the ancient Ahr valley, like high-quality tableware, jewelry, tools, theater masks, a graffito, a wall graphite and numerous everyday objects and antique pieces are part of the collection.