The girls and boys listen to the explanations of guide Kathrin Uebele in the former cellar of the villa. Photo: Horst Rudel
The Villa Rustica in Nurtingen is one of the largest Roman estates in the country. On a tour, 15 girls and boys went in search of traces and got an idea of life almost 2000 years ago.
Nurtingen – To make the guided Roman tour for children on Tuesday at the former Villa Rustica estate in Nurtingen-Oberensingen as authentic as possible, city guide Kathrin Uebele gives the 15 girls and boys Roman names. Laetitia, Antonius, Cicero, Valeria, Augusta and Hadrian are written on the name tags of the participants. Kathrin Uebele herself puts on a tunic – beautifully decorated, of course, because the people who lived here around 1900 years ago were certainly not members of a lower social class.
The family belongs to the Roman upper class
The inhabitants of the estate were wealthy people. This is one of the lessons the children learn this morning. Research has shown that the nuclear family consisted of five to ten people. The parents, children and perhaps still close relatives of the landowner. All in all, between about 100 and 250 A.D. – during which time the farm was cultivated – the estate was probably inhabited by about 30 people. The nuclear family was joined by slaves. Because, as the city guide explains a formula that was generally valid for the Romans: "Only because they had slaves, they were able to build this empire with this prosperity."
The former prosperity in Oberensingen can be seen in the layout of the site. On the one hand, there are the remains of a private thermal bath, which, in accordance with the bathing culture of the time, had both a cold bathing room for cleansing and a warm bathing room. The estate was supplied with water from a spring directly above the property. The nearby forest offered plenty of firewood. "They actually had everything they needed," concludes Kathrin Uebele.
Numerous artifacts are unearthed
Whatever else was needed for a life befitting Roman standards was imported from the south – wine or precious oils, for example. Such products were transported in amphorae and then stored in a cellar of the villa, which was therefore also of central importance for daily life. Still preserved are cutouts in the cellar wall. In the middle of three, it is assumed on the basis of other examples of Roman villas, once stood the sculpture of a Roman deity, the guide explains.
Images of gods were not found here, but archaeologists and numerous helpers unearthed other artifacts during excavations in the late 1980s. Kathrin Uebele brought some specimens to look at and also to touch: a hairpin, a ring and also the shard of a vessel with a hunting scene from Roman times. Finds like this shard are what evoke a "feeling of awe" in Kathrin Uebele because of their age and beauty – a feeling that the city guide imparts to the children during this walking tour.
The Villa Rustica is discovered during development work
How was the Villa Rustica discovered in Nurtingen? This is one of the questions Laetitia, Antonius, Cicero, Valeria, Augusta, Hadrian and Co are interested in. A worker bumps literally with the excavator shovel in the spring of 1988 during development work in the building area "In den Seelen" in Oberensingen on wall features that turned out to be parts of an estate. Initially, the State Office for the Preservation of Monuments excavated the site, while volunteers from the Swabian Heritage Society continued the work. The remains of the walls have been restored and found objects are kept in the city museum of Nurtingen. The villa is located along the Neckar-Alb-Aare Roman road. Further evidence of Roman life can be found for example in Kongen. Research assumes that the estate in Oberensingen served to supply the Roman military camp in Kongen.
Dog poop near the estate is a nuisance
Kathrin Uebele has also brought two fragments of floor slabs with the paw prints of a cat and a dog. Dogs still exist here. The Heimatbund has attached an information sheet: "In recent weeks and months it has increasingly happened that dog poop around the Roman estate is simply left lying around." The Heimatbund appeals to all dog owners to "properly clean up their dogs’ messes" to dispose of".