Station: [233] Settlements in the Time of the Roman Imperial Period

During the first centuries AD Central Europe was divided up: the Roman provinces West of the Rhine was where the Romans lived, in their castelli, towns and luxurious country villas.  To the East, on the other side of the Rhine and the Roman limes, was where the Germani settled. These people worked on individual farms, and lived in hamlets and villages.  Post-holes reveal the outlines of their wooden longhouses with two or three sections, presumably an entrance area, a living section, and a stable.  The outer walls were made of wattle and daub.

You can see a model of one of these dwellings in the showcase. Beside it are some smaller models of so-called pit dwellings. They were dug into the ground, and were used as storage spaces and workshops.  In Saxony various pit dwellings have been found that date from the time of the roman Imperial period, and they were used in various ways. One such dwelling in Leuben, North Saxony, was used as a grain store. It contained a 25 cm layer of carbonised wheat.  In Niegeroda, in the Meißen district, there’s a pit dwelling that contained 110 loom weights, which were required for weaving looms.  A further pit dwelling in Gräfenhain in the Bautzen district contained five large early stage work pieces for querns for grinding flour. 

Potteries also had an important part to play, since the Romans had introduced wheels as a new technique for making pots to central Europe.  After all, everyday relations between Romans and Germanic people were not restricted to warfare; they also engaged in trade and the exchange of goods and skills. 

Iron was a significant economic factor in this process; the iron workshops lay on the margins of the Roman Imperial period settlements.  Iron had already replaced bronze as a working material in many areas centuries beforehand. Tools, weapons and fashion accessories, and even jewellery were now generally made of iron.  Fortunately, a hoard of iron goods has been found in Lotzdorf, in the Bautzen region, which gives us a good idea of the weapons, work tools and household utensils of the age. The new material was extracted by smelting bog iron ore and charcoal in a bloomery furnace.  In Merzdorf, in Oberlausitz, a whole battery of bloomery furnaces has been found, pointing to a level of iron production far in excess of anything a village might require.