The Roman Bridge

Photos finally added, sorry for the tardiness.

Die Römerbrücke – die natürlich keine ist. It is not a “Roman” bridge, simply because the Romans did not come to this area, at least they did not build something here. The very end of the Roman Empire, the limes Germanicus (Ger., Eng., there’s a map), consisted of the river Moenus from Seligenstadt to Miltenberg, then left the river and went South over land. Some scholars of the 19th century nursed the idea that the fortress here would be based on a Roman military installation, but there is no proof for this claim and modern archaeology dismisses this idea.

Roughly one kilometer from the centre of my village in North-Eastern direction the Römerbrücke stands. Here once run a trading road from Würzburg to Bamberg ; it was a part of the larger connection between the free, important & rich cities of the Reich Frankfurt am Main and Nürnberg, on a larger scale of the route from Paris to Prague. The road came up from the valley of the river Main & the city of  Würzburg and crossed the valley of a small creek called Haslach ; it climbed up from the muddy valley via the Roßsteige (horses’ steep) and then went over land to the Steigerwald, generally in Eastern direction.
This gradient was pretty steep, additional horses needed to be harnessed to the coaches, it must have been a drag.
The 18th century brought us new roads, standardised in a way, the new chaussee. The Herzog happily embraced this idea and built new roads in his dukedom : Adam Friedrich von Seinsheim (1708-1779) (Ger., Eng.) commissioned the bridge in 1764. In fact it is not a single bridge that was built, but a 220 meter long earthen dam (causeway ?) that includes a bridge construction spanning the Haslach and thus “flattens” the gradient of the commercially important trading route. It simply makes the whole thing more viable. The dam is up to eight meters high, the bridge itself nearly 19 meters broad, the road is four to five meters wide.
The German description is “einfeldrige Bruchsteinbogenbrücke” – sorry, I can not translate this.
The importance of these new chaussees, in German Kunststrassen, artificial roads, can not be rated highly enough. In fact it is the first time since the Romans that a kind of standardised road system is built on a European scale. These roads allow fast and reliable traffic for goods, persons, mail, and of course for the movement of troops. They demand and cause standardisation, because the “Chauseeordnung” describes what format and what weight cars and coaches can have that finally travel on them. These roads demand a lot of investment, not only in building and construction as in our bridge here, but also in maintainance – in regular distances Chaussehäuser were erected where the Chaussewärter, the keeper, was stationed. He had to take care of a certain stretch of the road, and sometimes had to collect the road-tax too.
The bridge, the whole construction, was finished after three years and was open for traffic in 1766. It was used only for three years : In 1769 the building was closed for traffic because the foundations settled in the muddy subfloor, the Haslach simply did not like that thing. Cracks opened & it was deemed to dangerous to have heavy coaches rolling over it.
The planning went on and in the following year the whole road was relocated & shifted from this place to the North (on the other bank of the Haslach-creek), it finally run through the next village – avoiding the steep gradient & the marshy area altogether. The bridge was not repaired, but in contrary used as stone quarry to build the new road. It became finally obsolete for long distant travel when in the middle of the 19th century the railway was built – to this day the line goes in some hundred meters distance. The coaches had finally served its times.
The bridge was of course still used locally, only in 1960 it was closed for pedestrians. There was a bit of argument over the decades between the local community and the Bavarian state. The village was always poor & in debts and did not want to carry the Baulast, the public easement (and the responsibility) for the disused construction. Finally the whole ensemble was put on the Denkmalliste, the list of landmarks, and today the community has to take care for maintainance & safety.
And why is it called a “Roman” bridge ? Two explanations are given in literature : One says it’s because the road finally leads up to the Römer (Ger., Eng.) in Frankfurt – ah bah, who cares for Frankfurt here anyway ? The other says that the whole thing looks so nice and romantic-ruinous in the moonlight, ach – so Roman, simply … ; …

Some pictures will follow tomorrow.

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It’s the day after tomorrow – I think übermorgen is a wonderful word. So I am writing from the future …
Here are some pictures of the featured building. The first gives an impression of the whole thing. We stand on the Southern side of the dam and look in Eastern direction.

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Standing on the Southern side of the dam looking in Eastern direction

Standing on the Southern side of the dam looking in Eastern direction

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Turning around and going in Western direction there is finally a possibility to walk on the dam if only for a short stretch. Then they have planted a lot of dense & thorny bushes, small trees and high grass hinder the careless trespasser.

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Standing on the dam looking in Easter direction. This is a second, smaller arch that is closed for any kind of traffic

Standing on the dam looking in Easter direction. This is a second, smaller arch that is closed for any kind of traffic

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Looking from the Northern side in Easter direction. The whole construction was cut free from woods and brushes lately ; I have read in the local that some preservation measures are necessary.

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Standing on the North side looking East

Standing on the North side looking East

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And finally we are under the bridge.

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Under the bridge. No Stonemason's mark, no coat of arms, no graffiti, no nothing - just stones. Very nice.

Under the bridge. No Stonemason’s mark, no coat of arms, no graffiti, no nothing – just stones. Very nice.

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And one last view : This friendly little apple tree is a gift from the French twin village in the Calvados. It’s still a long way until we’ll have Franconian Calva.

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Roman bridge and the promise of Franconian Calvados

Roman bridge and the promise of Franconian Calvados

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Daht’s all.

Would Someone Please Hand Me a Gun ?

Okay.
I did not smash something.

My venerated readers may remember that I mentioned some weeks ago that we are working on a transcription, a test for a larger project. We put some effort in it, the original source material was not that easy to read, and it is a pretty special subject.
Anyway we followed the instructions, produced two texts according to the edition rules, and wrote an offer, covering all necessary topics. Send it over per email to the man responsible.
Nothing.
Usually one gets a short note like “Thankx, we received it”. Other things happened, we kept it in mind, after all this would bring us over the winter.
It’s late October and this job should start now – so I phoned in today. A pretty sourly lady told me that I’m too late, the contract is already handed out, and no, never heard my name. But she would be so nice and check with the responsible bloke.
Hours later she phoned back. Never received that email. Aha – but it did not come back to me, so it was delivered. The address is correct, as checked in this conversation, date, time, title, attachments …

They did not check their bloody spam folder.

Since when do you use email ? I got my first email-address in the late eighties as a student. We used Pegasus-Mail back then, it is still around and running. Later spam showed up and the first clumsy filters were introduced.
Nowadays one gets a notification when something falls into this category – one just has to LOOK !
I send out plain-text-mails without links in them, that is what most spam filters check first, links to nice fake sites. The attachments were to their regulations, in the format they wished them to get.
Mr super professor – every bloke there has at least one academic title in front of his name & one behind – did not check this, wonder how many other offers the moron ignored by doing so. And of course the project is handed out now, gone.
I can accept a rejection, pointing out to a mistake, or a discussion about how I read and transcribe something. I can defend the price – but that someone is TOO DUMB to check his mail properly is not acceptable.
Avanti Dilettanti !
Schreien möcht’ man …

Curtains

A storm comes up, temperatures fell, air pressure changed, I felt hang-over the whole morning and from the mirror something swollen stared at me. Great to have something to close the holes in the walls. Chances are that, when you look around in the room you are in, some fabric hangs in front of said holes – curtains !
They are part of what is in German called Fensterverkleidung, door and window coating. Looking at the history of this interesting element of  interior design one can see that the main elements are already known in the 17th century : The two piece curtain (“zweiflügeliger Vorhang”), die Aufziehgardine (pull-up curtains or “hissgardinen”), the rouleaux. And of course there are different kinds and sorts of Fensterläden, blinds or shutters, which may be fixed on the outside of the house or inside the room, closing the whole of the opening or just a part ; they may swing from side to side (“Klappläden”) or be drawn up. The innovative æra of textile window coating is the seventeenth century, all the forms that were later used or dismissed, following the whims of goddess Vogue, were developed in this age.
Gardinen or curtains (Ger., Eng.) had a use value first, later became elements for interior design. They are seemingly related to the older Bettvorhang.
To get one thing out of the way : There never has been a tax on curtains, a Gardinensteuer. This is always cited as reason that in The Netherlands fewer curtains were in front of citizens’ windows. The reason may be that in earlier times few people had clear window panes, but pretty small and dim ones, so that not too much light came in anyway and there was no reason to shut out curious peeps from the outside. Simply because the interior lightning also was pretty dim, bright burning wax candles were expensive, most people had only tallow candles. All speculation about a special Calvinistic mindset or mentality etc. is simply speculation. What really existed was a tax on windows.
I read somewhere that one of the earliest depiction of a two piece curtain can be found on a picture by Wolfgang HEIMBACH (Ger., Eng.) from 1653, but I could not find it. In the last third of the 17th century the role of curtains changed from being just something to keep out peeps and sunlight to an element of interior design. Notably the materials changed to Taft / tafetta, Damast / damask and silk.
Of course all this is first located in noble interiors. Through the 18th and 19th century curtains became part of bourgeois living ambiente and even rural living rooms.
Since the 1680s, starting from France of course, the pull-up curtains (Aufziehgardine, hissgardinen in Swedish) started to conquer living rooms – they survived on the stage, when the curtain goes up. The king himself, Louis XIV., gave advice how these things should be fixed – he should know, carpenter that he was. Today they are known as Wolkenstores or Raffrollos (images), their high times were the 18th century.
The rouleau (“der Rollo”), is a curtain rolled on a wooden rod, fixed on the inside of the window, a sun protection. KRÜNITZ (Ger., Eng.) in his Encyclopädie, calls it “Rollstäbe mit gemeiniglich bemahltem Papier, Leinwand oder seidenem Zeug” (“wooden staffs usually with painted paper, canvas or silk”). The rouleau can be found in 18th century inventories, since the 19th century it shows up in simpler environments on the countryside.
In FONTANEs (Ger., Eng.) novel Effi Briest (ebook, listen to it) we can read for noble Berlin :
Von Juni an schläft dann alles ein, und die heruntergelassenen Rouleaus verkünden einem schon auf hundert Schritt ‘Alles ausgeflogen'; ob wahr oder nicht, macht keinen Unterschied …”
“Everything turns quiet from June onwards, and the lowered Rouleaus tell one from a hundred steps’ distance ‘All absent’ ; true or not makes no difference …”
Another form is the Scheibengardine, the half- or café-curtain, first examples can be found on 17th century paintings. Their main use is visual cover. Besides these forms of curtains from the late 18th century onwards large Draperien, draperies, are develop, not only through the Empire, but they can be found in Biedermeyer-interiors too.
At least mentioned should be the colouring of glass, mostly with chalk – this is known for Sweden in the mid of the 19th century ; even in the middle of the 20th this could be found in remote rural areas of Germany ; also putting cut-outs, Scherenschnitte or silhouettes, into the windows was a praxis – but there are basically no sources for these habits.
Here is an example of a colourful, light-weight, printed Gardine, circa 25 years old, as it was used in a child’s room :

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Simple green curtains as used in a child's room, originally two panels of fabric, sewn together

Simple green curtains as used in a child’s room, originally two panels of fabric, sewn together

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Sun makes fabric tired, mürbe, fragile, so a strong grip can break it :

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An incautious grasp ...

An incautious grasp …

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Sunday Music

This week brought a tough surprise to casa dell mago. We had to discover something pretty mean, done with intent & against better knowledge by someone we trusted. In the end a lesson in manipulation. Will be interesting to follow the further development. All I say about is – never trust old ladies just because they are old & frail and you think they could do no harm: They can, with vengeance. And the older they are, the more deep their grudge may sit and fester. Getting old does not mean to become wise or lenient ; in a weak body a determined spirit can live ; as long as one can write his name, things can be legally signed ; and when death is not far away any more, moral and ethics may become just spoilage. There will be some fall-out from this.

But there happened a very good thing this week too : A friend invited me to join him on a visit to the Auto&Technik Museum Sinsheim : They have everything there ! Here just a few pictures :

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He's looking at You.

He’s looking at You.

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North by Northwest

North by Northwest

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Tracks of a Tiger

Tracks of a Tiger

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That's the Spirit !

That’s the Spirit !

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This Sunday Music is well-known to people of a certain age who misspent their youth in front of a tv-set. It’s the complete version, at 1:10 someone just found out that he was screwed over by an old lady …
Hope you like it and that we have a good week ahead !

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