View from the museum at the Roman thermal baths. (Attribution & Copyright: J. Sigl)
Trip to the Xanten Archaeological Park
Archaeological work on the African countries that are the focus of the SPP is always diverse and exciting, but the region of the Rhineland also has extremely interesting sites to offer right on our doorstep. For the two guest researchers Mariam Adel William Eshkaroun and Fernanda da Silva Lozada, who came from Egypt, the visit to the LVR Archaeological Park Xanten (APX) and the Roman Museum there was a completely new experience. The two young archaeologists are in Germany from the end of April to the end of July to work on small publication projects as part of their own qualifications and the Entangled Africa programme through the equality of opportunity module funds provided by the DFG. During their visit to Xanten, they were accompanied by Johanna Sigl and Florian Lukas from the coordination team; additionally supported by a two-year-old excavation expert whose urge to move always kept the group on their toes.
Dr. Peter Kienzle, the head of the building department of the APX, was kindly in charge of the tour. He provided us with a wide range of information that went beyond purely archaeological topics, and always remained patient when the smallest participant once again took a different direction than planned. Apart from the big eye-catchers, the amphitheatre and the harbour temple, the most memorable features were the dwellings and craftsmen’s houses that had been reconstructed as authentically as possible. Such detailed reconstructions of ancient buildings convey a wonderful impression of the living world of that time – especially when it comes to buildings of the common people. Mr Kienzle’s explanations also underpinned these impressions with the relevant professional as well as technical information.
At lunchtime, the group was able to stop at the Roman tavern of the APX. They were served a large plate of Roman specialities and a selection of more or less authentic antique drinks. Everything was extremely tasty and the break in the cool shade from the hot summer sun was very welcome.
As a final highlight, the participants were able to see the reconstructions of the Roman Rhine ships, which was followed by an extensive tour of the Roman Museum. The rooms of the exhibition are state-of-the-art in terms of technical and museum-didactic implementation. At no time did the feeling of tediousness, which so many still remember from school visits to dusty museum collections, impose itself. On the contrary, the interactive possibilities as well as the appealing presentation of the collection items almost caused some melancholy when the time in the APX was coming to an end.
In conclusion, it remains to be mentioned that the visit to the APX was a really wonderful experience and will certainly be remembered positively for a long time by both young and old. A very special word of thanks once again to Peter Kienzle for the time, expertise and calm with which he guided the participants through the park. In this way, the two guest researchers will certainly bring some exciting stories about archaeology in the surroundings of the Rhine to the Nile and can retain important impressions for their future careers.