Antique Cologne (part 2)
In its best days, ancient Cologne was a big city: 20-25 thousand people lived in it. One can imagine how fast this Roman city on the Rhine grew, how temples, covered galleries-porticos, public buildings, a forum appeared in the German forests, the heart of the Roman city, how the streets were paved, heating systems were installed in houses using pipes laid under the floor- of hypocausts or bronze rovings, how sewage was diverted to the Rhine, how it was grated, equipped with shutters and glass windows of houses, how their walls were decorated with mosaics and murals, elegant furniture appeared, thin-walled dishes – in a word, in barbaric life semi-wild tribes included civilization.
In what environment did people of that era live? We learned about this thanks to the findings of archaeologists, since ancient authors do not report anything about it. Several fragments of mural paintings have been discovered in Cologne. These include frescoes depicting a leopard, fox and goat. It is believed that they decorated the main premises of the house – the atrium, galleries around the courtyard. In the remaining rooms, the murals were ornamental. The colors are well preserved: fresh, juicy, and now they are pleasing to the eye. The exact drawing, the sharpness of vision of nature testify to the giftedness of painters who were not inferior to the brothers from Pompeii, Herculaneum and Stabius. The fragment with the fox and the goat is especially good – generalized forms and a bright, cheerful gamut of colors.
The houses were often decorated with mosaics. Such, for example, is a fragment with an ornamental pattern. It belonged to a pavement floor, although the walls of rooms were decorated with mosaics. The pattern goes back to the symbolic designation of the sun. In Rome and in the Roman provinces of that time, floor mosaics often had a protective value. They protected from evil forces, they used ancient ornamental motifs, which once had a magical meaning. The color is modest, gravitates to a gray-white-black gamut, and only in few places in it glow like red coals, red pebbles. The entire field of the mosaic is framed by the traditional Greek “wicker” ornament – an ancient sign of the elements of the sea, and along the edge – a pattern resembling a border of a woven carpet. Often carpet patterns were imitated in such mosaic compositions.
If Roman taste is visible in mosaics and paintings, then local influences are noticeable in applied art. In the Claudia Colony there were various forms of utensils. Bowls of “terra sigillate” – “stamped clay” – with prints of ornamental motifs on the walls, and “Areretino” ceramics (named after the place of production in the Italian city of Arrezzo), and “Barbotino” dishes painted with liquid clay were found in large numbers. . But the original products were test bowls and hunting cups. Test bowls are medium-sized vessels that look like jugs, sometimes with convex-concave walls, painted with white and orange clay. Sentences in large letters are written like: “Guilt!”, “Pour”, “Drink”. Often “talking” are not only cups, but also spoons. “Be happy, use me!” Is inscribed on one of them. Even in the late centuries of antiquity, things did not lose a living voice for a person and remained his cheerful interlocutors.
No less characteristic of Cologne are hunting cups – mugs coated with green glaze. The name they got from the scenes decorating them. These are relief images where you can find animals running from the hunter, a dog clinging to a deer. The green background of the glaze, in which the figures are “drowning”, gives the impression of a thicket where hunting takes place.
During the conquest of Germany, Roman legionnaires along with other luxury goods brought with them to the Rhine region gold and silver jewelry with precious stones. The earliest examples of Roman jewelry in Cologne were rings of the 1st century BC. Decorated with gems, they served as seals. Rings with gems from garnets, amethysts and amber, which are not found among finds of a later time, stood out in beauty. Gemms were carved from multilayer stones – agate, jasper, heliotrope. Often glass imitations were made. Images of deities, portraits, animal figures, Dionysian scenes, monograms were engraved on the stones. One of the remarkable finds is leaf gold bracelets in the form of a closed, hollow hoop inside. They were richly decorated with curly and ornamental motifs. At the end of the 3rd century AD, a new technique appeared – openwork ornament. The surface of the product has acquired the appearance of a lattice. Precious stones, on the other hand, were attached to jewelry not with traditional frames, but were drilled and mounted on a gold wire. Ancient jewelers possessed a rare decorative feeling – the finest carvings form curls, leaves, braided ribbons, spirals, alternating with rectangular and round nests.