The Glamourous Life Revisited

Oh, the life of a performing artist.

You want to succeed. You want to give your very best and, when your best isn’t enough, you try to dig deep into yourself to find something untapped, some reserve of strength you didn’t know was there.

All through music school we were encouraged to let our guards down and find those reserves, to be open to criticism for our own betterment, to be all that we can be For Our Art. We learned to be addicted to feedback, since none of us could objectively judge ourselves and our potential, and our own teachers weren’t telling us either. We waited uncomfortably after auditions for any precious feedback and turned every comment over in our minds, be they sensible or stupid; we cringed through listening to our recorded lessons; we made fun of other singers just to make ourselves feel more worthy. Having nothing else to cling to, like a healthy self-esteem and a career path with recognizable milestones, we hung onto any little sign of approval, such as who gets this or that role in a show, or this or that solo in the chorus, who sings opening night, who gets to study with that popular teacher, who wins this school prize.

Is it any wonder, then, that some of that follows us into our working years?

What they do here in Europe isn’t opera. It’s full of singers with little voices who can’t be heard over the orchestra.”
This was said less than three feet from where I was sitting, by other singers. Probably they weren’t even thinking of me (I was looking at my smartphone and partially in the conversation), and the accuracy of that statement is dubious, but nevertheless, it stung.

Ensemble life can be both rewarding and difficult in the best of circumstances, in any theater. Singers get stressed, from the demands of being stretched in all sorts of directions. Having been trained to rise to the challenge, we try to do it all. Perhaps I am doubly cursed in being female and North American, for whom saying “no” comes with a price, even if it is internally applied. Standing up for myself takes all of my energy, not standing up for myself quietly saps it away along with my self esteem.

Which is how I find myself here now — in the middle of a successful run of a really great show, after singing a lovely concert last night of very interesting music, including a world premiere of a song cycle, with wonderful, talented people involved — fretting and wallowing in thoughts of I can’t do all this, I really can’t sing, I have no real talent of any use, I’m a failure, I’m an amateur, a dilettante, a wannabe tipping over into has-been-never-was, a workhorse who’s only good enough to fill small roles. I can do a little of everything, and nothing in particular. I’m too old. I’ll never be what I think I should be.

Of course this is so much bull. Who among us musicians is exactly where they think they should be? Who among us can objectively, clearly, see one’s own talents and limitations and say “I’m OK with that?” (This was not brought on that comment above, it had been brewing for a while.)

Why am I writing this? Maybe because young singers, looking for information and advice about working in Europe, will find in a google search all sorts of stuff about How To Get Work Here, as if that’s the culmination of all your efforts, congratulations, you landed a job, Happy End. But that’s really only the beginning, and not all of it is the Great Adventure. You bring with you all of your work habits; how you deal with adverse situations; with frenemies; with being unable to express yourself perfectly in your own language, let alone a new one. You bring with you the reasons behind your drive to be a performer — are you seeking approval, and if yes, from whom? Can you appreciate your own talents and strengths when they seem to differ from “What We Are Looking For Right Now”? Can you share joy in the successes of your colleagues, or do you have to hide their Facebook posts? Is it enough to have singing work, when you sacrifice everything else to have it?

I ran into a former colleague on the street yesterday. He’d trained as a school teacher but began a career in opera shortly after his first teaching job. He has a beautiful voice, excellent stage presence, a good attitude, the desire to learn and work hard, and the rare gift of comic timing. He worked in a few opera houses for about ten years, successfully, and then left it all behind him in order to have a private life and some peace of mind. He’s teaching part time now, and singing concerts, and he sounds very happy. I have thought a lot about him over the last several months, because I will be doing something similar at the end of this season. The full-time ensemble life is no longer for me.  All I know right now is that I have to sing on my own terms, or else not do it at all. Singing is something that should bring one happiness. I might find that happiness again, or maybe in something else. It’s time.

Posted in assimilation, Life Abroad, music, opera, singing, theater | 5 Comments

„Und, hod’s eahm wos gnutzt?“

An old Bavarian joke: A tourist in Bavaria approaches two workmen and asks for directions. He’s met with blank stares, so he tries to determine their language. “Sprechen Sie deutch?” No reply. “Do you speak English?”  Nothing. “Parlez-vous français? Parla italiano?”. Getting no response from them at all, he continues on, shaking his head. When he’s gone, one Bavarian turns to the other and says “Did you hear that? He speaks four languages!” The second man replies “And what good did it do him?”

Yesterday as I was walking home, I saw an old man standing on the corner of Dreiheiligenstrasse and Weinhartstrasse. He had some kind of bag on a folding metal trolley, and was staring at a photocopied street map, holding a second pair of glasses up to the pair on his nose.
“Do you need some help? Brauchen Sie Hilfe?”
He showed me his map and mumbled something. I caught the word ici and thought, OK, he speaks French. I showed him the spot on the map where we were standing, and tried to tell him in long-forgotten French which roads were which.

He seemed to neither understand me nor believe me. He pointed on the map to the Sill River, to Museumstrasse, to the streets before us but seemed turned around. And he was speaking something not recognizeably French either (A dialect? Corsican? The few words he spoke reminded me somehow of Sicilian but I could understand none of it.) I took the map and turned it 90 degrees so that it lined up with how we were standing, and that confused him even more. He seemed convinced that Dreiheiligenstrasse was Weinhartstrasse, and that I was simply wrong. Eventually he turned away and began to walk in the direction of the Viaduktbogen, at which point I gave up and said, “Na, dann toi toi toi” (Well, good luck) . It was such an odd encounter that I immediately thought to check my pockets, in case he had lifted my phone in the confusion.

I felt bad for him. I hope he found his way back to where he needed to be.

Posted in Innsbruck, language, Life Abroad | 1 Comment

Notburga of Rattenberg


First, a bit of background on Notburga (pronounced Note-boor-ga). She was born in Rattenberg, a small town east of Innsbruck, around 1265 to a couple of hatmakers, and proved to be an extraordinarily intelligent and competent woman. She hired herself out as a serving maid to King Heinrich I up on “Rottenburg” Castle, and beyond her duties she looked out for the poor in the area, bringing them leftovers from the castle meals. When Heinrich II took the throne, his wife was not so keen on Notburga’s presence. The official line is that Ottilia didn’t like the poor being fed, but I suspect it had more to do with her feeling that her power was somehow threatened. Notburga was let go from her job, and found a new one on a farm in nearby Eben, on Lake Achensee (which is redundant, but I’ve seen it often written this way for English readers), where her one condition was that she be allowed to stop working at the first peals of the evening church bell.
One miracle attributed to Notburga involves an occurrence during the harvest. A storm was approaching, and the farmer demanded that his laborers stay at work until all the grain was brought in. When the church bell rang, Notburga stopped, and when confronted by her employer, she threw her sickle into the air, where it hung on a sunbeam.
At some point after the death of Ottilie, Heinrich II, suffering from general disarray and a feud with his brother, asked Notburga to return to the castle (of course he did), where she brought everything back into order. Later, close to death, she expressed the wish that her body be put into an unmanned wagon pulled by two oxen, and that where the oxen stop, she should be buried. This being done, the oxen took her across the Inn River, up the mountain and back to Eben, where they finally stopped in front of the village church.
Notburga’s remains quickly became such a popular pilgrimage destination that the church had to rebuild twice in the next 200 years to accommodate the increased visitor count. She has never been canonised, but the Vatican officially made allowance for her to be revered, which makes her a de facto saint.

Now, there are few different things going on here at once. Old legends around the Rofan Mountains and Lake Achensee tell of the “white ladies”, and Notburga von Rattenberg is in a way one of these, although an historical Christian figure as well. Or, put another way, she was given some other-worldly attributes after her death.

The oxen ride predates Notburga by at least 1500 years — in Greek mythology, the Phoenician prince Cadmus was instructed by the Oracle at Delphi to follow a certain cow and build the town of Thebes on the spot where she lay down.

In “Philosophie, Religion und Alterthum” by Georg Friedrich Daumer, Campe Verlag, 1833, in a chapter discussing Count Hubert of Calw (available via google books, translation by the blogauthor):

This last journey appears in many other legends,  for example in those of St. Gundhildis and of Notburga of Rattenberg… the river crossing is important in mythology and appears also in the following Swiss legend: ‘The building tools were carried by a pair of yoked oxen and where the animals stopped would determine the place where the church would be built. They crossed the river and came to a stop at the place where  St. Stephen’s Church was erected’ … This holy ritual is also found in India. When one wishes to build a pagoda, the place will be determined through the sacred cow; where she lies down at night is the place decided upon by the deity.

The “sickle miracle” might be borrowing from the sickle’s pre-Christian symbolisation of fertility and harvest, the crescent moon. It may be a leap in logic to say this but I suspect that Notburga, being an intelligent and resourceful woman, helped not only the poor of Rattenberg but possibly women as well — pregnancy killed a lot of women back then, and anyone with some good midwife skills (including surgery) could go a long way. It would have been very easy for the Church to turn her into the Patron Saint of Agriculture, with that sharp blade in her hand. But she also sounds like an early champion of farmworkers’ rights, with her insistence that work stop with the sound of the bell. I can well imagine a woman told to get back to work and throwing her sickle into the air — and the shock of hearing about it keeping the story alive, in one form or another, for a while. She may have been the talk of the region, standing up to The Man like that, as well as the one that people sought for help when none was to be found elsewhere. Her insistence on sharing food — hers and the court’s — with the local poor in defiance of authority points to a kind of Christian socialism (was she a late-mediaeval version of “community organizer”?)

0dbc48e7258f69a0321c50ea59168d1c_Tirol Notburga Scannen0005

And it may be another leap in logic to connect her reverence with the Germanic deity Frau Perchta (or Hertha), whose responsibilities included ushering the souls of dead children to the otherworld. Hertha in turn is a variation on the Germanic Frau Hölle (or Holda), who is the protectress of children while having none of her own. What I think we have here is a strong and able woman, revered long after her death for great works among the people (the nature of which the Catholic Church at the time could not recognise), being elevated in a way that conveniently took a little of the life out of the old beliefs which were still floating around.

110318_notburga600Bonus trivia: Notburga’s skeletal remains can still be seen in the church at Eben, upright and dressed above the altar.

Images from here and here.

Posted in art, Austria, culture, history, lives of others, memory | 3 Comments

Götzens, Pfarrkirche Hl. Peter und Paul

A few years ago I came across a booklet with brief biographies of four local priests who had resisted the Nazis and were killed for it. While planning my recent visit to Axams, I realized that I would be very close to the Church of Ss. Peter and Paul, in Götzens, where the ashes of Father Otto Neururer are kept. He had come there as parish priest in 1932, got on the wrong side of the Gauleiter after the annexation of Austria in 1938, was arrested and eventually sent to Buchenwald concentration camp. He continued to spread the word of Christianity and minister to other inmates, for which he was hanged naked by the feet until he died, a painful 34 hours later. A fellow inmate who witnessed Neururer’s hanging said that he never cried out, but only prayed softly until he lost consciousness. // Vor ein paar Jahren stieß ich auf ein Büchlein mit Kurzbiografien von vier lokalen Priestern, die in Opposition zu den Nazis standen und dafür ermordet wurden. Während der Planung meines Besuchs neulich in Axams merkte ich, dass ich sehr nahe an der Kirche von St. Peter und Paul in Götzens, wo die Asche von Pater Otto Neururer vorbeikommen werde.
Er hatte dorthin als Pfarrer im Jahr 1932 gekommen, fiel nach der Annexion von Österreich im Jahre 1938 beim Gauleiter in Ungnade, wurde verhaftet und schließlich nach Buchenwald ins Konzentrationslager geschickt. Er fuhr dort fort, das Wort des Christentums unter den anderen Häftlingen zu predigen, wurde dafür an den Füßen nackt auf gehängt bis er starb, schmerzhafte 34 Stunden später. Ein Mithäftling , der Neururer hängen sah, bezeugte, dass er nie geweint hat, sondern nur leise betete, bis er das Bewusstsein verlor.

Father Neururer’s ashes were returned to Götzens, and the church has them in a golden urn, ringed with Dornenkronen, displayed prominently underneath the altar. // Pater Neururers Asche wurde nach Götzens gebracht, und die Kirche hat sie in einer goldenen Urne mit Dornenkronen herum, prominent unter dem Altar präsentiert.
The church’s interior bears a very strong resemblance to that of the Innsbruck Cathedral, with that cake-icing-and-beeswax style and color scheme; although they are both 18th century works, as far as I can tell they are by completely different artists. // Der Innenraum der Kirche hat große Ähnlichkeit mit der Innsbrucker Dom, mit diesem Zuckerbäcker-und Bienenwachs-Stil entsprechende Farbgebung; obwohl sie beide Werke aus dem 18. Jahrhundert sind, gehe ich davon aus, dass sie von ganz verschiedenen Künstler gestaltet wurden.
In front of the church but discreetly outside the churchyard wall, the village war memorial to its fallen soldiers. Just as discreetly, the most visible side honors the fallen from 1914-1918. The centenary of the Great War years must come as somewhat of a relief to many communities in Austria, accustomed to (but by now weary) of the relentless Third Reich anniversaries. // Vor der Kirche, aber unauffällig außerhalb der Friedhofsmauer, hat das Dorf ein Kriegerdenkmal für seine gefallenen Soldaten. Ebenso diskret, daß die am besten sichtbare Seite die 1914-1918 Gefallenen ehrt. Die Hundertjahrfeier des 1. Weltkrieges muss als etwas von einer Erleichterung für viele Gemeinden in Österreich sein, daran gewöhnt, (aber jetzt müde) unerbittlich mit Jubiläen zum Dritten Reich konfrontiert zu werden..

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

A Chapel in Axams

A free Sunday afternoon and it happens to be Tag des Denkmals in Austria. This is a day for  cultural and historical monuments across the country, and often there is the chance to see something not normally open to the public.
That opportunity is what got me on a bus to Axams, a village on the slopes of the mountains southwest of Innsbruck. Axams is a very, very old village; archaeological finds point to human settlement in the area as far back as 1200 BCE and the current name is of Celtic origin (Ouxumenes, “very high place”). (g) Its situation on a sunny plateau high above the Inn Valley certainly made it prime real estate then (and now — it’s both a commuter town, being a 20-minute drive from Innsbruck, and a popular spot for ski tourists). // Ein freier Sonntagnachmittag und Tag des Denkmals in Österreich. Dies ist ein Tag für die kulturellen und historischen Denkmäler im ganzen Land, und oft gibt es die Möglichkeit, etwas in der Regel nicht für die Öffentlichkeit zugängliches zu sehen.
Diese Gelegenheit brachte mich in einem Bus nach Axams, einem Dorf im Mittelgbeirge südwestlich von Innsbruck. Axams ist ein sehr, sehr altes Dorf; archäologische Funde weisen auf menschliche Besiedlung in der Region soweit zurück, wie 1200 v.Chr; und der aktuelle Name ist keltischen Ursprungs (Ouxumenes, “sehr hohen Platz”).  Seine Lage auf einem Sonnenplateau hoch über dem Inntal machte es zu einem attraktiven Siedlungsgebiet (und heute ist es sowohl eine Trabantenstadt, 20 Minuten Fahrt von Innsbruck, alsauch ein beliebter Ort für Ski-Touristen).

But the cultural site on offer today was from an era a bit later in its history. The Widumkapelle (“dower”, or endowment chapel) was built around 1330, originally stood as a stand-alone structure, and then became part of the larger parish offices. Into the late 1990s it was used as a furnished meeting room; after extensive excavation in 2003, the original frescoes (g) were uncovered and restored. These frescoes, interestingly, reveal that the original structure was not simply a chapel. // Aber die Kultstätte im Angebot war heute aus einer etwas jüngeren Zeit. Die Widumkapelle wurde um 1330 erbaut, ursprünglich freistehendes Objekt, das später Teil des Pfarramts wurde. Bis in die  späten 90er Jahre wurde es als möblierten Besprechungsraum verwendet; nach umfangreichen Ausgrabungen im Jahr 2003 wurden die Fresken freigelegt und restauriert. Diese Fresken zeigen interessanterweise, dass die ursprüngliche Anlage nicht einfach nur eine Kapelle war.

IMG_1619IMG_1627While the eastern wall bears sacred images of Saints Christopher and Dorothy (both early Christian martyrs), // An der östlichen Wand befinden sich Bilder der Heiligen Christophorus und Dorothea (beide frühchristlichen Märtyrer),

IMG_1628…the western wall displays two jousting knights representing the Knights of Freundsberg and Starkenberg. // …die Westwand zeigt zwei Turniereritter, die Ritter von Freundsberg und Starkenberg.

IMG_1624The northern wall, meanwhile, bears the image of a kind of doorman/bouncer, ready to pummel any unwelcome visitors as they enter. There are also several crests of Austrian principalities.  Was this small building erected for official business between clergy and ruling nobility? A kind of ceremonial or memorial hall, as our guide today suggested? Historical research has not yet come up with the answer. // Wohingegen die Nordwand, das Bild von einer Art Pförtner / Türsteher zeigt, bereit, allen unerwünschten Gästen eins über die Rübe zu geben. Es gibt auch mehrere Wappen der österreichischen Fürstentümer. Wurde das kleine Gebäude für offizielle Zwecke zwischen Klerus und herrschendem Adel errichtet? Eine Art von Zeremonienraum oder Gedenkhalle (“Widum”, mit dem Wort “Widmung” verwandt) wie es unsere Führerin annahm? Die historische Forschung die Antwort noch nicht gefunden.


Posted in archaeology, art, Austria, culture, current events, history, Innsbruck, memory


IMG_1609A beautiful late-summer Saturday afternoon walking along the Lech River, south of Landsberg. The river was full of swans, dozens of them, and as we walked  an enormous flock of honking wild geese came in over the trees and landed in the water. The Lech gets its name from the Celts who lived here and who were known to the Romans as Licates. Over the years it’s been referred to as Licus, Licca, Lecha, and finally Lech. According the the German Wikipedia, the Welsh word llech (stone slab) and the Breton word lec’h (gravestone) point to a Celtic origin, as the river is unusually gravelly.

Spaziergang an einem schönen Spätsommersamstagnachmittag den Lech entlang, südlich von Landsberg. Der Fluss war voll von Schwänen, Dutzende von ihnen, und während wir da gingen kam laut schreiend eine enorme Schar Wildgänse über die Bäume geflogen und landete im Wasser. Der Lech hat seinen Namen von den Kelten, die hier lebten. Diese waren bei den Römern als Licates bekannt. Im Laufe der Jahre ist er als Licus, Licca, Lecha und schließlich Lech bezeichnet worden. Nach der die deutsche Wikipedia, weisen die walisische Wörter Llech (Steinplatte) und die bretonische Wort lec’h (Grabstein) auf einen keltischen Ursprungs, zumal der Fluss ungewöhnlich viel Geschiebe führt.

Posted in Germany, history, language, nature

Reading the Tabula Peutingeriana

The Tabula Peutingeriana is a 13th century copy of a Roman road map from around the 4th or 5th century CE, judging by the place names on it. It is named for Konrad Peutinger, a man of letters from 16th-century Augsburg, who had bequeathed it to his great-nephew Markus Welser (the Welser clan was a famous banker family in Augsburg, and had an Innsbruck representative in Philippine.) It is a very unusual map in that the road lengths are consistent (“längentreu”) but not the areas between them. In this way it resembles a subway map, where all the rail lines extend in directions beneficial to the space of the map but not true to actual geography. The lands on the Tabula extend from the British Isles to the Ganges Valley in India. // Die Tabula Peutingeriana ist eine im 13. Jhdt. N. Chr. angefertigte Kopie einer römischen Straßenkarte des 4 oder 5 Jhdt. N. Chr, wenn man von den verwendeten Ortsnamen ausgeht. Sie wurde nach Konrad Peutinger, einem Gelehrten des 16. Jahrhunderts in Augsburg, der es seinem Großneffen Markus Welser vermacht hatte, benannt (die Welser-Clan war eine berühmter Bankier-Familie in Augsburg, und hatte in Innsbruck einen Vertreter in Philippine). Es ist eine sehr ungewöhnliche Karte, da die Straßenlängen konsistent sind (“längentreu”), nicht aber die Gebiete zwischen ihnen. Auf diese Weise gleicht sie einer U-Bahn-Karte, in der alle Eisenbahnlinien so gerichtet sind, dass sie ins Papierformat der Karte gut passen, aber nicht tatsächliche Geographie abbilden. Die Länder auf der Tabula erstrecken sich von den Britischen Inseln bis zum Ganges-Tal in Indien.
I recently obtained a copy of Via Claudia Exkursionsführer (Via Claudia Excursion Guide) by Hermann J. Volkmann. It’s a rather academic booklet, put out by scholars of geography didactics, but not difficult to follow. To my delight, it shows with modern maps the presumed route of the Via Claudia from Augsburg to Füssen, almost to the meter, including information on where it is still accessible and where one has to detour. Volkmann says some interesting things about the famously straight Roman roads and their representation on the Tabula Peutingeriana. On the map below you will see that they are drawn as straight lines with kinks. According to Volkmann, these kinks represent stages or segments on the journey, and each joint was probably recognisable by landmarks (grave mounds, viereckschanzen, rivers, lakes) or guesthouses, found at regular intervals along the road and offering bed and board, stalls and supply depots. // Ich habe vor kurzem eine Kopie des Via Claudia Exkursionsführer (Via Claudia Wanderführer) von Hermann J. Volkmann erhalten. Es ist eine eher akademische Broschüre, die von Wissenschaftlern der Geographie erstellt wurde (Lehrstuhl für Didaktik der Geographie an d. Univ. Augsburg), aber nicht schwer zu folgen. Erfreulicherweise zeigt es mit modernen Karten die mutmaßliche Route der Via Claudia von Augsburg nach Füssen, fast auf den Meter, einschließlich Informationen darüber, wo sie noch zugänglich ist und wo man einen Umweg machen muss. Volkmann sagt einige interessante Dinge über die berühmte geraden Römerstraßen und deren Darstellung auf der Tabula Peutingeriana. Auf der Karte sieht man, dass sie als gerade Linien mit Knickstellen gezeichnet werden. Nach Volkmann, stellen Knicke Stufen oder Segmente auf der Reise dar, und jedes Gelenk war wohl erkennbar ein Wahrzeichen (Grabhügel, Viereckschanzen, Flüsse, Seen) oder Pensionen, in regelmäßigen Abständen entlang der Straße, die Unterkunft,Verpflegung, Ställe und Depots bieten.


Only two travel segments of the Via Claudia can be found on the Tabula Peutingeriana; from Augusta vindelicum (two towers near the top left corner, above) to Da novalis, and from there to Abodiacum. After that there seems to be a detour somewhere* over to the Via Raetia**, which was built later and runs through Innsbruck and the Brenner Pass. Volkmann posits that the Via Raetia was the more important route at the time, so it would have made sense to include it and not the older, longer route.
Here are the stops between Augusta vindelicum (Augsburg, Bavaria) and Tridentum (Trento, Italy). I have included the names on the Tabula Peutingeriana, a known Roman name (if different), and the modern name for that place. // Nur zwei Reise Segmente der Via Claudia konnten auf der Tabula Peutingeriana gefunden werden; von Augusta Vindelicum (zwei Türme in der Nähe der oberen linken Ecke, oben) nach Da Novalis, und von dort zu Abodiacum. Danach scheint es eine Umleitung irgendwo über der Via Raetia zu geben **, die später gebaut wurde und die durch Innsbruck und über den Brenner * verläuft. Volkmann geht davon aus, dass die Via Raetia zu der Zeit eine wichtigere Route an der Zeit war, so dass es sinnvoll war auf die Darstellung der alten Route zu verzichten. Hier sind die Rastplätze zwischen Augusta Vindelicum (Augsburg, Bayern) und Tridentum (Trento, Italien) zu sehen. Ich habe die Namen auf der Tabula Peutingeriana, bekannten römischen Namen (falls abweichend), und modernen Namen für diesen Ort gegenübergestellt.

Augusta vindelicum — Augsburg
Da novalis — possibly Obermeiting
Avodiaco — Abodiacum— Epfach
Coveliacas — “Köchel”, at Murnauer Moos***.
Tartena — Parthanum  — Partenkirchen
Scarbia  —  Klais, where Scharnitz Abbey once stood. (The story of the name Klais is connected to the Via Raetia.)
“Vetonina” —  Veldidena — Innsbruck – Wilten
Matreio —  Matreium —  Matrei am Brenner
Vipiteno  —  Vipiteno (Sterzing)
Sublavione  — Chiusa (Klaussen)
Pentedrusi  — Pons Drusi — Bolzano (Bozen)
Tredente —  Tridentum  — Trento (Trient)

*An east-west Roman road from Salzburg to Kempten connected Epfach, on the Via Claudia, with Raisting, south of the Ammersee and on the Via Raetia.  Possibly one simply detoured there. // Eine Ost-West-Römerstraße von Salzburg nach Kempten verband Epfach, an der Via Claudia, mit Raisting, südlich des Ammersees und an der Via Raetia gelegen. Möglicherweise wurde sie hier einfach umgeleitet.

** The name Via Raetia is a later invention, the Roman name for this road is forgotten, if indeed it had ever had a name. // Der Name Via Raetia ist eine spätere Erfindung, der römische Name für diese Straße ist vergessen, wenn es denn jemals einen Namen hatte.

***Other researchers point to the Echelsbacher Bridge near Bad Bayersoien, but this doesn’t make sense to me. // Anderer Forscher weisen auf die Echelsbacher brücke bei Bad Bayersoien hin; mir leuchtet das aber nicht ein.

Posted in archaeology, Germany, history, Innsbruck, Italy

Der Hofstetter Frauenwald


A few months ago I quickly photographed a field of grave mounds along the main road from Hofstetten to Pürgen. / Vor ein paar Monaten habe ich schnell ein Feld von Grabhügeln entlang der Hauptstraße von Hofstetten nach Pürgen fotografiert.


The Wikipedia entry for the nearby community of Pürgen mentions a Totenstadt; that there once were said to be 200 grave mounds, and that by 1908 that number was down to 63. / Der Wikipedia-Eintrag für die nahegelegene Gemeinde Pürgen erwähnt eine Totenstadt; dass es einmal um die 200 Grabhügel gewesen sind, und dass  um 1908 diese Zahl auf 63 gesunken war.



Today I took a tour of a large patch of woods, called the Hofstetter Frauenwald, across the road from that field. I don’t know why it’s called a “Ladies’ Forest” but postulate that the land had once belonged to a convent. I suspected that there may be many more grave mounds inside the forest. / Heute habe ich eine Tour durch einen großen des Waldes gemacht, dem so genannten Hofstetter Frauenwald, gerade jenseits der Hauptstraße dieses Felds. Ich weiß nicht, warum es eine “Frauenwald” genannt wird, aber nehme an, dass das Land einst zu einem Kloster gehörte. Ich vermutete, dass viele weitere Grabhügel im Wald sind.

IMG_1583And indeed, from the path alone I counted 28 of them. A visit in the winter, when one can leave the trails (too much thorny underbrush growing there right now) will surely lead to more. With the ten visible in the field across the main road, that’s 38 at least. / Und tatsächlich –  vom Weg aus zählte ich bereits 28 von ihnen. Ein Besuch im Winter, wenn man die Wege verlassen kann, wird sicherlich zu mehr führen (zu viel dornigen Gestrüpp dort wächst dort im Augenblick). Mit den zehn sichtbaren Grabhügeln im Feld gegenüber die Hauptstraße sind es dann mindestens 38.


A dozen photographs of x-thousand-year-old grave mounds eroding in the woods might bring to mind Monty Python’s tree slide show, especially since they all look more or less alike… / Ein Dutzend Fotos von x-tausend Jahre alten Grabhügeln in den Wäldern Erodieren erinnert an Monty Pythons Baum Dia-Show, vor allem da sie alle mehr oder weniger gleich aussehen …

…and so I’ll spare you from any more! Suffice to say that I am very pleased to have found the Bronze Age necropolis in the woods just outside our village. There are no signs at the site and very little information online, but once you know where to look, they are all around you… / Und so erspare ich ihnen mehr davon! Es genügt zu sagen, dass es mich sehr freut, die Bronzezeit-Nekropole in den Wäldern vor den Toren unseres Dorfes gefunden zu haben. Es gibt keine Hinweise auf dem Gelände und sehr wenig Informationen online, aber wenn Sie wissen, wo sie suchen müssen, steht man schon mittendrin.

Posted in archaeology, Germany, history, memory, nature

End-Of-Summer-Vacation Links

Archaeologists have unearthed a 2,000-year-old toilet seat at a Roman fort near Hadrian’s Wall. Now they are looking for the loo over which it sat, hoping that the Roman soldiers may have accidentally dropped things into it.

The Grand Hotel Budapest film location site is actually a department store in Görlitz, Germany.

A lovely essay by Celia Watson Seupel about the pitfalls of assuming symptoms in the elderly. Depression and dementia can mask something else entirely, as Seupel discovered in caring for her mother.

The quirky, half-submerged domes at Cape Romano, Florida were once a luxury home far up the beach, now on its way to becoming a man-made reef. In a few years more it’ll be a great dive spot.

Posted in America, archaeology, diving, environment, Germany, health, history, lives of others, travel

Opera Divas Do The Ice Bucket Challenge

Posted in America, current events, Germany, media