Thursday, October 25, 2007

Dwarf City

You never know where ideas can come from.

I trotted over to one of my favorite internet sites today - the latest news on archaeological finds from Archaeology Magazine. They had this tantilizing tidbit:

A Roman villa in Austria was rediscovered and excavated after archaeologists found references to it in an eighteenth-century manuscript. Back then, the villa’s low-ceilinged heating vaults had led to legends about a “dwarf city.”

First, there's a Roman villa in Austria. Dang, those Romans got around!

Second, doesn't your mind reel at the idea of a "dwarf city" in Roman Austria?

You can find the facts here. This villa was originally equipped with wall and floor heating. (Which reminds me of a fact I read about how Hadrien "air conditioned" his villa near Rome by having his guests sit in an pavilion with a ceiling and no walls. This pavilion was equipped with a water tank and system so that sheets of water could continually run from the eaves, cooling the air inside the pavilion. Amazing! And probably more environmentally friendly than our current system of air conditioning.)

As a writer, I'm always alert to what triggers my imagination. (Well, I try to always be alert. Those who are most alert get the most ideas. Those, like me, who are semi-alert, aren't huge idea-factories.) And a Roman dwarf city -- maybe it's the gamer/history geek/fantasy lover in me, but that's pretty fricking cool.

Then things get silly and I imagine the Roman dwarves skiing down the Alps in Austria, or joining Julie Andrews at a convent near Salzburg. You see how this imagination thing works?

Why the photo of a badger? Well, the Archaeology news also says:

A medieval cemetery in Pembrokeshire, England, has been cleared of badgers, but
infested with archaeologists.

Seems like they saved the old bones AND the badgers. Good deal!


Doc said...

The city baths, library, and major house of prostitution in the seaside city of Ephesus had, in Roman times, elevated stone splash troughs along the streets that diverted river water to create a cooling spray in the city's air. The mist descended from some ten feet above ground. Your father has seen these Roman architectural wonders with his own eyes.

Nina Berry said...

Pretty darn clever, those Romans, ey, Dad? I'm a big fan of their mosaics. If I were rich, I'd have some cool, Roman-type mosaics on my floor - maybe fish, like an aquarium beneath my feet.