The Romans in the Alps
Mercury, the Roman god of trading and traffic, was invariably depicted in the same fashion – a staff in his hand, winged shoes on his feet, and a winged hat on his head. It is this winged hat which identifies our statuette as Mercury, found in burnt ruins from Roman times in Chur. Nearly two thousand years ago this figurine would have adorned the home altar of a private property, together with the nearby statuette of Diana, the goddess of hunting.
Following the Roman conquest of 15 BC their culture, too, became embedded in the Alpine regions. Not only did one now revere their gods, one also used their language, ate Mediterranean food from red Terra Sigillata crockery, and paid with Roman money.
Chur developed into an important commercial centre, eventually becoming the capital of the Province of Raetia. Here, there would have stood solid stone buildings with Roman hot-air heating systems and murals, thermal baths and, arguably, there would have been a market and a temple as well. All along the newly-built Roman roads, especially across the Julier pass and the Septimer pass, resting places and transfer stations were built for travellers, their animals and their wares.
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