>Long Before It Was Tirol, It Was Raetia

>This unassuming, wooded hill hides the remains of a group of Raetian houses from around 400 B.C.
The Raetians were a people who moved into the lands between Lake Garda and the Karwendel Mountains by the 6th century B.C. They are somehow associated with the Etruscans (their exact relationship is disputed, but there are similarities in their alphabets and a possible genetic link has come to light); Pliny the Elder wrote that they were an Etruscan clan driven out of the Po Valley by other tribes.
A technically and spiritually advanced society, they had a high level of technical, architectural and artisanal skills. Raetian wine from the area around Verona was Caesar Augustus’ preferred drink. They raised crops and farm animals such as cattle, sheep, goats and pigs. They kept dogs and horses. They handled in raisins, tree resin, lumber, wax, honey and cheese. They made their own artistically distinct ceramics.
What’s left of their houses are these stone cellars with narrow stair corridors. The entire group was in encircled by a sort of fort wall of sharpened logs, about one meter high (more picket fence than fortress)
Archaeologists have found much metalwork: chisels, axes, blades, iron rings, keys, door and chest handles, hooks. They families that lived here apparently did so in relative comfort, security and prosperity, able to make, trade for, or buy anything they needed.
And, all around, they had quite a view to enjoy —
Also found nearby (but no longer existent) was a temple area with sacrificial altars. In better times the Raetians sacrificed animals and crops to their god(s), and used the fire altars to sanctify bronze jewelry and weapons.
In 15 B.C. the Romans decided to push northward, subjugating the Raetians and burning their villages. The survivors took to sacrificing coins, as everything else was too valuable to burn. And once the Romans forced their culture and language on everybody else, traces of the Raetians dried up.
The cellars are now preserved as a free open-air museum with signs posted giving information about the Raetians and about the archaeological finds, now on permanent exhibit at the Tiroler Landesmuseum in Innsbruck.

>A hike to the Lanser Kopf Flakstellungen

>A hike around the Paschberg, at the southern end Innsbruck. Looking back towards town, the Igler Bahn streetcar winds it way up through the forest to the villages on the plateau on the other side of the hill.
One of the cutest houses around, the Tantegert stop. It’s a little fairy tale cottage along the tram line, and (I believe) inhabited by someone who works for the railroad. It’s nestled in the woods but not very private, with several hiking trails crossing right behind it.
Not a grave, but a little shrine to someone who died at this spot on the hill. You see crosses and plaques like this, as well as tiny chapels, often in the mountains. What makes this one especially interesting is the painting which depicts the manner of the man’s death — it seems he fell, and his sled filled with firewood fell on top of him. I guess. Here’s a close up:

These concrete circles are at the very top of the Lanser Kopf, a rocky outcropping and the highest point on the hill. Remains from the Second World War, they were spots for anti-aircraft guns, or Flak. Did you know “Flak” stands for Fliegerabwehrkanone? As a child of peacetime, I never realized that talking about “getting flak for something” was of military origin, and German at that.

>Have You Heard Of Herta Müller?

>Neither had I. She has been awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize for Literature.
More significantly, neither had the beau, who is knows a lot about European literature. Wikipedia, in its entry on Müller, says that prior to the award, Müller was little-known outside Germany and even there was known only among a minority of intellectuals and literary critics.
Her writings look like they would fit right in with the other books on my shelves, many of which deal with people trying to remain alive and human under communism, nazism, or any other repressive regime. I plan to pick up a copy of Atemschaukel (the English title, when it comes out, will be Everything I Possess I Carry With Me) pretty soon.
It’s also a welcome story within a larger topic which gets a lot of criticism just for being a topic — the post-war deportation of ethnic Germans from eastern European lands, force-marched either westward into Germany (those that made it alive were the lucky ones) or to Soviet gulags, as was the case with Müller’s own mother.
I am reminded of Gregor Himmelfarb, whose book about his post-war experiences shares similarities with Müller’s latest protagonist, Leo Auberg. Himmelfarb was born in the state of Mecklenburg, Germany, and grew up in the ethnic-German region Siebenbürgen, in Romania. When Germans in Romania were required to obtain Aryan identity cards, Himmelfarb learned for the first time that his Russian father was Jewish. Managing to survive the war, he then faced new difficulties for being the son of a factory-owning “exploitative capitalist”, and above all for being “German”. The Israeli immigration services weren’t much help, as they considered him “not Jewish” (he was finally able to emigrate in 1952.)
Every group of people is made up of individuals, all with their own stories. And, as Herta Müller shows, there are so many unheard stories out there worth learning.