Sunday, March 2, 2014

exploring this place 180 million years ago: layers of time, stone flowers, and a fragile bridge

"I want to go and explore that place one day" - that's what I thought every time I drove past the sign "Urzeit-Museum" ("Prehistoric Museum"). Now, finally, I went. Didn't really know what to expect. And found stone flowers that were millions of years old, and learned in a deeper sense that once upon a time, this region here was an ocean. Still moved by the visit. Here are some photos and notes:


The nature museum is set in the South of Germany, near the Swabian hill plateau, and reaches back about 180 million years in time. Back then, this region was an ocean, and some of the animals and plants from that time remained as fossils - some tiny, some huge, like the fish above.

And here's a showroom that gives an idea of how the museum started:

The museum was founded by a family who owned a quarry. Their quarry was specializing in slate, and working there, they kept finding fossils. At some point, they started to collect and prepare them, and founded a museum. It’s in the third generation now, and it is amazing, especially the unbelievable dimension of time and space, and the techniques they developed to bring back fragile elements of the fossils.

One of the most surprising fossils is a group of sea lilie. I blogged about it in the photo blog a day after visiting the musuem:


180 million years ago

"Once upon a time, some sea lilies floated through an ocean…. and turned to a fossile. found not far from here. Even standing right in front of it, it’s not possible to grasp the dimensions of time, that their fragile imprints date back 180 million years" 


The photo above just shows a small part of the full fossil. Here's the full view of the room - the sea lily fossil is about 18 metres long, and took about 18 years of restaurative work:

In a poetic coincidence, I came across lines about those stone memories from the past just some days later, in the collection of Buddhist poems called "What Book?!" that i am revisiting:


Anita Barrows

How many million years before wood turns to stone?
How many more million for stone
to be ground to sand? We know more

about their deaths than about their lives,
the great forests that covered the earth
before there was a single word

to name them, generations of silence
of which we can touch
only the last, the fragile bridge

back to what once was everything


I guess the impossibility to imagine the size of this fragile bridge sparked the wish to take a piece of this past back home. The Urzeit museum actually has pieces of fossil on sale, and the smaller ones have the price of an ice-cream: 3 Euro. I picked one of them, even though it feels a bit weird that they sell ancient things that way, but they have heaps of the small ones. Here's the one i picked:

Ammonite, 180 million years old

The fossils in the piece, they are the most common to be found in the slate: ammonites. Actuall, the slate has layers, and you can see different layers of ammonites. And the one who prepared it colored 3 of them, to make them stand out. The longer you look, the more you see.

And a final "explore" image: this is just across the street from the mseum: a small quarry, which is open to everyone. It just takes a small fee and a hammer, and then you can go and explor the layers of the past:


While putting these notes and photos together, I realized it would also fit for the new photo friday challenge “Explore”, just joined and added it to the list.  


More museum trips and other visits to nearby places:

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