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Posts tagged ‘archaeology’

The Convent & the Hidden Ruins: Where to Stay in Jerusalem

Walking through the streets of Jerusalem crowded with believers of several faiths, you know you’re in a holy place.  During my visit, I wanted to stay in the heart of the old city so that I could experience this energy and spirit.  My early morning walks with mothers taking their children to school and evening strolls among the prayerful were everything I had hoped for.  While in Jerusalem, I stayed at a guesthouse for pilgrims run by an order of nuns which was located on the Via Dolorosa (or the Way of the Cross).  Besides being a welcoming home, the convent had a surprisingly beautiful but quirky church and a basement of archaeological remains dating to the Roman occupation of the city.  What more could I ask for?!

Via Dolorosa and Ecce Homo arch, Jerusalem

The Franciscans and Catholic pilgrims heading down the Via Dolorosa for the Friday afternoon Stations of the Cross. Note the aptly named alley (“The Nun’s Ascent”) and the public entrance to the Lithostrotos at the right.

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Digging into the Legend of Troy

The monthly ArtSmart Roundtable brings together some of the best art-focused travel blogs to post on a common theme.  This month we are discussing Folklore!  Take a look at all the great stories at the bottom of the page.

Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo, "The Procession of the Trojan Horse in Troy"

Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo, “The Procession of the Trojan Horse in Troy”, 1773, National Gallery, London (Photo)

Whether it was reading through the Iliad and Odyssey in school or seeing Brad Pitt as Achilles, we all know about Troy.  This mythical fortress city conjures up images of fierce battle, epic warriors, beautiful Helen herself, and of course, one of the greatest tricks of all time, the magnificent Trojan Horse.  Sometimes its easy to lump Troy in with Atlantis, the island of the Minotaur, or the lands of the Amazons – just fantasy places that serve as a setting for Greek mythology.  But what do we really know about Troy?  Along the northwest coast of Turkey are the archaeological remains of a city with walls that just might have been great enough to hold back the Athenian army and Achilles himself.

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The Ruins of Pergamon

The ancient city of Pergamon, just outside modern Bergama, is not necessarily on the “tourist trail” in Turkey, so I made a special point to visit.  From the garden behind my guesthouse, I shared a bottle of Raki with the other travelers and watched the fading sunset and twilight dance across the ancient ruins on the mountain above us.  My mind wandered back and forth between imagining this once magnificent capitol city and contemplating the quiet, emptied ruins present today.  That ancient Pergamon exists at all today in Bergama, Turkey is a wonder and a testament to its phenomenal and multi-layered history.

Part of the Palace complex, Pergamon

Part of the Temple of Trajan, Pergamon

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Imagining the Splendor of Ancient Corinth

In the heart of ancient Corinth, between the extensive market and the main road to the sea, there was an Imperial Roman monument that was designed to be unforgettable.  The Prisoner’s Facade was constructed by Septimius Severus (145-211 CE) to celebrate his victory over the Parthians.  The elaborate two-story tapestry in marble depicted vanquished, captured soldiers and the victorious Roman army.  Perhaps the boldest element of the prisoner facade were four sculptural columns that each included a statue of a docile, captured youth in oriental costumes.

Prisoner column, Corinth

An enigmatic Parthian slave from the ancient Roman “Prisoner’s Facade” in Corinth

This exotic sculpture and fantastic architecture was typical of Corinth – the Roman capital of the Greek province.  Lively, international, and wealthy, ancient Corinth figures into Greek, Roman, and early Christian history.  While today there are only neglected embers of its former glory, you can still picture the excitement of ancient Corinth in the expansive but slumbering ruins and in the unique museum pieces like this beautiful column of a captured man.

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Mosaic Treasures at Sepphoris, Israel

You may never have heard of Sepphoris but this former Roman city has some fantastic mosaics.  Also known as Tzippori or Zippori , this archaeological site in the Western Galilee has been excavated over the last 30 years revealing wonderful treasures.  Ignored by tour buses, I had the site to myself  and could enjoy the best and most extensive collection of ancient mosaic art in Israel.

The Mona Lisa of Galilee, Sepphoris

This Roman mosaic Venus is known as “The Mona Lisa of Galilee” for her beauty and enigmatic smile.

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