Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Istria: red earth, olive trees, disintegrating Roman walls

This is what we see out of the car window as we drive ourselves from the toplice, to Rovinj and then to Pula. The roads are open and never crowded. And I am sneezing every three minutes or so. I would think that if I were in my homeland, my body would be more welcoming to the pollen, dust and whatnot, but this is not the case. I have been taking some sort of antihistimine, but I am sick of it, so today will be interesting.

I was so interested to visit the archeological museum in Pula yesterday as it has artifacts from the First Peoples here. I am curious how they lived and even more curious about the spiritual traditions they might have had. Often times I can get an idea of health and healing traditions from this. But, this museum was like opening up a textbook from the 1950's. Just the facts. Which is refreshing, really. There was no mention of the spiritual, health or healing traditions whatsoever. There was quite a bit written about how the dead were buried, though.

The Istrian Peninsula has been populated for about 40 thousand years. The museum showed a map of settlements and said it was difficult to find a hilltop that had not been occupied. Most of the information and artifacts had been collected from gravesites, and although the curators did not comment on the spiritual beliefs of the people they did mention about slavic burials "this grave had a stone slab over the head and neck to protect the corpse from vampires"! Hmmm....

The museum was divided into pre-history and history, history meaning Roman and on. They have a fantastic array of artifacts, and the Roman ruins in Pula are far more complete than those in Rome.

There are so many possible subjects to draw and paint it's hard to know what to do. The blue Adriatic, the limestone islands, the old tile roof buildings, the narrow alleys, the Roman ruins, the fieldstone walls and small round houses.... It's enough material for a lifetime!

Yeah, the small round houses are still used to this day as dwellings. They are limestone and look very tiny. In prehistory, they were used either as dwellings or as a burial site. One area was explained as having old oak groves that is now replaced by shrubs and pine. Shelley remembers that used to be a way the Romans would occupy an area; they would cut down the groves that were worshipped. I wonder if this also happened here?

The amphitheatre ruin was fantastic, with a museum in its basement that showed how the sewage came from the spectators upstairs, and how olive oil was made. There were excavated vessels that held the olive oil and I took a picture of it....

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow, very fascinating stuff. Thanks for sharing! Any idea if the Roman ruins are from the Republic or the Imperial times? Amazing how much of it has survived there. You're having a wonderful time, wish we were there!!