Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Amazing mosaics at Empuries

Our travelling today took us to the old Greek and Roman ruins at Empuries, sometimes referred to as the Catalan Pompeii.  Seamus' dad is visiting and we hoped he would enjoy this amazing site as much as we do. It was at the port of Empuries that the Phoenician Greeks disembarked in the 6th century BC and where, in 218 BC, the Roman army commanded by Gaius Scipio landed during the second Punic War, marking the beginning of the Roman empire in the Iberian peninsula. The Greek and Roman cities here have been found unaltered with no modern buildings built on top of them. In fact these are the only Greek ruins in the Iberian peninsula. We have been here before but it is a really interesting place to visit again and again as the excavations are ongoing.  All of the Greek ruins have been excavated and only twenty per cent of the Roman ruins, since their discovery in 1908.

During the winter the mosaics are covered in order to preserve them. Today was our first viewing of them. In Greek houses the rooms reserved for men were called andron. They were the setting for the wine drinking ritual. In one Greek house, at the doorway to the andron is a Greek inscription, done with small white tiles. It reads, "happy to be reclining." The rest of the floor was covered in various shades of rust coloured tiles.

Inside the museum are many fine mosaics that adorned Roman houses. Outside the changing room of the public baths has a circular mosaic showing a triton and a dolphin. Some of the Roman houses are quite large and the vast floors are covered in very well preserved blue and white mosaics.

Perhaps the best find for us was a large bush in the Italian gardens. We have an identical one in our yard but we never knew what it was. Fortunately, the bush was labelled "pomegranate." There was only one well hidden green fruit on it. Tomorrow I am going to search our bush for any hidden fruit.

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