READING WEEK PART TWO: Roman ruins and Roman Legionary Museum in Caerleon
We stayed in Cardiff for three nights, carving out a morning/afternoon to visit the Roman sites and museum in Caerleon. As a Classics major I will always take the opportunity to nerd out. The first site that we saw was an amphitheater built in 90 AD. It was such a thrill to stand in the middle of the arena where there was so much history…although that history did include the deaths of many gladiators…but whoo! I did find it entertaining, however, that the sites seemed to be geared toward children. On this particularly cold and rainy day the only people visiting these sites were my two friends, me, and a huge group of rambunctious kids led by their exhausted chaperons. I figure this would be the equivalent of my elementary school field trips to Monticello. I remember being that young and visiting the amazing piece of architecture lived in by our nation’s third president. All I could ever think about was how hungry I was, or how tired. I certainly did not care about the Latin and Ancient Greek texts outlining the library bookshelves…ha. So as I looked at these young people frolicking through the amphitheater with their scavenger hunts I could only laugh. I also had the pleasure of looking at the signs they had made, with cartoon versions of Romans in the amphitheater. I was laughing pretty hard to say the least.
|Cartoon educational boards at the amphitheater in Caerleon|
After that we went to the barracks that had been set up in 50 AD so that the Roman Empire could continue to expand their territory, because clearly their empire was not big enough. The amazing part about these barracks is that they are the only ones you can find in the U.K! I walked through the rooms that Roman soldiers would have slept in, and stepped in the kitchen which was conveniently located near the latrines.
|Marissa in the kitchen.|
Having walked outside for a good 30 minutes, while dragging my two non-Classicists friends along the way, we then went through the Roman Legionary Museum. It was only one floor, and at first I had a hard time believing half of the artifacts presented were real. This was because a) they were so well preserved, b) there was red writing on the inscriptions (paint does not survive), and c) I am a critic. However, when I had the rare chance to speak with the curator he told me that everything being showcased was the real deal. It had all been excavated in sites in Caerleon.
|At the Roman Legionary Museum in Caerelon.|
|An inscription in the Roman Legionary Museum.|
Then there is the mosaic floor, and I have always been curious as to how archaeologists literally pick up and move an ancient floor without it breaking. Like I said before, I am Queen of the Skeptics. It turns out they use animal glue and a thin sheet material in order to keep each individual tile together. Then they scrape the floor up…and roll it up…LIKE A RUG. They finally take it to where they want to house it, roll it back out, and pour hot water on it to take off the glue and sheet. You have to admit: Archaeology and conservation are bad-ass.
Trinity St. David