Friday, October 12, 2007

Roman Malta

The Roman House, open at last!
A lot more is being excavated though. Like in the picture above and below, the excavations are on going.

This was originally posted in May of 2007, but it didn't have the pictures. Now, I can illustrate my travels!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Roman Malta
Of course, Romans were in control of Malta for centuries. St. Paul himself was shipwrecked here, and cured the Roman governor's dad. The house they probably lived in was excavated over the course of the last century or so, and only just this year has opened to the general public. Its up on the mountain, just outside the gates of M'dina, right at the edge of Rabat. Absolutely stunning! Fantastic mosaic floors, and wonderful artifacts. Interestingly enough, there were many Islamic graves in this area, because for a large segment of its history, Malta was Islamic. To be honest, for some reason, this particular period escaped my notice until now, though considering that both M'dina and Rabat are words rooted in Arabic, perhaps I should have paid more attention to the time lines. I had thought that Islam never rooted in Malta, but clearly I was wrong. And of course, a trip to the Silent City would not be complete without a visit to St. Paul's Grotto. A few moments prayer and a wonderful echo make this the ideal pulpit, albeit an underground one! I decided to skip the Wigancourt Museum and St. Paul's Catacombs in favor of a pleasant half hour in the square of Rabat eating nougat (orange and chocolate, in this case! yum!) and drinking double expresso. Very pleasant up here in M'Dina, but of course, everything closes between noon and three in the afternoon. Disconcerting at first, but actually a very civilized custom. You wander the streets seeking a shop to hide from the sun and discover them all to be closed, only to find that perfect place to be open a few hours later!
So today, I joined up with Mr. S. to get my picture taken. I wore the gorgeous shirt that Brenda had made for me. And I examined the armours yet again, and decided that my armour is rubbish...the next one will be PERFECT! I do hope that they like it. Mr. S. tells me he wants to use it for the Maltese children to try on instead of putting them into the real antiques. Perfect. Exactly what I made it for! To be touched and handled. (see the second or third post below for these pictures.)
Then a visit through the great Archaeology Museum. The permanent exhibit is on the prehistoric temples found throughout these islands, and got to see the famous "Venus of Malta". All fat women may now rejoice in the title of goddess, but I notice nothing for the fat MEN except some most interesting and strangely depressing massif phalluses being used as pillars around the temples.
But of course, the permanent exhibit is NOT what we came to see. We trekked up two flights of stairs to see the exhibit from China...a nice collection of the great terra cotta warriers who guarded the tomb of Emperor Qin. (pronounced "chin", he was the fellow who gave "China" her name, and of course was a major player in the recent movie "Hero") There was more than just terra cotta warriors of course, there were bronze figures, and terra cotta horses with bronze bridles. I was in awe of the talent of the sculptors! A bronze war chariot would have been difficult to make even today! The horses were all lively, and look like they could come alive at any moment! No pictures of the exhibit, sorry! Well, the sun is going down on another fine day, and I am just beat! I expect that a couple of lagers will go down nice and smooth!
Regards from Malta.

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