Friday, January 29, 2016

Ancient Rome in Morocco – Erich

Today, we took a trip by car from Fes to an ancient ruin of the Roman city of Volubilis (or Oaulili as the locals would call it.) Yes, the Roman Empire extended west as far as Morocco, and this was the regional capital.

The history of the city is interesting. There was a city, a pre-Roman city on the spot in the BCE. In the second century, the Romans conquered the land and a Roman city was built more or less alongside of, or even on top of, the one that was there.

I'm not sure what happened to the Romans of Volubilis, if they were conquered by the Berbers or Arabs, or if Rome fell and then Volubilis was abandoned or fell because of it. But an amazing ruined city remains today. And it looks like a relic of Rome in a land where most of the architecture is of a Moorish or Arabian design.

Boy, these people loved their columns. Their temples have columns.

Columns - they put you in the mood to pray!
Their houses have columns.

Look, you can see us. We were actually there.
Their public buildings have columns.

Alrica was there too.
Their main streets are lined with columns.

Turn at the fourth column to get to my street
They like columns so much, they even carved engravings of columns on stones that were not columns.

Poor guy, couldn't afford an actual column
I should say they were fond of arches too.

Pennsylvanians, look, keystones
And sometimes they put the two of them together.

The perfect Roman pairing
We saw the remains of bathhouses, grinding stone for pressing the oil out of olives, the forum, and of course, temples.

From a distance
In addition, they had their own Arch of Triumph. This one was built in the third century CE to honor the emperor who declared the people of Volubilis to be Roman citizens. (I'm not sure what their citizenship was considered to be before this.) He also granted them tax relief! And they built an arch with the money they now didn't have to pay to Rome. Tax relief has apparently been a big thing for a long time. (Though I have never seen a city in the United States build an architectural marvel to celebrate it.)

That's my family on the right side to give you a sense of scale

But let this last picture remind you that even in a land of crumbling stone, new life can always begin.

A pretty flower

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