Friday, August 28, 2015

Teacher Travels to the Roman Provinces of Hispania Baetica and Lusitania

Mrs. Karin Suzadail was the recipient of a travel study grant to learn about the Roman provinces of Hispania Baetica and Lusitania this summer. She mentions that, "Walking in the footsteps of Trajan, Hadrian, Columella, Lucan and Seneca was at times overwhelming."

A Caesar Selfie!

An exerpt of her essay describing her trip is printed below:

My senses were indeed overwhelmed.  The sights in Spain were incredible. I was struck by the richly developed Temple of the Imperial Cult in Córdoba (the capital of Hispania Baetica), and also by the beautiful urban villas in Italica (the birthplace of Hadrian and Trajan). I marveled at the enormous and well-executed mosaics in the museum at Mérida (the capital of Lusitania), and pondered the foot-shaped votive plaques and the game boards of various designs that were carved onto the pavement outside the huge arena at Italica.

In Cetobriga I took in the heady ocean smells of the tidal flats and listened to the cries of seagulls as we walked through a garum factory.  Throughout the provinces I tasted the olives, wine, and salted hams that must have pleased Roman palates as well.  I felt the heat of the Spanish sun as I hiked up to the isolated acropolis and theater at Acinipo where my husband and I were truly the only people around for miles.

My mind was also intrigued at the sheer force of will imposed by the challenges of the nature of the land.  The Romans’ engineering skill was on full display as I walked across the longest surviving Roman bridge (over the Guadiana River and 790 meters long!), and when I explored the Roman Dam of Proserpina, and then saw the outlet of that dam in the stunning Los Milagros aqueduct.  The provincial town of Miróbriga in Portugal was a terraced gem of architecture as it leveled public and private spaces on a wonderfully defensible hill. And nature itself never failed to impress, whether it was contemplating where the rich waters of the Mediterranean and Atlantic met at the “Pillars of Hercules” in Gibraltar or the flocks of wild flamingos in the salt pans of Cádiz which were engineered by the Carthaginians millennia ago.

I am challenged to express the profound gratitude that I have to the National Latin Exam and the Christine Fernald Sleeper Educational Travel Award for allowing me to experience these Roman provinces so deeply.  To say thank you for such a rewarding and exciting experience seems to not be enough, but there it is: gratias maximas vobis ago.  

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