Northern Greece

Trip Start Sep 05, 2005
Trip End Dec 15, 2005

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Tuesday, November 1, 2005

11/1/2005 Pella

Today we started in Pella, the city founded by Philip II and the birthplace of Alexander the Great. Here we started in the museum. First were many pieces from the agora: ceramics from a workshop, red-figure clay pottery, statue of Alexander the Great (he was worshipped), and several smaller statues that showed the hair and dress of the times. Next we saw some mosaics from floors of houses from the 3-4th centuries BC. They were naturalistic and mostly black and white. Archaeologists have found clay jars with treasures stored inside them, even centuries later. People used to store their coins and money in these clay jars. They are referred to in the Bible.
The city of Pella was built on a hill with a checkerboard of streets and an agora in the center. We were able to see the foundations of houses left by a great earthquake. All of them had mosaics on the floors, an enclosed courtyard in the center, and a corridor or veranda with pillars holding a roof. Pella was very advanced for its time because the city had a water system using pipes underground. They put clay pipes underneath that followed the roads. They brought running water to every house and kept the sewage below houses, keeping the clean and dirty water separated. The water drained off the road, keeping it off the streets. This was evident even in the 4th century BC, incredibly early. Even in the early history of the United States we had not yet figured out this concept of keeping water and waste separated in order to promote better health. Very little of this site has been uncovered because of the mosaics on the floors of the houses. In order to protect them few have been excavated still. This site was not as interesting to me, but it was neat to learn about the pipe system they had. In my healthcare missions class we have recently been learning all about the significance of clean water (something that I automatic to us in rich countries), and this was just amazing to see that people knew this concept so long ago. Many places of the world today still don't understand or have the means to achieve it.

11/1/2005 Berea

Next we went to Berea to see an ancient Jewish synagogue. The synagogue was outside the ancient city walls in the Jewish quarter right before the river. It has recently been restored and so was very nice inside. This is not the same building that Paul would have come to during his stay in Berea, but it is probably the same location since they were usually rebuilt right on top of the old spot. Inside on one wall there was a case or cabinet with double doors and a veil to cover the outside that was used to keep the precious scrolls. Right below were steps for the Rabbi to stand on while reading from them. There is also a traditional desk that was also used to hold the scrolls while being read from. There still remained scrolls here until 1943 when the Germans came; they were sold to an Austrian and have not been recovered still. They were from the 2nd century BC. There was even a note in the margin that said a man named Saul (his Jewish name) from Jerusalem came and told them about the Messiah. That is a pretty amazing piece of evidence, proving that Paul of the New Testament came here. It's sad that they have not been recovered yet. It was interesting to actually go inside a synagogue that was not just foundations or stones. This one was fully built and painted and looked as if we had went back in time to actually see something that the Jews in the Bible would have used. That was a neat experience to me; I enjoyed getting to sing in there too.

11/1/2005 Vergina

Last we went to Vergina, a short distance from the city of Pella. This was the city that the royal family came to for celebrations and where their cemetery was located. Philip II was assassinated at his daughter's wedding here, I believe, and was buried here in a royal tomb. Archaeologists have been able to identity his remains because of his battle wounds. He had a scar above one of his eyes, and one leg was shorter than the other one. This site is the second most important archaeological site after the grave of King Tut. From the many graves here at the cemetery there have been finds of jewelry, weapons, paintings (rare to still be in existence, from 4th century BC), gold, basins for washing, food, jars, furniture, and armor. We saw much of this in the museum there. We also saw the entrance so a few tombs that were made of stone and brick and decorated with marble and plaster. Philip's was obviously made up quickly since his death was early and unexpected.
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