Jane Wilson-Howarth

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Smelling the Sea

Sunday, 23 October 2016
I could smell the sea this morning. I hadn’t noticed its absence before. Perhaps there had been a storm. The scent made me smile because I love being close to the sea. I relish the way weather and time of day highlights or mutes and transmogrifies what I see on my short work to the Polyclinic each morning. Sometimes Olympus towers over the gulf of Salonika and the coastline is sharp, sometimes the mountain is completely invisible and the atmosphere brooding.
If I choose a southerly route to work, I start by walking over a temporary bridge above an excavation of neat stone circles and angular oblongs demarcating ancient homes a little over two metres beneath current road level. Perhaps these are from the Hellenic era. Each morning I see Archaeologists hard at work examining the remains and moving them - stone by stone - to a place of safe-keeping. I stride out along Egnatia, the main road into the city from Constantinople, used since Roman times, or perhaps before. I walk by a monumental fountain celebrating Venus and next there is an earthwork where the Metro is to be built, but wherever they dig, archaeological finds are made so that the construction has been delayed for at least a decade – so far. I can peer down, three or four metres below street level, into the excavation and see what appears to be a road built with fine polished marble slabs. It must be over 2000 years old.
A little further, I pass the Byzantine bathhouse (from the late 13th or early 14th century) and just a little to the north the part of the Roman forum that has been excavated – there is more that is yet to be revealed. There are reminders of Thessaloniki’s rich history everywhere.
The city boasts well-labelled sites and plenty of excellent museums, and the story that unfolds is of a community that was once cosmopolitan. The city is strategically sited for trade and had the reputation for being open and diverse, but maybe that was mediaeval spin.
 
Monumental fountain built with parts of older Roman constructions
 
Byzantine bathhouse which is currently being renovated
 
Excavations by archaeologists have paused construction of the Metro - for a decade or so
 
Roman forum
 
Mosaic in the Roman forum
Posted: 23/10/2016 08:51:06 by Global Administrator | with 0 comments



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