Sunday, July 2, 2017

Roman Villa of La Olmeda

Some miles east of Leon, in the province of Palencia, still in Castille y Leon, is the Roman villa of La Olmeda, its ruins discovered only in 1968, and now another ancient site beautifully protected, preserved and presented by the Spanish government. La Olmeda dates from the 3rd and 4th centuries, one of apparently many villas in the region. From the excellent video shown at the site, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYF541T2gbg, one can see La Olmeda was no mere retreat nor holiday house for elites, but rather an agricultural center, a predecessor to the feudal system associated with later centuries. What attracted and impressed us were the mosaics. Virtually the whole villa floor was done in mosaics, many still quite intact. If not the best mosaics we have seen in the Roman world, they are certainly the largest single site, and in situ too. The complex is completely enclosed now under controlled conditions, and the presentation is high tech and quite accessible.
The aire de camping-cars in Leon; we lucked into the only shade
there was, which we happily bequeathed to fellow Nederlanders
when we left

Approaching the La Olmeda complex; it reminded us of the
Terra Cotta Warriors complex in Xian, and also the neolithic
village preserved there

Inside; a couple or more acres thus enclosed

Helpful digital model; a residence for the owners plus housing
for tenants, household areas, baths, manufacturing areas, etc.

Basically you walk around and through the villa on catwalks

The mosaics are mostly intricate designs, some running nearly
the length of the villa
 
The main hall had a giant mosaic, hunting scenes, Hercules
and other mythological scenes










The usual Roman under-floor heating system
 
Contemporary mosaic repair/reconstruction
implements

A very long mosaic run; longest we have seen anywhere



The one reconstruction... the bit of grass in the upper left shows
the surface when the villa ruins were discovered in 1968; all
this mosaic was only a foot or two beneath the fields then

Lost and found; mostly replicas; the real finds, very limited,
are in a town museum nearby

Very neat place; the YouTube videos are well worth watching;
and in English too

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