Friday, October 14, 2011

The Gallo-Roman Museum

Museums are often the bane of vacationers.  You might have in tow travelers with minimal to no interest level-yes, I am thinking about you, kids-or you might pony up your odd looking foreign currency with high hopes only to find that the collection is lame tourist bait with dim lighting and unreadable captions.

But once in a while a museum exceeds your expectations by an order of magnitude, and for me the Gallo-Roman museum in Lyon did just that.

This is sort of the central repository for all the Roman artifacts unearthed in southern France.  And as a bonus it is a remarkable bit of architecture.  It is arranged in a spiral with gently sloping ramps.  Starting from the top at the earliest Pre-history and Greco-Gallic stages you wind your way downward through magnificent displays of archaeological goodies.  And if you become sore of foot just set yourself down by one of the huge picture windows overlooking the ruins of the Roman Theater and Odeon right next door.

I would now like my fellow Vindolanda excavators to take a deep cleansing breath, and to keep a fermented beverage close at hand.  Oh, my fellow scrapers of miserly cobbles, remember how excited Andrew and the gang got when they found this:
Yes, the lads were quite "chuffed" to turn up a 110 cm tall bit of stone.  At the Gallo-Roman museum they have things like THIS:

Now, at Vindolanda we come up with any number of broken pottery vessels, but I do not recall finding anything to compare with THIS:
Note the interesting ancient repair work.

Still, all in all I was feeling OK.  I mean, honestly, this was a major national museum at the heart of one of the greatest cities of the Western Empire.  Of course it would be chock a block with marvelous artifacts.  But what really broke my spirits was looking out back of the place.  Oh, sure, all museums have more items than they can conveniently house, but to have what looks like an entire car park of "extra" altars and inscriptions?
And still more....

It makes one want to cheer and weep and curse all at the same time.  But I suppose it could be worse.  I mean, it's not as if they have so many inscribed monumental stones that they were using them for parking curbs outside their garage.....

Practical advice.
Here is their website Gallo-Roman Museum, Lyon
Admission free on Thursdays.  Roman history junkies should allot a half day.  Only one entry, up at the top of the hill.  You wind your way down to the bottom of the museum and take the elevator back up.  They seem OK with photography.

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