If I have any advice to give, it’d be to always take opportunities. I have weekends off, so I decided to travel each weekend because you never know when you will be able to be in Italy again. So, since Rome captured my heart, and the archaeologist in me was yelling to come out, I went to the Vatican Museum one weekend. Their collection is very extensive. They have art as old as 4,000 years, like the Sumerian cuneiform tablets that were used to document law and stories, all the way to Egyptian, Roman, and contemporary art. The architecture of the Vatican is a wonder all by itself because it looks like it was very carefully crafted. As presented in the pictures below, the whole building is extremely ornate and takes a few minutes of observation to be able to notice all the details. It’s absolutely exquisite! I’ve been to the Met in New York and the U Penn Museum in Philly, but this museum is just something you need to see for yourself.
A few of the art works surprised me because I’ve never seen anything like them! One of them was a statue of Roman Emperor Hadrian dressed as a Pharaoh, which I didn’t even know existed. Also, since I minor in art history, I’ve learned a lot about Roman art, but I always saw famous Roman art works in textbooks; in Rome, I found myself standing in front of them. For example, the Augustus of Prima Porta caught me by surprise as I was exiting the museum. To see a work of art that I’ve been studying for years gives it so much more meaning because suddenly when you see the art in person, it’s a real “thing” and not just a picture in a book. It was made by someone and valued by many, and that is fascinating to think about.
Though, this doesn’t only apply to pieces of art. It also applies to entire archaeological sites that you learn about while taking archaeology courses. For instance, I went to Pompeii the following weekend with two of my classmates. At first I didn’t know what to expect because I had an image in my head of what it should look like: small city, narrow streets, and maybe ten homes to walk through. It was nothing like my vision. It was even better! The streets were wider, still paved with ancient roads. There were remains of at least 30 houses you were able to walk into. Many of the frescoes and mosaic floors were still intact inside the homes as well. Not only are there homes, but a forum, an amphitheater, gladiator barracks, and a bath house. The ancient city is huge. In fact, I’d love to go again sometime because I didn’t get to see all of Pompeii in a day.
Artifacts and entire sites are most definitely more grand than in textbooks. The most intriguing part of seeing these things is realizing that humans built things like the city of Pompeii and created the art works in museums. Because of that realization, I’ll never forget these experiences. The Vatican Museum and Pompeii are definitely a must! I’m extremely grateful that this program encourages me to explore, all while training me for my dream profession!