Recently, Professor Gadeyne took the four of us on a second museum trip, this one a tad farther than down the hill. We went to the archaeological museum in Palistrina, which is one of the next towns over from Artena in the closest mountain. When we first arrived, after waiting with strained, bated breath as Professor Gadeyne managed to parallel park the car in a spot that it should not have fit in by any laws of physics, we took in the view in front of us: flights upon flights of extra-large stone steps. And as the reader may have guessed, Professor Gadeyne best us all to the top, barely breathing heavy, with Mathilde shortly behind him. Meanwhile, the rest of us were still struggling on step number five.
The museum itself is built where an ancient sanctuary used to exist, and still stands today to some degree. The newest building, which is actually not that new considering it was built during the medieval era in Italy, sits on top of where the main part of the sanctuary used to be. The temple for the unknown deity still exists and stands behind this building, as it used to during the height of the Roman Republican Era. The common place towards the bottom of the hull (and the bottom of all those stairs) has been turned into housing and has not existed in its original context for centuries. Within the museum lie various artifacts from the area, which are (unfortunately for us) arguably more interesting and intact than nearly anything that has ever been recovered in Artena and its surrounding areas. Starting from the earliest phase of the region, which is roughly from the early 2nd century BCE, to the latest Roman phase (6th century CE), artifacts, pieces of art work, bronze work, and more are housed safely and securely in this museum. The bit of history that we received told us that Palistrina (then Prinestra) was likely the most important urban center of the region, as well as a generally important city in the grand scheme of the center of the empire. However, the elite of the city were supposedly all executed along with their entire families during one of the civil wars (likely the Sulla vs. Marius war c. 82 BCE, and these families chose Marius).
Even more stairs lead to the very bottom of the hill; believe it or not, we parked near the top! Professor Gadeyne had us all walk the entire way down the hill, giving us fun tidbits of information about the area and its histories the entire way. The view from the various terraced and landings made the hike worth while (although I, personally, was glad that I had elected to wear shorts instead of jeans on that trip). Even though Palistrina may have a richer, more urban history than Artena, we are still finding a lot of the same artifacts, and our site is proving to be equally as important and worth its excavation.