Europe History Trip

2017 09 28 history trip web 01After a near 20 hour journey, we arrived safely in Rome. Our three days spent in Italy were a time where we explore the Ancient world and enjoyed Italian cuisine and culture.

Each morning we woke up to nuns singing as we stayed in a monastery which was only a short walk to the Colosseum. It had glorious views of Rome and also quiet gardens for reflection which were ideal for devotions and reflection time. Each day we have devotions and Mrs Fletcher started the trip with us all considering Psalm 90 and that "from everlasting to everlasting [God] is God".

Our first day was a tour of the Colosseum, the Forum and Palatine Hill. Lots of things were discovered for students such as:

  • that the colosseum was built in 8 years and constructed quickly for the time because of the use of arches. Arches were easy to replicate.
  • a pulley lift system was used for the games and shows, lifting an exotic array of animals including lions and alligators.
  • a series of underground tunnels connected the colosseum to the gladiator barracks on the other side of the square allowing gladiators to come and go in secret so spectators wouldn't see them.
  • the emperor funded the games and building of the colosseum as a form of propaganda. This helped to ensure the support of the public. The opening games went for 100 days straight.

We stood in awe of the ancient architectural feat.

The Roman Forum was also an incredible site as we saw:

  • it was the centre of roman world for business, trade, religion and social life.
  • the street contained different coloured sections for pedestrian or chariot use in ancient times.
  • temples surrounding and intermixed with all aspects of life
  • the Palatine Hill which had the emperor's house. We walked through it and enjoyed imagining what life would have been like.

On this day we also visited the National Memorial Vittoria Emmanuel II, a large white marble building standing as a monument for the unification of Italy in 1861. In 1921 the tomb of the unknown soldier was added to the monument. We also walked the long way round to the Trevi Fountain where we tossed coins over our heads into the water along with the rest of Rome who were also visiting.

The second day was just as busy with a two hour bus trip to see Pompeii and Herculaneum. Year 12 Ancient History study Pompeii and Herculaneum as their core study so this meant that this day was particularly important for these students.
We walked through the streets of the busy commercial town of Pompeii imagining the citizens in their togas crossing the street over the raised blocks so that they wouldn't get sewage and other waste on themselves. We imagined Ancient Romans going from bakeries to other store fronts before visiting the forum to trade, a temple or government buildings. It was sobering to stand where people walked before the eruption of Mt Vesuvius in 79AD.

We then travelled down the road to the coastal ancient town of Herculaneum. The modern city of Ercolano was built over Herculaneum as it was covered in mud from the eruption. This means that only part of the ancient city is excavated. Herculaneum was very different to Pompeii as it was a small town which had mostly wealthy and well educated people living in it. It served a similar function to a small holiday town on the coast today. It was exciting to see carbonised matter which was preserved due to the heat from the eruption and which gave particular insight into the lifestyles of the upper class. It was moving for us all seeing the remains of people lying in the boat sheds as they waited for the Roman fleet to rescue them from the disaster by sea. The Roman fleet didn't arrive which meant that hundreds of men, women and children who were crouched there passed away.

This day finished with reflecting on the life of Onesimus in the book of Philemon and the change that happened when he became a Christian in his time in Rome after leaving Philemon and meeting Paul. We reflected on the call to live a life differently to the rest of the world because of what Jesus has done on the cross and how the change in Christians happens because of the Holy Spirit.

Our final day in Rome was spent visiting the Vatican and St Peter's Basilica. An early morning start meant that we beat the crowds and were able to wonder at the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel. Scenes which depicted the life of Christ, of Moses and also judgement day. The mastery of this artwork left us standing in awe again as we marvelled at the craftsmanship and also the narrative it told. This was also a unique day as we were able to climb the steps of St Peter's and see the view from the top looking down into the church but also then outwards to the rest of Rome.

The afternoon comprised of a visit to the Spanish Steps and then to pack our bags and rest in the afternoon. The evening was spent having pizza for dinner and then reflecting on God's gift of grace in Jesus which has been freely given to us. That it is not by works we are saved, but rather through Jesus' death in our place and in his resurrection.

Our time in Rome to marvel at the sites of the Ancient World, to walk in the same places as those in the time of Christ, to imagine the hustle and bustle and excitement of the games and to see the places where the gospel spread in the early church, was a time we will not forget. Eating pizza, pasta and gelato at nearly every meal has left us feeling full as we now travel onto the next part of our trip in Poland.

Please thank God for the safety so far and for the opportunity to see what we have seen. Please also thank and praise God for the way the gospel was shared in the ancient world by the early church. Please also pray that as we travel to Poland and Germany that we would continue to be safe and healthy as we learn more about both WW2 and the Cold War.

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