Sunday, August 14, 2011

Part II: Volubilis, or the Hunt for the Ancient Phallus

Sometimes, having the humor of a 16-year-old boy can be an asset; the dogged determination to find the penis carved into the rock led us on a 2-hour search and covered most of the ancient site. Maybe that's what drives all great archeologists, the search for the perfect ancient dick joke. (Photo at end)

Which came first, the olives or the Romans?

Curiosity about Volubilis was the reason we took the foray into the center of Morocco, instead of driving up the Atlantic coast, which is a faster route to our final destination of Chefchaouen. You can read about Volubilis's UNESCO World Heritage designation. For those who have a shorter attention span, Volubilis is an Ancient Roman city, at the westernmost border of the Roman Empire. It was originally settled by Carthaginians. There are parts of the city that date back to the third century B.C. and the huge Arc d'Triumph was built around 213 A.D.
Some historians say that one point the city housed up to 20,000 people. The surviving mosaics and fountains evidence that it must have been stunning before the city was abandoned about 1000 years ago and much of its treasures were plundered for the building of Moulay Idriss and general thievery.

Our visit--

After a wonderful breakfast and another walk around Moulay Idriss, we bade our hostess at Dar Zerhoune farewell and headed toward the arches of stone down on the plain that are visible from up in the mountain city.

It was a hot day. Ramadan has passed slowly during the month of August, so the offers of guides were easily waved off and the men could return to laying in the shade. It's only 10 Dirhams (less than $1.50) per person to enter the site, I almost feel guilty paying so little. Val and I immediately turn off the main path onto a smaller path, a way I like to refer to as 'taking the we-didn't-pay-for-a-guide route.' Instead of walking around to the entrance of the town and working our way through the ruins of the residential sector and ending at the Basilica and governmental buildings we went straight for the big columns. Of course, it was the search for the rumored phallus carving that led us through the maze of stone walkways and over most of the expansive site.

Some people say that the penis carving points to the red light district, who knows if that is really true. As Val said, 'well, it's pointing at something.' Either way, if you are in Volubilis, remember, it's in the House of the Dog. We did eventually google it from Val's phone so that we could end our quest.

And then I got stung by a bee.

So, did the Romans bring the olive trees that dot the landscape because the climate was perfect for their growing, or were they already here?

As always, there are more photos on our Flickr site.
Volubilis photos
Moulay Idriss photos

Next up, Part III: Chefchaouen

Teaser: Khalia is coming shortly.

1 comment:

  1. Hi,

    I have a quick question about your blog, do you think you could email me?