The Lleida Museum exhibits 152 pieces from Roman sites in the area

“Caesar, in order to win Ilerda, left Marsilia and headed towards Ispagna.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
17 September 2023 Sunday 10:29
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The Lleida Museum exhibits 152 pieces from Roman sites in the area

“Caesar, in order to win Ilerda, left Marsilia and headed towards Ispagna.” This is how Lleida appears in Dante Alighieri's Comedy. It is the XVIII song of Purgatory of the universal work of the Florentine poet who died on September 14 (1321). Chance has it that this Thursday, another September 14, the Museum of Lleida inaugurated the exhibition Romans a Ponent. Ilerda, Iesso, Aeso.

The exhibition explains the Romanization of Ponent 2,100 years ago through 152 pieces found in excavations in the last thirty years, about 130 from the sites of Lleida (Ilerda), Guissona (Iesso) and Isona (Aeso) and the rest in other towns. leridanas.

Xavier Payà, archaeologist at the Arxiu Arqueològic of Lleida and curator of the exhibition, highlights the epigraphic collection: “We have six pedestals, a funerary altar and a tombstone that take us directly to the lives of those people who walked or lived or were born in our cities. . “We have never been able to have these inscriptions and bring them together in an exhibition.” And he adds: “There are some that are moving, like that of a mother who mourns the death of her daughter, unjustly called by the gods at the age of eleven.”

The exhibition has allowed them to be restored for the first time and to present unpublished pieces such as the Pompeian mill found on a plot of land on Avenida Francesc Macià in Lleida, which in the words of Payà "were in the purest oblivion".

Josep Guitart, also curator of the exhibition and archaeologist of the Institut d'Estudis Catalans, has pointed out that in Guissona a phreatic layer of water has been permanently preserved for the last 2,000 years which has allowed wooden elements to be found, among them the cube found in a well in 2017 that can be seen in the exhibition.

The marble fragment from the lining of the Ilerda thermal baths from the 2nd century, a lead drain from a pipe from Ieso from between the 1st and 2nd centuries, a glass unguent jar from the 4th century from Llorís (Aeso), a medusa head from the Roman villa of Romeral de Albesa, a volcanic stone mill found in Lleida or a funerary altar from between the 2nd and 3rd centuries in Tarragona are some of the archaeological gems that can be seen until January 14.

The 152 pieces come from 18 different institutions, including the Museum of Arles, the Museum of Toulouse, the Museum of Zaragoza, the National Archaeological Museum of Tarragona, the Museum of Archeology of Catalonia and the National Museum of Art of Catalonia. It took three and a half years to be able to collect all this material that "until now had never had such a presence", according to the director of the Lleida Museum, Josep Giralt. "It would not have been possible without the collaboration of the Lleida Archaeological Archive, the Guissona Museum and the Isona Basin Museum", he added.

For this exhibition, the Museum of Lleida has made a virtual restitution of what the cities of Ilerda, Iesso and Aeso must have been like in Roman times based on the elements excavated from the sites. Josep Giralt has pointed out that in the images there is “imagination and interpretation” but they allow us to give an idea of ​​what these three cities would have been like 21 centuries ago. “These images – he says – allow us to unify the three cities that coexisted at the same time, leading the social, economic and cultural life of that time in the Lleida district.”

The Museum of Lleida has organized parallel activities around the exhibition, including gastronomic nights, guided tours, routes through the city's Roman remains, family visits with the video game The Treasure of the Medusa and conferences and outings to Guissona and Isona.