Split, in Croatia, was where the Roman Emperor Diocletian built his retirement home. The word “home” is a bit of an understatement. It was more of a combination fortress/palace/enclosed town, complete with its own viaduct to bring fresh water from the mountains. Apparently a Roman emperor could command a lot of slave labor and cover the construction expenses.

Tapestry showing Diocletian’s retirement home.

We saw this tapestry hanging on the wall of the basement beneath the palace. I don’t see where the aqueduct comes into the image, but note that one side of the fortress was built to allow access by sea. The octagonal structure in the upper right part of the image later became a baptistry (I think), but I am not sure what it was originally.

Diocletian’s palace as it looks today, with the addition of a bell tower.

You can spot the octagonal structure mentioned before to the right of the bell tower. The old-looking palace wall shows behind the various trees and below the various red roofs. The overall structure is still home to shops, apartments, inns, and a church or two (or more).

Part of the basement under the palace. Note the tourist heads near the lower edge of the photo for scale.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, residents started using the basement, including this room, as a dump for trash and garbage. It eventually filled with rubbish. Much later, when the authorities decided to clean out and reclaim it, they realized that it was a trove of archeological finds. They could not simply go in with heavy equipment and excavate so instead they spent decades systematically digging out and inventorying the findings. As it turned out, the rubbish provided a record from centuries of civilization. Or at least a record that archeologist could deduce from trash.

Bell tower looming over the octagonal baptistry.

This is a better view of the bell tower and baptistry with adjacent apartments and inns. Notice that the stonework differs from one structure to another, but all of the builders used limestone quarried from the adjacent mountains.

Part of the aqueduct bringing water to the Split.

This aqueduct still carries water to the city, but the old channel along the top now holds pipes rather than simply providing a trough for running water.

Statue of a heretic, martyred for preaching the Gospel in the common language of the people.

Kind of a dynamic pose, don’t you think? Regardless, at least the people valued this man who brought them the truth.

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