With a ten minutes drive from where we live, and some walking in the forest, you can reach the place where today’s photo was shot: in the middle of an ancient forest, ruins of houses, tombs and sacred places that have been used by various people in a window of time since pre-history (bronze age) till the middle ages (10th century A.D.).
The place is called ‘Santa Cecilia’ (saint to whom the middle-ages church, built on top of pre-existing Etrurian stone constructions, was dedicated).
The detail in the photo was likely the cover of a tomb, whose cross decoration helps date it to the christian period as part of the middle-ages church (now collapsed, but whose large stone bricks are scattered around the area, covered in a layer of moss).
But besides the christian church, in just one-mile range around the church there are rests of tombs, hypogea, houses carved in stone, a circle made of stone pillars that was likely a religious or social gathering place, an Etrurian altar and more.
This sounds amazing to those who have never visited these surroundings but, as a statistical research from German archaeologists demonstrated in 2011, this area of Italy has the maximum density of pagan altars per square mile in the whole world!
Statistics aside, this particular place has a very interesting and mysterious atmosphere and we know that the place was abandoned around the 10th century but we don’t know why. Did people escape to run away from a threat? Was it a famine? A disease? Did they just, one by one, move from the stone village in the forest to the larger towns that were starting to form (Soriano nel Cimino on the south, Bomarzo on the north)?
Whatever way it happened, it’s like the place was frozen in time, and the artifacts were given back to nature to take over. This, in turn, now favors Nature – which took over again – and the old caves and rocks provide shelter to a wide range of wild animals, including wild boars, snakes, insects and a great number of species of birds.
It makes you reflect of what what happen to all of our cities, roads, railways, platforms in the ocean and so forth when we should no longer be around. When visiting it, I couldn’t help but think of the sentence I used as today’s quote, which I had read a while ago on Sadhguru’s blog [ http://isha.sadhguru.org/blog/sadhguru/masters-words/the-state-of-the-planet/ ]: we do a great deal of talking about ‘saving the planet’ but the planet would eventually wipe us out, it would recover and life will evolve. We should really start thinking of ecology in terms of doing the right things to save ourselves, to go back to more modest rhythms of living and stop exploiting the earth in ways that are only driven by market needs of ‘growth’ rather than in sustainable ways, since we have kind of reached the point where cannot continue living in good health in the polluted environment we have created and we continue to mess with.
But ‘the market’ starts with us – it’s not ‘someone else’ that can change things; change starts with each one of us, with the choices we make as consumers and as workers, and with our overall behavior – with taking responsibility.