Itinerary B
Piazza Armerina

[2] Smells of land and sea

The landscapes depicted in the corridor of the “great hunt” are so realistic that even the characteristic scents that pervade the scenes come alive, starting with the flourishing outline of the African vegetation and the beasts that live there, together with the smell of the meat used as bait to catch them. The endless expanses between Mauritania and Numidia and the marshy terrain of the palus tritonis in the ancient region of Byzacena, modern-day Tunisia, immerse us in an incandescent atmosphere, in which the scent of the soil, mixed with the dust raised by hunting parties and the flight of animals, seems to sprinkle in the air. The hilly contours of the next scene, full of plants and trees rich in essences, provide the backdrop for the attack by a leopard and a panther on their way to two antelopes condemned to a bloody end. A pungent stench emanates from the crates, loaded on to a ship, containing the captured wildlife, made even more intense by the lapping of the sea water. In the Eastern lands, the increasingly dynamic actions transport us to dusty scenes amidst the pungent smell of the iron spears and shields used by the military hunters. The last episode, featured in the apse, spreads the scent of an incense tree, located next to a young woman with particularly dark skin, perhaps indicating that she is from Ethiopia or distant India.