Monday, March 31, 2014

Galactic Center Alignment Of Milky Way

Galactic Alignment between the Sun and the Center of Galaxy

Galactic Center Alignment Of Milky Way 3
Our planet is connected to our solar system and our solar system is connected to our galaxy which in turn is connected to the universe, the living and breathing organism of life. The earth orbits round the Sun, which itself is a part of the Milky Way galaxy taking about 220 million years for the Sun to complete a single journey around the Milky Way. The Sun moves up and down during its travel in orbit around the center of the galaxy, its oscillation taking a total of 64 million years to complete. When the Sun passes directly through the galactic disk, there is a perfect galactic alignment between the Sun and the center of the galaxy. The Milky Way is 100,000 years away and 1,000 light years thick and during the course of those 64 million years cycle, the Sun tends to rise above the galactic plane, 500 light years moving down through the galactic plane, till its 500 light years below and then returns back again.

Galactic Equator – Milky Way

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The Galactic Alignment is the alignment of the December solstice sun with the Galactic equator of our galaxy, the Milky Way which occurs as a result of the precession of the equinoxes and is associated with the end of the ancient Mayan calendar in 2012. Precession is the result of the earth moving very slowly on its axis shifting the position of the equinoxes and solstices by a degree every 71.5 years due to which the sun is one half of a degree wide which will take the December solstice sun, 36 years to precess through the Galactic equator. The Galactic Equator, a virtual line that describes 0 degrees longitude and 0 degree latitude acts as a divisionary line between the northern and southern hemisphere of the Milky Way galaxy and the precise alignment of the solstice point with the Galactic equator was calculated to occur in 1998. This date was refined further by Smelyakov to May 7, 1998.

Galactic Alignment once every 25,000 years 

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Due to the width of the Sun being the cause of an inprecise alignment of visual alignment, the Galactic Alignment `zone’ is 1998 +/- 18 years = 1980 – 2016, according to Jenkins – era 2012. The Galactic Alignment takes place only once every 25,000 years and occurs to what the ancient Maya pointed, with the 2012 end date of their Long Count calendar. Some, who claimed that the Maya predicted the end of the world in 2012, used a particular astronomical alignment into believing that this would take place at the end of the 13 Bak’tun in the Maya Long Count calendar – December 21st 2012. The claim was that the Sun on that date would align with the center of the Milky Way Galaxy, a thing which happens once in every 25,772 years. It was further claimed that the Maya knew about the alignment and set their Long Count calendar to end on that day since that alignment would be leading to something to take place which was left to the imagination and would affect mankind involving every level of dimension as well as every planet in our solar system.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

History mystery: Uppsala a Religious Site in Gamla Uppsala

Uppsala 1
The temple at Uppsala was a religious site in Gamla Uppsala – Old Uppsala which is near the modern Uppsala, in Sweden and was created to worship the Norse gods of prehistoric times. The most famous image of Uppsala is based on Adam of Bremen’s detailed description in the history of the Archbishops of Hamburg-Bremen relating his account on the famous pagan center which had been studied and discussed for centuries creating the fantasy of many historians as well as laymen.

The temple is documented in other sources though it is referred in the Norse sagas and Saxo Grammaticus Gesta Danorum. The main controversies relating to the temple is aimed on determining if the pre Christian society of Sweden had any temples and if so where in the Old Uppsala were they situated. Some are of the belief that the temple was confused with the hall of the Swedish kings which were located around ten meters to the north of the present church.

Cathedral Church Built on same Location

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The Archbishopric of Sweden in 1164, established at Gamla Uppsala, was once the political centre of the Svear kingdom during the late Iron Age and also a stronghold of pre Christian cult and their symbolic decision was portrayed through the construction of one of the largest churches in Scandinavia. At Gamla Uppsala, the cathedral church was built on the same location as the famous pagan temple, described by Adam of Bremen during the early 1970s and though they are still retained in present time’s textbooks and elsewhere, its conclusion is erroneous. Many churches in Scandinavia were built in the vicinity of the older pagan sanctuaries though there is little or any evidence that churches were built and consecrated over them.

Famous Temple Ubsola

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Adam of Bremen relates that the Swedes had a famous temple, Ubsola that was situated near a large tree having wide branches which were always green and no one had any indication of its species. Besides it was a well which was probably used in performing the sacrifices where a living man was immersed in the well. It was their belief that if the man would disappear, the gods would answer their prayers. This was a little distance from the towns of Sigtuna and Birka and a golden chain was around the temple hanging over its gable, the chain of which could be seen glittering far and wide whenever anyone approached it.

Inside the temple, decorated with rich gold, stood three statues of gods, the most important being Thor, who sat on a throne in the centre. Besides him sat the gods Odin also called Wotan and Frey called Fricco, by Adam. While Thor is said to govern air, thunder, lightning, winds, rain, good weather and harvest, Odin is related to fury, bringing in war and strength against enemies. Frey is related to peace and pleasure, is represented by a statue with immense phallus. Thor is compared to Jupiter and Odin’s statue which is armed is compared to Mars by Adam. The people also worshipped heroes who were elevated to gods like King Erik where an account of him is given in Vita Ansgari.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

History mystery: Heimdall – God of Sky and Light

Heimdall 1
According to Norse mythology, Heimdall was a god who possessed the resounding horn, owned a horse with golden mane and had golden teeth. He was known by many names as Rig, Hallinskioi, Gullintanni and Vindler or Vindhler. Heimdall was the guardian of the gods who was the son of nine mothers, the daughters of the Giant Geirrendour also known as God Aegir, or the nine Wave Sisters. He was the whitest of all gods and was considered to be the god of sky and light since he was born at the dawn of the world and was raised by seawater, the force of the earth and the blood of a boar.

Heimdall 2
His dwelling was in the Cliffs of Paradise, Himinbjorg and his horse was named Gulltop. Being a guardian of Gods, he would monitor the Rainbow Bridge Bifrost which was the only entrance to Asgard. His had to serve as a watchman for the gods against the giant Jotun with his strong and mighty horns known as Gjjallar along with his rooster Gullinkambi as well as other threats against the Asgardian. Nothing escaped him and needing less sleep than a bird he was capable of seeing through the night as in the day, more than a hundred miles away and his hearing was such that no sound could escape him so much so that he could even hear the grass grow or the wool of sheep curl, in other words he had an excellent sense of hearing.

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Heimdall is compared to the tree of the universe standing at the top above the highest rainbow in the sky. At Ragnorak, he would be the first to draw the attention of the gods to warn them and the last to die in a duel with Loki. He would stand on the boundary of the human and the divine world with some accounts of the personification of the world tree Yggdrasil. When he was young he lived among men giving them gifts of culture. He was considered to be one of the first god which dates back to the earliest Indo European pantheons and it was Heimdall, not Odin who had fathered three classes of mankind, - the peasants, serfs and the warriors.

When the sound of the horn Gjallar was heard throughout the nine worlds, the Aesir would assemble with the knowledge of the prophecies that they were approaching their doomsday and resigning to their fate they prepared themselves to meet their enemies of the gods who gathered at the plain called Vigrior. This was the Apocalyptic Battle of Ragnorok where Heimdall was the one to take Loki down though he too would perish from his wounds where the world would be engulfed in flames and thereafter sink into the sea. In the final battle with Loki, the Bifrost, the magical rainbow bridge which was a portal between Asgard and the human world got destroyed and was later rebuilt but the fighters Asgards got separated from the rest of the universe and remained hidden.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

History Mystery:The Kalevala Epic

Old Kalevala published in 1935

Kalevala 1
The old Kalevala, the first version was published in 1835 compiled and edited by Elias Lonnrot on the basis of the epic folk poems collected in Finland and Karelia. This poetic song tradition which was sung in an unusual archaic trochaic tetrameter had been part of the oral tradition among Balto Finnic language for around two thousand years and when the Kalevala finally appeared in print for the first time, Finland it was said to be an Autonomous Grand Duchy for quarter of a century. Earlier to this, till 1809, Finland was a part of the Swedish empire. The Kalavala was an important turning point for Finnish language culture which caused chaos abroad as well, drawing the attention of other Europeans to a small unknown people who bolstered the Finn’s faith and self confidence in the Finnish language and culture. The Kalevala was then called the Finnish national epic.

Kalevala – National Epic of Karelia and Finland


Lonnrot together with his colleagues carried on their efforts in the collection of folk poetry adding new collection to it and the version commonly known today was published in 1849 consisting of 22,795 verses which are divided into fifty songs, the titles of which can be interpreted as `The land of Kaleva’, or `Kalevia’. Kalevala is considered as the national epic of Karelia and Finland and one of the most significant forms of Finnish literature. It also played an important role in the development of the Finnish national identity intensifying the Finland’s language strife together with the growing sense of nationality which finally led to the independence of Finland from Russia in the year 1917.

Finnish Poetry in Oral Tradition

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Prior to the 18th century, the Kalevala poetry was quite common in Finland and Karelia but began to disappear first in western Finland since the European rhymed poetry became common more in Finland and the Finnish folk poetry was written down in the 17th century which was collected by scholars and hobbyist all through the centuries but the major part of the Finnish poetry only remained in the oral tradition. Kaarle Akseli Gottulund, (1796-1875), a Finnish born nationalist and linguist expressed his concern for a Finnish epic similar to The Iliad, Beowulf and the Nibelungenlied which was compiled from various poems and songs from most of Finland. He thought that such an endeavor would bring about a sense of independence and nationality to the Finnish people.

Turku Weekly News

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It was toward 1820, that Reinhold von Becker who founded the journal Turun Wiikko-Sanomat – Turku Weekly News, published three of his articles entitled Vainamoisesta and his works were a source of inspiration to Elias Lonnrot in his master’s thesis at Turku University. It is believed that during the Finnish reformation towards the 16th  century, the clergy had prohibited relating and singing of pagan rites and stories due to the introduction of the European poetry and music causing a considerable reduction in the traditional folk songs together with their singers. This could have resulted in the somewhat fading away of the tradition though not completely forgotten.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Freyja, Fairest of the Asynjur

Freyja 1
According to Norse mythology, Old Norse, the `Lady’, Freyja was a goddess related to love, beauty, fertility, gold, war and death. She was the most beautiful of all the Nordic goddesses and the northern Venus. Freyja was highly appreciated by everyone in the nine worlds for her beauty and charm. She was also the owner of the Brisingamen necklace, the boar Hildisvini, a cloak of falcon feathers and rode a chariot driven by two cats. Her husband was Odor the god of sunshine and her daughters were Hnoss and Gersemi. Her husband had left her to roam in distant land and it is said that she followed him, weeping and her teardrops changed to gold in the rocks and amber in the sea. She was the member of the Vanir, along with her brother Freyr- Old Norse the `Lord’, her father Njoror and her unnamed mother and stemming from Old Norse, her modern forms of name were Freya, Freja, Freyoa and Freia. She was unexpectedly demanded as a wife as payment by the Giant who had built the walls around Asgard and trades were also offered for her hand in marriage.

Freyja 2
She is portrayed as a goddess of love, fertility and beauty in the Eddas, beautiful with blond and blue eyes. She is described as the fairest of all goddesses and people prayed to her for happiness in love. She was often called on for assistance in childbirth and also prayed to for good seasons in their country. Besides this, she was also associated with wealth, battle, war, magic, prophecy and death. It is believed that she received half of the dead lost in battle in her hall Folkyangr while Odin, the chief god of the Aesir, received the other half at Valhalla and the origin of the Seid was given to Freyja. As the leader of the Valkyries, she rode to the battlefield in her chariot going there to claim those who died which she feasted upon in her great banqueting hall and Odin took the other half.

Freyja 3
According to some it was Freyja who had provided the golden apple to Aesir which ensured their eternal youth and power and her abduction by shape shifting storm Giant Fafner along with his brother Fasolt was very disappointing and devastating to the Aesir who began aging soon. Freyja was held captive by Fafner and his brother Fasolt, the Jotung and held as hostage in exchange for the Ring of the Nibelung. With her absence, the gods began to grow old and died fading into legend. Frigg and Freyja are the two main goddesses in Norse religion who are considered as the highest among the Asynjur and Freyja is the most honored goddess along with Frigg. Freyja is presented as a mythological Princess of Sweden according to Heimskringla and her father as the second mythological King of Sweden while her brother Freyr is the third. Freyja’s mother who was Njoror’s sister was often linked to the ancient Germanic goddess Neerthus as a custom of the Vanir, permitted by laws.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Baldur – The God of Truth and Light

Baldur 1
Balder, one of the most handsome of gods was born to Frigg and Odin who was considered to be the god of joy, purity, innocence, beauty, reconciliation and a god of truth and light. He was loved by all gods and men alike and was the best among all gods. Being of good character, he was friendly, eloquent and wise and was also very knowledgeable in healing herbs which made him favorite among the people of Midgard.

He lived in a palace called Breidabik along with his wife Nanna the daughter of Nep and their son Forseti, the god of justice. According to some belief, it was said that no lie could pass through the walls of his palace, which was the home of the god of truth. Most of the stories of Baldur are related to his death and he would often dream about his death so much so that Frigg extracted an oath from every force of nature, object and creature, everything in the nine worlds, that they would never harm Baldur her son, with all agreeing that they would not cause any kind of harm to him since he was loved by everyone.

Baldur 2
Thereafter the gods decided to test his vulnerability by throwing pebbles at him which would bounce back without hurting him in honor of its oath taken. Huge weapons were also used which included Thor’s axes which all returned without causing any harm to Baldur and thinking him to be invincible, the gods entertained themselves by targeting him for knife throwing and archery.

Loki who seemed to be jealous of Baldur tried tricking him by changing his appearance as a witch and asked Frigg if there was anything that could harm the god of light. Frigg unaware of the disguise informed that there was one thing, a small tree in the west called the mistletoe. According to her, at the time of extracting the oath, she thought that it was too small to harm her son. Loki immediately headed for the west to get hold of the mistletoe and tricked Baldur’s blind brother, Hod in throwing the mistletoe dart at Baldur. Hod guided by Loki and unaware of his plan aimed the dart at Baldur which pierced through his heart and Baldur fell down dead.

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While all the gods mourned the death of Baldur, Odin sent along his other son Hermod to Hel, the goddess of death in order to plead for the return of Baldur who agreed to do so on condition that everything in the world, whether dead or alive should weep for him. All wept except for Loki who refused to do so and Baldur had to remain in the underworld. The gods after dressing him in crimson shade placed him on the funeral pyre aboard his ship, `Ringhorn’, which was the largest in the world. They also laid the body of his wife Nanna who being heartbroken also died after him. His horse and his treasures were also placed on the ship and the pyre was set on fire with the ship sent to sea by the giantess Hyrrokin.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Inquisition – Judicial System of the Roman Church

 Inquisition 1
The Inquisition, were a group of institutions within the judicial system or tribunal, established by the Roman Catholic Church with their aim to seek, try and sentence people which the Roman Catholic Church considered to be guilty of heresy. Their purpose was to secure and maintain doctrine and religious unity within the Roman Catholic Church as well as throughout the Holy Roman Empire, either through persecution or conversion of alleged heretics. Historian distinguished the Inquisition on the basis of four different time frames and areas in which it took place namely the Medieval or Episcopal Inquisition, the Spanish Inquisition, the Portuguese Inquisition and the Roman Inquisition.

 Inquisition 2
The word Inquisition is derived from the Latin word `inquiro – inquiro into’ and the inquisitors sought out person accused of heresy without waiting for complaints. Inquisition based in gentle term of inquiry is historically associated with extreme query with religion particularly the Catholic Church but it is also used in various forms by political parties as well as dictators. The main purpose of inquisition was to enforce an ideological or religious dogma by punishing and prosecuting heretics the purpose of which is seldom in discovering truth or in making any legal prosecution.

 Inquisition 3
The first Inquisition, the Medieval or Episcopal Inquisition refers to various tribunals which originated around 1184 which included the Episcopal, between 1184 to 1230, as well as the Papal Inquisition – 1230 which arose in response to huge popular movements in Europe and was considered by the Roman Catholic Church as heretical. The next Inquisition period, the Spanish Inquisition was set up by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain in 1478 along with the approval of Pope Sixtus IV and unlike the earlier Inquisition, this was totally under royal authority and staffed by secular clergy. It focused on Jews who had planned to be converts to Roman Catholic faith but were suspected of practicing Judaism. With the spread of Protestantism in Spain, the Inquisition began persecuting Protestants who left the Roman Catholic Church.

 Inquisition 4
The Portuguese Inquisition was established in Portugal by the King of Portugal, Jaoa III, in 1536, which operated in the same fashion as the Spanish Inquisition. Towards 1560, in other parts of the Portuguese Empire in Asia and India, the Goa Inquisition was set up in Goa – India, to deal with Hindu converts who were suspected of continuing their practice or hold on to their Hindu beliefs. The last period known as the Roman Inquisition was established in 1542 when Pope Paul III had established the Holy Office as the final court of appeals for all trails of heresy comprising of a group of cardinals and other officials with their task in maintaining and defending the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church. Pope Paul VI in 1965 reorganized the Holy Office, renaming it as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which remains effective till date. Before the formation of the Roman Catholic Church and establishment of their version of Christianity and as the official state religion during the 4th century, the punishment for heresy among Christians resulted in excommunication from the church. By the 12th century the Inquisition was organized and sanctioned by the Roman Catholic Church to officially deal in organized heretical groups with the Holy Roman Empire.

Can Boredom Cause Depression?

Depression is an increasingly worldwide problem, and one that is still not fully understood by the medical profession, or the general public. More research is needed into the cause and problems posed by this illness, because it can have far-reaching detrimental effects on people.

What Causes Depression?

With proper help, depression can be successfully conquered, but what causes depression? Some life-events can be identified as triggers, such as a traumatic event, an illness, the loss of a loved one, and even a genetic deposition to mental illness. One of the under-looked causes of depression is boredom. In the short term, boredom is not a problem, but when an individual is bored for a long stretch of time, it indicates there is an underlying unhappiness with the way their life is going. So it’s no surprise that boredom is not only a symptom of depression, but in the long-term can even cause it.

What is Boredom?

Boredom is a diminished interest in the world, and activities that take place.  It can be described as a lack of excitement, or a disinterest in life. These are also symptoms of depression, which makes the boredom/depression distinction difficult.

There are many other symptoms of boredom that parallel depression, such as:
  • Going to sleep. An attempt to shut out the world
  • Listlessness. A feeling of malaise and dissatisfaction. An ‘I can’t be bothered’ feeling.
  • Substance abuse. An overuse of alcohol, or other substances such as cigarettes, food or drugs to numb feelings.
When Boredom Turns into Depression.

Depression is a medical state of total hopelessness, rather than a temporary lack of interest. That distinction is important in diagnosing a patient, so that the correct treatment can be applied. If an individual is often bored, then it’s important to take a good look at why. If left undealt with, consistent boredom can become a learned habit, allowing medically defined depression to take a hold unless changes are made for the better.
Consistent boredom can contribute to depression, so the individual should identify why they might feel bored, and what they can do before it develops into something requiring medical attention.

Alleviate boredom by proactively looking to generate some interest in life. Excitement rarely falls into a person’s lap, it needs to be created. If someone is bored with life they should examine their job. If Monday morning fills them with dread, then steps can be taken to forge a new career path. If an individual is unhappy with a relationship, or they are lonely, then a new way forward must be identified. Taking steps to change these worries can transform a life. However, if boredom has already turned into depression, finding the will to change is difficult, and can require medical help.

Medical research shows that some individuals are more prone to boredom, and therefore more prone to resulting depression if left untreated.  This is not only a genetic trait, but can happen through losing a job, and developing severe boredom at home. This boredom can contribute to an already present state of depression, meaning that the individual is unable to function or cope.

Boredom is not only a symptom of depression; it’s a factor in creating it. Everyone should pay attention to their mental health.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Amazing Strength of Kintaro

Kintaro
The ancient history tale of Kintaro, the Japanese Golden Boy unfolds from the story of a brave soldier named Kintoki who fell in love with a beautiful maiden and married her. Thereafter due to the malice of some of his colleagues, he was disgraced in court and got dismissed which played heavily on his mind resulting in his death leaving behind his wife to face the world all alone. Hs wife, fearing her husband’s foes fled to the Ashiagara Mountains soon after his death to reside in the forest which was rather lonely, but for some woodcutters who came along to chop some wood. The beautiful maiden soon gave birth to a lovely boy whom she called Kintaro or the Golden Boy. The most amazing thing about this child was his remarkable strength which grew stronger as he matured in age and by the age of eight he was capable of chopping down trees as quickly as the other woodcutters.

His mother provided him with an axe which he used to help his fellow woodcutters, who named him `wonder child’, due to his amazing strength and his mother the `old nurse’, since they had no inkling about their rank. Kintaro also had another of his favorite past time of smashing up rocks and stones leaving people to wonder on his amazing strength. Unlike any other child, Kintaro grew all alone in the mountains and having no companions to mingle with, he made friends with the animals, learned to understand and relate with their strange talk who turned out to be tamed looking on Kintaro as his master, while he used them as messengers and servants.

Kintaro
There are several tales about Kintaro and his adventures, wrestlings and helping the local woodcutters and as an adult, he changed his name to Sakata no Kintoki. He came across a samurai, Minamoto no Yorimitsu when he passed by who was impressed by his enormous strength that he took him as one of his personal retainers to Kvoto. Kintoki lived and studied martial art at Kvoto and eventually became the chief of Yorimitsu’s Shitenno, meaning Four Braves, for his renowned strength and martial prowess.
Kintaro is a very popular figure in Japan and is viewed as a symbol of fortune for many young boys and in modern times his image adorns from statues to storybooks etc. According to Japanese traditions, the room of a new born baby boy is decorated with Kintaro dolls on Children’s Day, on May 5 with the hope that the child would turn out to be as strong as the Golden Boy. A shrine is also dedicated to the hero at the foot of Mount Kintoki in Hakona location near Tokyo with giant boulders nearby which were probably cut into half by Kintaro himself.

Some legends claim that his mother looked after him and cared for him very much and they both learned the ways of the mountains and survived under very harsh conditions, while others claim that his mother fled to the mountains due to family dispute. Some are of the opinion that he was raised by Yama-uba who happened to be a mysterious mountain witch who brought him up. You could check up for interesting history mystery at elixir of knowledge for more amazing information.

History of the Oldest Known Doors

A door to a home or public building provides protection from the elements and intruders, or offers privacy to residents. It is hard to imagine some locations without doors. Indeed, doors have been a part of human culture for thousands of years. To some, doors may seem as obvious an idea as the wheel, but the first door was undoubtedly an invention that changed the way early humans lived.

The Mysterious Origins of the Door

The recorded history of the structure known as the door is somewhat vague. The first depicted records of doors are found in the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs. These are depicted as being wood which leads to a theory as to why relatively few ancient doors have been discovered.  Wood is a perfect material for a door because it is easy to shape and much easier to open and close than stone, but it disintegrates easily.
Although Scientists are relatively certain that doors have existed for longer than there are records of them, the following is list of some of the oldest doors known to modern man:

1.King Tut’s Tomb Cover

Egyptian tombs did not have doors in the sense of modern doors. Once a tomb was closed, it was assumed that there would be relatively little foot traffic in and out. Grave robbers did not pay this idea much mind, and most Egyptian tombs are thought to have been ransacked relatively close to the time of the occupants’ burials.

One tomb that was untouched was that of King Tutankhamen. When his tomb was found and the stone slab covering the entryway removed, the past glories of Egypt were revealed to the world.

2.Solomon’s Temple Doors

Unfortunately, these magnificent doors no longer exist but there were several accounts of them before the temple was destroyed by the invading Roman army. The door itself was made of olive wood and was beautifully appointed.

3.Stone Age door discovered in Switzerland

A timber door was recently found in Switzerland by a group of archeologists, and it is thought to be more than 5,000 years old. If the dating is correct, that would make the door one of the oldest if not the oldest surviving example of what modern people would easily recognize as a door.

4.Roman Folding Door

The volcanic tragedy on the island of Pompeii has provided a fascinating glimpse into what Roman cities looked like at the height of its empire. The ash from the volcano buried the nearby village and preserved many artifacts and murals. Along with other fascinating finds are the remnants of a sliding, panel door.

5.Stone Pivot Door

Most of the oldest doors that still exist today are made of stone. In many cultures, giant stone doors were carved for religious temples or sacred sites. The doors could pivot because of two giant pin-bearings on the top and bottom corners. Despite the skill it would take to make and hang such a door, it still likely took many men to open it.

The Future of Doorways

Although not often a topic of heated discussion, doors are becoming more advanced every year. Better security, new materials, and fantastic designs continue to grace the world of door-crafting. Who knows, maybe in another 5,000 years, scientists will be studying the doors that craftsmen are making today.
Please feel free to contact Ella Gray at ella.l.gray@gmail.com with any questions or concerns. 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

History mystery: Ancient Manuscript Bodmer Papyri

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Collections of ancient manuscripts were named after Martin Bodmer, a Swiss humanist and collector of rare literature around 1899–1971, who formed his library of world literature. They are a group of twenty two papyri which were discovered in Egypt in 1952 containing various segments from the Old and New Testaments, early Christian literature, Menander and Homer. The papyri are reserved at the Bibliotheca Bodmeriana in Cologny, outside Geneva in Switzerland. Around 2007, the Vatican Library obtained two of the papyri which are now in the custody of the Vatican Library. The Bodmer Papyri were found at Pabau near Dishna, Egypt, an ancient headquarters of the Pachomian order of monks in 1952. This discovery site is near Nag Hammadi where the Nag Hammadi library was found many years back.

These manuscripts were assembled by Cypriote, Phokio Tano of Cairo which was smuggled to Switzerland and then a bulk of which was bought by Martin Bodmer and a variety of it was in the possession of Sir Chester Beatty, the Universities of Mississippi and Cologne and the Fundacio `Sant Lluc Evangelista’ in Barcelona. The Papyrus Bodmer series were published in 1954 and the transcription of the text with note and introduction was given in French accompanied with French translation. Bodmer’s share numbered in excess of sixteen codices, three rolls of which have been published, in Pap XVII – 1-2 Peter, excluding Bodmer XVII, which belonged to a codex of heterogeneous material and was presented to Pope Paul VI at the time of his visit to Geneva in the year 1969. Presently it is housed in the Vatican Library.

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The Bodmer are not Gnostic cache like Nag Hammadi Library but bear some pagan as well as Christian script, around thirty five books in all, in Coptic and in Greek along with the fragments of correspondence and the number of individual texts, has reached to fifty. While most of the scripts are in codex form, few are in scrolls, three of which are written on parchment. Homer’s Iliad, Books V and VI together with three comedies of Menander, Dyskolos P4, Samia and Aspis are among the Bodmer Papyri collections accompanied with gospel text – Papyrus 66, P66 which are part of text of the Gospel of John dating back to 200 CE according to the manuscript named the Alexandrian text type.

There are Christian text also that have been declared apocryphal in the 4th century like the Infancy Gospel of James and a Greek Latin lexicon in some of Paul’s letters besides some fragments of Melito of Sardis. In these works one will find Christian Vision of Dorotheus, son of Quintus the poet who is assumed to be the pagan poet Quintus Smymaeus, written in the earliest Christian hexameter poem, Homeric hexameters, where the earliest copy of the Third Epistle to the Corinthians was published in Bodmer Papryri X. These collection have some non literary material like the collection of letters from the abbots of the monastery of Saint Pachomius with the possibility that unifying circumstance of collections was part of a monastic library and the latest of the Bodmer Papyri dates to the 6th or 7th century.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

History mystery: The Pax Romana - Roman Peace


The Pax Romana 1
The ancient history on the Pax Romana indicates that in Latin it means `Roman Peace’, the concept of which was first described by Edward Gibbon in `The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire’, Chapter II. The Pax Romana lasted from 27 BC with Augustus till the death of Marcus Aurelius in 180 AD. While some date it from 30 AD to the reign of Nerva, there are others who date it as late as 1 AD, the reign of Augustus and during the Pax Romana, the area of Roman rule got extended to around five million square km – two million square miles. The Pax Romana was considered as a period of relative peace, cultural achievement and economic prosperity in the Roman Empire which came up after an extended period of civil conflict in Rome when Emperor Augustus came to power after Julius Caesar, his adoptive father who was assassinated. This Latin term was used in reference to the Roman Empire during its glorified time, a period of comparative calmness and minimum extension of the military force of the Roman Empire in the Mediterranean during the first and second centuries AD.

Continued Expansion while remaining united

The Pax Romana 2
The Roman Peace is related to the period of 200 years of peace in Rome in which the Romans continued to expand their empire while remaining united during that period and the Roman citizens were well secured with the government maintaining law, order and stability in the country. There were no military campaigns during that period and it was considered as the peak of success of the Roman Empire where it enjoyed a period of relative peace. Moreover it was also characterized by minimum expansion of military forces of the Roman Empire during that period which lasted for around 206 years providing security and stability among the feudal system. Peace in Rome related to a strong professional army which was stationed a long distance from the empire and since there were not enough soldiers, the legions were evenly spread out at locations in troubled areas. When these soldiers finally retired, they generally settled down in those areas where they had been stationed.

Progress in Architecture and Building 

The Pax Romana 3
Pax Romana saw many accomplishments and advances during those two hundred years especially in engineering and arts where the Romans built extensive system of roads to improve their extensive empire. These helped to facilitate the movement of troops as well as communication. Besides this, they also built aqueducts to divert water to different locations in the cities and farms. Most of their progress in architecture and building was based on the Roman’s discovery of concrete which helped them in the creation of huge domes and arches during that period. The Pantheon in Rome, one of the most famous structures during that period is considered as the largest free standing domes in the world in present time. We find some of the finest writers that have come up during the Pax Romana period namely Horace, Ovid, Virgil and Livy to name a few, who made their contribution to poetic and literary masterpieces. Moreover, Roma gradually became the economic, cultural as well as the political capital of the whole Western world. Do visit - Elixir of knowledge to get additional details on history mystery belonging to an age before our time.

Friday, March 14, 2014

History mystery: The Battle of Thermopylae

The Battle of Thermopylae 1
As we go back to the ancient history on the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC which was fought between Persian Empire of Xerxes I and Greek city states by King Leonidas of Sparta we get to know more on what took place many years ago. The Persian army under Xerxes I moved southward through Greece on the eastern coast parallel to the shore, along with the Persian navy. In order to reach the destination at Attica, which was controlled by the city state of Athens, the Persians had to go through the coastal pass at Thermopylae or better known as Hot Gates due to its nearby sulfur springs which were located there. The pass of Thermopylae comprising of a track along the shore of the Malian Gulf seemed to be so narrow which permitted only a chariot to pass through while on the southern side stood the cliffs which overlooked the pass. Towards the north was the Malian Gulf while along the path stood a series of three constrictions or gates and at the centre gate, a wall probably erected by the Phocians in the earlier century, to defend against the invasion of the Thessalian.

Leonidas led his army of 6,000 to 7,000 Greeks from various city states, in the late summer of 480 BC, including 300 Spartans in order to prevent the Persians from going through Thermopylae. With the expectation that the narrow pass would block the Persian army towards his own force, Leonidas established his army at Thermopylae and for two days, the Greeks withstood the attack against their outnumbered opponents. At first, Leonidas, plans worked well for him, since he was unaware that there was another route over the mountains to the west of Thermopylae which the enemies could use to bypass his fortified position along the coast. This was known to Xerxes through a local Greek which helped the army to cross it thereby enabling them to surround the Greeks where most of the Greek force, choose to withdraw rather than face the Persian army.

The Battle of Thermopylae 3
With an army of Thespians, Thebans and Spartans remained to fight the Persian, Leonidas along with the 300 Spartans were all killed while the others remained as allies. The Persian fought and beheaded Leonidas, an act considered being a grave insult. Leonidas on his part received lasting fame for his personal sacrifice where hero cults were an established customs from the eighth century BC in ancient Greece. Dead heroes were worshiped and given high honor near their burial place. After the battle, forty years later, the Spartans retrieved Leonidas’s remain and built a shrine in his honor.

Ancient and modern writers consider the Battle of Thermopylae a source of power of a patriotic army striving to defend their land, where the defenders have portrayed courage against various odd faced by them. Divulging in the history mystery on various incidents in ancient times throws some insight on the people living in the ancient world. Elixir of knowledge provides interesting information on ancient living and the people belonging to those ancient times.

History mystery: Chinese Dragon

Chinese Dragons a part of Chinese Culture

Chinese Dragon 1
Dragons deeply rooted in Chinese culture first appeared during the Yin and Shang dynasties and Chinese mythology is rich with its artwork, depictions and tales of dragons which are benevolent, associated with blessing and abundance. The Ancient Chinese Dragon has an important position in the mythology of China which is seen in its literature, poetry, architecture, songs and various aspects of Chinese history. The first dragon appeared to Emperor Fu-his who filled the hole in the sky caused by Kung Kung, the monster and its every movement of waking, sleeping and breathing determined the season and weather, day and night. The Chinese dragon comprises of nine entities namely the head of camel, eyes of a demon, the ears of a cow, horns of a stag, with neck of a snake, its belly of a clam, the claws of an eagle, with the soles of its feet that of a tiger and the 117 scales which cover the body, that of a carp.

Divine Element of Rain 

Chinese Dragon 2
The Chinese dragon has standard four claws while the Imperial dragon has five which helps to identify it above the lesser classes and anyone other than the emperor using the five claws motif had to face death for doing so. Throughout the Chinese history, the dragon was related to the weather and it is believed that some of the worst floods which took place were due to mortals upsetting the dragon and the Chinese dragon Lung was considered as a divine element of rain. Chinese dragons of myth were of the belief that they could make themselves huge as the universe or even miniature like the silkworm with capabilities to rise to the skies during springtime as well as plunge into the waters during autumn time, with the ability to change color and also disappear in a moment.

Symbol of Wisdom and Divine Powers

Chinese Dragon 3
Dragons were also a symbol of the emperor assuring the well being of the people with its wisdom and divine power with many legends bridging the connection between the emperor and the dragon. Some also believed that the emperors were the descendants of the dragons and according to a legend; the Dragon had nine sons each with a strong personality namely Haoxian, a reckless and an adventurous dragon, an image which is found decorating the eaves of palaces. Yazi Valiant whose image is seen on sword hilts and knife hilts, Chiwen Chiwen who prefers to gaze into his appearance and the distance, is carved often on pinnacles, Baxia Baxia, a good swimmer has his image decorating many bridge piers and archways, Pulao Pulao who is fond of roaring, has his figure carved on bells, Bixi Bixi an excellent pack animal with its image appearing on panniers, while Qiuniu Qiuniu who loves music has its figure on the bridge of stringed musical instruments. Suanmi Suanmi who favors smoke and fire, the likeness of which can be seen on legs of incense burners,, Jiaotu Jiaotu who is tight lipped such as a snail or a mussel has his image carved on doors, especially, a popular tourist site in Beijing known as the Nine Dragon Wall in BaiHai Park where the colors of the ceramic tiles in spite of them being ancient, are as brilliant as ever.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Oxyrhynchus

Oxyrhynchus 1

Oxyrhynchus, ancient Egypt, known in the Dynastic period as Per Medjed is a city in Upper Egypt, around 160 km southwest of Cairo, in the governorate of Al Minya, which rose to prominence under Egypt’s Hellenistic and Roman rulers. It was considered as one of the most important discovered archaeological site. During the Hellenistic times, this city was a prosperous regional capital and the third city of Egypt as well as the home town of the sophist Athenaeus.

Oxyrhynchus 2
It became famous for its various churches and monasteries after Egypt was Christianized and presently the village of al Bahnasa covers part of this ancient site. After the invasion of the Arab of Egypt in 641, the canal system was in need of repairs and was abandoned. The inhabitants of this city for over 1,000 years had been dumping garbage at various points of sites in the desert sands beyond the town limits and the town was built on a canal instead of the Nile itself which saved the city from getting flooded every year with the rising of the river unlike the other districts surrounding the riverbank. When the canals got dried up the water level fell and did not rise again. The west area of the Nile did not receive any rain and hence the garbage dump of Oxyrhynchus got gradually covered up with sand and was forgotten over the years.

Oxyrhynchus 3
Since the Egyptian were governed bureaucratically under the Romans and Greeks and being the capital of the 19th Nome, all the material were dumped, which included huge amount of paper, tax returns, accounts, invoices, receipts, census material, correspondence on administrative, military, economic, religious and political issues. Besides these, certificates and licenses of all types which were periodically cleaned from government office were put in wicker baskets and discarded out in the desert. Other citizens also added their own measure of unwanted paper. Since papyrus was expensive, paper was reused often and one would find a document with farm account on one side and a student’s text of Homer on the other side. Hence an Oxyrhynchus Papyri often contained complete record of the life of the people of the town, its civilization and the empires. Over the past year, this site has been repeatedly excavated bringing about huge amount of collection of papyrus text dating way back to the Ptolemaic and Roman periods of Egyptian history. From the discoveries of text recovered at Oxyrhynchus, there are plays of Menander, some fragments from the Gospel of Thomas and from Euclid’s Elements.

Oxyrhynchus 4
The town city of Oxyrhynchus itself had not been excavated since the modern Egyptian town was built over it though it is believed that the city had various public buildings which included a theatre having a capacity of around 11,000 audience, a hippodrome, four public baths together with gymnasium as well as two small ports on the Bahr Yussef. There was also a possibility of military buildings like barracks since the city supported military garrison on various occasions during the Byzantine and Roman periods. Moreover during the Roman and Greeks period, Oxyrhynchus also had temples to Zeus Amun, Hera Isis, Atargatis Bethnnis and Osiris. They also had Greek temples to Apollo, Demeter, Dionyss and Hermes together with Roman temples to Mars and Jupiter Capitolinus. With regards to Christian era, Oxyrhynchus was the seat of a bishopric where the modern towns still have some ancient Coptic Christian churches.

Oxyrhynchus 5
Towards 1882, while Egypt was still part of the Ottoman Empire and under the British rule, the British archaeologist started a systematic exploration of this country and since it was not considered as an important ancient Egyptian site, it was neglected till 1896. It was then explored by two young excavators, Bernard Grenfell and Arthur Hunt, of Queen’s College of Oxford. Their first impression of the site was not favorable where the rubbish mounds seemed rubbish to them though they soon realized the importance of their discoveries. With the combination of climate and circumstances, Oxyrhynchus had an unmatched archive of the ancient world and the findings of papyri soon multiplied in great number. These findings inspired them further to sift through the mountain of rubbish where their efforts were rewarded since they were interested in the possibility of finding the lost masterpieces of classical Greek literature at Oxyrhynchus.

Their discoveries were estimated to over 70% of all the literary papyri with both copies of well know standard works, together with previously unknown works of great authors of antiquity. From the various papyri excavated, only around 10% were known to be literary and the rest consisted of public and private documents, edicts, registers, codes and much more. They found sufficient text of more general interest which kept them going with the hope of retrieving more discoveries. During their first year of excavation, they recovered parts of several lost plays of Sophocles namely Ichneutae besides many other books and fragments including parts of unknown Christian gospel. All these discoveries drew the attention of people’s imagination and the two excavators sent articles together with photos to newspapers in Britain indicating the importance of their work with a request for donation to keep the same going.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Intriguing Findings of Nag Hammadi Library

Nag Hammadi Library
A town known as Nag Hammadi in northern Egypt had a collection of ancient writing which was discovered in 1945 and these collections have been titled as the Nag Hammadi library, the vast findings of which represented the writings known as Christian Gnosticism. Nag Hammadi also known as Chenoboskion and in classical antiquity meaning geese grazing grounds, was located on the west bank of the Nile in Qena Governorate around 80 kilometers, North West of Luxor. It had a population of about 30,000 inhabitants most of whom were farmers and they produced sugar and aluminum. The Nag Hammadi Library is a collection of ancient Gnostic text containing over fifty text discovered in Upper Egypt. It is often considered as an example of the lost books of the Bible and according to some theory; the early Christians had made attempts to destroy these scripts since they contained the secret teaching about Jesus and Christianity.

Moreover it was considered to be the result of the dedicated efforts of the Gnostic monks to save the truth about Jesus Christ from the persecution of non Gnostic Christians. The Nag Hammadi script was written on papyrus in the form of codex, which could be opened flat and written from front as well as the back page and was not rolled into a scroll. This important discovery was found in the form of twelve leather bound papyrus codices which were buried in a sealed jar and found by a local farmer by the name Mohammed al-Samman. It included a vast number of primary Gnostic Gospels scripts which were once thought to be destroyed during the struggle of the early Christians to define orthodoxy scriptures like the Gospel of Thomas, Philip and the Gospel of Truth. The text in these codices contained fifty two major Gnostic treatises though they also included three works belonging to the Corpus Hermeticum with partial translation alteration of Plato’s Republic.

Nag Hammadi
The codices were written in Coptic language and the works were translated from Greek and the best known is probably the Gospel of Thomas where the Nag Hammadi codices have the complete text. Presently, the Nag Hammadi codices are in the custody of the Coptic Museum in Cairo, Egypt. The discovery of Nag Hammadi library has been narrated as an exciting expedition as the contents itself. In the same year in December, two Egyptian brothers found several papyri in large earthenware vessels while digging around the Jabal al-Tarif caves near modern Hamra Dom in Upper Egypt. Their discovery was not reported immediately since they were keen on selling the manuscripts individually at intervals and make some money but their mother worried over this issue and thinking that these manuscripts would have dangerous effect, burned several of them. The knowledge of the Nag Hammadi library became gradually known and its significance was only acknowledged sometime after its initial discovery.

Towards the year 1946, the brothers got involved in some disagreement and left the manuscripts with a Coptic priest where his brother-in-law, sold a codes to the Coptic Museum in October. The significance of the artifact drew the attention of the resident Coptologist and the religious historian, Jean Doresse and they got the first reference published in 1948. All through the years, majority of the tracts got transferred by the priest to a Cypriot antiques dealer in Cairo after which it was retained by the Department of Antiquities, to safeguard them from being sold out of the country. The scripts, was then handed over to the Coptic Museum in Cairo after the revolution in 1952 and was then declared as national property. Moreover, the director of the Coptic Museum, Pahor Labib, was also very keen in keeping the manuscripts in the country of its origin.

Nag Hammadi 2
A single codex in the meanwhile had been sold to a Belgian antique dealer in Cairo after which an attempt was made to sell the same in New York as well as Paris and finally in 1951, the same was in the custody of Carl Gustav Jung Institute in Zurich through the mediation of Gilles Quispel and was intended as a birthday present to the psychologist and hence the codex was known as the Jung Codex, named Codex I in the collection. In 1961, after Jung’s death, a quarrel took place over the ownership of the Jung Codex and the pages were not handed over to the Coptic Museum in Cairo, till 1975 after the first edition of the text was published. The discoveries of these papyri were finally brought together in Cairo, with eleven complete books and fragments of two others, all amounting to over 1000 written pages which are preserved there. While the Nag Hammadi library was an interesting discovery, its scripts have given us some insight about the early heretic which were taught and practiced during that period.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

En no Gyōja

En no Gyōja 1
The legendary founder of the Japanese religion, Shugendo when translated means `path of training to achieve spiritual powers’, which is an important Kami Buddha combination sect that blends pre Buddhist mountain worship known as Kannabi Shinko. Their practitioners are known by various names such as Shugenja, Shugyosha, Keza and Yamabushi and these terms are translated into English as ascetic monk or mountain priest.

As a rule, this sect emphasizes on physical endurance as a path to enlightenment where the practitioners perform fasting, seclusion meditation, recite sutras, magical spells and also engage themselves in feats of endurance like standing or sitting under cold mountain waterfalls or in snow. The devotees also have a particular practice of setting up wood or stones markers leaving a trail of their mystical journey up the mountain.

They also need to follow a procedure on entering into any sacred mountain space, where each stage consists of a specific mudra, a hand gesture with religious meaning, mantra, a sacred verbal incantation and waka which is a classical Japanese poem. The honored sage of this sect is En no Gyoja who is also known as En no Ozunu, Ozuno, En no Shokaku and En no Ubasoku where Gyoja means ascetic and En no Gyoja means En the Ascetic.

En no Gyōja 3
Ubasoku according to the Japanese form of Sanskrit upasaka means an adult male lay practitioner or a devotee or a Buddhist layman who is recognized as a father of Shugendo. He is given the title of Shinben Dabosatu which means Miraculous Great Bodhisattva which was bestowed in 1799 to him by the Emperor Kokaku during his reign in 1771 – 1840. En no Gyoja was born in 634 and is honored as a mountain saint and a bodhisattva with several supernatural powers attributed to him. This holy man was a mountain ascetic during the 7th century and like most of the Shinto Buddhist syncretism, his legend is a puzzle with folklore.

As per the Nihon Ryoiki, En no Gyoja was born in Katsuragi Mountains of Nara Prefecture, hailing from the Kamo clan, the family of Kamo-no-E-no-Kimi and his clan had lived for many years in the mountainous regions for generation which was a verdant region with a variety of medicinal plants.

It is believed that he gained wide knowledge of these medicinal plants and also maintained a garden in that area but was forced to give it up in 675 AD during which he had gained a high reputation of a healer. After his father’s death, En no Gyoja prayed that his mother would be bestowed with another child since his intention was to depart to the mountains to pursue his practice and she subsequently gave birth to a son who was named Tsukiwakamaru and he returned to the Katsuragi Mountains at the age of 32 to continue with his ascetic practice. According to the legends, he practiced under the protection of the animals living in the mountains where he discovered valuables deposits of silver and mercury in these mountains.

As per Shugendo legends, in 699, he was wrongly accused by one of his jealous disciple, Karakuni no Muraji Hirotari for evil sorcery and was sent into exile to Itoshima island during the reign of Emperor Monmu. This angered him towards the god of Mt. Katsuragi also known as Hitokoto nushi no Kami and to punish the god he cast spells and confined the deity to the bottom of the valley. Hirokoto nushi in his turn showed his displeasure by possessing Hirotari who lodged a complaint in the capital which lead to him to his exile.

During his exile, it is believed that he changed into a mountain wizard and flew to the kingdom of Silla towards the Korean peninsula and met Dosho, a Japanese Bhuddhist monk. This monk had travelled to China in order to study Buddhism and founded Hosso secto of Nara Buddhism on his return. Though Gyoja’s great abilities remain unknown, he had made a peace treaty with Hiruzen Sarutobi during the Third Shinobi World War and had developed an unusual technique which was capable of destroying an entire village and the Third Hokage proclaimed a kinjutsu due to its power.

En no Gyōja 2
He had two students, one named Hato who was brilliant with remarkable skills in ninjutsu while the second was his very own granddaughter Hotaru. Gyoja blamed himself for the downfall of his clan and made it his duty to restore the clan back to glory but his advanced age hindered him. Before his death, seeing how much his dream meant to him, his granddaughter begged him to seal the kinjutsu in her so that she could continue with his dream.

Being skillful in fuinjutsu he devised a way to seal the clan’s kinjutsu in his granddaughter to safely remove it. Great reverence for En no Gyoja grew as mountain asceticism progressed and Shugendo religion took shape making him its founder. Moreover since he had visions of Zao Gongen deity, her belief also flourished along with veneration of Gyoja and he is linked to sacred mountains all over Japan.

According to some, the final years of Gyoja is a mixture of uncertainty which states that he did not die in 700 but returned to Mount Katsurag when he was pardoned in 701. Here, he captured Hitokoto nushi no Kami and tied him with arrowroot vine and locked him at the bottom of the valley and sometime later returned to the Japanese mountain where he attained Nirvana or probably crossed China.

Others presumed that he was released in 702 after which he either became immortal and flew away or migrated to China with his mother. It is reported that during his lifetime, he traveled widely and established Shugendo sanctuaries in various locations which included Omine mountain range, Mount Kinpusen, Mount Mino, lkoma mountains on the border of Osaka and Nara prefectures and Izu in Japan. Towards 1872, the Shugendu sect got banned as a superstitious belief and the sites became Shinto shrine, losing its heritage or branching off to either Tendai or Shingon Buddhism though Mount Haguro retained a small Buddhist presence and successfully maintained its Shugendo religion.