Monday, September 30, 2013

History mystery: Ancient Mythology about Rainbow

The most favorite component throughout history is the rainbow which is a natural phenomenon appreciated for its beauty. According to the Sumerian mythology, the rainbow’s power, according to some was regarded as the sole benevolent portraying its perception of the world culture though its past stories. The Epic of Gilgamesh for instance, an ancient king of Sumerian’s reign during 3000 BC; gives us detailed written evidence of the culture during that age. It portrays the Sumerian farmer god Ninurta defending Sumer with a bow and arrow wearing a crown similar to a rainbow. According to Christian mythology, in the chapter of Genesis, Noah was appointed by God to save every living pair of species from the great floods. When the flood had destroyed all living creatures from the face of the earth, the rainbow was a symbol of God’s promise that he would never destroy all of the earth with flood and the rainbow was a covenant between God and man forming an arc between earth and heaven. As per the Greek mythology, the daughter of first generation gods Electra and Thaumas, Iris was the goddess of sea and sky and her father was the wondrous marine god while her mother the amber, a cloud nymph.

Iris was a messenger of the gods and in ancient Greek vase painting depicted as a young woman who flew on golden wings, dressed in rainbow colors, a herald’s rod and at times a water pitcher in her hand. She seems to be speeding with the wind delivering news and appears in nine of the twenty four books of Homer’s – The Illiad. She is often depicted standing beside Zeus or Hera offering nectar from her jug and as a messenger of the gods was incomparable from Hebe art..She was the goddess of the rainbow and often represented as the handmaiden and personal messenger of Hera. For the Greeks from the coastal dwellings, the rainbow was seen spreading over the distance between the clouds in the sky and the sea and the goddess was said to represent the rain clouds with water from the sea. Greek myth was of the belief that Iris delivered messages that were rarely of peace or of good fortune. One of her jobs was to fill a golden jug with holy water for Zeus who would make misbehaving gods make a binding oath on the holy water. She has no distinctive mythology of her own but she appears in a myth as an errand running messenger and described as a virgin goddess.

According to later writers, Iris was married to Zephyrus and was the mother of Eros. Being engaged in service of Zeus and Hera she even served Achiles in calling the wind to his assistance and performed her services not only when commanded but also rendered advice and services of her own accord. Her name seems to contain double meaning where iris relates to the rainbow and eiris to the messenger.
According to some poets, Iris is described as the rainbow itself, while Servius implies that the rainbow was merely the road on which she travelled which appeared when the need arose and disappeared when it was not needed. Regarding her worship, the Delians offered her cakes made of wheat and honey and dried figs on the island of Hecate. In ancient Greek vase painting, she appears as a beautiful young woman, standing and dressed in a long wide tunic with a light upper garment and wings attached to her shoulders. She is found carrying the herald’s staff in her left hand or appears to fly on their wings with sandals on her feet along with the staff and the pitcher in her hand and compared to a swift footed storm wind messenger.

Different mythology and groups like the Norse and Navajo are of the belief that the multi colored arc, bridged the distance between earth and heaven while some called it the bridge or the gateway to heaven. The Norse believed the rainbow to be bridge that could be used by gods and mortals killed in the battle of just war. According to some they believe that the rainbow only shows up in the sky when St. Peter opened the pearly gates of heaven to usher in the new souls in heaven and its colors representing the magnificence of heaven. Others think that it is a link of six or seven bridges, based on the belief of individual’s culture on the number of colors in the bow that the soul had to successfully travel to reach heaven. As per the African’s belief the rainbow was actually a full circle, half of which could only be seen at an appropriate time. They also believed that the rainbow separated the earth from the heaven. As per Roman mythology, the rainbow is believed to be the pathway for Mercury the messenger god.

According to German, myths the rainbow was considered as a bowl that God used during his creation to color the world while others thought that it was a magnificent gift of nature. The ancient Arabians believed it was a tapestry woven by the south wind while the Incas thought that it was a gift from their sun god. The Buddhist identified the rainbow to the seven regions of the earth due to its seven colors and believed it as the next highest state of achievement before Nirvana, the place very one and all individuals meet their end. The Hindus believe that the rainbow represents the archer’s bow of their god of war and that the god used the bow to send arrows of lightening to kill demons who threatened their land and their people. In Islam, it is believed to have only four colors instead of the seven colors, namely blue, green, red and yellow which are related to fire, earth, water and wind. The Native American tribes considered the rainbow as the drinking fountain for all souls of heaven while other believed it to be a bridge between the world of humans and the world of gods though not heaven and still others believed it to be merely a pathway which the gods used.

History mystery: Catal Huyuk A Stone Age Settlement -2

Reed matting covered the centre of the floor. On two sides of the room, at the northern end, raised platforms covered with mats served as sofas and workbenches during the day as beds at night. The discovery of traces of material suggests that felt was used to make bedding. The platforms had one further use – they also acted as family sepulchers. The plaster surface of platforms was broken open to allow the burial of bones beneath them, 1.5m to 1.8m (5ft to 6ft) below the surface. The dead were buried with funerary gifts such as armlets, bracelets, copper beads, necklaces, obsidian mirrors, and weapons, as well as a wide variety of baskets and wooden vessels, which suggests a belief in life after death.

Their bodies were laid to rest in a contracted position inside the platform, which was then plastered over again. More than half of the bodies found at Catal Huyuk were of young children. Each platform seems to have been the burial place of a nuclear family. In several cases the latest burial was of a mature adult male whose interment was followed by the abandonment of the house, which probably then became an ancestral shrine. The contents of each house were generally the same: the remains of food and matting; vessels made of pottery, wood, and occasionally stone; and beads, tools, and weapons made of obsidian – a glassy and extremely hard volcanic rock – or more rarely, from flint.

The people of Catal Huyuk kept domesticated dogs to guard their houses and, as one wall-painting shows, for sheep herding and for hunting. Human teeth from the site indicate that meat made up a large part of their diet; there is little evidence of the worn teeth that are prevalent among people who subsist mainly on cereals. The meat came from domestic stock and wild game. The number of bones found suggests that mutton was their main protein, supplemented by other meats and fish. From wall-paintings as well as bones, it is clear that the Catal Huyuk residents hunted wild goats, horses, and cattle, as well as wild boar and deer. Leopards, onagers (a species of wild ass), lions, gazelles, bears, and even wild cats were tracked down and killed for their skins.

Deposits of grain of different types suggest a fairly advanced system of cultivation and a variety of cereal foods. Grain was sometimes made into bread, but was more commonly served toasted, or in soup. The farmers also grew vegetables, and there is evidence that they processed oil from a type of mustard seed called shepherd’s purse. Foods eaten regularly by them included acorns, capers, crab apples, grapes, pistachios, and walnuts, gathered from swampy areas near the settlement and the forests on the edge of the Konya plain. Recent excavations have revealed that tubers were also an important element of their diet, including the marsh Scirpus, a bulrush that grew locally.

Apart from food, the Konya plain had few natural resources beyond reeds and clay. Virtually everything else was imported. Timber – juniper, oak, and pine – was probably floated down the Carsamba river from the Taurus Mountains about 80km (50 miles) to the south, then hauled to the settlement by teams of oxen. Copper and lead also came from the Taurus Mountains. The obsidian used for implements such as arrowheads and knife-blades came from Cappadocia to the north-east. Sea-shells from the Mediterranean were also found at the site, along with Syrian flints, and a fragment of Syrian pottery.

The Catal Huyuk craftsmen used many other materials not available in the local environment – they must have imported pigments such as red and yellow ochre; hard stone for toolmaking; limestone, shale, and aragonite; and minerals such as carnelian and blue and green apatite, which were fashioned into beads. These finds are evidence of trade with faraway places. The discovery of Catal Huyuk pottery in Cilicia, 160km (100 miles) to the south-east, suggests that the cultural influence of the settlement extended well beyond the Konya plain, perhaps even into the mountains surrounding it, across an area that may have been as large as 30,000 km2 (11,580 sq miles).

Thursday, September 26, 2013

History mystery: Catal Huyuk A Stone Age Settlement

Catal Huyuk  settlement
A mysterious mound excavated in Turkey in the 1960s was to revolutionize archaeological thinking. For a large community had flourished on the ancient site 2000 years before the onset of civilization in Egypt and Mesopotamia. In 1961 a team of british archaeologists led by James Mellaart traveled to the Konya plain in Anatolia, to site about 320km (200 miles) south of the Turkish capital. The purpose of the expedition was to excavate an artificial mound, known in Turkey as a buyuk, which rose beside the Carsamba river more than 1,000m (3,281 ft) above sea level. As the digging proceeded, it became clear that this man-made hill – Catal Huyuk – was the site of the largest, most important, and most fascinating Neolithic (Late Stone Age) settlement ever discovered in the Middle East. There were substantial dwelling – houses, cult-centres or shrines, and evidence of art and crafts, and of extensive trade – mostly in local produce and artifacts, but also in more exotic articles.

 Catal Huyuk Religious Figurines

catal huyuk figurines
Initially, radiocarbon dating placed the foundation of the settlement between 6250 and 5400 BC. But using a method called dendrochronology, counting rings in tree trunks to double-check radiocarbon dating; it became clear that it was established even earlier-between 7200 and 7100 BC. Catal Huyuk consists, in fact, of two separate eastern and western mounds, divided by a branch of the River Carsamba. Archaeologists have concentrated on the Neolithic eastern mound; the settlement shifted to the western mound in the succeeding Chalcolithic period. Only a small section of the 13ha (32 acre) eastern mound was excavated between 1961 and 1965, but since 1993 a large international team has expanded the investigations. At the time of its discovery, Catal Huyuk was unique. In recent years, similar contemporary sites have been discovered, including Umm Dabaghiyah in northern Iraq, Aagheh in northern Iran, Bouqras and Abu Hureyra in Syria, and Can Hasan, Suberde, and Erbaba in Turkey itself. Nut none of these settlements has shown quite the cultural and technical achievements of Catal Huyyk – the site which gave archaeologists the first, tantalizing glimpse of an early farming settlement whose people cultivated cereals, crafted religious figurines, and traded with distant communities.

 Catal Huyuk Excavation Site

History mystery: Catal Huyuk A Stone Age Settlement
Mellaart’s excavations of the eastern mound uncovered one complete block of houses and shrines, part of another, similar block, and part of a third block which contained only houses. To the 1960s team, the shrines - rooms cluttered with relics such as bulls’ horns and statuettes – seemed clearly distinguishable from the houses. But recent investigations have shown that most houses had domestic areas with hearths, beds, and storage bins in their southern section, and ritual features such as elaborate wall decoration in the northern section. Each mud-brick house was surrounded by walls built directly up against its neighboring buildings. It remained detached, though, and so could be demolished and rebuilt easily. Clusters of box-like, rectangular houses formed vast blocks, like cells in a honeycomb, interspersed with courtyards.

Shrine Room of Catal Huyuk

Shrine room of catal huyuk
A system of gutters moulded from plaster took the rainwater of the roof into the nearest courtyard and kept the house dry. There were no streets, so there were no front doors – houses were entered via the roof. The reasons for using this method of building remain a puzzle. Evidence from other settlements in Iraq, Iran, Syria and elsewhere in Turkey suggests that roof-entry may have been widespread in the Middle East in the 8th and 7th millennia BC. It may have been the best way to protect food and portable property from scavenging animals and light-fingered neighbours. There are 14 known levels of building in Catal Huyuk spanning 800 years of cultural development, yet the basic design of the houses remains virtually unchanged throughout that period.

Each house consisted of a main room, generally measuring about 6m (20ft) by 4m (13ft), with a storeroom along one side. On the roof was a small, ramshackle extra storey built of sticks and plaster which served as additional storage space and as a porch. Wooden stairs or a ladder led from the roof of the kitchen area positioned at the southern end of the house. This consisted of a hearth or ovens and a fuel store. Cooking pots were kept in holes in the floor, and smoke escaped through a hole in the roof. Some of the pots contained ancient ‘pot-boilers’ – stones heated in the fire than dropped into the pots to cook their contents.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

History mystery: Delos The birthplace of Apollo -1

Today, the sacred island of Delos in the Cyclades is almost deserted. But in the 2nd and 3rd centuries BC it was the linchpin of a multitude of trading routes, and became one of ancient Greece’s busiest and most prosperous ports. The first glimpse the traveller caught of the tiny island of Delos during its heyday would have been of a rugged mass of granite rising from the violet of the Aegan Sea. A long harbour stretched at the north end of the island: a vast complex of docks and piers hugging the shoreline, with warehouses lining the quays. Behind the harbour the city spread in wild confusion towards the slopes of Mount Cynthus. With more than 20,000 people crammed into such a small area, Delos must have been one of the most densely populated places in the ancient world. Delos (now Dhilos) lies within the Cyclades, the ‘encircling islands,’ scattered across the Aegan Sea south-east mainland Greece. From about 3,000 BC a remarkable and enigmatic Bronze Age culture emerged on the islands – a culture notable for its elegant pottery and simple marble figurines. But the Cycladic culture had begun to lose its individual identity by the end of the Early Bronze Age, and was finally swamped by Minoan and Mycenaean cultures during the second millennium BC. In Greek mythology, Delos had originally been a floating island. When Apollo’s mother, Leto, was pregnant by Zeus, the earth was forbidden to offer her shelter, for she had angered the goddess Hera, the jealous wife of the great god. But Neptune took pity on the fugitive.

He struck Delos with his trident, mooring it in place. Because the island had been floating at the time the ban was imposed on Leto, it was permitted to shelter her. In a cave nestled into the slopes of Mount Cynthus (now Cythos), Leto spent nine days and nights giving birth to the divine twins: Apollo – the symbol of youthful manly beauty – and his sister Artemis, the huntress. These mythological connections gave the island an aura of sanctity. A geological fault in the mountain housed the oracle of Apollo, and the island boasted an altar to the god considered by some as one of the wonders of the world – a marvel to rank with the pyramids of Egypt and the Colossus of Rhodes. According to legend, the altar had been set up by Apollo himself when he was only four years old, and was made from the horns of goats killed on Mount Cynthus by Artemis.

The temple lay in the heart of the island’s huge religious complex – the hieron, hemmed in by the Sanctuary of Artemis, the Sanctuary of the Bulls, a colossal statue of Zeus, Apollo’s father, and five small buildings used as treasuries. Great festivals in honour of Apollo were held on the island at four-yearly intervals. The Delian games were held annually, when sacred envoys, or theoroi, were sent by the Athenians and the inhabitants of other islands in the Cyclades to offer sacrifices at the hieron. Every four years, the island was also the site of ceremonies sacrifices in preparation for holy festivals. Religious festivals made Delos famous throughout the Greek world. Ritual ceremonies included a dance that commemorated the Greek hero Theseus and his escape from the Cretan labyrinth after he had killed the half-man, half-bull Minotaur. Delian dancers followed a complicated pattern around an altar made of goats’ or bulls’ horns, imitating the circuitous route taken by Theseus out of the maze where the monster had lurked.

 The impressive temples and sanctuaries attracted tourists and pilgrims from all over the ancient world who contributed to the island’s economy. New settlers brought new gods, creating on eclectic mix of sacred buildings on the terraces of Mount Cynthus, including the Serapeion dedicated to Serapis, A Graeco-Egyptian god from Alexandria, and a temple of Isis – the Egyptian deity who, during the Hellenistic Age, became one of the leading goddesses of the Mediterranean world. The inhabitants of Delos were originally a seafaring people and, before trade made them wealthy, fishing provided their main source of income. The island is also known to have abounded in game. Yet in the age of classical Greece, neither hunting nor agriculture was the chief means of livelihood among the common people. The inhabitants produced enough to feed only a quarter of the population. But the island’s position was to shape it a new role as a crossroads of shipping routes between Greece, Asia Minor, Thrace, Crete, and the Levant. The Cyclades archipelago includes more than 200 islands which formed a series of stepping-stones, allowing vessels to sail almost continuously within sight of land; Delos itself offered sheltered anchorage to ships sailing between Mikonos and Rinia. In the 5th century BC, under the leadership of Athens, Delos became the centre of the Delian League – a federation of more than 200 Aegan city-states and islands formed to maintain Greece’s independence from Persia. This honour at firs brought Delos prosperity, but in 454 BC the League’s treasury was moved to Athens for greater security.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

History mystery: Manuscript of the Middle Age – Voynich Manuscript

With great achievements in the field of technology, man has made amazing headway in every sphere of life and is also making progress in solving hidden mysteries of bygone days though there are some which still remains a mystery. The Voynich Manuscript for instance remains unsolved though many attempts have been made to interpret the script written over 1000 years ago. It is a manuscript written somewhere during the Middle Age using an unknown alphabet system in an unknown language. It contains astronomical information and illustrations of plants some of which are unknown to our modern times botanists. The Voynich manuscript is a handwritten book consisting of 240 vellum pages with many illustrations and around 170,000 characters. As per radiocarbon analysis performed in the year 2009, by University of Arizona, the manuscript seemed to be originated in the first half of the fifteen century though there is no written confirmation regarding this analysis. It is still unclear as to who wrote the manuscript, its contents and the purpose of its existence. The script seems to be written from left to right which can be seen from its left alignment format. It is believed that the codex belonged to Emperor Rudolph II of Germany who may have purchased it for 600 gold ducats and the work of Roger Bacon. It could be a possibility that the Emperor obtained the manuscript from the English astrologer John Dee somewhere between 1527 -1608, who owned a number of Roger Bacon’s manuscripts.

The Voynich Manuscript or MS as it is so called, after its rediscovery in 1912 by Wilfred Voynich, is a compact parchment codex of 23.5 x 16.2 cm with 116 vellum leaves out of which only 102 remains. It seems likely from the various numbering gaps, the manuscript had at least 272 pages some of which were already missing when Wilfred Voynich got hold of the manuscript. It is believed that most of the book’s bifolios had to be reordered during the various stages of its history and the page order may have differed from its original page. The limp vellum cover which is blank gives no indication of any title or author and while the manuscript is written in an elegant manner its script is unknown. The text seems to be composed of words and arranged in short paragraphs. The manuscript is well illustrated with drawings and appears to convey some scientific work from the middle age but since the script is not known it still remains a mystery. From modern analysis, it is understood that a quill pen and iron gall ink was used for writing and figure outlines while the colored paints applied were possibly done at a later stage.

Though the Voynich manuscript was studied by many renowned professionals and amateur cryptographers from British and American code breakers, it still remains unknown and a famous case of historical cryptology. It is shrouded with mystery of popular imagination, thus making this manuscript a topic of both interesting theories and novels and none of the proposed speculative solutions over the years have been confirmed or verified. Some are of the belief that the Voynich Manuscript was donated to Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library in 1969 and catalogued under call number MS 408 called `Cipher Manuscript’. It may be difficult to understand all the messages, some may be easy to discern while others resemble allegory making them subjective to the reader. Most of the images are of basic iconography found in ancient text and the history of this manuscript navigates us to creation, alchemy, and the way the world appeared to the writer of the manuscript decades of years ago. The possibility could be that the author wrote the manuscript to explain his views on the working of the universe and its use in healing options. Its secrecy and cryptic aspects leave us with a big question yet to be solved which is making it more fascinating. In spite of decades of efforts made to determine the mysterious script, it still remains elusive.

Some consider it as a nonsensical text intending it to be a hoax or reason best known to the author. Debated issues among code breakers, linguistics and mathematicians are on as to whether the mysterious manuscripts would ever be solved. Undoubtedly the Voynich manuscript is intriguing and continues to hold the interest of many due to its unsolved mystery represented with its beautiful drawings made lively and bold, the elegance on the hand writing with each page portraying the images combined with text. Regardless of whether it was a hoax, a jest, an alchemical or notes on a parallel world or whatever the conclusion may be, its focus on the fantastic unsolved mystery is inducing many to learn more on this mysterious script.

History mystery: Pueblo Bonito, A settlement lost in the desert -2

Religion and ritual were the common bonds of the people of each pueblo. The central courtyard of Pueblo Bonito had several large semi-subterranean ceremonial chambers, or kivas, for use by the community as a whole – the biggest is almost 20m (66ft) across. Each contains a brick bench which runs all the way round the room, surrounding a central hearth. The inhabitants lived in rooms which measured about 5m by 4m (16ft by 13ft). Roofs consisted of two strong cross beams, supporting a series of wooden logs which were covered in matting made of willow bark and branches. The whole roof was then covered with adobe. The construction of the pueblo was a mammoth undertaking: the timbers had to be carried to the canyon from 80km (50 miles) away. The rooms at the bottom of the complex opened onto the central courtyard, but those at the top had no doors or windows and were reached by a ladder through a hole in the roof. They were probably used as granaries. Above them stretched the flat roofs on which the inhabitants worked. The building was insulated from extremes of hot and cold by the thickness of the walls. Floors wee covered with willow-bark and the beds with furs. The inhabitants depended on agriculture. They planted maze, beans, and pumpkins, and over the years they developed special irrigation techniques to cope with their dry, hot climate. Rainwater and cliff run-off was stored in cisterns and distributed by countless small channels which ran across the fields. They would crush the daily ration of maize into flour using a flat millstone, or metate, and a stone pounder. Then they made small biscuits – like Mexican tortillas of today – which they baked on fires and stuffed with meat, beans, or nuts.

The Pueblo Bonito Indians were an industrious people. Most of the daily work was done on the roofs of the settlement. The men were particularly skilled at weaving bags, belts and blankets on looms. The women made huge cotton ponchos and fashioned sandals from the leaves of the yucca plant. Perhaps the most impressive legacy of the Pueblo Bonito Indians is their elaborate pottery. Unusual among ancient societies, all the potters seem to have been women. Bowls, pitchers and ladles were their specialty, and these were decorated with geometric patterns. They made blankets from the feathers of the turkeys they kept, and from the parrots and macaws they imported from the south. Attracted by the people’s skills, merchants traveled to Pueblo Bonito from the heartlands of Mexico to the south to sell birds, and from the Pacific coast to sell seashells. In return, they took back sculpted ornaments. But the most highly prized treasures were the Indians’ turquoise beads and mosaics. One necklace, found in an Anasazi tomb, was made of 2500 tiny turquoise beads, each one lovingly smoothed on sandstone tablets and drilled with a sharpened flint. Rainfall was always a critical factor influencing settlement in the American south-west. Around 1130 a period of drought began that lasted 50 or so years. The people of Pueblo Bonito and Chaco Canyon began to move to other regions, such as Mesa Verde in Colorado. Another long period of drought in the 13th century finally set the seal on the Anasszi’s decline. By the beginning of the 14th century, their great communal dwellings were abandoned. Their inhabitants settled on the more fertile plateaus where their descendants, Pueblo Indian tribes such as the Zunis and the Hopis, still live today. The original villages disappeared under a covering of sand and were consigned to centuries of oblivion.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Fossil Insects Change Date of Atlantis Eruption

As much as mountains and canyons, valleys and hills bring delight to the eye, they rouse a bundle of questions about their origin if they carry some extraordinary quality of form, shape and structure. When a jar full of insect pests was found in an ancient ground storage around 50 years ago, geologists did not take it for granted. Instead they learned that the volcanic eruption that took place in Greek island of Santorini around 1600 BC and now sculptured by mysterious forces and left untouched actually happened in early summer.

Unanswered Questions

Just like heavy waves batter the cliff, winds move sand dunes in the desert and rivers widen their banks, the "Atlantis" volcano was the main cause of the end of Minoan civilization as well as ancient communities around Egypt. Taken singly, this seems an obvious incident and scientists were able to figure out the year range the incident happened - between 1627 and 1600 BC. But the one thing that remained unanswered for quite a long time was the season it took place. The discovery of pests was really helpful in zeroing in on it. 

Perhaps geology has no more significant lesson to teach than the fact that little things bring out the truth about something big. When the insect remains were discovered in the storage jar containing sweet pea seeds, it was determined that the volcano eruption took place in the month of June. The jar in which the insect fossils lie must once have been in the storage area where the crops were infested, and it was only during the month of June that the bean weevil infested this crop. 

The Current Climate

The climate has changed since then. The place of volcanic eruption has been formerly clothed with vegetation. Proper pest control is in place. And as the distribution of land and nature of climate changed, so did the forms of life. All changed but the Akrotiri got buried in the ash and pumice preserving the site for thousands of years.

As the geologists began to climb the slopes of this ancient volcano, they found the infested peas buried in the ground-floor room of a multistory building. The date range for the fossils was later determined using a modern technique to radiocarbon date the protein called chitin found in the insect's shells. 

Throughout this long period of volcanic activity the earth's crust was repeatedly broken in that part of the world. Finding the exact date range along with the exact season of a prehistoric volcanic eruption was a Herculean task. When the pests were upheaved, many theories began to surface in terms of assigning seasons to natural calamities. The bean weevils found from the volcanic site have one annual life cycle. They were probably stored shortly before this single incident that destroyed the region. 

The condition they were found suggests that more and more accurate models of such events can be easily resolved just by knowing the season in which a particular event took place. The result? Some geologists have found their own conclusion with the insect fossil theory, others have come up with the season determination through layers of ash and pumice collected from the site.

Monday, September 9, 2013

History mystery: Pueblo Bonito, A settlement lost in the desert -1

For more than 300 years the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico wrung life from their harsh environment. Beneath the towering cliffs of Chaco Canyon they built their dwelling place – an apartment block of 700 rooms. In 1849 Lieutenant James Simpson of the American army was member of a punitive expedition sent to New Mexico against a group of Navajo Indians. One day he camped neat the ruins of a massive dwelling-a cross between a primitive village and a modern high-rise apartment block. Lieutenant Simpson later described the experience in a journal published in 1852: ‘Two or three hundred yards down the canyon; we came across another old pueblo in ruins called Pueblo Bonito… The circuit of its walls is about 1300ft. Its elevation shows that it has had at least four storeys of apartments. ‘The number of rooms on the ground floor at present discernible is 139…

‘Among the ruins are several rooms in a very good state of preservation, one of them being walled up with alternate beds of large and small stones, the regularity of the combination producing of very pleasing effect. The ceiling of this room is also more pleasant than any we have seen – the transverse beams being smaller and more numerous, and the longitudinal pieces which rest upon them only about in diameter, and beautifully regular. The later have somewhat the appearance of barked willow. ‘The room has a doorway at each end and one at the side, each of them leading into adjacent apartments. The light is let in by a window, 2ft by 8in on the north side.’ Simpson’s discovery of this huge pile of terraced houses aroused a rush of interest, but it was another 50 years before serious excavations began.

 When, toward the end of the 19th century, American archaeologist started to explore Pueblo Bonito, they unearthed a village which in the 12th century AD may have housed 1200 people. Pueblo Bonito (‘pretty village’ in Spanish) is a remarkable monument to a North American Indian culture that flourished 500 years before Columbus set sail for the New World in the late 15th century. Its inhabitants were a Stone Age people who left no written record of their culture, but their story can be read from the shards of broken pottery they left behind. The civilizations of the south-western United States trace their origins to around 7000 BC. At this time, hunter-gatherers started to roam the dust bowl of the Great Basin, mostly in present-day Nevada and Utah. By about AD 100 the Anasazi, or ‘Ancient Ones’, had begun to develop a distinctive culture.

As they became increasingly dependent on cultivated crops, such as maize and beans, they abandoned their nomadic lifestyle and built settlements of underground houses. The Pueblo (village) period began in about AD 700, when houses began to be built above ground. Pueblo Bonito is just one of 13 villages to be found in the Chaco Canyon in north-west New Mexico. At the foot of a cliff, the settlement has the outline of a huge semicircle with the straight side facing south towards the Chaco river. Its 700 rooms rise in terraces around the central courtyard like some great amphitheatre. Access to the pueblo was by ladder over the straight front side. The complex covers an area of 1.5ha (4 acres): it was the largest apartment block in the world until a bigger one was built in New York in 1882. Pueblo Bonito’s first stone was laid in about 850. The walls of the settlement were solidly built around a core of the stone or adobe-mud bricks dried in the sun. They were faced with sandstone flags which fitted together so perfectly that it is difficult to insert the blade of a knife between them.

Friday, September 6, 2013

History mystery: CONSTANTINOPLE the City of the emperor Justinian -4

At the west end was the city’s most splendid entrance, the Golden Gate, set in a defensive wall built by the emperor Theodosius II (408-450) to protect the land side of the peninsula from a threatened attack by the Huns. From the Golden Gate a highway led, via Thessalonica (thessaloniki), to the Adriatic coast. This route across northern Greece was trodden incessantly by merchants, travelers, and soldiers. Known as the Via Egnatia, or Western Road, it was one of the most famous highways of the ancient world. Constantinople was built in terraces on the banked-up slopes of the peninsula’s rocky backbone. The terraces were connected by a network of staircases and steep, narrow streets, climbing and swooping through the hills. Tenement blocks five or six storeys high were squeezed together, crammed full of tenants. Self-contained communities developed within the slumland sprawl. Craftsmen grouped together in districts according to their trades: glassmakers, potters, metal-workers, armourers, and tailors.

 The most crowded districts were those on the waterfront. Constantinople was, above all, a maritime centre, and the coastal districts of the Golden Horn to the north of the city, and Propontis to the south, were strung with harbours. In reclaiming much of the old Roman Empire, Justinian had made the Mideterranean a ‘Roman sea’, opening up markets for Byzantine goods along the coasts of North Africa and Italy as far west as the Strait of Gibraltar. Great Warships and cargo vessels vied for space with little caiques, the characteristic fishing vessels of the Aegean. The Golden Horn offered deep and well-sheltered mornings. Ships entered under full sail to unload their cargoes. An immense class of dockland workers came into existence: sailors, carpenters, caulkers, sail-makers, and porters.

They lived in dark alleys, blocked with carts and rank from the strench of fried fish – part of the staple diet of the people, eked out with bread, vegetables and fruit. For all the people, the street was their front parlour: the place where rich and poor spent most of the day. It was also the stage for a cavalcade of entertainers. Public speakers addressed the crowds from street corners. Jugglers, bearkeepers, and performing monkeys entertained passers-by. The rich rode on horseback, for preference on white steeds richly decked out with elaborate saddlecloths and harnesses. They were escorted by liveried servants, usually armed with cudgels to beat a path through the multitude of pedestrians and the streams of asses, oxen, sheep, pigs, camels, and even elephants being driven through the streets to the market. The noblest figures in the empire were borne in gilded carriages drawn by teams of mules. Though all people might be equal in the eyes of the Lord, social inequality on Earth had been pronounced inevitable – even in Justinian’s perfect state – so the church leaders had condoned slavery. Now and then, shuffling columns of slaves became a feature of the street pageant, along with sinister processions of condemned felons. These prisoners faced death or, more commonly, mutilation; assassins or conspirators were slung onto the backs of donkeys and fogged mercilessly as they passed through the town.

For all the public display of vanity and squaltor, religious feeling ran very deep in the people. That was the paradox of Constantinople. Heated theological discussions were as much a feature of street life as everyday haggling over prices. One major controversy divided Byzantium in Justinian’s time, centering on the person of Christ himself. The orthodox view in the church was that Christ embodied two natures, the human and the divine. A heretical group known as the Monophysites, however, held a different belief which had developed in Alexandria. They maintained that Christ’s divine component was so overwhelming that it obliterated the human element. The Monophysites gained recruits at every social level in Constantinople, but especially among the poor. One Byzantine chronicler wrote: ‘This town is full of craftsmen and slaves who are all deep theologians and preach in the shops and in the streets. If you want a man to change some money for you, he will first teach you in what way the Son differs from the Father; and if you ask the price of bread, he will tell you by way of answer, that the Son is inferior to the Father; and if you want to know if you your bath is ready, the bath attendant will reply that the Son was created from nothing……’ It was the Byzantines, with their passion for argument about religious matters, who brought two Greek words into widespread use – ‘orthodox’ and ‘heretic’. The public disputes reflected the depth of religious feeling. Icons – wooden panels painted with religious motifs – were set up both in churches and in homes. Many people, the poor in particular, venerated them as sacred, even miraculous, objects. It became the practice to carry icons through the city in torchlight processions, for – like almost everything else – the solemn pageantry of religion was celebrated in the streets. The power of the ecclesiastical leader was subservient only to the dictates of the emperor. In the church councils which met to deliberate on key matters of doctrine, any final decision needed the approval of the supreme authority. To Constantinople and its emperor fell the destiny of shaping the world’s first civilization embracing Christianity as a state religion.

5 Expensive Women's Perfume You Never Knew Existed

Expensive Women's Perfume

We love to get ourselves pampered and lavished once in a while, but when is too much enough? Designer names like Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Goyard, Chanel and Givenchy are best known for their handbags and other leather goods, but what about women’s perfume? Do you think smelling good would cost you thousands of dollars? Bet you didn’t. Find out 5 expensive perfumes for women you never knew existed.

1. Hermes 24 Faubourg

Every woman knows how exquisite Hermes is and with the birth of Hermes’ 24 Faubourg, any lady who dreams of a luscious scent will never forget the first time she sprays 24 Faubourg. The perfume was launched in 1995 and created by Maurice Roucel. The scent is a product of blended jasmine, orange blossoms, ylang ylang, vanilla, patchouli and sandalwood. You will find the regular bottle design elegant while the limited edition Quadrige design, a definite collector’s item. The regular design bottle costs $169 for 3.3 fl. oz. in the Hermes website.

2. Creed Jardin D’Amalfi

The House of Creed is known for their reputation of creating the finest fragrances because only natural ingredients are being used in every creation. Now on its sixth generation, Olivier Creed created Jardin D’Amalfi in 2011 as a limited edition perfume for the Royal Exclusive line. The perfume has a floral musk sensation, bringing in notes of tangerine, Bulgarian rose, French apple, cinnamon and white musk. An ounce of Jardin D’Amalfi costs $225.

3. Caron Poivre

Originally released in 1954, Poivre has the most powerful scent that intrigues both me and women. Caron has been in the perfume industry for over a century and its brand is extraordinaire. Poivre’s main component pepper gives the strong note while it then blends with the soft, sensual notes of jasmine, tuberose, carnation, and geranium rose base. Caron perfumes are extracted through the famous Baccarat crystal fountains which fill the perfume bottles. One tiny bottle of Poivre can cost $2000.

4. Baccarat Les Larmes Sacrées de Thebes

In 1998, a perfume was released in the name of Les Larmes Sacrées de Thebes (The Sacred Tears of Thebes). Packaged in a pyramid-shaped glass bottle in Baccarat crystal with a purple top, anyone who has tried a sample of this perfume would want to try more of it. A rare gem of only 6 limited edition bottles, Les Larmes Sacrées de Thebes is created for the one who has a sensual taste in fragrance. It retails at $1700 for a 0.25 oz bottle.

5. Clive Christian Imperial Majesty

When you visit Clive Christian’s official website, you’ll be surprised to see that it describes itself as “The World’s Most Expensive Perfume”. The idea of owning an exclusive Clive Christian perfume is tempting as only a selected few can have it. Clive Christian released in 2006 Imperial Majesty, which is bottled in Baccarat crystal with a five-carat white diamond plus 18-carat gold. Only ten bottles of 16 oz each were created and 7 out of 10 were already obtained by collectors. Imperial Majesty costs a whopping $435,000 a bottle.

Such perfumes are not ordinary staples – they are eternally meant for those who have the power to buy and collect such beautiful luxuries in life. But don’t worry. You still have every right to smell and feel great without paying a fortune. You can still enjoy the most popular women’s perfume you can find at Beauty Encounter.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

History mystery: CONSTANTINOPLE the City of the emperor Justinian -3

The Hippodrome, next door to the Sacred Palace and connected to if by galleries and staircases, was the venue for lavish spectacles and sporting events, with seating for perhaps 100,000 spectators. It had been restored by Constantine as a slightly scaled-down model of the Circus Maximus in Rome, and embellished by his successors. Near the Hippodrome, the Baths of Zeuxippos provided a fashionable backdrop for socializing. Towering above the other buildings rose the gigantic dome of the cathedral of Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom), Justinian’s supreme achievement and the masterpiece of all Byzantine architecture. To the historian Procopius, perfect of Constantinople at that time, the vast dome 33m (108ft) across seemed not to be supported by masonry at all, ‘but rather to cover space as though it were suspended from the sky by a golden chain’.

 In fact the weight had been spread across the whole structure by the use of arches, semi-domes, vaulted aisles, and galleries. The basilica was all the more remarkable because of the speed of its construction – it was built by 10,000 workmen between AD 532 and 537. The services held inside were of staggering magnificence. On ceremonial occasions the entire court would crowd into the sanctuary. Before them was a curtain embroidered with 500,000 pearls, veiling a massive gold altar inlaid with precious gems. The interior of the church was illuminated by thousands of candles; smoke rose from incense burners. Crimson-clad musicians accompanied huge male-voice choirs, and the curved surfaces of the dome produced extraordinary effects of resonance.

Much of the original ornamentation in the Hagia Sophia has disappeared, but several examples of Byzantine church decoration have survived elsewhere, such as in the Church of San Vitale in Ravenna. Exquisitely carved marble panels would have served as altar-pieces, walls and domes would have been inlaid with coloured-glass mosaics. One characteristic feature of the Byzantine style was the bold presentation, in simple lines and flat colours, of sacred figures gazing upon the worshippers through wide and penetrating eves – eyes deliberately enlarged to enhance the grandeur and mystery of the Christian faith. IN front of the Hagia Sophia, in the heart of the Imperial District, was the Augustaeon, an impressive forum or marketplace whose shady colonnades were the favourite meeting place of Byzantine high society. People gathered there to market their mark, to chat or argue, to parade in the latest fashions, and to watch the comings and goings of the imperial court. The surrounding area was renowned for its luxury and beauty. There were countless bookshops, serving as meeting places for the city’s aspirant intellectuals. Perfume shops were redolent with the whiff of scandal as well as scent, as gossips met to exchange rumours. Only the wealthiest could afford to live in the area: the land-owing aristocrats, for example, who lived in town palaces, away from their country estates.

These nobles were forbidden to engage in business. Commerce was the prerogative of an elite class of magnates who controlled the major businesses, trade, and administrative posts, and may also have lived around the Augustaeon. The imperial government shrewdly assembled these merchants in a single area in order to supervise them more easily. Justinian himself had extensive commercial interests, especially in the manufacture of silk. Until the 6th century, the Chinese had monopolized silk manufacture. The fine silk thread had reached Constantinople along the ancient Silk Road from the East.

How the thread was produced remained a mystery in Europe. Justinian was determined to break the secret. Learning that the knowledge he required had reached the Persian Empire to the east of Byzantium, he persuaded two Persian monks to engage in some officially sponsored espionage. They returned to Constantinople with details of the technique and a few silkworm eggs hidden inside a bamboo. Justinian set up looms in the palace to manufacture the cloth: the entire European silk industry dates back to this beginning. All luxury goods were a major source of wealth for Byzantium, and trade in them was concentrated along a short stretch of a great avenue called the Mese.

 This marble highway ran for some 8km (5 miles) from east to west. At its east end, in the Imperial District, it was lined with two-storey arcades, housing stalls and shops of every kind. Prosperous goldsmiths and jewelers traded along the route between the Sacred Palace and the Forum of Constantine – a distance of about 600m (1,970ft). Money-changers plied their trade there too, often operating in the street itself, sitting at tables piled high with bags of gold and silver coins. The Forum of Constantine was the hub of the Byzantine business world. It was overlooked by the Senate and a splendid statue of the first Christian emperor perched at the top of a porphyry column. From the Forum of Constantine, the Mese ran west to the Forum of Theodosius, dominated by a triumphal arch, and thence to the Amastrianum, the cattle market, and the Forum of Arcadius – thus connecting all the city’s principal marketplaces. The highway then crossed what remained of Constantine’s walls and passed through the Psamathia district. With every step away from the smart Imperial District, the shops became shabbier, the people poorer, the buildings more crowded.

Controversy Surrounding Metal Detectors in Schools

Security metal detectors in schools are a topic of interest for many parents, educators and lawmakers.  Yet, this simple concept has a variety of complex problems making it easier said than done.  Some may not understand the concept completely or seem to have an understanding from one perspective.  The following points give more insight on why metal detectors in schools is a tough challenge to tackle.
  • Many educators and lawmakers argue it may take too long when screening each student as they enter through a walk-through detector.  Many schools have a large student body and it could cause concern if educational programs are disrupted due to loss of time.
  • How many security professionals will be needed to monitor, train, and operate metal detectors?  Will the detectors be used during the day and what about after school and events?
  • How often would metal detectors be in use by the school? Meaning, when students are scheduled to be in class, will they only be used at this time? Will any of these people work undercover or do surprise inspections to find concealed weapons? If the metal detectors will not be in use 24/7, people could still bring a weapon on the premises and hid it somewhere within the building.
  • How will students enter the building to be screened? Will detectors be at a designated entrance and will students be required to enter this way only? What about screening students before they enter the building but on school property?  Few accounts of school violence have happened outside of the building.
  • What about students who take the bus to school? Will school buses have metal detectors? This poses an issue with windows at ground-level.  What if a student tries to pass a weapon through an unlocked window?
  • Covering the cost of metal detectors.  This aspect alone has a number of concerns such as the type of detectors to use, how many to purchase, the cost of hiring security personnel to train, maintain, and monitor usage, and would the cost considered a return investment if the measure is implemented to its full ability? What about replacing them in the future? How will the cost of using them be covered: who will pay for it?
  • Will visitors and parents be screened?  What about when other non-school related events occur such as Election Day voting or community meetings, will metal detectors be used on these days? 

Here is the fact of the matter, security metal detectors can be a great help to stop harm coming to our children. But if you asked me if they are the solution to all our problems I would say "no". I think most securiy professionals would have the same opinion. To be frank security metal detectors can help a great deal, and price shouldn't be a huge concern when it comes to protecting our children. I believe our schools will never truely be safe as long as humans are in this state of existance. But with the combined efforts of metal detectors, guns for teachers and security cameras we can make our schools a safer place.
Protective Technologies International manufactures and sells walk through metal detectors to help schools become safer