Monday, June 30, 2014

Helike, an Ancient Greek City

Helike or Eliki was an ancient Greek city which was located near the Selinus River towards the southern shore of the Gulf of Corinth, near the present city of Aeghion. A huge sea wave and an earthquake took place in 373 BC and destroyed the city and the ruins sank under the sea.

Reference is made to the city of Eliki in the Iliad by historians Pausanias, Heridotus, Marcus Aurelius, Siculus and Homer. This city was considered to be the home to the Temple of Elikonian Poseidon as well as a centre for worship for the ancient god of the sea, Poseidon.

After the earthquake had submerged the city together with the people, a huge bronze statue of Poseidon was left standing and is referred as the Lord of Helike in the Iliad.

Pausania writes about Helike who was the daughter of Selinos of Aegialia and was later called Achaia. She had married Ion, the son of King of Athens and a city was named after her by the king.

According to the Greek historian, Diodorus Siculus, he relates that before the earthquake, this city was among the first cities of Achaia.

Objects Found – Seashells/Clay/Bronze Money

Researchers have discovered object which may have been from the ancient Greek city of Helike and reports of the finding were disclosed at the meeting in Greece.

The objects discovered were made of clay and a piece of money made of bronze that seemed to be around two thousand four hundred years old which were found after digging near Aeghion on the south-western shore of the Gulf of Corinth.

Besides this, seashells and other remains of sea objects were also found which suggest that the city’s remains were in the sea a long time. The search for Helike city by the scientist went on for twelve years where experts were employed to search the Gulf of Corinth with sound devices.

Archaeologists have been working on the excavations for a long time in an effort to find some traces of the lost city of Eliki and from the remains of the sea objects they believed that Helike must be under land near the coast and over a period of time the land in the area had been lifted.

Magnetic and Radar Devices Used

Some of the researchers tested the material under the land surface and with the use of the magnetic and radar devices they explored for buried wreckage, discovering an area of more than six hundred fifty meters wide which gave evidence that the people had once lived under the surface.

This area seemed to be almost one kilometre from the present shore area and archaeologist are keen on exploring further for evidence of a buried road which could lead them to find the main city of Helike.

Archaeologist are keen on discovering the remains of Helike’s major public building which could help them in discovering what type of life was lead during the most important period in ancient Greek history.

They would also get to know more on the mystery of the lost city of Atlantis and like Helike, Atlantis was said to be a city which had sunk beneath the sea.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Sol Invictus

Sol Invictus – Sun God of Later Roman Empire/Patron of Soldiers

Sol Invictus  1
Sol Invictus was considered as the official sun god of the later Roman Empire as well as a patron of the soldiers.

The Roman emperor Elagabalus who reigned during 218-222 had built a temple in his honour as Sol Invictus on the Palatine and made attempts to make his worship as the main religion in Rome. Later on the emperor Aurelian who reigned from 270-275 re-established the worship and constructed a magnificent temple to Sol in the Agrippa Campus. Towards 274, the Roman emperor Aurelian had made it an official cult together with the traditional Roman cults and scholars’ disapproval on the new deity became a re-foundation of the ancient Latin cult of Sol, a revival of the cult of Elagabalus.
Sol Invictus 2

The emperors favoured the god after Aurelian which also appeared on their coins until Constantine and the last inscriptions referred to Sol Invictus dates back to 387 AD.

There were many devotees during the fifth century which made Augustine necessary to preach against them. Sol was worshipped as the special protector of the emperors and of the empire and remained the chief imperial cult till it was replaced by Christianity.

Classical Roman Religion

Invictus was the result of many deities of classical Roman religion inclusive of the supreme deity Jupiter, the war god Apollo, Mars, Hercules and Silvanus and from the third century it had been in use.

Sol Invictus 3
The Roman cult to Sol as the exclusive state religion carried on right from the earliest history of the city till the institution of Christianity. Before Sol Invictus, the Romans had already a sun god Sol Indiges who had been worshipped during the period of the Roman Republic and the meaning of Indiges is debated among many where Sol Indiges could mean the indigenous sun.

A colossal statue associated with a sun god Sol had been built by the Emperor Nero. Sol Invictus could have been imported from the East and the Roman emperor Elagabalus worshipped a Syrian sun god while it was Emperor Aurelian who was particularly associated with the Invictus since he had attributed to the god his victory over the Palmyrenes

Sol Invictus - Temple in Campus Martius 

Sol Invictus 4
Emperor Aurelian who had set up a temple to Sol Invictus in the Campus Martius had also established priesthood for the god creating games in his honour and established Sol Invictus as the supreme god of the Romans especially among the military.

During the tetrarchy period, Jupiter and Hercules regained prominence in the Roman pantheon though with Constantine, Sol Invictus became the main worship till Rome was converted to Christianity. An inscription of 102 AD by a certain Gauius Julius Anicetus provided records of restoration of a portico of Sol and is now a Trastevere area of Rome.

Though he had an allusion of his own cognomen in mind, which is the Latinized version of the Greek equivalent of Invictus, the earliest extant dated inscription which used the invictus as an epithet of Sol was of 158 AD while another dated to the second century is inscribed on a Roman palera or an ornamental disk. Augustus was a regular epithet who linked deities to the Imperial cult

Friday, June 27, 2014

Canopic Jars – Part of Mummification to store organs

Canopic Jars
Canopic jars were used by the Ancient Egyptian from the time of the Old Kingdom up till the time of the Late Period or the Ptolemaic Period,as part of the mummification to store four main organs which would be taken out of the body and placed in special containers for the afterlife.

Each of these jars had the head of a different god known as the four sons of Horus and wasof a wide range of materials like pottery, precious stone, calcite, gold, bronze, wood limestone, etc.

Canopic Jars 1

The type of material of the jars depended on the income of the owner and the size of the jars varied from 5 inches to 10 inches. Canopic jars were an important part in the rituals of ancient Egyptians; the most prominent part was the mummification process.

These containers were wide necked in which the internal organs of the deceased person were stored before mummifying the dead and the Egyptian’s belief in afterlife lead them to store the internal soft organs like the stomach, intestines liver and lungs in these jars.

Each of these organs were stored in separate Canopic jars and the heart it is said was left inside the body since the Egyptian believed that the heart was the soul and it was weighed afterlife, to see if the person had led a good life.

Plainly decorated to beautifully designed jars of different Style/Shapes

Canopic Jars 2
Initially there were plainly decorated jars and with passage of time,they gradually changed to beautifully designed jars with different styles and shapes.

There is a lot of debate on the origin of the term `canopic’ which has led some to believe that an ancient Egyptian port called Canopus, east of Alexandria and whose inhabitants worshipped Osiris was the Egyptian god of the dead and that the name canopic had derived from this source.

These jars had lids which were in the shape of a head of one of the minor funerary deities and the jar containing the stomach was protected by the goddess Neith with Duamutef as the patron.

While Qebehsenuef was the patron of the jar containing the intestines, it was protected by goddess Selket, and Goddess Isis protected the jar containing the liver which was patronised by Imseti.

Names of Protective Deities Written on the Jar 

Canopic Jars 3
The god Hapi whose jar had the lungs were protected by the goddess Nephthys and the name of the protective deities were mostly written on the jar with a magic formula to invoke the powers of the gods.

At times the lids of the jars had shapes as their heads where Imsety’s head was of a human, while Hapi’s head was that of a baboon.

 Dyamutef’s head being that of a dog and Qebehsenuf’s that of a falcon.

Canopic Jars 4
The organs which were individually wrapped in linen were placed into canopic jars with consecrated oil poured over them after which the jars were closed and preserved.

The jars were placed in a canopic box or chest and the simple canopic chest having flat or vaulted lids resembled shrines.

The jars were buried together though kept separate from the mummified body and in the pyramids built during the Old Kingdom, these canopic jar were placed often in shallow pit near the sarcophagus and then covered with a slab.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Derinkuyu – Ancient Multi-Level Underground City

Deriinkuyu Underground City is an ancient multi-level underground city of the Median Empire in Derinkuyu district in Nevsehir Province in the Central Anatolia region Turkey.

As per the census of 2010, the population of the district was 22,114 out of which 10,679 lived in the town of Derinkuyu.

 The district covers an area of 445 km2 and the average elevation of the district is 1,300 metres, the highest point being Mt. Ertas at 1,988 metres.

The historical region of Cappadocia where Derinkuyu is placed, comprises of various historical underground cities which have been carved out of a unique geological formation that were not generally occupied and is now a major tourist attraction.

It extends to a depth of approximately 60 metres and was huge enough to shelter around 20,000 people with their food stores and livestock and is also one of the largest excavated ground city in Turkey.

More than 200 underground cities of at least two levels deep have been discovered in the areas between Kayseri and Nevsehir with 40 of which have been of at least three levels and the troglodyte cites at Derinkuyu and Kaymakli are the two best examples of the underground cities.

Carved out of Unique Geological Formation 

The underground cities and structures which have been carved out of unique geological formation may have been used as hiding places at the time of raids.

There are around 600 outside doors to the city which are hidden in the courtyards of surface dwellings and the underground city is 85 meters deep containing the usual rooms which is normally found in an underground city, with cellars, storage rooms, refectories, churches, stables and lot more.

Besides these, a large room with barrel vaulted ceiling on the second floor was a missionary school while the room to the left was used as the study room.

From the third and the fourth floors onwards the descent of vertical staircases lead to cruciform plan church to the lowest floor.

A ventilation shaft of 55 meters deep was also used in these underground dwellings and at least 15,000 ventilation ducts to provide fresh air deep within the underground cities were discovered.

Most of the floors were not provided with water wells up to the surface in order to guard them from being poisoned at the time of raids.

Protection for Attacks

The large network of passages, stepped pits, tunnels and corridors linking family rooms and communal places lead to places to meet, work and worship.

These underground dwellings were complete with chimneys for air circulation, niches for oil lamps, wells, water tanks, as well as areas to place the dead temporarily till a suitable place for burial was found.

They also had carefully balanced moving stone doors; resembling mill stones that were constructed to quickly block the corridors in case of any incidents of attacks which only operated from one side.

From observation, it is unlikely that these underground cities could have been intended for permanent dwelling or long stays but built to safeguard from attacks which could accommodate large numbers of people with their livestock for a long period of time.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Sacred mean Phi

Numbers and Proportions – Divine Importance & Significance

Various cultures all over the world have seen the way nature has used number and proportion in the material form and these cultures were discovered in certain and exact set of numbers and proportions.

For the ancient people it seemed to be unclear that this set of numbers and proportion could have some significance or even possess a divine importance while the modern people would have no problem explaining the coincidence with logic or with scientific reasoning.

The ancient culture that discovered nature’s use of number did not have the need to explain things and left their minds open to the mysterious of nature’s love of geometry. Looking into the vast amount of information which has been collected on extensive number of forms where nature has adopted the proportion of Phi, it is observed that there is no other specific number which recurs through life with such regularity on earth.

For long, human beings realised that certain numbers, ratios and shapes had sacred significance like the number `7’ which has great significance in different aspects of various cultures, where geometric shapes were connected with numbers. The Fibonacci series and the Golden Ratio continue to be instrumental in everything from Music to Art.

Sacred Geometry – Complex System

 Phi 1
Sacred geometry considered as a worldview of pattern recognition is a complex system of religious structures and symbols which involves time, form and space and according to this, the basic pattern of existence are considered to be sacred.

On researching into the nature of these patterns, forms as well as the relationships with their connections, understanding can be dawned into the mysteries, the lore and the laws of the universe.

The sacred meanings and symbols are also connected to certain geometric shapes, numbers and geometric ratios or proportions.

In the ancient times, certain numbers had some symbolic meanings attached to them, besides counting or calculating.

Most of the figures in geometry, like the polygons, hexagons, triangles, squares etc. were all related to numbers where square for instance related to four sides, triangle to three angles, etc.

Number Seven – Sacred Meaning to Geometric Number

Attaching sacred meanings to geometric number, one will find the number seven occurring consistently in diverse cultures all over the globe and religious and mythologies of the world consider seven as sacred.

An example is the pyramids of Egypt where the shape of the pyramid arrives at the number seven by connecting the three sided triangle and the four sided square.

The seven musical notes in a scale in music, repeat at the octave, then there are seven virtues and seven deadly sins in the Christian Church, seven heavens and seven earths in the Islamic tradition, seven terraces of purgatory in the Roman Catholic beliefs,seven steps taken by Buddha at the time of his birth, seven worlds in the Hindu universe, seven branched Jewish menorah which is the oldest symbol in Judaism.

As per some beliefs, the human body needs seven energy vortices which are known as chakras in order to be open to spiritual growth, wherein one moves focus from the three lower physical chakras to the four higher spiritual point.Moreover, seven was also connected with growth wherein a phenomenon needed to be completed in seven stages like in the Bible where God created the universe in Seven Days

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Sword of Damocles – A Greek Legend

The Sword of Damocles
The Sword of Damocles, an object in the Greek legend has been designated to portray the dangers of being in authority. As per the legend, Damocles was a courtier in the palace of King Dionysius II ruling Syracuse, a city of Magna Graecia, which was the Greek area of southern Italy, during the fourth century BCE.

Like several other couriers, Damocles would always flatter the king with the hope that he would one day gain great power in his court. Dionysius II was a very wealthy man with all the luxuries that money could buy and even engaged court flatterers to boost his ego, one of them being Damocles.

Damocles would often make comments to the king with regards to his luxurious and wealthy life Eventually, the king tired of his constant flattery, on one occasion asked Damocles if he would be interested in switching places with him, in order to see what it would be like to be in that position as a ruler for a day, to which Damocles readily agreed.

Damocles to Experience the Life of a King for a Day 

The Sword of Damocles 1
Dionysius then ordered for the preparation to be made for Damocles to experience what the life as a king would be like for him. Dionysius gave orders that Damocles be placed on a golden couch which was covered with the most splendid woven rug and embroidered with beautiful works.

 He had the sideboards adorned with several chased gold and silver and gave orders that boys of outstanding beauty should attend to him and be at his beck and call. He was surrounded with perfumes burning, with unguents and garlands, along with tables which were piles with all the variety of most of the selected food.

In the midst of this luxurious surrounding, Dionysius had ordered that a shining sword fastened by a horse hair be suspended which could be let down so that it hung over the neck of the fortunate man.

Damocles enjoyed himself immensely in this position until he noticed the sharp sword which was hovering over his head, suspended by the hair of a horse from the ceiling and this was explained to Damocles of what life was all about being a ruler.

Dionysius Conveyed a Message 

The Sword of Damocles 2
Damocles was alarmed and afraid and neither looked at the waiters attending to him nor the silver works or the array of dishes placed before him at the table and lost interest in all that was prepared for him and begged the king to be allowed to depart from the position he had agreed to.

He then realised that he was better off with his original way of life and no longer wanted to be fortunate like the king with his wealth and power but preferred to return to his poor but a secured way of life.Dionysius had managed to convey a sense of constant fear which great men live when placed in high position.

Often as humans we tend to be dissatisfied with our own way of life. This legend conveys a reminder to us that for a powerful man, there always seems to be a danger where happiness is scarce.

Theologia Germanica

Theologia Germanica – Written during the Reign of Avignon Papacy 

Theologia Germanica
The Theologia Germanica known also as Theologia Deutsch or Teutsch or Der Franckforter is presumed to be written around 1350 by an anonymous author and as per the introduction of the Theologia, it seemed that the author was a priest who was a member in the house of the Teutonic Order, living in Frankfort, Germany. It was written during the troublesome reign of the Avignon Papacy from 1309-1378, where numerous clerics were refrained from performing Catholic rites due to the power struggle between the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor.

This resulted in the lay groups of pious people such as the `Friends of God’, led by Dominicans, John Tauler and Blessed Henry Suso, becoming very prominent during this period and the author seemed to be associated with the Friends of God. Though speculation of the author went on, it was discovered and published by Martin Luther in the year 1516 and on his discovery, Luther declared that next to the Bible and St. Augustine, he had not found any other book from which he had learnt more of God and Christ and man and all things.

Most Influential and Widely Read

Theologia Germanica 1
Luther had produced two editions of the text in 1516, a partial text without a tile and another in 1518 with a title `Eyn deutsch Theologia’ and his input further enhanced the books’ continuous appeal with repeated publication. The Theologia Germanica was most influential and widely read and continuously published German religious text during the Middle Ages. The book urges Christians to follow the path of Christ, by detaching the life of selfishness, licentiousness and sin.

 It is a belief that when one allows the divine light of God to penetrate our daily activities,Gods becomes our guide directing our will with His Perfect Will. The Theologia Germanica was written within the framework of Christian tradition though the author’s spiritual advice is conveyed to Christians of all denominations and this would aid those who wholeheartedly tend to live a righteous life on earth. Only eight manuscripts of the Theologia Germanica survive till date which comes from the second half of the fifteenth century. Hence it was not widely disseminated before it drew the attention of Martin Luther who is credited in giving the treatise it modern name.

Focused on Latin Christianity

Written more than a century before Luther’s time, the theology is focused on the Latin Christianity of the Rhineland and appears in several editions and languages during its six hundred years old history which has taken its place alongside the Imitation of Christ in the literature of devotion.

Based on the Wurtzburg Manuscript, discovered in the nineteenth century, Susanna Winkworth translated the full version of the Theologia Germanica and the first publication of her translation in 1854 included additional passages which were not found in the editions that were made popular by Martin Luther. The syntax and the grammar of Susanna Winkworth’s original translation has been preserved from the German manuscript creating an edition which is true to the composition of the original translation while at the same time providing a modern and easy text reading.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Cup and Ring Mark; A Prehistoric Art

Cup and Ring Mark 1
The term Cup and ring mark or carvings are a range of rock carved symbols, which have been considered as a prehistoric art that have been found mainly in northern England and Scotland though similar types of these carvings have also been found in other locations all across the world.

The carvings in Britain are estimated to be around 4000 to 5000 years old dating them back to the Neolithic and the Bronze era.

Cup and Ring Mark 2
The best known examples are at Balnachraig – Kilmartin Glen, Argyll, Beauly near Iverness and Dalgarven Mill near Kilwinning. Cups and ring marks had been sculpted in local stone slabs some of which were quite basic with primitive decorations while others were made with great precision and style.

Most of them have concentric rings like ripples on water. Some examples are of portable rock art where cup and rings marks have been carved on huge stones which are movable.

The carvings generally occur as circular hollows which are cut into rock surfaces like cup marks and these are either single or in groups. The cup mark is surrounded by a circular channel like cup and ring mark and these too appear as single or multiple rings. There are also complex designs which involve cups, cups and rings together with grooved channels which are linked or enclosed parts of the design.

Cup and Ring Mark Symbols Pecked on Surface with Pointed Tools

Cup and Ring Mark 3
These descriptions cover most of Britain’s rock carving though other types of motifs also exist like the spiral channels, cups in rosette patterns, ladder, chevron channels, grid and comb like motifs.

On close observation of un-eroded carvings, it shows that the symbols were pecked on the surface of the rock with the use of a pointed tool of around 0.5 cm in diameter with the possible use of a metal, flint and deer antler, as tools materials.

Archaeologists have carved a new cup and ring which has been created with the use of a deer antler pick where the stone has now been put on display in the Manor House museum, Ilkley, West Yorkshire and the modern carving also portrays how the symbols would stand out against the darker rock surface when they were first carved.

The Meaning and Purpose of Cup and Ring Mark Symbols – A Mystery

Cup and Ring Mark 4
Presently the meaning and purpose behind the symbols is not known while several theories have been suggested though no valid reasoning has emerged.

Most of the rock carvings are placed close by or incorporated in cairns and burial mounds indicating that the symbols in some way could be connected with burial practices and possible beliefs with regards to ancestors and an afterlife.

Cup and Ring Mark 5

Moreover, the symbols were also found carved on standing stone as well as at stone circles presuming that these places could have been used for religious as well as ritual purposes during that time.

Carvings also occurred on outcrop rock where site seems to have been chosen for a specific purpose to give an interrupted view over the surrounding area.

Many people have made attempts to comprehend the symbolism of these cups and ring marks and speculate about its original significance.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Prehistoric Megalithic Engineering

Megalithic 1
Megalith comes from the Greek word `Mega’, which means large and `Lithos’, stone.Megalith also portrays an object which consist of rocks formed in particular shape for a purpose which has been used in describing building that have been built by people of an ancient era in various locations of the world.

 Varieties of huge stone have been found as megaliths in construction of different structures that took place during the Neolithic period and that which continued through the Chalcolithic and Bronze Age.

Several theories have come up regarding the methods used in the prehistoric megalithic engineering in the form of modern civil engineering methods used in the megalithic construction.

One of the most amazing factors of the megaliths is its unusual size which has given some of the sites a mythological stand where local traditions consider that they had been fashioned by gods or giants.

Puzzling Primitive Methods and Tools

There are various tales with regards to the megaliths, describing single large structures of stones which had been thrown or lost by giants and have been described in particular as their graves or ovens or houses. The connection of giants with megaliths dates back to the thirteenth century where the oldest reference to tumuli gigantis has been found in written documents.

The most amazing mystery is the moving and using of huge stones which have been weighing over hundreds of tonnes where the smaller stones could have been exceedingly convenient and efficient. Generations of archaeologist, engineers, explorers, historian as well as tourist are left perplexed with these great mysteries and have been speculating on how the ancient people movedthese massive tons of blocks of stone with the help of primitive methods and tools.

Besides moving them, the accuracy of positioning them is mind blowing and while the question is simple the problem is quite complex.

Adopted Sophisticated Technology

Abu Simbel
The use of such massive stones in several constructions like the Baalbek, Giza, Stonehenge, Carnac, Jerusalem, to name a few, indicates a level of organization and skill.

Several theories have come up regarding the methods which were adopted in the prehistoric megalithic engineering especially in the form of modern civil engineering system imposed during the megalithic engineering.

In recent prehistoric period, this civilization adopted sophisticated technology by inconveniently quarrying huge stones as well as transporting them to inconvenient distance to some to the most inconvenient locations and then piling them into temples on the mountain scale.

Many agree that the Great Pyramids of Egypt together with other prehistoric megalithic structures around the globe were constructed on these colossal magnitudes which no ordinary human being would have done. The monument at Abu Simbel even today had to be cut to pieces since even the heaviest machinery was unable to manage to move them a few hundred yards away from the Nile waters which were rising behind the Aswim Dam.

Astounding Level of Technical Skill

Megalithic 2
The actual structure method and technology adopted by the ancient people is puzzling as well as fascinating to modern man and an in-depth study has revealed an astounding level of technical skill and knowledge shown by ancient men.

Some examples are that they quarried the stone needed without using any explosives recognizing different area or weaknesses in the rock, using fire to crack the stone or driving in wet wooden wedges into cracks in rock walls.

Besides they also used different types of fibres woven and plaited in various patterns to make ropes which were used in a variety of uses like the movement of heavy objects.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Atlit Yam Submerged Ruins of Ancient Neolithic Site

Atlit Yam 1
Atlit Yam is located around 200 to 400m offshore at a depth of around eight to twelve meters extending over an area of ca. 40,000sq.m not far from the coast of the village of Atlit in the Mediterranean Sea near Haifa in Israel.

It is the submerged ruins of the ancient Neolithic site and this prehistoric settlement dates back to the seventh millennium BC which has been preserved well by the sandy sea-bed with a mysterious stone circle which stands as if it was first erected. 

Atlit Yam 2
It is one of the largest and the oldest sunken settlements found, which gives us some information about the ancient inhabitants.

The site was first discovered in the year 1984 by Ehud Galili, a marine archaeologist and thereafter, underwater excavations took place to know more about this ancient settlement.

The architectural discoveries made consisted of stone built water wells, series of unconnected walls, stone paved areas, foundations of rectangular structures, round and ritual installations, the megalithic structures with thousands of flora and faunal remains with numerous artifacts of stone, bone flint and wood. Besides this, around sixty five human skeletons were also discovered in both primary and secondary burials which lay there undisturbed.

Center of the Settlement – Seven Megaliths

Atlit Yam 3
Towards the center of the settlement, were seven megaliths measuring 1.0 to 2.1 meters high, weighing around 600 kg which seemed to be arranged in a stone semicircle.

These stone had cup marks which had been carved into them and were once arranged around a freshwater spring which indicates that they could have been used for water ritual while another installation of three oval stone of around 1.6 to 1.8 meters, two of which have grooves forming schematic anthropomorphic figures.

The stone built well another of its significant structure which was excavated down to a depth of 5.5 meters had sediment fill containing animal bones, stone, flint, wood and bone artifacts at the base of the well indicating that it had ceased to function as a water well but was used as a disposal pit.

This change could probably be related to salinization of water which was responsible in the rise of sea level.

Atlit Yam Archaeological Material, Complex

Atlit Yam 4
Many discoveries made with regards to this settlement gives us an insight into how the prehistoric inhabitants lived during that time and traces of more than hundred species of plants which grew at the site or that which were collected, together with animal remains of both wild and domestic animals indicate that the residents raised as well as hunted animals for survival.

The archaeological material also indicates that Atlit Yam was complex and was based on the combined use of terrestrial as well as marine resources for plant cultivation, hunting, livestock husbandry, gathering and fishing providing the earliest known evidence for agro pastoral marine subsistence system on the Levantine coast.

Greatest Archaeological Mysteries

Atlit Yam 5
Atlit Yam is one of the greatest archaeological mysteries on how it happened to be submerged in the first place.

A study conducted by an Italian, Maria Pareschi of the Italian National Institute of Geophysics and volcanology in Pisa shows that a volcanic collapse of the Easter flank of Mount Etna 8,500 years ago could have been the cause of a 40 meters high tsunami which engulfed some of Mediterranean coastal cities within hours.

Some are speculating that the apparent abandonment of the site around that time and the fish remains indicate that the tsunami could have occurred.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Mystery of Delhi Iron Pillar: Where It Was Originally Erected?

Delhi Iron Pillar 1
The technology and skill possessed by ancient Indians is amazing and the Iron Pillars that stands in New Delhi, India,dates from the Gupta dynasty 320-540 AD indicates that it has not yet been rusted or corroded inspite of being exposed to the harsh climate.

 This shows how advanced science was in ancient India. It weighs six tonnes and is around seven meters high. The secret of its stability could not be identified even after using the modern analysis technique which led Erich von Daeniken to mention about the pillar as well as other writers who believed that there was more to learn about ancient cultures than what the orthodox teachings related to them.

The Pillar stands at the centre of the Quwwatul Mosque, near Qutub Minar, which is not the original site of the pillar and is one of Delhi’s most curious structures highlighting ancient India’s achievements in metallurgy.The iron pillar at Delhi has fascinated many all over the world due to its amazing resistance to atmospheric corrosion.

Superior Quality Raw Iron 

Delhi Iron Pillar 2
The pillar is made of 98 percent from superior quality raw iron in contrast to any other iron artifacts which are usually made using a mould and forged using a hammer which is evident from the forging marks that are present on the surface.

It is presumed to have stood 1,600 years without decomposing or accumulating any kind of rust. It stands 7 m tall with one meter below the ground and the diameter is 48 centimetres at the foot, tapering to 29 cm at the top just below the base of this amazingly crafted structure.

 It was manufactured by forged welding and has an inscription stating that it was erected as a flagstaff in honour of the Hindu god, Vishnu and in the memory of the Gupta King Chandragupta II.

Present Location a Mystery

Dhar Iron Pillars
Iron Pillars at Dhar
As per evidence found, the pillars were originally not located at its present location but had been moved from another place which is supported by evidence of the absence of other relics of the 4th century found in the vicinity. Locals believe that the pillars were brought to Delhi by Anangpal Tomar king who had contributed in building the city of Delhi around 1020 AD.

The surface of the pillar has an inscription which states that the pillar was originally located in an area called Vishnupadagiri which means `hill with footprint of Lord Vishnu’. The region was later identified as Udayagiri which is a town situated in central India, 50 km east of Bhopal.

The possibility of the original site of Delhi iron pillar being Udayagiri is based on detailed analysis of astronomical, architectural, iconographical and archaeological aspects of the Udayagiri site.

Astronomical – Significance and Importance

Delhi Iron Pillar 3
The significance and importance of Udayagiri from the astronomical point of view, is that it had been established for the first time during the Gupta period, by Dass from various archaeological evidences. Moreover the location is much closer to the important places of ancient central India such as Sanci, Besnagar and Vidisa.

Visnupadagiri, the ancient name of Udayagiri has great connection with astronomical observations and it is mentioned in the fourteen chapter of the Surya Siddhanta as one of ancient India’s foremost astronomical treaties where different methods of measurement of times have been documented.

As this site seemed astronomically suitable, it would have been proper to anticipate that the pillar could have been located at this location with regards to the cardinal direction as well as some important caves.Evidence shows that the decorative capital of Delhi iron pillar could have originally been topped with the image of the chakra where the meaning and symbolism of different components of pillars which have been topped with the chakra image,have also been elaborated. With regards to the iron pillar, the chakra which symbolises the cakravartins’ wheel could have symbolised the cakravartin powers of Visu.

Pillar Having Strange Inscriptions

Delhi Iron Pillar 4
The first report on the pillars came from a British soldier known as Captain Archer who stated that there was a pillar with strange inscriptions on it which could not be interpreted by anybody. The Delhi iron pillar is an engineering marvel which was conceded by the president of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, London and the professor of materials and metallurgical engineering at IIT-Kanpur, Balasubramaniam unravelled the mystery on the mysterious durability of Delhi’s iron pillar.

According to him, unnamed engineers during that period used the film forming quality of phosphoric acid in creating a thin protective layer of `misawite’, which is a compound of iron, oxygen and hydrogen used to prevent rusting and corrosion. This protective film encased over the pillar within three years after erection and has been growing ever since and 1,600 years later; this film is of a thickness of one twentieth of a millimetre.

The most amazing issue is the corrosion resistant nature of the iron pillar, where the P content and the S content of the low carbon mild steel material of which it is made and the process of rust protection, spectroscopic analysis are all themes that had led it to be regarded as a miracle of technology based on the time in which the pillar had been forged and erected.

Pillar Protected By Layer of Misawite 

Delhi Iron Pillar 5
From recent information with regards to the Iron Pillar which has been found that the iron was protectedby a layer of misawite that has been formed around the pillar, was due to a higher amount of phosphorous in the iron of about one percent when compared to the usual 0.5 percent.

This was done by the ancient Indians with the use of charcoal at one point of iron extraction while in present times, limestone is used and the thin layer of misawite which had been protecting the cast iron pillar from getting rusted had formed within three years after erection of the pillar and growing ever since.

The high phosphorous content is also the result of this unique iron making process which had been practiced by the ancient Indians who reduced the iron ore contents into steel by mixing it with charcoal.

Ellen Sadler – The Girl who slept for Nine Years

Ellen Sadler at times also called the Sleeping Girl of Turville was a resident of Turville which was a small village in Buckinghamshire in the United Kingdom. Turville is located in the Hambleden valley between Oxford and Buckinghamshire, inhabited by around 400 people who lived in the scattered parish where the village was dominated by the Bailey family that lived at Turville Court.

Ellen was born on May 15, 1859 in a large impoverished family of farm workers and she was the tenth child of the family. There was nothing remarkable about her or her family members.Basically she was a quiet and a subdued child, sedate and thoughtful and was known to be a dreamer moving around in a listless manner which could be very disturbing.

At times due to her wandering thought and her distant expression, made her brothers and sisters to leave her alone with her own thoughts since she seemed to be less inclined in joining them with all the childish games and sports. Most of time she did not have much friend but one would always find her at her bedroom window gazing at the world.

Ellen had Reverence for Sacred Things

Ellen also had great reverence for sacred things and was always found to be obedient and good. Her mother would always worry about her, seeing her in deep thoughts as she would gaze at the flames by the fireside with her head in her hands and watch the shadows across the walls. At the age of eleven and coming from a poor family, she worked as a nursemaid for a family with two young children at Marlow. However her employment did not last for long as her fits of somnolence occurred often and she became unfit to work as a nursemaid any longer. She began suffering from drowsiness and was referred to a local hospital. She was treated for four months and ultimately her condition which did not improve was declared incurable and she was sent back home.

Deep Sleep – Almost Dead – But Breathing

Village Turville
After two days, Ellen had a series of seizures and on one particular day on March 29, 1871, she went to bed as usual and her mother informed that she fell into a deep sleep from which they were unable to arouse her.

A doctor by the name Hayman from nearby Stockenchurch rushed to treat her but by the time he arrived Ellen has already fallen into a deep sleep. As she lay on her bed apparently looking dead but for her breathing which indicated that she was still alive and had life in her body, she slept on for a period of nine years.

According to her mother, Ellen was kept alive by small quantity of port wine and sugar which was given through two small teapots but after a period of fifteen months, her jaw remained fixed and eventually they had to use the teapot to pour the contents through the corner of her mouth which had a small opening due to a missing tooth. At times a small portion of milk was also given to her and this was all that was given to her while she was in this state.

Incident – Tourist Attraction and Focus of many 

This incident drew the attention of several medical professionals, newspaper and the public all across the world and many came to see and examine the sleeping girl. She also became a tourist attraction for that village where her family made a substantial amount of money from thedonations received from the visitors.

King Edward, thePrince of Wales also visited her and gave her the laying on of hands which were believed in those days as a cure for the afflicted person. The doctors who were attending to Ellen after a while began to realize that the people were finding this whole incident very suspicious and with the intention of getting to know the truth about the whole issue, would appear at unexpected moments to catch the family unaware.

They would very carefully hide pointed needles in their sleeves in order to prick Ellen on her legs and arms to make her react to the prick, while one even went as far as to suggest galvanism or electric therapy, though none of it worked to rouse her from her sleep.

Donation Received made Substantial Income

Ellen Sadler  Police Record
The donation received from the visitors became quite substantial for the family but eventually someone due to jealousy wrote to the high authorities demanding an investigation into the matter which ended in a useless investigation since the parents were not known to deliberately ask for any money and this matter finally died down.

 It was on a particular day in late May 1880, that a bad thunderstorm took place and Ellen’s mother after working in the fields returned home frightened and worried, had a heart attack and had died before the doctor could attend to her.

Speculation were on as to who would be taking care of Ellen after her mother’s death. Doctor Hayman was once again questioned about his diagnosis who informed that Ellen could be paralysed and unconscious. Some of the people present informed that they had seen Ellen walking through the grave yard at night and would be seen looking through her bedroom window when no one would be watching her.

Ellen’s Arousal from her Sleep

Eventually it was decided that Ellen would be looked after by Elizabeth Stacey, her sister and wife of a bricklayer. Five months later after the death of her mother a strange incident took place and Ellen began showing signs of arousal from her sleep.

On New Year’s Eve in 1880 news broke out that the sleeping girl of Turville had finally come out of her sleep and was conscious and speaking. Though she was twenty one years of age, she acted and spoke like a child and had no memory of those strange nine year of sleep. After getting used to the routine way of life, she stayed with her Aunt, Mrs Blackwell and earned by working with beads.

Few years later, it was said that she had married a farmer and moved out from the district and probably had five children. The mystery of her strange sleeping incident has left minds wondering on the reality of the illness and the truth is still not known till date.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Monty Hall Problem – A Brain Teaser

The Monty Hall Problem
The Monty Hall Problem which is a brain teaser got its name from the TV game show known as `Let Make a Deal’, which was hosted by Monty Hall and has fascinated mathematician with the possibilities presented by the `Three Doors’.

This has led to the mathematical urban legend surrounding the `Monty Hall Problem’. The problem was first posted in a letter to the American Statistician to Steve Selvin in 1975 and it became a popular quest from a reader letter quoted in Marilyn vos Savant’s, `Ask Marilyn’, column in Parade magazine in the year 1990.

The scenario is such that one is given the choice to choose one closed door out of the three doors placed before them with one having a prize of hidden car behind it while the other two have goats behind them.The contestant is not aware of where the car is, but Monty Hall knows where the prize lies. The contestant selects a door and Monty opens one of the remaining doors, the one he knows does not have the car behind it.

 If the contestant has already chosen the correct door, then Monty is likely to open either of the two remaining door revealing that it does not contain any prize and goes on to ask the player if he would like to switch the selection to another unopened door or stay with the original selection. The player here is at a crossroad in considering his choice on the selection of the door, wondering on the probability of winning the car if they happen to stick to their original choice and what would be the chances of switching selection.

The Monty Hall Problem Difficult to Grasp

The Monty Hall Problem 1
The Monty Hall problem is difficult to grasp and unless the player thinks carefully about the deal, the role of the host goes unappreciated. The Monty Hall problem has drawn much academic interest from the surprising result with its simple formulation.

Variations has also been made by changing the implied assumptions which has created drastic different consequences where for one variation, if Monty offer the contestant a chance to switch while he had initially chosen the door with the prize of a car behind it, then the contestant should not think of switching on options. For another variation, if another door is randomly opened and happens to reveal a goat, then it does not make any difference to the contestant.

The problem is a paradox like the veridical types since the correct result is counter intuitive and seems absurd but true. This problem is closely related to the earlier Three prisoner’s problem as well as the older problem known as Bertrand’s box paradox.

Switching can turn Loss into Win/Win into Loss

According to Jason Rosenhouse, James Madison University mathematics professor, who has written an entire book on the subject – The Monty Hall Problem – The Remarkable Story of Math’s Most Contentious Brainteaser, states that the contestant can double their chance of winning on switching doors when the three conditions are fulfilled.

In the first place, Monty never opens the door which the contestant selects, secondly he always opens a door concealing a goat and thirdly when the first two rules leave Monty with a choice of doors to open, he makes his choice at random. Switching can turn a loss into a win and a win into a loss according to Rosenhouse.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Gravitational Waves – Ripples in Space-time Continuum

Gravitational Waves – Ripples in Space-time Continuum

Gravitational waves are ripples in space time continuum which was seen by Albert Einstein in his general theory of relativity. These are ripples that carry energy across the universe and were predicted to exist as a consequence of Einstein General Theory of Relativity in 1916.

Though there is a strong evidence of its existence, gravitational waves has not been directly detected earlier since they are minuscule which is a million times smaller than an atom.

Ripples in Space-time Continuum

They seem like tiny waves on a lake far away and the lake’s surface looks glassy smooth and the details of the surface can be seen only when very close to it.Einstein, in the year 1916, discovered a mathematical way to explain gravity and called it his general theory of relativity.

This theory relied on a set of coordinates which described the combination of space and time known as the space time continuum.

Warping of Matter and Energy – Force of Gravity

Since matter and energy warp the space time continuum like heavy weight on a mattress, the warping thus creates the force of gravity and gravitational waves are ripples in the space time continuum.

General relativity shows us how gravity can affect time which should be taken into account by satnav to inform where you are. A telescope at the South Pole known as Bicep – Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarisation, has been looking out for evidence of gravitational waves by detecting subtle property of the cosmic microwave background radiation.

The radiation which was produced in the big bang was originally discovered by American scientist in the year 1964 with the help of radio telescope and has been called as the `echo’, of the big bang. The large scale polarisation of this microwave had been measured by Bicep. Primordial gravitational waves only can imprint such pattern if they have been amplified by inflation.

Curvature of Space-time 

Curvature of Space- Time
According to Einstein’s theory of general relativity, gravity has been treated as a phenomenon, the outcome of the curvature of space time and this curvature is the result of the presence of mass. The more mass that is contained within a volume of space, the greater is the curvature of space-time at the boundary of the volume.

When the objects with mass move around in space-time, the curvature also changes to reflect the changed location of these objects.

In some situations, accelerating objects may generate changes in this curvature propagating outwards at the speed of light like a wave and these propagating situations are known to be gravitational waves.

Effects of Passing Gravitational Wave

Effects of Passing Gravitational Wave
As these gravitational wave passes far away, an observer will find space-time distorted due to the effects of strain and the distance between free objects may increase and decrease rhythmically as the wave may pass at a frequency which corresponds to the wave despite free objects not being subjected to an unbalanced force.

 The effect of the magnitude decreases inversely with distance from the source. Effects of passing gravitational wave can be seen by imagining a flat region of space-time with that of a group of motionless test particle lying in a plane and as the gravitational wave passes through the particles along a line which is perpendicular to the plane of the particles, the particles tend to follow the distortion in space-time.