Showing posts with label ancient history. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ancient history. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Herodotus and the Gold Digging Ants

Gold Digging Ants

Herodotus Homo Fabulator

Herodotus who is considered as the father of history has mentioned that gold digging ants were in the northern stretches of ancient India. We need to be aware that Ancient India had covered most part of present day Pakistan, before the separation of 1947. Presently Pakistan tends to cover the original India, the region of the Indus Valley, the Sindhu Desh, Sindh country or the land of the Sindhus.

Due to his story of ants together with other strange tales which are not verified during that time, several researchers as well as writers since ancient times, have accused Herodotus of stupidity and lying. Voltaire like Cicero recognized him as the father of history during the Age of Enlightenment. He thought that history was a block containing fables and legends and that it is ok if the writer seems to be a liar.

He has been assessed by Aulus Gellius in Attic Nights III, 10, as `Herodotus homo fabulator’ and has been found guilty for reciting that plea to the fantastical, ethnographical elements which tends to induce superhuman races as well as for geographical description which at that time were inexplicable.


Species of Fox-Sized Furry Ants

Herodotus has reported that a species of fox sized furry ants seemed to be living in one of the far eastern Indian provinces of the Persian Empire which according to him was a sandy desert where the sand there comprised of a wealth of fine gold dust. Michel Peissel, a French ethnologist asserts thatthe Himalayan marmot on the Deosai Plateu in Gilgit-Balistan province of Pakistan could have been the giant `ants’ according to Herodotus.

Herodotus’s description of the province was that the ground of the Deosai Plateau was rich in gold dust. The Minaro tribal people living in the Doesai Plateau had been interviewed by Peissel who had confirmed that they had for generations collected the gold dust which the marmots had brought to the surface while digging burrows. The story had been well-known in the ancient world and later on authors such as Pliny the Elder had revealed it in his gold mining segment of the Naturalis Historia.

Discovery of the Greek El Dorado in Himalayas

Peissel speculates in his book, The Ants’ Gold – The Discovery of the Greek El Dorado in the Himalayas that Herodotus could have tangled the old Persian word for `marmot’ with `mountain ants’ since he possibly was unaware of any Persian and relied on local translator while travelling in the Persian Empire. Herodotus has not claimed of having seen the gold-digging `ant’ creatures but had stated that he was just reporting what the other travellers had informed him.

Whether Herodotus had made the mistake or it could have been one of his sources, will never be known states Alex Hollman, a scholar of Herodotus at Harvard University. He further adds that if the discovery seems to be true, it tends to show that though Herodotus could have misunderstood the story and was not certainly making it up. Herodotus known as the father of history would collect stories from sources around the world which is believed to be first recited and then published, around 425 BC and the gold-digging ants’ legend is said to be one of the most famous one due to its outrageousness.

Friday, July 29, 2016

The Cave of John the Baptist near Aenon

Cave of John the Baptist

Hiding Cave of the Baptist at Aenon

In one of the beautiful paintings of Leonardo da Vinci, we find John the Baptist pointing to Heaven with a finger with several debating over the same. However, this symbolic young face does not entirely agree with the representation of John the Baptist as it has been passed down to us. Probably it would seem more appropriate for the character of John the Evangelist having his fingers raised and pointing up to divine existence Presently there is an overall agreement in qualifying the Gospel of John as the most responsive to the call to divine existence, where he gives evidence to have been more concerned in passing down the spirit of the Gospel message than to make a precise report of the historical event.

It is for this reason that at times we tend to find the chronicles of John conflicting with the chronology or with the interpretations of the Synoptic Gospels and we are not attracted in considering it as a vital question. It is not mentioned in the Synoptic Gospels about the hiding cove of the Baptist at Aenon or his second capture. John is the only evangelist to have attested that the Baptist was in a place known as Aenon.
Cave of John the Baptist_1

Baptizing at Aenon near Salem

It was after this that Jesus and his disciples had gone to the land of Judeo and had remained with them and were baptized. John had been baptizing at Aenon near Salim since there was plenty of water there and the people had come there to be baptized.

Till then he had not been put into prison by King Herod. A discussion had come up between the disciples of John and a Jew over the purification and they came to John asking him `Rabbi, he who was with you beyond the Jordon, to whom you bore witness, here he is, baptizing and all are going to him’. John had replied saying that `no one can receive anything except what is given him from heaven.

You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him. He who has the bride is the bridegroom, the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice; therefore this joy of mine is now full. He must increase, but I must decrease’.

Aenon – Springs

In the writings of Maria Valtorta, few of the pages, mostly in PMG chapters 148, 180.574 are dedicated to the actions of the Baptist and the sad series of events which had ended his life, though no mention has been made of public baptism being performed at Aenon.

The name Aenon is meant to be springs, which is a common name for any place abounding with water and since there was much water there. Hence it is not easy to conclude which is the Aenon that has been named in the Gospel of John.

Archaeologist Dr Shimon Gibson is of the belief that a cave which was discovered in 1999 bears evidence of the presence of Christian during the time of John till the eleventh century. According to legend, an enticing theory is that this seems to be the cave where Elizabeth had sheltered John from the murderous soldiers of King Herod.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Enigma of the Biblical Bath and Volume Measurement during the First Temple


Biblical Bath – Judahite Storage-Jar

During the First Temple era, there was no prearranged or fixed method of liquid volume measurements prevailing in Judah. The biblical bath that had been assumed to be the basic measurement of the system had not been a measurement at all but a popular vessel, the Judahite storage-jar which was also called the lmlk jar. The other two vessels were the nebel and the kad which were used for other purpose.

The log, hin and the issaron, termed as `measurements’ were considered as part of the system of liquid volume measurements and were really vessels which were part of the official Temple cult all through the Second Temple era and were not part of the First Temple administration and economy.

The source of the presumed Judahite First Temple era liquid volume measurement system was the bath, comprising of six  or 72 log which also includes the issaron and classified as one-tenth of a bath, as a liquid volume measurement. Three foremost sources had been utilised for reconstructing this liquid volume measurement system – the biblical text, various vessels exposed during archaeological excavations and the epigraphic finds.

Biblical References Testify Fixed Measurements of Liquid Volume

Out of these three sources, the biblical text is said to be the most important for First Temple reality where several of the scholars had presumed that biblical references tends to testify fixed measurements of liquid volume. On close examination of the text it was disclosed that what the scholars had termed as measurements was in reality, vessels that were part of the official cult of the Temple most of which were utilised during the Second Temple age.

The term `log’ has been cited five times in the Bible, all of which is in the same chapter in Leviticus – 14:10, 12, 15, 21 and 24. The `log’ is not a measurement but an oil vessel which can be lifted for waving in the Temple cult or is used for pouring, Leviticus 15 is dated to the post-exilic age with no evidence of using the log within the administration or economy at the time of the First of the Second Temple age.

The word hin is mentioned in the Bible 22 times and in all cases it is linked with the Temple cult. Just like the `log’, the hin also was not a liquid volume measurement during that period but a vessel.

`Hin’ – Egyptian Loanword for Vessel for Oil/Wine

The name of the vessel, hin could be an Egyptian loanword for a vessel for oil or wine which was utilised for the purpose of the cult. Moreover, the hin does not occur in the Deutronomistic history or in epigraphic sources and hence there is no indication of its use in the administration or the economy of the First or the Second Temple periods.

In addition, there is no mention for understanding the hin as a sixth of a bath on the foundation of the references in Ezekiel mostly since one can only learn from the texts that the hin had been well-known containing vessels for the use of cult, for offering and for creating ointments.

You could also utilise a half hin, or a third hin or a quarter hin. Based on the fact that there is no confirmation of the use of the hin in the administration or economy it could be guessed that it could be a special, possibly a small and open vessel with restricted use in the cult of the Temple.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Rediscovering Arabic Science

Arabic Science

Saudi Aramco World Magazine – Fascinating Folder on Arabic Islamic Science

The Saudi Aramco World magazine had published in May-June 2007 a fascinating folder on Arabic Islamic science. The folder comprising of 20 pages has many articles exemplified with rich iconography together with informative explanatory captions. From this all-inclusive coverage a long article on Rediscovering Arabic Science has been republished by Richard Covington, a journalist based in Paris who had collaborated with many newspapers and Medias. He had gone through specialized literature making interviews with historians of Islamic science for the purpose of gaining knowledge on the topic.

His production became quite comprehensive covering all the main phases of the scientific as well as the technological tradition of Islam. Readers will get to enjoy the republishing of this piece of scholarship with evidence in an easy readable style regarding one of the most wonderful pages of the civilization of Islam as well as the richest episodes of the history of science.

On probing a case of rare manuscripts, the dapper Lille University professor launched a mini lecture with the rapt group. Nasir al-Din al-Tulsi, the 13th century Persian astronomer and the author of one of the yellowing Arabic language texts, overturned the geocentric Greek view of the universe.
Arabic Science_4

Medieval Arabs/Muslim Scientists – Ahead of Europe

For most of the westerners, and for several Arabs, the remarkable successes of Arabic language science right from the 8th through the 16th centuries seemed as a surprising detection as though unknown continent had abruptly appeared on the scene. The medieval Arabs as well as Muslim scientists, doctors, scholars and mapmakers were way ahead of Europe in astronomy, mathematics, medicine, optics, cartography, evolutionary theory, physics and chemistry.

Centres for scientific research as well as experimentation occurred across Muslim domains namely in Baghdad, Cairo, Damascus, Bukhara, Samarkand, Shiraz, Isfahan, Toledo, Cordoba, Granada and Istanbul. Generations of science historians had once prohibited Islamic accomplishment and one critic, Pierre Duhem; the French physicist had even accused Muslims of attempting to destroy classical science in his 1914-1916 historic analysis – Le Systeme du Monde (The System of the World). Others had declared that the language of the Arab was not suitable for science, opposes Roshdi Rashed, the dean of the Islamic science in France.
Arabic Science_2

Ancient Science Come Back to Europe Through Arabic Translation

Rashed, a former fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton, professor emeritus at the University of Paris and editor of the three-volume Encyclopedia of the History of Arabic Science, commented that `otherwise well-respected scholars like Ernest Renan and Paul Tannery excluded even the possibility of an Arabic contribution to science’.

Arabic Science_1
Most of the ancient science seems to come back to Europe through Arabic translation that was later translated into Latin and other languages. Some important texts such as Ptolemy’s Planisphere, commentary of Galen on Hippocrates’ treatise Airs, Waters, Places and the concluding chapters of the third-century BC mathematician Apollonius’ book on conic sections prevail due to the Arabic translation, since the original Greek manuscripts had all been missing.

However as per astrophysicist Jean Audouze, director of the French National Centre for Scientific Research in Paris, it is said that the Arabs were not just transmitters of Greek concepts, but were the creators in their own individual right.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Astronomy and Astrology of the Medieval Islamic World


Medieval Period – Scientists’ Contribution to Astronomy

Scientists during the medieval period had made great contribution to the field of astronomy. They had updated methods of measuring and calculating the movements of heavenly bodies while their work was centred on ancient sources from Greece, India and Iran, they continued to progress models of the universe as well as the movements of the planets in it. In the midst of the eighth and tenth centuries, Baghdad had been a main center of study under the Abbasid caliph al-Mansur and al-Ma’mum though the local rulers through the region, in Cairo, Rayy, Isfahan together with the other cities had supported scientific exploration.

Scientists during that time, translated studies in Sanskrit, Pahlavi and Greek into Arabic and Arab Bedouin was recorded for the first time. The Persian Pahlavi and the Indian Sanskrit sources imparted medieval astronomers methods to calculate the position of heavenly bodies as well as in creating tables recording the movements of the sun, moon and the five known popular planets. The Bedouin traditions contain information on fixed stars, the passage of the sun and moon via the zodiacal signs as well as lunar mansion together with the seasons and connected phenomenon.

Aristotle’s model of Universe – Widely Accepted

The form of information had been refined in section due to the specific needs of Islam, the religion need the skill to determine the time and direction of Mecca for prayer, accurately, the moment of sunrise and sunset for the purpose of fasting during Ramadan. It was also needed for fixing the appearance of the moon which marked the beginning of a new month, leading to the refinement of scientific instruments. This was an improvement in systems in making observations together with the creation of new calendrical methods.


Another section of study had been led by astronomers interested in a correct understanding of the movements of the planet in reply to the inquiries of Greek in this area. The most influential Greek texts were more concerned in developing a model of the universe and the movement of the heavenly bodies in it. However the literature planned two diverse approaches to this issue. Aristotle’s model of the universe, on the other hand with the earth at its centre and the sun, moon, planets and the fixed stars that rotate around it, in uniformly turning spheres had been widely accepted.

Astrology – Predicts Influence of Heavenly Bodies on Events on Earth

The work of Ptolemy instead pursued a purely theoretical, geometrical representation of the universe centred on accurate observation even though it differed with the ideal Aristotelian model of stars and planets.Astrology tends to seek in predicting the influence of the heavenly bodies on events on earth, depending on understanding the movement of the planet together with the skills to calculate their position in the near future.

This way, astrology had been considered as a branch of astronomy with serious scientist like Abu Ma’shar al-Balkhi, al-Biruni and Nasir al-Din al-Tusi who wrote astrological treatises. The amount of medieval theologians, jurists and philosophers who had written anti-astrology tract tends to indicate that it was controversial and not accepted universally as a scientific or ethical practice.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

History Mystery: The Hammam, the Ancient Bathing Culture of Middle East

Hammam – Public Bath – Vital Social Institution

Before the arrival of modern plumbing, in any Middle Eastern city, the public bath or hammam had been a vital social institution, though presently bathing is considered as a private activity. Hammam seemed to play a significant role in encouraging hygiene and public health, but they also served as a meeting place where individual could relax and mingle. The history of Hammam in the Mediterranean can be traced to Roman thermae where the baths were common, in a geographic range all throughout the Roman Empire, extending from Europe to North Africa and the eastern Mediterranean.

The Roman baths usually had a reception room or apodyterium that led to a hot room known as caldarium – a warm room or tepidarium as well as a cold room called a frigidarium. The visitors moved around through these rooms where the temperature seemed to change stimulating the flow of blood, boosting the body to sweat out the impurities. Eventually some of the baths comprised of areas where the bathers could exercise. As the tradition of the public baths became popular under the Romans, it gradually died out in the West and continued over several centuries in the eastern Mediterranean.

Public Baths – Important Part of Community Life

Byzantine baths in the region followed many of the same traditions of the earlier Roman baths inclusive of the trends in decoration like the intricate mosaic floors. The Umayyad caliphs had constructed mostly lavish private baths as a needed section of their imperial palaces or qusur. Qusayr `Amra’ in Jordon, an eighth-century complex is probably the best known of these, where the walls of the baths are covered with elegant paintings, comprising of scenes showing women bathing.

But Umayyad baths differ to some extent from their predecessors, where the cold room has been removed, reception rooms seems larger, the bath chambers smaller and the layout much more complex. Scholars suggest that the imperial Umayyad baths had been settings for courteous entertainment and period literature relates stories of drinking parties held at the qusur. All through the medieval period, public baths were an important part of community life and the quality and number of baths, were accounted among any city as the most attributes of the country.

Hammams Altered – Progress in Plumbing

The authors of medieval period have mentioned in their description that the hammams alongside mosques, madrasas and gardens are beautiful and prosperous cities. For instance, Hilal al-Sabi projected that at its height,Baghdad had 60,000 bathhouses while al-Sabi could have been overstated. Though the hammams all over the Middle East tend to look like each other, with regards to their basic outlines, the expression of the structure of the bath together with its decoration were locally specific.


 The hammams had also fascinated the western visitors. Though most of the studies of hammams concentrated on their architecture and decoration, the objects used in the bath were also taken into account. The hammams were usually single-sex with separate bathhouses or bathing times provided for men and woman. Present day hammams have been altered since progress in plumbing have reduced several of the services as out-dated. While people would regularly go to the public bath for cleansing, presently prefer the convenience of the home bathroom causing the widespread decline of the bathhouse.

Monday, July 4, 2016



Nuremberg Undeclared Capital of Holy Roman Empire

Nuremberg city is placed on the river Pegnitz and the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal in German state of Bavaria in the administrative region of Middle Franconia and is around 170 km north of Munich. It is said to be the second largest city in Bavaria after Munich and the largest in Franconia. It is the unofficial capital of Franconia and is an active place where the nightlife is strong and the beer is as dark as coffee. The town is also the Centre of the Metropolitan Region of Nuremberg.

It is alive with visitors all through the year particularly during the remarkable Christmas market. Nuremberg had been the undeclared capital of the Holy Roman Empire for eras and also the preferred residence of most of the German kings who had kept their crown jewels at this place. Being rich and full with architectural wonder, it is said to be a magnet for well-known artists and the most renowned of them all was Albrecht Durer who was born here. Nuremberg is well-known by its medieval architecture inclusive of the fortifications and stone towers of its Altstadf – Old Town. Towards the northern edge of Altstadt surrounded by red –roofed building is the Kaiserburg Castle.

19th Century – Powerhouse in Industrial Revolution of Germany

The central square – Hauptmarkt comprises of the Schoner Brunnen, the gilded beautiful fountain having tiers of figures and a 14th century Gothic church – Frauenkirche. Martin Luther had said that `Nuremberg shines throughout Germany like a sun among the moon and stars. Towards the 19th century, the city became a powerhouse in the industrial revolution of Germany. When the Nuremberg Chriskind tends to open the christkindlesmarkt every year, on a Friday, before the first Sunday in Advent, the atmosphere gets charged with excited anticipation together with reverent silence.

Though the opening has been the same for years, you will find thousands waiting impatiently on the Main Market Square to hear the familiar words which tend to opens `her’ market. The opening ceremony has been the same over the decades though the festive introduction had been rewritten many times in 1950s and 60s. Nuremberg in Advent is a destination to cherish with friends and family and experience the happiness which comes in with Christmas since Nuremberg is said to be Germany’s Christmas City.

Nurnberg Card – Free Admission to 49 Museums/Free Public Travels

There are endless reasons to love Nuremberg during Christmas time. For some it could be the pleasing smell of unusual spices in the popular Nuremberg gingerbread while for the others it could the Christmas Market where one will find shiny Christmas ornaments, hand-made gold-foil angels, prune men or wooden nativity figures together with nutcrackers are very appealing to the eye. Exclusive boutiques together with shops having rare gift ideas tend to draw you to shop where one can enjoy the Children’s Christmas Market and Sternenhaus theatre and music centre for children.

A visitor spending at least a night in Nuremberg, Erlangen, Fluerth or Schwabach can purchase the `Nurnberg Card which comprises of free admission to 49 museums together with attractions and free travel on all public transport services in Nuremberg and Fluerth. Moreover, a 10 to 15% discounts on purchases in several shops is also offered.Seven theatres varying from children’s theatre to cabaret to charade shows tend to offer attractive 10 to 20% discounts. One of the largest IMAX cinemas of Europe in the CineCitta Nuremberg provides the most current shows with lowered entrance price.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Shakuntala Railway - A Railway Ride into History

Picture Courtesy: Rogier Koops

Shakuntala Railway - Century Old Operational Train Line

India seemed to have a century old operational train line, till 2014 that had not been in possession of the Indian Government. Several of the people were of the opinion that the rail assets inclusive of trains and tracks were the possession of the Indian Railways. However there seems to be a railway network known as Shakuntala Railway which was retained by a private British company and till recently- 2014, it was said that each year the British company netted revenue of around 1 crore from this set apart rail network.

The said rail network built during the time of the British rule by a British company in 1903 is known as Killick, Nixon and Company – KNC, for transporting cotton from Vidharba – Maharashtra, to Bombay, to be shipped to Manchester. The British owned company received the royalty from the Indian Railways for running the passenger train – Shakuntala Express on its narrow gauge route which runs in the remote-cotton growing locations of Achalpur earlier known as Ellichpur, under the division of Amravati which is the birthplace of President Pratibha Patil.Set up in 1857, Killick, Nixon and Company had created the Central Provinces Railway Company to act as its agents.

Political Issue to be Kept Alive

Moreover, the company had also built narrow gauge line in 1903 in order to carry cotton from Yavatmal to the main line to Mumbai which was then shipped to Manchester in England. Built in 1921 in Manchester, a ZD-steam engine dragged the train for over 70 long years after it was put in service in 1923.On April 15, 1994, it had been withdrawn to be replaced by a diesel engine which tends to pull carriages presently.

Shakuntala Railway

In 1913, the ancestor of present day Indian Railway, The Great Indian Peninsula Railway had started utilising the tracks and trains of Shakuntala Railway to transport passengers and on using the assets of a private company, paid royalty to KNC. Unlike several of the rail lines which tend to be broad gauge line, Shankuntala railways tend to use a narrow gauge line, still. The main train in this network had been Shakuntala Express transporting passengers to Yavatmal to Murtijapur. It would cover around two dozen villages daily that had no connectivity of roads between them, which made the train life a benefit for hundreds of the villagers as well as a political issue to be kept alive.

Killick-Nixon – Agent for Own Group Company

In 1910, it was a period of private railroad companies when the British company floated the Central Province Railway Company, a joint venture with British Indian government in laying the railways tracks which could be utilised in transporting cotton from Vidarbha and eventually to Manchester in England. The tracks had the trains running by 1916 and shortly was utilised in transporting passengers also. The trains which were operated in Central Indian were run by Great Indian Peninsular Railway. This deal seems to continue even after the GIPR became Central Railway post-independence and in the entire process, Killick Nixon seemed to be the agent for its own group company.

Presently the track tends to fall under the Bhusawal division of Central Railway. But no one in the railways and Killick Nixon has the knowledge of why the track is not nationalized yet. An official has mentioned that ‘All the British companies were taken over like GIPR became Central Railway; East India Railway Company was made Eastern Railway and so on. But the erstwhile companies’ contract with private firms like CPRC seems to continue. We do not know what the decision makers thought at that time. Maybe nobody bothered since the affairs seems to be running smoothly then’.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Operation Condor

Operation Condor

Operation Condor Formulated to Eliminate Exiled Left-Wing Activist

Operation Condor named after the largest carrion bird of the world had been formulated to eliminate thousands of exiled left-wing activists who had ventured to confront the military dictators ruling the continent during the 70s and 80s. Operation Condor also known as Plan Condor was said to be a campaign of political suppression together with state terror which involved intelligence operation as well as assassination of adversariesthat had begun in 1968. It had been implemented officially in 1975 by the right wing dictatorships of the Southern Cone of South America.

The program was envisioned to eradicate communist or Soviet influence together with ideas in order to subdue active or possible opposition movement against the contributing administrations. Owing to its secret nature, the accurate number of deaths directly linked to Operation Condor is very doubtful. Some have estimated that that were at least 60,000 deaths which could be credited to Condor and probably more. Victims comprised of rebels and leftist, union and peasant leaders, students and teachers, priests and nuns, intellectuals together with suspected guerrillas. The main members of Condor were the governments in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia and Brazil.

Technical Support/Military Aid – United States Government

Technical support and supplied military aid to the participants had been provided by the United States government, till at least 1978 and again after Republican Ronald Reagan had become the President in 1981.These types of support were often directed through the Central Intelligence Agency. Ecuador and Peru later on joined the process in more peripheral roles and these attempts like the Operation Charly assisted the local juntas in their anti-communist subjugation.

It seemed to be a planned programme of state-sponsored murder wherein US-backed commands devised to hunt down, kidnap and kill political opponents across South American and yonder.The correct number of the victims may not be known though the recent judges in Buenos Aires would deliver their judgment on the first court case in order to state focus on the conspiracy. Former military officers, eighteen in number, including Argentina’s last dictator Reynaldo Bignone – 88, would be sentenced on charges including kidnapping, torture as well as forced disappearance while seven other defendants inclusive of Jorge Videla, the general who had headed Argentina’s junta at the time of its bloodiest first three years had died when the trial had started in 2013.

Operation Condor Ended – Argentina Defeated Military Dictatorship in 1983

As per secret documents excavated after democracy had returned to the region, Operation Condor had been initially drawn up at a secret 1975 meeting of intelligence chiefs from Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay which later extended to include Brazil. The minutes of the meeting had been signed for Chile by Colonel Manuel Contreras, the dreaded head of the Dina secret police of that country. The dictatorship and their intelligence services had been responsible for tens of thousands of missing and killed people during the period between 1975 and 1985.

 The `terror archives’ had revealed an amount of cooperation by Colombia and Venezuela, for instance, Luis Posada Carriles who was possibly at the meeting ordered the bombing of Orlando Letelier’s car. Alianza Americana Anticommunista, a Colombian paramilitary organization could have cooperated with Operation Condor. Mexico along with Costa Rica, Canada, France, the UK, Spain and Sweden received several fleeing from the terror regimes as refugees. Operation Condor eventually ended when Argentina had defeated the military dictatorship in 1983 and re-established democracy.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Maunsell Forts

Maunsell Forts

Maunsell Forts – Armed Towers

The Maunsell Forts are said to be armed towers built in the Thames and Mersey bays during the Second World War in order assist in defending the United Kingdom and operated as army and naval forts. In 1942, the Maunsell Sea Forts were constructed and decommissioned in the late 1950s and later utilised for other undertakings comprising of pirate radio broadcasting.

The Maunsell Sea Forts situated off shore on the Thames estuary, are said to be some of the most bizarre-looking structures which have been named after Guv Maunsell the civil engineer who designed them. It is said that they were abandoned in 1958 though some of them still tend to stand till date. During the World War II when Great Britain came across serious attacks from the Luftwaffe, the forts seemed to have a very short though intense life.

There has been little which could be done on land in order to counteract the continuance attack on the naval organization. Though known collectively as Maunsell forts there seems to be two diverse designs with various purposes. There are three-three army forts on the Thames bay close to the mainland and on the Mersey and further offshore are another four naval forts in the Thames bay.

Four Naval Forts – First to be Built

The army forts comprising of seven circular shaped forts have been linked through a walkway. The naval forts tend to have two cylindrical towers which are connected by a gun platform overhead.The first forts to be installed were the four naval forts which had been built from February and June 1942 and these forts accommodated 120 men each, typically below the waterline.

 The structures were constructed onshore and then sunk in their position, offshore. The naval forts on the other hand were single structures which had seven floors and each fort had Bofors guns and radar. From the unique four naval forts, only two seemed to last till date and one of these last two forts tend to presently host the self-proclaimed Principality of Sealand.

Guy Maunsell had designed a new kind of fort in 1943 which seemed more innovative and each fort comprised of a central control tower connected to six satellites. From the three army forts located in the Thames bay, the Nore Army Fort seemed to be the closest to the shore and is the only one which does not exist since it had been damaged severely during the 50’s and had been demolished towards 1960.

Red Sands Army Fort – Linked by Walkways

The Red Sands army fort made up of seven forts is linked by walkways and there is an on-going attempt of restoring the Red Sands army forts since they have been considered to be in good condition. The Shivering Sands Army Fort placed more than nine miles away from the shores, presently remains abandoned. Out of the seven forts which have been built here, there seems to be only six that remains till date after one of the forts had been hit in 1963, by a Norwegian boat.

It has served as the location of the first pirate radio which broadcast from the Maunsell forts. And its future seems uncertain though there are plans of dismantling it.From the time of the war, they had been placed under maintenance though they soon lost any planned importance and were utilised in various ways.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Cambodia's Vast Medieval Cities Hidden Beneath the Jungle


Revealed Undocumented Medieval Cities – Temple City of Angkor Wat

Cambodian archaeologists have discovered various earlier undocumented medieval cities near the ancient temple city of Angkor Wat. The Guardian can reveal in revolutionary discoveries which tend to turn overkey assumption regarding the history of the south-east Asia. Dr Damian Evans, the Australian archaeologist, whose discoveries had been published in the Journal of Archaeological Science recently, would be announcing that cutting edge airborne laser scanning technology has exposed several cities between 900 and 1,400 years old below the tropical forest ground, some of which tend to oppose the size of the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh.

Some of the experts are of the belief that the recently studied data, taken in 2015 at the time of the extensive airborne study that was undertaken by an archaeological project over a span of 734 sq. km indicates that the massive thickly populated cities could have founded the biggest empire on earth during the time of its peak in the 12th century.Evans has informed that they have entire cities discovered below the forest which no one is aware of, at Preah Khan of Kompong Svay and it seems that they have uncovered only a section of Mahendraparvata on Phnom Kulen and this time they have got the whole deal which is big, the size of Phnom Penh.

European Research Council – ERC Funding

For the project, Evans had attained European Research Council – ERC funding, based on the success of his first light detection and ranging survey in 2012, in Cambodia which had discovered a difficult urban landscape linking medieval temple-cities like Beng Mealea and Koh Ker, to Angkor and had confirmed what the archaeologist had long ago assumed that there seems to be a city below Mount Kulen.

 It was till the results of the bigger survey of 2015 had been analysed that the size of the city was obvious. The survey had discovered a collection of findings, inclusive of intricate water systems which were built hundreds of years before the historians had believed that the technology prevailed. These discoveries are projected to challenge theories on how the empire of Khmer had been established, dominated the region and decline towards the 15th century as well as the role of climate change together with the water management in the process.

Highly Refined Water Management System

The temple ruins of Angkor that stretches across the UNESCO protected Angkor archaeological park seem to be the country’s highest destination for tourists, with the main temple city, Angkor Wat seen on the national flag of Cambodia.

The presumed decline of Angkor has long engaged the archaeologists, taking into account the most extensive urban settlement of pre-industrial times as well as boasting on the highly refined water management system. The new cities have been discovered through firing lasers to the ground from helicopter in producing tremendously detailed imagery of the surface of the Earth.

 Evans has mentioned that the airborne laser scanners had also recognized huge numbers of enigmatic geometric pattern that had been formed from earthen mounds that could have been gardens. Emeritus professor of anthropology at Yale University and one of the distinguished archaeologist, Michael Coe, specialising in Angkor and the Khmer civilization has stated from Long Island in the US, that he thinks these airborne laser findings symbols the greatest progress in the past 50 or even 100 years of knowledge of Angkorian civilization.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Sacred Destination: Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia – Great Architectural Monument – Byzantine & Ottoman Empires

A great architectural and an amazing monument from Byzantine and for Ottoman Empires is Hagia Sophia at the Turkish Republic.The magical city Istanbul had hosted several civilizations since centuries, wherein Byzantine and Ottoman Empires had been the most popular ones and presently the city carries the features of these two different cultures. Hagia Sophia tends to be a perfect combination from which one can notice both Byzantium as well as Ottoman effect under one great dome.

One will find 4 seraphim mosaics – God’s protector angels with 6 wings, on the 4 pendentives which tend to carry the dome. The faces of the 4 seraphim have been covered with six to seven layers of plaster for at least 160 years during the Ottomans’ sovereignty. The last person who had seen the faces of the Seraphim had been the Swiss architect Gaspare Fossati when he had been holding the restoration at Hagia Sophia in 1840s. Putting the efforts of 10 days of hard work, specialists managed to take off the seven layers of plasters, revealing the face of one of the seraphim.

Served as Cathedral/Mosque/Museum

Hagia Sophia means `holy wisdom’ and the domed monument was initially constructed as a cathedral in Constantinople, present day Istanbul, Turkey, during the 6th century A.D. It comprises of two floors which are centred on a giant nave that tends to have a great dome ceiling together with smaller domes that tower above it. Helen Garner and Fred Kleiner in their book `Gardner’s Art through the Ages’ A Global History, has mentioned that `its dimensions are difficult for any structure which is not built of steel.

In plan it is about 270 ft. long and a width of 240 feet. The diameter of the dome is 108 feet and its crown tends to rise about 180 feet above the pavement’.In its live span of 1,400 years, it had served in the category of a cathedral, mosque and is now a museum. Constantinople had been the capital of the Byzantine Empire when it had first been constructed. Officially Christian, this state formerly shaped the eastern half of the Roman Empire, carrying on after the fall of Rome.

Hagia Sophia_1

Construction in 532 AD – Nika Riots, Great Revolt

Construction of Hagia Sopha had started in 532 AD when the Nika Riots, the great revolt had hit Constantinople. During that time, Emperor Justinian I was the ruler of the empire for five years and was disliked by the people. A University of London historian Caroline Goodson in a National Geographic documentary had stated that `people were resentful of the high taxes which Justinian had imposed and they wanted him out of the office’.

 Justinian had managed to pull down the revolt with physical force, after moving loyal troops in the city. Due to the revolution and on the location of a torched church known as the Hagia Sophia, a new Hagia Sophia was to be built. For the ancient writer, Paul the Silentiary, who seemed to live there when the cathedral had been completed, the building signified a triumph for Justinian as well as Christianity.

Justinian had turned to two men Anthemius and Isidore the Elder in the construction of the cathedral.They had built it in a hurry completing it in less than six years and putting it in comparison took almost a century for medieval builders in constructing the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Coober Pedy

Coober Pedy

Coober Pedy – Opal Capital of the World

The town of Coober Pedy, like Setenil de las Bodegas tend to exist and is home to over 1,600 inhabitants. Coober Pedy is a town situated in northern South Australia, 846 km north of Adelaide on the Stuart Highway.As per the census of 2011, the population had been 1,695, comprising of 953 males, 742 females inclusive of 275 native Australians.

Coober Pedy around 150 million years back had been covered by ocean and when the water had receded, the sandy silica minerals from the seabed seemed to flow into the rocky cracks and the cavities and solidified over a period of time.

These changed into multi-coloured gem-stonesknown as opal. The town has been referred as opal capital of the world due to the quantity of precious opals which have been mined there and it creates more opal than any place on the earth. Coober Pedy is well-known for its below-ground residences known as `dugouts’ that had been built underground to fight the intolerable daytimeheat and to protect their babies from dingoes and Australians.The early Coober Pedy dugouts had been holes which had been dug in search of opal.

Initially Known – Stuart Range Opal Field

The opal mining back then had been strenuous manual labour and hence the earliest Coober Pedy homes were not bigger than what was really needed. Presently opal mining in the town area of Coober Pedy is not permitted any more.

 The sandstone in Coober Pedy was suitable for underground homes and was easy to dig through, just like all sandstone though it is also very strong and steady. Coober Pedy was initially known as the Stuart Range Opal Field and was named after John McDouall Stuart. In 1858, he had been the first European explorer in that area. Towards 1920, it had been re-named as Coober Pedy; an anglicised version of the local Aboriginal term kupa-piti commonly meant `white man in a hole’.

Coober Pedy_1
Opal was first discovered in Coober Pedy on February 1, 1915 and ever since its discovery; the area was constantly occupied and mined for gemstones. If anyone tends to own anything with opal in it, the same has come from the Coober Pedy mines and since then Coober Pedy has been contributing to the majority of gem quality opal to the world. Together with the dugout homes and mine shafts, the town claims of underground shops as well as pubs together with a church and also a graveyard.

Largest Opal Mining Area in the World

Presently, Coober Pedy depends much on tourism as the opal mining industry in providing the inhabitants with employment as well as sustainability. It has more than seventy opal fields and is said to be the largest opal mining area in the world. Coober Pedy has grown into one of the most exceptional location in Australia and probably also the world.

It is said to be a cosmopolitan town having a population of 3,500 and more than 45 various nationalities. Coober Pedy also tends to have various heritage-listed sites which comprise of 13 Hutchison Street – Three Roomed Dugout and 9 Hutchison Street – Coober Pedy Catholic Church as well as Presbytery.

Monday, June 6, 2016

The History of Ancient Toilets -II

ancient toilets
Credit: Fr Lawrence Lew, OP, CC BY-NC-ND

Gardrobe – Small Chamber with Platform over Hole in the Floor

Toilets seemed to be one of the most important features of medieval castle and medieval toilets was an experience which several today would fight with. The public medieval privy had been the cesspit which was only a hole in the ground that was at times lined with stone or wooden planks. It was not better in castles and though the wealthy and the powerful could afford a much sophisticated toilet, the gardrobe, it was a far cry from the simple modern toilet.

The gardrobe was a small chamber with platform over a hole in the floor. Koloshi-Ostrow at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts and Jansen an independent archaeologist based in the Netherlands are among the rising number of archaeologists, infectious disease specialist together with other experts who have been making attempts on the history of the lost loos, from ancient Mesopotamia to the Middle Ages with a specific focus on the Roman world.

Their studies have shown a new way of learning about diets, habits and disease of the past populations, particularly those of the lower classes that had received scarce attention from archaeologists. It has been concluded by the researchers, that Roman residents went to their toilets with some fear, due to superstition and also because of very real dangers from rats and other pests lurking in the sewers.

Ancient Rome – Sophisticated Plumbing System

Though ancient Rome is well-known for its sophisticated plumbing system, latest research of old faeces indicates that its sanitation technologies were not good for the health of the residents. An archaeologist at Hunter College in New York, Hendrik Dey, had stated that `toilets have a lot to tell about, far more than how and where people went to the bathroom. Koloski-Ostrow has said that `one has to have a strong sense of self and of humour to work on this topic since one who works on it is going to get ribbed by friends and enemies’.

She had begun the topic almost a quarter of a century ago when Nicholas Horsfall, a classicist had called her over in the library, at the American Academy in Rome. Invention of some of the first modest toilets is attributed to Mesopotamia in the late fourth millennium BC. The non-flushing matters were pits around 4.5 metres deep that were lined with a stack of hollow ceramic cylinders about 1 metre in diameter.

Romans Extraordinary in Adoption of Toilets

Individuals would have to sit or squat or the toilet and the excrement may have stayed in the cylinders with liquids leaking outwards through damage in the rings. The Romans were extraordinary in their adoption of toilets and towards the first century BC, public toilets had become a main feature of Roman infrastructure like bathhouses, according to Kolosi-Ostrow.

 All city dwellers had access to private toilets in their residence. She adds that the however, very little is known about how these toilets functioned and what people thought of them. One reason could be that during the Roman times, few of them wrote about toilets and when they did so; they were frequently ironic thus making it hard to understand their meaning But Koloski-Ostrow as well as Jansen think that it is worthwhile taking up the topic seriously.

 They together with some two dozen other archaeologists analysed over 60 toilets all over the city most of which had not been described earlier, for their forthcoming book on toilets in the Roam capital.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

The History of Ancient Toilets

Credit:Photo by Becky Bowen

Garderobe –Medieval Toilets

Garderobe - French wardrobe is described as a place where the clothes as well as other items seem to be stored. It is also considered a medieval toilet. A garderobe, in European public places means a cloakroom wardrobe, armoire or alcove that is utilised temporarily to store the coats and the other properties of visitors The word garderobe in Danish, Dutch, Norwegian, German, Russian and Spanish means a `cloakroom while in Latvian it means `checkroom’.

At Donegal Castle, anexplanation shows that during the time the castle garderobe had been in use, it was said that ammonia would protect the visitors’ coats and clock especially from fleas. In a medieval castle or other building, the garderobe was said to be just a hole, discharging to the outside into a cesspit of the trench based on the building structure.

 These toilets often were located within a small chamber lead by association to use of the word garderobe to define the rooms. Several of them can still be viewed in Norman and the medieval castles and fortifications, for instance at Burresheim Castle in Germany where there are three garderobes that are visible till date. With the introduction of indoor plumbing they have become out-dated.


Ancient Communal Toilet on Palatine Hill

Archaeologist have found clues to what life was earlier in the Roman world and in other civilization by searching the remains of early loos and sewers.A high ceilinged room beneath one of Rome’s most magnificent palaces, some 2,000 years back, was a smelly, busy space. Within the damp chamber, a bench perforated by about 50 holes that were the size of dinner plates ran along the walls which could have held some of the bottoms of the lowest members of Roman society.

Presently the room is closed to the public though the archaeologists Ann Koloshi-Ostrow and Gemma Jansen had a rare opportunity in 2014, of studying the ancient communal toilet on the Palatine Hill. They measured the heights of the stone based benches, which was comfortable 43 centimetres, the distances between the holes – an intimate 56 cm and the drop down in the sewer below, of a substantial 380 cm at its deepest. They wondered regarding the mysterious source of the water which could have flushed the sewer or perhaps some nearby baths.

Urinal ; Image

Drawings on Outer Entryway

Drawings on the outer entryway indicated long queues wherein people had some time to carve or write their messages before they could take their turn on the bench. The underground area with the combination of plain red and white colour scheme on the walls showed a lower class of users probably slaves.

When Giacomo Boni, the Italian excavator had excavated this room in 1913, the toilets were aprohibited topic and in his report he had misguided the remains of the leaky benches for something extraordinary, some portion of an elaborate mechanism which he had guessed would have pumped water providing power for the palace above. Jansen had commented that Boni’s narrow-minded feelings did not permit him to recognize what was before him and he could not imagine it to be a toilet.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Death by Thousand Cuts


Death by Thousand Cuts – Lingering Death/Slow Slicing

Lingchi translated as death by a thousand cuts the slow process, the lingering death or slow slicing which was a kind of torture and execution utilised in China from around AD 900 till it was banned in 1905. Lingchi involved amputation from the living torso and the executioner ensured not to bleed the victim too much so as to prolong death till the final cuts to the throat or heart was made. It was a brutal and a slow process, a punishment which was carried on into the afterlife which was considered that a person killed by lingchi would not be whole after death.

It had also been used in Vietnam and in this form of execution; a knife was used to systematically remove sections of the body over an extended period of time which ultimately lead to death. Lingchi had been kept for crimes and regarded as severe like high betrayal, or murder, where some westerners had been executed in this way. Even when the practice had been banned the idea still remained across several kinds of media. The process would involve tying the condemned criminal to a wooden frame generally in a public place. The flesh would then be cut from the body in various slices.

Punishment Worked on Three Levels

The punishment worked on three levels – as a form of public humiliation, as a slow and lingering death and as a punishment after death.As per the Confucian principle of filial piety, to change one’s body or to cut the body was said to be unfilial practices and Lingchi thus breaks the demands of filial piety. Besides this, to be cut to pieces would mean that the body of the victim would not be complete in spiritual life after death and this system of execution became a feature in the image of China as well as among some of the westerners.

Lingchi was used as a form of torture and execution for a living person or was applied as an act of humiliation after death and was inflicted for major offences like mass murder, high disloyalty. The Emperors utilised it to threaten people and at times ordered for minor crimes. At times there were forced convictions as well as wrongful executions. Some of the emperors also carried out this means of punishment to the family members of their enemies.

Lingchi – Most Brutal Torture System

As per the book of Sir Henry Norman – The People and Politics of the Far East, it is said that the executioner sliced off the pieces by grasping handfuls from the fleshy parts of the body, like the thighs and the breast and then the limbs were cut off fragmentary at the wrist and the ankles, the elbows and the knees, the shoulders and the hip. Eventually the victim would be stabbed in the heart and have his head cut off.

Lingchi is said to be one of the most brutal torture system which had been photographed in the 1800s with the arrival of the camera which seems to be very scary photos of slow process, lingering death or slow slicing, the most gruesome torture to a condemned victim.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Tarim Mummies

Tarim Mummies

Tarim Mummies – Discovered in Tarim Basin

The Tarim mummies, a series of mummies were discovered in Tarim Basin, present day Xinjiang, China and are believed to date from 1800 BCE to 200 CE. The Tarim Mummies have been constantly debated since their discovery due to fear that the DNA of the Tarim Mummies would disprove the claims of the nationalist Uyghur of being indigenous to the region and different studies of the mummies have resulted in conflicting theories. Some scientists are of the belief that they have the appearances of western Eurasia while others believe that they are exclusively Caucasoid or Europoid.

The mummies mostly the early ones are often connected with the presence of the Indo-European Tocharian language in the Tarim Basin but the evidence is not completely convincing and many centuries tend to separate the mummies from the first attestation of the Tocharian languages in writing. The team of Victor H, Mair, a professor from University of Pennsylvania and project leader, was of the conclusion that the mummies were Europoid, the likely speakers of Indo-European language. The likely presence of speakers of Indo-European languages in the Tarim Basin towards 2000 BCE, if confirmed could be interpreted as evidence that the cultural exchange had taken place between the Indo-European and Chinese population at an early date.

Beauty of Loulan – Nordic in Appearance

It had been proposed that such activities such as chariot warfare as well as bronze-making could have been transmitted to the east by these Indo-European wanderers. The DNA data sequence portrayed that the mummies had Haplogroup R 1a – Y-DNA typical of western Eurasia in the region of East-Central Europe, Central Asia and Indus Valley.

Chinese and American researcher team working in Sweden had tested DNA from 52 different mummies inclusive of the mummy designated `Beauty of Loulan’, wherein her features had been described as Nordic in appearance. She was around 45 years old when she died and genetically mapping the origins of the mummies, the researchers confirmed that the mummies were of West Eurasian decent. Victor Mair has commented that these studies were very important since they link up eastern and western Eurasia at a formative stage of civilization in a much closer way than has ever been done before.

Textile Easternmost Known Example of Weaving Technique

An earlier study by Jilin University had observed an mtDNA haplotype characteristic of Western Eurasian population with Europoid genes. The Chinese government, in 2007 had allowed a National Geographic Society team lead by Spencer Wells to examine the DNA of the mummies. Wells could extract undegraded DNA from the internal tissues. The scientist had extracted adequate material to recommend the Tarim Basin was constantly inhabited from 2000 BCE to 300 BCE and initial results showed that the people instead of having a single origin, had originated from Europe, Mesopotamia, Indus Valley and other areas which are yet to be determined.

It has been affirmed that the textiles found with the mummies are of early European textile type based on close resemblances to fragmentary textiles found in salt mines in Austria, dating from the second millennium BCE. Anthropologist Irene Good, specialist in early Eurasian textiles, noted the woven diagonal twill pattern specified the use of a sophisticated loom and she states that the textile is the easternmost known example of this type of weaving technique.

Cinque Ports

Cinque Ports

Cinque Ports – Historic Series of Coastal Towns – Kent/Sussex

Cinque Ports is said to be a historic series of coastal towns in Kent and Sussex. It is an association of ports which was formed in 1155 and was originally formed for the military and trade purposes but for several generations, was a real force at sea and on land. It lost its main functions, though presently is entirely ceremonial.The word Cinque is pronounced as `sink’ inspite of its derivation from the French word `cinq’ which is pronounced as `sank’. It is situated at the eastern end of the English Channel where the crossing is the narrowest to the continent. It is called the Norman French which means `five ports’ namely
  • Hastings 
  • New Romney 
  • Hythe 
  • Dover 
  • Sandwich

Provided Permanent Nucleus of the Royal Fleet

But Rye, which was earlier a subsidiary of New Romney, had changed to become one of the Cinque Ports when Romney had been damaged by storms and silted up. The other towns had also made their contribution to the confederation comprising of two Antient Towns and seven Limbs. Cinque Ports, the medieval confederation of English Channel ports in south eastern England, had been formed to furnish ships and men for the service of the king. To the original five ports, ancient towns of Winchelsea and Rye were later added, with the privileges of head ports. Over 30 other towns were also attached in the counties of Kent and Sussex and till the 14th century, the Cinque Ports provided permanent nucleus of the royal fleet. They were first possibly connected in the reign of Edward the Confessor for the defense of the coast as well and cross channel passage. The importance mounted after the Norman Conquest of 1066 and in return for ship service, their privileges had been increased to reach their summit in the 13th and the 14th centuries. The Royal Charter which was issued by King Henry II in 1155, granted significant privileges to the earlier five posts and were permitted powers of self-government over tolls, lost goods, criminal damage, wreckage together with debris and were freed from royal tolls on imports and exports.

Smaller Ports Decline – By Silting/Erosion

In return they had to offer 57 ships for the use of the king for 15 days every year. The benefits which accumulated to the Cinque Ports due to this arrangement were immense. Within a few decades, Rye and Winchelsea joined the association as `antient towns’. Towards the end of the 15th century, Lydd Faversham Folkestone, Deal, Tenterden Margate and Ramsgate had also joined in though they had a lesser status.After around 1550, changes in shipbuilding meant that huge vessels would conduct the trade with the continent and the smaller ports decline where in some cases were hastened by silting or erosion of the coastline. By 1700 only Dover remained to be an important port. The association adopted a more social and ceremonial feature wherein the post of warden of the Cinque Ports became an easy ride which brought with it a relaxed dwelling in Walmer Castle. Inspite of this shift in character, Cinque Ports maintain a link to the Royal Navy as a warship, at all times is affiliated to the association and that honour, presently is held by HMS Kent, a Type 23 Duke class frigate.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Tutankhamun’s Tomb

Tutankhamun’s Tomb

Tutankhamun – Egyptian Pharaoh of 18th Dynasty

The discovery of 1922 by Howard Carter and George Herbert of Tutankhamum, the Egyptian pharaoh of the 18th dynasty received worldwide coverage due to his nearly intact tomb. It 'had ignited public interest in ancient Egypt wherein Tutankhamum’s facade is now on display in the Egyptian Museum tends to be the popular symbol. Exhibits of artifacts recovered from his tomb have been touring the world. The results of DNA tests done in February 2010 have indicated that he was the son of Akhenaten – mummy KV55 and his mother was the sister of Akhenaten and wife whose name is not known though whose remains seemed to be identified as `The Younger Lady’ mummy found in KV35.

 The mysterious death of some of those involved in unearthing the tomb of Tutankhamum had been attributed to the spell of the pharaohs. Archaeologist were of the opinion that the last burial chamber in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt was discovered much before Howard Carter had opened the faultless tomb of the pharaoh Tutankhamum in 1922. Tut had ruled for only a decade in Egypt from 1332 to 1322 BC and had died at the age of 19. The tomb’s amazing golden artifacts, untouched by looters before its discovery, drewt he attention of the people making him one of the most famous and intensively studied mummies of Egypt.

Storage Space for Coffin/Burial Provision

However, Tut was not the last secret that the valley had. In the past there were two additional chambers which had been located wherein one was a storage space for coffins and burial provisions, while the other had the mummy of a woman who was a singer at the Temple of Karnak. A radar specialist Hirokatsu Watanabe had conducted a series of ground penetrating radar scans in November 2015.

The study of those scans has been done and it has been suggested that there could be more chambers probably comprising of burials, hidden behind walls of the king’s tomb. Ground penetrating radar seems difficult to be used on the rocks in the Valley of the Kings. As per Zahi Hawass, who was the former Minister of State for Antiquities, the natural cracks in the rock could reflect heat waves which could make them seem like man-made chambers and hence another round of scan has been scheduled to confirm that chambers tend to exist.

Forty Scans of Five Various Levels

Khaled el-Anani, Antiquities Minister had informed reporters that had gathered opposite the southern city of Luxor, the popular site on the western bank of the Nile River, that experts had worked for 11 hours all through the night to retrieve 40 scans of five various levels of the area behind the burial chamber of Tut. He had mentioned that additional scans would be following and had invited archaeologists from various parts of the world to come to Cairo in May to inspect the discoveries.

The scans are part of a search for the remains of Queen Nefertiti and would answer the queries on whether her mummy remains behind the false walls of the Luxur complex. Nicholas Reeves, British Egyptologist had stated that he is of the belief that Tut’s tomb is `simply the outer element of a larger tomb that belongs to Nefertiti.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Some Unknown Facts about John F. Kennedy


Surprising Facts of JFK

John Fitzgerald `Jack’ Kennedy, commonly referred by his initials JFK was an American politician who had served as the 35th President of the United States from January 1961 till his assassination in November 1963 and was the youngest man elected to the office. When he had hardly completed his first thousand days in office, he had been assassinated in Dallas, Texas thus becoming the youngest President to die. There are some surprising facts regarding JFK that is not known to many.

JFK & Jackie Kennedy had four children

Besides Caroline and John Jr., the Ke nnedys had two other children. Jackie had given birth to a stillborn girl in 1956 whom the couple decided to name Arabella and Patrick Bouvier Kenned was born five and a half week early on August 7, 1963. The baby had weighed below five pounds and died two days later due to pulmonary disease. The bodies of the two children had been removed from Massachusetts in 1963 to be placed next to their father in Arlington National Cemetery.

Kennedy received last rites three times before his presidency

Kennedy had been suffering from poor health all through his life and fearing imminent death, America’s first Catholic president had received the sacramental last rites of the church on three occasions. In 1947, on a trip to England, Kennedy fell ill and was given possibly a year to live after he was diagnosed with Addison’s disease which was a rare disorder of the adrenal glands. While returning to America aboard the Queen Mary, he had been so ill that a priest had to be summoned to administer the last rites. He once again received the sacrament again in 1951 after suffering from a very high fever while traveling in Asia and in 1954, after he had slipped into a coma from an infection after a surgery to treat his chronic back problems.

Medically disqualified from service by the army

In the months earlier to the United States had entered World War II, Kennedy tried to register in the military but due to his intestinal and back problems, had failed the physical examination for the Army’s as well as the Navy’s officer candidate schools. With the help of his father’s influence, however, the future president got admitted in October 1941 to the Navy. He became a wartime hero after helping his crewmates survive the gunboats’ 1943 sinking, as a commanding officer of PT-109.

He won a Pulitzer Prize

At the age of 22, Kennedy authored his first book - `Why England Slept’ and in 1945, he spent some months as a newspaper correspondent for William Randolph Hearst’s newspaper covering the United Nations conference in San Francisco and the repercussion of World War II in Europe. A Pulitzer Prize in biography had been awarded to Kennedy in 1957, for `Profiles in Courage’, though there had been controversy since then as to how much of the book was ghost-written by his aide Theodore Sorensen.

Kennedy installed a secret taping system in the White House

Richard Nixon had not been the first president to record his private White House conversation.Kennedy had secretly installed a taping system in the Oval Office and Cabinet Room which transmitted recording to a reel-to-reel tape recorder in the White House basement, in the summer of 1962. The president probably installed the system to help him in writing his future memoir which captured several historical discussions between Kennedy and his staff, comprising of discussion during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Kennedy proposed a joint Soviet mission to the moon

Kennedy, though had notably challenged the country during his first month of presidency to land a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s, by September 1963 he had so much concern regarding the space program’s high cost that he planned partnering with the Soviet Union on a joint expedition to the moon. In an address to the United Nations General Assembly, he had asked `Why, should man’s first flight to the moon be a matter of national competition? Why should the United States and the Soviet Union, in preparing for such expeditions, become involved in immense duplication of research, construction and expenditure?’

Rumours that he considered dropping Lyndon Johnson from the 1964 ticket

Having over a year before the 1964 presidential election, there were rumours circulating that Kennedy had been considering replacing Johnson as his running mate with Florida Senator George Smathers, North Carolina Governor Terry Sanford or another Democrat. Evelyn Lincoln, Secretary of Kennedy had written in her 1968 memoir that the president had mentioned a possible switch to her three day before his death and hours before the assassination. The November 22, 1963 edition of the Dallas Morning News had printed an interview with Nixon who had been in the city on business, with the headlines – Nixon Predicts JFK May Drop Johnson.

Kennedy feared running for re-election against Mitt Romney’s father

Kennedy welcomed the prospect of running against Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater who had eventually received his party’s nomination, while evaluating prospective Republican candidates for the 1964 presidential campaign, but was apprehensive regarding the prospect of facing more moderate Michigan governor George Romney, father of the Republican presidential nominee of 2012. He had privately confided with a friend in 1963, that the one fellow he did not want to run against was Romney and that guy could be tough.