This is default featured slide 1 title

Go to Blogger edit html and find these sentences.Now replace these sentences with your own descriptions.

This is default featured slide 2 title

Go to Blogger edit html and find these sentences.Now replace these sentences with your own descriptions.

This is default featured slide 3 title

Go to Blogger edit html and find these sentences.Now replace these sentences with your own descriptions.

This is default featured slide 4 title

Go to Blogger edit html and find these sentences.Now replace these sentences with your own descriptions.

This is default featured slide 5 title

Go to Blogger edit html and find these sentences.Now replace these sentences with your own descriptions.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Colossus of Rhodes

The Colossus of Rhodes
The Colossus of Rhodes
The island of Rhodes was an important economic centre in the ancient world. It is located off the southwestern tip of Asia Minor where the Aegean Sea meets the Mediterranean. The capitol city, also named Rhodes, was built in 408 B.C. and was designed to take advantage of the island's best natural harbour on the northern coast. In 357 B.C. the island was conquered by Mausolus of Halicarnassus (whose tomb is one of the other Seven Wonders of the Ancient World), fell into Persian hands in 340 B.C., and was finally captured by Alexander the Great in 332 B.C..
When Alexander died of a fever at an early age, his generals fought bitterly among themselves for control of Alexander's vast kingdom. Three of them, Ptolemy, Seleucus, and Antigous, succeeded in dividing the kingdom among themselves. The Rhodians supportedPtolemy (who wound up ruling Egypt) in this struggle. This angered Antigous who sent his son Demetrius to capture and punish the city of Rhodes. The war was long and painful. Demetrius brought an army of 40,000 men. This was more than the entire population ofRhodes.
When Demetrius attacked the city, the defenders stopped the war machine by flooding a ditch outside the walls and mining the heavy monster in the mud. By then almost a year had gone by and a fleet of ships from Egypt arrived to assist the city. Demetrius withdrew quickly leaving the great siege tower where it was. To celebrate their victory and freedom, the Rhodians decided to build a giant statue of their patron god Helios.
They melted down bronze from the many war machines Demetrius left behind for the exterior of the figure and the super siege tower became the scaffolding for the project. According to Pliny, a historian who lived several centuries after the Colossus was built, construction took 12 years. Other historians place the start of the work in 304 B.C..
The statue was one hundred and ten feet high and stood upon a fifty-foot pedestal near the harbour mole. Although the statue has been popularly depicted with its legs spanning the harbour entrance so that ships could pass beneath, it was actually posed in a more traditional Greek manner: nude, wearing a spiked crown, shading its eyes from the rising sun with its right hand, while holding a cloak over its left.
The architect of this great construction was Chares of Lindos, a Rhodian sculptor who was a patriot and fought in defence of the city. Chares had been involved with large scale statues before. His teacher, Lysippus, had constructed a 60-foot high likeness of Zeus. Chares probably started by making smaller versions of the statue, maybe three feet high, then used these as a guide to shaping each of the bronze plates of the skin.
The Colossus stood proudly at the harbour entrance for some fifty-six years. Each morning the sun must have caught its polished bronze surface and made the god's figure shine. Then an earthquake hit Rhodes and the statue collapsed. Huge pieces of the figure lay along the harbour for centuries.
It is said that an Egyptian king offered to pay for its reconstruction, but the Rhodians refused. They feared that somehow the statue had offended the god Helios, who used the earthquake to throw it down.
In the seventh century A.D. the Arabs conquered Rhodes and broke the remains of the Colossus up into smaller pieces and sold it as scrap metal. Legend says it took 900 camels to carry away the statue. A sad end for what must have been a majestic work of art.

The Great Pyramids

The Great Pyramids of Giza
The Great Pyramids of Giza

It's 756 feet long on each side, 450 high and is composed of 2,300,000 blocks of stone, each averaging 2 1/2 tons in weight. Despite the makers' limited surveying tools no side is more than 8 inches different in length than another, and the whole structure is perfectly oriented to the points of the compass.

Until the 19th century it was the tallest building in the world and, at the age of 4,500 years, it is the only one of the famous "Seven Wonders of the Ancient World" that still stands. It is the Great Pyramid of Khufu, at Giza, Egypt.

Some of the earliest history of the Pyramid comes from a Greek traveller named Herodotus of Halicanassus. He visited Egypt around 450 BC and included a description of the Great Pyramid in a history book he wrote. Herodotus was told by his Egyptian guides that it took twenty-years for a force of 100,000 oppressed slaves to build the pyramid. Stones were lifted into position by the use of immense machines.
In 1638 a English mathematician, John Greaves, visited the pyramid. He discovered a narrow shaft, hidden in the wall, that connected theGrand Gallery with the descending passage. Both ends were tightly sealed and the bottom was blocked with debris. Some archaeologists suggested this route was used by the last of the Pharaoh's men to exit the tomb, after the granite plugs had been put in place, and by the thieves to get inside. Given the small size of the passageway and the amount of debris it seems unlikely that the massive amount of treasure, including the huge missing sarcophagus lid, could have been removed this way.

Some have suggested that the pyramid was never meant as a tomb, but as an astronomical observatory.

Richard Proctor, an astronomer, did observe that the descending passage could have been used to observe the transits of certain stars. He also suggested that the grand gallery, when open at the top, during construction, could have been used for mapping the sky.

Most archaeologists, though, accept the theory that the great pyramid was just the largest of a tradition of tombs used for the Pharaohs of Egypt.

So what happened to Khufu's mummy and treasure? Nobody knows. Extensive explorations have found no other chambers or passageways. Still one must wonder if, perhaps in this one case, the King and his architects out smarted both the ancient thieves and modern archaeologists and that somewhere in, or below, the last wonder of the ancient world, rests Khufu and his sacred gold.

Seven wonders of the world

Artists impression of the Temple of Artemis/ephesus.
The Temple of Artemis

The first shrine to the Goddess Artemis was probably built around 800 B.C. on a marshy strip near the river at Ephesus. TheEphesus Goddess Artemis, sometimes called Diana, is not the same figure as the Artemis worshipped in Greece. The GreekArtemis is the goddess of the hunt. The Ephesus Artemis was a goddess of fertility and was often pictured as draped with eggs, or multiple breasts, symbols of fertility, from her waist to her shoulders.

The shrine was destroyed and rebuilt several times over the next few hundred years. By 600 B.C., the city of Ephesus had become a major port of trade and an architect named Chersiphron was engaged to build a new large temple. He designed it with high stone columns. Concerned that carts carrying the columns might get marred in the swampy ground around the site, Chersiphron laid the columns on their sides and had them rolled to where they would be erected. This temple didn't last long. In 550 B.C. King Croesusof Lydia conquered Ephesus and the other Greek cities of Asia Minor. During the fighting, the temple was destroyed. Croesusproved himself a gracious winner, though, by contributing generously to the building of a new temple. This was next to the last of the great temples to Artemis in Ephesus and it dwarfed those that had come before.

The architect is thought to be a man named Theodorus. Theodorus's temple was 300 feet in length and 150 feet wide with an area four times the size of the temple before it. More than one hundred stone columns supported a massive roof. The new temple was the pride of Ephesus until 356 B.C. when a tragedy, by name of Herostratus, struck.

Herostratus was a young Ephesian who would stop at no cost to have his name go down in history. He managed this by burning the temple to the ground. The citizens of Ephesus were so appalled at this act they issued a decree that anyone who spoke ofHerostratus would be put to death. Shortly after this horrible deed, a new temple was commissioned.

The architect was Scopas of Paros, one of the most famous sculptors of his day. Ephesus was one of the greatest cities in Asia Minor at this point and no expense was spared in the construction. According to Piny the Elder, a Roman historian, the temple was a "wonderful monument of Grecian magnificence, and one that merits our genuine admiration." The temple was built in the same marshy place as before. To prepare the ground, Piny recorded that "layers of trodden charcoal were placed beneath, with fleeces covered with wool upon the top of them."

The building is thought to be the first completely constructed with marble and one of its must unusual features were 36 columns whose lower portions were carved with figures in high-relief (above).

The temple also housed many works of art including four bronze statues of Amazon women. Piny recorded the length of this new temple at 425 feet and the width at 225 feet. Some 127 columns, 60 feet in height, supported the roof. In comparison the Parthenon, the remains of which stand on the acropolis in Athens today, was only 230 feet long, 100 feet wide and had 58 columns. According to Piny, construction took 120 years, though some experts suspect it may have only taken half that time.

We do know that when Alexander the Great came to Ephesus in 333 B.C., the temple was still under construction. He offered to finance the completion of the temple if the city would credit him as the builder. The city fathers didn't want Alexander's name carved on the temple, but didn't want to tell him that. They finally gave the tactful response: "It is not fitting that one god should build a temple for another god" and Alexander didn't press the matter .

Piny reported that earthen ramps were employed to get the heavy stone beams perched on top of the columns. This method seemed to work well until one of the largest beams was put into position above the door. It went down crookedly and the architect could find no way to get it to lie flat. He was beside himself with worry about this until he had a dream one night in which the Goddess herself appeared to him saying that he should not be concerned. She herself had moved the stone in the proper position. The next morning the architect found that the dream was true. During the night the beam had settled into its proper place.

The city continued to prosper over the next few hundred years and was the destination for many pilgrims coming to view the temple. A souvenir business in miniature Artemis idols, perhaps similar to a statue of her in the temple, grew up around the shrine. It was one of these business proprietors, a man named Demetrius, that gave St. Paul a difficult time when he visited the city in 57 A.D.
St. Paul came to the city to win converts to the then new religion of Christianity. He was so successful that Demetrius feared the people would turn away from Artemis and he would lose his livelihood. He called others of his trade together with him and gave a rousing speech ending with "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!" They then seized two of Paul's companions and a near riot followed. Eventually the city was quieted, the men released, and Paul left for Macedonia. It was Paul's Christianity that won out in the end, though.

By the time the great Temple of Artemis was destroyed during a raid by the Goths in 262 A.D., both the city and the religion of Artemis were in decline. When the Roman Emperor Constantine rebuilt much of Ephesus a century later, he declined to restore the temple. He had become a Christian and had little interest in pagan temples.

Despite Constantine's efforts, Ephesus declined in its importance as a crossroads of trade. The bay where ships docked disappeared as silt from the river filled it. In the end what was left of the city was miles from the sea, and many of the inhabitants left swampy lowland to live in the surrounding hills. Those that remained used the ruins of the temple as a source of building materials. Many of the fine sculptures were pounded into powder to make lime for wall plaster.

In 1863 the British Museum sent John Turtle Wood, an architect, to search for the temple. Wood met with many obstacles. The region was infested with bandits. Workers were hard to find. His budget was too small. Perhaps the biggest difficulty was that he had no idea where the temple was located. He searched for the temple for six years. Each year the British Museum threatened to cut off his funding unless he found something significant, and each year he convinced them to fund him for just one more season.

Wood kept returning to the site each year many despite hardships. During his first season he was thrown from a horse, breaking his collar bone. Two years later he was stabbed within an inch of his heart during an assassination attempt upon the British Consul in Smyrna.

Finally in 1869, at the bottom of a muddy twenty-foot deep test pit, his crew struck the base of the great temple. Wood then excavated the whole foundation removing 132,000 cubic yards of the swamp to leave a hole some 300 feet wide and 500 feet long. The remains of some of the sculptured portions were found and shipped the to British Museum where they can be viewed even today.

In 1904 another British Museum expedition under the leadership of D.G. Hograth continued the excavation. Hograth found evidence of five temples on the site, each constructed on top of the other.

Today the site of the temple is a marshy field. A single column is erect to remind visitors that once there stood in that place one of the wonders of the ancient world.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

birth of Dolphin

A dolphin born in an aquarium in the Netherlands is to be named by the public.

As these amazing photos show his mother Finagain gave birth in her pool in the Harderwijk Dolfinarium on the 22nd May.

Finagain, a common bottlenose dolphin, was herself born in captivity to Notchfin and Guy in 1992.

Her pregnancy lasted twelve months, and the as-yet unnamed calf is around 3ft long at birth, already fully capable of swimming. Unlike human babies dolphin calves are born “breech”, i.e. tail first.

It will live with its mother until it is six. Male dolphins become sexually mature around age nine to thirteen.

The Dolfinarium is home to sixteen dolphins and six harbour porpoise. As well as hosting dolphin displays it acts as a rehabilitation centre, taking in beached or injured cetaceans and preparing them for life back in the wild.

It was first opened in 1965 by Frits den Herder and his brother Coen. During its chequered history the park went bankrupt after an ill-advised expansion into other European countries.

Only a state intervention by the Dutch government restored it to the not-for-profit animal rehabilitation centre it is today.