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Monday, December 3, 2012

Great Wall of China, China

One of the seven wonders of the world, the Great Wall of China is a man-made structure that was constructed over two thousand years ago and took about 100 years to complete. The vastness of this project brings to light the immense capabilities of man.
The constructions started in the 5th Century B.C. It is actually many walls put together and stretches over 4,000 miles and was constructed to protect the Chinese Empire from the Xiongnu people in the north. The wall was initially built of stone, grass, earth and wood, but bricks were used once the production started. It is believed that about 2-3 million Chinese died as part of this project.

The ruins of Petra, Jordan

Described by the UNESCO as “one of the most precious cultural properties of man’s cultural heritage, Petra is an archeological site on the slope of Mount Hor. It is one of the new wonders of the world and is famous for its rock cut architecture.
This site was kept hidden till 1812 when it was discovered by a Swiss explorer. It was said to have been prepared by God for the Jewish people. Petra once flourished under the Roman empire but a rapid decline began with the Arabian trade being taken elsewhere. Then an earthquake caused a lot of destruction. Tourists throng the place to get a glimpse of the ruins of this beautiful city.

Taj Mahal, India

The Taj Mahal in India is one of the wonders of the world and is one of the most beautiful mausoleums constructed by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite queen, Mumtaz Mahal. Located in Agra, white marble is used in the creation of this symbol of love and is considered to be the pinnacle of the famous Mughal architecture.
Story goes that the emperor was grief stricken when he lost his beloved third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It took several thousands of craftsmen, artisans and about twenty years to construct it. The masons, stonecutters, carvers, inlayers, calligraphers, painters and others were brought from the entire empire as well as from Iran and Central Asia. Semi-precious stones were used for inlay ornamentation. It later became the mausoleum of Shah Jahan too. This is a huge tourist attraction with one to two million tourists visiting it every year.

"Christ the Redeemer" statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,

"Christ the Redeemer" statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.

This 38-meter statue of Jesus in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil was built between 1926 and 1931.

The Mayan city of Chichen Itza---Pyramid at Chichen Itza, Mexico

This pyramid was part of a sacred site in an important Mayan center on Mexico's Yucatan peninsula. Built according to the solar calendar, shadows at the fall and spring equinoxes are said to look like a snake crawling down the steps, similar to the carved serpent at the top.

Machu Picchu, Peru

Built by the Incan Empire in the 15th century, Machu Picchu's walls, palaces, temples and dwellings are perched in the clouds at 8,000 feet above sea level in the Andes Mountains above the Urabamba Valley.Archaeologists estimate that approximately 1200 people could have lived in the area, though many theorize it was most likely a retreat for Incan rulers. Due to it’s isolation from the rest of Peru, living in the area full time would require traveling great distances just to reach the nearest village.

Colosseum ( Rome, Italy)

The 50,000-seat amphitheater in Rome was inaugurated in A.D. 80 and served as the backdrop for thousands of gladiators who dueled to the death.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Temple of Artemis-Turkey

The Temple of Artemis also known as the Temple of Diana, was a Greek temple dedicated to Artemis completed around 550 BC.The Temple of Artemis was located in the ancient city of Ephesus, about 50 km south from the modern port city of Izmir, in Turkey. The temple was a 120-year project started by Croesus, king of Lydia. The Temple was designed and constructed by the Cretan architect Chersiphron and his son Metagenes.
The temple was constructed of marble and considered the most beautiful of some thirty shrines built by the Greeks to honour their goddess of the hunt, the wild and childbirth. Four hundred and twenty-five feet long, and supported by columns sixty feet high, it was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. This inspired a sense of mystery and awe for the Greeks, and emphasized Alexander the Great's vast empire.
The Temple of Artemis housed many fine artworks. Sculptures by renowned Greek sculptors Polyclitus, Pheidias, Cresilas, and Phradmon adorned the temple, as well as paintings and gilded columns of gold and silver. The sculptors often competed at creating the finest sculpture. Many of these sculptures were of Amazons, who are said to have founded the city of Ephesus.
The temple of Artemis at Ephesus was destroyed on July 21, 356 BC in an act of arson committed by Herostratus a ordinary young man. According to the story, his motivation was fame at any cost, thus he planned to the burn the temple of Ephesian Diana so that through the destruction of this most beautiful building his name might be spread through the whole world.
The Ephesians, outraged, consigned Herostratus to torture and his name to oblivion. Theopompus, a Greek historian later noted the name, which is how it is known today.
That very same night, Alexander the Great was born. Plutarch, other Greek Historian remarked that Artemis was too preoccupied with Alexander's delivery to save her burning temple.
Alexander later offered to pay for the temple's rebuilding, but the Ephesians refused. Eventually, the temple was restored after Alexander's death, in 323 BC. This reconstruction was itself destroyed during a raid by the Goths, an East Germanic tribe, in 262, in the time of emperor Gallienus.
Over the next two centuries, the majority of Ephesians converted to Christianity, and the Temple of Artemis lost its religious appeal. Christians tore down the remenants of the temple, and the stones were used in construction of other buildings.

Hanging Garden Of Babylon

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon are thought to have been built in 600 B.C. by Nebuchadnezzar II. According to legend, Nebuchadnezzar built the gardens for his wife. The 2005 World Encyclopedia suggests that the gardens actually rose upward using a series of terraces, rather than actually hanging.
In some stories, people say that the Hanging Gardens went hundreds of feet into the air, but through archaeological explorations people now think were probably weren't that big. The ancient city of Babylon, which was under King Nebuchadnezzar II, must have been a wonder to a travelers. In 450 B.C., a historian named Herodotus wrote, "In addition to it's size, Babylon surpasses any city in the known world." Herodotus said the outer walls were 80 feet thick, 320 feet high, and 56 miles in length. He said that it was wide enough for a four-horse chariot to turn. Fortresses and temples containing immense statues of solid gold were inside the inner walls. 
Above the city was the famous tower of Babel, which was a temple to the God Marduk. It looked like it reached the heavens. 
Archaeological examination has found that some of Herodotus's claims (the outer walls seem to be only 10 miles long, and not nearly as high) might not be true. But his story does tell us how cool the features of the city appeared to those who visited it. 
Accounts indicate that King Nebuchadnezzar built the garden. He ruled the city for 43 years starting in 605 B.C. According to accounts, the Gardens were built by Nebuchadnezzer to cheer up his homesick wife. Where she came from, there was green grass and mountainous plains. She found the dry, flat ground of Mesopotamia depressing. The King wanted to recreate her homeland. 
Babylon rarely got rain and for the gardens to survive, it would have to have been irrigated by using water from the Euphrates River. People would have probably had to lift water very far into the air at each level. A chain pump was probably used to help. A chain pump is two large wheels on top of each other. Buckets are hung on a chain that connects the wheels. The bucket goes into the water then comes up and goes into a new pool.The empty buckets go back into the water to be refilled. The water at the top is then emptied through into a channel gate that is like a artificial stream to water the gardens.
Construction of the garden wasn't only complicated by getting water to the top, but also by having to avoid having the water wreck the foundation once it was released. Stone was difficult to get in Mesopotamian. Most of the buildings in Babel used brick.
The Hanging Garden of Babylon, was not unresolved in the clarity of being dangling upon nuts as good as bolts though was the grassed area combined upon something similar to the roof tiles top. According to legends, the aristocrat has it set up to perform his mother Amyitis. The Hinging Garden of Babylon is believd to have been broken by an Earthquake as good as currently zero of it is left.

The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus-Istanbul

In 377 BC, Halicarnassus was the capital of a small regional kingdom in the coast of Anatolia. In that year the ruler of the region, Hecatomnus of Milas, died and left the control of the kingdom to his son, Mausolus. Hecatomnus, a local satrap under the Persians, took control of several of the neighboring cities and districts. After Mausolus and Artemisia, he had several other sons and daughters: Ada (adopted mother of Alexander III of Macedon), Idrieus and Pixodarus. Mausolus extended its territory as far as the southwest coast of Anatolia. Mausolus and Artemisia ruled from Halicarnassus over the surrounding territory for twenty-four years. Mausolus, although descended from local people, spoke Greek and admired the Greek way of life and government. He founded many cities of Greek design along the coast and encouraged Greek democratic traditions.
Mausolus decided to build a new capital, a city as safe from capture as magnificent for to be seen. He chose the city of Halicarnassus. If Mausolus' ships blocked a small channel, they could keep all enemy warships out. He started to make of Halicarnassus a capital fit for a warrior prince. His workmen deepened the city's harbor and used the dragged sand to make protecting breakwaters in front of the channel. On land they paved streets and squares, and built houses for ordinary citizens. And on one side of the harbor they built a massive fortified palace for Mausolus, positioned to have clear views out to sea and inland to the hills — places from where enemies could attack.
On land, the workmen also built walls and watchtowers, a Greek style theatre and a temple to Ares — the Greek god of war.
Mausolus and Artemisia spent huge amounts of tax money to embellish the city. They commissioned statues, temples and buildings of gleaming marble. In the center of the city Mausolus planned to place a resting place for his body after his death. It would be a tomb that would forever show how rich he and his queen were.
In 353 BC Mausolus died, leaving Artemisia broken-hearted. It was the custom in Caria for rulers to marry their sisters. Such incestuous marriages kept the power and the wealth in the family. As a tribute to him, she decided to build him the most splendid tomb, a structure so famous that Mausolus's name is now the eponym for all stately tombs, in the word mausoleum. The construction was also so beautiful and unique it became one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Soon after construction of the tomb started Artemisia found herself in a crisis. Rhodes, a Greek island at the Aegean Sea, had been conquered by Mausolus. When the Rhodians heard about his death, they rebelled and sent a fleet of ships to capture the city of Halicarnassus. Knowing that the Rhodian fleet was on the way, Artemisia hid her own ships at a secret location at the east end of the city's harbor. After troops from the Rhodian fleet disembarked to attack, Artemisia's fleet made a surprise raid, captured the Rhodian fleet and towed it out to sea. Artemisia put her own soldiers on the invading ships and sailed them back to Rhodes. Fooled into thinking that the returning ships were their own victorious navy, the Rhodians failed to put up a defense and the city was easily captured, quelling the rebellion.
Artemisia lived for only two years after the death of her husband. The urns with their ashes were placed in the yet unfinished tomb. As a form of sacrifice ritual the bodies of a large number of dead animals were placed on the stairs leading to the tomb, then the stairs were filled with stones and rubble, sealing the access. According to the historian Pliny the Elder, the craftsmen decided to stay and finish the work after the death of their patron "considering that it was at once a memorial of his own fame and of the sculptor's art."

The Lighthouse of Alexandria-Egypt

The Lighthouse of Alexandria is on the ancient island of Pharos, now a promontory on the harbor of the city of Alexandria in Egypt.This light house of Alexandria was one of the useful wonders among all the seven wonders of the world (for the sailors to return to the Great Harbor). This is a small point that differentiates it from the rest of the wonders of the world. The mirror which was mounted on this lighthouse could reflect the light more than 35 miles off-shore. Of the 6 ancient destroyed wonders, this was the last to be destroyed around 1480 AD.This lighthouse was built around 280 BC and was around 134 m in height. This was built in the city of Alexandria.
The light house had a good mirror which can reflect the sun light to a very long distance. Mythical stories used to say that this mirror was used to burn the enemy ships.
The Macedonian conqueror, Alexander during his successful reign, had tried establishing approximately 17 cities in the name of Alexandria. The only one survived long was the one in Egypt. That too even this city was not completely built by Alexander. The completion of the construction of this city was achieved by his commander Ptolemy I Soter.
Ptolemy connected Alexandria to the Pharos island by a bridge. It was realized that the sailing in this coastal region is very dangerous. That is why he decided to build a light house. This project was initiated during Ptolemy's reign in 290 BC and completed after his death by his son Ptolemy Philadelphus. Sostratus who lived in the same time as Euclid, was the architect. This used to remain in the harbor for centuries. This wonder of the world also depicted in the Roman coins that time.
The writings of the Arab conquerors are very good source of information about this lighthouse. The new rulers moved the capital to the Cairo. So this place had lost its importance. Three earthquakes stuck in various periods (around AD 956, AD 1303 and AD 1323 ) have damaged the lighthouse significantly. The during AD 1480 the Egyptian Mamelouk Sultan, has built a medieval fort at the same place. That was the end to the story of the light house.
After he invaded Rodes with 40,000 soldiers as good as eventually completed feat after most attempts, Demetrius as the pointer of feat combined the Colossus Of Rodes. It is the 60 feet high sature of Zeus station upon the white marble pedestal nearby the Mandraki harbour. The make up was done in iron as good as bronze. It took twelve years to finish the statue as good as was broken in an Earthqake inside of 56 years.

The Colossus of Rhodes was a statue of the Greek god Helios, erected in the city ofRhodes on the Greek island of Rhodes by Chares of Lindos between 292 and 280 BC. It is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Before its destruction, the Colossus of Rhodes stood over 30 meters (107 ft) high, making it one of the tallest statues of the ancient world. Alexander the Great died at the early age of 32 in 323 BC without having had time to put into place any plans for his succession. Fighting broke out among his generals, the Diadochi, with four of them eventually dividing up much of his empire in the Mediterranean area. During the fighting, Rhodes had sided with Ptolemy, and when Ptolemy eventually took control ofEgypt, Rhodes and Ptolemaic Egypt formed an alliance which controlled much of the trade in the eastern Mediterranean.Ancient accounts, which differ to some degree, describe the structure as being built with iron tie bars to which brass plates were fixed to form the skin. The interior of the structure, which stood on a 15-meter- (50-foot-) high white marble pedestal near the Mandraki harbor entrance, was then filled with stone blocks as construction progressed. Other sources place the Colossus on a breakwater in the harbor. The statue itself was over 30 meters (107 ft) tall. Much of the iron and bronze was reforged from the various weapons Demetrius's army left behind, and the abandoned second siege tower was used for scaffolding around the lower levels during construction. Upper portions were built with the use of a large earthen ramp. During the building, workers would pile mounds of dirt on the sides of the colossus. Upon completion all of the dirt was removed and the colossus was left to stand alone. After twelve years, in 280 BC, the statue was completed. Preserved in Greek anthologies of poetry is what is believed to be the genuine dedication text for the Colossus.

The Temple of Zeus-Olympia

The Temple of Zeus at Olympia is one of the earliest examples of fully developed temple design in Greece, and is considered a model of Doric temple architecture (N. Yalouris). The temple was designed by local architect, Libon of Elis, and constructed between 470 BC – 456 BC to commemorate the Elean defeat of the Pisatans in 470 BC.
The hexastyle temple was constructed of local limestone, and coated with stucco. Its dimensions stretched 64.12 x 27.68 m, with six columns at each end and thirteen columns along each side. The columns were 10.43 m high and slightly tapered, measuring 2.21 – 2.25 meters in diameter at the base and 1.68 – 1.72 meters in diameter at the top. They had 20 flutings around the shaft, three incised rings around the neck, and four rings around the capital. The architrave and triglyph freize were large and colorful; paint traces suggest that the upper band of the architrave was red, and the metopes blue (E. Gardiner). The roof was originally tiled with Parian marble slabs, but these were replaced during Roman times with Pentelican marble (E. Gardiner). A continuous marble sima supported the roof, interrupted only by lion’s head water spouts. The 39 mostly intact lion’s heads found at the temple are of varying styles and material; this suggests the temple underwent constant repairs and upkeep until it was destroyed by earthquake in the 5th century AD.

The Great Pyramid Of Giza-Egypt

Khufu, or Cheops, built his pyramid on the Giza plateau, where he found firm bedrock and a convenient limestone quarry. His pyramid is a work of astonishing size and precision, standing 481ft (146.6m) high, with a slope of 51 degrees 50'. Its sides vary by less than 1.9ft (58cm) and are orientated almost exactly true north. Its base is almost completely level. It has been calculated that the base of the Great Pyramid could accommodate both the UK Houses of Parliament and St Paul's Cathedral with room to spare.
The pyramid holds three chambers linked by a system of passageways: the unfinished 'Subterranean Chamber'; the ill-named 'Queen's Chamber'; and the 'King's Chamber', where Khufu was buried in an enormous, plain, red granite sarcophagus.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Mount Roraima

Mount Roraima
Venezuela, Brazil and Guy

Mount Roraima is a pretty remarkable place. It is a tabletop mountain with sheer 400-metre high cliffs on all sides. There is only one ‘easy’ way up, on a natural staircase-like ramp on the Venezuelan side – to get up any other way takes and experienced rock climber. On the top of the mountain it rains almost every day, washing away most of the nutrients for plants to grow and creating a unique landscape on the bare sandstone surface. This also creates some of the highest waterfalls in the world over the sides (Angel falls is located on a similar tabletop mountain some 130 miles away). Though there are only a few marshes on the mountain where vegetation can grow properly, these contain many species unique to the mountain, including a species of carnivorous pitcher plant.

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