Tuesday, 21 March 2017

The Catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa, Alexandria Egypt

The catacombs of Kom Kom El Shoqafa actually a historical archaeological site located, just to the west of Pompy's Pillar, Alexandria in Egypt. The meaning of catacombs of Kom Kom El Shoqafa is “Mound of Shards” is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages. Kom El Shuqafa, The “hill of treasures” in the Arabic language, was unearthed by coincidence in the beginning of the 20th century. It is named, because the area used to comprise of mounds of shards of terra cotta, mainly resided of jars and objects made with clay. The objects were left by tombs visitors who bring food and other stuff for their consumption during the visit. When this area discovers, a heaps of broken plates founded, because they didn’t want to carry such items home from this place of death so they would break them. The city of Alexandria was originally established by Alexander the Great, the most famous Greek King and army leader, in 332 BC and soon became the cultural and commercial center of the Mediterranean Sea region.
The necropolis comprises of a series of Alexandrian tombs, statues and archaeological objects of the Pharaonic funeral cult with Hellenistic and early Imperial Roman influences. As the time passes, several features of catacomsb of Kom El Shoqafa, merge Greek, Roman and Egyptian cultural points. The Catacombs features includes a Hall of Caracella, comprises of bones of young Christian men massacred by order of the emperor Caracalla in 215 AD. The Hall of Caracella also contains the bones of horses and humans were found A circular staircase, which was often used to transport deceased bodies down the middle of it, leads down into the tombs that were tunneled into the bedrock during the age of the Antonine emperors 2nd century AD, used as a burial chamber, before being rediscovered in 1900 when a donkey accidentally fell into the access shaft. So far, three sarcophagi have been found, along with other human and animal remnants. It is believed that the catacombs were only intended for a single family, but it is unclear why the site was expanded in order to house numerous other individuals.
The western side of catacombs comprises of three levels cut through solid rock, however, the third level being now entirely underwater. The catacombs have a six-pillared central shaft which opens off the vestibule. On the left is a triclinium, a funeral banquet hall where friends and family gathered on stone couches covered with cushions, both at the time of burial and also on future commemorative visits. Moreover, a stone staircase descends to the second level, an area spookily alive with sculptures. Further, in the building lobby, two pillars are topped by the papyrus, lotus, and acanthus leaves of ancient Egypt and two falcons flanking a winged sun adorn the frieze. Therefore, figures of a man and a woman are carved into the wall. There’re 3 huge stone coffins with non-removable covers along the sides of the chamber supposed that bodies were inserted in them from behind, using a passageway which runs around the outside of the funeral chamber. There is a hallway with 91" deep walls in the central tomb chamber, with carved recesses, each providing burial space for three mummies.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Halemaumau Crater, Kilauea in Hawaii

Halemaʻumaʻu Crater is a pit crater located close to caldera of Kīlauea in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The approximately circular crater floor is 770 meters x 900 m and is 83 m below the floor of Kīlauea caldera. Halemaʻumaʻu means "house of the `ama`u fern" is home to Pele, goddess of fire and volcanoes, according to the traditions of Hawaiian mythology. This place is burned like another planet with constantly changing scenery especially the view of Halemaumau crater at night is stunning. Pictures can't begin to capture how magnificent it is. The crater is presently active, encompassing a lava lake. The current vent inside Halemaʻumaʻu crater first erupted explosion on the night of April 9, 2008 that widened the hole by an additional 15 to 30 feet, ejected debris over some 200 ft and further damaged the overlook as well as scientific monitoring instruments.

The present lava inside the vent is changing from 20 to 150 meters below the crater floor. The molten lava in the vent, known as the Overlook Crater, became directly visible for the first time from the Jaggar Museum overlook at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory; the lava started spilling over the rim of the Overlook Crater and onto the floor of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater, ultimately adding approximately 30 feet of fresh lava to the crater floor. The walls of the crater become destabilized by heating, weathering, earthquakes and loss of support. They fall into the lava causing degassing of the lava, the exsolution of gases happens rapidly, leading to the explosion. Usually, the lava within the lake is 100 feet to 200 feet below the rim, but recently the magma chamber that flows into the lava lake has shown increased inflation, suggesting that lava is being driven into the lake from an underground chamber below.

The lake level has since remained close to the rim, with an additional minor overflow event in October 2016. Therefore, early eruptions were recorded by oral history. One large eruption in 1790 killed several people, and left footprints in hardened ash of some Hawaiians killed by pyroclastic flows. However, the crater bottom was covered with lava, and the south-west and northern parts of it were one vast flood of burning matter, in a state of enormous ebullition, rolling to and fro its "fiery surge" and flaming billows.

The Crater Rim is not paved, so wear close-toed shoes with solid grip. Once you reach the overlook, you’ll be peering into the volcano goddess Pele's sanctuary. Though her flows are plunging into the ocean somewhere else, her home is in Halema'uma'u. Moreover, cultural ceremonies are held and offerings are sometimes left for her on the crater rim.  It was like gazing at the sun at noon-day, except that the glare was not quite so white. At uneven distances all around the shores of the lake were closely white-hot chimneys or hollow drums of lava, four or five feet high, and up through them were bursting stunning sprays of lava-gouts and gem spangles, some white, some red and some golden--a ceaseless bombardment, and one that fascinated the eye with its unapproachable splendor. The meager distant jets, sparkling up through an intervening gossamer veil of vapor, seemed miles away; and the further the curving ranks of fiery fountains receded, the more fairy-like and beautiful they appeared.

Friday, 17 March 2017

The Mysterious Big Circles of Jordan

Ancient stone rings in the desert have left archaeologists puzzled which is scattered across Jordan are 12 giant circular structures that can only be fully seen using aerial and satellite images. It is known as the Big Circles, range from between 720ft and 1,490ft in diameter were first spotted from the air in the 1920s. The big circles dates are not confirmed, but there is often material in or around the circles that originated in the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age (between 2,000 to 4,500BC). Moreover, a number of the circles contain later material, typically dating to the Roman period between 1st and 7th century BC.

It is also called “the vast rings” and eight big circles have been recorded in west central Jordan, between the Wadi el-Hasa and the edge of the Shara escarpment. There is a second group, made of four Big Circles just north of Azraq Oasis. Also, more Big Circle was spotted on satellite imagery in 2002 near Homs in Syria. The landscape of the Middle East is heavily strewn with circular or sub-circular stone-built structures, as most are crude circles, but numerous are clearly intended to be geometrically precise, although every so often slightly distorted typically consists of low walls of uncut boulders. Although precision of some of the circles, a swift task and would have involved around a dozen workers, perhaps an ‘architect’ would have plotted the circles using rope tied to a post in the center. Some show signs of greater care with stones at least roughly shaped and laid in courses. The circles would not have been hard to build, constructed mainly with local rocks, could potentially complete a Big Circle in a week. But the question is what was the purpose of construction big circles in a precise shape would have taken some planning. The architect could simply have tied a long rope to a post and walked in a circle, marking the ground as he or she moved around. That would also have some glitches in the circles where the land was uneven," as the architect wouldn't have been able to keep walking in a perfect circle at those spots.

Huge stone circles in the Middle East have been imaged from above, structures that have been shrouded in mystery for decades. The circles would have at first contained no openings or kinks, but a number now have routes passing through them, or contain ‘service gates.’ like circle J4, which lies 820ft east of the Desert Highway. This specific circle has five different features and seven breaks in the perimeter including drive gates, three service entrances, three drivers’ hides, seven ambush walls and two capture gates. The resemblances are ‘too close to be a coincidence but their purpose is unidentified. Thus, archaeologists need to excavate the sites to learn more about their construction and purpose. It seems unlikely that they were originally used as corrals, as the walls were no more than a few feet high, the circles contain no structures that would have helped maintain an animal herd and there's no need for animal corrals to have such a precise shape.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Lake Nakuru, The Greatest Birds Display on Earth

Lake Nakuru is one of the Rift Valley soda lakes at an elevation of 1754 m above sea level. It lies to the south of Nakuru, in the rift valley of Kenya. The surface of the shallow lake of Nakuru is almost unequivocally pink. The lake's abundance of algae used to attract a massive myriad quantity of flamingos that famously lined the shore. The Lake Nakuru is widely regarded as the greatest bird spectacle on earth, millions of millions flamingos gathered here to seek food, feed on the abundant blue-green algae which thrive in the warm alkaline waters, with their high soda content caused by intense evaporation in the burning African sun. The countless flamingoes on the lake Nakuru are varying depending on the water and food conditions and the best vantage point is from Baboon Cliff. Researchers believe that countless flamingo population at Nakuru can consume as much as 500 tons of algae every day.

 Lake Nakuru National Park is 188 km2, created in 1961 around Lake Nakuru, is mainly famous for its thousands, sometimes millions of flamingos nesting along the shores, however, around the lake fenced off as a sanctuary to protect giraffes, black and white rhinos, warthogs, baboons and other large mammals. There are two types of flamingo species; the lesser flamingo can be illustrious by its deep red carmine bill and pink plumage unlike the greater, which has a bill with a black tip. In 1961, the Lake Nakuru National Park was created around the lake to protect this spectacle. Yet, conservationists are increasingly concerned that pollution from local industries could be causing the flamingo population at Lake Nakuru to fall. Nakuru means "Dust or Dusty Place" in the Maasai language, and lake is famous for its surrounding mountainous vicinity, but has since been extended to include a large part of the savannahs.

The flamingoes naturally feed with their long necks bent down and their bills upside down in the water, using their tongues to pump in and out to suck in the salty, alkaline water and mud. Filters in the bill catch the microscopic algae floating in the water, as well as the small shrimps which give them their pink color. Moreover, the park also has large sized pythons that inhabit the dense woodlands, and can often be seen crossing the roads or dangling from trees. The huge amount of flamingos has been declining recently, maybe due to too much tourism, pollution resulting from industries waterworks nearby who dump waste into the waters or simply because of changes in water quality which makes the lake temporarily inhospitable. Typically, the lake recedes during the dry season and floods during the wet season.

Ice Cave Kamchatka, The Most Magical Cave in the World

The majestic ice cave is located on the Kamchatka Peninsula of Russia. The Kamchatka Peninsula, is a region of exceptional natural beauty with its large symmetrical volcanoes, lakes, wild rivers and spectacular coastline. The Ice cave is about 1 KM long tunnel was formed by a hot water spring flowing beneath the glacial ice fields on the flanks of the nearby Mutnovsky volcano. Hence, with multicolored lights gently glowing from a translucent ceiling, a stream rippling through rocks beneath and a bright light in the distance, this tunnel looks like a passage to fairytale world. The breathtaking cave carved out of the living rock and ice of this world albeit on a remote fringe show ice caves carved by volcano-fed hot springs through the glaciers of Kamchatka. The magical caves lights shining purple, blue, green and yellow are no computer trickery as they are the result of sunlight streaming through the glacial ice into the hidden world below.

The cave was carved out of the glacier by an underground river that is sourced in a hot spring gushing from the Mutnovsky volcano itself, as this volcano is the heart of Kamchatka. And the heart is literally beating and you can feel it while the earth is slightly moving under your feet'. The glaciers on Kamchatka volcanoes have been melting in recent years, result in roof of this cave is so thin that sunlight penetrates through it, strangely illuminating the icy structures within. The magical place has only been explored due to its remaining off-limits to outsiders until the 1990s. The modest human exploitation has kept the peninsula and its flora in largely pristine condition. Outside, the glacier was very dirty and grey. But inside, everything was different. As the melting snow and light passed through the thin walls, reflecting surprisingly bright colors and walls and ceiling of the frozen world are made up of layers of compacted snow, with the river softly gurgling through a long chamber illuminated by light glinting through windows made of ice. It is hard to find such places without a guide at the moment, it is impossible to get there as half of snow covering everything.

Gruner See Park Turns into Lake in Summer

Grüner See, is also called “Green Lake”, is a strange lake in Styria, Austria, near the town of Tragoss, located at the foot of the snow-capped Hochschwab Mountains. In the winter season, green lake is only 1 to 2 meter deep and the surrounding area is available to use as a county park. But as the temperature begins rising in spring/summer, the ice and snow on the mountaintops starts to melt and runs down into the basin of land below. The green lake swells up to overwhelm the whole area including the park. Moreover in the summer season, the lake reaches its extreme depth of around 12 meter and is appealed to look the most majestic site at this time. The green lake supports a variety of fauna such as snails, water fleas, small crabs, fly larvae, and different species of trout. The whole year, visitors enjoy the majestic beauty of green lake, and can leisurely stroll around the picturesque lagoon, enjoying the fabulous landscape from one of the benches set near the water's edge.

Furthermore, the green lake gets its unique green coloring, and the name, from the grass and foliage beneath, and many thanks to the fresh snow melting the ice-cold water is crystal clear. Though, the lake temperature is rather cold at 4 to 8 °C, yet it’s an admired place among divers who can feel the essence of green meadows in the edge zone of the lake chiefly in June when the water is at its highest. The alpine grasses and flowers of the meadow are visible in full bloom under the water. Therefore, you can even see benches, a bridge and walking trails. It is a particular favorite place for hikers; they love to hike at here. Starting July, the lake starts to recede and by winter, the lake is back to its original size and the park is comeback once more to the hikers. Due to heavy load of tourist, that has occurred and expected damage of this sensitive environment, the all watersports activities have been prohibited since 1 January 2016. Swimming, boats and dogs will also be prohibited to limit the pollution of the lake. Hence, the below incredible images show a lake that floods every year, covering everything in the surrounding area.