Friday, 27 October 2017

The Nubian Pyramids of Menroe, Sudan

In Sudan, a valley is famous as “Nubia” just 200 kilometers northeast of Khartoum. The valley lies the remains of three ancient Kushite kingdoms. In this valley, you can find the largest concentration of ancient Pyramids ever built. However, these are not too much known as compare to Pyramids at Giza in Egypt. But are smaller in size their Egyptian cousins the Nubian pyramids are no less remarkable. It is believed, these pyramids were built around 2,500 years ago, long after the Egyptians had stopped entombing their Pharos in huge tombs, a practice that virtually bankrupted them.

The Nubian kings, though, were clearly spellbound by these enormous structures and attempted to imitate them. The Kush Kingdom thrived for 900 hundred years from around 800 BC to 280 A.D. and held power over a massive area covering much of the Nile Delta and as far south as Khartoum. Meroe served as the capital during the final phases of the empire. Furthermore, at their capital city, the Nubians built about 80 profoundly downsized pyramids over the tombs of kings and queens of the Kushite kingdom.  Which is about in height of 20 feet to 100 feet, and rise from fairly small foundation that infrequently exceed 25 feet, giving the sides of the pyramids steep angles. Therefore, one of the largest of the pyramids built for the rulers of Kush was for a woman, Queen Shanakdakheto 170-150 B.C.E. The sides of the pyramids are captivating embellished with decorative elements from the cultures of Pharaonic Egypt, Greece, and Rome. A pyramid excavated at Meroë included hundreds of heavy items such as large blocks decorated with rock art and 390 stones that comprised the pyramid. A cow buried complete with eye ointment was also unearthed in the area to be flooded by the Meroë Dam, as were ringing rocks that were tapped to create a melodic sound.[

Overall, the Kush rulers built more than 250 pyramids over the twice number of pyramids in the total of Egypt. They are well distributed in a small region in the Sudanese desert. Similar to ancient Egyptians, the Nubian kings were mummified and laid to rest, covered with jewels, in wooden coffins, before they were entombed. Hence, almost all of the pyramids have been plundered ages ago. However, at the time of their exploration by archaeologists in the 19th and 20th centuries, few pyramids were found to comprise the remains of bows, quivers of arrows, archers' thumb rings, horse harnesses, furniture, wooden boxes, pottery, colored glass, metal vessels, and many other artefacts attesting to extensive Meroitic trade with Egypt and the Hellenistic world. Nowadays, Meroe is the largest archaeological site in Sudan, and one of the main tourist attractions in Sudan. But the country, distressed by civil war, now receives less then 15,000 tourists per year.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Ansoo Lake, KPK Pakistan

Pakistan is one of those countries, who are naturally gifted, several mountain ranges, plateaus, deserts, glaciers, rivers, lakes, and various coastal areas.  Ansoo Lake is one of them, which is situated in Manoor Valley, Kaghan Valley in the Mansehra District of the KPK province of Pakistan. This lake is considered to be one of the most beautiful lakes of the world. The name Ansoo means teardrop, comes from its tear like shape, just like resembles to human eye with a central ice island resembling the iris and a ridge resembling an eyebrow. Ansoo Lake is considered among one of the highest lakes of Himalayas, situated near Malika Parbat, the highest mountain of Kaghan Valley. In the summer, when ice melts, it got more prominent. However, this beautiful lake was partially destroyed in the 2005 massive earthquake. Ansoo Lake was discovered by a Pakistan Air Force Pilots who were flying low in this area. Before that local peoples were not even known about it. As far as stay at Ansoo Lake, no facilities available here. The tourist use to stay here in camp. The weather is extremely cold and windy surrounding mountains. It is highly risky to stay suggested by local peoples.
 The Ansoo Lake has two approaches; first one is short but steeper trek from Saiful Mulook. It takes over 7 to 9 hours round trip to reach Ansoo Lake. The trek is covered with snow in most parts of the year. The best time to trek is July till mid-August. The optimal time to set off for the lake from Saiful Mulook is around 06:00 in the morning, in order to return before sunset. Horses and guides can also be hired from the Lake Saiful Mulook. Sometimes, Ansoo Lake is not visible due to dense fog or rain. But you will enjoy the breathtaking views during trekking. This trek can be separated into two halves. The first part is through a valley alongside a river to the base camp of Malika Parbat. The second steeper part is from the base camp of Malika Parbat to Ansoo Lake.
The Ansoo Lake is located at the far off deserted and particularly difficult areas; thus, it can become unsafe if one is not fully equipped and need proper guidance and planning as there are no lodging facilities available. Therefore, camping is the only available solution, but it is so windy and ice cold out there that one has to be really prepared to camp. The second trek to Ansoo Lake begins in a village named Mahandri, located about 40 kilometers to the south of Naran. So turning left from Mahandri Bazar, a jeep track leads to Village Manoor. This majestic valley offers attractive views. Make sure, vehicles cannot proceed further from here. 6 to 7 hours of trek brings one to a green meadow called “Dher”. From here the trek becomes steeper. After 3 to 4 hours of trek from Dher at a height of about 16500 feet, Ansoo Lake becomes visible. There is no risk free way to reach lake waters because it lies in the crater with steep, snow covered walls. There is no apparent drainage of lake water and no one ever tried to explore it because of its dangerous approach and limited resources in that area.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Japanese Museum of Rocks That Look Like Human Faces

In Chichibu, there is a museum of rocks where you won’t learn anything about geology. Though, you will enjoy spending some pleasant hours marveling at bizarre exhibits such as the Elvis Presley rock, the Boris Yeltsin rock, the Jesus rock, the Nemo rock and the Donkey Kong rock. The museum lies about two hours northwest of Tokyo, also called “Chinsekikan” means “hall of curious rocks”. The museum contains more than 1700 specimens, and out of 900 are resemble human faces.

 Moreover, these unaltered rocks naturally resemble celebrities, religious figures, movie characters, and more. The avid collector, Shozo Hayama took the step to collect rocks, spent 50 years collecting naturally eroded rocks that looked like human faces. Although, Shozo Hayama no more alive and died in 2010 and his wife running museum affairs.

Friday, 6 October 2017

Chogha Zanbil, Iran

Chogha Zanbil is an ancient Elamite complex in the Khuzestan province of Iran lies 30 Km south-east of Susa and 80km north of Ahvaz. It is one of the few existent ziggurats outside of Mesopotamia. The Elamite name of this structure is Ziggurat to build on a raised area. The ziggurat is arguably the most distinct architectural feature of the Mesopotamian civilization. However, some of these structures have been found to exist outside the area once occupied by this ancient civilization. During ancient times, Chogha Zanbil was known as Dur Untaš, and may have been a sacred city of the Elamite Kingdom. Dur Untash is the combination of Elamite Dur and Untash the Elamite king who build it, however this structure is known by its new Persian name nowadays "Chogha Zanbil" that has given to it Chogha in Bakhtiari means "hill".

The ziggurat is considered to be the best preserved example of the stepped pyramidal monument by UNESCO. In 1979, Chogha Zanbil means “basket mound” became the first Iranian site to be inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. For a long time the place was unknown to the outside world, but the ziggurat was accidentally discovered in 1935 by British Petroleum during an oil searching project. From 1951 till 1961 Choga Zanbil was excavated for six times to petroleum exploration due to increased global demand threatens the foundations of the site, as numerous seismic tests have been undertaken to discover for reserves of petroleum. Digging for oil has been undertaken as close as 300 metres away from the ziggurat. It is believed that the ziggurat was built in two stages. It took its multi-layered form in the second phase. Many interesting ancient artifacts were discovered at the site. Among them several bull sculptures of Inshushinak. Archaeologists also uncovered a collection of Middle Elamite cylinder seals

The main building materials in Chogha Zanbil were mud bricks and occasionally baked bricks. The monuments were decorated with glazed baked bricks, gypsum and ornaments of faïence and glass. Moreover, the most important buildings adorned with thousands of baked bricks bearing inscriptions with Elamite cuneiform characters were all inscribed by hand. Glazed terracotta statues such as bulls and winged griffins guarded the entrances to the ziggurat. Choghā Zanbīl, also spelled Tchoghā Zanbīl, or Choga Zambil, affected by heavy rainfalls on the mud-brick outer walls and temples of the complex, despite the application of protective coverings. In the mid-1990s, it was noted that the brick walls of the ziggurat had shifted slightly, raising concerns about future structural damage.

Choga Zanbil was built about 1250 BC by the king Untash-Napirisha. The complex is protected by three concentric walls which define the main areas of the 'town'. The inner area is exclusively taken up with a great ziggurat which was built over an earlier square temple with storage rooms also built by Untash-Napirisha. However, the middle area holds eleven temples and it was believed that 22 temples were originally planned, but the king died before they could be finished, and his successors discontinued the building work. In the outer area are royal palaces, a funerary palace containing five subterranean royal tombs. Although construction in the city abruptly ended after Untash-Napirisha's death, the site was not abandoned, but continued to be occupied until it was destroyed by the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal in 640 BC.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

The Great Mosque of Samarra, Iraq

The Great Mosque of Samarra is the most prominent structure, spiraling up from the ground. The Great Mosque of Samarra is located in Samarra city, in Iraq, about 120 km north of Baghdad, on the banks of river Tigris. It is known as malwiya, this 180 foot tower was the main focal point of Mosque. The snail shell minaret covered 42 acres as its peak and 108 feet wide with a spiral ramp. The eye-catching Mosque was built in 9th century by Abbasid caliph Al-Mutawakkil who reigned (in Samarra) from 847 until 861. In the 12th century, the Mosque was gradually destroyed and fell into disuse after Hulagu Khan's invasion of Iraq.

However, only the outer wall and its minaret remained. The great mosque had 17 aisles, and its walls were paneled with mosaics of dark blue glass, the art and architecture of the mosque were influential; stucco carvings within the mosque in floral and geometric designs represent early Islamic decoration. The Great Mosque was spread over an area of 17 hectares; the building itself covered 38,000 square meters. The Mosque surrounding courtyard was a triple portico with octagonal columns. The practitioners could walk through the gates to enter into the interior with its dense grid of pillars and teakwood roof. Thus, over each entrance were numerous arched windows, and in between the towers, square niches were placed along its facade.

The Malwiya Minaret initially constructed with sandstone, used for the "call to prayer". Although, its height made it more prominent and it is visible from a considerable distance in the area around Samarra and therefore may have been designed as a strong visual statement of the presence of Islam in the Tigris Valley. The minaret's unique spiral design was given a new life during the war in Iraq, as US troops used it for observation. Sadly, in 2005, the famous minaret was partially destroyed during a bombing raid by insurgents. After 1000 years of proudly standing in the medieval Abbasid capital, it finally began to crumble under the firepower of modern weaponry. Therefore, the lifespan of the minaret could be dramatically shortened given the uncertain and unstable political situation in Iraq. Moreover, the mosque of Ibn Tulun in Cairo, Egypt was based on the Samarra mosque in many regards.


Wednesday, 4 October 2017

The Sacred Valley of the Incas, Peru

The Sacred Valley of the Incas, in the Southern Sierra in Peru, contains many famous and lovely Inca ruins. The Sacred Valley of the Incas is also called Urubamba Valley is a valley in the Andes of Peru, 20km at its closest north of the Inca capital of Cusco. It was called the Sacred Valley because it contains some of the best land in the region and was not a part of the Empire but the property of the Emperor or Inca himself. The Sacred Valley was incorporated slowly into the incipient Inca Empire during the period from 1000 to 1400 CE. The Sacred Valley was the most important area for maize production in the heartland of the Inca Empire and access through the valley to tropical areas facilitated the import of products such as coca leaf and Chile peppers to Cuzco.

Agricultural terraces, called andenes, were built up hillsides flanking the valley floor and are today the most visible and widespread signs of the Inca civilization in the Sacred Valley. The Sacred Valley was undoubtedly a key area of settlement to the Incas. Its agree-able climate and fertile plains make a rare and fruitful combination for the high Andes. It was also the route to the jungle and therefore an area with access to the fruits and plants of the tropical lowlands. The Sacred Valley served as a buffer zone, protecting Cusco from incursions of the Antis, the fierce jungle tribes who from time to time raided the highlands.

The sacred valley is famous among tourists due to scenic and historical archaeological site. Every year, more than one million tourist visited sacred valley. The valley was formed by the Urubamba River is fed by numerous tributaries which descend through adjoining valleys and gorges, and contains numerous archaeological remains and villages. The scared valley, running generally west to east, is understood to include everything along the Urubamba River between the town and Inca ruins. The Sacred Valley has elevations above sea level along the river ranging from 3,000 metres at Pisac to 2,050 metres at the Urubamba River below the citadel of Macchu Piccu. On both sides of the river, the mountains rise to much higher elevations, especially to the south where two prominent mountains Sahuasiray, and Veronica overlook the valley.

The Incas built extensive irrigation works throughout the valley to counter deficiencies and seasonality in precipitation. Peru’s Sacred Valley is encompassing what was the fertile homeland of the Inca Empire is a quiet expanse of country that is steeped in Andean history and culture. Moreover massive scale of maize production in the Sacred Valley was apparently facilitated by varieties bred in nearby Moray, either a governmental crop laboratory or a seedling nursery of the Incas.