Oct
20
2010
0

What is Rock Art?

rock artArchaeologically, “rock art” is a term applied to any human made marking on a ‘natural’ stone surface.  Relief carvings on a temple wall, for example, cannot be included regardless of how primitive they seem as the stone surface has been ‘prepared’ to receive the sculpture and is no longer ‘natural.’ Rock art is divided into [&hel[more...]

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Jul
01
2010
0

Is the Callanish stone circle open all the time?

Standing stone circle at CalanaisAnyone who can get to the Isle of Lewis can visit the standing stones of Callanish, and move around freely – quite different from the untouchable Stonehenge circle at the other end of the UK, which attracts about 20 visitors for every one at Callanish. The main site has a sheep-proof fence, gate, and a [&hel[more...]

May
08
2010
0

What is Krak des Chevaliers, Syria?

Krak des ChevaliersKrak des Chevaliers is a Crusader fortress in Syria and one of the premier preserved medieval military castles in the world.  It is located  west of the city of Homs and close to the border of Lebanon.   It is administratively part of the Homs Governorate but is an excellent day-trip if headquartering in Hama or [&hel[more...]

May
07
2010
0

What is Apamea, Syria?

apameaApamea, just to the northwest of Hama, Syria, was a treasure city of the Seleucid kings and was capital of the ancient province of Apamene.  At various times the city was known as Pharmake, Pella, Cherronesos, and was the Biblical city of Shepham.  Apamea was so closely tied to Jerusalem the first-fruits brought from that [&hel[more...]

May
04
2010
3

What are the Water Wheels of Hama?

water wheels hama syriaThe Water Wheels of Hama are part of an ancient irrigation system and were used to raise water into aqueducts.  They have been used for a couple of thousand years to irrigate the city and surrounding valleys.  There is an old mosaic in the Hama museum, found in Apamea and dated to 469 A.D. showing [&hel[more...]

Jan
08
2010
0

What is the Step Pyramid of Saqqara?

Step Pyramid Saqqara - courtesy Paul Mannix - CC-BYThe Step Pyramid at Saqqara, the Pyramid of Zoser, is the oldest known free standing stone structure in the world and the first of the Egyptian Pyramids.  King Zoser’ name was Netjerykhet. The name Zoser was given by New Kingdom visitors to the monument, thousands of years later.  The original name of the Step Pyramid [&hel[more...]

Jan
06
2010
0

Is the Pyramid of Kufu (the Great Pyramid of today) really one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World?

Khafre domminates the horizon - courtesy Dale Gillard - CC-BYIs the Pyramid of Kufu (the Great Pyramid of today) really one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World? Actually, no. It was the Pyramid of Khafre, the second largest pyramid at Giza which was the Great Pyramid of the Seven Wonders, even though smaller in both height and volume than the Great Pyramid [&hel[more...]

Dec
14
2009
0

What is the history of scissors?

Scissors - courtesy dboy - CC-BYScissors are small cutting implements which are familiar for a lifetime and too frequently overlooked in the march of human progress. We know the history of the garden hoe and plow, both simple cutting surfaces. But scissors are a little more complex, yet little is available of their history. Do they date back one century, [&hel[more...]

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Nov
20
2009
5

When was Jesus born?

Detail from a stained glass window in Fabrica Art Gallery, Brighton, East Sussex. Photo by Dominic. CC-BY.Although much of the world celebrates Christmas on Dec. 25 as the supposed birthday of Jesus of Nazareth, and our calendar is based on the assumption that year-counting began the year of his birth, the chances that he was born on Dec. 25, 1 BC (there was no year 0), are extremely remote. Christmas is [&hel[more...]

Oct
24
2009
--

Did the ancient Romans have a healthy Mediterranean diet?

Mushrooms for lunch! (photo by orsorama - CC-BY)The Ancient Romans were known for their highly evolved civilization, and for their inventions like the aqueduct. They were also known to love food and eating, and they often threw elaborate banquets to impress their friends with their knowledge of food and wine and to show off their wealth. That wasn't how they ate all [&hel[more...]

Aug
04
2009
1

Who were the Etruscans?

Interior Etruscan Tomb in Tarquinia - courtesy ciamabue - CC-BYEtruscan civilization evolved in northern and central Italy about 800 BC.  This era gave way in 7th century BC to an increasingly orientalizing culture that was influenced by Greek traders and Magna Graecia, the Hellenic civilization of southern Italy. The Etruscan civilization flourished in the northern part of what is now Italy, before the arrival [&hel[more...]

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Jun
29
2009
0

What was Ancient Anatolia?

Hittite Bulls - courtesy Verity Cridland - CC-BYAnatolia is the Asiatic portion of modern Turkey, extending from the Bosporus and Aegean coast eastward to the borders Russia, Iran, and Iraq. The Greeks and later the Romans referred to western Anatolia as “Asia.” While Anatolia is the home of Catalhuyuk, which may be the oldest city in the world, and later to colonies [&hel[more...]

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May
18
2009
0

What are the Dead Cities of Syria?

Saint Simeon Basilica, "Dead Cities" region, NW Syria - courtesy jamesdale10 - CC-BYThe regions west and southwest of Aleppo in northern Syria are home to the “Dead Cities.” These are ruins of some 700 Byzantine cities, towns, villages and monastic settlements. They are among the most important treasures of ancient Byzantine architecture found anywhere in the world. The region of the Dead Cities once supported an immense [&hel[more...]

May
09
2009
0

What is ancient Herculaneum?

Herculaneum - courtesy slightlywinded - CC-BYNear the fabled Pompeii is Herculaneum, another city buried and frozen in time by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Herculaneum was smaller, much wealthier, and more important to Roman high society, than the now more famous Pompeii. Herculaneum catered to the richest of the rich and the most powerful of the Empire. After the eruption [&hel[more...]

May
08
2009
0

What are the Nazca Lines?

Giant hummingbird - courtesy kudumomo - CC-BYStretching across the Nazca plains like a giant map left by ancient astronauts, are the famous Nazca Lines of Peru. The drawings as well as their meaning are even more mysterious than their origin. It is not known how long it took to create them, nor how the creators were able to measure them with [&hel[more...]

Apr
30
2009
0

What is the city of Palenque?

Palenque - courtesy Ruben Charles - CC-BYPalenque is an ancient Maya city in the Mexican state of Chiapas. It has some of the finest architecture, sculpture, roof comb and bas-reliefs the Maya ever produced. It was first occupied around 100 BC and flourished at its peak from about 600 to 700 AD. During the 8th century, the city came under increasing [&hel[more...]

Apr
26
2009
0

What was the ancient city of Ephesus?

Temple of Hadrian at Ephesus - courtesy Alaskan Dude - CC-BYEphesus was an ancient city on the west coast of Turkey. It was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League and was famed for the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The area of Ephesus was inhabited during the Early Stone Age about 6000 BC. The city [&hel[more...]

Apr
18
2009
2

What was the ancient city of Persepolis?

Persepolis - courtesy simonhn - CC-BYPersepolis was founded by Darius I in 518 B.C., as the capital of the Achaemenid Empire. It was constructed on an immense half-artificial, half-natural terrace, where the king of kings created an impressive palace complex inspired by Mesopotamian predesessors. The earliest remains date from around 515 BC. To the ancient Persians, the city was called [&hel[more...]

Apr
18
2009
0

What is the ancient city of Byblos?

Byblos - Jbeil Marina - courtesy Serge Melki - CC-BYThere are the ruins of many civilizations found at the Lebanese city of Byblos, one of the oldest Phoenician cities. It has been inhabited since Neolithic times and has been closely linked to the history of the Mediterranean region for thousands of years. Byblos is associated with the history of the Phoenician alphabet. The city [&hel[more...]

Apr
18
2009
0

What is the temple of Delphi?

The Temple of Apollo, Delphi - courtesy Hyperfinch - CC-BYThe sanctuary of Delphi, where the oracle of Apollo spoke, was the site of the omphalos, the ‘navel of the world’. Charged with sacred meaning, Delphi in the 6th century B.C. was the religious center and symbol of unity for the ancient Greek world. The sacred precinct in Delphi was a place, where every four [&hel[more...]

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