Monday, February 16, 2004

Geneva Team Brings Ottoman Mosques To Life

"A team at the University of Geneva have developed virtual reality models of two Turkish mosques dating from the Ottoman era of the 16th century which let you move around and explore the buildings in real-time. For the project, the Miralab team focused on the mosques of Aya Sofya and Hagia Sophia. As well as the buildings, they also created virtual humans, including an imam, to simulate what Friday prayers would have been like in the Ottoman era.

Close attention has been paid to ensuring the furniture, colours and texture is historically accurate. In addition, the lighting and sound changes, depending on the position of the mouse."

Unplundered Royal Mycenaean Tomb Uncovered

"A subterranean tholos tomb was found along with four or five small, box-like cist tombs during construction of a new Volos ring road, according to the Ethnos daily.

Archaeologists have not yet entered the tholos tomb — a monumental structure of the same type as the famous “Tomb of Atreus” at Mycenae, which would have contained the remains of a local ruler. The paper quoted local antiquities director Vassiliki Adrymi as saying the burial appeared to be unplundered by grave robbers.

"According to initial indications, this great funerary monument is sealed and has not been plundered," she said. "We believe it is 6.5 meters high and 8 meters in diameter." This would be about half the size of the Atreus tomb.

At nearby Dimini, some 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) west of Volos, Adrymi has excavated a Mycenaean settlement associated with Iolkos, city of the mythical hero Jason."

The Mycenaean tholos tomb consists of a circular, subterranean burial chamber, sometimes referred to as the thalamos, roofed by a corbelled vault and approached by a dromos (entrance passage) that narrows abruptly at the stomion (doorway) actually opening into the tomb chamber. The chamber or thalamos is built of stone rather than simply being hewn out of bedrock. Tholoi of this kind are usually, though not invariably, set into slopes or hillsides. Burials were either laid out on the floor of the tomb chamber or were placed in pits, cists, or shafts cut into this floor.

See also Mycenaean Tholos Tombs

Thursday, February 12, 2004

1580 Copy of Book of Saints Found in Russia

"A biography of saints published in 1580, presumably issued by first Russian publisher Ivan Fedorov, has been found in Ufa.
The volume is one of first ten books issued by the ancient publisher. No such rarities exist in any of the museum collection in Bashkortostan.

The book that is in a very good condition has survived to the present day in an attic of an old house. The book still has a bronze pin left intact, while the book cover has a single minor crack only. The book is printed in the Greek and old Slav languages on watermark paper. The book produces a strong impression given its unique editor's culture, an excellent two- colour filigree print and a high level of its drawings.

The house where the rare book was found had once been owned by Dean of the Voskeresensky cathedral, rector of the Ufa Seminary Evgraf Yevarestov, who was killed by Bolsheviks during the 1917-1918 revolution in Russia. "

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Archaeologists find 1,400-year-old tomb of Anglo-Saxon king

"The discovery of an Anglo-Saxon king's burial chamber complete with a lavish collection of treasures was more than any archaeologist would hope to find beneath a verge in the Southend suburb. Described yesterday as 'a once in a lifetime discovery' it is hoped the chamber in Essex will provide a unique insight into life and death in the Dark Ages."

"More than 60 beautifully preserved objects from bronze cauldrons and gold foil crosses to glass jars, copper buckles, a sword and a shield were dug from the site and taken to conservation laboratories for analysis. The body itself had been eaten away over the centuries by the acidic soil that seeped in."

Monday, February 09, 2004

The Splendors of Persian Gardens

"The earliest Persian garden still tangible, its broken columns rising out of a ruined foundation, was built by Cyrus the Great on a high plain northeast of Shiraz, Iran, at the site where he defeated the Medes in 550 B.C. The garden, divided into four sections by rills, or channels of water, and surrounded by shady pavilions, was not only a refuge in the scorching desert - a paradise on earth - but also an emblem of an empire's power and reach.

'They dropped trenches down to the water table, where melted snow flowed from the mountains,' Ms. Penelope Hobhouse, author of Gardens of Persia, said. By the fifth century B.C., Persian kings were building gardens fed by aqueducts, which flowed into rills and basins. The Persian word pairidaeza - 'a wall around' - filtered into Greece as paradeisos, which was used to describe the Garden of Eden in the Greek translation of the Bible. Originally, the gardens 'were fenced around to keep out the wind, or marauders or a desert full of evil spirits - the djinns,' Ms. Hobhouse said.

The earliest gardens in Mesopotamia, built in the deltas of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, are described on cuneiform tablets from around 4000 B.C. They describe how Enki, the Sumerian god of water, provided fresh water to the dry land of Dilmun, transforming it into fields and fruit trees.

This is where the Sumerians dug canals to irrigate their farmland, building the city states Ur and Uruk, Ms. Hobhouse writes.

By 2250 B.C., the Sumerian capital, Babylon, had hunting parks and stepped terraces "constructed to resemble mountains linking earth with heaven," Ms. Hobhouse writes. "There really were hanging gardens in Babylon,'' she said.

See also: Persian Gardens