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.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

The Bochnia Salt Mind in Poland,

The Bochnia Salt Mine in Bochnia, Poland is one of the oldest salt mines in the world. Bochnia’s irrefutable asset is its exclusive combination of severity, naturalness and state-of-the-art multimedia expositions which never fail to captivate visitors. This is also oldest min in Poland was actually established between the 12th and 13th centuries after salt was first discovered in Bochnia. This was starting era of salt mining in this year, and became part of the Royal mining company zupy krakowskie "Kraków salt works". In the World War I, the mine activities were stopped and closed for some time. Bochnia Salt mine shafts approximately 4.5km in length and about 330 to 470 meters in depth below the surface at 16 different levels. More than 800 years of working, it now has a character of an underground town where tourist can take a ride by the underground train, slide down the world’s longest underground slide and take an underground ferry ride crossing the brine lake flooding the chamber. In 1981 it mine was declared a heritage monument, and excavated chambers, shafts and passages form an underground town, which is now open to tourists. It is situated in the middle salt deposits creating effective patterns, the so called Bochnia stripes and where the “Wazynek” restaurant, a souvenir shop, a sports field and a children's playground are located. During the tour, tourists have chance to explore a network of chambers and galleries with exceptional shapes and geological structure including a horse stable, wooden treadmill expositions and the Saint Kinga’s Chapel.
Moreover, one of largest preserved chambers has been converted into a sanatorium. The mine has a precise microclimate, with a continuous temperature between 14–16 °C (57–61 °F), high humidity (about 70%) and favorable ionization of the air saturated, at the same time, by sodium chloride and valuable microelements, like: magnesium, manganese and calcium. The massive mine tour ends up with a stay in the largest chamber, the Wazyn, considered the heart of the mine. The biggest conserved chambers in the Bochnia mine, placed on Sienkiewicz level. The Mysiur Stable was created before 1771 by adapting a chamber exploited in the 18th century. It was arranged for horses which worked at an adjacent treadmill over the Wazyn shaft. In the chamber, the original wooden manger has been preserved. The site is one of the Polish National Historic Monuments, as designated October and in 2013 the mine was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Moss Covered Lava Fields in Iceland

In Iceland Moss is a common plant, widely grows in the mountainous region. The moss has a special characteristic of Iceland’s lava fields. However, the southern coast of Iceland over Eldraun Lava field is one of the most remarkable moss blankets in Iceland. The recorded history exposed a devastating eruption created the lave fields in Eldraun. In 1783 the Laki fissure and the adjoining Grímsvötn volcano poured out an expected 14 cubic kilometers of basalt lava and clouds of poisonous gases that contaminated the soil, killing half of Iceland's cattle and horses, and more than three-quarter of sheep. Moss can be easily damaged and potentially irreparably. Moss areas are particularly sensitive and damage caused by footprints and tire marks can take a very long time to heal.

However, in that year, nothing grew on the fields and no fish found in the sea. This was resulting in famine killed approximately a quarter of the island’s human population. Therefore, Laki’s eruption had even more widespread effects. In the years following the eruption, the climate across the Northern Hemisphere deteriorated. In the winter of 1784, the North America became the longest and one of the coldest on record. Thus, massive snowstorm hit the South, the Mississippi River froze at New Orleans and there were reports of ice floes in the Gulf of Mexico.

Moreover, huge Haze from the eruption floated east as far away as India weakening monsoon circulations and leading to drought and crop failures. Moreover, in 1784 the famine that hit Egypt, as a result of the eruption, killed approximately 1/6 of its population. Hence, the worst consequences were felt in Europe. The summer of 1783 was the hottest on record and a rare high-pressure zone over Iceland caused the winds to blow to the south-east. The poisonous cloud drifted across Europe, and its inhalation killed tens of thousands. In Great Britain alone, it caused some 23,000 deaths.

As the weather became hot, thunderstorms became more severe and large hailstones rained down from the sky causing injury and death to cattle. The following winter was tremendously cold and result in 8,000 extra deaths in the UK. Even though, in the during the spring thaw, Germany and Central Europe reported faced catastrophic flood damage. A series of crop failures in France and the causing poverty and famine eventually triggered the French Revolution of 1789-1799. Nowadays, the Eldraun Lava Field looks very serene and tranquil. The thick green moss has helped softened the rugged landscape, almost disguising Eldhraun’s violent past.