Archive for the 'Ancient Wonders' Category

Unearthing an Ancient Temple in London

You never know what wonders may be concealed beneath our modern streets…

 

People queue to see the remains of the temple in 1954.

 

From CNN,

 

Temple to ancient Roman cult resurrected beneath London

 

“In central London, seven meters underground, lies an ancient Roman temple to a mysterious god called Mithras. Nearly 2,000 years after the temple was frequented by the all-male members of an exclusive, enigmatic cult, it has now been faithfully restored and opened to the public.

 

Visitors descend into a dimly lit cave beneath the new London headquarters of business news outlet Bloomberg. The temple slowly comes to life as torch light flickers and a recording of a low chanting fills the room. Channels of light and haze extend from the rocky ruins, recreating shadowy columns to give the impression of the temple’s superstructure. A light display in the recess of the temple depicts the cult statue of Mithras slaying a bull, an image that was the central icon of the cult.

 

The lost Roman temple beneath London.

 

It is believed that soldiers and merchants gathered in these secret temples drinking, feasting and performing rituals that may have involved simulating death and rebirth, and even some nakedness…”

 

For the rest, click here.

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The Inca Empire’s Ancient Code Written In Strings

No one knows how to “read” them…

 

 

From Sapiens,

 

Unraveling an Ancient Code Written In Strings
Andean cultures developed a mysterious form of writing that has never been deciphered. Scientists are teaming with locals to solve the enigma.

by Sabine Hyland

 

“In July 2015, my husband and I were crammed into a stuffy minivan with 12 others, climbing out of Lima’s coastal mist into the sun-filled mountains thousands of feet above. After hours of dust clouds and dizzying hairpin turns, our destination appeared below—the remote Andean village of San Juan de Collata, Peru. It was a scattering of adobe houses with no running water, no sewage, and electricity for only a couple of homes. The several hundred inhabitants of this community speak a form of Spanish heavily influenced by their ancestors’ Quechua. Arriving at the village felt like entering into another world.

 

My husband and I spent our first few hours in Collata making formal presentations to the village officers, requesting permission to study two rare and precious objects that the community has guarded for centuries—bunches of twisted and colored cords known as khipus. After dinner, the man in charge of the community treasures, a middle-aged herder named Huber Brañes Mateo, brought over a colonial chest containing the khipus, along with goat-hide packets of 17th- and 18th-century manuscripts—the secret patrimony of the village. We had the tremendous honor of being the first outsiders ever allowed to see them.

 

Over the next couple days, we would learn that these multicolored khipus, each of which is just over 2 feet long, were narrative epistles created by local chiefs during a time of war in the 18th century. But that evening, exhausted yet elated, my husband Bill and I simply marveled at the colors of the delicate animal fibers—crimson, gold, indigo, green, cream, pink, and shades of brown from fawn to chocolate.

 

In the Inca Empire’s heyday, from 1400 to 1532, there would have been hundreds of thousands of khipus in use. Today there are about 800 held in museums, universities, and private collections around the world, but no one knows how to “read” them. Most are thought to record numerical accounts; accounting khipus can be identified by the knots tied into the cords, which are known to represent numbers, even if we don’t know what those numbers mean. According to Spanish chroniclers in the 16th century who saw khipus still being used, others record narrative information: histories, biographies, and communications between administrators in different towns….”

 

For the rest, click here.

 

 

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Resurrecting the Christmas Ghost Story Tradition

Why should Halloween get all the fun?

 

 

From The Smithsonian,

 

A Plea to Resurrect the Christmas Tradition of Telling Ghost Stories
Though the practice is now more associated with Halloween, spooking out your family is well within the Christmas spirit

By Colin Dickey

 

“For the last hundred years, Americans have kept ghosts in their place, letting them out only in October, in the run-up to our only real haunted holiday, Halloween. But it wasn’t always this way, and it’s no coincidence that the most famous ghost story is a Christmas story—or, put another way, that the most famous Christmas story is a ghost story. Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol was first published in 1843, and its story about a man tormented by a series of ghosts the night before Christmas belonged to a once-rich, now mostly forgotten tradition of telling ghost stories on Christmas Eve. Dickens’ supernatural yuletide terror was no outlier, since for much of the 19th century, was the holiday indisputably associated with ghosts and the specters.

 

“Whenever five or six English-speaking people meet round a fire on Christmas Eve, they start telling each other ghost stories,” humorist Jerome K. Jerome wrote in his 1891 collection, Told After Supper. “Nothing satisfies us on Christmas Eve but to hear each other tell authentic anecdotes about spectres. It is a genial, festive season, and we love to muse upon graves, and dead bodies, and murders, and blood.”

 

Telling ghost stories during winter is a hallowed tradition, a folk custom stretches back centuries, when families would wile away the winter nights with tales of spooks and monsters. “A sad tale’s best for winter,” Mamillius proclaims in Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale: “I have one. Of sprites and goblins.” And the titular Jew of Malta in Christopher Marlowe’s play at one point muses, “Now I remember those old women’s words, Who in my wealth would tell me winter’s tales, And speak of spirits and ghosts by night…”

 

Read the rest here.
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