The Mustang Caves

Is it worth climbing the treacherous heights of the Mustang Caves just to bury the dead?

  • The Mustang Caves is a network of manmade caves found in a remote area of Nepal, in the Himalaya mountain region, in Asia.
  • The ‘Mustang Caves’ are also known as the ‘Caves of Mustang’ and ‘Sky Caves of Nepal’.
  • Some of the Mustang Caves reach an elevation of 47 metres (155 feet) from the valley floor.
  • Around 10,000 caves are thought to be associated with the Mustang Caves network, many of which were homes, contain murals, or are sites of burials.
  • Originally the Mustang Caves were not accessible to foreigners as a result of political unrest in nearby Tibet, and since 1992, it has been open to visitors who obtain a permit.
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Mustang Caves
Image courtesy of Elaphurus/Flickr
  • At least 8000 documents have been discovered in the Mustang Caves, most thought to originate from around the 1400s AD, and many are works of a spiritual nature.
  • Climbing up the Mustang Caves can be dangerous task, as rocks ahead are prone to loosening or crumbling, while the stability of the ledges are unpredictable.
  • It is thought that the Mustang Caves were originally used as gravesites, and were later adapted as shelters and homes, and by the 1400s, they were mostly abandoned and used for religious purposes.
  • Approximately two thirds to three quarters of the human bones found occupying the Mustang Caves have cuts on them, possibly as a result of the civilisation’s burial procedure of slicing the flesh off the bones and allowing vultures to consume it.
  • In the Mustang Caves area there are a few small towns and villages, and as the area once belonged to Tibet and was closed to outsiders for a long time, it has kept much of its historical language and culture, most of which reflects Tibetan customs.
Bibliography:
The Ancient Mysteries of Mustang’s Caves, 2013, BBC Travel, http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20130501-the-ancient-mysteries-of-mustangs-caves
Bond A, Mystery of the ancient kingdom discovered in Nepal where thousands of caves are carved 155ft off the ground, 2013, Daily Mail Australia, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2403094/Mystery-ancient-caves-Nepal.html
Cave People of the Himalaya, 2012, PBS, http://www.pbs.org/program/cave-people-himalaya/
The Mysterious Caves of Mustang, Nepal, 2016, Amusing Planet, http://www.amusingplanet.com/2016/03/the-mysterious-caves-of-mustang-nepal.html
Finkel M, Sky Caves of Nepal, 2016, National Geographic, http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2012/10/mustang-caves/finkel-text

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Lion City

Would you brave the depths to see Lion City?

  • Lion City is an ancient city that has been abandoned and submerged in the water of Quindao Lake of Zhejiang, China.
  • It is thought that construction of Lion City began in 621 AD, and the city eventually rose to economical importance, with many features built at a later stage.
  • ‘Lion City’ was named after the nearby Five Lion Mountain and is known as ‘Shī chéng’ in Chinese.
  • The enormous Xin’an Dam and hydroelectric station project initiated by the Chinese government and completed in 1959, was the cause of the Lion City flooding and submerging, as well as other cities and towns, causing a total of almost 300,000 people to be displaced.
  • In 2001, Lion City was ‘rediscovered’ by a diving club, at the invitation of the Chinese government, and further explorations have since been organised.
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Part of Lion City
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
  • Lion City is approximately 0.43 square kilometres (0.17 square miles) in area, and it is situated between 26 and 40 metres (85 to 131 feet) deep under water; and it is notable for featuring five city gates, an abnormal quantity as most ancient cities would have only four gates.
  • Most statues, sculptures and art, and other stone or wooden structures of Lion City, have been remarkably preserved, due in part to lack of exposure to air, and relatively stable water temperatures of 10 to 20 degrees Celsius (50 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • Lion City was designated a protected site in 2011 by the Zhejiang Province, which coincidentally was also the year that curiosity and awareness of the city grew, especially as new photographs of the city were released.
  • For expansion of Lion City’s increasing tourism, a submarine for casual exploration has been built, though by the end of 2015 it had not yet been used due to site preservation concerns; and a concept for an underwater tunnel has been presented, but its purpose may be purely for transporting vehicles across the lake.
  • Lion City is best visited from April to October due to warmer air and water temperatures, and even then, only experienced divers can venture, particularly due to conservation concerns and lack of underwater visibility.
Bibliography:
Graaf M, China’s Atlantis, 2014, Daily Mail Australia, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2561147/Chinas-Atlantis-How-Lion-City-purposely-flooded-make-way-power-station-remains-completely-intact-130ft-underwater-50-years.html
Galloway L, China’s Atlantis of the East, 2014, BBC Travel, http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20140711-chinas-atlantis-of-the-east
Lingren Z, The Ancient Underwater City of Thousand Islands Lake, 2013, Chinese National Geography Press, http://www.chinascenic.com/magazine/the-ancient-underwater-city-of-thousand-islands-lake-222.html
Lost Underwater Lion City: Rediscovery of China’s ‘Atlantis’, 2012, Love These Pics, http://www.lovethesepics.com/2012/06/lost-underwater-lion-city-rediscovery-of-chinas-atlantis/
Qiandao Lake, 2015, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qiandao_Lake
Wang C, Dive the Ancient Ruins of Lion City in Qiandao Lake, 2015, Underwater Photography Guide, http://www.uwphotographyguide.com/dive-qiandao-lake-china

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Newgrange

Newgrange takes prehistoric architecture to a new level.

  • Newgrange, also known as ‘New Grange’, is a monumental structure that was built in ancient times, and is found in Ireland’s County Meath, in Europe.
  • Newgrange is a roundish building in shape, featuring internal chambers and hallways, with an opening on the side that is facing south-east.
  • In 1993, the UNESCO World Heritage Convention listed Newgrange as a World Heritage Site as part of the Brú na Bóinne group.
  • Stone is the primary material used to construct Newgrange, while grass grows on the roof of the structure, and it also includes soil and sand.
  • The height of Newgrange reaches 12 metres (39 feet) and has a diameter of around 80 metres (262 feet).
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Newgrange
Image courtesy of Young Shanahan/Flickr
  • Newgrange was built by a Neolithic community around 3200 to 3100 BC, and it is believed to be older than the Pyramids of Giza and Stonehenge, that are also renowned for their age and monumental significance.
  • Newgrange is said to be a passage tomb, that has housed the remains of multiple people, while the structure may have also been used for religious purposes.
  • Although abandoned some 1000 years after it was built, Newgrange managed to leave a significant footprint in the myths of Ireland, especially in the time of the Middle Ages.
  • It is considered that Newgrange was first uncovered and entered by people from the modern age in 1699, by workers employed by the owner of the land, Charles Campbell; and this led to the beginning of historical interest, and the site was first investigated by Edward Lhwyd, a Welsh antiquarian.
  • Newgrange is considered an art of architecture, featuring many creative corridors, sculptures and carved stones, as well as a window, known as a ‘roof box’, that lights the inner structure during the Winter Solstice.
Bibliography:
Newgrange, 2010, World Heritage Ireland, http://www.worldheritageireland.ie/bru-na-boinne/built-heritage/newgrange/

Newgrange
, 2015, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newgrange
Newgrange – Ireland’s Most Famous Monument, 2015, Mythical Ireland, http://www.mythicalireland.com/ancientsites/newgrange/

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Golden Ratio

Marvel the minds of the ancient world as you discover the wonders of the golden ratio.

  • The golden ratio is a mathematical term given to the phenomena of when two lengths, when divided via a formula, is equal to the number phi (φ).
  • ‘Golden ratio’ is also known as ‘golden section’, ‘medial section’, ‘golden proportion’, ‘divine section’, ‘extreme and mean ratio’ and ‘golden mean’, and is called ‘sectio aurea’ in Latin.
  • The formula of the golden ratio is the total of two lengths divided by the longer length (a+b/a), where it equals the longer length divided by the shorter length (a/b).
  • A golden ratio occurs when the formula equation equals the number phi, which is roughly 1.618033, however, this number has an infinite number of decimal places.
  • The golden ratio was likely first discovered by mathematicians of Ancient Greece, including Pythagoras and Euclid, and studied by later folk such as the Italian Leonardo Bonacci (Leonardo of Pisa).
Golden Ratio, Ten Random Facts, Shell, Fibonacci Spiral, Nature, Mathematics, Ten Random Facts, Flickr
Golden Ratio/Fibonacci Spiral evident in a Shell
Image courtesy of Jitz Couperos/Flick
  • Many forms of nature feature the golden ratio in some arrangement, from human facial features, to the petals on flowers.
  • Many artists, architects and musicians consider the golden ratio when creating their work; and the ratio is said to be evident in the Parthenon temple, and the Last Supper painting, among others.
  • The Fibonacci sequence, described by Leonardo Banacci, that defines spirals evident in flowers, galaxy spirals, and hurricanes, uses the golden ratio.
  • Rectangles can be created via the golden ratio, known as ‘golden rectangles’, that have sides of a 1:1.618 ratio, and they are widely accepted as being more aesthetically pleasing than rectangles of random sizes.
  • The value of the golden ratio is not easily written as a fraction, as it is a continued fraction, and it is therefore usually written as a shortened decimal number, or as the symbol phi (φ).
Bibliography:
Dvorsky G, 15 Uncanny Examples of the Golden Ratio in Nature, 2013, io9, http://io9.com/5985588/15-uncanny-examples-of-the-golden-ratio-in-nature
Golden Ratio, 2014, Maths is Fun, https://www.mathsisfun.com/numbers/golden-ratio.html
Golden Ratio, 2015, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_ratio

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Butrint

Butrint, Roman, Ten Random Facts, Ruins, Greek, City, Flickr, Europe

See the ages of the past at Butrint.

  • Butrint is a now ruined city that existed during the times of the Ancient Greeks and Romans, and the site is part of a protected area of approximately 86 square kilometres (33.2 square miles).
  • ‘Butrint’ is also known as ‘Buthrotum’, ‘Bouthrōtón’ and ‘Buthrōtum’, the latter two being Greek and Latin respectively.
  • Butrint is located on the southern tip of Albania, in Europe, in the area of Ksamil, on a hill, and the site is almost completely surrounded by water.
  • The UNESCO World Heritage Convention declared Butrint a World Heritage Site in 1992, and a National Park of the same name was formed in the year 2000 to further protect the site.
  • Butrint is said to have been settled by Greeks as early as the 900s BC, until it had a significant Roman influence by the mid 2nd century BC, and it was later influenced by Christians and Roman Catholics.

Butrint, Roman, Ten Random Facts, Ruins, Greek, City, Flickr, Europe

Part of Butrint
Image courtesy of Matias Hallberg/Flickr
  • Butrint was the site of many clashes, especially during the Middle and Modern Ages, including those with Normans and Venetians.
  • Butrint is said to have been hit by a damaging earthquake and flood, during the 200s AD and the medieval period respectively; while the latter disaster caused the occupants to cease living in the city, and never return.
  • Archaeologists have performed modern excavations on Butrint since 1928, that were initially undertaken by Italians, and were intended by the Italian government to increase their influence in the area.
  • Butrint has previously been damaged by theft and vandalism, and since protection of the site has been more prominent, further damage has diminished.
  • Butrint has many monuments and other significant sights to see, and is visited by busloads of tourists quite regularly; while the first road to the archaeological site was built in 1959.
Bibliography:
Butrint, 2015, UNESCO World Heritage Convention, http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/570
Buthrotum, 2015, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buthrotum
Butrint, nd, Butrint Foundation, http://butrint.com/index.php

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Cuicul

Learn about some very well preserved Roman architecture with these Cuicul facts.

  • Cuicul is an ancient city and ruins built by Romans in a mountainous area, located in north Africa’s Algeria.
  • ‘Cuicul’ is the Latin name for the city, which is also known as ‘Djémila’, that can literally be translated to ‘beautiful’ in Arabic.
  • Cuicul was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982 due to the site’s historically significant Roman architecture.
  • The Cuicul group of ruins consists of temples, houses, arches, streets, and also a theatre, that were originally built and designed by Romans.
  • Cuicul was built around 96 to 98 AD, and further developments and building occurred in the 3rd century, although, by the end of the 6th century it lay abandoned.

Cuicul, Ruins, Roman, Algeria, Columns, Ancient, Ten Random Facts, Structure, Architecture

Part of Cuicul
Image courtesy of Dan Sloan/Flickr
  • Cuicul was built on a mountain in the northern part of the country, in the Sétif Province, 900 metres (2953 feet) above sea level.
  • Until the 500s, marking the Roman Empire’s fall, Cuicul was used both as a Roman soldier base and a trade centre for the area.
  • The Christian religion was introduced to Cuicul during the 300s, so a chapel, baptistry and houses from the time are able to be seen today.
  • Cuicul is susceptible to damage by natural disasters including earthquakes; raids by humans; and nearby land illegally being used for agricultural purposes.
  • Cuicul is visited annually by approximately 45,000 tourists and students, that seem to have little or no detrimental effect on the area.
Bibliography:
Cuicul (Djémila), 2014, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuicul_(Dj%C3%A9mila)
Djémila, 2014, UNESCO World Heritage Convention, http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/191

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