Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System

The Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System is something you would consider ahead of its time.

  • The Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System is an elaborate system for transporting water throughout the ancient island city of Shushtar, found in Iran, in the Middle East.
  • The Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System features a number of canals, water mills, tunnels, dams, bridges, waterfalls and more.
  • The UNESCO World Heritage Convention designated the Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System a World Heritage Site in 2009.
  • The water of the Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System was primarily supplied by two canals, flowing from the River Karun.
  • A combination of influences contributed to the architecture of the Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System, including people from the ancient civilisations of Elam and Mesopotamia, as well as from the Nabataean kingdom and ancient Rome.
Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System, Trivia, Ten Random Facts, Place, Water, Iran, Middle East, Ancient
Part of the Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System
Image courtesy of Adam Jones/Flickr
  • The Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System is thought to have been built and completed in the 200s AD, mostly by Roman prisoners of war.
  • Historical sources suggest that the Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System was completed within an impressive three to seven years, however it is believed to have been constructed upon, or added to an already existing structure that was built 700 to 800 years earlier.
  • The strategic placement of the canals, bridges and gateways of the Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System meant that the city could effectively defend against or overcome threats, as well as use the water for irrigation purposes, and as the city’s main water supply.
  • The Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System has only been abandoned quite recently, as the system was showing signs of significant deterioration from thousands of years use, though some parts are still used.
  • A tower exists as part of the Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System, that enables the depth of the water to be calculated.
Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System, 2016, Amusing Planet,
Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System, 2016, UNESCO World Heritage Convention,
Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System, 2015, Wikipedia,



The bright colours of Xochimilco really convey a sense of fun!

  • Xochimilco is a district or borough of Mexico City, in Mexico, North America, and a lake of the same name is also found in the region.
  • The area of Xochimilco comprises of a range of roughly 125 square kilometres (48 square miles), and contains many canals, made hundreds of years ago in the Pre-Hispanic period.
  • Xochimilco was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, as part of the historic centre of Mexico City, due to its long-established extensive canal network.
  • The many canals that snake throughout Xochimilco, stem from the nearby lake and are utilised for transportation, often using brightly coloured boats named ‘trajineras’, and as a result, the area has become a significant tourist attraction.
  • In 1928, the Mexican government created Xochimilco as part of a restructuring project of Mexico City, separating the city into 16 boroughs, and as of 2010, around 415,000 individuals resided in the district.
Xochimilco, Boat, Trivia, Ten Random Facts, Water, Mexico City, Colourful, Canal
Image courtesy of Christian Cordova/Flickr
  • Originally Xochimilco was the area of which a city of the same name was located, and the site is now considered a part of the borough’s historical centre.
  • There are many man-made islands in the Xochimilco area, know as ‘chinampas’, which are surrounded by the canals, one of which is known as the Island of Dolls, as many dolls can be found hanging there.
  • The term ‘Xochimilco’ comes from the native Aztec language, translated as ‘flower field’ or similar, referring to the area once being a site used for agricultural purposes, mainly growing flowers and crops on the chinampas; and the area is still known for its flower production.
  • Xochimilco’s canals are threatened by pollution, urbanisation, introduced fish species, and over-pumping of the water which has led to severe decline in water levels; all of which contribute to risking its status as a World Heritage Site.
  • In Xochimilco, 49 different festivals are run in the borough each year, with the main festivals celebrating the most beautiful women in the region, ice-cream, and olives, among other things.
Delsol C, The Stunning Ancient Canals of Mexico City’s Xochimilco, 2015, SFGATE,
Historic Centre of Mexico City and Xochimilco, 2016, UNESCO World Heritage Convention,
Xochimilco, 2016, Wikipedia,


Por-Bazhyn Fortress

MilThe intriguing Por-Bazhyn Fortress.

  • Por-Bazhyn Fortress is a construction built centuries ago, found on a lake island in the mountainous Tuva area in Siberia, Russia, and it now lays in ruins.
  • ‘Por-Bazhyn Fortress’ is also known as ‘Por Bajin Fortress’ and ‘Por-Bazhyng Fortress’, with its name from the native Tuvan language meaning ‘clay house’.
  • Por-Bazhyn Fortress encompasses an area almost the size of the small island it is situated on, so its walls are not far from the waters of the remote lake Tere-Khol.
  • Por-Bazhyn Fortress covers a rectangle-shaped area of approximately 3.5 hectares (8.6 acres) with dimensions of 162 by 215 metres (531 by 705 feet).
  • It is thought that Por-Bazhyn Fortress was built sometime between 750 to 790 AD, possibly purposed as a palace or for ritual, religious or military practices, but as of 2015, there was little evidence to support any of these suggestions.
Por-Bazhyn Fortress, Place, Trivia, Ten Random Facts, Construction, Russia, Lake, AncientPor-Bazhyn Fortress
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
  • The outer wall of Por-Bazhyn Fortress currently reaches a height of up to 10 to 12 metres (33 to 39 feet), while the inner walls are 1.5 metres (5 feet) at their highest point.
  • Por-Bazhyn Fortress was initially excavated from 1957 to 1963 by S.I. Vajnstejn, a Russian archeologist, after it was explored earlier in 1891, while extensive work and studies of the site were undertaken in 2007 to 2008 by the cultural foundation of the fortress.
  • Rammed earth and clay materials were used in the construction of the walls of Por-Bazhyn Fortress, while wooden beams were utilised for support, and the site has distinct Chinese architectural features.
  • Like many other details of Por-Bazhyn Fortress, it is unknown how the fortress was actually destroyed and why it was abandoned, though earthquakes and/or fire are possible causes, and it is believed that the site was used only for a short time, if at all.
  • Only a small quantity of artifacts have been retrieved from Por-Bazhyn Fortress, and these have included footprints, burnt timber, an earring, a dagger, drawings and building materials.
Holloway A, 1,300-Year-Old Fortress-Like Structure on Siberian Lake Continues to Mystify Experts, 2014, Ancient Origin,
Por-Bajin, 2016, Atlas Obscura,
Por-Bazhyn, 2016, Wikipedia,
The Por-Bazhyn Fortress, 2016, Amusing Planet,

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.
The Ancient Mysteries of Mustang’s Caves, 2013, BBC Travel,
Bond A, Mystery of the ancient kingdom discovered in Nepal where thousands of caves are carved 155ft off the ground, 2013, Daily Mail Australia,
Cave People of the Himalaya, 2012, PBS,
The Mysterious Caves of Mustang, Nepal, 2016, Amusing Planet,
Finkel M, Sky Caves of Nepal, 2016, National Geographic,


Super Glue

Messing around with super glue will result in sticky situation… literally!

  • Super glue is a particularly strong adhesive that is made primarily of the chemical compound cyanoacrylate, and technically it is an acrylic resin.
  • While ‘super glue’ is a generic term for the product, it is a brand name for the adhesive as well, and the glue is also  known as ‘power glue’ and ‘instant glue’, or by other brand names ‘Krazy Glue’ and ‘Eastman 910’.
  • Super glue bonds with surfaces due to a reaction with water, which causes strong bonds to be formed with most surfaces touching the glue.
  • Urban legend tells of super glue’s origins being accidental and purposed for the military to seal wounds during a war, however this is mostly untrue, though the glue was used during the Vietnam war for this purpose.
  • Super glue was first discovered in 1942 by American scientist Harry Coover and his co-workers, in an attempt to create a particularly clear plastic for firearm scopes, however the product was disregarded.
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Super Glue
Image courtesy of Earl/Flickr
  • Due to air moisture, super glue’s life is shortened significantly, to a month after opening, compared to a year when unopened, however the life of the adhesive is said to be able to be extended by placing the product in the freezer.
  • In 1951, the super glue mixture discovered years prior, was rediscovered by Harry Coover along with Fred Joyner during a different scientific experiment, and together they noticed the commercial opportunity; and in 1958, the product became available for purchase under the name ‘Eastman 910’.
  • Super glue can generate large amounts of heat when applied to natural textiles, even causing combustion in materials such as wool and cotton.
  • Super glue is often used for hobby crafts or models, or to fix broken objects, and a variation of the product is used medically to seal wounds, and in forensics, to make fingerprints visible.
  • Super glue can be suitably removed from many surfaces using acetone, a chemical found prominently in nail polish remover, while the adhesive is naturally shed from skin surfaces in around four days.
Cyanoacrylate, 2016, Wikipedia,
Hiskey D, Super Glue Was Invented By Accident, Twice, 2011, Today I Found Out,
Was Super Glue Invented to Seal Battle Wounds in Vietnam?, 2004, The Straight Dope,


Svalbard Global Seed Vault

Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a backup for even a doomsday!

  • The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a facility that stores seed samples in a secure vault in a mountain not far from the town of Longyearbyen on Spitsbergen, a remote northern island of Europe’s Norway.
  • The Svalbard Global Seed Vault was built as a backup for worldwide flora, particularly crops, in the case of a natural disaster, war, disease or other phenomena wiping out a certain seed or crop plant, or a whole seed bank.
  • Three organisations manage the Svalbard Global Seed Vault – the Norwegian Government, the Global Crop Diversity Trust and NordGen (Nordic Genetic Resource Center).
  • The construction of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault first commenced in mid 2006, a day commemorated by the Finnish, Danish, Swedish, Icelandic and Norwegian prime ministers laying down the first brick; and the building was complete and had its official opening on the 26th February 2008.
  • The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is named after the archipelago ‘Svalbard’, of which the Spitsbergen island where the vault is located is a part, and the site was chosen for its natural preservation characteristics of sub-zero ground temperatures; a structurally stable environment; and significant height above sea level.

Svalberd Global Seed Vault, Bank, Norway, Place, Storage, Doomsday, Ice, Isolated, Long, Frozen

Svalbard Global Seed Vault
Image courtesy of Landbruks/Flickr
  • At the entrance face and the roof of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, there is an illuminated artwork which includes reflective metals to aid visibility from a distance; and the vault covers an area of around 1,000 square metres (10,764 square feet) and sits at an elevation of 130 metres (427 feet).
  • The Svalbard Global Seed Vault cost a total of US $9 million, which was financed solely by the Norwegian Government, and the building is said to be safe from nuclear bomb threats, earthquakes and other major catastrophes.
  • Norway does not own the seed contents of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, as it works much like a bank safety deposit box, in that whoever deposits the seeds, owns the seeds.
  • In 2015, there were around 5100 species over 860,000 samples, where a sample consists of around 500 individual seeds, in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, and this figure grows each year, while the facility has the space to accommodate 4.5 million varieties or 2.5 billion seeds.
  • The Svalbard Global Seed Vault was constructed under the initiative of American Carly Fowler, an agriculturalist, in conjunction with the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research.
Anderson R, After 4 Years, Checking Up on the Svalberd Global Seed Vault, 2012, The Atlantic,
Svalbard Global Seed Vault, 2016, Wikipedia,
Svalbard Global Seed Vault, n.d, Crop Trust,
Wade L, That Arctic Seed Vault Isn’t Just There For A Doomsday, 2015, Wired,


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