Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Finding And Searching


I tried to find Him on the Christian cross, but He
was not there; I went to the Temple of the
Hindus and to the old pagodas, but I could not
find a trace of Him anywhere.

I searched on the mountains and in the valleys
but neither in the heights nor in the depths was I
able to find Him. I went to the Ka'bah in Mecca,
but He was not there either.

I questioned the scholars and philosophers but
He was beyond their understanding.

I then looked into my heart and it was there
where He dwelled that I saw Him; He was
nowhere else to be found.

... Jalalludin Rumi

The Return of the King

"And thus it was... 

A fourth age of middle-earth began. And the fellowship of the ring... though eternally bound by friendship and love... was ended. 

Thirteen months to the day since Gandalf sent us on our long journey... we found ourselves looking upon a familiar sight. We were home. 

How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on... when in your heart you begin to understand... there is no going back? 

There are some things that time cannot mend... some hurts that go too deep... that have taken hold. 

Bilbo once told me his part in this tale would end... that each of us must come and go in the telling. 

Bilbo's story was now over. There would be no more journeys for him... save one. 

My dear Sam. You cannot always be torn in two. You will have to be one and whole for many years. You have so much to enjoy and to be and to do. Your part in the story will go on..."

... Frodo Baggins, The Return of the King

Monday, February 23, 2009

Soul And The Old Woman

What is the soul? Consciousness. The more awareness, the 
deeper the soul, and when

such essence overflows, you feel a sacredness around. It's
so simple to tell one who

puts on a robe and pretends to be a dervish from the real
thing. We know the taste

of pure water. Words can sound like a poem but not have
any juice, no flavor to

relish. How long do you look at pictures on a bathhouse
wall? Soul is what draws

you away from those pictures to talk with the old woman
who sits outside by the door

in the sun. She's half blind, but she has what soul loves
to flow into. She's kind; she weeps.

She makes quick personal decisions, and laughs so easily.

... Mathnawi: VI: 148-50, Mevlana Rumi

It Doesn't Interest Me...

It doesn't interest me what you do for a living:
I want to know what you ache for
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.

It doesn't interest me how old you are:
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool
for love
for your dreams
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon:
I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow
if you have been opened by life's betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain:
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy:
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your
fingers and toes
without cautioning us to
be careful
be realistic
to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty:
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure:
yours and mine
and still stand on the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
"Yes."

It doesn't interest me
to know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after a night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn't interest me who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the center of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone:
with yourself
and if you truly like the company you keep
in the empty moments.

... Opening The Invitation, Oriah Mountain Dreamer

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Cinema Paradiso

A true rare gem of a movie...

"Alfredo: Living here day by day, you think it's the center of the world. You believe nothing will ever change. Then you leave: a year, two years. When you come back, everything's changed. The thread's broken. What you came to find isn't there. What was yours is gone. You have to go away for a long time... many years... before you can come back and find your people. The land where you were born. But now, no. It's not possible. Right now you're blinder than I am. 

Salvatore: Who said that? Gary Cooper? James Stewart? Henry Fonda? Eh?
 
Alfredo: No, Toto. Nobody said it. This time it's all me. Life isn't like in the movies. Life... is much harder"...

Nuovo Cinema Paradiso (1988) an Italian film written and directed by Giuseppe Tornatore. It was internationally released as Cinema Paradiso in France, Spain, the UK and the U.S.

It was originally released in Italy at 155 minutes but poor box office performance in its native country led to it being shortened to 123 minutes for international release. It was an instant success. This international version won the Special Jury Prize at the 1989 Cannes Film Festival and the 1989 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. In 2002, the director's cut 173-minute version was released (known in the U.S. as Cinema Paradiso: The New Version).

It stars Jacques Perrin, Philippe Noiret, Leopoldo Trieste, Marco Leonardi, Agnese Nano and Salvatore Cascio. It was produced by Franco Cristaldi and Giovanna Romagnoli, and the music was by Ennio Morricone along with his son Andrea Morricone.

Told in flashback, it tells the story of the return to his native Sicilian village of a successful film director Salvatore for the funeral of his old friend Alfredo, who was the projectionist at the local "Cinema Paradiso". Ultimately, Alfredo serves as a wise father figure to his young friend who only wishes the best to see him succeed, even if it means breaking his heart in the process.

The film intertwines sentimentality with comedy, and nostalgia with pragmaticism. It explores issues of youth, coming of age, and reflections (in adulthood) about the past. The imagery in each scene can be said to reflect Salvatore's idealised memories about his childhood. Cinema Paradiso is also a celebration of films; as a projectionist, young Salvatore (a.k.a Totò) develops the passion for films that shape his life path in adulthood.

... wikipedia

Friday, February 20, 2009

Athos, Porthos and Aramis

Epilogue:

La Rochelle, deprived of the assistance of the English fleet and of the diversion promised by Buckingham, surrendered after a siege of a year. On the twenty-eighth of October, 1628, the capitulation was signed.

The king made his entrance into Paris on the twenty-third of December of the same year. He was received in triumph, as if he came from conquering an enemy and not Frenchmen. He entered by the Faubourg St. Jacques, under verdant arches.

D’Artagnan took possession of his command. Porthos left the service, and in the course of the following year married Mme. Coquenard; the coffer so much coveted contained eight hundred thousand livres.

Mousqueton had a magnificent livery, and enjoyed the satisfaction of which he had been ambitious all his life--that of standing behind a gilded carriage.

Aramis, after a journey into Lorraine, disappeared all at once, and ceased to write to his friends; they learned at a later period through Mme. de Chevreuse, who told it to two or three of her intimates, that, yielding to his vocation, he had retired into a convent--only into which, nobody knew.

Bazin became a lay brother.

Athos remained a Musketeer under the command of D’Artagnan till the year 1633, at which period, after a journey he made to Touraine, he also quit the service, under the pretext of having inherited a small property in Roussillon.

Grimaud followed Athos.

D’Artagnan fought three times with Rochefort, and wounded him three times.

“I shall probably kill you the fourth,” said he to him, holding out his hand to assist him to rise.

“It is much better both for you and for me to stop where we are,” answered the wounded man. “Corbleu--I am more your friend than you think--for after our very first encounter, I could by saying a word to the cardinal have had your throat cut!”

They this time embraced heartily, and without retaining any malice.

Planchet obtained from Rochefort the rank of sergeant in the Piedmont regiment.

M. Bonacieux lived on very quietly, wholly ignorant of what had become of his wife, and caring very little about it. One day he had the imprudence to recall himself to the memory of the cardinal. The cardinal had him informed that he would provide for him so that he should never want for anything in future. In fact, M. Bonacieux, having left his house at seven o’clock in the evening to go to the Louvre, never appeared again in the Rue des Fossoyeurs; the opinion of those who seemed to be best informed was that he was fed and lodged in some royal castle, at the expense of his generous Eminence.

... Les Trois Mousquetaires, Alexandre Dumas

Great Pyramid of Giza

The Great Pyramid of Giza, also called Khufu's Pyramid or the Pyramid of Khufu, and Pyramid of Cheops, is the oldest and largest of the three pyramids in the Giza Necropolis bordering what is now Cairo , Egypt, and is the only remaining member of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It is believed the pyramid was built as a tomb for Fourth dynasty Egyptian King Khufu (Cheops in Greek) and constructed over a 20 year period concluding around 2560 BC. The Great Pyramid was the tallest man-made structure in the world for over 3,800 years. Originally the Great Pyramid was covered by casing stones that formed a smooth outer surface, and what is seen today is the underlying core structure. Some of the casing stones that once covered the structure can still be seen around the base. There have been varying scientific and alternative theories regarding the Great Pyramid's construction techniques. Most accepted construction theories are based on the idea that it was built by moving huge stones from a quarry and dragging and lifting them into place.

There are three known chambers inside the Great Pyramid. The lowest chamber is cut into the bedrock upon which the pyramid was built and was unfinished. The so-called Queen's Chamber and King's Chamber are higher up within the pyramid structure. 

The Great Pyramid of Giza is the main part of a complex setting of buildings that included two mortuary temples in honor of Khufu (one close to the pyramid and one near the Nile), three smaller pyramids for Khufu's wives, an even smaller "satellite" pyramid, a raised causeway connecting the two temples, and small mastaba tombs surrounding the pyramid for nobles. One of the small pyramids contains the tomb of queen Hetepheres (discovered in 1925), sister and wife of Sneferu and the mother of Khufu. There was a town for the workers of Giza, which included a cemetery, bakeries, a beer factory and a copper smelting complex. A few hundred meters south-west of the Great Pyramid lies the slightly smaller Pyramid of Khafre, one of Khufu's successors who is also commonly considered the builder of the Great Sphinx, and a few hundred meters further south-west is the Pyramid of Menkaure, Khafre's successor, which is about half as tall. In May 1954, 41 blocking stones were uncovered close to the south side of the Great Pyramid. They covered a 30.8 meter long rock-cut pit that contained the remains of a 43 meter long ship of cedar wood. In antiquity, it had been dismantled into 650 parts comprising 1224 pieces. This funeral boat of Khufu has been reconstructed and is now housed in a museum on the site of its discovery. A second boat pit was later discovered nearby.

Although succeeding pyramids were smaller, pyramid building continued until the end of the Middle Kingdom. However, as authors Briar and Hobbs claim, "all the pyramids were robbed" by the New Kingdom, when the construction of royal tombs in a desert valley, now known as the Valley of the Kings, began. Joyce Tyldesley states that the Great Pyramid itself "is known to have been opened and emptied by the Middle Kingdom", before the Arab caliph Abdullah Al Ma'mun entered the pyramid around 820 A.D.

... wikipedia

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, also known as the Hanging Gardens of Semiramis, near present-day Al Hillah in Iraq (formerly Babylon), is considered one of the original Seven Wonders of the World. They were built by Nebuchadnezzar II around 600 BC. He is reported to have constructed the gardens to please his wife, Amytis of Media, who longed for the trees and fragrant plants of her homeland Persia. The gardens were destroyed by several earthquakes after the 2nd century BC.

The lush Hanging Gardens are extensively documented by Greek historians such as Strabo and Diodorus Siculus. Through the ages, the location may have been confused with gardens that existed at Nineveh, since tablets from there clearly show gardens. Writings on these tablets describe the possible use of something similar to an Archimedes screw as a process of raising the water to the required height. Nebuchadnezzar II also used massive slabs of stone, which was unheard of in Babylon, to prevent the water from eroding the ground.

The Greek Historian Strabo:
"Babylon, too, lies in a plain; and the circuit of its wall is three hundred and eighty-five stadia. The thickness of its wall is thirty-two feet; the height thereof between the towers is fifty cubits; that of the towers is sixty cubits; the passage on top of the wall is such that four-horse chariots can easily pass one another; and it is on this account that this and the hanging garden are called one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The garden is quadrangular in shape, and each side is four plethra in length. It consists of arched vaults, which are situated, one after another, on checkered, cube-like foundations. The checkered foundations, which are hollowed out, are covered so deep with earth that they admit of the largest of trees, having been constructed of baked brick and asphalt — the foundations themselves and the vaults and the arches. The ascent to the uppermost terrace-roofs is made by a stairway; and alongside these stairs there were screws, through which the water was continually conducted up into the garden from the Euphrates by those appointed for this purpose. For the river, a stadium in width, flows through the middle of the city; and the garden is on the bank of the river."

The Greek Historian Diodorus:
"The Garden was 100 feet (30 m) long by 100 feet (30 m) wide and built up in tiers so that it resembled a theatre. Vaults had been constructed under the ascending terraces which carried the entire weight of the planted garden; the uppermost vault, which was seventy-five feet high, was the highest part of the garden, which, at this point, was on the same level as the city walls. The roofs of the vaults which supported the garden were constructed of stone beams some sixteen feet long, and over these were laid first a layer of reeds set in thick tar, then two courses of baked brick bonded by cement, and finally a covering of lead to prevent the moisture in the soil penetrating the roof. On top of this roof enough topsoil was heaped to allow the biggest trees to take root. The earth was leveled off and thickly planted with every kind of tree. And since the galleries projected one beyond the other, where they were sunlit, they contained conduits for the water which was raised by pumps in great abundance from the river, though no one outside could see it being done."

There is some controversy as to whether the Hanging Gardens were an actual creation or a poetic creation due to the lack of documentation of them in the chronicles of Babylonian history. In ancient writings the Hanging Gardens of Babylon were first described by Berossus, a Chaldean priest who lived in the late 4th century BC. These accounts were later elaborated on by Greek historians.

A newer theory proposes that the garden was actually constructed under the orders of Sennacherib, who took the throne of Assyria in 705–681 BC. During new studies of the location of Nineveh (Located on the eastern bank of the Tigris in ancient Assyria) his gardens were placed close to the entrance of his palace, on the bank of the river Tigris. It is possible that in the intervening centuries the two sites became confused, and the hanging gardens were attributed to Babylon. 

... wikipedia

The Statue of Zeus

The Statue of Zeus at Olympia was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It was made by the Greek sculptor of the Classical period, Phidias, circa 432 BC on the site where it was erected in the temple of Zeus, Olympia, Greece.

The seated statue, some 12 metres (39 feet) tall, occupied the whole width of the aisle of the temple built to house it. "It seems that if Zeus were to stand up," the geographer Strabo noted early in the first century BC, "he would unroof the temple." Zeus was a chryselephantine sculpture, made of ivory and gold-plated bronze. No copy, in marble or bronze, has survived, though there are recognizable but approximate versions on coins of Elis and Roman coins and engraved gems but a very detailed description of the sculpture and the throne was recorded by the traveller Pausanias, in the second century AD. In the sculpture, he was wreathed with shoots of olive and seated on a magnificent throne of cedarwood, inlaid with ivory, gold, ebony, and precious stones. 

In Zeus' right hand there was a small statue of crowned Nike, goddess of victory, also chryselephantine, and in his left hand, a sceptre inlaid with metals, on which an eagle perched. Plutarch, in his Life of the Roman general Aemilius Paulus, records that the victor over Macedon, when he beheld the statue, “was moved to his soul, as if he had beheld the god in person,” while the Greek orator Dio Chrysostom declared that a single glimpse of the statue would make a man forget his earthly troubles.

The date of the statue, in the third quarter of the fifth century BC, long a subject of debate, was confirmed archaeologically by the rediscovery and excavation of Phidias' workshop.

According to a legend, when Phidias was asked what inspired him - whether he climbed Mount Olympus to see Zeus, or whether Zeus came down from Olympus so that Phidias could see him - the artist answered that he portrayed Zeus according to Book One, verses 528 - 530 of Homer´s Iliad :

He spoke, the son of Kronos, and nodded his head with the dark brows,
and the immortally anointed hair of the great god
swept from his divine head, and all Olympos was shaken.

The sculptor also was reputed to have immortalized his eromenos, Pantarkes, by carving "Pantarkes kalos" into the god's little finger, and placing a relief of the boy crowning himself at the feet of the statue.

The circumstances of its eventual destruction are a source of debate: the eleventh-century Byzantine historian Georgios Kedrenos recorded the tradition that it was carried off to Constantinople, where it was destroyed in the great fire of the Lauseion, in 475. Others argue that it perished with the temple when it burned in 425 AD. According to Lucian of Samosata in the later second century, "they have laid hands on your person at Olympia, my lord High-Thunderer, and you had not the energy to wake the dogs or call in the neighbours; surely they might have come to the rescue and caught the fellows before they had finished packing up the swag."

... wikipedia

The Temple of Artemis

The Temple of Artemis (Greek: Ἀρτεμίσιον Artemision), also known less precisely as Temple of Diana, was a Greek temple dedicated to Artemis completed - in its most famous phase - around 550 BC at Ephesus (in present-day Turkey) under the Achaemenid dynasty of the Persian Empire. Nothing remains of the temple, which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. There were previous temples on its site, where evidence of a sanctuary dates as early as the Bronze Age.

The old temple antedated the Ionic immigration by many years. Callimachus, in his Hymn to Artemis, attributed the origin of the temenos at Ephesus to the Amazons, whose worship he imagines already centered upon an image (bretas). In the seventh century the old temple was destroyed by a flood. Around 550 BC, they started to build the "new" temple, known as one of the wonders of the ancient world. It was a 120-year project, initially designed and constructed by the Cretan architect Chersiphron and his son Metagenes, at the expense of Croesus of Lydia.

It was described by Antipater of Sidon, who compiled the list of the Seven Wonders:
"I have set eyes on the wall of lofty Babylon on which is a road for chariots, and the statue of Zeus by the Alpheus, and the hanging gardens, and the colossus of the Sun, and the huge labour of the high pyramids, and the vast tomb of Mausolus; but when I saw the house of Artemis that mounted to the clouds, those other marvels lost their brilliancy, and I said, "Lo, apart from Olympus, the Sun never looked on aught so grand".

Artemis was a Greek goddess, the virginal huntress and twin of Apollo, who supplanted the Titan Selene as goddess of the Moon. Of the Olympian goddesses who inherited aspects of the Great Goddess of Crete, Athene was more honored than Artemis at Athens. At Ephesus, a goddess whom the Greeks associated with Artemis was passionately venerated in an archaic, certainly pre-Hellenic cult image that was carved of wood and kept decorated with jewelry...

The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus was destroyed on July 21, 356 BC in an act of arson committed by a certain Herostratus. According to the story, his motivation was fame at any cost, thus the term herostratic fame. The Ephesians, outraged, announced that Herostratus' name never be recorded (damnatio memoriae). Strabo later noted the name, which is how we know it today.

That very same night, Alexander the Great was born. Plutarch remarked that Artemis was too preoccupied with Alexander's delivery to save her burning temple. Alexander later offered to pay for the temple's rebuilding, but the Ephesians refused. Eventually, the temple was restored after Alexander's death, in 323 BC.

This reconstruction was itself destroyed during a raid by the Goths in 262, in the time of emperor Gallienus: "Respa, Veduc and Thuruar, leaders of the Goths, took ship and sailed across the strait of the Hellespont to Asia. There they laid waste many populous cities and set fire to the renowned temple of Diana at Ephesus", reported Jordanes in Getica.

The Ephesians rebuilt the temple again. At Ephesus, according to the second-century Acts of John, the apostle John prayed publicly in the very Temple of Artemis, exorcizing its demons and "of a sudden the altar of Artemis split in many pieces... and half the temple fell down," instantly converting the Ephesians, who wept, prayed or took flight. Over the course of the fourth century, perhaps the majority of Ephesians did convert to Christianity; all temples were declared closed by Theodosius I in 391.

In 401, the temple in its last version was finally destroyed by a mob led by St. John Chrysostom, and the stones were used in construction of other buildings. Some of the columns in Hagia Sophia originally belonged to the temple of Artemis.

The Temple of Artemis was located at an economically robust region, drawing merchants and travellers from all over Asia Minor. The temple was influenced by many beliefs, and can be seen as a symbol of faith for many different peoples. The Ephesians worshiped Cybele, and incorporated many of their beliefs into the worship of Artemis. Artemisian Cybele became quite contrasted from her Roman counterpart, Diana. The cult of Artemis attracted thousands of worshipers from far-off lands.

... wikipedia

Mausoleum of Mausolus

The Tomb of Mausolus, Mausoleum of Mausolus or Mausoleum at Halicarnassus (in Greek, Μαυσωλεῖον της Ἁλικαρνασσοῦ) was a tomb built between 353 and 350 BC at Halicarnassus (present Bodrum, Turkey) for Mausolus, a satrap in the Persian Empire, and Artemisia II of Caria, his wife and sister. The structure was designed by the Greek architects Satyros and Pythis. It stood approximately 45 metres (135 ft) in height, and each of the four sides was adorned with sculptural reliefs created by each one of four Greek sculptors — Leochares, Bryaxis, Scopas of Paros and Timotheus. The finished structure was considered to be such an aesthetic triumph that Antipater of Sidon identified it as one of his Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

In 623 BC, Halicarnassus was the capital of a small regional kingdom in the coast of Asia Minor. In 377 BC the ruler of the region, Hecatomnus of Milas, died and left the control of the kingdom to his son, Mausolus. Hecatomnus, a local satrap under the Persians, took control of several of the neighboring cities and districts. After Artemisia and Mausolus, he had several other daughters and sons: Ada (adopted mother of Alexander the Great), Idrieus and Pixodarus. Mausolus extended its territory as far as the southwest coast of Anatolia. Artemisia and Mausolus ruled from Halicarnassus over the surrounding territory for twenty-four years. Mausolus, although descended from local people, spoke Greek and admired the Greek way of life and government. He founded many cities of Greek design along the coast and encouraged Greek democratic traditions.

Mausolus decided to build a new capital; a city as safe from capture as it was magnificent to be seen. He chose the city of Halicarnassus. If Mausolus' ships blocked a small channel, they could keep all enemy warships out. He started to make of Halicarnassus a capital fit for a warrior prince. His workmen deepened the city's harbor and used the dragged sand to make protecting breakwaters in front of the channel. On land they paved streets and squares, and built houses for ordinary citizens. And on one side of the harbor they built a massive fortified palace for Mausolus, positioned to have clear views out to sea and inland to the hills — places from where enemies could attack.

On land, the workmen also built walls and watchtowers, a Greek–style theatre and a temple to Ares — the Greek god of war.

Artemisia and Mausolus spent huge amounts of tax money to embellish the city. They commissioned statues, temples and buildings of gleaming marble. In the center of the city Artemisia planned to place a resting place for her body, and her husband's, after their death. It would be a tomb that would forever show how rich they were.

In 353 BC Mausolus died, leaving Artemisia broken-hearted. It was the custom in Caria for rulers to be siblings; such incestuous marriages kept the power and the wealth in the family. As a tribute to him, she decided to build him the most splendid tomb, a structure so famous that Mausolus's name is now the eponym for all stately tombs, in the word mausoleum. The construction was also so beautiful and unique it became one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Soon after construction of the tomb started, Artemisia found herself in a crisis. Rhodes, a Greek island at the Aegean Sea, had been conquered by her and Mausolus. When the Rhodians heard about her husband's death, they rebelled and sent a fleet of ships to capture the city of Halicarnassus. Knowing that the Rhodian fleet was on the way, Artemisia hid her own ships at a secret location at the east end of the city's harbor. After troops from the Rhodian fleet disembarked to attack, Artemisia's fleet made a surprise raid, captured the Rhodian fleet and towed it out to sea. Artemisia put her own soldiers on the invading ships and sailed them back to Rhodes. Fooled into thinking that the returning ships were their own victorious navy, the Rhodians failed to put up a defense and the city was easily captured, quelling the rebellion.

Artemisia lived for only two years after the death of her husband. The urns with their ashes were placed in the yet unfinished tomb. As a form of sacrifice ritual the bodies of a large number of dead animals were placed on the stairs leading to the tomb, then the stairs were filled with stones and rubble, sealing the access. According to the historian Pliny the Elder, the craftsmen decided to stay and finish the work after the death of their patron "considering that it was at once a memorial of his own fame and of the sculptor's art."

The beauty of the Mausoleum was not only in the structure itself, but in the decorations and statues that adorned the outside at different levels on the podium and the roof: statues of people, lions, horses, and other animals in varying scales. The four Greek sculptors who carved the statues: Bryaxis, Leochares, Scopas and Timotheus were each responsible for one side. Because the statues were of people and animals, the Mausoleum holds a special place in history, as it was not dedicated to the gods of Ancient Greece.

Nowadays, the massive castle of the Knights of Malta still stands in Bodrum, and the polished stone and marble blocks of the Mausoleum can be spotted built into the walls of the structure. At the site of the Mausoleum itself, only the foundation remains, together with a small museum. Some of the surviving sculptures at the British Museum include fragment of statues and many slabs of the frieze showing the battle between the Greeks and the Amazons. There the images of Mausolus and his queen forever watch over the few broken remains of the beautiful tomb she built for him.

Modern buildings based upon the Mausoleum of Maussollos include Grant's Tomb in New York City; Los Angeles City Hall; the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne, Australia; the spire of St. George's Church, Bloomsbury in London; the Indiana War Memorial (and in turn Chase Tower) in Indianapolis; and the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction's headquarters, the House of the Temple in Washington D.C., the Civil Courts Building in St. Louis.

... wikipedia

The Colossus of Rhodes

The Colossus of Rhodes was a statue of the Greek god Helios, erected on the Greek island of Rhodes by Chares of Lindos between 292 and 280 BC. It is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Before its destruction, the Colossus of Rhodes stood over 30 meters (107 ft) high, making it one of the tallest statues of the ancient world.

Alexander the Great of Macedonia died at an early age in 323 BC without having had time to put into place any plans for his succession. Fighting broke out among his generals, the Diadochi, with four of them eventually dividing up much of his empire in the Mediterranean area. During the fighting, Rhodes had sided with Ptolemy, and when Ptolemy eventually took control of Egypt, Rhodes and Ptolemaic Egypt formed an alliance which controlled much of the trade in the eastern Mediterranean.

Antigonus I Monophthalmus was upset by this turn of events. In 305 BC he had his son Demetrius Poliorcetes, also a general, invade Rhodes with an army of 40,000; however, the city was well defended, and Demetrius—whose name "Poliorcetes" signifies the "besieger of cities"—had to start construction of a number of massive siege towers in order to gain access to the walls. The first was mounted on six ships, but these capsized in a storm before they could be used. He tried again with a larger, land-based tower named Helepolis, but the Rhodian defenders stopped this by flooding the land in front of the walls so that the rolling tower could not move.

In 304 BC a relief force of ships sent by Ptolemy arrived, and Demetrius's army abandoned the siege, leaving most of their siege equipment. To celebrate their victory, the Rhodians sold the equipment left behind for 300 talents (roughly US$360 million in today's money) and decided to use the money to build a colossal statue of their patron god, Helios. Construction was left to the direction of Chares, a native of Lindos in Rhodes, who had been involved with large-scale statues before. His teacher, the sculptor Lysippos, had constructed a 22 meter (70 ft) high bronze statue of Zeus at Tarentum.

The statue stood for only 56 years until Rhodes was hit by an earthquake in 226 BC. The statue snapped at the knees and fell over on to the land. Ptolemy III offered to pay for the reconstruction of the statue, but the oracle of Delphi made the Rhodians afraid that they had offended Helios, and they declined to rebuild it. The remains lay on the ground as described by Strabo for over 800 years, and even broken, they were so impressive that many traveled to see them. Pliny the Elder remarked that few people could wrap their arms around the fallen thumb and that each of its fingers was larger than most statues.

In 654, an Arab force under Muslim caliph Muawiyah I captured Rhodes, and according to the chronicler Theophanes the Confessor, the remains were sold to a "Jewish merchant of Edessa". The buyer had the statue broken down, and transported the bronze scrap on the backs of 900 camels to his home. There is compelling evidence, however, that all traces of the Colossus had actually disappeared long before the Arab invasion. Theophanes is the sole source of this story to which all other sources can be traced. The stereotypical Arab destruction and the purported sale to a Jew probably originated as a powerful metaphor for Nebuchadnezzar's dream of the destruction of a great and awesome statue, and would have been understood by any seventh century monk as evidence for the coming apocalypse. The same story is recorded by Barhebraeus, writing in syriac in the 13th century in Edessa (see E.A. Wallis Budge, The Chronography of Gregory Abu'l-Faraj, vol I, p. 98, APA - Philo Press, Amsterdam, 1932): (After the Arab pillage of Rhodes) "And a great number of men hauled on strong ropes which were tied round the brass Colossus which was in the city and pulled it down. And they weighed from it three thousand loads of Corinthian brass, and they sold it to a certain Jew from Emesa" (that is the Syrian city of Homs).

There has been much debate as to whether to rebuild the Colossus. Those in favor say it would boost tourism in Rhodes greatly, but those against construction say it would cost too large an amount (over 100 million euro). This idea has been revived many times since it was first proposed in 1970 but, due to lack of funding, work has not yet started.

In November 2008, it was announced that the Colossus of Rhodes was to be rebuilt. According to Dr. Dimitris Koutoulas, who is heading the project in Greece, rather than reproducing the original Colossus, the new structure will be a, "highly, highly innovative light sculpture, one that will stand between 60 and 100 metres tall so that people can physically enter it." The project is expected to cost up to €200m which will be provided by international donors and the German artist Gert Hof. The new Colossus will adorn an outer pier in the harbour area of Rhodes, where it will be visible to passing ships. Koutoulas said, "Although we are still at the drawing board stage, Gert Hof's plan is to make it the world's largest light installation, a structure that has never before been seen in any place of the world."

... wikipedia

The Lighthouse of Alexandria

The Lighthouse of Alexandria (or The Pharos of Alexandria) was a tower built in the 3rd century BC (between 285 and 247 BC) on the island of Pharos in Alexandria, Egypt to serve as that port's landmark, and later, its lighthouse.

With a height variously estimated at between 115 and 150 m (380 and 490 ft) it was among the tallest man-made structures on Earth for many centuries, and was identified as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World by Antipater of Sidon. It may have been the third tallest building after the two Great Pyramids (of Khufu and Khafra) for its entire life. Some scholars estimate that would make the tower the tallest building up to the 14th century. Due to the centuries of earthquakes,tornadoes,and hurricanes, it's now under water.

Pharos was a small island just off the coast of Alexandria. It was linked to the mainland by a man-made connection named the Heptastadion, which thus formed one side of the city's harbor. As the Egyptian coast is very flat and lacking in the kind of landmark used at the time for navigation, a marker of some sort at the mouth of the harbour was deemed necessary - a function the Pharos was initially designed to serve. Use of the building as a lighthouse, with a fire and reflective mirrors at the top, is thought to date to around the 1st century AD, during the Roman period. Prior to that time the Pharos served solely as a landmark or day beacon.

The lighthouse was completed in the 3rd century B.C., after having been initiated by Satrap (governor) Ptolemy I Soter, Egypt's first Macedonian ruler and a general of Alexander the Great. After Alexander died unexpectedly at age 32, Ptolemy Soter (Saviour, named so by the inhabitants of Rhodes) made himself king in 305 B.C. and ordered the construction of the Pharos shortly thereafter. The building was finished during the reign of his son, Ptolemy Philadelphos.

According to legend, Sostratus was forbidden by Ptolemy from putting his name on his work. But the architect left the following inscription on the base's walls nonetheless: "Sostratus, the son of Dexiphanes, the Cnidian, dedicated (or erected) this to the Saviour gods, on behalf of those who sail the seas"; the original Greek inscription "ΣΟΣΤΡΑΤΟΣ ΔΕΞΙΦΑΝΟΥ ΚΝΙΔΙΟΣ ΘΕΟΙΣ ΣΩΤΕΡΣΙΝ ΥΠΕΡ ΤΩΝ ΠΛΩΙΖΟΜΕΝΩΝ" literally means: "Sostratos of Dexiphanes [meaning: son of Dexiphanes] the Cnidian to Saviour Gods for the seafarers (or seafaring [ones])". These words were hidden under a layer of plaster, on top of which was chiseled another inscription honoring Ptolemy the king as builder of the Pharos. After centuries the plaster wore away, revealing the name of Sostratus.

The Pharos' walls were strengthened in order to withstand the pounding of the waves through the use of molten lead to hold its masonry together, and possibly as a result the building survived the longest of the Seven Wonders - with the sole exception of the Great Pyramid of Giza. It was still standing when the Muslim traveller Ibn Jubayr visited the city in 1183. He said of it that: "Description of it falls short, the eyes fail to comprehend it, and words are inadequate, so vast is the spectacle." It appears that in his time, there was a church located on the top.

The two earthquakes in 1303 and 1323, damaged the lighthouse to the extent that the Arab traveler Ibn Battuta reported no longer being able to enter the ruin. Even the stubby remnant disappeared in 1480, when the then-Sultan of Egypt, Qaitbay, built a medieval fort on the former location of the building, using some of the fallen stone. The remnants of the Pharos that were incorporated into the walls of Fort Qaitbey are clearly visible due to their excessive size in comparison to surrounding masonry.

The fate of the Lighthouse of Alexandria from the Arab conquest until its collapse in the 14th century has been investigated by Doris Behrens-Abouseif in her article "The Islamic History of the Lighthouse of Alexandria".

... wikipedia

Where Birds Don't Fly

"German engineering, Swiss innovation, American nothing" - Advertising slogan used on a billboard in South Africa by Daimler to promote its Smart "forfour" compact car

In June 2004, I was visiting London with my daughter Orly, and one evening we went to see the play Billy Elliot at a theater near Victoria Station. During intermission, I was standing up, stretching my legs in the aisle next to my seat, when a stranger approached and asked me, "Are you Mr. Friedman?" When I nodded yes, he introduced himself: "My name is Emad Tinawi. I am a Syrian-American working for Booz Allen," the consulting firm. Tinawi said that while he disagreed with some of the columns I had written, particularly on the Middle East, there was one column he especially liked and still kept.

"Which one?" I asked with great curiosity.

"The one called 'Where Birds Don't Fly,'" he said. For a moment, I was stumped. I remembered writing that headline, but I couldn't remember the column or the dateline. Then he reminded me: It was about the new - post-9/11 - U.S. consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

For years, the U.S. consulate in Istanbul was headquartered in the Palazzo Corpi, a grand and distinctive old building in the heart of the city's bustling business district, jammed between the bazaars, the domed mosques, and the jumble of Ottoman and modern architecture. Built in 1882, and bought by the U.S. government twenty-five years later, Palazzo Corpi was bordered on three sides by narrow streets and was thoroughly woven into the fabric of Istanbul life. It was an easy place for Turks to get a visa, to peruse the library, or to engage with an American diplomat.

But as part of the general security upgrade for U.S. embassies and consulates in the post-9/11 world, it was decided to close the consulate at Palazzo Corpi, and in June 2003 a new U.S. consulate was opened in Istinye, an outlying district about twelve miles away from the center of the city. "The new 22-acre facility - nearly 15 times as big as the old consulate - was built on a solid rock hill," a Federal Times article reported (April 25, 2005), adding that "State now requires buildings to have protective walls that are at least 100 feet away from embassies and consulates. Those walls and barriers also must protect against explosions and ramming attacks from vehicles, and they must be difficult to climb. Guard booths are placed at the perimeter of facilities, and windows and doors are bulletproof and resist forced entries. The new buildings are also strong enough to resist most earthquakes and bombs."

They are also strong enough to deter most visitors, friends, and allies. In fact, when I first set eyes on the new consulate in 2005, what struck me most was how much it looked like a maximum-security prison - without the charm. All that was missing was a moat filled with alligators and a sign that said in big red letters: "Attention! You are now approaching the U.S. consulate in Istanbul. Any sudden movements and you will be shot without warning. all visitors welcome."

They could have filmed the Turkish prison movie Midnight Express there.

But here's a hard truth: Some U.S. diplomats are probably alive today thanks to this fortress. Because on November 20, 2003, as President George W. Bush was in London meeting with then prime minister Tony Blair, and about six months after the new U.S. consulate in Istanbul had been opened, Turkish Muslim terrorists detonated truck bombs at the HSBC bank and the British consulate in Istanbul, killing thirty people, including Britain's consul general, and wounding at least four hundred others. The bomb-ravaged British mission was just a short walk from the Palazzo Corpi.

One of the terrorists captured after the attack reportedly told Turkish police that his group had wanted to blow up the new U.S. consulate, but when they checked out the facility in Istinye, they found it impregnable. A senior U.S. diplomat in Istanbul told me more of the story: According to Turkish security officials, the terrorist said the new U.S. consulate was so secure, "they don't let birds fly" there. I never forgot that image: It was so well guarded they don't even let birds fly there . . .

(That point was reinforced on July 9, 2008, when Turkish police outside the consulate killed three terrorists apparently trying to breach its walls.)

Tinawi and I swapped impressions about the corrosive impact such security restrictions were having on foreigners' perceptions of America and on America's perceptions of itself. As an Arab-American, he was clearly bothered by this, and he could tell from my column that I was too.

Because a place where birds don't fly is a place where people don't mix, ideas don't get sparked, friendships don't get forged, stereotypes don't get broken, collaboration doesn't happen, trust doesn't get built, and freedom doesn't ring. That is not the kind of place we want America to be. That is not the kind of place we can afford America to be. An America living in a defensive crouch cannot fully tap the vast rivers of idealism, innovation, volunteerism, and philanthropy that still flow through our nation. And it cannot play the vital role it has long played for the rest of the world - as a beacon of hope and the country that can always be counted on to lead the world in response to whatever is the most important challenge of the day. We need that America - and we need to be that America - more than ever today.

This is a book about why.

... Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution - And How It Can Renew America, Thomas L. Friedman

The Reach Of Reason

It is worth recalling that in Akbar's pronouncements of four hundred years ago on the need for religious neutrality on the part of the state, we can identify the foundations of a nondenominational, secular state which was yet to be born in India or for that matter anywhere else. Thus, Akbar's reasoned conclusions, codified during 1591 and 1592, had universal implications. Europe had just as much reason to listen to that message as India had. The Inquisitions were still in force, and just when Akbar was writing on religious tolerance in Agra in 1592, Giordano Bruno was arrested for heresy, and ultimately, in 1600, burned at the stake in the Campo dei Fiori in Rome.

For India in particular, the tradition of secularism can be traced to the trend of tolerant and pluralist thinking that had begun to take root well before Akbar, for example, in the writings of Amir Khusrau in the fourteenth century as well as in the nonsectarian devotional poetry of Kabir, Nanak, Chaitanya, and others. But that tradition got its firmest official backing from Emperor Akbar himself. He also practiced as he preached — abolishing discriminatory taxes imposed earlier on non-Muslims, inviting many Hindu intellectuals and artists into his court (including the great musician Tansen), and even trusting a Hindu general, Man Singh, to command his armed forces.

In some ways, Akbar was precisely codifying and consolidating the need for religious neutrality of the state that had been enunciated, in a general form, nearly two millennia before him by the Indian emperor Ashoka, whose ideas I have referred to earlier. While Ashoka ruled a long time ago, in the case of Akbar there is a continuity of legal scholarship and public memory linking his ideas and codifications with present-day India.

Indian secularism, which was strongly championed in the twentieth century by Gandhi, Nehru, Tagore, and others, is often taken to be something of a reflection of Western ideas (despite the fact that Britain is a somewhat unlikely choice as a spearhead of secularism). In contrast, there are good reasons to link this aspect of modern India, including its constitutional secularism and judicially guaranteed multiculturalism (in contrast with, say, the privileged status of Islam in the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan), to earlier Indian writings and particularly to the ideas of this Muslim emperor (Akbar) of four hundred years ago.

Perhaps the most important point that Akbar made in his defense of a tolerant multiculturalism concerns the role of reasoning. Reason had to be supreme, since even in disputing the validity of reason we have to give reasons. Attacked by traditionalists who argued in favor of instinctive faith in the Islamic tradition, Akbar told his friend and trusted lieutenant Abul Fazl (a formidable scholar in Sanskrit as well as Arabic and Persian):

"The pursuit of reason and rejection of traditionalism are so brilliantly patent as to be above the need of argument. If traditionalism were proper, the prophets would merely have followed their own elders (and not come with new messages)."

Convinced that he had to take a serious interest in the religions and cultures of non-Muslims in India, Akbar arranged for discussions to take place involving not only mainstream Hindu and Muslim philosophers (Shia and Sunni as well as Sufi), but also involving Christians, Jews, Parsees, Jains, and, according to Abul Fazl, even the followers of "Charvaka" — one of the Indian schools of atheistic thinking dating from around the sixth century BC. Instead of taking an all-or-nothing view of a faith, Ashoka liked to reason about particular components of each multifaceted religion. For example, arguing with Jains, Akbar would remain skeptical of their rituals, and yet become convinced by their argument for vegetarianism and end up deploring the eating of all flesh.

All this caused irritation among those who preferred to base religious belief on faith rather than reasoning. There were several revolts against Akbar by orthodox Muslims, on one occasion joined by his eldest son, Prince Salim, with whom he later reconciled. But he stuck to what he called "the path of reason" (rahi aql), and insisted on the need for open dialogue and free choice. At one stage, Akbar even tried, not very successfully, to launch a new religion, Din Ilahi (God's religion), combining what he took to be the good qualities of different faiths. When he died in 1605, the Islamic theologian Abdul Haq concluded with some satisfaction that despite his "innovations," Akbar had remained a good Muslim. This was indeed so, but Akbar would have also added that his religious beliefs came from his own reason and choice, not from "blind faith," or from "the marshy land of tradition."

... The Argumentative Indian, Amartya Sen

Attraction

Everything in the world draws something to itself:
infidelity draws the faithless,
and goodness, the one who is rightly guided.
Both magnet and amber attract:
whether you are iron or straw, you will be drawn.
If you are straw, you will be drawn to the amber;
and if you are iron, you will be pulled to the magnet.
When anyone is not associated with the good,
he inevitably becomes a neighbor to the corrupt.

... Mathnawi IV:1633-1636, Mevlana Rumi

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Science And Religion

The dialog between science and religion has often been extremely simplistic. The epistemology of faith has led some theologians to a totally literal interpretation of Scripture, which opponents attempt to refute when it disagrees with the scientific view on issues such as age of the Earth. For some scientists, the fear of teleology had led to a cavalier assumption that each step along the history of life or even before represents an accident, so that the whole unfolding in time is a matter of chance. I contend that both views are wrong and make dialog virtually impossible.

I hope that the previous chapters have demonstrated that the emergences are not completely matters of chance, but are governed by physics, chemistry, geophysics, ecological principle, and other laws of science that reduce the universe of chance to zones of the probable...

To the theological, the selection rules are at least the intermediate between God's immanence and the development of our world. The trinitarians would designate this as the Holy Spirit. It is the path by which the word (the laws of nature) becomes flesh. While there has been 2,000 years of argument about the relation between God the Father and the Son, there has been remarkably little attempt to understand the Spirit as intermediate between physical law and humanness. I argue that the understanding of emergence is not only vital to understanding science, it is crucial to a natural theology in the ongoing effort to seek the relation of the created to the creator.

Thus far we have been dealing with 15 billion years of emergence. Sometime over the last 5 million years, something radically different occurred: the emergence of a species capable of attempting to understand cosmic history and purpose and capable of altering some small portion of the universe in ways far more radical than anything in the past. We can only trace this history in a vague way, but it appears that, after two or more million years, the early hominids of the genus Australopithecus gave rise to Paranthropus, which went extinct about 2 million years ago, and Homo, one species of which still persists. About 2 million years ago also saw the appearance of Homo habilis, a toolmaking hominid who left evidence of his work. There is then a more or less continuous series leading to Homo sapiens about 200,000 years ago. The uncertainty in this record does not affect our main argument of a continuous development of brain size, manual dexterity, and social organization.

Agriculture, language, technology, war, and religion were major transitions. The last of these was part of an attempt to understand the world and to control it. Control was also exercised in the transition from hunter-gatherers to agrarians, with major alteration of forests and savannahs.

Twelve billion years of emergence finally led to a creature who had the ability and chose to ask, "What does it all mean?" Eating at the tree of knowledge seems like an inevitable consequence of the development of the universe. There is little doubt from current understanding that there must be a large number of planets upon which intelligent beings may be asking for the meaning of the universe.

In any case the laws of nature (the immanent God) operating under the rules of selection (the Spirit) gave rise to Homo sapiens and human society. In this context, the metaphor of man being made in God's image seems appropriate. The interaction of God and man still seems remote.

To move ahead, consider two aspects of God, immanence and tran-responsive to the needs of humanity and capable of contravening natural law for the benefit of individuals or peoples. The transcendent God is very anthropomorphic, hearing prayers and answering them. The two views of God are logically inconsistent. We return to Spinoza's essay on miracles and think of a transcendent God violating laws he created as an immanent God. It is a paradox.

Note that God's transcendence was not meaningful before the emergence of humans and human culture. Violation of natural law is only meaningful to individuals capable of knowing natural law. Divine transcendence arose from immanence and emergence and coevolved with Homo sapiens. Transcendence is an emergent property of God's immanence and rules of emergence. We Homo sapiens are the mode of action of divine transcendence. Consider an example: an ill child is close to death with an infectious disease. In the classical mode, one would pray to the transcendent God to interfere with the disease process and cure the child. In the modern mode one would give the appropriate antibiotic to inhibit or stop the growth of the disease-causing bacteria. In both cases, there is a miracle. The natural process of bacterial growth is stopped in a specific way, and a life is saved. In the first case the transcendence interfered with the immanent process of bacterial growth. In the second, the transcendence is the power of the human mind to study and understand the process of bacterial growth and to devise nontoxic methods of interfering with that growth. Transcendence in this context means that, with the evolution of the human mind, we can generate new emergences that were not part of the presapient world of immanences and emergences.

The antibiotic example is a rather poignant one, and there are no limits to the process. Transcendence leads to agriculture to prevent starvation and to aerodynamics that permit us to fly. It leads to governments to allow us to live in peace with each other and electric lights that allow us to function at night.

But the kind of transcendence that comes with the human mind is a two-edged sword. The same kind of activity that leads to antibiotics can lead to germ warfare. With transcendence comes the awesome power to choose good or evil.

Choice emerges with consciousness. We have argued that the fitness of consciousness is that, given the huge variety of environments, one can distinguish far more states than can be encoded for. Making the fit choice then becomes advantageous. This is the beginning of free will. When it is finally combined with the ability to understand the consequences of inter-conclusion. If our evolving minds are the transcendence of the immanent God, then the responsibility of making a better world is ours, as is the responsibility of figuring out what we mean by a better world. Our exemplars, Moses, Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, and many more are those who have struggled the most in the search for the path of life. We have no one to turn to except ourselves and our exemplars... 

... The Emergence of Everything: How The World Became Complex, Harold J Morowitz

Monday, February 16, 2009

Museum of Egyptian Antiquities

The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, known commonly as the Egyptian Museums, in Cairo, Egypt, is home to the most extensive collection of ancient Egyptian antiquities in the world. It has 120,000 items, with a representative amount on display, the remainder in storerooms. Coordinates: 30°2′52″N 31°14′0″E

The museum's Royal Mummy Room, containing 27 royal mummies from pharaonic times, was closed on the orders of President Anwar Sadat in 1981. It was reopened, with a slightly curtailed display of New Kingdom kings and queens in 1985.

The Egyptian Museum of Antiquities contains many important pieces of history. Not only does it house the world’s largest collection of Pharaonic antiquities, it also houses the many treasures of King Tutankhamen, and many interesting statues that moved with the museums many relocations. The Egyptian government established the museum, built in 1835 near the Azbakian Gardens. The museum soon moved to Boulaq in 1858 because the original building was too small to hold all of the artifacts. In 1855, shortly after the artifacts were moved, Duke Maximilian of Austria was given all of the artifacts. He hired a French architect to design and construct a new museum for the antiquities. The new building was to be constructed on the bank of the Nile River in Boulaq. In 1878, after the museum was completed for some time, it suffered irreversible damage; a flood of the Nile River caused the antiquities to be relocated to another museum, in Giza. The artifacts remained there until 1902 when they were moved, for the last time to the current museum in Tahrir Square.This museum is home to hundreds of ancient artifacts that gives us a look at the wonderful mysteries on how Ancient Egyptians lived life along the Great Nile River. This is also a very famous museum that attracts the attention of many tourists around the world.

There are two main floors of the museum, the ground floor and the first floor. On the ground floor visitors will find an extensive collection of papyrus and coins used in the Ancient world. The numerous pieces of papyrus are generally small fragments, due to their decay over the past two millennia. Several languages are found on these pieces, including Greek, Latin, Arabic, and the Ancient Egyptian writing language of hieroglyphs. The coins found on this floor are made of many different elements, including gold, silver, and bronze. The coins are not only Egyptian, but also Greek, Roman, and Islamic, which has helped historians research the history of Ancient Egyptian trade. Also on the ground floor are artifacts from the New Kingdom, the time period between 1550 and 1070 BC. These artifacts are generally larger than items created in earlier centuries. Those items include statues, tables, and coffins. If visitors follow these displays in chronological order they will end up on the first floor, which contains artifacts from the final two dynasties of Ancient Egypt. Some artifacts in this area include items from the tombs of the Pharaohs Tuhtmosis III, Tuhtmosis IV, Amenophis II, Hatshepsut, and Maherpen, and also many artifacts taken from the legendary Valley of the Kings.

The majority of the world has come to know the tomb of King Tutankhamun better than any royal tombs because unlike the others, it was found mostly intact. Inside the tomb you will find a large collection of artifacts used throughout the King’s life. These artifacts range from a decorated chest, which was most likely used as a closet or suitcase, to ivory and gold bracelets, necklaces, and other decorative jewelry, to alabaster vases and flasks. The tomb is also home to many weapons and instruments used by the King. Although the tomb holds over 3,500 artifacts, it should be noted that this tomb was not found completely intact. In fact, there have been at least two robberies of the tomb, perhaps soon after Tutankhamun's burial. The most well known artifact in King Tutankhamun’s tomb is the famous Gold Mask, which rests over the bandages that wrap around the King’s face. The mask weighs in at 24.5 pounds of solid gold, and is believed to represent what the King’s face really looked like. Many features of the mask the eyes, nose, lips and chin are all represented very well.

The remains of many famous Pharaohs are stored in the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities. One of these is Pharaoh Ramses III, who was an extremely skilled warrior. His army was very impressive, as it has been duplicated and copied all over the world. For many of the mummified pharaohs, it has been very difficult to determine when they were born. Also, historians can only estimate a time when they reigned over Egypt. For Amenhotep IV, historians have estimated that he reigned around 1372 B.C. They knew this because they found out when Amenhotep IV's father, Amenhotep III died. Also, that Amenhotep IV's tomb inscribed five names he gave himself and one of them, Golden Horus, proves that he was crowned on the bank of the Nile, his father's favorite domain. Before he even became pharaoh, however, he was already married to Nefertiti, a radiant beauty. But, when Amenhotep IV did become pharaoh, he destroyed the religion of Amun. He did this because he wanted start his own new religion of Aten, the disc which sent out rays ending in hands. King Snofru was believed to be the first king of the Fourth Dynasty. The year Snofru was believed to have start reigning over Egypt was around 2620 B.C. Snofru is believed to be a fair and just king. Master of Justice or of Truth was his other choice name. Snofru, like many other kings, built many temples and structures. All of Snofru’s structures and buildings had a signature. His signature was having a statue of a woman symbolizing the foundation. The statue of the young women is presenting the sign of life and votive offerings, as well as the signs of the city and the stronghold. There are about four or five of these in each province. A lot of the pharaohs had coronation names and they all seemed to be a like. For example, Snofru, Tut, and Amenhotep all had the name "Golden Horus".

Ancient Library of Alexandria

The Royal Library of Alexandria or Ancient Library of Alexandria in Alexandria, Egypt, was once the largest library in the ancient world.

Generally thought to have been founded at the beginning of the third century BC, it was conceived and opened during the reign of Ptolemy I Soter, or that of his son Ptolemy II of Egypt. Plutarch (AD 46-120) wrote that Caesar accidentally burned the library down during his visit to Alexandria in 48 BC. However, this version is not confirmed in contemporary accounts of the visit. 

Another version says the Muslim conquerors of Egypt had burnt it since its contents were seen as heretical. It has been reasonably established that the library or parts of the collection were destroyed on several occasions, but to this day the details of these destruction events remain a lively source of controversy based on inconclusive evidence.

The first known library of its kind to gather a serious collection of books from beyond its country's borders, the Library at Alexandria was charged with collecting all the world's knowledge. It did so through an aggressive and well-funded royal mandate involving trips to the book fairs of Rhodes and Athens and a (potentially apocryphal or exaggerated) policy of pulling the books off every ship that came into port, keeping the originals and returning copies to their owners. This detail is informed by the fact that Alexandria, because of its man-made bidirectional port between the mainland and the Pharos island, welcomed trade from the East and West, and soon found itself the international hub for trade, as well as the leading producer of papyrus and, soon enough, books.

Other than collecting works from the past, the library was also home to a host of international scholars, well-patronized by the Ptolemaic dynasty with travel, lodging and stipends for their whole families. As a research institution, the library filled its stacks with new works in mathematics, astronomy, physics, natural sciences and other subjects. It was at the Library of Alexandria that the scientific method was first conceived and put into practice, and its empirical standards applied in one of the first and certainly strongest homes for serious textual criticism. As the same text often existed in several different versions, comparative textual criticism was crucial for ensuring their veracity. Once ascertained, canonical copies would then be made for scholars, royalty and wealthy bibliophiles the world over, this commerce bringing income to the library. The editors at the Library of Alexandria are especially well known for their work on Homeric texts, the more famous editors generally also holding the title of head librarian. These included, among others: Zenodotus (early third century BC), Callimachus, (early third century BC, the first bibliographer and developer of the Pinakes - the first library catalog), Apollonius of Rhodes (mid-third century BC), Eratosthenes (late third century BC), Aristophanes of Byzantium (early second century BC) and Aristarchus of Samothrace (late second century BC).

... fuller text at wikipedia

Rainbow

"An image reflected in a mirror, a rainbow
in the sky, and a painted scene
Make their impressions upon the mind, but in
essence are other than what they seem
Look deeply at the world, and see an illusion, 
a magician's dream."

... Song of the Immaculate Path, The Seventh Dalai Lama

Nympheas

I was at the art museum today. 
I could spend the whole day sitting there staring at Claude Monet's Water Lilies and be transformed. 

I am totally and absolutely in love with it. 
It is my favorite...

Friday, February 13, 2009

Respect

Lieutenant Okubo: Shall I finish him off?
Baron Nishi: No. Treat him.
Lieutenant Okubo: But, sir...
Baron Nishi: Okubo, you would expect the same, wouldn't you? Endo, treat him.
Medic Endo: We are low on morphine as it is.
Shimizu: Sir, the Americans would not treat a wounded Japanese soldier.
Baron Nishi: Son, have you ever met one? Treat him.

... Letters From Iwo Jima

Heroes

I finally came to the conclusion that he maybe he was right. Maybe there's no such thing as heroes. Maybe there are just people like my dad. 

I finally came to understand why they were so uncomfortable being called heroes. Heroes are something we create, something we need. It's a way for us to understand what's almost incomprehensible, how people could sacrifice so much for us, but for my dad and these men, the risks they took, the wounds they suffered, they did that for their buddies. 

They may have fought for their country but they died for their friends. 

For the man in front, for the man beside him, and if we wish to truly honor these men we should remember them the way they really were, the way my dad remembered them. 

... James Bradley, Flags Of Our Fathers

The Middle Children

"Man, I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men who've ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see squandering. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war... our Great Depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off." 

... Tyler Durden, Fight Club

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Beauty We Love

Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don’t open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down the dulcimer.

Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

... Jalalludin Rumi