Posted in History, Out of the Ordinary

Get Inspired: “Starry Night” on Water

Watch Turkish artist Garip Ay paint Van Gogh’s Starry Night on water. The technique Ay is using is known as Ebru or Paper marbling. It is a method of aqueous surface design which can produce patterns similar to smooth marble or other kinds of stone. The patterns are the result of color floated on…

via Amazing Artist Paints Van Gogh’s Starry Night on Water — TwistedSifter

Posted in History, Travel

Back in Time: Turkey’s Underground City

Picture of an opening to the underground city in Nevsehir
A above-ground view of the network of safe rooms and tunnels. Photo by Murat Kaya, Anadolu Agency/Getty via National Geographic.

So we learned a little about Turkey above ground, but a recent discovery has shown that the country may have just as much to share about its underground goings-on. Archaeologists have begun investigation of an underground hideout in the city of Nevşehir, Turkey in the region of Cappadocia. Undiscovered for centuries, a housing project in the area accidentally unearthed the findings when workers discovered a network of rooms and tunnels.

The 250 subterranean “rooms” are estimated to have the holding capacity for at least 20,000 people. The size is estimated to be at five million square feet. During times of war or other external threats, people would retreat to these safe houses with their livestock and necessary supplies, and seal the doors until the threat had subsided.

Picture of the underground city in Nevsehir Turkey
The underground safe houses are in central Turkey. Photo by Murat Kaya, Anadolu Agency/Getty via National Geographic.

The area was constructed such that air shafts and water channels were included, so staying underground for long periods would not be an issue. It was used during the Byzantine era up until the Ottoman period, signifying both impressive sustainability and durability aspects to the construction.

Archaeologists have reported finding over 30 water tunnels in the region, which in turn led to the discovery of underground complexes consisting of kitchens, living spaces, staircases and more, all lit by lamp oil which was also produced underground. The areas were carved of tuff, a light, porous rock composed of volcanic ash.

I should note that other underground cities also exist in Cappadocia, but this one in particular ranks as one of the largest. For a video tour inside the site, click here.

Needless to say, the housing project that was planned for the area has been moved elsewhere.

We have learned so much about Earth, history, geography, and our predecessors through science and technology, but it’s astounding that there is so much to learn and discover. Kinda makes you wanna just go out there and explore.

It does, doesn’t it?

Stay inspired,

C x N

Source: National Geographic

 

Posted in History, Science, Travel

Back in Time: Pont du Gard

It’s been a while since we went back in time, so a trip to history feels long overdue. And what better way to do so than with a trip to the first century CE. To the south of France, in particular.

The Pont du Gard (literally “the Gard Bridge”) is a 31-mile long structure built by the Romans in approximately the year 40 CE to carry water from Uzès to Nîmes over the Gardon River. It is part of an aqueduct built to distribute water to fountains, baths and private homes. In 1985, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Experts say it is one of the world’s oldest and most remarkable Roman hydraulic sites.

The Details

Pont du Gard consists of three tiers of arches, measuring 160 feet high. The first tier is made up of six arches, the second of 11, and the third of 35 smaller arches. The first tier was used as a road bridge, while the water passed through the third (highest). As was characteristic of the Romans, this bridge was constructed with precise craftsmanship. No mortar was used, but 50,000 tons of limestone were (you read that right). The limestone blocks were cut so precisely that friction alone fit them together. And many of the blocks within the bridge are inscribed with instructions to the builders. For example, fronte dextra denoted “front right”.

A closer look at the Pont du Gard stones (there is a passage inside the bridge as well, seen here, upon climbing the steps). Photo via World Heritage Site.

During its use, the aqueduct carried 44,000,000 gallons of water (again, that’s no typo) over to Nîmes.

Historical facts sometimes seem mundane and irrelevant, but human intellect and inventiveness of the past shows we are capable of so much. Definitely, the Romans were at a level of their own, but at the end of the day, they were humans who excelled at their craft. Taken from another angle, history inspires because it’s our story, our achievements. The Pont du Gard proves, humans are nothing short of amazing.

Stay inspired,

Curious x Nature

Sources: Structurae, UNESCO, Pont du Gard Official Website, World Heritage Site

Posted in Geography, History, Nature

Around the World: Machu Picchu at a Glance

Machu Picchu, Peru

*~*This post marks the first in a series titled “Around the World”, with every post highlighting a certain region, country or place in the world, with a special emphasis on that area’s unique contributions to human civilization. Comments and feedback are always appreciated!

Machu Picchu

Sometimes the most random information is the most interesting, so today I thought we’d begin this series with a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the South American country of Peru. Peru lies on the northwestern coast of South America, and borders Bolivia, Brazil and Colombia, as well as Ecuador and Chile to its north and south, respectively.

“Old Mountain”

One of the new seven wonders of the world, behold: Machu Picchu. This ancient city, whose name literally means “old mountain”, is named for one of the mountains within it. The other mountain in the area is known as “Huayna Picchu”, or “young mountain”. The citadel was a residential palace and ceremonial center of the Inca civilization, and built during the reign of King Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui in the mid-15th century. (The name Pachacuti means “cataclysm”, a name the king gave himself) But the verdict of its actual use is debated by archaeologists to this day.

Hillside at Machu Picchu

The Citadel

There are about 150 buildings within the Machu Picchu complex, most of which are made of granite. The stones of granite are fit so tightly together that it is said even a blade of grass cannot fit between the stones. A style of architecture which is now a hallmark of the Incas. Pretty amazing, considering the builders didn’t use wheels or working animals for assistance, the altitude at the site is nearly 8,000 feet above sea level, and the area is heavily wooded. Most likely workers pushed the huge blocks of stone up inclined planes, but in any case, this is a feat to be admired. Just look at how mesmerized this llama is by the site.

Llama overlooking Machu Picchu. Such a cutie! Source: Schuyler Shepherd via Wikimedia Commons.

He’s fixated.

Construction was such that the buildings look to be a part of the mountains, with trapezoidal doors and thatched roofs a common theme throughout.

One of Machu Picchu’s primary uses is thought to be as an astronomical observatory, and the massive tower known as the Torreón, or Temple of the Sun, may have been used as such (pictured below). The Incas were also deeply interested in the position and movement of the sun, which they tracked using the monthly calendar. The other buildings in the citadel were used as residences, temples, storage houses and altars.

Temple of the Sun

Machu Picchu’s amazing, but is still vulnerable to various natural disasters. For years, it had been protected from enemy threats due to its location in a mountainous, densely vegetated area. Which explains why it was mistakenly thought to be a lost city later rediscovered.

In any case, the Incas provided us with a spectacular achievement which will be admired for generations to come.

Stay inspired,

Curious x Nature

Sources: About.Com, The New York Times, HISTORY.com, National Geographic, The Macchu PIcchu Gateway
Photos: Flickr, Wikimedia Commons (links embedded)