Monday, October 22, 2012

Machu Picchu

No list of lost cities is complete without Machu Picchu. This old Inca city sits on a peak in the Andes. It was only inhabited for a short period of time, likely 1450-1572 AD, before being abandoned as a result of the Spanish conquest of South America. Since Spaniards never found the city, and locals did not reveal its location, Machu Picchu only came to the attention of the West in the early 20th century. Debate still exists as to whether Machu Picchu was a regular settlement, a Royal retreat, or a religious sanctuary. To reach the site itself is now incredibly easy, with regular buses and trains. This has led to worries about the sustainability of large numbers of visitors there. However, given the wonderful views and the ruins themselves it is easy to see why people flock to Machu Picchu.

Timgad - the archetypal lost city

Timgad, or Colonia Marciana Ulpia Traiana Thamugadi to Latinists, is the archetypal lost city from adventure stories. Once a vibrant city founded in the desert on the orders of the emperor Trajan it survived the upheavals of the empire and grew to a large trading city. After being sacked in the 5th century it was reborn as a center of Christian life. A second major sacking in the 7th century by Vandals led to the complete

Tikal - the capital city of a Mayan kingdom

The Mayan city of Tikal was once the capital city of a Mayan kingdom and a major city of the New World. The site was occupied from ~200-900 AD. Thanks to the almost perfect preservation of the city much is known about the grandeur of Tikal at its height, as well as the powerful kings who ruled there. While the site is sometimes – like other New World ruins – listed as ‘mysteriously’ abandoned, research is showing that the land could not support the large number of people congregating in the city. Abandonment occurred over a number of years and the city was left for the jungles to grow over. It seems, however, that some locals knew of its existence during those years, for rumors of a lost city in the area persisted. The first organized expedition found the city in 1848. What they found was one of the largest surviving New World archaeological sites. There are pyramids up to 70m high, royal palaces, monumental stele and a playing arena for the Mayan ball game.


The discovery of Akrotiri

The Minoan civilization of Crete is named for the mythical King Minos, builder of the labyrinth. There is scant written material left from the Minoans, so we do not know what they called themselves. The entire civilization was largely forgotten until the turn of the 20th century. With the discovery of the great palace at Knossos the glories of the Minoans were rediscovered. Instead of the well known Knossos, I have included a Minoan outpost, Akrotiri on the island of Santorini. Santorini, or Thera, is the home of the Thera volcano. It is now thought that the explosion of Thera around 1600 BC, one of the largest eruptions in recorded history, brought about the collapse of the Minoan empire. The discovery of Akrotiri, in 1967, brought to light exceptionally well preserved frescos, homes up to three stories high, and a complex planned settlement. The water supply system suggests the people of Akrotiri had access to running hot and cold water, with the hot water provided by the very volcano which would destroy them.

Cliff palace

The Pueblo people, the Native Americans of the US southwest, are named for the villages (Pueblos) they construct. While there are still vibrant pueblo communities today, the Anasazi, an ancient pueblo society, flourished between 900 and 1200 AD. ‘Cliff Palace’ was constructed in this Golden age of the Anasazi; dendrochronology dates most of the buildings at the site to ~1200 AD. Occupation of the site was short lived and it was abandoned by 1300 AD. It remained undiscovered in the desert, until 1888. While out

Friday, October 19, 2012

Parasitic Insertions

 The Los Angeles basin is a place that has seen the third highest number of oil drilling points in the era when industrialization had flourished in the Unites States. This tale was during the late 1800s and 1950s when the LA basin flourished with a huge number of oil drilling units, also known as oil derricks. Today, when oil drilling has found a resurrected life with all kinds of technological boons electrifying and energizing its existence, these oil derricks seem to have faded off in their hugeness of prominence. However, this may not be very true. Here is a reason to remain on the positive side of the debate.

Croatian Firm to Design Istanbul’s First Disaster Prevention and Education Center

 Natural disasters, time and again serve as reminders of the fact that despite the advancements that humans have made in terms of technology, the nature's fury retains the power to reduce man made creations to rubble. The effect is even more pronounced in a state of unpreparedness which is very often due to a callous attitude towards the might of nature. Preventing these disasters is not quite in human hands but if considerable effort is put in, to train people in facing such situations and to put the technology available to use, the damage can certainly be minimized. Turkey's first Disaster Prevention and Education Center in Istanbul is a step in the same direction, given the kind of damage to life and property the recent earthquakes in Turkey brought about.