The Hakenkreuz, tetraskelion, gammadion cross, fylfot, cross cramponnée, Croix gammée, are all various words used throughout history for the world’s most feared symbol of today: the swastika. This ancient symbol of prosperity was first used at least 11,000 years ago in Neolithic Eurasia and it has also been found in several religions such as Buddhism, Odinism, Hinduism, and Jainism.
Often seen engraved on houses in India or temples in Indonesia, the swastika derived its name from a Sanskrit term which means a lucky or auspicious object.
Over 20 years ago, a landscaper in eastern Germany discovered a formation of trees in a forest in the shape of a swastika.
The symbol was present in Europe in the pre-Christian era and was found in Ancient Greece, in Roman catacombs, Serbia and Bosnia, Ukraine, the Nordic countries and on Celtic artifacts. The swastika became popular in the Western world when brands like Coca-Cola and Carlsberg started using it. Even the US Army used the symbol during World War I. With the onset of the 1940s and the increasing power of the Nazis, the true meaning of the treasured symbol was completely lost.
It didn’t take long for rumors to spread about how the swastika got there in the first place. A local farmer claimed that he had planted the trees as a child, with a forester paying him a few cents for each seedling he put in the ground.
The swastika was brought to Germany by the famous archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann, the discoverer of Troy, the 4000 years old city, in 1870. Although he was only an excavator on the site, Schliemann took the sole credit for the discovery. Believing that Homer’s stories were not just myths, he searched for Troy for several years and became famous right after the discovery. While excavating through the remains of Troy, Schliemann noticed the swastika symbol all over the ancient city. After Troy, the archaeologist continued his work around the world, from Asia and Africa to South America, and everywhere he went, in some part of that place, he found the swastika there. As his findings grew more popular, so did the symbol’s popularity in Western culture.
The ill fate of the symbol began when pre-Hitler nationalist groups in Germany adopted the swastika as a symbol of the felt superiority of their race. As racism in Germany grew, Hitler finally adopted the symbol as an insignia for the Nazi party in 1920. In 1933, the Nazis went as far as forbidding the usage of the symbol for commercial reasons. The rest is history. During the war, the hooked cross was applied everywhere by the powerful Nazi propaganda machinery. From pamphlets and flags to helmets and uniforms, the hooked cross was used everywhere, but the weirdest appearance of the swastika is definitely the one in a forest, made using trees.
In a wooded area of Asterode in Hesse, Germany a swastika and the numbers “1933,” the year Hitler came to power, were spelled out in larch trees.
The forest swastika was discovered in 1992 in Germany by Günter Reschke. Reschke was employed as an intern for a landscaping company at the time, and while doing aerial photos from a plane, he noticed the huge swastika on the northside of the city of Zernikow. Made out of 100 larch trees in the middle of a thick pine forest, the patch of carefully planted trees covered an area of 4300 square yards. The trees were precisely planted and arranged so they would form a huge swastika, and for more than 20 years, the trees would bloom in autumn, creating a contrast with the surrounding pines. The effect would disappear in spring, thus leaving the symbol undiscovered for a long time. It is not certain who planted the trees and when they were planted, although forest specialist Klaus Göricke measured them and determined they were planted in the late 1930’s, or more precisely in 1938, just when Hilter’s power was growing.
There are several theories about the creators of the forest swastika, but none of them are as of yet verified. The first says that the trees were planted to honor Hitler’s birthday and ordered by a local Nazi officer. The German newspaper Berliner Zeitung said that the trees were planted as a gesture of gratitude to the Reich Labor Service for building a street in Zernikow.
The third theory claims the symbol was made as a sign of loyalty after a villager from the area was sent to a concentration camp as punishment for secretly listening to the BBC radio. Finally, a local man who said he was a member of The Hitler Youth Movement, claimed that they were the ones responsible for planting the trees. The Russians reported they knew about the existence of the forest swastika before 1992, although there is no proof of this.
There was an attempt to destroy the forest swastika by the German authorities in 1995. Concerned that the place would attract Nazi supporters, they removed 43 larch trees and 57 remained. This attempt was unsuccessful and the symbol is still noticeable from the air. After a few tabloids published photos of the still existing symbol, the authorities removed an additional 25 trees and the forest swastika was finally destroyed.
Similar incidents occurred in the United States when the US Army discovered a tree made swastika in the late 1970’s. The same symbol appeared in a forest in Kyrgyzstan, discovered in 2006. The former symbol of love and prosperity is today banned in most of the countries around the globe. Attempts were made to bring back the former glory and respect towards the swastika by various groups, but the true meaning of symbol still bears the consequences of Hitler’s acts of atrocity.
It sounds like the perfect 1960’s fever-dream house: a multilevel dwelling set in a giant rock hole in a massive stone arch overlooking the clear blue Caribbean Sea on the island of Bequia, the largest of the Grenadines, through which an inhabitant could sometimes view the rising moon. Even its name was evocative of the era: Moonhole.
The fantasy house was the work of a pair of refugees from the advertising industry. Thomas and Gladys Johnston decamped from Chicago and New York to the seven-mile-square island when he was in his 50s and she in her 40s.
“Tom is always full of surprises,” Gladys Johnston told the New York Times in 1975. “Moonhole was one of the biggest.”
When the couple arrived in the early 1960s, they got to know the lay of the land by managing a small hotel for $60 a month and meals. Thomas was on a walk one day when he discovered the area he would call Moonhole. “I walked and crawled through the briars for two and a half hours and decided I had to have it,” he told the New York Times.
He returned with Gladys for afternoon picnics. It took him a while to convince his dubious wife, but eventually, they bought the natural formation along with 30 surrounding acres for less than $15,000.
stone patio at moonhole 628
Tom Johnston had no formal training as an architect. He’d managed to talk his way into Princeton but hadn’t come away with a degree. But the former advertising executive was able to talk pretty much anybody into anything—including a skeptical wife, not to mention the incredulous locals.
Tom believed that a house should be designed so its occupants could look and live outward. And so, local builders reinforced concrete slabs with iron bars to construct a series of rock and concrete chambers connected by stone catwalks and raised platforms, some of them without roofs, around trees and outcroppings. “Windows” were of many sizes; floors were uneven. The natural rock walls twisted and bulged. Whale bones formed frame bars, chairs, and coffee tables. Anchor chain served as railing; masts and hatch covers as beams and doors.
Abandon Art Colony at Adams Bay on thge island of Bequia, Grenadines. The arch is also referred to as the Moonhole
Locals watched the construction with mocking disbelief that transformed along with the landscape into admiring envy. “Before I couldn’t believe anyone would live there,” a fisherman told the New York Times in 1975. “Now I wish I could afford it.”
Needless to say, there was no electricity or running water, unless you count the ocean outside the door. Rainwater that collected off pitched walls and floors into cisterns was used for drinking and bathing. The only way to reach the structure was by boat or a hilly hike. Food and drink were kept cool in propane-operated refrigerators. Gladys even had a second-hand piano lugged in. Eventually, 16 separate structures were constructed on the site.
Abandon Art Colony at Adams Bay on thge island of Bequia, Grenadines. Unique tourist destination builted in the 60’s, The arch is also refered to as the Moonhole
“People think they’re old ruins,” Tom’s father, Jim Johnston, told the New York Times in 2004. “But they just look that way.”
Moonhole wasn’t free of hazards. Gladys was on a balcony one day when two boulders came crashing down off the cliffside. She was unhurt, but the structure had to undergo repairs.
Thankful for the continued workmanship of local skilled laborers, Tom and Gladys set up Moonhole Friends to provide assistance for medical and educational expenses.
Tom Johnston died in 2001, and left his trust in Moonhole Company Limited. Without his force-of-nature personality, the eco-paradise fell into disuse and disarray. Legal battles over ownership and upkeep ensued.
Today, Moonhole is a private nature reserve. The original Moonhole house is uninhabitable and can be viewed only from the sea. But eight of the original houses have been rehabilitated and are available as weekly, monthly, or seasonal rentals, complete with a dedicated housekeeper and cook.
And of course, there’s always the sound of the crashing ocean and the chance of seeing a rising moon.
With her big eyes, spit curls, high heels, and high-pitched voice, the animated Betty Boop was an instant hit when she first appeared on screen in 1930. She became an enduring icon of the Depression era. But the woman who inspired the coquettish cartoon never received a dime.
Helen Clare Schroeder was born in the Bronx in 1904. By her late teens, she was performing in vaudeville as an actress, dancer, and singer. Her 1927 turn in the musical A Night in Spain landed her a solo show at the Paramount Theater on 44th Street.
At her debut, Kane spiced up the lyrics of “That’s My Weakness Now” with an improvised scat that became famous: boop-boop-a-doop. Shortly thereafter she appeared in Oscar Hammerstein’s 1928 show Good Boy, in which she sang her most memorable and biggest hit in her coquettish voice, “I Wanna Be Loved By You.” The song reached number 2 on Billboard’s Pop charts.
Kane’s distinctive style, combining squeaky speech and jazzy singing, was considered modern and vaguely daring at the time. At her peak, she earned as much as $8,000 per week recording songs and musical films.
The character that became Betty Boop evolved in the early 1930s, when Max Fleischer Studios released a cartoon called Dizzy Dishes, the seventh in a series called Talkartoon. Animator Grim Natwick created a poodle with Kane’s kohl-rimmed big eyes and black spit curls who sang “boop-boop-a-doop.” In subsequent cartoons, the poodle was transformed into a human with hoop earrings and given the name Betty Boop. Soon she was given her own series and called“The Queen of the Animated Screen.” She was the Fleischer Studio’s most popular character ever.
Betty Boop quickly became a cultural icon, a symbol of the exuberant sense of freedom of the bygone Roaring Twenties. With her short skirt, strapless cleavage-revealing bodice, shapely legs, and high heels, she was one of the first animated sex symbols; her cartoons contained sly if slightly surreal sexual innuendos.
Betty boop opening title
Oftentimes, her virtue seemed threatened with compromise. In one cartoon, Betty Boop is a high-wire artist in a circus who is harassed by the ringmaster. She sings,“Don’t take my boop-boop-da-doop away,” and is rescued by Koko the clown. In fact, she was so sexy and outspoken, she had to be toned down with the enactment of the Hays Code, when film censors said her winks and wiggling hips were “suggestive of immorality.”
Betty Boop’s voice was performed by several actresses, none of them Kane. The most enduring performer was Mae Questel, who voiced the cartoon for nearly a decade and who revised the role 50 years later in Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
Meanwhile, Helen Kane, who’d not been contacted about the character, much less remunerated, sued the Max Fleischer studio in 1932 for $250,000 for “deliberate caricature” and “unfair competition.” The case dragged on for two years before a judge ruled against her on the grounds that she her look was not unique and that she had not invented “booping” but had herself appropriated the style from another singer, Baby Esther.
This comparison between Kane and Betty Boop was published in Photoplay’s April 1932 issue, one month before the lawsuit.
(Another singer, Clara Bow, is often cited as the inspiration for Betty Boop, but before his death Grim Nastwick himself admitted he’d used a photo of Kane to sketch the character.)
Clara Bow 1927
Sadly for both, Betty Boop’s and Helen Kane’s popularity faded at the end of the decade. The toned-down, tame Betty Boop, now aimed at children, was eclipsed by other animated stars. Helen Kane’s distinctive voice fell out of favor.
The 19th century might be famous for a number of reasons, one of them had to be the increasing demand for meat, especially in the North of America.
Additionally, there was an equal but subtle increase in the demand for various animal and bird feathers in the fashion industry. Hunters jumped in to meet the demands and equipped themselves with even larger guns; some of which were gigantic and custom built, as every hunter had his own way and taste for hunting. Hunters normally don’t look into the moral aspect of what they do; they are often only concerned about the commercial aspect of their actions.
Punt guns, like this from the US, had been used to hunt birds but were eventually made illegal.
The hunters often worked in groups of eight to ten and fired their combined punt guns at the same time to maximize the number of waterfowl they could hit. Hunter Ray Todd, claimed he and three other hunters with punt guns managed to kill 419 ducks one night in a single volley after encountering a huge flock “over a half-mile long and nearly as wide”.
Firing the massive punt gun.
The hunters often worked in groups of eight to ten and fired their combined punt guns at the same time to maximize the number of waterfowl they could hit.
After the first volley, he stated, “The birds flew off a short distance and began to feed again. We made three more shots that night. By morning we had killed over 1,000 ducks. They brought $3.50 a pair in Baltimore, and it was the best night’s work we had ever done.”
1910. A punt and punt gun. .
Hunting with the punt gun was not an easy feat; it required extreme caution, skilful manoeuvring, and patience of a lake. The hunter would normally operate in large groups, and moved towards the birds ever so stealthily as as not to startle the prey.
Punt and the gun
The large guns would be mounted on punts, hence their names, and often meant that a hunter had to move the entire boat in order to get in line for a shot. This demanded extreme patience, as one wrong move meant that the prey would fly away and not return for a good few hours. These guns could fire a shot as big as a pound, or 0.45 kg in weight, with the bore as big as 2 inches, and with the killing ability of at least 90 waterfowl with one single shot.
One advantage of mounting a punt gun on to a small boat was that the force that came from the recoil could be absorbed by the boat and the water beneath. If the hunters were to mount the punt guns on their shoulders, there would have been more injuries then profitable kills.
1910. Mr. Snowden Slights with a punt gun. Size comparison of a man and punt gun .
A punt gun as illustrated in Science and Mechanics magazine in October 1911 .
Consequently, the population of waterfowl in the US fell to a dramatic level, so much so that the United States government had to step in and ban the practice as early as 1860s. After that, there was a whole host of laws established all over the United States outlawing the hunting of endangered birds, and the practice of hunting these birds became outlawed due to a number of federal laws in 1918.
On the other side of the world, the United Kingdom also had its fair share of punt guns, which by 1995 had reduced to a very low number of just 50 guns across the country. The United Kingdom’s government limited the bore diameter of the Punt guns to 1.75 inches, however, you can still watch these guns in operation.
Chief United States Game Warden George A. Lawyer, with an illegal 10’9″ shotgun weighing 250 pounds, which was used for duck hunting. 1920.
Since Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee which took place in 1897, there is a regular punt gun salute on every coronation or diamond jubilee over Cowbit Wash in Lincolnshire, England. Recently a salute of 21 punt gunshots was fired on the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.
Modern waterfowl shotguns are required by federal law to be at most 10 gauge, while many hunters use 12 gauge magnum loads that exceed the standards of the old shells of yesterday.
Native Americans are generally thought to be people who are ancestors of pre-Colombian people who were indigenous to the nations lands (within the modern boundary system). They were made up of a vast number of ethnic groups and tribes and many survive fully to this day
Charging Thunder and his wife
Native Americans use a variety of terms to refer to themselves; older people tend to use ‘Indians or ‘American Indians’, whilst the younger generations tend to use ‘Indigenous’. When referring to them as an outsider, it has been a controversial topic as to what name to use.
Native Americans created entire nations without all the “advanced” gadgets that we have now, and yet they were a thousand times more capable of surviving in nature. Indian tribes are probably the best example of how to live from the land, still respect it and save it for the generations to come.
They lived in harmony, protecting their resources and taking care of the environment. Native Americans were first class survivors. Their traditional skills are mostly forgotten or ignored by our modern society, instead of learning from these master survivors.
Since the end of the 15th Century, the habit of Europeans migrating to the land of America has went on to give centuries of adjustment and exchange between New World societies and Old World societies.
The majority of Native American tribes had always lived as societies which were hunter-gatherers and used artwork and oral traditions to preserve their histories; this resulted in the first ever source, written form, on the conflict brought on by European settlers.
Wife of American Horse
When the first contact occurred, the Native American peoples were very different from the Christian and proto-industrial immigrants.
The bulk of tribes of Native Americans utilized their agricultural lands and hunting grounds to use for the entire tribe. Whereas European people had ideas of property rights, that related to land, that were completely different views to the natives.
These differences led to ethnic violence, social disruption, and political tension. Following the revolt against Great Britain, by the 13 colonies, the United States of America was established, with George Washington (President) and Henry Knox coming up with the concept of ‘civilizing’ Native Americans to best prepare them to become US citizens.
This pressure to assimilate them as citizens was both voluntary and forced; it became a major policy via American administrations. Within the 19th Century, tensions rose, and warfare occurred between Native Americans and citizens.
The US Congress, in 1830, passed an act; The Indian Removal Act’ which gave authorization to the US government in the removal and relocation of Native Americans to lands which were established West of the Mississippi River.
This was to accommodate the expansions of European-American people. This act led to the ethnic cleansing of lots of tribes; the long, forced, brutal marches leading them to their new homes came to be known as The Trail of Tears.
As expansion, by US citizens, stretched into the West there became more conflict as settlers would run into Native Americans more.
There were many Indian Wars up until the 1890s, and then decreased (but still present) into the 20th Century. Eventually, the US forced a range of treaties and land cessions and established numerous reservations for the Native Americans across western states.
In 1924, any Native American who was not already a US citizen was automatically given that status by Congress.
Oldest Native American footage ever - YouTube
Interestingly William “Buffalo Bill” Cody launched his Wild West Show in 1883, and it ran for thirty years. His traveling show consisted of hundreds of horses, buffalo, deer, elk, cattle, donkeys, mules, twenty-five cowboys, around a dozen cowgirls and over one hundred Native American performers.
Due to the shows usually portraying Native Americans as the aggressor in re-enactments, many saw them as degrading. In fact, the Native Americans who participated in the show lived better lives than if they had stayed on the reservation.
While many Native Americans were being forced to abandon their beliefs, Cody’s shows became lessons about Native culture. Tribal costumes, which were forbidden on the reservations, were celebrated on the show. Tribal dances, an art that was being lost due to Native assimilation into white culture, were demonstrated and encouraged.
Daniel Day-Lewis is famous for his preparation for the characters he plays. For My Left Foot, he spent the entire shoot in a wheelchair, to try to grasp the challenges of someone with cerebral palsy. For In the Name of the Father, he spent two days and nights in a prison cell without food. For Unbearable Lightness of Being, he learned to speak Czech. For Gangs of New York, he trained as a butcher and went out on the streets to pick fights with strangers.
As for his latest film, Phantom Thread, Daniel Day-Lewis spent more than a year learning to sew and absorbing the traits and talents of a high level dressmaker–a couturier–to play the character of 1950s London designer Reynolds Woodcock, a high-strung perfectionist whose clothes are purchased by the world’s richest women, based on the life of the painfully private Spanish designer Cristobal Balenciaga.
Day-Lewis was nominated for Best Actor for his role in Phantom Thread in the 2018 Academy Awards, and the film garnered five more nominations, winning one for Best Costumes. He has already won three Best Actor trophies. But according to the 60-year-old actor, this will be his last film. He said in an interview with The Telegraph that he made the announcement to “draw the line” and not be “sucked back into another project.”
Daniel Day-Lewis stars as “Reynolds Woodcock” in writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson’s PHANTOM THREAD, a Focus Features release. Photo Credit: Focus Features
Day-Lewis said in the same interview, “All my life I’ve mouthed off about how I should stop acting, and I don’t know why it was different this time, but the impulse to quit took root in me, and that became a compulsion. It was something I had to do.”
The son of Cecil Day-Lewis, the actor, married to Rebecca Miller and father of three children, has not in recent years played many English characters. He told W Magazine, “I don’t know why, but suddenly I had a strong wish to tell an English story. England is deep in me. I’m made of that stuff. For a long time, a film set in England was too close to the world that I’d escaped from–drawing rooms, classic Shakespeare. But I was fascinated by London after the war. My parents told stories about living through the Blitz, and I felt like I ingested that. I am sentimental about that world. And my dad was very much like Reynolds Woodcock. If a poet is not self-absorbed, what else is he?”
Daniel Day-Lewis (left) stars as “Reynolds Woodcock” and Vicky Krieps (right) stars as “Alma” in writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson’s PHANTOM THREAD, a Focus Features release.Photo Credit : Laurie Sparham / Focus Features
In Phantom Thread, Woodcock lives a rarefied existence in London, his day to day managed by his sister, Cyril (Leslie Manville), when he falls in love with a waitress named Alma, played by Vicky Krieps, and his life plunges into chaos.
Paul Thomas Anderson, who also directed Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood, said the film was based on the life of Balenciaga, who, as he said in an interview, “led a very monastic life, completely consumed with his work—sometimes at the expense of other things in his life.”
Actor Daniel Day-Lewis (left) and writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson (right) discuss a scene on the set of PHANTOM THREAD, a Focus Features release.Photo Credit : Laurie Sparham /Focus Features
Balenciaga, the son of a seamstress, was born in 1895 in a fishing town in the Basque province of Gipuzkoa. By the 1950s, Balenciaga’s clients were the best dressed women of the world: Greta Garbo, Ava Gardner, Ingrid Bergman, Marlene Dietrich, the Duchess of Windsor, Jackie Kennedy and her sister, Princess Lee Radziwill, Queen Fabiola of Belgium, Helena Rubenstein, Mrs. William Randolph Hearst, Barbara Hutton, and Mona Harrison-Williams, countess of Bismarck.
Rather unusually for a high-level designer, Balenciaga used his own hands to design, cut, and sew the model’s clothes throughout his career. To prepare for the part, Daniel Day-Lewis watched footage of fashion shows of the 1950s, studied the designers, and consulted with the curator of fashion and textiles at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
Daniel Day-Lewis stars as “Reynolds Woodcock” in writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson’s PHANTOM THREAD, a Focus Features release. Credit : Laurie Sparham / Focus Features
To get hands-on experience, the actor apprenticed under Marc Happel, head of the costume department at the New York City Ballet. In the end he created a Balenciaga sheath dress from scratch, using his wife as a model.
Fashion historians and editors and curators who’ve seen Phantom Thread say it is a remarkably convincing depiction of a top designer in the 1950s and early 1960s.
The film will be available on digital format on March 27 and on Blu-ray and DVD on April 10.
Nancy Bilyeau, the U.S. editor of The Vintage News, has written a trilogy of novels set in the court of Henry VIII: ‘The Crown,’ ‘The Chalice,’ and ‘The Tapestry.’ The books are for sale in the U.S., the U.K., and seven other countries. For more information, go to www.nancybilyeau.com.
If there is something that Turkey does not lack, it’s history. The country is astonishingly rich in sites from ancient times, including such places as Ephesus City in Selcuk and the many ancient ruins of Antalya, the Lycian way, Miletus, Priene, and Apollo Temple.
The territory of the Anatolian peninsula, or Asia Minor, where modern-day Turkey is situated, has been a precious link between Asia and Europe for as long as civilizations have existed, so it comes as no surprise that this region is one of the oldest in the world to be continuously inhabited.
A mountain adorned with the fragments of vast statues built over 2000 years ago. Author:Klaus-Peter Simon CC BY-SA3.0
Built by King Antiochus I in 62 BC it is thought to be a sanctuary and a royal tomb Author:Klearchos Kapoutsis CC BY-SA2.0
Of the many historical sites in Turkey, a unique one is located deep in the Anatolian heartland. It’s definitely worth every single mile, as it is considered the 8th Wonder of the Ancient World.
Heads of statues at the top of the mountain. Author:Urszula Ka CC BY-SA3.0
Known as Mount Nemrut (or Nemrut Dagi in Turkish), the 7,000-foot-tall mountain houses a historical site unlike any other in the country. Notable for its ancient tomb and temple complex, which includes numerous massive statues of Greek and Persian gods, the stunning site was constructed by King Antiochus I in 62 BC and is today considered to be the most significant monument of the Kingdom of Commagene.
Persian Eagle God. Author:Klearchos Kapoutsis CC BY 2.0
Lion head. The Lion was the sacred animal of the Commagene Kingdom. Photo Credit Author: Klearchos Kapoutsis CC BY2.0
Heads of Antiochus I Theos of Commagene and Zeus Oromasdes. Author:r Klearchos Kapoutsis CC BY2.0
Left – Zeus Oromasdes. Photo Credit Right – Heracles Artagnes Ares. Author:Klearchos Kapoutsis CC BY2.0
After the sudden death of Alexander the Great and the fall of his empire that stretched from Greece and Macedonia to India, many new kingdoms were created, and one of these was the Commagene kingdom, a small, independent kingdom in southern Anatolia.
The pattern of damage to the heads suggests that they were deliberately damaged because of belief in iconoclasm. . Author:Klearchos Kapoutsis CC BY2.0
King Antiochus I, who reigned over the Commagene Kingdom from 70 BC to 36BC, is probably best known for creating a royal cult for the worship of himself and for the fact that he is often depicted in the company of Greek and Eastern deities with whom he claimed to have been closely connected.
The statues appear to have Greek-style facial features, but Persian clothing and hairstyling. . Author:onur kocatas CC BY2.0
This rather eccentric ancient king traced his descent to Alexander the Great on his mother’s side and to Darius the Great on his father’s side and clearly wanted to leave a lasting legacy like his famed ancestors did, so he ordered the construction of the now famous complex at Mount Nemrut.
Goddess of Kommagene Author:Klearchos Kapoutsis CC BY2.0
The king chose this particular location because he wanted the complex to be closer to the gods, hoping that he would also be forever remembered as the king who built such a magnificent religious sanctuary.
The statues have not been restored to their original positions. Author:onur kocatas CC BY2.0
Made up of 50,000 cubic meters of gravel, Mount Nemrut measures at an impressive 164 feet in height, and covers an area of no less than 492 feet in diameter. From what we can see, it is easy to conclude that it took quite a long time and an impressive number of laborers before the complex was finished.
Sometimes referred to as the Throne of the Gods, the site consisted of three terraces on the east, north, and west sides, all of them surrounded by colossal statues of Greek and Persian gods, including ones of Apollo and Zeus.
Head of Zeus-Oromasdes statue. Author:China_Crisis CC BY SA2.5
Over the centuries, the statues have all lost their heads, which fell off to the lower level due to frequent earthquakes in the region, or because of iconoclasm. Experts claim that they once stood 30 feet high and that their creation was clearly influenced by both Greek and Persian art, as the independent kingdom of Commagene was located between the two great civilizations.
Souvenirs. Author:Klearchos Kapoutsis CC BY2.0
Nonetheless, these impressive statues were lost over time, only to be rediscovered in 1881 by Karl Sester, a German road engineer. Soon, a team of German archaeologists arrived on the site, but it took some 70 years before archaeological activity actually began.
An English nobleman once declared to his peasants: “Build me a keep up on that mound, fortify the walls around this spacious vale, and I shall protect you and your families within this walls from the men of the north and their barbaric invasions.”
It’s a sentence that best describes many noblemen who during or right after the Norman invasion of the 11th century came upon a strategic river valley and used a cheap and more often than not forced workforce to construct a motte and bailey castle.
Truth be told, it was the Normans who first began to build this type of castle in Normandy and England. For them, it was a fast and cheap method of securing the land they had just conquered. When William the Conqueror set forth on his conquest of England in 1066, he exercised a practice of granting lordships and captured land to his officers, on which they were obliged to build castles to serve as military strong points.
The castles were made quickly out of wood as checkpoints over strategic grounds he and his army would pass. By doing so, he was securing the loyalty of his generals as well as the conquered territory, but what is more important, he was blocking passageways for the armies of Briton without much delay to the conquest itself.
Sketch map of the rivers of south Cornwall including River Fowey, River Seaton, River Lerryn, Polperro River, East Looe River, and West Looe River Author:Andy F CC BY-SA 3.0
He raised a vast number of these motte and bailey castles throughout England and Normandy, of which Cardiff Castle serves as the greatest example. Fortifications in York and Norwich City were also rebuilt by the Britons into stone castles during the 13th and 14th century because of their strategic location and economic importance.
Cardiff Castle. Author:Amybobs CC BY-SA 3.0
It is believed that a castle was built in the same manner in the Restormel borough of Cornwall, somewhere between the Battle of Hastings in 1066, which brought an end to Anglo-Saxon rule over England, and 1090, when the conquest was nearly completed. During these two decades, tensions between the Anglo-Saxons and their new Norman rulers were still high. Two of these, a rebellion at Exeter in 1068 and the uprising in Cornwall in 1069, presumably led to the construction of the castle at Restormel, to give control over the main crossing spot over River Fowey.
Restormel Castle Panorama Author:Robert Pittman CC BY2.0
Just as the aforementioned ones, this too was first built from timber and then reconstructed in stone during the 13th century. What is unusual about the design is that the eight-foot-thick outer wall forms a perfect circle, and every room and corridor inside, including the solar, the great hall, the bed chambers, and the guard houses, are all constructed to follow the contour of the thick castle wall.
Castle Entrance from inside Author:Judy Ginn CC BY2.0
The circular stone keep, which is 125 feet in diameter, was installed at the very end of the 12th century by Robert de Cardinham, labeled in the Red Book of the Exchequer (13th century manuscript) as the greatest landowner in Cornwall. In history books the castle is first mentioned in 1264, when Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester, took control over the manor during the Second Barons’ War fought against the forces of Prince Edward, later Edward Longshanks, King of England.
After only a year, the castle was recaptured by the wealthy Earls of Cornwall, who remodeled the castle from a combat stronghold into a residential palace, an exquisite mansion and administrative center of Cornwall, a role previously assigned to the nearby castle in Launceston. It was Edmund, 2nd Earl of Cornwall, who built the unusual curving chambers inside the curtain wall, thus giving the image of a perfect concentric castle, an interesting feature for which the castle is admired.
The inner chambers at Restormel Castle. Author: Chris Shaw CC BY-SA 2.0
However, it served as a prominent center only for a short time, until the earldom fell to the crown at the very beginning of the 14th century. After this, the castle, along with the hunting lodge and 300 acres of land around it, was inherited in 1337 by the first Duke of Cornwall, Edward of Woodstock, commonly known as the Black Prince. He visited the castle twice only, in 1354 and 1362.
The castle is still owned by the Duchy of Cornwall. Author: essygie CC BY2.0
After the death of the Black Prince, the castle was left unattended and neglected for almost three centuries. Covered in ivy, the castle was rediscovered and reused in the 17th century during the Civil War. For the first time in its long history, the castle was used in combat, occupied at times both by the Parliamentary and Royalist forces in the summer of 1644.
Plan of Restormel Castle; A – gate; B – guest chambers; C – kitchen; D – hall; E – solar; F – chapel
Deemed irreparable, the castle was once again neglected for centuries. During the 19th century, it gradually came to be appreciated as a picturesque ruin and a favorite picnic spot. Restormel Castle was finally declared a Scheduled Monument in the 1980s and is now maintained by English Heritage.
Located north of Lostwithiel, Restormel Castle is open every day for visitors from April to October. Proposals to restore the castle have met with public opposition, maybe because the ruin is a romantic remnant of history that has been a part of the landscape for so long.
Although the bailey is now long gone, the circular shell that is the trademark of the castle has survived in fairly good condition. Today visitors can take a walk on the walls and enjoy the marvelous 360-degree view over the daffodils, rhododendrons, and bluebells that fill the valley beneath. The park that at one time held hundreds of deer now houses the extremely rare black pheasant, Tetraphasis Obscurus.
Books, films, plays, and songs have been written to celebrate the life of the Englishman who robbed from the rich and gave to the poor. The story of Robin Hood has endured at least 700 years, sometimes changing to reflect the times but always repeating certain facts. Robin Hood was a skilled archer living in Sherwood Forest in medieval times.
He has been depicted as a murdering thief, a simple commoner rebelling against a corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham, and a displaced nobleman. His merry men started with Little John and Will Scarlet and later increased to Friar Tuck and Alan-a-Dale.
Of course, every hero needs a love interest, so Maid Marian was later added. There is no solid proof of an actual historical figure of Robin Hood, but most legends are based on fact. The book History of Greater Britain, published in 1521 by John Major, speaks of a Robin Hood type of character who was loyal to King Richard.
Robin Hood statue Author: Olaf1541 CC BY-SA 3.0
For hundreds of years, the Sherwood Forest area was a hunting ground of the English Crown. It’s been divided up for monastic abbeys, sold to the aristocrats for estates, and used for farmland and for harvesting lumber. These areas have since been named Bilhaugh and Birklands. Fortunately, most of the interior of the forest appears as it did in medieval times. It has been taken over by the park system and is a National Nature Reserve, with certain areas protected under the designations of Sites of Special Scientific Interest, and Special Areas of Conservation.
Visitor Centre. Author: Marcin Floryan CC BY 2.5
Long, long before Robin Hood, Vikings moved into England, Scotland, and Ireland. According to medieval texts, the Vikings arrived in the islands of Great Britain around 790 A.D. Evidence of Viking influence has been unearthed in different parts of Great Britain for hundreds of years. Viking hoards containing thousands of dollars worth of coins, silver, copper and gold jewelry, swords, and valuable household goods have been dug up in various locations since the early 1800s. Metal-detector enthusiasts and farmers usually find the hoards on farmland or in open areas. Why the Vikings buried their treasures and never returned for them is still a mystery.
Sherwood Forest Auhtor:ntollervey CC BY-SA 3.0
“What do the Vikings have to do with the Robin Hood?” you may ask. In 2004, locals Stuart Reddish and Lynda Mallett discovered the site of an important Viking meeting place similar to a congress or parliament in the Birkwood area of Sherwood Forest. Meeting places such as these are called “thing” sites from the Icelandic word Þingvellir. They have been found in Iceland and various places in the north, but it was unusual to find such an important feature in an area not usually associated with Viking settlements or hoards.
View of the Forest looking northeast
Thynghowe, the “thing” site in Sherwood Forest, is unusually well preserved because it was found on land belonging to the Crown and the gentry for so long. Other than a few parish boundary markers, the site is recognizable as a speaking mound within a circle. The nearby village, Budby, is believed by researchers to be where out-of-towners stayed when attending gatherings.
Location map of Thynghowe
The Friends of Thynghowe, an organization set up by Reddish and Mallett to protect the area and educate the public about its history, has been instrumental in the preservation of the site. They are researching the area both historically and geographically to learn as much as possible about the movements of the Vikings and how they affected the evolution of Great Britain.
They have opened the area to the public for landscape walks to point out some of the unusual native plants of the area, an annual perambulation to Thynghowe, re-enactments, and educational programs. Upcoming events as well as photos, videos and mission statements are available on their Facebook page and website.
In the 1960s, the United States and the Soviet Union were in a heated race to land on the Moon and discover more about Mars, the closest planet to Earth. During the Cold War between the two countries, marked by deep distrust and secrecy, the space race was one of the most classified projects of all. By 1983 many of the Cold War documents were becoming available, but it seems there was one secret the Soviets had been able to keep for 21 years: the radio frequency of a probe sent to Venus.
The earliest Mars mission launches in the 1960s took place in the middle of the Cold War. The Soviet Union was communist and its memories of Stalin were fresh. The Russians were distrustful of the United States, accusing the country of meddling in world affairs and building up stores of military weapons.
The U.S. built an atom bomb, and the USSR followed suit. The U.S. developed a hydrogen bomb, and the Soviets were right behind with its own nuclear weapons. The Korean conflict occurred at this time, prompting rampant fear of a communist takeover. It wasn’t until 1985, when Mikhail Gorbachev became premier, that the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics began to dissolve and a new Russia took its place.
Full-scale model of the Venera 1 in the Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics
When it came to space exploration, the two countries tried their best to hide from each other their developing technology. The location of the USSR spaceport was a closely guarded secret. Soviet press releases called it Baykonur Cosmodrome, but it was not at Baykonur. In fact, the CIA hunted it for three years, trying to find the real location of the launch site, which was Tyuratam, a station along the Moscow to Tashkent railway, in Kazakhstan.
On October 1, 1960, in great secrecy, the first Soviet probe to study Mars was launched from Tyuratam. The rocket failed in the third stage burn and hurtled back to Earth. The next attempt launched two weeks later, never reaching Earth’s orbit. The third launch, on October 24, 1962, did reach Earth’s orbit but no farther. In November of 1962, Mars 1 was launched by the Soviet Union, but the radio failed before reaching Mars. Four days later, Sputnik 24 was launched with the intent of a flyby for pictures, but it, too, never left Earth’s orbit.
Mars 1 stamp
In 1964, after making changes to its rocket design, the Soviet Union launched Zond 2 with the intention of landing on Mars. The mission was problematic in that the solar panels didn’t open on time, there were glitches with the thermal control system, and a programming timer didn’t perform correctly. A month after the launch the communication system failed, and the Zond 2 crashed into Mars, never to be heard from again.
Mars 2 stamp
The Soviet Union made two more failed attempts in the spring of 1969 and again in 1971. Later in 1971, an attempt was made, and the Mars 2 reached Mars on November 2. The craft came in too fast and crash landed. Another landing occurred on December 3 but failed to operate once it reached the Red Planet. Between July of 1973 and March of 1974, the Soviet Union launched four more probes to Mars, each one unsuccessful.
Mars 3 lander stamp
In the late 1980s the USSR attempted to reach Phobos, one of Mars’ moons, but both times the space vehicles were lost. In 1996 and 2011 Russia, the new name of the former Soviet Union, made another attempt at Mars but the rockets failed, and everything was lost. The last attempt at Mars by the Russia was in Nov of 2011, and it failed as well.
In 1962 the Mars probe was communicating with the Soviet land base with a hidden signal on “four radio frequencies: [at] 163, 32, 8, and 5 centimeters,” according to an N.S.A. report. The 163 and 32 signals were detected as the vessel made its way to Mars. A United States spy radio receiver captured the third signal, 8, but it turned out to be nothing more than astronomical data on eclipses. What was missing was the last signal. Was the third signal a distraction to draw attention from the final signal? Could it be secret data on the Soviet’s space program? The CIA just had to know. The trajectory of the vessel was easy to figure out as all Soviet rockets emit a general signal that is easy to track. This gave the CIA the ability to predict the position of the craft at any given time.
Mars 2 Lander model at the Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics in Russia
In order to camouflage the signal, the Soviets took advantage of the curvature of the Earth and sent signals before the United States was in the correct position to detect them. The U.S. set up secret listening places that would solve this problem, with some of them still active in the 21st century.
The one thing the U.S. could not figure out was the exact radio frequency of the signal. The possibilities were endless. Spies were sent to everywhere the Soviets displayed their satellites. In Paris in 1968, Los Angeles in 1977, and the World Expo in Montreal in 1967, technical spies studied the replicas for information that might lead to uncovering the radio frequency. They studied propaganda released by the Soviet Union and questioned Soviet astronomers.
The fourth C-5A Galaxy 66-8306 in 1980s European One color scheme
On November 10, 1983, the frequency was discovered. During a race to observe Venus, the U.S. came up with SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, and a way to hear signals from deep space. A vehicle was outfitted with computers, receivers, and analyzers. The RFI (Radio Frequency Interference) vehicle was loaded onto an Air Force C-5A transport plane and moved to a secret location. In October of 1983, the vehicle was ready to receive signals. The Soviets had launched probes to Venus, and U.S. agents were listening.
After a month of zero progress, the Americans were ready to give up. In November they attempted one last time, and after 21 years, finally, it worked. While the Americans were busy patting themselves on the back, the information gleaned was of little use. While the ability to find the signal was an achievement, it seemed as though the decades were wasted. The last sentence of the report reads, “Perhaps, though, just the satisfaction of solving a 21 year mystery was enough for those involved.”
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