Category: archaeological

Laura Croft’s Tomb Raider & Indiana Jones’ Temple of Doom: Ancient Angkor [PICS]

November 15th, 2012 Permalink

Once upon a time, or around 1580, while cutting a path through the thick Cambodian jungle, Portuguese missionaries came upon huge towers carved into rocks that were in ruins and covered in roots and vines. Continuing on, they discovered an ancient lost city that was twice as large as Manhattan and that nature was trying to swallow. The missionaries had discovered abandoned Angkor Wat—the 500-acre site is one of the world’s largest religious monuments and the most elaborate of the Angkor’s temples. There are more than 1,000 Temples of Angkor which were built from the 9th to 13th centuries during a time when the Kingdom of Cambodia was one of the most powerful civilizations on the planet. There were rarely any inscriptions found in later centuries after 1431, when Angkor was seized by the Thai army. During its prime, as many as 750,000 – one million people lived in Angkor, making it one of the greatest vanishing acts of all time. Archaeologists now know that Angkor Wat and many of its surrounding structures were built to appease “devas” and “asuras” which are angelic demi-Gods of the Hindu religion. Thousands upon thousands of these demi-god beings are carved into every single rock temple at the site. Both Tomb Raider and Indiana Jones Temple of Doom were filmed here. Angkor Archaeological Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1992. New research claims to have solved the mystery of how the huge stones of Angkor Wats were moved. “The massive sandstone bricks used to construct the 12th-century temple of Angkor Wat were brought to the site via a network of hundreds of canals. The findings shed light on how the site’s 5 million to 10 million bricks, some weighing up to 3,300 pounds, made it to the temple from quarries at the base of a nearby mountain.” The mystique of Angkor may cry out to the adventurer in us all, but the roots and trees are now being cut back as Angkor is being restored. So many people come here, about 2 – 3 million a year; all that walking and climbing on the (mostly) sandstone monuments caused additional damage to the archaeological sites at Angkor. These photos hearken to ancient Angkor as the Temples of Doom for a Tomb Raider to explore. [41 Photos, 4 Videos]

Echoes of Silence; the beauty and mystical ambiance of Ta Prohm. Angkor, Cambodia

“Echoes of Silence; the beauty and mystical ambiance of Ta Prohm. Angkor, Cambodia,” the photographer wrote. This scene may appeal to the Indiana Jones in all of us. Photo #1 by Peter Nijenhuis

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Pretty Pounds Hollow in Autumn & Garden of the Gods Rock!

November 3rd, 2012 Permalink

Most folks have heard of the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, but did you know that there is also a Garden of the Gods in Illinois? Nestled within the Shawnee National Forest, this spectacular wilderness area is over 320 million years old and covers over 3,300 acres of amazing old growth forest and humongous rocks that call out to scramble over and climb here. The landscape is drastically different than most of southern Illinois because it is unglaciated. The fractured bedrock at Garden of the Gods, along with erosive forces like windblown sand, rain, freezing and thawing actions, have created beautiful hoodoos and fascinating rock formations. Cave In Rock is not too far away, so you can both climb and cave if you are so inclined, but today we’re exploring three “must see” areas with hills and hollows, magnificent bluffs and massive mossy boulders: Garden of the Gods, Rim Rock, Pounds Hollow. Other areas near Garden of the Gods and Pounds Hollow Recreation Area, include Rim Rock National Recreation Trail, River, River Trail, High Knob Picnic Area and the Illinois Iron Furnace, But all of Shawnee, the only National Forest in southern Illinois, is gorgeous. Take a backpack, wear shoes you can climb in that are comfortable, some water, your thirst for adventure, maybe a picnic, and, oh yes, your camera. [58 Photos]

Garden of the Gods is located in southern Illinois in the Shawnee National Forest

Garden of the Gods is located in southern Illinois in the Shawnee National Forest. The spectacular wilderness area is over 320 million years old and covers over 3,300 acres of beautiful old growth forest. During the Ice Age, glaciers didn’t flatten this region, so it offers great rock formations to climb, hills to explore while hiking and streams to cross. There are also magnificent bluffs which drop more than 100 feet down, but provide breathtaking views of the forests below and beyond. Some of the more popular rock formations surrounding the cliffs acquired titles such as Monkey Face, Mushroom Rock, Anvil Rock, Noah’s Ark, Table Rock and Devil’s Smokestack. But Camel Rock is probably the most photographed feature along the paved Observation Trail at Garden of the Gods in southern Illinois. Photo #1 by Grover Webb

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Hiking Hocking Hills State Park: Waterfalls, Caves, Cliffs, Forests and Gorges

October 16th, 2012 Permalink

In Ohio, there is a gorgeous State Park that has undisturbed forests, cascading waterfalls, rugged cliffs, deep recess caves and mysterious gorges. The 2,356-acre Hocking Hills State Park is a place of adventure for nature lovers. It is embedded in Hocking State Forest and its three nature preserves includes Conkle’s Hollow. The park is divided into these five separate sections: Old Man’s Cave, Cedar Falls, Ash Cave, Cantwell Cliffs and Rock House. Hocking Hills State Park is about 3 hours away from Cuyahoga Valley National Park, the 10th most visited U.S. National Park in 2011. Both must be gorgeous in the fall season with the changing colors of autumn foliage, but we were struck by the beauty of the “greeness” at Hocking Hills. [47 Photos]

Cedar Falls at Hocking Hills State Park

Cedar Falls at Hocking Hills State Park. If you follow the Cedar Falls trail for a 1/2 mile, through an amazing terrain featuring a gorge and sandstone cliffs covered with moss, you come upon this 50-foot waterfall. Cedar Falls is one of the most photographed waterfalls in all of Ohio. Photo #1 by Todd Poling

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48 Eerily Intriguing Shipwrecks

September 27th, 2012 Permalink

We expect to see ships from land as they sail away, but there is something eerily intriguing about ships that you see from land because they are above-water wrecks. Some are rusty and crusty shipwrecks that didn’t sink completely underwater, while others crashed, collided, or ran aground on the sandy beach or rocky reef. Yet other wrecks were perfectly fine ships that nature picked up and tossed on land via a hurricane, typhoon or tsunami. Even though these abandoned boats litter nature, the shores or shallow waters, there is still a haunting beauty to wrecks and to seascapes with relic ribs where ghostly wreckage remains. It makes us ponder what the story is behind these shipwrecks visible from land and what the sailors endured. The United Nations estimates more than 3 million shipwrecks litter the ocean floor, but we could find no estimate to the number of boats that are abandoned, derelict or beached worldwide. Here are 48 fabulous photos showing eerily intriguing shipwrecks in varying states of destruction and decay. [48 Photos]

Rusted shipwreck resting on a reef in Hawaii - All that remains above water of an unnamed vessel wrecked on the reef long ago

Rusted shipwreck resting on a reef in Hawaii. The photographer noted, “All that remains above water of an unnamed vessel wrecked on the reef long ago.” NOAA Photo #1 by Dr. Dwayne Meadows, NOAA / NMFS / OPR; NOAA’s Maritime Heritage Program

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Dry Tortugas: Coastal Fortress, Coral Reefs, Marine Life, Shipwrecks & Sunken Treasure

August 3rd, 2012 Permalink

About 70 miles west of Key West, Florida, lies Dry Tortugas National Park which is world-renowned for picturesque blue sea waters, white sands, brightly colorful coral reefs, abundant marine life, and legends of shipwrecks and sunken treasures. There are seven small islands in the 100-square mile park, but it is mostly open water that is accessible only by boat or seaplane. Dry Tortugas is also famous as the home of magnificent and historic Fort Jefferson, the largest masonry building in the Western Hemisphere. Though it was not finished, the fort has more than 16 million bricks that make up the massive 45-foot-high, three-level hexagon, coastal fortress that has 2,000 architecturally beautiful arches. [44 Fabulous Photos]

Fort Jefferson aerial looking east

Aerial of Fort Jefferson on Garden Key, part of Dry Tortugas National Park. The park is located at the farthest end of the Florida Keys, closer to Cuba than to the USA mainland. NPS says, “To reach this remote ocean wilderness one must travel by boat or plane over 68 nautical miles of open sea.” Garden Key is the second largest island in this chain. Photo #1 by National Park Service

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Mysterious & Massive World Hidden Underground: Paradise & Fairytale Caves

July 21st, 2012 Permalink

Hidden in the thick tropical forest of Vietnam is a land of phenomenal caves. Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park contains the oldest major karst area in Asia; the karst is believed to have formed 400 million years ago, during the Palaeozoic era, With every cave discovery, that cave is considered the largest and longest in Phong Nha-Ke Bang, only to learn later that yet another even more massive cave has been found. This national park is home to the largest cave in the world and is said to be the home of the many of the world’s most beautiful caves. It’s famous for its cave and grotto systems, about 300 caves and grottos, of which only 20 have been surveyed by Vietnamese and British scientists. UNESCO named it a World Heritage Site for its geological values. Spectacular stalactites and stalagmites create an underground fairy-tale-like world where formations look like the caves possess jagged teeth or home to strangely alien trees. Visitors to Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park most often visit the massive Paradise Cave and huge Phong Nha Cave as seen below. If you don’t expect to ever travel to Vietnam, then here is a virtual trip to see the mysterious and massive world hidden beneath Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park . [39 Photos, 2 Videos]

Thien Duong Cave or Paradise Cave - Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park - Vietnam (Động Thiên Đường)

Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park contains the oldest major karst area in Asia. Protecting those caves is the reason for the park and also why it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This cave is called Thien Duong (Động Thiên Đường) and is over 19 miles (31 km) long. The British cave explorers were so impressed by the beauty of the rock formation inside the cave, they dubbed this place as “Paradise Cave.” Photo #1 by Vo Thanh Lam

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Lost Underwater Lion City: Rediscovery of China’s ‘Atlantis’

June 1st, 2012 Permalink

Once upon a time, an ancient city in China was named Lion City because Five Lion Mountain loomed large behind it. The city, also known as Shi Cheng, has been buried beneath the water for 53 years. Like the lost Incan City of Machu Picchu was ‘rediscovered,’ so was this lost underwater city that had been founded about 1,300 years ago. Lion City is now located about 85 – 131 feet (26-40 meters) beneath the gorgeous Thousand Island Lake (Qiandao Lake). This valley was submerged when a dam was constructed and a lake was needed. The lake and thousands of islands were man-made. Shi Cheng ‘defied’ the Chinese norm since 5 gates and 5 towers were built into the city instead of 4. Lion City is about the size of 62 football fields. International archaeologists and a film crew recorded the amazing perservation of the lost ‘ruins.’ [23 Photos, 2 Videos]

Lion City, lost underwater Shi Cheng, dubbed China's Atlantis rediscovered

More than half a century ago, the Chinese flooded Lion City, also called Shi Cheng. Recently Shi Cheng was explored by archaeologists who dubbed ‘Lion City’ as China’s ‘Atlantis rediscovered.’ Photo #1 by Chinese National Geography via Cheer All

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Adventure Lovers’ Paradise: Arches National Park [47 PICS]

January 28th, 2012 Permalink

Arches National Park is a gorgeous 76,679 acre landscape which preserves over 2,000 natural sandstone arches. The park is located in eastern Utah, right outside Moab which is an outdoor adventure lovers’ paradise. The park is in the high desert where the forces of nature like erosion have exposed millions of years of geologic history, diverse colors and textures of arches and very unusual rock formations. 43 arches have collapsed since 1970, yet still the beauty of nature here will leave you in awe. Arches National Park is an outdoor adventure lovers’ paradise with many activities such as backpacking, biking, camping, canyoneering, commercial tours, hiking, rock climbing and plenty to keep a photographer busy. According to the National Park Service, “To many, the most outstanding natural features of Arches are the park’s geologic formations. Over 2,000 catalogued arches range in size from a three-foot opening (the minimum considered to be an arch), to Landscape Arch which measures 306 feet from base to base. Towering spires, fins and balanced rocks complement the arches, creating a remarkable assortment of landforms in a relatively small area.” [47 Photos]

Arches National Park, Utah, Delicate Arch -- The iconography of time

Delicate Arch at Arches National Park ‘The iconography of time’ is the title given to this amazing long exposure capture. The photographer said, “Billions of years ago some of those stars sent their light on a journey to delicate arch long before its grains of sand had even settled to the bottom of a vast ocean. This complex intermingling of time and space and light fills me with much awe, wonder and inspiration. I live for these moments.” Photo #1 by Jason Corneveaux

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Infamous Mount Vesuvius: One of the World’s Most Dangerous Volcanoes (41 PICS)

October 22nd, 2011 Permalink

East of Naples, Italy, looms the volcano Mount Vesuvius with an elevation of 4,203 feet (1,281 meters). It is a finalist in the New 7 Wonders of Nature competition; voting trends show it becoming more popular and perhaps one of the winners from the 28 natural wonders. Vesuvius is best known for its eruption in 79 AD that led to the destruction of the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. It has erupted many times since and is today regarded as one of the most dangerous and infamous volcanoes in the world. [41 Photos]

Ancient Ruins of Pompeii

Mount Vesuvius looms in the distance from the ancient ruins of Pompeii. This volcano is best known for its eruption in 79 AD that buried and destroyed the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. The towns were forgotten until their accidental rediscovery in the 18th century. Photo #1 by Glen Scarborough

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Dazzling Dead Sea Delights: Bob like a Cork, Smear on Salt and Mud [45 PICS]

October 16th, 2011 Permalink

The Dead Sea is one of the 28 finalists in the New 7 Wonders of Nature competition. It is a salt lake between Palestine and Israel to the west and Jordan to the east. At almost 1,378 feet (420 meters) below sea level, its shores are the lowest point on Earth that are on dry land. In the deepest part, at the very bottom of the sea, it is over 2,300 feet below sea level. The ‘Salt Sea’ has 30% salinity which is 8.6 times saltier than the ocean and people can float in it with no effort required. In fact, people don’t ‘swim’ in the water; instead they tend to bob like a cork and may be inclined to kick back and read while they float. It’s also a place where people delight in smearing on mud and salt for health and beauty reasons. The Dead Sea is 1,237 ft (377 m) deep, making it the deepest hypersaline lake in the world. It has attracted visitors for thousands of years . . . including being a place of refuge for the King David from the Bible. [45 Photos]

A rough Dead Sea, with salt deposits on cliffs

A rough Dead Sea, with salt deposits on cliffs. Although the sea is called “dead” due to its high salinity which prevents fish and aquatic plants from living in it, the same salinity can treat several health conditions. The Dead Sea is also known by many other names such as ‘Sea of Salt’ and ‘Sea of Death’; and in Arabic ‘Sea of Lot’ and ‘Sea of Zoʼar.’ The Greeks called it ‘Lake Asphaltites’ and ‘the Asphaltite Sea.’ The Bible also refers to it as ‘the Eastern sea’ and ‘Sea of the Arabah.’ Photo #1 by Disdero

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Tribute to Tolkien: Magical Mystical Mossy-Green Muse for Middle-earth, Puzzlewood

September 2nd, 2011 Permalink

All writers and artists have a muse; for some it’s music, for some a person, place or thing, but fiction writers can take a place that is real and twist it until it’s flat-out fantasy. For high-fantasy author J.R.R. Tolkien, Puzzlewood was one such mystical, magical muse that inspired him to create the fabled forests of Middle-earth within The Lord of the Rings. John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born on January 3, 1892 and died at age 81 on September 2, 1973. On this anniversary of his death, we wanted to pay tribute to Tolkien and Puzzlewood — his extraordinarily enchanted backdrop for Middle-earth. [26 Photos]

Magical Mystical Mossy Green Muse

Magical Mystical Mossy Green Muse: J.R.R. Tolkien saw much more than a woods in such settings. In his mind’s eye, Tolkien saw high fantasy forests which he then painted with words to describe Middle-earth. Photo #1 by Wallpaper Stock

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Lost Incan City of Machu Picchu: 100 Years after Discovery by ‘Indiana Jones’

July 8th, 2011 Permalink

Peru is celebrating 100 years since the rediscovery of Machu Picchu by Yale professor Hiram Bingham III. On July 24, 1911, the American, who some believe was later the “model” for Indiana Jones, stumbled upon jungle-and-vine-coated ruins during an expedition to find an ancient Inca Empire in the Andes mountains. Machu Picchu was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983. In 2007, it was crowned as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World via a worldwide Internet vote. To mark the Machu Picchu centennial celebration, here is a collection of pictures from the “Lost City of the Incas.”
[46 Photos]

Early morning in wonderful Machu Picchu

Early morning in wonderful Machu Picchu, a pre-Columbian 15th-century Inca site located 2,430 meters (7,970 ft) above sea level. Most archaeologists think Machu Picchu was built around AD 1400 as “an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti” and is often referred to as the “Lost City of the Incas.” It is probably the most familiar icon of the Inca World. Around the time of the Spanish Conquest in 1572, the Incas abandoned their empire and the Peruvian jungle swallowed Machu Picchu. It wasn’t rediscovered until 1911 by American historian and explorer Hiram Bingham. There are about 140 structures or features, ranging from temples, to sanctuaries, parks, and residences, with more than 100 flights of stone steps carved from a single block of granite. Photo #1 by Pedro Szekely

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