Acropolis Now

Athens, 9 October 2018.

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(Click on any image to see it in a larger size, if you are on a PC or tablet at least.)

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Having arrived in Athens, our first objective of course was to visit the Acropolis.

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Parthenon.

The Acropolis sits us on top of a huge flat rock and here is the Parthenon from below, from near the stage of the Theatre of Dionysius.  The Acropolis is the whole complex; the Parthenon is the main building.

The rock is also encased on all sides by an ancient wall.  I infer that was to ensure it was not climbable.  Access is only from one end (to the left).

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From about the same point, here is the Theatre of Dionysius.

We go up a path to the right of here and if you look closely (or click to expand) you can see a line of people walking along at the base of the walled cliff.  They first head to the Ticket Office, then back up through the entrance to the Acropolis (both out of sight to the left).

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And here it is from much later, looking down from the Acropolis.

The theatre was constructed in the sixth century BC and at its peak could accommodate an audience of 17,000.  It continued in use in the Roman period but gradually fell into disuse in the late Byzantine era.

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Again from below, this is the Temple of Athena Nike.  Athena was the Goddess of Wisdom and Nike was the Goddess of Victory, so it is a temple of wisdom and victory rather than celebrating the shoes Athena wore.

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And though we haven’t ascended to the Acropolis yet, we are looking down on the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, where some people are setting up for a concert.

It is much more recent than the Theatre of Dionysius.  It was built by Roman citizen Herodes Atticus in 161AD in honour of his wife, but was destroyed be the Heruli, a tribe of Scythian raiders, in 267.

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Mounting the steps of the Propylaea, the monumental gateway to the Acropolis.

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Although not fortified, the Propylaea denied access to the sacred areas to people such as the ritually unclean and runaway slaves.

In 480BC, after winning the Battle of Thermopylae, the Persians sacked Athens, including overrunning some forces holed up in the Acropolis.  The Propylaea was part of the rebuilding of the Acropolis subsequently undertaken by Pericles.  Construction started in 437BC and terminated unfinished in 432BC.

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Looking back at the Propylaea.

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… and now, heading towards the Parthenon.

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The front steps of the Parthenon (obviously, under reconstruction).

The Parthenon was another project to restore the Acropolis following the Persian War.  It was built from 447BC to 438BC and decoration continued until 432BC.  As well as a temple to Athena, the city’s patron, it also served as the city Treasury.

It was converted into a church in the 6th century AD and a mosque in 1460.  Unfortunately, in 1687, when a Venetian army was besieging an Ottoman force in the Acropolis, a mortar shell hit the Ottoman ammunition dump and blew the roof off the Parthenon and damaged many of the columns.  The Venetians took Athens, held it for a while, and then withdrew.

Restoring the Acropolis doesn’t just involve trying to reverse the ancient ravages of time.  It also involves trying to reverse some of the less-than-competent restoration attempts of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

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The Parthenon from the far end.

Unfortunately you are not allowed inside the Parthenon, probably for reasons of safety.

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This is now the Erechtheion.

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The Erechtheion with the Parthenon in the background.

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You can see this doorway in the previous image.

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Classical Greek buildings are usually symmetrical but this has quite different aspects on each of its faces.

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The Erechtheion was built in 440BC on uneven ground.  It was designed to avoid disturbing altars to Poseidon and Hephaestus, the spot where Poseidon hit the Acropolis with his trident, a sacred olive tree, a sacred sea water well, the tomb of Kekrops, and the Pandrosion sanctuary.

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The female figures serving as columns here are the Caryatids.  They are actually replicas.  Five of the originals are in the Acropolis Museum and one was carried away by Lord Elgin in the nineteenth century and is now in the British Museum.  He actually wanted to take all of them but was not able to obtain a suitable ship in a restricted timeframe.

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The Temple of Athena Nike, beside the Erechtheion, that we glimpsed earlier in the fourth image of this post.  It was completed in 420BC, converted into a church in the 5th century AD and dismantled by the Ottomans in the 17th century to construct fortifications (presumably to defend against the Venetians).  It was reconstructed after Greek independence (in 1832) and further restored in the 1930s.

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This is a closer view of the frieze at the top of the Temple of Athena Nike from the previous image.

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Details of surviving structures from the Parthenon.

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This stela appears to be in the Propylaea.  I can find no reference to it online.  I’m not about to try to painstakingly enter Greek characters into Google Translate as in any case, the words probably run toghether and it’s in ancient Greek, not modern Greek.

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Surviving relief sculpture high in the eaves of the Parthenon.

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Many of these show serious erosion over time, including recent deterioration due to air pollution.

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Lord Elgin removed many of the sculptures from the Parthenon in the early 19th century with (somewhat questionable) permission from the Ottomans but not the Greeks (who were of course not independent at that time).  They may have been better preserved in the British museum but still suffered some deterioration from pollution and inappropriate cleaning methods.  Greece would like them back for the new Acropolis Museum.

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This is probably the best preserved example on the Parthenon.  You can see it in situ in the top left corner of the first image.

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Conservators at work (on the Parthenon).

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Roof of the Church of the Holy Unmercenaries of Kolokynthis.

This and following images are views from the Acropolis.

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The Gate of Athena Archegetis, the largest remaining part of the Roman Agora (or Forum), constructed 11BC.

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View looking north-west from the Acropolis.

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Zooming in to the top of Mount Lycabettus.

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Probably roof of Church of St Nicholas Rangavas (11th century).

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Temple of Olympian Zeus.

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Looking down towards the Port of Piraeus.

The main harbour of Piraeus is out of sight past the promontory to the right but we are looking towards another smaller harbour we can’t quite see.

Rebuilding Athens after it was destroyed by the Persians also included constructing protective walls.  Athens itself was fortified with a wall with about a one kilometre radius and the Acropolis in the middle.  Pireus was also fortified, so most of the populated area we see in the middle distance as well as the main port to the right (out of picture) was enclosed by walls including on the coast.  Then there was also a stretch of twin walls over the six kilometres from Athens to Piraeus.

This came into its own in the Peloponnesian Wars with Sparta of 432 BC to 404 BC.  Sparta was land-based whereas Athens was a sea power.  Sparta could not breach the walls and Athens could supply itself by sea and also launch raids of Sparta by sea.  Sparta eventually won in 404BC when they built a fleet that successfully challenged Athens at sea and they then tore down the walls.

However, Athens rebuilt the walls from 395BC to 391BC.  Sparta was defeated by Persia in this time and Athens rebuilt the walls with Persian support (because Persia though Sparta had got too powerful).  Roman General Sulla destroyed the Long Walls in 86BC.

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We are looking a bit further west.  Some buildings in Piraeus are at the bottom and the land in the background is the Island of Salamis.  Just in case there is any ambiguity, the vessel you saee is a container ship, and not an Athenian or Persian Galley.

In 480BC the Persians had won the Battle of Thermopylae and were advancing on Athens.  Rather than surrender, the Athenian citizens moved across to the Island of Salamis and abandoned the city for it to be sacked by the Persians.  Then the Athenian fleet pretended to flee in the Straits of Salamis, drew the Persians in and destroyed the much larger Persian fleet.

Most of the Persian army was forced to withdraw back to Persia and the forces left behind were defeated the next year at the Battle of Plataea.  The Persians never invaded Greece again.

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After leaving, looking back at the entrance of the Propylaea.

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Introduction to Infrared Photography

1982 to 2022, various locations.

Links go to original posts.  These are likely to be IR or Mono posts with little detail but there may be detailed information in a preceding normal-colour post.  (Some images have no corresponding posts, so no link).

Click on any image to see it larger (If you are on a PC at least).

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I’ve just finished posting on Istanbul/ Constantinople and next I will post on the Acropolis in Athens.  First, this post.

I have upgraded my IR camera and am selling the old one so one purpose of this post is to provide information to a buyer who may not well understand IR photography.  The IR explanation may be of general interest to photographers and others may just be interested in the images (there’s lots of text but also lots of images further down).

In ancient days of yore, decades ago, we had both colour and black & white infrared film.  Colour infrared film seems all but unavailable now whereas there are a few avenues for B&W IR film.

Normal photographic colour film has layers of red, green and blue.  Infrared light comes in below the red frequencies and ultraviolet is above blue, though ultraviolet is not relevant here.  Infrared colour film had layers of infrared, red and green, and missed out the blue.  Since infrared light is not visible, arbitrary colours were associated to the layers, so it was also called false-colour film.  You could also change the colour combinations by putting colour filters on the end of the lens.  This didn’t just add a colour caste but changed all the colours (since the infrared is invisible) and stacking filters changed all the colors in strange and mysterious ways.

Black and white infrared film was simply much more sensitive to infrared light.  It was also very sensitive to visible light and had to be loaded and unloaded from the camera in total darkness.   It was often grainy and could have an ethereal effect.

I never shot black & white infrared so I can’t show you any images of that but I did shoot colour IR.  I must have quite a few processed colour IR rolls in my film drawers but I’ve scanned hardy any of them but I can show you one example.

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Aboriginal Performance, Canberra, 1982.

This is a curious example.  I was shooting an Aboriginal performance when I ran out of regular fim so I continued with infrared.  Then, after I sent it to the lab to be processed, it came back with Sabattier Effect.  They must have left the inspection port open in the processing machine so that created a partial reversal of the shadows – resulting in a negative audience.  I had tried this myself several times but never got it to work as well as that.

Of course we now live in a digital age and we can take infrared images with digital cameras.  This is not entirely equivalent to colour IR film – you would actually need to combine digital regular and IR images for that, but it offers lots of scope for artistic effects and experiments and can also work particularly well for monochromes.

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St Kilda, 2013.

The cheapest way to take a digital IR image is to attach an R72 (or similar) filter to your cameras lens.  (This works for most cameras but some have too strong an infrared-blocking filter.)  This is how I took the above image and the next two.

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Jarlshof, Shetland, 2013.

The problem with using an R72 filter is that it is almost opaque so you need to use a tripod (or extremely high ISO) and if you’re using a DSLR, you will need to have the filter off to focus and compose.  A converted camera you can use hand held, just like a normal camera.

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Manvar Desert Camp, Rajastan, India, 2014.

This image is to some extent reminiscent of IR b&w film which could have heavy grain but it does not include the characteristic ethereal blurring of highlights.  I could have tried to replicate that with the Orton Effect in Photoshop but I have no interest in copying appearances from another era without a good reason.

Much more convenient than an R72 filter is an IR camera but it is more expensive as you have to send a camera off to get converted.   Mirrorless cameras are more suitable than DSLRs (unless you just plan to use live view) because focusing has a separate sensor to taking the image and they may get out of synch.

Most people use a custom camera white balance, usually taken off foliage.  Otherwise your captured image will start off different shades of a single colour.  There can also be different kinds of conversions.  A 720nm conversion gives you an image suitable for black and white with very little processing (perhaps even none, out of the camera).  A conversion with a lower number such as 560nm or 590nm has more colour in the image and is suitable for either colour or B&W IR but requires processing.

Not all lenses are suitable for infrared photography.  Many perform flawlessly but many have “hot spots”, a circle of diffusion and flare in the centre of the image.   Some lenses are also OK at wider apertures but have hot spots when stopped down.  There are a few guides to this online such as this one from Kolari or this one from Life Pixel, but you can also easily test your lenses yourself (with either an IR camera or R72 filter).

Processing is an important part of creating infrared images, though most people seem to take a relatively minimalist approach.  So while I have generally taken a complex approach to processing using Lightroom and Photoshop, I decided to see what I might get with relatively quick processing just in Lightroom.

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This is what you see in your camera without a custom profile or as the RAW file in Lightroom without any processing.

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This is the change from applying a custom Lightroom profile made using the Adobe DNG Profile Editor, as described here, then making a few minor changes to Temperature and Tint.  This is useful because Lightroom and Camera RAW by default give you a constricted colour range to play with for infrared images.  It is not necessary for Capture One.  This is similar to what you see in your camera with a custom profile there.  (Actually I did not do this in processing this image but clicked the White Balance Selector on foliage instead.  For this image, it provided a similar result.)

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Beijing Garden, Canberra, 2022.

I created this just using Lightroom. 

Apart from the custom white balance, I adjusted some hues in HSL, I played with some settings in Calibration, I optimised individual colour channels in curves, and I made some adjustments to shadows with colour grading.  I’m not suggesting a recipe; I made some adjustments I thought appropriate at the time and I might do completely different things with a different image or at a different time.

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This is the result of a quick B&W conversion in Lightroom.  I usually do my conversions in CaptureOne and Photoshop is also powerful, though may be more complex.

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Beijing Garden, Canberra, 2022.

This is another one from the same place on the next day.  We’ll get to Photoshop soon and one of the things you do in Photoshop with infrared images is swapping channels.  There’s a way to get a profile in Lightroom that does this so I was able to incorporate a red/blue channel swap in this image.  Such a profile is complex to set up, though you can read of this process or purchase swap profiles here.

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Ducks and Ducklings, Mt Ainslie, 2021.

This is an image from out the back of where I live, during a COVID lockdown.  Processed entirely in Lightroom except for neutralising the colour of the water at the bottom in Photoshop, because even with recent Lightroom improvements, masking in Photoshop is much better (Capture One was also possible).

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Carillon in early Spring, Canberra, 2021.

I recently tried processing infrared images in Capture One (which I have been also using for three years now).  It has very powerful capabilities for adjusting colours and masking, and has layers.  It’s better than Lightroom in many ways though channel swapping is not offered and Photoshop is more powerful for this purpose but can be much more complex.  (However, channel swapping is possible.  You can select, say, a blue 120 degree third, make the maximum -30 degrees hue shift four times, do the same for red (except +30) and save as a preset.)

The above image and the next two are processed in Capture One.

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Bushland on Mount Ainslie, 2021.

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Kangaroo on Mount Ainslie, 2021.

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Kangaroos on Mount Ainslie, 2014.

This was one of the first images I took with my old IR camera.  All the following images are from that camera and also half the preceding ones.  The image you end up with is more important than the camera you take it with.

All images from the one above down were primarily processed in Photoshop.

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Grand Canyon by Helicopter (IR), 2014.

Infrared is good for aerial images because it cuts through the haze, even before any processing.

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Zion Canyon (Mono) (image is actually near Zion Canyon), 2014.

Infrared can also be good for monochrome.  This was processed in Nik Silver Efex Pro but in the last couple of years I have gone to using Capture One.

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Louisiana Bayou Monochromes, 2014.

IR can facilitate deep blacks and high drama in mono.

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Louisiana Bayou Monochromes, 2014.

Photographing people can be interesting in infrared.  Easier perhaps in mono; colour image can require delicate tweaking.

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Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail, 2015.

All of these later images were mainly processed in Photoshop, but what you can do there depends on what you start with.  It’s advantageous to process the images first in Lightroom (or ACR) and you can do this in a number of different ways which each led to a different set of possibilities in Photoshop.

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Waimea Canyon and Na Pali Coast from Above (IR), 2015.

Though some people always process their images the same way, for me there is no set way of doing this, in Photoshop, or in Lightroom or Capture One.  It seems as though each time I process an image I think of a new way to do it..

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Taxi! Taxi!, 2015.

So I’m not providing any recipes because I don’t believe in them and don’t use them.  The key is to look at the essence of each image and creatively explore its potential.

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Kipahulu/ Haleakala National Park, 2015.

In Photoshop, the first thing to do is often channel swapping, usually red and blue channels.  But there are lots of things you can do with channel swapping and you can also combine different effects with layers and masks.

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Kipahulu/ Haleakala National Park, 2015.

Then I may use a Hue/ Saturation layer to adjust or change individual colours.

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Oonartra Creek IR, 2015.

I may use a Black and White adjustment layer in luminosity mode to intensify individual colours.

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Dream Lemurs, 2015.

I may make some tweaks with a Selective colour layer.

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Ocean Harbour Dreaming, 2015.

I may also make a range of adjustments using luminosity masks (for which I use TK Actions though there are other alternatives that may be less complex).

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Ocean Harbour Dreaming, 2015.

Of course, you don’t need to use the most complex method possible.  Simple methods are fine if they work for you (and complex methods may not).  I do think it’s important though to always be experimenting and learning….

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Cazneau Tree, Brachina Gorge and Edowie ruins (IR), 2016.

There is potential technical complexity in processing infrared images but it will not work if it becomes just a technical exercise.  It’s the image that you create that is important, not the process you used to create it.  Whether you spend a lot of time doing complex things is ultimately irrelevant, the objective is simply to create Great Art.

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Flinders Ranges Monos 3 IR, 2016.

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Cazneau Tree, Brachina Gorge and Edowie ruins (IR), 2016.

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Parachilna Ruins (IR), 2016.

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Return to Adelaide (IR), 2016.

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Yaxha and Topoxté (IR), 2016.

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Tikal Monochromes, 2016.

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Salton Sea (IR), 2016.

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Salton Sea Monochromes, 2016.

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Sculpture Garden, NGA, 2016.

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KL to KK (Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu), 2019.

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Mount Tamborine, 2021.

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Ashoka (he’s actually a red Burmese), 2021.

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I have deliberately refrained from giving detailed methodology and screen shots partly because the article would get too long but more because I think it’s counter-productive.  There is no correct way of doing this and your own individual approach is for you to discover.

I will however, supply a couple of links for further reading.  You can find more with web searches:

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Monochromes from Istanbul (2)

7 to 8 October 2018, Istanbul (Constantinople), Turkey.

Links go to colour posts (with more information and historical context). If an image does not have a link, the preceding one applies.

Click on any image to see it larger (if on a PC at least).

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This is Monochromes from Istanbul, last was from Constantinople. There are more Ottoman images in this one, though there are still East Roman images.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Basilica Cistern, Black and White, Bosphorous, Constantinople, Hippodrome, History, Istanbul, Landscape, Monochrome, Photography, Street photography, Travel

Basilica Cistern.

Blue Mosque and Basilica Cistern.

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Medusa head.

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The other Medusa head.

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Galata Tower.

Bosphorous Cruise.

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Cihangir Mosque.

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Dwellings of the local population.

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Dolmabahçe Palace.

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Camlica Mosque.

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Vahdettin Pavilion.

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An interesting architectural assembly at the water’s edge.

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Anatolian Fortress.

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Rumeli Fortress.

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Rumeli Fortress.

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Beylerbeyi Palace Bathing Pavilion.

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Büyük Mecidiye Mosque (Ortaköy Mosque).

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Probably not a palace.

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Kuleli Sahil.

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Can’t identify this but looks old, perhaps even from East Roman times.

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Kuz Kulezi (Maiden’s Tower).

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It’s an Indian!

Islamic Museum and Hippodrome.

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Doorway to another place and time?

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Street-side displays.

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Top of the Blue Mosque.

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The Obelisk of Theososius and some minarets of the Blue Mosque.

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The Serpent Column in the front and the Obelisk of Theodosius in the rear.

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A family sitting on a low fence, with Hagia Sopha in the background.

Monochromes from Constantinople

7 to 8 October 2018, Istanbul (Constantinople), Turkey.

Links go to colour posts (with more information and historical context). If an image does not have a link, the preceding one applies.

Click on any image to see it larger (if on a PC at least).

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Hagia Sophia.

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Passageway to Mezzanine Floor, Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia.

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Looking down on the main hall and up to the main dome.

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Closeup of Christ Pantocrator (or the all-powerful) from the Deesis Mosaic.

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The Comnenus mosaic, dating from 1122, shows John II Comnenus (Emperor 1118 to 1143), Virgin Mary and Christ Child, and Empress Irene (from Hungary).

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The Empress Zoe mosaic, from the 11th century, shows Constantine IX Monomarchus (Emperor 1042 to 1055), Christ Pantocrator and Empress Zoe. .

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Mysterious inscription just below a marble hand rail.

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Remarkable marble panelling.

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Graffiti on a marble hand rail.

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Heading down to the ground level again.

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Evidence of differing building projects in different eras.

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Looking up at the main dome.

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Mihrab, Mingar and Apse.

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Looking up at old Christian and later Islamic decorations..

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The Vestibule Mosaic.

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Central part of bronze door from Hellenistic Temple of Tarsus.

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Altar of the Hagia Irene.

Topkapi Palace.

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Inside Hagia Irene.

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The gateway to the Topkapi Palace.

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Views of the Bosphorous.

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Kara Mustafa Pasha Pavilion.

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Mother of pearl inlay wall decorations.

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Mother of pearl inlay wall decorations.

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A small viewing platform..

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Baghdad Kiosk.

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Looking south, beyond the Bosphorous at the Sea of Marmara.

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Palmyran funerary reliefs.

(Istanbul Archaeology Museum).

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Aphrodite removing her sandal.

(Istanbul Archaeology Museum).

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Ring-necked parakeet.

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A surviving fragment of Roman-era construction.

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Night shopping.

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Hagia Sophia at night.

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Looking up at one of the side domes.

Blue Mosque.

Blue Mosque and Basilica Cistern.

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Looking up at one of the side domes.

Blue Mosque.

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Looking out of Blue Mosque towards Hagia Sophia.

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Islamic Museum and Hippodrome

Istanbul, 8 October 2018.

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(Click on any image to see it in a larger size, if you are on a PC at least.)

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Archaeology, Architecture, Constantinople, Hippodrome, History, Islamic Museum, Istanbul, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Travel

It’s an Indian!

All kitted up to travel, but no external gear lever. How can that be? (Indian was the first US motorcycle manufacturer, dating from 1901 until 1953 when they went bankrupt. I hadn’t realised Indians have been in production again since 2014).

(In the first images, we are walking back from the ferry ride in the last post).

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Inside a spice shop with some curious teas….

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Walking alongside an ancient wall.

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The ancient debris beside the road may be stray remains from the Great Palace of Constantinople.

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A closer look at some of the curious ancient debris.

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Two women walking beside an ancient wall.

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Doorway to another place and time?

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I presume this is from an entrance arch to a mosque, perhaps Hagia Sophia.

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Street-side displays.

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A North African Koran from the 13th century.

(We are now in the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts).

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A Koran from the Mamaluk period of Egypt, c. 1380.

(Egypt was conquered by the Ottoman Empire in 1517).

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An illustrated book from the Timurid Empire 1370-1507.

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A Koran from the Safavid period in Shiraz (Persia), 1591-1592.

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Kaaba door cover, Ottoman period, 19th century.

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Koran, Ottoman period, 1526.

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Double wooden doors, Karaman, early 15th century.

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Top: Wooden window shutters, Konya, early 14th century.

Bottom: Cenotaph and coffin, Anatolian Seljuk period, 1521.

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Illustrated book, prepared by Zubdet’ut Tevarih for Sultan Murad III, 1583.

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This is a view from a balcony of the museum, looking past the Obelisk of Theodosius (and the Hippodrome) to the Blue Mosque.

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Top of the Blue Mosque.

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Remains of some of the terracing around the Hippodrome, now below ground level.

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This is what the remains of the Hippodrome looked like in 1600. It was already in ruins by the time the Ottomans invaded in 1453. Constantinople never really recovered from its sack by the Latins of the Fourth Crusade in 1204.

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This is what the area looked like in East Roman times. In front of the Hippodrome is the massive Great Palace. This included protected walkways for the Emperor to attend Hagia Sophia (far right) and the Hippodrome.

You can also get a better idea of the shape of the Hippodrome here. It had a U-shape with terraced seating that could accommodate 30,000. There were entrance/ exit lanes at one end and participants could race laps around the long thin spina in the centre. Though the Hippodrome was never built over, its stone was used as material for other buildings.

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Near the entrance gate end, looking towards the Obelisk of Theososius and the Walled Obelisk, which lay along the spina.

Originally there were also many other statues of gods, animals and heroes. For example, the Venetians looted four gilded copper statues of horses, which were incorporated in the facade of St Mark’s Basilica in Venice. The original level for the Hippodrome is two metres underground.

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Looking now in the other direction, towards Hagia Sophia.

The chariot races were very popular and the crowd divided into blue and green factions, which could make crowds of English football hooligans look very tame indeed. In 532, the factions united in riots, the Nika riots, that burned much of the city. The main precipitating cause was high taxation due to Justinian’s wars. In the end, Justinian paid off members of the blue faction just as the assembled factions were electing a new Emperor and then sent in General Belisarius with the army, who sealed off the entrances to the Hippodrome and massacred all who remained, said to be around 30,000. The East Romans had a different concept of democracy in those days. The blue and green factions were never as powerful again.

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The Obelisk of Theososius and some minarets of the Blue Mosque.

Emperor Theodosius brought this obelisk to Constantinple in 390. He cut it in three and only the top third survives. It was originally at the Temple of Karnak in Luxor from the reign of Thutmose III at around 1490 BC.

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In its day, the Hippodrome was alive with excitement, with thousands of spectators watching chariot races, with teams of four hippos thundering around towing their chariots. It was quite dangerous as riders could fall off their chariots and be trampled by the hippos or be dragged behind, tangled in the reigns.

The Hippodrome was about 450 metres long and 130 metres wide. Races were usually for seven laps and of course, all the turns were hairpin turns which must have created its own opportunities for carnage.

Hippos hence Hippodrome. Not hippopotami though, hippos is the Greek word for horse. (Hippopotami are actually water horses though I don’t recommend trying to ride one).

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Archaeology, Architecture, Constantinople, Hippodrome, History, Islamic Museum, Istanbul, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Travel

Looking up to the top of the Walled Obelisk.

This is not an Egyptian obelisk, it was built by Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus in the tenth century. It was originally covered in gilded bronze plaques but these were looted by Latin troops of the Fourth Crusade.

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The Serpent Column in the front and the Obelisk of Theodosius in the rear.

We are near the U-shape at the end of the Hippodrome, looking back along the line of the spina, and the minarets in the distance are from Hagia Sophia. The Serpent Column marks one of the two turning points at each end of the spina.  Its base (not shown) is at the original ground level of the Hippodrome.

The Serpent Column was originally erected in Delphi in 478BC to commemorate the victory of an alliance of Greek city-states against Persia at Plataea. This was the final land victory and the Persians never invaded the Greek mainland again.

Constantine brought it to the Hippodrome. It had three snake heads radiating out from the top. Originally there was a golden tripod and a golden cauldron surmounting it but they were removed to fund a war about a hundred years after it was erected in Delphi. It survived with the snake heads until about 1700, when it was thrown down and the heads broken off. Part of one of them survives in the Istanbul Archæological museum.

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A family sitting on a low fence, with Hagia Sopha in the background.

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Topkapi Palace

Istanbul, 7 October 2018.

(Click on any image to see it in a larger size, if you are on a PC at least.)

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Archaeology, Architecture, Art, Constantinople, Hagia Irene, History, Istanbul, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Topkapi Palace, Travel

Altar of the Hagia Irene.

From Hagia Sophia we headed off to the Topkapi Palace.  On the way we visited the Hagia Irene, even older than Hagia Sophia.

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Inside Hagia Irene.

These days it is little more than a shell, though it does have relatively recent seating and is used for concerts.  It apparently has very good acoustics.

It was the first church built in Constantinople and was completed by Constantine before the end of his reign in 337.  It was then the prime church of Constantinople until Hagia Sophia opened in 360.  It burnt down during the Nika Revolt in 532 and was rebuilt by Justinian by 548.  It was later damaged by an earthquake in 740 and restored by Constantine V.  It wasn’t converted into a mosque during Ottoman times, but was instead used as an arsenal until the nineteenth century.

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Some faint traces of artworks, probably dating to an iconoclastic period in the eighth century.

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Ancient arches.

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A section of ceiling.

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We are now at the gateway to the Topkapi Palace.

The Topkapi Palace is the Ottoman Palace, not to be confused with the Roman Imperial Palace or Great Palace, which was massive and ajoined both Hagia Sophia and the Hippodrome but has now largely disappeared.  Construction started on the Topkapi Palace in 1459 and it was rebuilt after an earthquake in 1509 and a fire in 1665.   It was the main seat of government and residence of the Sultans in the 15th and 16th centuries and after wards slowly lost importance.  It became a museum in 1924.

Unfortunately, photography was not allowed in the Sultan’s residence, harem and political chambers, so I am not able to show you the most spectacular views there.

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After passing through those areas, we come out to views of the Bosphorous.

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Looking down on the Sultan’s Gardens (no doubt very different in their day) and north in the direction of the Black Sea.

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Kara Mustafa Pasha Pavilion.

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The same pavilion, looking in the opposite direction.

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Mother of pearl inlay wall decorations.

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A small viewing platform.

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Baghdad Kiosk.

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Revan Kiosk.

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Looking south, beyond the Bosphorous at the Sea of Marmara.

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Chariot relief, Cyzikus (Greek town on the south bank of the Sea of Marmara), 6th century BC.

(We are now visiting the Istanbul Archaeology Museum).

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Letter from Hittite King Hattusili III to Akkadian Emperor Kadasman-Enlil II (based in Babylon), proposing war with Egypt.

In 1274BC Hattusli’s father Muwatalli III fought the battle of Kadesh against Egyptian Pharaoh Ramases II.  This was the largest chariot battle in history with 5,000 to 6,000 chariots.  The result of it is not clear though it did head off an attempted invasion of the Hittite Empire. 

This letter would have been early in Hattusli’s reign (which started from 1267BC, though it must have been at least 1263BC, the start of Kadasman-Enlil’s reign) and he probably never went to war with Egypt.  Instead, Kadasman-Enlil restored relations with Egypt with a dynastic marriage and Hattusli negotiated the Eternal Treaty or Treaty of Kadesh with Egypt, which Rameses ratified in 1258BC.  This is the earliest known peace treaty and also survives in the versions of both sides.

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Palmyran funerary reliefs (200-273AD).

Palmyria was a Roman client state based in Syria that at one time stretched from Asia Minor to Egypt.  It was incorporated into the Roman Empire in 272 after the unsuccessful revolt of the Empress Xenobia.

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Aphrodite removing her sandal.

(Roman 1st to 2nd century but copy of Classical Greek original).

I was impressed by the informality and realism of this statue.  Of course, in ancient times it would have been painted.

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Personal seal.

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These ring-necked parakeets are descended from recent aviary escapees.

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A surviving fragment of Roman-era construction.

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Freighter on the Bosphorous.

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Ancient walls, don’t know the provenance.

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And after dinner, it was time for some shopping….

. Archaeology, Architecture, Art, Constantinople, Hagia Irene, History, Istanbul, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Topkapi Palace, Travel .

.Archaeology, Architecture, Art, Constantinople, Hagia Irene, History, Istanbul, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Topkapi Palace, Travel .

.Archaeology, Architecture, Art, Constantinople, Hagia Irene, History, Istanbul, Landscape, Photography, Street photography, Topkapi Palace, Travel .

State Museum of Arts,Tashkent

Tashkent, Uzbekistan, 6 October 2018.

(Click on any image to see it in a larger size.)

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On our last day in Tashkent we had some spare time before catching the plane and chose to visit the State Museum of Arts.

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Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Reconstructed face of Neanderthal boy, Teshiktash Cave, Surkhandaraya region.

There was also a Neanderthal skull, 100,000 years old, from the same location.

. Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Flint tools from 4th Millennium BC, Bukhara region.

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Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Rock carvings, 3rd Millennium BC.

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Jar handle in the form of a goat, 5th to 4th millennium BC.

This image and the next two are images of objects from the Amudarya Treasure.  The originals are gold but these are replicas.  In 1880, Captain F.C. Burton happened upon some Afghan merchants being attacked by bandits in the roads of what is now Northern Pakistan, and drove off the bandits.  One of the merchants later showed Burton some items he had and Burton was most intrigued so purchased one.  Burton later showed it to Major General Sir Alexander Cunningham, Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India, whose jaw hit the floor.  Cunningham correctly identified it  as a a fine example of Achæmenid Persian metalwork, from a period when the Achæmenid Emprire stretched from Egypt to the Indus Valley.  Together with Sir Augustus Wollaston Franks, a curator of the British Museum, Cunningham scoured the markets of Pakistan and Northern India for several months and succeeded in purchasing 170 items from the hoard.  They are now in the British Museum.  The treasure had been found on the northern bank of the Amyu Darya River (the Oxus in Classical times), in what is now Tajikistan.

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Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Priest, 5th to 4th millennium BC.

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Bracelet with Griffins, , 5th to 4th millennium BC.

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Ancient individual with Central Asian headgear (didn’t record the label for this one).

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Coins of Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, 3rd to 2nd centuries BC.

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Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Solar Deity, 1st to 2nd centuries AD, Fayaztepa, Old Termez, Southern Uzbekistan.

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Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Buddha with monks, 1st to 3rd century AD.

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Cover from reliquary vessel, 3rd to 4th centuries AD, Kara-Tepa, Old Termez, Southern Uzbekistan.

. Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Hunting scene, mural painting, 7th century AD, Varakhsha, Ancient Sogdian city near Bukhara.

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This is a copy of one of the world’s oldest Korans.  We saw the original at the start of the trip in Barakh-khan Madrasah (in Tashkent).  Photography is not permitted of the original one.  In either case, it is huge.  The original supposedly dates back to the 630s but testing indicates an early 8th to early 9th century date.

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Glazed ceramic, Samarkand, 10th century.

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Glazed ceramic, Samarkand, 11th century.

. Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Ceramic dish, 10th to 12th Centuries.

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Glazed ceramic, Samarkand, 12th century.

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Armour of one of Timur’s soldiers, 14th to 15th centuries.

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Glazed ceramic, Samarkand, 15th to 16th centuries.

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Chain mail armour, shield and sword, Bukhara, 18th to 19th centuries.

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Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Embassy from Khiva, in Tashkent, early 19th century.

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Nineteenth century door from Khiva.

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Nineteenth century door from Bukhara.

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Nineteenth century door from Tashkent.

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Military uniform, Bukhara, 1861-1865.

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Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Siege of Samarkand, 1868.

Russia occupied Samarkand in 1868, which had been held by Bukhara.  The Russian army then left to pursue the Bukharan army, leaving a small force behind to hold Samarkand.  A combined Bukharan/ Kokand force then laid siege to Samarkand.  This is what is shown here.  The besiegers withdrew when the main Russian force returned.

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“Bazaar in Samakand”, 1897.

. Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

“Bibikhonum Square”, Samarkand. 

(See here for my post on its restored appearance).

. Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

“The street of a Central Asian city”, 1896.

. Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Decorative embroidery, late nineteenth century, Tashkent.

. Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Saddle, Namangan, Ferghana Valley, late 19th century.

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Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Emir’s horse-blanket, 1911-1912.

. Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Jewellery, early 20th century.

. Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan. .

Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Gidjak and Rubab (traditional instruments), 1978.

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That was the last post on Uzbekistan, apart from monochrome conversion posts to follow.  Particular thanks to Advantour who organised a wonderful custom tour for us at a reasonable price.  There have been 22 posts with 600 images and 15,000 words.  I have updated the index of posts in the Trip Itinerary.

Ulugh Beg and Afrasiab, Samarkand

Samarkand, Uzbekistan, 4 October 2018.

(Click on any image to see it in a larger size.)

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This post is from out last day in Samarkand.

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Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

Young woman extracting strips of bark from branches of young mulberry trees.

We visited a traditional paper mill in the village of Koni Ghil, just outside Samarkand.  Paper making in Samarkand dates back to 751AD when the Abbasid general Abu Muslim defeated a Tang Dynasty army with the aid of the Tibetan Empire and the defection of Karluk mercenaries who were over half of the Tang army.   They took many prisoners, some of whom then introduced paper making to the region.  This replaced the use of papyrus and became an export industry to the rest of the Arab world.  The paper-making tradition was lost following the Russian takeover in the nineteenth century and it has been recently recreated. 

(China retreated from the region soon after the Battle of Talas but not due to that, rather due to the An Lushan Rebellion which started in 755.)

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The strips of bark are next boiled for four or five hours.

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They are then pounded to a pulp by a trip-hammer powered by this water mill.  Then they are pressed and dried and finally polished with an agate stone for a smooth finish.

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A local woman welcoming us to the small museum for the Ulugh Beg Observatory.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

Inside the museum, a model of the observatory built by Ulugh Beg in the 1420s.

At the top front of the building is the viewing hole of the astrolabe inside.  The smaller structure on top of the building appears to be a sextant able to rotate, for less precise observations at flexible angles. 

The site is close to the ancient city of Afrasiab (prior to the existence of Samarkand).  There was another observatory here as early as 840AD, of which no trace remains.  Although Afrasiab was the capital of the Sogdians, in the ninth century they had been taken over by the Samanids, based in Bukhara, who featured in a brief renaissance of science and culture, unmatched in the world at that time.  

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Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

Inside this 13th century building was a meridional arc, or astrolabe, aligned north-south, for celestial measurements.  Since they took measurements using 60 degrees instead of the full 90 degrees available, it is also a sextant.  This is clearly not a working model because there is no viewing hole to the sky at the top.  I presume the little vertical windows on the back wall are for viewing the angle cast by the sun.  The rest of the building was rooms for scientists to confer and calculate, maybe even some to sleep in.

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The astrolabe as it survives.

In 1908 Russian Archaeologist Vyatkin discovered the location of the Observatory and excavated the remains.  In particular, he  uncovered the below-ground part of the massive astrolabe, as shown here.  Only the foundations remain of the rest of the building.

As well as being Lord of Transoxiana from 1409 to 1447, Ulugh Beg was a scientist and imported the best scientists available for the observatory. It could accurately measure the length of the year, the local time of noon each day, the altitude of a star and other planets, the period of planets, and eclipses. They estimated the length of the year more accurately than Copernicus subsequently did and the axial tilt of the earth as accurately as modern measurements.  They constructed an atlas of over 1,000 stars, Zij-i-Sultani, the first to be published since Ptolomey and including those stars but with more accurate measurements.  The atlas also included a sine table accurate to six places from 0 to 87 degrees, and to 11 places from 87 to 90 degrees.  The atlas survived for posterity because when the observatory was destroyed, scientist Ali Kushji fled to Constantinople and published it.  It was in use until the nineteenth century.

Ulugh Beg became Emperor when his father died in 1447, but only for two years of turmoil until he was deposed and then murdered by one of his sons.  The observatory was then destroyed by religious fanatics and the scientists fled.  

“Religions dissipate like fog, kingdoms vanish, but the works of scientists remain for eternity” – Ulugh Beg.

.Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

This is a view from outside.  The big black tube is the top of what remains of the astrolabe.  Perhaps that gives you a better idea of the scale of it.

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Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

… as does the view from here.  This also gives a sense of how high the arc of the original version would have climbed to reach the top of the third floor.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

A short distance away, we are near the Mausoleum of the Prophet Daniel (as in Daniel and the lions), sacred to Moslems, Jews and Christians.  Inside, the tomb is eighteen metres long because Daniel is supposed to be still growing inside it.  There are also other tombs of Daniel in seven other countries.  There was no-one stopping me taking photos inside but notwithstanding my religious cynicism, I did not do so because it was clearly a place of veneration for other people there.

Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

The tomb of Daniel is in the background to the right.  However, the line of hills in the background is the edge of the location of the ancient city of Afrasiab.  This was the capital city of the Sogdians, from the sixth century BC to 1220 AD when Genghis Khan razed it, though they were not independent for all of that period. 

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

Three hunters, probably Scythians, with horses and lions or leopards.

We next visited the Afrosiab Museum, a short distance from the Mausoleum of Daniel.  Russian archaeologists discovered Afrasiab in the 1880s and the museum includes some of their finds.  It also includes some seventh century murals from the royal palace, discovered in 1965 when building a road. They are from the time of King Varkhuman, and painted between 648 and 651, or shortly after 658.  He ruled a multicultural entity and was nominally a vassal to China but his polity did not last long as his palace was destroyed by the Arab general Sa’id Ibn Ithman between 675 and 677 CE and after that there were no kings of Samarkand.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

Here we see ossuaries and skulls, from the sixth to the eighth centuries.  Some of the skulls exhibit cranial deformations that I had previously associated only with the Maya, but that I discover were performed in many cultures.  This practice was brought to Sogdia by the Yuezhi, who were driven out of China and established the Kushan Empire in Central Asia and India in the early first century.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

Fresco showing the the arrival of a king and a princess to a country church or the arrival of a royal bride.  There are details from this fresco in the next four images.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

In most of these human representations, the eyes may have been later gouged out by Islamic Arabs.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

Birds (swans?), possibly for sacrifice.

.Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

Detail of camel saddle.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

Part of the saddle of the elephant.

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Ambassadors from Chaganian (south of Afrasiab, central figure) and Chach (modern Tashkent).

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Turkish (Turkic?) dignitaries, one of them is labeled as coming from Argi (Karashahr in modern Xinjiang).

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Left hand group: Tang Dynasty emissaries carrying silk and a string of silkworm cocoons;

Right hand group:  Sogdian chamberlains and interpreter introduce Tibetan messengers.

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Women on boats, probably local Turkic aristocrats copying the fashions of women in Tang China.

Tang Dynasty China was a major force in Central Asia during this period and Sogdia may have shared a border with them at this time (the border fluctuated).

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan .

.Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan .

.Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

A duck – a sacred bird of the Zoroastrians.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

Model of eleventh century kiln.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

Ceramic plate from 10th to 12th century.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

We are away from the museum now and still had some spare time so we headed for a small mosque in the country.  I do not know the name of the village.

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The minaret of the mosque.  I could remove the wires, but they were there.

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Some kind of restoration exercise in the grounds of the mosque.  I do not remember the details.

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This is the mosque and we are definitely not in the city.  It was small and unassuming and the locals, who were not expecting us, were polite and friendly.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

Later in the evening, since we were staying very close to it, I decided to go back for some night-time exposures of Gur Emir, Timur’s Mausoleum.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

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.Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan .

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Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

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La Brea Tar Pits

Los Angeles, California USA, 29 September 2016

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Archaeology, History, La Brea Tar Pits, Los Angeles, Photography, Travel

I had long been interested in visiting the La Brea Tar Pits.  It’s a place where oil oozes to the surface and forms asphalt.  This in turn becomes covered with water and leaves.  Animals wander in and become trapped and then predators come and they are trapped too.  This has been happening for up to 38,000 years and still happens to some extent today although the areas are now fenced off.  The bodies of the trapped animals are preserved in the asphalt.

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Archaeology, History, La Brea Tar Pits, Los Angeles, Photography, Travel

This is Harlan’s Ground Sloth ((Glossotherium Harlani).  It was a little under two metres tall and 700 kilos in weight.  The largest giant sloth was six metres long (including the tail) and weighed four tonnes.

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Archaeology, History, La Brea Tar Pits, Los Angeles, Photography, Travel

Antique Bison (Bison Antiquus).  It had a larger body, larger hump and larger horns than the surviving species.

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Archaeology, History, La Brea Tar Pits, Los Angeles, Photography, Travel

On the left and centre, American Mastadon (Mammut Americanus).  They had shorter legs, a longer body and tusks up to five metres long, as compared to modern elephants (not close relatives).  On the right is an extinct camel, Camelus Hesternus, a bit larger than modern camels and probably with one hump.  Camels evolved in the Americas and this species was likely exterminated by the arrival of humans.

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Archaeology, History, La Brea Tar Pits, Los Angeles, Photography, Travel

Colombian Mammoth (Mammathus Columbi), up to four metres tall and ten tonnes in weight.  Tusks could be up to five metres long.  It is not clear to what extent climate change or human hunting was responsible for their extinction.

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Archaeology, History, La Brea Tar Pits, Los Angeles, Photography, Travel .

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Archaeology, History, La Brea Tar Pits, Los Angeles, Photography, Travel

Large Game of Thrones puppy, or alternatively, Dire Wolf (Canis Dirus).  It was probably a little larger than the largest wolves today but had stronger jaws and bite.

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Archaeology, History, La Brea Tar Pits, Los Angeles, Photography, Travel

Big Pussycat or Naegele’s Giant Jaguar (Panthera Atrox), also known as the American Lion.  It was larger than both a Siberian tiger and a Sabre-Toothed Cat.  There is some doubt as to whether it was closer to today’s lions or jaguars.  Jaguars, though, have one of the strongest bites of all animals behind only some crocodiles and hippos, stronger than tigers, so if it was more like a jaguar it wold have had a fearsome bite.

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Archaeology, History, La Brea Tar Pits, Los Angeles, Photography, Travel

Sabre-toothed Cat (Smilodon Fatalis), about the same size as a African lion but much more heavily built.  It was an ambush predator and died out due to climate change.

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An exposed section of tar pit.

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Plymouth (Montserrat)

Montserrat, 23 September 2016

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Archaeology, Architecture, Eruption, History, Landscape, Montserrat, Nature, Photography, Plymouth, seascape, Travel, Volcano

We are about to enter into the high risk volcanic zone.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Eruption, History, Landscape, Montserrat, Nature, Photography, Plymouth, seascape, Travel, Volcano

You can only get in there when all is quiet and no volcanic activity is detected.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Eruption, History, Landscape, Montserrat, Nature, Photography, Plymouth, seascape, Travel, Volcano

All these images are from the abandoned capital of Plymouth.

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You have to go in with a trained operator.  The car must be parked facing the way out and the engine kept running at all times.  Pyroclastic flows can be lightning fast.  Entry has only been allowed since 2015 and permission will be withdrawn if there is more activity.

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Looking south from the old wharf.

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Government House, the residence of the Governor.

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This is how it appeared in 1915.

(By National Archives, UK – Public Domain).

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Archaeology, Architecture, Eruption, History, Landscape, Montserrat, Nature, Photography, Plymouth, seascape, Travel, Volcano

This is the Molyneaux Building, built in 1989 as the corporate office for Cable and Wireless and the Government’s Audit Department.  It was the only building built entirely of concrete and was the town’s tallest building at four stories high.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Eruption, History, Landscape, Montserrat, Nature, Photography, Plymouth, seascape, Travel, Volcano

Much of the centre of Plymouth is actually completely buried beneath the ash and debris and there have been several layers through different eruptions.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Eruption, History, Landscape, Montserrat, Nature, Photography, Plymouth, seascape, Travel, Volcano

This is the Flora Fountain Hotel, built in 1984 and named for the fountain in the middle of the circular wing you can see in the distance.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Eruption, History, Landscape, Montserrat, Nature, Photography, Plymouth, seascape, Travel, Volcano

Plymouth was evacuated in 1995, then abandoned and destroyed in 1997.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Eruption, History, Landscape, Montserrat, Nature, Photography, Plymouth, seascape, Travel, Volcano

No-one died in Plymouth itself but 19 people died further inland at Streatham Village in a pyroclastic flow in 1997, though the village was officially evacuated.

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On the left, the circular wing of the Flora Fountain hotel, the top floors.

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Top floor of the Police Station.

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This is the building behind the Flora Fountain Hotel.

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Government Building.

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After the 1997 eruption, about 7,000 people, two-thirds of the population, left Montserrat and  4,000 went to the UK.  The current population is around 5,000.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Eruption, History, Landscape, Montserrat, Nature, Photography, Plymouth, seascape, Travel, Volcano

An abandoned office.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Eruption, History, Landscape, Montserrat, Nature, Photography, Plymouth, seascape, Travel, Volcano

Many of the buildings on the hill in the background were not completely destroyed by the eruption but the whole area will be uninhabitable for many years.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Eruption, History, Landscape, Montserrat, Nature, Photography, Plymouth, seascape, Travel, Volcano

In early 1998, there was a bank robbery in the vaults of an abandoned bank in Plymouth.  The robbers made six or seven visits to the bank and got away with $US300,000.  Eight people were arrested a few months later and most convicted.  The banks at least initially would not recognise stolen notes with listed ID numbers that had become in circulation.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Eruption, History, Landscape, Montserrat, Nature, Photography, Plymouth, seascape, Travel, Volcano

Buildings above the inundation zone, still inaccessible.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Eruption, History, Landscape, Montserrat, Nature, Photography, Plymouth, seascape, Travel, Volcano

Some areas saw more than twelve metres of mud and debris.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Eruption, History, Landscape, Montserrat, Nature, Photography, Plymouth, seascape, Travel, Volcano

We visited an abandoned sugar windmill tower in Richmond Hill, just outside the exclusion zone.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Eruption, History, Landscape, Montserrat, Nature, Photography, Plymouth, seascape, Travel, Volcano

We were able to climb up and see the view.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Eruption, History, Landscape, Montserrat, Nature, Photography, Plymouth, seascape, Travel, Volcano

Just because buildings are just outside the exclusion zone does not mean they can be reoccupied.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Eruption, History, Landscape, Montserrat, Nature, Photography, Plymouth, seascape, Travel, Volcano .

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Archaeology, Architecture, Eruption, History, Landscape, Montserrat, Nature, Photography, Plymouth, seascape, Travel, Volcano .

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Archaeology, Architecture, Eruption, History, Landscape, Montserrat, Nature, Photography, Plymouth, seascape, Travel, Volcano

On the far left with the brown rooves is the Montserrat Springs Hotel, that we shall visit in the next post.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Eruption, History, Landscape, Montserrat, Nature, Photography, Plymouth, seascape, Travel, Volcano

These were once upmarket dwellings.

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(See previous post for details of the fascinating history of Montserrat).

(Trivia note:  Just passed 1,000 posts a few posts ago).