Monday, November 15, 2010

Stunning Monuments From The Past

Sigirya - Sri Lanka

Sigiriya (Lion's rock)
Sigiriya (Lion's rock) is an ancient rock fortress and palace ruin situated in the central Matale District of Sri Lanka, surrounded by the remains of an extensive network of gardens, reservoirs, and other structures. A popular tourist destination, Sigiriya is also renowned for its ancient paintings (frescos), which are reminiscent of the Ajanta Caves of India. The Sigiriya was built during the reign of King Kassapa I (AD 477 – 495), and it is one of the seven World Heritage Sites of Sri Lanka.

Sigiriya may have been inhabited through prehistoric times. It was used as a rock-shelter mountain monastery from about the 5th century BC, with caves prepared and donated by devotees to the Buddhist Sangha. The garden and palace were built by King Kasyapa. Following King Kasyapa's death, it was again a monastery complex up to about the 14th century, after which it was abandoned. . The Sigiri inscriptions were deciphered by the archaeologist Senarath Paranavithana in his renowned two-volume work, published by Oxford, Sigiri Graffiti. He also wrote the popular book "Story of Sigiriya".

 Machu Picchu - Peru
Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu – is a pre-Columbian Inca site located 2,430 metres (7,970 ft) above sea level. It is situated on a mountain ridge above the Urubamba Valley in Peru, which is 80 kilometres (50 mi) northwest of Cuzco and through which the Urubamba River flows. Most archaeologists believe that Machu Picchu was built as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti (1438–1472). Often referred to as "The Lost City of the Incas", it is perhaps the most familiar icon of the Inca World.
The Incas started building the estate around AD 1400 but it was abandoned as an official site for the Inca rulers a century later at the time of the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire. Although known locally, it was unknown to the outside world before being brought to international attention in 1911 by the American historian Hiram Bingham. Since then, Machu Picchu has become an important tourist attraction and, since it was not found and plundered by the Spanish after they conquered the Incas, it is important as a cultural site.

 Dún Aonghasa - Ireland
Dún Aonghasa
Dún Aonghasa is the most famous of several prehistoric forts on the Aran Islands, of County Galway, Ireland. It is located on Inishmore at the edge of an approximately 100 metre high cliff.A popular tourist attraction, Dún Aonghasa is an important archaeological site that also offers a spectacular view. It is not known when Dún Aonghasa was built, though it is now thought to date from the Iron Age.T. F. O'Rahilly surmised that it was built in the second century B.C. by the Builg following the Laginian conquest of Connacht.
Dún Aonghasa has been called "the most magnificent barbaric monument in Europe."  The Proto-Celtic name, meaning "Fort of Aonghas", refers to the pre-Christian god of the same name described in Irish mythology, or the mythical king, Aonghus mac Úmhór.

Maiden Castle - England

Maiden Castle
Maiden Castle is an Iron Age hill fort 2.5 kilometres (1.6 mi) south west of Dorchester, in the English county of Dorset. Hill forts were fortified hill-top settlements constructed across Britain during the Iron Age. The name Maiden Castle may be a modern construction meaning that the hill fort looks impregnable, or it could derive from the British Celtic mai-dun, meaning a "great hill". The earliest archaeological evidence of human activity on the site consists of a Neolithic causewayed enclosure and bank barrow. In about 1800 BC, during the Bronze Age, the site was used for growing crops before being abandoned. Maiden Castle itself was built in about 600 BC; the early phase was a simple and unremarkable site, similar to many other hill forts in Britain and covering 6.4 hectares (16 acres). Around 450 BC it underwent major expansion, during which the enclosed area was nearly tripled in size to 19 ha (47 acres), making it the largest hill fort in Britain and by some definitions the largest in Europe.

Great Serpent Mound - USA
The Great serpent Mound
The Great Serpent Mound is a 1,330-foot-long, three-foot-high prehistoric effigy mound located on a plateau of the Serpent Mound crater along Ohio Brush Creek in Adams County, Ohio. Maintained within a park by the Ohio Historical Society, it has been designated a National Historic Landmark by the United States Department of Interior. The Serpent Mound of Ohio was first reported from surveys by Ephraim Squire and Edwin Davis in their historic volume Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley, published in 1848 by the newly founded Smithsonian Museum.
Researchers have attributed construction of the mound to three different prehistoric indigenous cultures. Based on the use of more advanced technology, including carbon dating and evidence from 1996 studies, many scholars now believe that members of the Fort Ancient culture built it about 1070 CE (plus or minus 70 years). There are still anomalies to be studied. Serpent Mound is the largest serpent effigy in the world.

Hadrian's Wall - Scotland

Hadrian's Wall

Hadrian's Wall is a stone and timber fortification built by the Roman Empire across the width of what is now northern England. Begun in AD 122, during the rule of emperor Hadrian, it was the first of two fortifications built across Great Britain, the second being the Antonine Wall in what is now Scotland. Hadrian's Wall is the better known of the two because its physical remains are more evident today.
Opinions differ, but the growing consensus is that the Wall was built as a readily defended fortification which clearly defined the northern frontier of the Roman Empire in Britain (Britannia). It would also improve economic stability and provide peaceful conditions in the frontier zone.

Royal mounds - Sweden
Royal Mounds In Gamla Uppsala
The Royal mounds is the name for the three large barrows which are located in Gamla Uppsala, in Sweden. According to ancient mythology and folklore, it would be the three gods Thor, Odin and Freyr lying in Kungshögarna or Uppsala högar (from the Old Norse word Haugr meaning mound or barrow). In the 19th and 20th centuries, they were speculated to hold the remains of three kings of the legendary House of Ynglings and where thus known by the names Aun's Mound, Adil's Mound and Egil's Mound. Today their geographical locations are instead used and they are called the Eastern mound, Middle Mound and Western Mound.
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