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Ancient

The Mayan Countdown

It won’t be long now.  Just over 90 days until the end of the Mayan calendar arrives.  Normally such well publicized “apocalyptic” dates come and go without much serious notice from me.  My friends all warned me not to buy a ten thousand dollar computer software program in 1999, but I did; just wasn’t too worried about Y2K, and was, by that time, immune to the media hype which always swarms around such events.

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Ancient

“Chinese Atlantis” – the secret of the ancient flooded city of Shicheng

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Zhejiang China is proud of its amazing beauty by Qiandaohu Lake or the Lake of a Thousand Islands. This amazing place, unlike many others, was created by the hands of man and only 60 years ago. The fact is that a valley 150 km from Hangzhou was deliberately flooded – during the construction of a hydroelectric power station, which was supposed to meet the growing needs of the city. Under the water were two ancient cities, becoming a kind of Chinese Atlantis and preserving their secrets forever.

In place of the flooded valley, a man-made lake appeared. It has very pure water, which is used to produce bottled mineral water of the Nongfu Spring brand. The islands on the lake are covered with very beautiful dense forests and have already become a popular tourist destination, because each island is “dedicated” to one topic – there is “Island of childhood” and “Island of birds”, “Island of snakes” and “Island of castles”, there is also “Island of monkeys””.

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The once proud ancient city of Leo.

In 2002, in the depths of the lake, divers discovered two beautiful cities of antiquity, flooded with the valley in 1959: Shi Chen and Hye Chen. Once they stood near the foot of the Five Lions Mountain (Wu Shi). It is known that the history of the city of Shi Chen goes back centuries to almost a millennium. In 621, when the Tang Dynasty ruled China, a city was built that became the powerful political and cultural center of the province.

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Thousand Islands Lake

The city of Hye Chen – the “elder brother” of Shi Chen: it was founded in 208 AD by the Xinjiang River, became the center of business life when the Han Dynasty ruled China

As already mentioned, both cities and the entire valley were flooded by the Chinese government in 1959 during the construction of a hydroelectric power station. Together with the ancient cities, another 30 modern cities, almost a thousand villages and many thousands of hectares of agricultural land went under water.

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Artistic reconstruction of the city of Sichen

But the families that lived for centuries in the valley were resettled – almost 300 thousand people. And for 40 years no one remembered the ancient history of the flooded valley. So far, tourism officials have not begun to look for opportunities to attract tourists to these magnificent places. The head of the local tourism business hired divers to find out what is hidden in the waters of the man-made lake.

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Divers found that the ancient city was almost untouched by time.

In 2001, the first dives were completed. And they immediately brought interesting findings. The outer wall of the ancient city was discovered. So the Chinese government learned that the city of Shi Chen is intact.

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The city is like an underwater tale.

The city was not just intact – it practically did not suffer for 40 years, even wooden stairs and beams have been preserved. Fresh water has proven to be an excellent preservative. Research continued for 10 years – in 2011, finally, the ancient flooded cities were called important historical relics. The National Geographic magazine has splendid shots of Chinese Atlantis, which is like a beautiful underwater tale.

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Many secrets are kept by this flooded beauty.

And again, local authorities started talking about the fact that the valley and ancient cities need to be opened for tourists. To do this, they ordered and made a submarine pleasure boat. But almost immediately it became clear that this boat could create powerful underwater disturbances that would threaten the preservation of antiquities.

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Sometimes it even looks creepy.

There were other proposals: for example, it was proposed to build protective walls under water and gradually pump water from cities. But this would be an extremely expensive technique, in addition, threatening the destruction of ancient structures due to pressure drops. Most experts believe that the best solution today is to do nothing, because the technology is still far from perfect and human intervention threatens with unknown consequences.

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Local authorities propose banning sailing in order to save the city.

The authorities, of course, intend to preserve historical sights, but so far they do not see a sufficiently technological solution in this situation.

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The lake proved to be a great place to store ancient buildings.

In addition, it’s worth raising at least a small part of the ancient treasures from the water, as they immediately begin to collapse – it turns out that water for ancient cities turned out to be an excellent preservative. True, water can also destroy Zhi Chen – any powerful water currents will be detrimental to the thin walls of structures.

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The underwater city keeps its secrets.

In order to preserve the ancient relics, the authorities plan a number of measures: a ban on sailing and fishing on the lake, even the extraction of sand on the banks of Qiandaohu. Archaeologists around the world agree with such measures – because this will not only preserve relics, but also help to “open a window” in the history of China.

Now, on the lake and in the flooded cities, there is a real pilgrimage of divers – the only ones who can lively contemplate the beauty of the lake.

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The city of Shichen has become a real mecca for divers.

New projects are being developed to make the flooded ancient Shi Chen accessible to tourists. For example, the “Archimedes bridge” – i.e. subway tunnel. But now the development is at the research stage and the mysterious underwater world of flooded cities is available only to the elite.

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The ancient city is not accessible for tourists.

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Ancient

Mysterious frescoes depicting fantastic creatures found in Sahara

The Tassilin-Ager National Park has long attracted the attention of many archaeologists with its cave paintings, as it depicts many drawings that are of particular interest to researchers.

10 thousand years ago on this territory, lived people of which little is known. Now archaeologists managed to open the veil thanks to the found cave paintings. However, there are a number of images that cause researchers a number of questions.

Back in the mid-19th century, in the Sahara, scientists began to explore illustrations on stone. So, thanks to the cave paintings, the researchers were able to conclude that in prehistoric times the Sahara was not a desert.

In those days there were rivers, the animal world flourished, there was vegetation, and even heavy rainfall fell.

Also, archaeologists came to the conclusion that the civilization that once lived in the Sahara was on a par with the mighty peoples of Ancient China, India, Egypt. Then the desert began to advance, which evicted people from their homes. Despite the fact that people left, the cave paintings remained. So, the earliest drawings are at least seven thousand years old.

Most of all, historians were interested in images of people. Since most of them were depicted with a non-standard large head size, the work of artists of that era was nicknamed the “round-headed style”. The figures of people changed over time, but their heads remained round.

“The murals are placed so thoughtfully, and the figures are depicted in such strange poses that they make a strong impression. Seeing one of them in the first grotto, we were scared. The figure was about three meters high. She held an egg-shaped object in her raised hand,” researcher Henri Lot wrote.

Henri Lot, an archaeologist from France, was the first to discover incredible murals in the Sahara. He managed to find one of the largest prehistoric paintings, whose height was 6 meters. Henri Lot gave named it the “Great Martian God.” Specialists who study UFOs, looking at the picture, came to the conclusion that it depicts an astronaut in a spacesuit. However, according to scientists, the picture does not depict an astronaut, but a priest in clothing characteristic of the rituals.

Researchers also found drawings of humanoid and fantastic creatures. So, in one picture, the artist portrayed a man in a helmet that comes out of a disk-shaped object.

In addition, on the cave paintings you can find hybrids – an ostrich with the head of a lion, an antelope with the body of an elephant. Now researchers can only guess where the artists of that time were so imaginative.

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Ancient

The mystery of the disappearance of Sanxingdui culture

In 1929, a Chinese peasant was digging a ditch. Suddenly, his shovel turned a layer of earth with jade figures. It was luck, there were many figures. Most of them went into private collections, and of course, archaeologists became more active. The area was studied for a long time, but there were no more finds.

However, in 1986 there was a sensational event. Workers at a local brick factory accidentally discovered two huge pits filled with artifacts made from various materials – clay, jade, bronze, gold – about 1,000 pieces.

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Archaeologists began an intensive search around, and at the end, there was a lucky strike. Just thirty meters from the first, a second cache was found.

The artistic style in which bronze, ivory and gold objects were made was completely unknown to connoisseurs of ancient Chinese art.

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The contents of the caches turned out to be so unusual that from that moment, the name of the carried out locality was forever inscribed in the history of Chinese archeology.

The artistic style of these works has struck the whole world.

There were gold masks, axes and jade knives, many shells … and mysterious bronze heads with large slanting eyes and sharp ears.

Especially a lot of them were cast bronze products, and the manufacturing technology was amazing. For large objects, the ancient metallurgists used stronger alloys, for this, lead was added to the amalgam of copper and tin, at that time they already knew such subtleties.

Among the large artifacts there is a 4 m high tree and the largest bronze statue in the world, the height of which together with a pedestal is 2.62 m. The statue weighs 180 kg and has an unusual tiara on its head.

The carbon analysis which was carried out, allowed us to determine their age – it ranged from 3 to 5 thousand years.

What is Sanxingdui? Now that archaeologists have been working in these places for many years, it is clear that people lived in Sanxingdui long before Qin Shi Huang established the first imperial dynasty and created the famous terracotta army, and even before the era of the Battle of the Kings.

The settlement appeared here at the end of the Neolithic (the earliest finds date back to about 2800 BC) and continued to exist during the Early Bronze Age.

It reached its heyday in 2100-1400 BC, which corresponds to the so-called “kingdom of Shang-Yin” in traditional Chinese historiography, located in the Yellow River basin, that is, northwest of Sichuan, where Sanxingdui is located.

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In 1992, the Sanxingdui Museum was opened, where you can see all these artifacts.

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