The Imperial Tomb of Western Xia Empire Are Surprisingly Un-Imperial
The tomb are called "the pyramids of China" by locals. But anyone who has seen pictures of ancient Egypt's pyramids would be underwhelmed. About 30 kilometers (18.5 miles) to the west of the modern city of Yinchuan, lies the enormous burial complex of the Western Xia dynasty. The burial complex is quite large, with the tombs taking up 40 square kilometers, or 25 square miles. The sheer size of the complex is a testament to the power of its long-ago empire.
The Western Xia dynasty existed from the 1000s to the 1200s. Then it was annihilated by the up-and-coming conqueror, Genghis Khan, because the Western Xia refused to aid Genghis Khan in his conquest of Khwarezm (on the far left of the map in the image gallery). Genghis Khan systematically destroyed Western Xia cities, slaughtering its population, destroying all its written records, and razing its architecture and cultural artifacts for good measure. He did his job well: until the 1900s, historians were unaware that Western Xia had existed! When put into context the imperial tombs become impressive simply for surviving.
When first built, the tombs were more slightly more imposing. They were surrounded by two layers of walls, with watchtowers, pavilions, and halls for sacrifices. The mounds themselves had five or seven stories tall, and each story was covered with colorful glazed tiles. But the buildings are unrecognizable now. And with the tiles lost to time, the tombs' inner earth is exposed to the elements. The last survivors of an empire wiped from the map, slowly fading over the centuries, until they, too, are gone.
Hawaii Has A Protected Valley, Where Its Ancient Plants Are Preserved
For the past 1,500 years, Limahuli Valley on Kauai has been a green haven, a wilderness preserved to exist just as the native Hawaiians experienced it. It is home to plant life unlike anything found in the rest of the world, with many endangered plants thriving in the valley.
Before the arrival of Europeans, “log jams” formed by the accumulation of fallen trees and driftwood on rivers and streams were a common phenomenon across North America.
The most famous, and largest, was the Red River. At its peak, this log jam — known as the Great Raft — extended between 130 and 160 miles, clogging the lower part of the river in what is now Northwest Louisiana and Northeast Texas. It formed sometime around 1000 CE. Its great size made it a natural dam, forcing water over the banks of the Red River and into the valley, creating numerous large and deep lakes. A few even remain today, two centuries after European steam boats removed the Great Raft to allow boats to navigate the river.
The one you may have heard about, that is pretty widely agreed to be Viking, is L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland. But what I didn't know is there is a second potential colony mentioned in the Icelandic saga of Erik the Red. Intrepid explorer Thorfinn Karlsefn travels to a land called Hóp, where he finds grapes, plentiful supplies of salmon, barrier sandbars and natives who use animal-hide canoes. But not one has ever found Hóp. Unfortunately, the Icelandic sagas were not big on directions.
Now, an archaeologist is speculating that Hóp is in New Brunswick, south of L'Anse aux Meadows. The only area on the Atlantic seaboard that accommodates all the saga criteria is northeastern New Brunswick, the archaeologist argues, and particularly the Miramichi-Chaleur bay area. Northeastern New Brunswick is the northern limit of grapes. It has plentiful salmon, unlike more southern candidates like Maine or Massachusetts. It has barrier sandbars. And hide canoes were used by the Mi’kmaq people in the Miramichi-Chaleur bay area. Some evidence for Hóp's proposed site also comes from L'Anse aux Meadows, where the remains of butternuts and parts of linden trees have been found -- species which are native only to New Brunswick.
Rare Song Dynasty Bowl Sells For Record-Breaking Amount
This simple blue bowl, about 1,000 years old, sold at auction in late 2017 for $37.7 million dollars. That breaks the previous record for Chinese porcelain, $36.05 million, set in 2014 for a Ming dynasty wine cup which was sold to a Shanghai tycoon. This unassuming ru-ware bowl with a blue-green glaze and complex ‘ice crackle’ pattern was used for washing brushes. It was originally created for the imperial court during the Northern Song Dynasty, sometime between 960 to 1127 CE.
What makes the bowl so special is its rarity: ru-ware was made during only a short period, not exceeding twenty years, and few pieces survive today. This bowl is one of only four ru-ware pieces held in private hands.
In Wales, is a small village named Pontarfynach, meaning “the bridge on the Mynach”. But its name is a little bit of a misnomer: there are actually three bridges!
The original and the lowest bridge was built in the 11th century. When that was thought to be unstable, a second stone bridge was built over the gorge directly atop the original bridge. That was in the mid-1700s. The original bridge was not demolished; rather it was used to support scaffolding during construction. The third and the final bridge is an iron bridge constructed in 1901. Click through the image gallery to see the more pictures of the three bridges of Pontarfynach!
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By Lillian Audette
This blog is a collection of the interesting, the weird, and sometimes the need-to-know about history, culled from around the internet. It has pictures, it has quotes, it occasionally has my own opinions on things. If you want to know more about anything posted, follow the link at the "source" on the bottom of each post. And if you really like my work, buy me a coffee or become a patron!