Located on the southern bank of the Yamuna River in Agra, India, the Taj Mahal is the perfect example of Mujhal architecture; if you ever thought the Taj Mahal's architect was influenced only by the Mujhal culture, you were wrong. The Taj Mahal's architect was influenced also by Indian, Persian, and Islamic cultures. In addition, the Taj Mahal could be considered the perfect example of how a man in love would go to preserve the remains of his deceased wife.
In 1631, Mumtaz Mahal, the wife of the emperor, Shah Jahan, died after giving birth to Shah's child; the baby was the couple's 14th child. Because Shah Jahan was devastated over the death of his wife, he wanted to house the remains of his wife in a special location.
The construction of the Taj Mahal began in 1632 and it took more than two decades to build. The Taj Mahal was built on the property of the emperor, across from the Yuman River; it was here, inside the Taj Mahal, were the remains of the emperor's wife were laid to rest. In addition, it is estimated that it took more than 10,000 workers from India, and 10,000 more workers from Persia, from Europe, and from the Ottoman Empire, along with a thousands of elephants, to finished the emperor's project; elephants were used to carry the tools and the tons of marble bricks used to build the mausoleum.
Its base measures approximately 240 feet in height; that's if one excludes the onion-shaped domes. Its full height is 561 feet. According to many scholars, or historians, the architect was Ustad Ahmad Lahauri, an Indian whose parents were Persian. He also created many other magnificent monuments throughout India. In addition, perhaps it was the architect's idea to use the shimmering white marble to build the Taj Mahal, or the emperor's idea. Nevertheless, its shimmering white marble changes colors every time the sunlight or moonlight hit its surface; for example, the Taj Mahal will turn pinkish during the morning, milky white during the evening, and, finally, golden during the night. According to many legends, the changing colors represent the changing moods of Mumtaz Mahal.
When its construction was completed, in 1652, according to one legend, Shah sent out his man to find the architect who built the Taj Mahal; Shah wanted to cut off the hands of the architect to ensure the architect would not make a similar mausoleum. However, many people believe that once the construction of the mausoleum was completed, Shah sent out his man to find the architect because he had planned to construct another mausoleum, next to the one dedicated to his wife, but his life took an unexpected turn that would prevent him from achieving his dream; he lived the last years of his life under house arrest in a tower near the majestic place he had ordered to build for his wife. After he passed away, one of his many sons buried him next to his wife. He died in 1666.
The ancient Egyptians built about eight pyramids, but the most important pyramids, until this day, are the the Pyramid of Khufu, the Pyramid of Khafre, and the Pyramid of Menkaure. The following information will highlight some of the exciting mysteries of the pyramids in Giza, as well as some important facts.
Although many of the egyptologists and archaeologists who had spent most of their lives analyzing the Pyramids of Giza had come to the conclusion that pyramids, and all the other temples built throughout ancient Egypt, were built for religious purposes, but there's one thing they haven't figured out yet: why is the Pyramid of Khufu the only pyramid with air shafts?
The explanation for the shafts on the Pyramid of Khufu is the following:
The pharaoh's soul would travel to the afterlife through the shafts—the shafts would permit the soul of the deceased to reunite with the stars. Texts written on the pyramids, from the fifth and sixth dynasty, describe how the pharaoh's soul would reunite with the stars; however, the pyramid texts don't mention any air shafts.
The ancient Egyptians left behind a large number of written records, but for some reason no hieroglyphics were found inside then pyramid of Khafre. Moreover, some egyptologists and archaeologists are not convinced that the pyramid was built only by slaves; in order to built such complex monuments, the ancient Egyptians needed skilled architects and workers.
Exactly how the ancient Egyptians built the pyramids in Giza remains a mystery. Equality important is the mystery of the Great Sphinx, and why the pyramid of Khafre gives the illusion of being taller than the two other pyramids.
Although the pyramid of khafre is shorter than the pyramid of Khufu, for some reason the pharaoh khafre wanted his pyramid to be taller. According to one myth, Khafre chose the highest spot on the Giza plateau to built his pyramid because it would give the pyramid the illusion of being taller. Nonetheless, the pyramid of Khufu is the taller of the Great Pyramids.
The Great Sphinx guards the front of the pyramid, but archaeologists are not sure if it was already there when the pharaoh Khafre gave the orders to have his pyramid built.
For many years, during the fifth and sixth dynasties, the ancient Egyptians continued to built pyramids, temples, and many other monuments, but the scale and the quality began to declined by the time Menkaure became a pharaoh.
One would assume the pharaoh ran out of gold when the pyramid of Menkaure was being built—the last pyramid in Giza to be build—because the pyramid was smaller; and yet, on the bottom levels and in the burial chambers, skilled workers used granite to build these sections of the pyramid, whereas the other pyramids were built with limestone.
When the pharaoh died, his pyramid was unfinished, and the construction project of the pyramid was abandoned, but the pharaoh's her, Shepseskaf, completed the project. Mudbrick was used to finish his pyramid.
One will never say that the Great Wall of China was built in vain. Nonetheless, in order to understand why the Great Wall of China was built, one will have to study why many civilizations built monuments to worship the sun, to bury the royal family, or to perform human sacrifices, whereas the Chinese built the Great Wall for protection.
In the year 221 B.C., Mongolians and Machus were attacking and invading parts of Northern China. To protect against these attacks, Qin Shi Huang convinced his people to construct a wall for protection against further attacks from the north. To accomplish this, the states of Qin, Zhao, and Yan united, and the Chinese started to build what would be the first section of the Great Wall, and this would be the first line of defense against the Mongolians and other enemies.
According to scholars and historians, soldiers and convicts helped build the wall. Perhaps for history students it is important to know that as many as 40,000 people died while the Great Wall was being constructed; however, each student will also find intriguing to hear what the ancient Chinese did with the bodies of the people who helped build the wall; many of the soldiers' and convicts' bodies were buried inside many sections of the wall.
For a period of twenty years, while Qin Shi Huang was the emperor of China, the Chinese kept extending the Great Wall. But when the emperor died, the Qin dynasty became to an end, and the Great Wall was forgotten; many parts of the wall began to deteriorate as new rulers seized control of northern China. For the new rulers, the Great Wall held no significance. However, when the Bei Qi kingdom and the Sui dynasty seized control of China, the Great Wall became important again. These new rulers decided to repair and extend the Great Wall—900 more miles of the wall was extended.
By the time the Yuan dynasty controlled not just the northern part of China but all of China, the Great Wall was about 5000 miles long. For the Yuan dynasty, the Great Wall would never stop future enemies from invading China, so they decided not to keep extending the wall, marking the end of the construction of the Great wall. Even though the Great Wall, for the Yuans, held no importance as a military defense, many soldiers were assigned to guard the Great Wall. In addition, during this era, many Chinese trade routes were being established. As merchants traveled on the Great Wall, the soldiers provided protection to the merchants from thieves.
According to scholars and historians, it took 20 years to build the original wall, and for over a period of 200 years, the Chinese kept extending and rebuilding the Great Wall. As new tribes, or rulers, seized control of northern China, each tribe kept extending and the Great Wall. In addition, Some sections of the walls were constructed with large limestone blocks and granite blocks, while other sections were constructed with wood and dirt.
Long before natural disasters, vandalism and neglect had destroyed large parts of the Colosseum of Rome, more than 50,000 Roman spectators admired the decorative elements surrounding the amphitheater. Those who had a high social rank had better seats, and probably drank from many of the drinking fountains and latrines located throughout the Colosseum. But perhaps its decorative elements and its marble seats was not what attracted the ancient Romans to visit the Colosseum. What attracted thousands of spectators was the events held in the Colosseum; for example, the men vs beast games, gladiators fighting one another till death, women fighting, and miniature ship naval battles; the Romans flooded the Colosseum many times to play this game.
But exactly who participated in the events, who built the Roman Colosseum, and what materials did the Romans use to built this massive amphitheater?
The majority of the participants who participated in the vicious events, or games, were slaves, prisoners of war, criminals, and, in rare cases, someone who simply wanted to prove he or she was strong enough to compete and strong enough to win. In addition, some gladiators were trained to fight wild animals, such as tigers, lions—thousands of wild animals were killed during the events.
Even though nobody knows who was the architect who designed the Colosseum of Rome, many historians think that the emperor Vespasian, from the Flavian dynasty, wanted the Colosseum to be a gift for the Roman citizens. Other historians assume the Colosseum was built to stage various forms of entertainment, while showing how wealthy and powerful the Roman empire had become by building one of the largest amphitheaters in ancient Rome.
Because the events held in the Colosseum were so bloodthirsty, the floor of the arena was never covered with concrete; it was covered with sand. The sand would soak up the blood of the wild animals, and the blood of the combatants killed during the events.
The Romans used stone and concrete to build the Colosseum. Its construction began around 70-72 A.D., and it took about a decade to build. About 100 games or festivals were held each year; however, it wasn't until the year 80 A.D. that Vespasian’s son, Titus, opened the Colosseum for the first time. It was also he, and his successor, Domitian, who completed the final stages of the construction of the amphitheater.
For centuries gladiators worn their armor, and trained very hard to stay alive, but the struggles of the Roman empire, and the change in public tastes put an end to the era of gladiators. Also, while the western Roman empire began to collapse, many earth quakes and lighting storms damaged vast portions of the Colosseum. And with the arrival of the middle ages, many church builders decided to use large chunk of stones from the Colosseum to build many churches; it is also believed that many of the stones used to build the Colosseum were also used to build other buildings in Rome.
People often think the Greek word "Acropolis" means buildings. In fact, in modern days, the Acropolis would be considered a building, but the correct Geek definition of Acropolis is "high city."
If you have been to Greece, you know that the famous Acropolis was built on the top of the hill; and if you haven't been to Greece, you probably want to know why many of the important monuments were built on the top of the hills.
Anyone without sufficient knowledge of ancient Greek history would think that the Acropolis was built on a higher ground because of the risk of floods; however, archaeologists believe many of the ancient Greeks monuments were constructed to honor the gods and goddesses, and perhaps, by having the temples built on higher grounds, the ancient Greeks thought they were close to the heavens. Furthermore, if any of the Greeks enemies were to attack, the Greeks would have been in advantage because from the temples they could easily spot enemies arriving. And by the time the enemies had arrived, people would have retreated to the temples to seek shelter and protection.
Apparently the ancient Greeks were not the first to have inhabited the Acropolis of Athens; the hill were the ancient Greeks built their first important temple, when the ancient Greeks were at the peak of their power, have been inhabited thousands of years earlier by Neolithic settlers.
While many of the temples, built by the ancient Greeks, were dedicated to the Greek gods and the Greek goddesses, most of the temples were dedicated mainly to the goddess Athena, especially the first temples built during the Archaic period.
Despite how powerful the ancient Greeks were, their empire was almost wiped out when the Persians invaded Greece in 4080 B.C.—the Persians destroyed all the temples.
After the defeat, and the destruction of the Acropolis, Pericles, the new ruler of ancient Greece, gave his people hope by initiating many building projects at the Acropolis. The reconstruction of the Acropolis lasted more than 52 years. The major projects included building the Parthenon, the Erechtheion, and the temple of Athena Nike. To clarify, those considered the great architects, sculptors and artists were also part of the project to rebuild the Acropolis.
Ancient Greece reached its peak when Pericles became ruler. He was a firm believer of democracy, he was interested in architecture, which is why he became an architect. His greatest work of art was the Parthenon. Thereafter, major transformations occurred in the Acropolis; i.e., when the Ottoman empire invaded Greece, they used many of the temples for shelter; the Parthenon was used to store their collection of weapons.
In addition, with the arrival of the 6th century A.D., many Greeks became Christians, while many church builders converted the ancient Greek temples into Christian churches. The Parthenon, the largest temple in the Acropolis, was dedicated to the Virgin Mary and became the city's cathedral.
Mysteries have always baffle many scientists, archaeologists, scholars, and people in general. If you don't believe this, travel to southern England, where you will find the mighty monument known as Stonehenge. How and why it was built remains a mystery. It is as if the builder, or the builders, had locked the blueprints and all of the written contents in a box, and forced to take the box, along with other important possessions, to an unknown location.
Although many mysteries are to remained unsolved, not all the mysteries regarding Stonehenge have remained unsolved. For example, it is a fact that Stonehenge was built before the ancient Egyptians built the first pyramid.
Stonehenge was built by Neolithic settlers in the town of Amesbury, located in Wiltshire, England. Even though many scholars and scientists don't know how the Neolithic settlers, without the aid of modern technology, horses, the wheel, etc, produced their monuments. It is a well-known fact that Neolithic settlers, like many early civilizations, spent day and night observing the sky.
For the Neolithic, the sun perhaps was their guide because for some reason Stonehenge is aligned with the midsummer sunset and with the midwinter sunset. Many people believe that Stonehenge was a giant clock or calender, which could explain why the monument was aligned with the midsummer and midwinter sunsets. Alternatively, Stonehenge was not a calendar or a giant clock; it was once a religious place to worship, or a place for burial and cremation, but never a place used for human sacrifice. Though archaeologists have reported that many of the skeletons found, near the site, showed signs of injury, not enough evidence to prove the Neolithic performed human sacrifices has been found. On the contrary, a large number of skeletons showed sings of illnesses. Many scholars have now agree with one thing: Stonehenge was not only a burial ground but also a place for healing.
In addition, scientists were perplex to discovered that the same stones that make up the inner ring of Stonehenge were also found in Preseli Hills in Wales; this location is about 200 miles away from where Stonehenge is located. If Neolithic settlers used primitive tools, possibly made from deer antlers, to construct monuments, how did each settler carry so many stones that weigh about 25 tons and were about 18 feet long without the help of machinery? For sure, it took a tremendous amount of work, and a tremendous amount of organization, to build Stonehenge.
Because no written records were left behind, many people have speculated that the massive rocks used—roughly 100 stones are still in placed, today, in a circular layout— to build Stonehenge were brought over by magic to the Neolithic, even the young warlock, Merlin, has been dragged into the story. Besides, many people have dug holes in the ground to look for treasures; no gold has been dug up. According to one legend, George Villiers, first Duke of Buckingham, in 1620, visited Stonehenge, looking for treasures but to his surprise he found none there.
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