Emperor Nero really had a revolving dining hall, archaeologists prove


This video is called The Life And Death Of Emperor Nero.

From daily Haaretz in Israel:

Nero’s revolving restaurant really existed, archaeologists prove

Haaretz gets an exclusive look at the reopened dig of the infamous Emperor Nero’s rotating dining hall in Rome.

By Ariel David

July 1, 2014 | 10:10 AM

Dormice drenched in honey and poppy seeds as an appetizer.

Roast boar stuffed with live thrushes for the main course, focaccia with cheese and Spanish honey for dessert, and a finale of fresh oysters and grilled snails. All washed down with wine aged for a century.

That’s only part of the decadent menu that the satirical writer Petronius reports could be sampled at a typical banquet hosted by first-century Roman elites.

It’s easy to imagine even more exotic delicacies gracing the table of an emperor when visiting the remains of what archeologists believe was one of the most peculiar and sophisticated structures of antiquity: the revolving dining room built by the infamous Nero. First uncovered in 2009 by a team of French and Italian archeologists, the building is now undergoing excavations and will be visible to the public after October, when the dig ends.

Haaretz got an exclusive tour of the site last month, as well as insight into the archeological detective work that went into identifying the building.

Mystery: The platform that should have collapsed

When they started digging on an artificial terrace created by Nero’s successors on the north-east corner of Rome’s Palatine hill, researchers certainly hadn’t been looking for a precursor to the modern revolving restaurant.

The platform was built after 70 CE, shortly after Nero was toppled in a revolt. His successors, the Flavian dynasty, were moving to consolidate their rule by building a new palace on the Palatine, the traditional seat of imperial power in Rome.

Modern researchers had puzzled over the area because surveys showed the retaining wall was too thin to hold the artificial terrace: the whole thing should have collapsed.

“It was a mystery that needed to be solved,” says Francois Villedieu, the French archeologist who leads the dig. “There had to be something big underground holding it all in place.”

What they found was a huge puzzle: a round, 12-meter-tall tower, with a massive central pillar of four meters in diameter and 8 pairs of arches supporting two floors.

“There was no other ancient building like it, nothing to compare it to,” Villedieu recalls. The strata it occupied and the building technique dated the tower to Nero’s time. But whatever it was built to support had been razed to make way for the new palace and erase the memory of the previous ruler, reviled as a cruel, corrupt despot and megalomaniacal builder who allegedly fiddled while Rome burned down in 64 CE.

The only clues to the tower’s function, along the top of the upper arches, were lines of semi-spherical holes, filled with slippery clay.

Primitive ball bearings and water power

Archeologists were reminded of cavities, filled with similar lubricants, that were used on large ships and harbor structures to contain primitive ball bearings, on which moveable platforms were mounted to transport heavy loads.

But what was such industrial equipment doing in what would have been part of Nero’s elegant palace, the fabled D[omus aurea] – the Golden House?

It was then that researchers recalled a description of the emperor’s palace by the Roman historian Suetonius, who wrote that Nero’s “main dining room was round, and revolved continuously on itself, day and night, like the world.”

Historians had long thought that Suetonius had exaggerated his description and that the coenatio rotunda was the round, frescoed hall located in another part of the immense palace, on the opposite Esquiline Hill.

But the discovery by Villedieu’s team is set to change that view. The mysterious cavities in the structure are believed to have housed metal spheres that supported a revolving floor.

At the bottom of the tower, archeologists also found indications that a mechanism had been built into the wall. The metal parts had been ripped out to be reused, but calcite deposits on the surrounding stones suggest that the floor’s constant movement may have been powered by water channeled through a system of gears.

The Sibylline inscription

Further evidence comes from a coin minted by Nero, which shows a tower similar to the one uncovered with two smaller structures on the side, and a Sibylline inscription that describes it as “MAC AUG.”

That second word refers to Augustus, the title that all Caesars took. As for the first abbreviation, some scholars think it refers to the m” or market of Augustus. But others, including Villedieu, believe the tall and narrow building on the coin does not look like a market, and the writing should be read as celebrating the “machina” – the machine of Augustus.

The discovery generated much debate and skepticism among archeologists, so much that it took years for Villedieu to gather funding to continue the dig.

“We don’t have definitive proof, but we have many convincing clues,” Villedieu told Haaretz.

Now, thanks to a prize that the project won in France and with the support of Italian officials, she hopes to find the building’s facade and the other structures depicted on the coin.

Maria Antonietta Tomei, an archeologist and former Culture Ministry official who supervised the dig on the Palatine, said the discovery of the dining room somewhat changes our view of Nero.

The emperor is known mostly through the writings of historians who belonged to the aristocracy and opposed him for his populist economic policies in favor of the poor and the expropriation of lands that belonged to the upper class to build his golden palace, she points out.

“Nero has a terrible reputation but he was a very complex character,” Tomei told Haaretz. “He was not just a negative figure.” And now, in hew view, the mechanical and architectural sophistication of his revolving dining room highlight his passion for science and technology as well as for the arts and culture.

Paraguayan termites’ coup d’etat against coup d’etat president


This video says about itself:

Termites Attack Presidential Palace In Paraguay

12 May 2014

Architects say a termite infestation is threatening Paraguay’s presidential palace.

“They’re damaging the wood structure, the floors and the wooden covers, which support some parts of the palace,” architect Gustavo Glavinich said.

He said much of the iconic building’s west wing had been damaged.

Mr Glavinich also warned that other parts of the 19th-century building had not only been invaded by termites but also by bats.

“In 2012, we invested $5m (£3m) to save those parts of the palace which house the presidential office, the military cabinet, and the ceremonial room,” Mr Glavinich of the Public Works Ministry said.

But he warned that a lack of follow-up investment meant that other parts of the Palacio de Lopez been left to deteriorate.

The architect suggested taking immediate measure to tackle the termite infestation and to temporarily move the offices from the west wing to an annex.

The palace in the capital, Asuncion, is the seat of the Paraguayan government and home to the office of President Horacio Cartes.

Building work began in the 1850s under the direction of English architect Alonso Taylor, but the palace was not finished until 1892.

If the termites will manage to oust Horacio Cartes from the presidential palace, it would be the world’s first coup d’état by insects.

Horacio Cartes himself is in that palace due to a coup d’état by (oligarchic Right wing) humans. Elected President Lugo, accused of being too much on the side of poor people, was driven out by a coup d’etat, sharply condemned by elected governments in Latin America. Horacio Cartes is a member of the Colorado party, which used to be the party of infamous dictator Stroessner. Horacio Cartes has been accused of crimes several times, and spent time in jail.

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Martians did not build Egyptian pyramids, Mayan tombs


This video from the USA says about itself:

Orson WellesWar Of The Worlds – Radio Broadcast 1938 – Complete Broadcast.

The War of the Worlds was an episode of the American radio drama anthology series Mercury Theatre on the Air. It was performed as a Halloween episode of the series on October 30, 1938 and aired over the Columbia Broadcasting System radio network. Directed and narrated by Orson Welles, the episode was an adaptation of H. G. Wells‘ novel The War of the Worlds.

The first two thirds of the 60-minute broadcast were presented as a series of simulated “news bulletins”, which suggested to many listeners that an actual alien invasion by Martians was currently in progress. Compounding the issue was the fact that the Mercury Theatre on the Air was a ‘sustaining show’ (it ran without commercial breaks), thus adding to the program’s quality of realism.

Although there were sensationalist accounts in the press about a supposed panic in response to the broadcast, the precise extent of listener response has been debated. In the days following the adaptation, however, there was widespread outrage. The program’s news-bulletin format was decried as cruelly deceptive by some newspapers and public figures, leading to an outcry against the perpetrators of the broadcast, but the episode secured Orson Welles’ fame.

So, according to recent research, it is possible that long ago, simple forms of life could live on planet Mars.

However, there is no evidence (yet) that any simple living beings used that opportunity.

Still far less than zero evidence exists of not so simple beings, like the Martians described in H.G. Wells’ science fiction book War of the Worlds, living on the red planet or elsewhere in outer space and going to planet Earth.

From the Columbus Dispatch in the USA:

Archaeology | No evidence of aliens helping ancient cultures

Sunday January 26, 2014 10:20 AM

Did aliens visit Earth in ancient times? It’s possible.

The late Carl Sagan once argued that there was a “statistical likelihood that Earth was visited by an advanced extraterrestrial civilization at least once during historical times.”

A statistical likelihood is one thing. Is there any reliable evidence that any such thing ever actually happened?

None whatsoever.

So why do 2 out of 4 Americans believe there are signs that aliens have visited Earth in the past? I think there are two reasons. First and most fundamentally, when most people see a wonder of the ancient world, such as the Egyptian pyramids, they can’t imagine how our so-called primitive ancestors possibly could have built it.

Second, there are charlatans out there willing to take advantage of that lack of imagination by making exuberant claims that various cultural achievements in antiquity could have been accomplished only with the help of friendly aliens.

In the current issue of Skeptic magazine, documentary filmmaker Chris White shoots down a few of the most popular claims of past alien intervention.

For example, ancient alien enthusiasts find it unbelievable that Egyptians could have carved the huge stone blocks used to build the pyramids, especially since they didn’t have iron tools. Yet there is abundant archaeological evidence that shows teams of stonemasons used simple hammer stones to shape the blocks.

But fans of ancient aliens say that even if Egyptians somehow shaped the enormous blocks of stone, no mere humans could have moved them into place.

The truth, however, is indeed out there.

White explains that there are many ancient carvings that show “Egyptians using wooden sleds to move … blocks the size and shape of the ones used for the pyramids.” It is amazing what our ancestors could achieve with creativity, determination and a large workforce.

Believers in ancient aliens frequently point to an engraved stone slab from a Mayan tomb, which they claim depicts an astronaut at the controls of a spacecraft.

If you take the time to study the symbolism of the Mayan religion, however, it is clear that the “spacecraft” actually is the primordial world tree with a celestial bird perched in its upper branches. And the barefoot “astronaut” really is the deceased Mayan king descending into the underworld.

These examples are typical of what is offered as evidence of ancient aliens. The purveyors of this nonsense assume our ancestors were ignoramuses. If they accomplished some great thing, then aliens must have helped them.

Champions of ancient astronauts look through volumes of prehistoric art and cherry-pick images that bear — at best — only a superficial resemblance to something that could be construed as alien technology.

They give no thought to what those images represented in their original cultural contexts. Using this method, an Egyptian carving of a lotus flower can be reinterpreted as an electric light bulb, and a South American sculpture of a sucker-mouth catfish can be imagined to be a delta-wing fighter jet.

Archaeologists don’t take these views seriously, but by ignoring them, we allow 3 out of 4 Americans to buy into a fantasy.

Bradley T. Lepper is curator of archaeology at the Ohio Historical Society.

Unbelievable story: A man is suing NASA for (allegedly) failing to investigate alien life: here.

Physicists from the FOM Foundation and the University of Amsterdam have discovered that the ancient Egyptians used a clever trick to make it easier to transport heavy pyramid stones by sledge. The Egyptians moistened the sand over which the sledge moved. By using the right quantity of water they could halve the number of workers needed. The researchers published this discovery online on 29 April 2014 in Physical Review Letters. Read more here.

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Buddhism and archaeology in Nepal


This video from Nepal says about itself:

Oldest Shrine Found Near Buddha’s Birthplace unearthed in Lumbini 26-11-2013

Earliest ever Buddhist Shrine unearthed in Lumbini

Archaeologists digging at Lord Buddha’s birthplace have uncovered remains of the earliest ever “Buddhist shrine”. They unearthed a 6th Century BC timber structure buried within the Maya Devi Temple at Lumbini in Nepal.

The shrine appears to have housed a tree. This links to accounts in Buddhist chronicles where his mother gave birth while holding on to a tree branch. This is the earliest evidence of a Buddhist shrine anywhere in the world. Tradition records that Queen Maha Maya gave birth to the Buddha while grasping the branch of a tree within the Lumbini Garden.

The narrative of Lumbini’s establishment as a pilgrimage site under Ashokan patronage must be modified since it is clear that the site had already undergone embellishment for centuries. The dig also detected signs of ancient tree roots in the wooden building’s central void — suggesting it was a tree shrine. It sheds light on a very long debate, which has led to differences in teachings and traditions of Buddhism.

By K. Kris Hirst in the USA:

Archaeology and the Buddha

December 8, 2013

December 8th is the traditional date for Bodhi Day, when the historical Buddha Siddartha Gautama is said to have reached enlightenment: when better to speak of the enlightening effects of archaeology?

Several recent archaeological studies associated with the life of the Buddha have been conducted, most recently excavations at Lumbini in Nepal, said to have been his birthplace. The oldest phase of the Maya Devi shrine at Lumbini is securely dated between 550-800 BC, making it the earliest shrine associated with the Buddha to date.

Coningham RAE, Acharya KP, Strickland KM, Davis CE, Manuel MJ, Simpson IA, Gilliland K, Tremblay J, Kinnaird TC, and Sanderson DCW. 2013. The earliest Buddhist shrine: excavating the birthplace of the Buddha, Lumbini (Nepal). Antiquity 87(338):1104-1123.