Saturday, 31 March 2012

Weekend Reflections

For more reflections visit James' Weekend Reflections.

Note: In case the portal is still down over this coming weekend, here is a page to help with the April CDPB Theme Day. Read and join in! Carry this message on your next post and in all your comments, to alert other members to this temporary method of keeping in touch!

Friday, 30 March 2012

Sky Watch Friday

For more Sky Watch from around the world, drop in to the home of Sky Watch Friday.

Note: In case the portal is still down over this coming weekend, here is a page to help with the April CDPB Theme Day. Read and join in! Carry this message on your next post and in all your comments, to alert other members to this temporary method of keeping in touch!

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Taphophile Tragics

I think this is the Viking Cross in the churchyard of St Mary's Church, Gosforth, Cumbria, England. I hope it is. I also think the photo was taken through the window of a passing bus. Researching the church, its a great shame I didn't get off the bus.

One of the most historical churches in the area, with Viking monuments known worldwide, with a Norse Cross in the graveyard depicting the victory of Christ over the Heathen Gods. Two 10th century 'Hogback' tombstones inside the church cover the graves of Norse Chieftains and are shaped as houses of the dead, and are carved with battle scenes. There are delightful carved faces on the chancel arch, and a Chinese iron bell on the western window sill. There is a Viking 'fishing stone' and some curious old collecting boxes. The graveyard contains a cork tree planted in 1833, the most northerly in Europe. The tool-shed built of stones from the original church, is now a listed building.

The Cross is 14 ft high, the tallest Viking cross in England and second in importance only to the Bewcastle Cross. With the hog-back tombs inside the church, it was carved around 940 AD.

It is unique among English Viking crosses, not only in size and complete survival, but in the quality and detail of its carving. The lower part of the Cross which is round represents the ash tree Yggdrasil which the Norse men believed supported the universe. The upper portion is square, each side capped with the triquetra, symbol of the Trinity.

For more taphophilia please visit Julie's Taphophile Tragics.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Taphophile Tragics

Orvieto - Etruscan Necropolis at Crocifisso del Tufo

The necropolis, which forms a vast archaeological park, is made up of a series of small chamber tombs, aligned along the burial “roads.” The arrangement of the tombs, which follows a definite “town” plan, provides precious elements for the study of the layout of the ancient city. Built from blocks of tuff, the entrance lintels of the tombs are inscribed with the name of the deceased. The earliest excavations in the 19th century yielded important artifacts, now unfortunately dispersed among various foreign museums. Other significant burial objects found during more recent excavations are on display at the Faina Museum in Orvieto.

The necropolis took its name from the 16th-century crucifix sculptured in the tuff and kept in a little chapel underlying the San Giovenale area.

Then, in following with the general arrangement of the “town plan” for the necropolis, other roads were built intersecting each other at right angles in a fairly regular manner. The typical tombs of the necropolis are grouped into blocks, and most of them consist of single, rectangular chambers.

The outstanding feature of the necropolis is its layout, with a regular location plan and roads laid out at right angles. The planners divided the area into lots, probably following either an already existing or a planned main road.

The entrance was closed by a large slab of tuff rock inside, and by a lining of tuff blocks aligned with the external wall; the space between the slab and the wall was filled with earth.  The slab usually rested on the third step descending toward the entrance and closed against the third interior lintel. Given the narrowness of the roads, the placing of two entrances directly across from each other was avoided, so as to prevent mutual obstruction if two facing tombs were to be opened at the same time.

Benches, usually two, were built inside for placing the deceased, one being set against the back wall and one against one of the side walls; the deceased were either interred directly or cremated.

In the necropolis there are typically a large number of inscriptions giving the first names and family names of the ancient inhabitants of Orvieto. These are perhaps the most consistent epigraphic testimony of the Archaic age, referring to a single town community.

Funerary inscriptions are incised into the entrance lintels, giving the name of the owner of the tomb; they are often written in a possessive style, by which it is the tomb that speaks: I belong to…

The first reports of finds in the area date back to the end of the 18th century, but more consistent information was found during the years 1830-1831, during the construction of the New Cassian Way. Intense research was conducted, however, in the last thirty years of the 19th century, when a part of the necropolis was expropriated by the State and opened to the public. Research began once more in the 1960s.
For more taphophilia please visit Julie's Taphophile Tragics.

Monday, 19 March 2012

That was strange

I go away for a week and my template disappears and gets replaced by an old one that I've never used for this blog. Just spent ages trying to get it back to somewhere near how it used to be. Needs a bit more tinkering but that can come later.

Adelaide Architecture

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Sky Watch Friday

The Solar Mallee Trees on the Adelaide Festival Centre Plaza harness solar energy via a canopy of laminated oval solar cell panels. Each ‘tree’ can produce 864 kW hours but only uses 125kW hours of energy each year, saving around 2 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions - equivalent to the benefit of 6 real trees per year. The solar trees also let you listen to students from Sturt Street Primary School – the City’s first “solar school” – talk about solar energy.

For more Sky Watch from around the world, drop in to the home of Sky Watch Friday.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Blue Sky

On the day that Sydney went underwater during its wettest March day since 1984, I was very glad not to be there but to be here, with Dianne from Adelaide and Beyond, sitting under a tree by the river.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Blue Tongue

I haven't seen a blue tongue lizard in my area for many years and thought they weren't around any more. Then I came across this one just outside the back door. It was fairly quiet in the middle of a weekday when I would not normally be home, so maybe they are around, just not at the same time as me. Also, there aren't as many cats and dogs around as there used to be.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Get Reading

I had no idea that 2012 was the National Year of Reading until I saw this display in the foyer of Kogarah library. As the website says:

Nearly half the population struggles without the literacy skills to meet the most basic demands of everyday life and work. There are 46% of Australians who can't read newspapers; follow a recipe; make sense of timetables, or understand the instructions on a medicine bottle. Australian libraries and library associations are behind a campaign to turn 2012 into the National Year of Reading, linking together all the great things that are already happening around books, reading and literacy, and giving them an extra boost, with inspirational programs and events taking place across the country. Libraries will be partnering with government, the media, writers, schools, publishers, booksellers, employers, child care providers, health professionals and a whole host of other organisations that share our passion for reading.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Taphophile Tragics

Shahr i Zindah, Samarkand, Uzbekistan

The Shah-i Zinda (lit. "the Living King") is a funerary complex, located on the south side of the Afrasiyab hill in the city of Samarqand. The focal point of the complex is the shrine of Qusam b. Abbas, a cousin of the Prophet Muhammad, who was reportedly beheaded on a site near Samarqand's wall during the seventh-century Arab conquests of Transoxania. The legend, which became popular in the Timurid period, relates that Qusam, carrying his head in hands and led by the prophet Khizr, descended into a well, where he resides eternally in an underground palace as a "Living King." Some scholars suggest that the site was a venerated place before the arrival of Islam, in part because of the reference to prophet Khizr and the story of the Source of Life, but also due to the existence of a spring, historically associated with immortality.

Archeological studies, however, indicate that the earliest structures of the Shah-i Zinda date from the eleventh century of the Common Era, when the shrine and its adjoining buildings were located at an intersection within a populated area of ancient Samarqand, (which is now a mound called Afrasiyab, to the north of the city.) Archeological excavations have also revealed traces of an eleventh-century four-iwan madrasa (probably the first instance of the institution in Samarkand) erected opposite the shrine by the order of the Karakhanid ruler Tamghach Bughra Khan (reg. 1052–1066).

Nevertheless, it was after the Mongol sack of the city in the early thirteenth century that, following the relocation of central Samarqand from Afrasiyab hill to its present place, the site turned into a necropolis. The tombs first erected clustered around the Qusam's shrine at the top of the hill, and the later structures descended the southern slope in a long string. The bulk of the structures were constructed between 1370 and 1405, mostly for the female members of the Timurid family.

The final form of the complex was shaped in 1434-5, when Ulugh Beg, Timur's grandson and the governor of Transoxiana (1409–1447), erected a monumental gateway at the southern end of the alley, which provided a well-defined ceremonial entrance for the complex and linked the necropolis to the city. Later interventions had minimal impacts on the general organization of the site.

For more taphophilia please visit Julie's Taphophile Tragics.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Bruce Lee

This two metre bronze statue of martial arts legend, Bruce Lee, stands in Kogarah town square. The statue was a gift from the City of Shunde in China to make the one year anniversary of the of Kogarah's Friendship City Agreement with Shunde.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Hidden Places

This large tapestry of the NSW Coat of Arms is near the lifts that take you to the members offices in the new building at Parliament House.

The NSW Coat of Arms was granted by King Edward VII in Oct 1906. It features a shield containing the badge of NSW together with wheat and sheep symbols on a blue background. The shield is supported by a lion, representing England, and a kangaroo, representing Australia. The crest is a rising sun, representative of a newly rising country. The Latin motto means "Newly risen, how bright thou shinest", as shown by the rising sun. It also refers to the State's continuing progress and development.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Friday, 9 March 2012

Hard at Work

This is Lucy, our switch operator Ian's guide dog. Ian is blind and does a fantastic job of operating the office's swith and helping people set up and operate their phones. He can also read and respond to emails using software that reads the messages to him and is learning to use the internet, again using softwear that reads to him. Ian has great sense of humour and, on a day when he had a woman from the Blind Society helping him learn a new system, quipped as he was taking her to lunch - "the blind leading the blind".

These photos are poor quality as they were taken on the p&s and, unless she's fast asleep, Lucy won't keep still. One day I'll take the DSLR in and try and get some good shots. She's a beautiful dog.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Pitt Street Church Uniting Church

I thought that this buiding, which I thought was a hall, was part of the church featured yesterday as it seemed to sit behind it, but its not and google maps shows me that it doesn't adjoin that church but is a few buildings further down in the street behind. This is Pitt Street Uniting Church the interior of which quite took me by surprise.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

St Georges Presbyterian Church

I've always wondered what was inside this old, run down church in Castlereagh Street but I've never seen it open.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Taphophile Tragics

Guri Amir Mausoleum, Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Gur-e Amir is Persian for "Tomb of the King". This architectural complex with its azure dome contains the tombs of Tamerlane, his sons Shah Rukh and Miran Shah and grandsons Ulugh Beg and Muhammad Sultan. Also honoured with a place in the tomb is Timur's teacher Sayyid Baraka.

The earliest part of the complex was built at the end of the 14th century by the orders of Muhammad Sultan. Now only the foundations of the madrasah and khanaka, the entrance portal and a part of one of four minarets remains.

The construction of the mausoleum itself began in 1403 after the sudden death of Muhammad Sultan, Tamerlane's heir apparent and his beloved grandson, for whom it was intended. Timur had built himself a smaller tomb in Shahrisabz near his Ak-Saray palace. However, when Timur died in 1405 on campaign on his military expedition to China, the passes to Shahrisabz were snowed in, so he was buried here instead. Ulugh Beg, another grandson of Tamerlane, completed the work. During his reign the mausoleum became the family crypt of the Timurid Dynasty.

In 1740, Nadir Shah tried to carry off Tamerlanes sarcophagus, Nader idolized Timur, the most sucsessful conqueror from Central Asia. He imitated his military prowess and especially later in his reign cruelty, but it broke in two. This was interpreted as a bad omen. His advisers urged him to leave the stone to its rightful place.

The second time the stone was disturbed was on June 19, 1941 when Soviet archaeologists opened the crypt. The anthropologist Mikhail Mikhaylovich Gerasimov was able to reconstruct Tamerlane's facial features from his skull, and it was also confirmed that he was 172 cm in height, a giant for his day, and would have walked with a pronounced limp. Further historical information about the assassination of Ulugh Beg and the authenticity of the other graves was also confirmed. Timur's skeleton and that of Ulugh Beg, his grandson, were re-interred with full Islamic burial rites in November 1942, at the beginning of the Battle of Stalingrad.

For more taphophilia please visit Julie's Taphophile Tragics.