Category: prad - Part 3

Daily Flickr Finds: Robinho’s Apamea, Syria

The Cardo Maximus of Apamea, Syria. Image Credit - Robinho.Black and White photography is an artform unto itself – it’s so much more than just clicking “Greyscale” in Photoshop, which will oftentimes just give a bland result. Several adjustments and the right lighting is required to make a black and white image work, and in Robinho’s image of Roman ruins in Apamea, Syria we see a fantastic, dramatic shot.

The city of Apamea was adjacent to the Orontes River as served as a treasure city of the Seleucid. It was annexed and formed part of the Roman Empire from 64BC, and it is from the Roman era that many of the remains emanate from today. The city also served as a cross point from travellers heading to the East, and many distinguished figures stopped there, including Cleopatra, Septimus Severus and the Emperor Caracalla.

Robinho’s beautiful image of the Cardo Maximus is a stunning feature in itself – a road of 1.85 kilometres long, and 87 metres wide, the length was flanked by high walls and twisted-flute columns. On both sides of this thoroughfare would have been several civil buildings and monuments.

You can learn more about Apamea here at Heritage Key, as well as our Top 10 ancient sites in Syria and be sure to take a look at Robinho’s Flickrstream!

Italo Gismondi’s Model of Ancient Rome

Italo Gismondi's model of Ancient Rome shows the architecture of the city during the 4th century reign of Constantine. Image Credit - Jon HimoffAfter a recent visit to Rome, Jon dropped off some images to me from the Museo della Civilt Romana in EUR (Esposizione Universale Roma) of one of the most beautifully crafted architectural models I’ve ever seen of Ancient Rome.

As a bit of an architecture buff, and having spent 5 years studying it, I’ve developed a small addiction to UHU Glue and can’t really look at balsa wood anymore without my hand subconsciouslly reaching out for a craft knife. Model making was the fun part of studies when I would attempt to use a variety of materials including foamboard, tin foil, toilet rolls and wood from that Ikea bookcase that I never quite got around to assembling together. So I have a real appreiciation for Italo Gismondi’s model of Ancient Rome which is simply stunning and shows the state of the city as it stood in the era of Constantine (4th CenturyAD).

The interesting thing to note about this 1:250 scale model is that it shows, unlike with most other Roman cities, that Rome was not pre-planned.Founded on the seven hills near the Tiber River, the city emanates around the Capitol and features several temples, colonnades, baths and basilicas. Growing organically, Rome lacks the grid structure which formed the centre of many empirical cities of the Roman era, but certainly did not lack any of the grandeur.

Boasting such key structures as the Colosseum, the Roman Empire’s largest theatre and a masterpiece example of their engineering and architecture. The Pantheon’s dome remains to this day the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome. And Baths dedicated to Trajan, Caracalla and Diocletian would have been the city’s most luxurious of the age. Monuments such as Tropaeum Traiani and several forums, including the famous Roman Forum define the cultural and artistic merits of this city. And the Circus Maximus gives us an insight into the Roman’s love of sport and entertainment.

Click the (+) and (-) buttons to zoom in and out of this image, or double click.
Drag the image with your mouse to move to a different area.

You can see more in the way of interactive Rome through my Google Earth flyover, looking at the ancient sites in the city, as well as watching a video of the 3D reconstruction of ancient Rome and how the power of Flickr is being harnessed to create a 3DModel. And keep your eyes peeled on our new up-coming series “The Ancient World in London” where you can see just what the Romans did for us (in London)!

Daily Flickr Finds: Mubarak Al-Thani’s Egyptian Mummy

An Egyptian Mummy housed at the British Museum. Image Credit - Mubarak Al-Thani

Possibly one of the creepier Heritage Key Daily Flickr Finds that I’ve picked out from our Flickr pool, but this photograph of the remains of this Egyptian Mummy housed in the British Museum captivates me. The angle it’s taken at, looking at its profile as it stares upwards gives the impression that there’s still life in this millennia old corpse. The open jaw gives the mummy an eerie feeling, with the clarity of each tooth bared.

The composition of the photograph is also intruiging. It’s an image where you’re interested in what’s not shown just as much as what is. What state was the body of the mummy in?What is the context in where the corpse is kept?What is the skull looking up at? Mubarak Al-Thani’s photograph is a great capture of this Egyptian mummy not just for the detail of the human body is captures, but for what it leaves to be desired too.

You can find out more about mummies and the mummification process in a video with Dr Zahi Hawass (Watch the video) and be sure to take a look at Mubarak Al-Thani’s Flickr photostream

Daily Flickr Finds: ktildsley’s Great Hypostyle Hall, Karnak

The columns of the Great Hypostyle Hall, Karnak. Image credit - ktildsley.

Karnak is home to several temples and ruined chapels, and is the largest ancient site in the world. Within the site is the Great Hypostyle Hall, Karnak, which is a popular tourism hotspot. Located in the Precinct of Amun-Re, the hall covers an area of 5 square kilometres, and is composed of 134 columns divided within 16 rows.

The composition and angle of this fantastic photograph by ktildsley inside the Great Hypostyle Hall is captivating, giving a sense of how high up the roof would have been. The tall columns appear almost intimidating, closing in the shot tightly and the glow of the stone contrasting against the cloudless blue sky.

The hall was developed over the rule of various Pharaohs, including Seti I and Ramesses II, and although the columns and walls were originally blank, they were inscribed as time went on. You can read about a 3D digital construction of Karnak by the UCLA here at Heritage Key.

You can learn more about Karnak here at Heritage Key, and be sure to look through ktildsley’s Flickr photostream.

Daily Flickr Finds: Vit Hassan’s Meroe

Dunes versus Pyramids. A view of the ancient city of Meroe. Image Credit - Vit Hassan.Photography is often a case of having to wait for that perfect shot, as Vit Hassan discovered when visiting Meroe. The golden sands of the desert against the ancient Nubian pyramids gave the perfect backdrop, and after taking his photograph, Vit Hassan took the one Heritage Key features ten minutes later as the shadows set into the landscape, and the scenery became more defined.

The Sahara desert covers the length of Egypt, down to the site of the city ofMeroe, near the modern day border with Sudan aside the River Nile. Meroe intrigues many archaeologists for the sense of mystery surrounding it – a city where little is known about the people who lived there or why they left, just simply disappearing.

The crispness of the photograph shows a couple of the 200-plus Nubian Pyramids that surround the city, many of which lie in ruin. The mystery continues to shroud Meroe as the official language of the city was dropped from Egyptian in favour of their own, and a Rosetta Stone-esque key to translate it has never been found. Nevertheless, the city of much intrigue serves as a beautiful setting for this stunning photograph, and the site continues to fascinate archaeologists trying to unlock the secrets.

Unfortunately, excavations of Sudan’s largest heritage site are proving to be too risky amidst the unstable political situation in the country, even though Meroe is listed as a UNESCOWorld Heritage Site.

You can find out more about Meroe here at Heritage Key, and also look at Vit Hassan’s photostream over at Flickr!

Daily Flickr Finds: Dmitriy Moiseyev’s Colosseum

The Colosseum of Rome. Image Credit - Dmitriy Moiseyev.

The home to some of the greatest shows on Earth, Rome’s Colosseum had a capacity of 50,000 making it the largest built by the Romans. Where gladiators would have battled and public shows would be held, this amazing monument is captured beautifully by Dmitriy Moiseyev in this photograph. Taken at dusk, the interior lights can be seen glowing from within the structure, emanating a glow about this ancient relic.

Rome’s Colosseum differs from many of the Greek amphitheatres preceding it, as it is a freestanding structure as opposed to being built into a hillside. With such a high capacity, the Roman architects also took into account the need for quick evacuations, similar to building standards set out in today’s stadiums. There are 80 entrance/exits in the Colosseum, of which 76 would have been used by spectators. The layout was arranged so all visitors would be able to access their allotted seats quickly, and be able to leave the stadium within minutes in case of emergency.

Centuries of wear and damage from fires, earthquakes and stone robbers have left the Colosseum in partial ruin, but it remains nonetheless one of the iconic examples of Roman architecture today.

You can find out more about the Colosseum here on Heritage Key, and be sure to take a look through Dmitriy Moiseyev Flickr photostream!

Daily Flickr Finds: Amanda Slater’s Great Court of the British Museum

The Great Court. British Museum.

The British Museum is home to one of the world’s finest collections of artefacts and treasures. With such beauties as the Elgin Marbles (Which the Greeks want back, by the way) and the Rosetta Stone (Which Dr Hawass wants to see given back to Egypt) and is currently housing the newly discovered Staffordshire Hoard. Amanda Slater’s lovely shot inside the Great Court inside the British Museum shows nicely the way the light coming in from the modern glass roof shines down inside the historic interior.

The roof of the Queen Elizabeth II Great Court, designed by prominent British architect Sir Norman Foster, reinvigorated new life into the neoclassical design of the British Museum and certainly gives photographers much more interesting context to their images!

In the centre of the Great Court is the Round Reading Room, which was home to a vast collection of historic books, catalogues and printed materials, and attracted the likes of Karl Marx, Lenin, Virginia Woolf and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to it. Indeed, Virginia Woolf wrote in A Room of One’s Own, “If the truth is not to be found on the shelves of the British Museum, where, I asked myself, …is truth?”

You can find out more about the British Museum here at Heritage Key, and be sure to see more fantastic photography on Amanda Slater’s Flickr Stream!

Daily Flickr Finds: Brian H’s Dover Castle

Dover Castle. Image Credit - Brian H.Black and White photography is an artform in itself – it’s so much more than simply clicking the “greyscale” option in Photoshop. It’s about adjusting the contrast, lighting and many other factors to achieve that perfect composition! Just ask Brian H who achieved a powerful and stunning effect in his photograph of Dover Castle.

The castle, which contains a Roman lighthouse (Pharos) within its grounds, is one of Britains most iconic defensive strongholds, and recently underwent a 2 million renovation of its Great Tower.

The photograph, although taken at some distance, brings the details of the stonework together with the tranquillity of the land growth and vegetation, and brings in the drama of the cloudy skies above. The blurry focus of the skies brings the attention towards the ground and allows your eyes to work up to the castle itself. All in all, this is a fantastic photograph, and a fine example of stunning black and white photography.

Read more about the renovation work at Dover Castle, and be sure to look through Brian H’s photostream at Flickr!

Ten More Great Cities of the Ancient World

Heritage Key looks at ten more Great Cities in History.John Julius Norwich’s new book – “The Great Cities in History” – selects a list of major cities that have been hugely influential throughout their eras. The cities that were chosen spanned across the globe, and you can read more about them in my recent article. In addition, you should definitely also watch Heritage Key’s video interview with Lord Norwich himself as he discusses his book, and how he came to choose the cities that made it to the final edition.

But what about cities that didn’t make the cut?There are still several cities in the world which I still consider to be great in terms of the culture they hold, and the history that enriches them. So I offer you 10 more Great Cities of the Ancient World, and if you can think of anymore, then feel free to add them as a comment!

1. Plovdiv

The second largest city in Bulgaria was known in ancient times as Philippoupolis. With a history dating back 6,000 years it is one of the oldest settlements in Europe and a key city in the Roman Empire. Boasting several public buildings, baths, temples and shrines, as well as a city sewage and water system, Plovdiv was an important crossroad and route to the Baltic region.

It was described by the Roman writer Lucien as being “the biggest and loveliest of all towns. Its beauty shines from faraway.” Under the rule of Rome, the city saw huge growth and significant cultural progress and is considered to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in history. This beautiful city is often overlooked despite being rich in ancient artefacts and architecture, of which only a small proportion has been excavated by archaeologists.

Beirut, Lebanon. Image Credit - Sorgul.

2. Beirut

With a history going back over 5,000 years, Beirut today is synonymous with war and conflict after the recent Lebanon War. The devastation that Beirut’s city centre was left in opened up the possibility to explore the past, and found remains from the Phoenician, Hellenistic, Roman, Arab and Ottoman eras.

In Roman times, the city of Beirut was developed by Rome with several public buildings and investments, the pearl of which was Beirut’s School of Law. Attracting scholars from across the empire, Beirut became a centre for learning excellence until 551AD when a large earthquake destroyed much of the city, claiming 30,000 lives.

3. Tel Aviv

Israel’s second largest city is Tel Aviv, and is technically only about 100 years old. So why have I classed it as an ancient city?

Well this relatively new city is on the site of Jaffa, and ancient port city with a past stretching back 4,000 years. Although originally Tel Aviv was planned on the outskirts, the city grew rapidly and incorporated Jaffa. In ancient times, Jaffa was conquered by the Egyptians under the rule of Pharaoh Thutmose III. Jaffa also features prominently in the Old Testament of the Bible as the city from which Jonah sets sail to reach Tarshish as well as the port where the wood arrived for Soloman’s Temple, Jerusalem.

Lisbon, Portugal. Image Credit - Sorgul.

4. Lisbon

At roughly 3,200 years old, the Portuguese capital of Lisbon is often overlooked as an ancient city. However, it is believed to have been founded by Phoenicians, and spent the following two millenia trading hands in various wars and conflicts.

Under the Romans, Lisbon saw a transformation which included the construction of a Great Theatre, several temples, the Cassian Baths, a large Roman Forum and many other public buildings, which were discovered by archaeologists in the mid-Eighteenth century.

The modern day Connaught Place, Delhi. Image Credit - Ville Miettinen.

5. Delhi

One of the most populated cities in the world today, Delhi has a history covering the past 3,000 years and holds many of Asia’s most culturally rich historical sites. It is believed that Delhi is home to the legendary Indraprastha: a grand and sophisticated fortress capital of Pandavas in India’s Mahabharata scripts.

With settlements in Delhi being traced from the Mauryan Empire (about 300BC), so far archaeologists have discovered seven different cities in Delhi. However, the British demolished much of the ancient remains to make way for the new capital city – New Delhi. Today, Delhi is a major cultural, administrative and financial centre of India.

Zurich, Switzerland. Image Credit - Juan Rubiano.

6. Zurich

The vibrant and lively city in Switzerland is a centre of international business, finance and trade, which is fitting considering its ancient past in Roman times as a key city for collecting taxes. Founded in the 2nd Century AD and known as Turicum, the city acted as a gate for all goods entering and leaving Italy. Christianity was introduced in the 3rd century, and continued to heavily influence the city.

Today, the city is a hotspot for tourists, particularly as it is near to the popular Swiss Alps, as well as the home to the Swiss stock exchange, several banks and financial institutions.

The city of Palermo, Sicily. Image Credit - Sonic Julez.

7. Palermo

Palermo is famous as the capital of Sicily, and has its roots from the 8000 BC with its first settlement being an ancient Phoenician city. It’s rich history has led to its highly regarded reputation for culture, architecture and food. Under the Greek rule, the city was a centre of commerce and trade, although civil unrest during the Sicilian Wars caused instability and later the Romans would take the city during the First Punic War.

The city has seen itself ruled since by the Byzantine empire, Fascist Italy and (although not officially) the Sicilian Mafia. Today it is popular with tourists for its fantastic culture and unique environment.

Gaziantep, Turkey. Image Credit - Travel Aficionado.

8. Gaziantep

Thought to be the site of the historical city Antiochia ad Taurum, and is one of the oldest cities in Turkey, Gaziantep was an important agricultural and industrial hub of the region. Remains of Gaziantep’s rich heritage exist in the centre of the city in the form of a historic fortress and the Ravanda citadel. The ruins of Doliche also lie just a few kilometres north of the city.

Throughout history, the city of Gaziantep has been ruled by several different empires, including the Egyptians, Hittites, Assyrians, Persians, Greeks and Romans.

Sunrise of the city of Varanasi, India. Image Credit - Richard IJzermans.

9. Varanasi

The Indian city of Varanasi lies next to the River Ganges, and legend says it was founded 5,000 years ago by the Hindu god Shiva. Archaeologists date the city back 3,000 years, when it became a major centre for the production of textiles, silk, sculptures and perfumes. Varanasi was also a larger city spanning over 5 kilometres along the river banks, and was famed as a centre for culture, religious worship and education.

Also known as Benares, the city is a popular pilgrimage spot and is held in Hindu religion as the place where the cycle of reincarnation can be broken, if a person were to die there.

Porta Nigra (Built approx 160AD) in Trier, Germany. Image Credit - HD N.

10. Trier

One of the oldest cities in Germany, archaeologists have uncovered pottery fragments from Neolithic times in Trier. The city saw major investment and improvements under Roman rule, when Constantine the Great built a new bascilica and baths, and the city had played host to imperial palaces of emperors.

Roman relics still standing today include the amphitheatre, and a Roman fortified gate called Porta Nigra. During the Middle Ages, this structure was converted to a church, but legend has it that when Trier was under the rule of Napoleon’s forces, he ordered it to be destroyed after dissolving the church. Locals informed him of its Roman past in an attempt to save it, and Napoleon gave the order for Porta Nigra to be restored to its original Roman form.

Videos from Leptis Magna: Rafa Vjajes visits the Roman Jewel of Libya

Following on from Herb Schmitz’s visit to the stunning Roman ruins of Leptis Magna (you can watch Heritage Key’s video interview with Herb on his visit to Libya here), one of the most prominent members of Heritage Key’s Flickr group has also recently visited the North African site and shot some videos of the various ruins. Rafa Vjajes is a Spanish photographer who often visits heritage and cultural sites around the world, and you can find many of his photographs in Heritage Key’s Flickr pool and see his stunning shot of the Roman Theatre at Sabratha which I featured as a Daily Flickr Find.

Leptis Magna is one of the most stunning archaeological sites from the Roman Empire, and many of the ancient remains are still in an excellent condition, having been preserved under sand for centuries. Heritage Key recently showcased a high resolution image provided by GeoEye of the site of Leptis Magna, where the true expanse of the Roman ruins can be seen from above. The area boasts many of the typical features of an ancient Roman city, many of which were captured by Rafa Vjajes on film.

The Amphitheatre of Leptis Magna

The Amphitheatre of Leptis Magna was one such structure which still remains intact today, and was constructed into the natural slope of soft sandstone, and in close proximity to the sea. With a capacity of 16,000 people, the amphitheatre would be host to gladiator battles against either one another or wild animals as well as public executions. It was a destination of entertainment for the citizens of Leptis Magna, and the architectural magnificence of the building is still evident in these well preserved remains of the amphitheatre.

Rafa Vjajes took video from inside the amphitheatre’s main arena itself which lies partially in ruin. Nevertheless, the condition of the structure is amazing considering the centuries it has survived and Rafa’s videos give a new insight to how the area would have looked in its day.

The Arch of Septimus Severus

There is also video footage of the road leading up to the Arch of Septimus Severus and the area surrounding it, showing the dominance of the structure. The Arch would have served as a monument which anybody approaching the city would have been able to see, and therefore required a dominating presence in its landscape. The arch was built to commemorate the “son of Leptis Magna” who went on to become Emperor Septimus Severus, and has now been partially restored by archaeologists. The arch was one of many monuments built to celebrate the return of the Emperor to his hometown in the 3rd Century BC.

The Hadrian Baths

Another key part of Roman Life revolved about the baths. The Hadrian Baths of Leptis Magna were constructed under the rule of Emperor Hadrian as part of his reconstruction programme. The main swimming pool of these Roman baths was located in an open courtyard, paved in marble and featuring a mosaic at the bottom of the pool. Despite the ruined state of many of the columns, it’s still easy to make out the pool and the general structure of the site.

You can follow Rafa Vjajes’ travels around the world through his Flickr photostream, which he regularly updates with hundreds of amazing photographs, or visit his personal website to see a portfolio of his work. You can also read more about Leptis Magna on Heritage Key, as well as being able to see stunning photography of the Roman ruins by Herb Schmitz and watch the video interview as Herb talks about his experience of visiting Libya.