Israel: Vast, developed 9,000-year-old settlement found near Jerusalem

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

A ‘game changer’: Vast, developed 9,000-year-old settlement found near Jerusalem

Remains of Neolithic site near Motza, the largest ever discovered in Israel, show mix of agriculture, hunting, animal husbandry — a society at its peak, say archaeologists

  • The huge settlement from the Neolithic Period that was discovered in the archaeological excavations at the Motza intersection near Jerusalem by the Antiquities Authority. (Eyal Marco, Antiquities Authority)
    The huge settlement from the Neolithic Period that was discovered in the archaeological excavations at the Motza intersection near Jerusalem by the Antiquities Authority. (Eyal Marco, Antiquities Authority)
  • 9,000-year-old figurine of an ox, discovered during archaeological excavations at Motza near Jerusalem. (Clara Amit, Antiquities Authority)
    9,000-year-old figurine of an ox, discovered during archaeological excavations at Motza near Jerusalem. (Clara Amit, Antiquities Authority)
  • Dr. Jacob Vardi, Antiquities Authority, Director of the excavations at the ancient site at Motza near Jerusalem. (Yaniv Berman, Israel Antiquities Authority)
    Dr. Jacob Vardi, Antiquities Authority, Director of the excavations at the ancient site at Motza near Jerusalem. (Yaniv Berman, Israel Antiquities Authority)
  • Beads discovered at the Motza archaeological site near Jerusalem. (Yaniv Berman, Israel Antiquities Authority)
    Beads discovered at the Motza archaeological site near Jerusalem. (Yaniv Berman, Israel Antiquities Authority)
  • Dr. Hamoudi Khalaily, Antiquities Authority Excavation director at the Motza site, holding a bowl from the Neolithic Period. (Yaniv Berman, Israel Antiquities Authority)
    Dr. Hamoudi Khalaily, Antiquities Authority Excavation director at the Motza site, holding a bowl from the Neolithic Period. (Yaniv Berman, Israel Antiquities Authority)

An unprecedentedly vast Neolithic settlement — the largest ever discovered in Israel and the Levant, say archaeologists — is currently being excavated ahead of highway construction five kilometers from Jerusalem, it was announced on Tuesday.

The 9,000-year-old site, located near the town of Motza, is the “Big Bang” for prehistory settlement research due to its size and the preservation of its material culture, said Jacob Vardi, co-director of the excavations at Motza on behalf of the Antiquities Authority,

“It’s a game changer, a site that will drastically shift what we know about the Neolithic era,” said Vardi. Already some international scholars are beginning to realize the existence of the site may necessitate revisions to their work, he said.

“So far, it was believed that the Judea area was empty, and that sites of that size existed only on the other bank of the Jordan river, or in the Northern Levant. Instead of an uninhabited area from that period, we have found a complex site, where varied economic means of subsistence existed, and all this only several dozens of centimeters below the surface,” according to Vardi and co-director Dr. Hamoudi Khalaily in an IAA press release.

Dr. Hamoudi Khalaily (left) and Dr. Jacob Vardi, directors of the excavations at Motza on behalf of the Antiquities Authority. (Yaniv Berman, Israel Antiquities Authority)

Roughly half a kilometer from point to point, the site would have housed an expected population of some 3,000 residents. In today’s terms, said Vardi, prehistoric Motza would be comparable to the stature of Jerusalem or Tel Aviv — “a real metropolis.”

According to an IAA press release, the project was initiated and financed by the Netivei Israel Company (the National Transport Infrastructure company) as part of the Route 16 Project, which includes building a new entrance road to Jerusalem from the west running from the Route 1 highway at the Motza Interchange to the capital.

According to co-director Khalaily, the people who lived in this town had trade and cultural connections to widespread populations, including Anatolia, which is the origin for obsidian artifacts discovered at the site. Other excavated material indicate intensive hunting, animal husbandry, and agriculture.

Dr. Hamoudi Khalaily, Antiquities Authority Excavation director at the Motza site, holding a bowl from the Neolithic Period. (Yaniv Berman, Israel Antiquities Authority)

“The society was at its peak” and appeared to increasingly specialize in raising sheep, said Khalaily.

In addition to prehistoric tools such as thousands of arrowheads, axes, sickle blades, and knives, storage sheds containing large stores of legumes, especially lentils, were uncovered. “The fact that the seeds were preserved is astonishing in the light of the site’s age,” said the archaeologists.

Alongside utilitarian tools, a number of small statues were unearthed, including a clay figurine of an ox and a stone face, which Khalaily joked was either a human representation “or aliens, even.”

9,000-year-old figurine depicting a human face, discovered during archaeological excavations at Motza near Jerusalem. (Clara Amit, Antiquities Authority)

In the ancient, unrecorded past as well as today, the site is situated on the banks of Nahal Sorek and other water sources. The fertile valley is on an ancient path connecting the Shefela (foothills) region to Jerusalem, said the IAA. “These optimal conditions are a central reason for long-term settlement on this site, from the Epipaleolithic Period, around 20,000 years ago, to the present day,” according to the press release.

“Thousands of years before the construction of the pyramids, what we see in the neolithic period is that more and more populations turn to live in a permanent settlement,” said Vardi. “They migrate less and they deal more and more in agriculture.”

Among the architecture uncovered in the excavation are large buildings that show signs of habitation, as well as what the archaeologists identify as public halls and spaces used for worship. In a brief video published by the IAA, archaeologist Lauren Davis walks a narrow path between remains of buildings — a prehistoric alleyway. “Very much like we see in buildings today, separated by alleys between,” said Davis.

Excavation works on the Motza Neolithic site. (Yaniv Berman, Israel Antiquities Authority)

According to the archaeologists, this alleyway is “evidence of the settlement’s advanced level of planning.” Likewise, the archaeologists discovered that plaster was sometimes used for creating floors and sealing various facilities during the construction of the residents’ domiciles and buildings.

In addition to signs of life, the archaeologists uncovered several graves. According to Davis, in the midst of a layer dating to 10,000 years ago, archaeologists found a tomb from 4,000 years ago. “In this tomb are two individuals — warriors — who were buried together with a dagger and a spear head,” she said.

Dr. Jacob Vardi, Antiquities Authority, Director of the excavations at the ancient site at Motza near Jerusalem. (Yaniv Berman, Israel Antiquities Authority)

“There’s also an amazing find,” said Davis, “which is a whole donkey, domesticated, that was buried in front of the tomb probably when they sealed it.” Added Vardi, the donkey was apparently meant to serve the warriors in the world to come.

According to Amit Re’em, the IAA’s Jerusalem District archaeologist, despite the roadworks, a significant percentage of the prehistoric site around the excavation is being preserved and all of it is being documented.

Many bracelets were found at the Motza excavation site. Their size shows that they were probably given to children. (Yaniv Berman, Israel Antiquities Authority)

Each architectural structure is being documented through 3-D modeling. “When we finish the excavation here,” said Vardi, “we will be able to continue to research the site in the laboratory,” adding that this is unprecedented use of technology.

“In addition, the IAA plans to tell the story of the site at the site by means of a display and illustration. At Tel Motza, adjacent to this excavation, archaeological remains are being preserved for the public at large, and conservation and accessibility activities are being carried out in Tel Bet Shemesh and Tel Yarmut,” announced the IAA release.

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Discover the history behind Machu Picchu

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIVIA GENIUS)

 

Discover the history behind Machu Picchu

“Few romances can ever surpass that of the granite citadel on top of the beetling precipices of Machu Picchu, the crown of Inca Land.” —Hiram Bingham

Tucked amidst the rainforests of the Andes, sheltered by a canyon, and hidden from the outside world lies the remains of a once-towering empire. Machu Picchu is a long-hidden archaeological treasure that tells the story of the Inca and its emperor Pachacutec. Spanish conquests destroyed much of the civilization, which led to difficulties in studying the ancient culture. Investigations and revisions occur to this day. Machu Picchu was one of the few sites that the Spanish never discovered, and so it has remained as a site of inquiry, mystery, and inspiration for countless explorers and scientists.

The structure

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Originally thought to be a military fortification, further research has named the site as a royal estate, believed to have been built by emperor Pachacuti to house elites wishing to avoid the turmoil of Incan city life. The site is most renowned for its architecture, comprising an urban and agricultural sector. The iconic terraces surrounding the area were feats of engineering designed to ensure drainage, soil fertility, and structural stability of the nearby mountain from which it takes its name. Machu Picchu means “Old Mountain” in Quechua.

The residential sector was sub-divided by the class of its inhabitants and contained some of the most notable structures. The estimated population isn’t believed to have exceeded 750 people, and that number declined dramatically during the harsher seasons. Most of these inhabitants were servants who supported the residing royalty and elites. Studies conducted on human remains in the surrounding area indicate that most living here were non-native and had traveled from across the Incan Empire.

Hail the sun

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It’s likely that Machu Picchu was a site of spiritual significance for the Inca. The Inca are known for their worship of the sun, and several structures in Machu Picchu show consistent resemblance to similar structures in Cusco and Pisac. The western section of the residential sector accommodates the Torréon, “Temple of the Sun.” Once towering above the city, reaching to the sky, a pair of serpent doors facing the sun open to a series of pools and a panoramic view of the surroundings.

At the bedrock of the mountain, the Intihuatana stone (pictured above) stands as another monument of light. The Intihuatana is structured to point directly at the sun during winter solstice. The Intihuatana may have been used by the Inca as an astronomical tool for their calendar.

Feasting in the daylight

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The most notable sight at Macchu Picchu is the Inti Mach’ay, a ritual cave bearing the most advanced masonry in the empire. Inti Mach’ay was the ritual home of the Royal Feast of the Sun. Toward the end of the December solstice, the Inca celebrated and prepared for the shortest day of the year, after which the sun appeared for longer. At the end of the solstice, the Inca fasted and self-purified. In Machu Picchu, young boys stood in the cave to watch the sun rise as a rite of passage into manhood. Across the land, at the same day and time, the Incan people faced northeast, crouched down, blew kisses, and raised two cups of chicha, an alcoholic drink.

Much of what we know about the Incan empire is derived from archeological evidence found at Machu Picchu. Though the ruins only tell whispers of a once-loud song, the site still arouses a sense of inspiration, wonder and adventure for those who travel to the Andes to witness the monument of Pachacutec.

The youngest rulers throughout history

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

The youngest rulers throughout history

There are few more terrifying pairings than power and incompetence. It is in light of this terror that we may try to sympathize with countless royal hands across the ages that answered to young men in the throes of puberty wielding the power to end innumerable lives (along with their own empires).

The brat king is perhaps a timeless literary trope, but the lives of these young rulers were themselves far from fortunate. Many kings saw their crown far before even adolescence, standing little chance to navigate the intricacies of royal politics or rise against the forces they were pitted against. It rarely ended well for young kings thrust into positions of power for which they were not prepared.

Emperor Puyi

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Emperor Puyi of China was crowned at the age of 2 as the last monarch of the Qing Dynasty, following the death of Guangxu. Puyi thrashed in fear on the Dragon Throne during his coronation, which marked the end of any semblance of a normal upbringing. The young emperor was separated from his family and raised by the eunuchs of the Forbidden City, which he routinely abused out of boredom and sadism. Throughout his early years, his wet nurse, Wang Wen-Chao, served as his only maternal figure and was occasionally able to calm him during his more cruel moods.

Puyi was abdicated in 1911 following a mutiny at an army garrison in nearby Wuhan. This marked the beginning of Puyi’s lifetime as a Chinese figurehead fraught by political intrigue from every direction that he was ill-equipped to manage. Puyi maintained his residence in the Forbidden City for years after and was heavily shaped by the tutelage of Sir Reginald Johnston, a Scottish diplomat.

A 1924 coup saw Puyi’s expulsion from the Forbidden City, after which he lived as a private citizen, a “war criminal,” a puppet monarch, and finally a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC)  in communist China. Puyi’s life became the subject of countless writings and revisions from various political and national perspectives—including his own, as his life served as a symbol for the transformation of Chinese government during a period of heavy outside influence leading up to the establishment of the CPPCC.

Henry VI

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Henry VI inherited the English throne from his deceased father at the age of nine months, along with the Hundred Years War. During the early years of Henry’s life, England was ruled by the Regency government, composed of powerful English nobles and heavily influenced by his uncle Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester. Henry took the responsibilities of the crown of both England and France at the age of 16 to the effect of a loss of English lands to Joan of Arc and Charles VII.

Henry displayed a significant lapse in his mental state after his loss of Bordeaux in 1453. He was rendered nearly catatonic, even to the birth of his own heir, for over a year. He eventually recovered from his episode, but his failures in the Hundred Years War stirred political turmoil at home, which eventually broke out into civil war during the War of the Roses. Henry was imprisoned by King Edward before being briefly reinstated through the political efforts of Queen Margaret.

In historic memory, Henry has been recalled as timid, pious, and mentally unstable. His extended legacy of political and military defeats eventually broke the young king’s mind before he died alone and insane, imprisoned at the Tower of London.

John I

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John the First, “the posthumous,” was crowned as King of France on the day of his birth following the death of Louis X four months prior. His reign lasted all of five days with the circumstances of his death still remaining unclear.

4 stars from aviation’s early days

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIVIA GENIUS)

 

4 stars from aviation’s early days

It is hard to believe it in this age of frequent flier miles and airplane trips across the world, but flying was once thought to be an impossible dream. People looked to the skies but didn’t know how to get there—until the late 1800s, when all of that changed forever. Here are four stars from the early days of aviation, who inspired people to believe that anything was possible.

Bessie Coleman (1892-1926)

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Bessie Coleman was both the first African-American woman pilot and the first Native American pilot. Born in Atlanta, Georgia, she grew up with 12 siblings, which is perhaps one of the reasons she was born with a desire to stand out among the crowd. When one of her brothers came home from World War I full of stories of French female pilots, a flame was lit inside of Bessie, and her dream became learning to be a pilot herself. Unfortunately, no schools in America would take her because of her race. She was determined to succeed, though, so when an African-American newspaper publisher named Robert Abbott offered to pay for her to attend flight school in France, she jumped at the chance. She learned to fly and became widely known for her trick flying, which she then refused to display in any segregated venues. It was her goal to inspire women and African-Americans all over the world, and she did just that, prompting many of them to become pilots themselves.

Charles Lindbergh (1902-1974)

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Charles Lindbergh is one of the most famous aviators in history. In 1927, he made the first solo non-stop flight across the Atlantic Ocean, a feat that inspired fellow pilot Amelia Earhart to do it herself a few years later. Also known as “Lucky Lindy,” fans all over the world adored Lindbergh for his soft-spoken nature and his clear skill as a pilot. He earned this reputation, not just for that innovative flight, but for all the ones that came before it. He was the first in his class in military flight school and he won several prizes for his incredible flying talent. He also had an intriguing perspective on flying, describing the experience by saying “There were times in an aeroplane when it seemed I had escaped mortality to look down on earth like a God.”

Harriet Quimby (1875-1912)

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Harriet Quimby was a rarity in her time: a bold, flashy woman who didn’t abide by the standard rules set for her gender. Having grown up as a “tomboy full of verve and spunk who was ready to try anything,” Quimby began her career as a newspaperwoman. She loved interacting with different people, and hearing different stories, but soon she became restless. She wanted to do more, be more, and find a bigger challenge. She found that challenge when she began covering aviation-related stories for the paper. Originally she was just writing about how women should dress for a flight, but soon she began to pursue aviation as a career in her own right, becoming the first American woman to earn a pilot’s license. She then went on to become the flashiest “aviator/cover girl” there was, decking herself out in a purple satin flying suit that made her look like everyone’s dream of the perfect flying woman. Eventually, though, it became less about looks and more about substance, as she wrote articles detailing how to ensure a safe flight for the other female pilots who would come after her.

Howard Hughes (1905-1976)

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Rounding out our list of famous early aviators is Howard Hughes. Hughes was not just a pilot, he was also a manufacturer, a movie producer, and a director. He came from a wealthy family, whose riches came from his father’s invention of a rotary bit for drilling oil wells. After his parents died, Hughes took over his father’s tool company, eventually selling it for billions of dollars. He then went on to make many quirky movies in Hollywood, which is where he became intrigued by aviation. He founded the Hughes Aircraft Company in California and designed his own airplane, which he then used to set the fastest land speed record of 352.46 miles. Never one to do anything halfway, he also lowered the transcontinental flight time record to 7 hours and 28 minutes, then later flew around the entire world in a little over 91 hours. In addition to his own planes, he also bought shares of other aviation companies and became one of the richest aviators of all time before going into self-imposed seclusion for the rest of his life.

5 things apples have been used for throughout history

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIVIA GENIUS)

 

5 things apples have been used for throughout history

Apples have always been a popular fruit all over the world. While they were not originally from America (the first country to make apples a sought-after food was Persia), they have become an extremely “American” fruit, being used in everything from apple pie, to savory dishes like pork roast. Apples have had many different uses in different places throughout the centuries, though, some of which may surprise you.

Planting orchards

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The first American apple orchard was planted in 1625 by a man named William Blackstone. He created this orchard by planting apples/apple seeds from Europe on Beacon Hill in Boston in order to bring the beloved fruit to America. Many other Americans followed suit, planting their own apple orchards on American soil. The first governor of Massachusetts, for instance, wrote all about his own orchard in his account book, where he also mentioned that his children set fire to part of it and burned down 500 of his trees. Founding Fathers George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were orchardists as well, although their orchards fared much better than the governor’s.

To explain gravity

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While most of us remember the story about Isaac Newton getting bopped on the head by an apple in the 17th century and suddenly coming up with the concept of gravity, that is most likely not exactly how it happened. Newton, a college student at the time, really was in his family’s orchard in England when he saw an apple fall from a tree, but it probably didn’t hit him on the head. The way that it fell straight down to the ground instead of to the side or in another direction got him to thinking, which eventually led to his developing the universal law of gravitation.

Magic

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According to some legends, apples have a connection to the “fairy world.” The tradition of bobbing for apples at Halloween is related to the idea that both apples and water have a supernatural link to other worlds beyond our own. Some other Halloween traditions say that taking a bite out of an apple and sleeping with it under your pillow will make you have a dream about the person who will be your true love. It is also said that falling asleep in an apple orchard could make you wake up years later, and that burying treasure under an apple tree will ensure that it will never decompose or be discovered by anyone else.

Symbolism

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Everyone has heard the story of the Garden of Eden, in which Eve is tempted to eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and she does it, dooming her companion Adam and the rest of the human race that came after them. For centuries, people have believed that the fruit that is referred to in this story is the apple, but this is actually not true. The type of fruit is never specified, meaning it could have been anything from a fig to an olive to a banana. Early artists, though, depicted this fruit as being an apple, perhaps because in Latin the word “malus” means both “evil” and “apple.” This associated the Forbidden Fruit with an apple in everyone’s mind, and the symbolism has hung on for hundreds of years.

Health

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You knew we couldn’t get through an article about apples without reciting the compulsory phrase: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” This idea has been around for thousands of years, with some cultures believing that apples could make them immune to sickness, or even immortal. Today, apples have been scientifically proven to help reduce allergic reactions by slowing down the body’s secretion of histamine, as well as to shorten the length and severity of migraines. They have also been shown to help with digestion by slowing down the process and making you feel fuller and more satisfied longer.

4 Extinct Languages That Used to Be Widely Spoken

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

4 Extinct Languages That Used to Be Widely Spoken

Countless factors facilitate the extinction of a language. A language becomes extinct when the members of the community who speak it are forced to integrate with larger populations. Through assimilation and the loss of cultural norms, these four languages fell out of the mouths of speakers, despite once being commonly heard around the world.

Coptic

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An extinct language that consisted of ancient Egyptian, Demotic, and Hieratic origins, Coptic was widely used in ancient Egypt after the spread of Greek culture to the region. This extinct language is considered the first language of Christianity, and scholars who specialize in theology often study it. Linguists agree that Coptic is similar to Late Egyptian, which was written with Egyptian hieroglyphs.

This ancient language existed as a literary-based language, so even in its most popular time, it was only written. The Coptic alphabet looks like a combination of hieroglyphs and Greek, probably because it borrowed letters from the Meroitic letters of the Demotic origin. Like most languages, Coptic is an example of the ever-evolving nuance of language. Though it is unspoken, the use of Coptic in liturgical practices, especially within the Greek Orthodox Church, is still going strong.

Biblical Hebrew

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An extinct language that laid the foundation for modern spoken Hebrew, Biblical Hebrew is no longer used in conversation. This ancient way of writing in Hebrew grew from the literary and biblical scholars at the height of its popularity – around 200 CE. Most ancient Israeli people spoke biblical Hebrew in daily conversation. However, the language is considered extinct because it is only taught within the construct of the Jewish faith as a way to understand the Jewish bible, the Torah.

The main difference between Biblical Hebrew and Modern Hebrew is the use of verb tenses. As Hebrew evolved from an ancient language to one in modern use, the need for the past, present, and future tenses arose. Earlier versions of ancient Hebrew had only two tenses – perfect and imperfect.

Sumerian

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A true ancient language, Sumerian was spoken in southern Mesopotamia long before the Greeks and Romans were jostling. As a culture, the Sumerians’ most widely accepted accolade is that they invented a system of writing. In fact, the first recorded example of written language comes from a group of texts dating from 3200 BCE written in ancient Sumerian.

Many linguists agree that the ancient language was an amalgamation of many different languages of the world, but the path of origin is not clear. What’s more, most archaeologists are not sure how or when the Sumerian-speaking people arrived in Mesopotamia, but one thing is for sure. The region served as a multicultural hub for a long time. However, there have not been any native Sumerian speakers in generations. This might be because of the decline of the Sumerian empire. As the people migrated north in search of lands for farming and lost their language to that of their new home, this made it one of the most famous extinct languages.

Akkadian

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Linguists assume that Akkadian developed out of Sumerian, since there are some linguistic connections in this extinct language. At its height, Akkadian was the language to speak in the entire world. Speakers ranged from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea. It has only been in the last century that scholars have revitalized the language while uncovering ancient ruins.

Language extinction is both gradual and sudden. If a community is forced to forfeit its language due to political pressure or because there is not enough interest in it, it is going to become extinct. Many believe it is vital that the current languages spoken do not disappear entirely and that records are maintained for posterity.

5 surprising facts about the U.S. Supreme Court

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIVIA GENIUS)

 

5 surprising facts about the U.S. Supreme Court

Founded in 1789 as part of the United States Constitution, the U.S. Supreme Court is the highest court of the nation’s federal judiciary system. In its 230 years of existence it has been responsible for landmark court decisions such as the Loving v Virginia ban on interracial marriage, New York Times Co. v United States freedom of the press case, and Bush v Gore presidential election dispute. Here’s some curious facts about the highest court in the land that are sure to impress your friends, family, and colleagues.

The court hasn’t always had a permanent home

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Despite the court being among the most distinguished governmental institutions, it has led somewhat of a nomadic life. The first court meetings were held in the Merchants Exchange Building in New York City, after which it moved with the National Capitol in 1790 to Philadelphia. When the Federal Government relocated to Washington, D.C., the court followed and used several chambers inside the United States Capitol. Chief Justice William Howard Taft proposed a plan for the court to have its own home in 1929 in order for it to create a distance from the United States Congress. Construction of the classical Corinthian-style landmark began in 1932 and became operational in 1935.

Only one president has sat on the court

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To date, William Howard Taft is the only President of the United States that has sat on the U.S. Supreme Court. He became the 27th president in 1909 and served one term. In 1921 he was appointed the 10th Chief Justice of the United States and held the post until shortly before his death in 1930. Charles Evans Hughes, who was Taft’s successor in 1930, came close to repeating the achievement. In 1916, Hughes had resigned from his position as Associate Justice to run for the presidency against Woodrow Wilson.

You can attend an official court meeting

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Ever wondered what the chief and associate justices do on a daily basis? The courtroom has seating capacity for 300 members of the public to attend oral arguments of between 70 and 80 annual cases. You’ll have the chance to listen as justices pose questions to the case attorneys and the attorneys present information that they deem vital to a case. It is free to attend an oral argument and entry is on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you don’t have the time to listen to an entire argument then you can opt for a three-minute brief session. Here’s the lowdown on the days, etiquette, and what you need to show for entry to an oral argument.

The building has its own art collection

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In 1973, Chief Justice Warren E. Burger established the Office of the Curator to preserve works of art that had been acquired since the 1830s. Today, you can see valuable objects from the collection via rotating exhibitions. Among them are decorative, fine and graphic arts, archives, memorabilia, and ephemera. There’s 19th-century judicial portraits by Cornelia Adele Fassett, such as The Florida Case before the Electoral Commission, busts of Chief Justices, the clock of lawyer Joseph Story, and records of notable women in the court’s history. Here’s a schedule of the current exhibition program.

There’s a basketball court on the building’s upper floor

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While visiting the court you might hear the squeaking of shoes and bouncing of balls coming from above. That’s because on the upper floor of the building there’s a basketball court. This former storeroom is available for Supreme Court employees and off-duty police offices. Notable court employees Byron White and William H. Rehnquist have showcased their alley-oop, dribbling, and slam dunking talents on this court over the years.

5 Things to Know About Australia’s Aboriginal Cultures

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

5 Things to Know About Australia’s Aboriginal Cultures

The Australian aboriginal tribes are an ancient and diverse group of people who inhabited the Australian mainland and outback thousands of years before settlers arrived. Their culture and traditions have been the subject of substantial academic investigation ranging from archeological study to sociology. The story of aboriginal people in many ways mirrors that of other indigenous peoples across the world with loss of life and resources at the hands of settlers, but this often overshadows the rich heritage of aboriginals themselves.

Ancient Origins

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genome study of aboriginal tribes found common genetic ancestry indicating a distinct population in Australia dating 50,000 years into the past. The current theory proposes that the first aboriginals arrived to Australia from Africa using primitive boats, making them the oldest distinct population of humans living outside of Africa.

Borrowed Words

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In spite of their common origins, Australian aboriginal tribes are a diverse group. Today there are 20 different indigenous languages still spoken by aboriginal peoples, but investigations suggest that there were over 250 different languages before the colonists arrived. From these diverse languages, over 400 words were incorporated into the Australian lexicon, including ‘koala,’ ‘wombat,’ and ‘boomerang.’

Eternal Dreams

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In describing the aboriginal spiritual belief systems, Francis Gillen coined the term “dreamtime” to refer to aboriginal spiritual traditions. However, the term has been disputed as a mistranslation of the indigenous word “alcheringa,” which may have a closer translation in “eternal, uncreated.” The spiritual practices of aboriginal tribes vary by location across Australia, but the concept of dreamtime usually refers to a timeless plane of existence with a continuous chain between all people and their ancestors stretching from the creation of the earth into the future.

Visual Storytelling

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Aboriginal tribes did not develop written words, and because of this transferred much of their history and teaching between generations with their art. Rock art and ochre pigments were common mediums among ancient tribes, which depicted colorful images with rich iconography to convey stories about ancestry, spirituality and morality. There are still places around Australia where these works have withstood time and can be observed.

Harnessing the Flame

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Aboriginal tribes used fire for a variety of functional applications. Some of these uses included agriculture application in order to enrich soil for the growth of natural fauna for the purpose of attracting prey. Some tribes also used controlled burns in a similar way to the modern practice in order to prevent large-scale, devastating bush fires.

Catastrophic Encounters

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Contact with European settlers was deadly for the aboriginal tribes. The number of violent deaths at the hands of settlers is still a topic of investigation and controversy, but the most significant contribution to loss of life were expulsion from inhabitable territories and disease. Without resistance or medicine, aboriginal populations were devastated by smallpox, measles, and influenza brought by the European settlers, particularly in dense groups. Population estimates place the number of aboriginal people inhabiting Australia at 750,000 in 1788 to just 93,000 in 1900.

The Modern Condition

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Eighty percent of present-day aboriginal people live in major Australian cities, not the Outback. The long history of violence and discrimination toward aboriginal peoples has left them disadvantaged in indicators of health, education, and employment. In the face of continued discrimination, aboriginal groups continue to campaign for awareness, equitable treatment, and reparations. A recent landmark ruling of the Australian high court granted the Ngaliwurru and Nungali tribes the right to sue for colonial land loss, entitling them to several billion dollars worth of compensations.

The History of Hong Kong in 2 Minutes

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

The History of Hong Kong in 2 Minutes

The territory of Hong Kong, officially known as the Hong Kong Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, has a fascinating and tumultuous history on the world stage. While we know it today as a global hub of international trade and exotic exports, it wasn’t always this way. In fact, given its divisive history, it’s a bit surprising that it even still exists.

Hong Kong’s Origins

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The Hong Kong we know today is home to over 7.4 million people spread across 426 square miles and stands as the fourth most densely populated region in the world. But getting there was a long road, with its story beginning as far back as BCE 214.

Even then, the Hong Kong island region had been occupied by humans for thousands of years. Early settlers migrated into the region from inland China and used their knowledge of agriculture to begin farming the land. These settlers wouldn’t be independent for long, as the dominant Chinese government—the Qing dynasty—saw the value of the region and integrated the island into the fold. The Hong Kong area would change hands over the years as Chinese dynasties rose and fell, each laying new claim to the territory.

Its value came from its location: Hong Kong was situated at a strategic point between the Pearl River Delta and the South China Sea, making it an ideal port for maritime trading. This defining feature was the key driver of Hong Kong’s development over the years, particularly as the region began to draw international interest.

The Rise of International Trade

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Beginning in the early 1500s, Portuguese and European merchants began trading in Hong Kong, bringing significant prosperity to the region. This prosperity would continue over the next several hundred years, sparked by European interest in Chinese products—spices, silk, tea, and porcelain.

And while the Chinese markets didn’t care as much for European goods, there was one product that caught their attention: Indian opium. European traders funneled so much opium into the area that Hong Kong (and China as a whole) realized that they were facing a full-fledged opioid crisis.

In response, the Emperor sought to snuff out the opium trade altogether by prohibiting the trade of opium and forcing his subordinates to destroy all existing opium stockpiles. This culminated in a complete stop to all foreign trade in 1839, something that didn’t sit well with British merchants.

The Opium Wars

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The British responded to this trade embargo with aggressive military action, resulting in the First Opium War. This conflict raged for three years until the Qing dynasty surrendered, ceding control of Hong Kong to the United Kingdom in 1842.

Under new rule, Hong Kong experienced an economic upturn that greatly improved the region, aided in part by an influx of wealthy Chinese who fled to Hong Kong in the wake of the Taiping Rebellion. Unfortunately, hostilities over the opium trade weren’t resolved, and tensions between the British and the Chinese escalated to the point of a Second Opium War in 1856.

This war lasted four years, ending in another Chinese defeat, which did little to stop the expansion of Hong Kong as a port of international trade. The rapid economic growth brought on by the administrative infrastructure of British rule combined with the influx of wealthy Chinese made Hong Kong a desirable region for international investors, despite its political troubles.

This international interest would set the stage for Hong Kong as a region of great global significance, if it survived that long.

The World at War

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The beginning of the Sino-Japanese War in 1937 spelled further trouble for the region.

Although the governor of Hong Kong declared Hong Kong a neutral zone during the war, the Japanese army attacked Hong Kong on December 8, 1941—the same morning as the attack on Pearl Harbor. As a result, Hong Kong was occupied by Japanese forces for nearly four years until the British re-took control in 1945.

Hong Kong’s population suffered during this occupation, but it bounced back thanks to further influxes of those fleeing from the Chinese Civil War and those who fled from the Communist Party takeover of China in 1949. This influx of population would be a crucial part of Hong Kong’s post-war restoration.

Hong Kong’s Growth and Modernization

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In the 1950s, Hong Kong saw tremendous advancements to its infrastructure and public services. While Hong Kong’s production capabilities were limited compared to those of mainland China, Hong Kong’s diverse international population gave it an advantage in the service economy. It wasn’t long before Hong Kong established itself as a global center for shipping, finance, and trade.

But this economic growth did little to ease political tensions in the area that had been growing throughout the 60s, 70s, and 80s. In the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, it was decided that Hong Kong would be returned to Chinese control when Britain’s lease ended, triggering a mass emigration of citizens concerned for the future of their civil liberties. In 1997, Hong Kong was officially transferred back to China after 156 years of British rule.

Today, Hong Kong is supposedly an autonomous entity, but there are serious concerns about Hong Kong’s being truly independent from China, as was promised in the transfer. But as we’ve seen, Hong Kong’s history is characterized by political unrest—and against all odds, the territory always seems to endure, no matter what challenges it faces.

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7 Jaw-Dropping Architectural Masterpieces

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

7 Jaw-Dropping Architectural Masterpieces

Of all the artistic works we humans have come up with over the years, our architectural achievements may be the most powerful. Great architecture combines form and function; it serves a purpose while acting as a symbol of the culture that created it. Much of our understanding of ancient cultures comes from the architecture they left behind, making it a crucial part of world history and our understanding of civilization as a whole.

If you get a chance, pay a visit to a few of these jaw-dropping masterpieces to get a full idea of how powerful architecture can be.

Wat Rong Khun (White Temple), Chiang Rai, Thailand

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Created in 1997 by Thai artist Chalermchai Kositpipat, the White Temple is one of the newest architectural wonders on this list, though it certainly deserves its place. A sparkling wonder of white plaster and glass, the White Temple is an artistic expression that combines traditional Thai beliefs with modern culture.

Though the exterior of the temple was designed in the Buddhist fashion common in Thai temples, the interior contains an expansive series of pop culture imagery, including depictions of Spider-Man, The Terminator, Michael Jackson, and more. Yes, really. And while photos of the inside of the temple are prohibited by Thai law, seeing the exterior alone should be enough to give you an idea of the grandeur of this bizarre project.

Great Wall of China

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Yes, China’s Great Wall certainly makes our list. And while it’s not the easiest architectural wonder for Americans to reach, it’s worth the trip. Sections of the 13,000+ mile wall were built as far back as the 7th century BCE, with new additions and revisions made over the next several thousand years.

There’s not much else to say about this one, because you already know it! The Great Wall of China is one of the most enduring works out there, with historians agreeing that it’s one of the most impressive architectural feats in human history.

Nasir al-Mulk Mosque, Shiraz, Iran

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Known casually as “the Pink Mosque,” the design of the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque is stunning.

This isn’t your grandma’s mosque; rather than the plain grays and slates typical of religious buildings, the Pink Mosque features a kaleidoscope of color, with pink floor tiles, rainbow stained glass, and painted geometric patterns adorning every interior wall. The outside is similarly impressive, but for this one, you really need to go inside to see its most impressive elements.

Colosseum, Rome, Italy

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Another architectural favorite, the Colosseum is one of those ancient works that always seems to capture our imaginations. Completed around 80 AD, modern scholars believe that the Colosseum represents the brutality of Imperial Rome, noting its dark history of public executions, gladiator matches, and violent chariot races.

Despite its brutal history, it’s hard to ignore the Colosseum’s beauty as an architectural achievement. Reported to hold anywhere from 50,000 to 80,000 spectators in its prime, it dwarfs many modern arenas and serves as a constant (and fragmented) reminder of a lost world.

Santorini/Thera, Greece

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If you ever find yourself in Greece, stop by the island of Santorini. One of many islands on the Aegean Sea, Santorini doesn’t feature one specific architectural achievement. Instead, the whole island can be considered an architectural achievement, acting as a modern representation of ancient Cycladic architecture.

On the island, you’ll see a series of white painted villages dotting red island cliffs, with residents adorning their homes in bright yellow, cyan, and red. Combined with the lush greenery of the region and its proximity to the deep blue Aegean, the whole island bursts forth in vivid colors and unique cliffside architecture unlike any you’ll see in the world.

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, USA

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The Golden Gate Bridge is a masterpiece of engineering if we’ve ever seen one. The bridge’s impressive length of 1.7 miles is matched by its height, standing a cool 220 feet above the waters of the Golden Gate Strait. Designed primarily by Charles Alton Ellis, the Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most enduring modern architectural works in the United States, even being named one of the “Seven Wonders of the Modern World” by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain

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One of the most visually striking buildings on this list, the Sagrada Familia basilica is an unfinished Roman Catholic church designed by Antoni Gaudi in 1852. However, despite Gaudi devoting his life to the building’s creation, he would die with less than a quarter of the project complete. And while a current team of architects is working to finish what Gaudi started, the fact that the church is unfinished is a selling point to many of the basilica’s 2.5 million annual visitors. With a surprisingly modern design approach that blends traditional church architecture with Gothic elements, this one is worth a visit—finished or not.

Monuments to Culture

From China to Italy to right here in the U.S., our architectural monuments are more than just buildings. They’re tributes to our culture. If you ever get a chance to scope out one of these engineering marvels, we suggest you take it. These wonders won’t be around forever, and when they go, they’ll take huge chunks of history with them.

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