First Empires

Rome

Well you know you can’t visit Rome without stopping to see the Trevi fountain. There are also plenty of street scenes around the Piazza di Spagna at sunset. When we first arrived in Rome we explored the area around the Colosseum and then walk to Trajan’s Forum.

Capitoline Hill, on one of the seven hills of Rome, was the symbolic center of the Roman world and also the site of three important temples dedicated to the god Jupiter Optimus Maximus, protector of Rome, Minerva goddess of wisdom and war, and Juno Moneta, a guardian goddess.

Below the capital is the forum which was once the focus of political, social, legal, and commercial life. The Palatine Hill is where Romulus is said to have founded Rome in the eighth century BC.

The Colosseum has 80 arched entrances that allow easy access to spectators. Deadly gladiatorial combats and wild animal fights were staged by the emperor and wealthy citizens largely to gain popularity. In AD 80, 9,000 wild animals were killed the Colosseum which held about 55,000 people who were seated according to rank. The Colosseum used Corinthian Ionic and Doric columns.

Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery

Stop #16:

Link to Wikipedia

Carrowmore is one of the four major passage tomb complexes in Ireland (see also Bru na Boinne). It is located at the geographical centre of the Cúil Irra peninsula 3 km west of Sligo town.  It is also one of the largest (in terms of number of monuments) complexes of megalithic tombs in Ireland dating to approximately 3700 BC.  The weather broke from the time we arrived until we departed, so we had the benefit of deep color from the rain and bright sunlight when the clouds shifted.

Bru na Boinne

Stop #12:

Link to Wikipedia

Brú na Bóinne means Palace of the Boyne or Mansion of the Boyne. It contains one of the world’s most important prehistoric landscapes dating from the Neolithic period, including the large Megalithic passage graves of Knowth, Newgrange and Dowth as well as some 90 additional monuments (the photos are of Newgrange). The archaeological culture associated with these sites is called the “Boyne culture”. UNESCO designated the site in 1993.

Humans settled the area at least 6,000 years ago, but the major structures date to around 5,000 years ago.

We saw Neolithic mounds, chamber tombs, standing stones, henges and other prehistoric enclosures, some said to date from as early as the 32nd century BC. The site predates the Egyptian pyramids and was built with sophistication and a knowledge of science and astronomy. Each year, during winter solstice for about 20 minutes, a beam of light shines directly through an opening in the front entry of Newgrange and travels all the way through a narrow opening that leads to the far side of the chamber.

See also Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery.

National Library of Ireland on The Commons – Newgrange (photo from the early 1900s before the site was cleared)

 

Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak

Stop #22

Link to Wikipedia

The oldest settlement in Kazanlak dates back to the Neolithic era (6th-5th millennium BCE). The Thracian city of Seuthopolis was uncovered near Kazanlak. In the 4th century BCE, near the ancient Thracian capital of Seuthopolis and close to the city, a magnificent Thracian tomb was built. It contains painted murals representing a Thracian couple at a ritual funeral feast. The tomb was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.

Luxor

Luxor, Egypt and Valley of the Kings and Queens

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Luxor is the site of the Ancient Egyptian city of Waset, known to the Greeks as Thebes. Luxor has frequently been characterized as the “world’s greatest open-air museum”, with ruins of the temple complexes at Karnak and Luxor standing within the modern city. Across the River Nile lie the monuments, temples, and tombs of the West Bank Necropolis, which includes the Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens.

Thebes thrived in the 11th Dynasty when Montuhotep II who united Egypt after the troubles of the first intermediate period brought stability.  Because Thebes was the city of the god Amun-Ra, it remained the religious capital of Egypt until the Greek period.

Giza, Egypt

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The Giza Plateau is the site of some of the most impressive ancient monuments in the world, including a complex of ancient Egyptian royal mortuary and sacred structures, including the Great Sphinx, the Great Pyramid of Giza, and a number of other large pyramids and temples. Giza has always been a focal point in Egypt’s history due to its location close to Memphis, the ancient Pharaonic capital of the Old Kingdom.

The Great Pyramid of Giza is the oldest and largest of the three pyramids in the Giza pyramid complex.  It is also the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the only one to remain largely intact.

The pyramid was built as a tomb over a 10- to 20-year period concluding around 2560 BC. At 481 feet, the Great Pyramid was the tallest man-made structure in the world for more than 3,800 years.

 

Karnak, Egypt

Link to Wikipedia

The Karnak Temple Complex is a collection of temples, chapels, pylons, and other buildings near Luxor, in Egypt. Construction at the complex began during the reign of Senusret I (1971 BC to 1926 BCE) in the Middle Kingdom and continued into the Ptolemaic period (332 to 30 BCE), although most of the buildings date from the New Kingdom (1550-1077 BCE). Approximately thirty pharaohs contributed to the buildings, enabling it to reach a size, complexity, and diversity not seen anywhere else in the world. The area around Karnak was the ancient Egyptian Ipet-isut (“The Most Selected of Places”) and the main place of worship of the eighteenth dynasty Theban Triad with the god Amun as its head.

Masada, Israel

Link to Wikipedia

Masada is an ancient fortification in the Southern District of Israel situated on top of a mesa. Located on the eastern edge of the Judaean Desert, it overlooks the Dead Sea.  Herod the Great fortified Masada between 37 and 31 BCE. According to Josephus, the siege of Masada by troops of the Roman Empire at the end of the First Jewish–Roman War ended in the mass suicide of 960 people, the Sicarii rebels and their families hiding there.

Terra Cotta Warriors, Xi’An China

Link to Wikipedia

The Terracotta Army is a collection of sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. It is a form of funerary art buried with the emperor in 210–209 BCE with the purpose of protecting the emperor in his afterlife.

The figures, dating from approximately the late third century BCE, were discovered in 1974 by local farmers in Xi’an, People’s Republic of China.

The figures vary in height according to their roles, with the tallest being the generals. The figures include warriors, chariots and horses. The pits are estimated to contain more than 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses, and 150 cavalry horses.

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