Bali’s Stunning Sea Temple
Sitting on a large offshore rock in the sparkling blue waters on the coast of Bali in Indonesia is the temple of Tanah Lot or “Land in the Sea”. The carved rock temple is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Bali due to its unsurpassed beauty and legendary origins. However its majesty can only be appreciated from the outside as tourist are not allowed inside the temple.
The temple is claimed to be the work of the 15th century priest Nirartha. During his travels along the island’s south coast, he saw the rock-island’s beautiful setting and rested there. Some fishermen saw him and bought gifts. After spending the night on the rock, Nirartha spoke to the fishermen and told them to build a shrine there. He felt it was a holy place and should be used to worship the Balinese sea gods.
The temple has been part of Balinese mythology for centuries and is one of seven sea temples that form a chain along the south-western coast of Bali. At the base of the rocky island, poisonous sea snakes are believed to guard the temple from evil spirits and intruders.
Bikinis from 4th Century A.D.
Regarding the history of swimsuits, the bikini was first introduced to the public by French engineer Louis Réard at the Piscine Molitor swimming pool complex in Paris. The two-piece was named the “bikini” by Réard because he believed the revealing swimsuit would cause the same explosive effect as recent atomic tests at the Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. Réard might have been the first person to make a bikini for consumers, but he was not the first person to conceive and illustrate one.
The Rare Gemstone Ammolite
This dazzling iridescent fossil of an 80 million year old ammonite measuring two feet in diameter was discovered near Alberta, Canada and is a particularly rare example of an ancient sea creature that went extinct at the same time as most dinosaurs. The spectacular coloration is the result of millions of years of high temperatures and pressures acting on the animal’s shell to create a gemstone known as ammolite.
The Wave consists of 200 million year old sand dunes that have turned to rock. These large sandstone formations are located on the slopes of the Coyote Buttes in the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness in Arizona. The spectacular ribbons of various colors, called Liesegang Bands, were formed by the movement and precipitation of oxidizing materials such as iron and manganese in ground water. The Wave is accessible only on foot via a three-mile hike and is highly regulated.
The Oldest Mummies in the World
Trekking through Chile’s Atacama Desert 7000 years ago, hunter-gatherers known as the Chinchorro walked in the land of the dead. Thousands of shallowly buried human bodies littered the earth. According to new research, the scene inspired the Chinchorro to begin mummifying their dead, a practice they adopted roughly 3000 years before the Egyptians embraced it.
Archaeologists have long studied how the Chinchorro made their mummies, the first in history, says ecologist Pablo Marquet of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile in Santiago. After removing the skin to be dried, the hunter-gatherers scooped out the organs and stuffed the body with clay, dried plants, and sticks. Once they reattached the skin, embalmers painted the mummy shiny black or red and put a black wig on its head. Covering the corpses’ faces were clay masks, some molded into an open-mouthed expression that later inspired Edvard Munch’s famous painting The Scream.
Few scientists have tackled the mystery of why the Chinchorro started to mummify their dead in the first place. Complicated cultural practices such as mummification, Marquet says, tend to arise only in large, sedentary populations. The more people you have in one place, the more opportunity for innovation, development, and the spread of new ideas. The Chinchorro don’t fit that mold. As nomadic hunter-gatherers, they formed groups of about only 100 people.
The Bog Body of “Grauballe Man”
The “Grauballe Man”, pictured above, was found in 1952 by a Dane digging for peat in Northern Europe. His throat was cut in 290 B.C., but his body was well enough preserved to yield fingerprints. Why was he killed? Maybe ritual, maybe execution for a crime, maybe human sacrifice. Here’s one odd clue: judging from his nutrition and manicure, the body appears to have been from the upper class.
The acidity of the bog water, the cold temperature, and the lack of oxygen have effectively prevented these corpses from decomposing. More than 700 bodies have been recovered, some as old as 10,000 years and some still appearing fresh enough to be mistaken for recent murder victims.