Thursday, July 19, 2007

INDIA HISTORY : PART I

I found this video on YouTube. The creator's description reads, "We made this movie on India's History for an annual Diwali function at the university of Tennessee, Knoxville. We present here 5000 years of India's history in 15 minutes. We have tried to mention almost all important events."

I am not sure the 15 minutes covers as much the creator's think but it is ambitious and interesting to watch.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Ultimate Bible Quiz

Not bad for an agnostic...

You know the Bible 96%!
 

Wow! You are awesome! You are a true Biblical scholar, not just a hearer but a personal reader! The books, the characters, the events, the verses - you know it all! You are fantastic!

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History of Maldives

History of Maldives. This is a brief history of the Indian Ocean country of the Maldives. It is short but has a good overview.

The Encyclopædia Britannica notes, "Independent island nation consisting of a chain of about 1,200 small coral islands and sandbanks (some 200 of which are inhabited), grouped in clusters, or atolls, in the Indian Ocean. The islands extend more than 510 miles (820 km) from north to south and 80 miles (130 km) from east to west. The northernmost atoll is about 370 miles (600 km) south-southwest of the Indian mainland, and the central area, including the capital island of Male, is about 400 miles (645 km) southwest of Sri Lanka."

From the site:

Maldives comprises 1,191 islands in the Indian Ocean. The earliest settlers were probably from southern India. Indo-European speakers followed them from Sri Lanka in the fourth and fifth centuries BC. In the 12th century AD, sailors from East Africa and Arab countries came to the islands. Today, the Maldivian ethnic identity is a blend of these cultures, reinforced by religion and language.

Originally Buddhists, Maldivians were converted to Sunni Islam in the mid-12th century. Islam is the official religion of the entire population. Strict adherence to Islamic precepts and close community relationships have helped keep crime low and under control.

The official and common language is Dhivehi, an Indo-European language related to Sinhala, a language of Sri Lanka. The writing system is from right to left. English is used widely in commerce and increasingly as the medium of instruction in government schools.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Early Ceramic Settlement in the Coastal Osmore Valley: Preliminary Report

Early Ceramic Settlement in the Coastal Osmore Valley: Preliminary Report. This is a paper by Bruce Owen which reports on a systematic site survey in two early ceramic domestic and mortuary sites to clarify patterns of subsistence, settlement, mortuary practices, regional cultural affiliations, and chronology in the coastal Osmore valley. The paper was originally presented at the Institute of Andean Archaeology annual meeting, 1993.

From the site:

Because pottery is useful for boiling starchy foods like maize and manioc, we often suggest that the adoption of ceramics marked the time when people became settled farmers. By studying the early periods of ceramic use, we hope to learn about the early stages of the ecological and social adaptations to agriculture that underpinned subsequent developments. On the far south coast of Perú, the early ceramic period formed the background against which the Tiwanaku state expanded, and may have embodied early expressions of cultural traits as varied as agricultural and craft technologies, ascribed social status, and multiethnic settlement in restricted areas.

In the coastal Azapa valley of northernmost Chile, domestic and mortuary excavations have yielded substantial information about the early ceramic Faldas del Morro and subsequent Alto Ramírez phases. These chronological phases are very long, and feature elaborate material cultures based on settled, mixed agricultural, maritime, and herding subsistence strategies probably bolstered in later stages by exchange relations with sierra and altiplano people (Muñoz 1987; Dauelsberg 1985).

In contrast, until recently, relatively little was known about the early ceramic period in the region north of Azapa. Virtually all the limited data available is from the Osmore river area, on the far south coast of Perú. Aldo Bolaños (1987) reported an apparently early pottery style fromthe coastal spring site of Carrizal, north of the modern city of Ilo. Karen Wise (pers. com.)encountered presumably early ceramics in the uppermost levels of the preceramic K4 site, also on the coast north of Ilo. Maria Lozada (pers. com.) and other members of the Programa Contisuyu have excavated numerous burials from the early ceramic cemetery at Wawakiki, on the coastfurther north from Carrizal. Robert Feldman (1989) described the early ceramic Huaracane pottery from the Moquegua area, far up the valley from Ilo, and Paul Goldstein (1989a) salvaged some artefacts from a Huaracane shaft tomb at Omo, south of Moquegua. Probably early pottery has been found at the site of El Atajo in the Caplina valley southwest of Tacna (Manuel Garcia,pers. com.), but is known only from a deflated surface scatter.

Monday, July 16, 2007

100 Years Ago in Scientific American - The Riddle of Mars

Recent findings of ancient seas and the very likely possibility that there is still water on Mars has continued the debate that there may be life on Mars. But my, how a hundred years has changed the discussion!

In 1907, Scientific American published a book review titled The Riddle of Mars. It was a review of Mars and Its Canals by Percival Lowell also published in that year. Reading the review certainly shows how a hundred years of history has altered the debate.

From the site:

Viewed through a telescope, Mars appears as a disk crowned with white spots and covered with blue-green and reddish ocher patches. Upon the fluctuations of these markings Prof. Lowell bases his conclusions of the habitability of the planet. Most prominent of all the markings are the white spots that cap the poles. They are the most important evidence of the planet's constantly changing condition, for they come and go just as our own polar snows wax and wane. In the depth of winter they stretch over much more than the polar regions, extending down to 60 degrees and even to 50 degrees of latitude north or south as the case may be, then dwindling until, by midsummer, they extend only 5 or 6 degrees across. A three-inch glass is sufficient to disclose these modifications. It was early surmised that Martian caps must be composed of ice and snow, a theory which Prof. Lowell substantiates by pointing out that as the Martian cap melts it is surrounded by a deep blue band, which keeps pace with the shrinking cap and is clearly the product of its disintegration. This ribbon of blue conclusively shows that not gas but water is the substance of which the caps are composed.

If the caps melt, they must clearly pass into a gas, which means that Mars must have an atmosphere. That atmosphere, it is safe to conclude, is composed primarily of water vapor. Corroborative evidence of the presence of Martian air is shown by the existence of clouds, rare though they may be. Other evidence is afforded in the limb light, a phenomenon which may be described as a brilliant obliteration near the edge of the disk, an obliteration which suggests a veil drawn between us and the planet, and which can be caused only by air or haze. Evidence has also been gathered of the existence of a twilight, which would indicate the presence of a thin high air more rarefied than prevails on our highest mountain peaks. That the atmosphere must be thin is proven by the uninterrupted view of the Martian disk in all zones.

Of the blue-green and reddish ocher patches to which reference has been made, it may be stated in a general way that of the two the reddish-ocher tint predominates, occupying as it does, five-eighths of the disk. Early in the history of Martian observation the blue patches were taken for seas, and received names in keeping with the conception. Thus, we have the Sea of Serenity, the Sea of Vapors, and the like. The initial doubt of their watery nature was cast by their change in aspect, a change first noticed by Schiaparelli. The coup de grace to the old belief was given when Pickering and Douglass found that the dark areas were traversed by permanent lines. If the blue-green areas are not seas, what are they? According to Prof. Lowell, only vegetation can account for their singular fluctuations. He finds that in their color (blue-green) the dark areas exactly typify the distant look of our own forests. If the changes are vegetal, they must occur at the proper season of the planet's year. Generally speaking, it may be said that certain regions pass from ocher to blue-green in a few weeks at a season corresponding with the Martian spring. Conversely, the blue-green regions are converted into ocher with the coming of autumn. Mars owes its fiery tint to the great ocher stretches. Land the ocher regions have generally been taken for, and land they undoubtedly are. Indeed, they seem to be nothing but deserts. Their pure salmon hue is characteristic of the Sahara desert and of the desert of northern Arizona.