Sinai pumice linked to ancient eruption April 3, 2007Posted by grhomeboy in Culture.
Egyptian archaeologists showed off white pumice Monday that they theorize was swept onto the northern Sinai desert by a tsunami triggered by the ancient volcanic eruption on Santorini island 530 miles away.
Traces of the solidified lava foam from the eruption have been found on the island of Crete and in southwestern Turkey, but the archaeological team now believes it also reached the Sinai site where they were digging at an ancient fort 4 miles from the Mediterranean coast.
The Santorini explosion in the 17th century B.C. was devastating. It sank most of the now-Greek island and killed more than 35,000 people of a thriving Minoan community.
The head of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, Zahi Hawass, said the discovery of the pumice would open a new field of study in Egyptology. “Geologists will help us study how … natural disasters, such as the Santorini tsunami, affected the Pharaonic period,” he said.
A volcanologist at Greece’s Institute of Geology and Mineral Exploration, Georges Vougioukalakis, was skeptical that the pumice could have traveled so far with a tsunami. While noting that layers of ash from Santorini have been found in Egypt’s Nile Delta, he told The Associated Press that he thought it more likely the floating pumice was carried to the Sinai by regular ocean currents.
The archaeological team found the pumice while excavating at Tel Habuwa in the desert northeast of Qantara, a town on the Suez Canal nearly 95 miles northeast of Cairo. They were searching for Pharaonic forts that helped protect the Nile Delta from foreign invasion, and last month they uncovered remains here of an 18th Dynasty fort with four rectangular towers built of mud bricks.
“The pieces of lava stone were a surprise, but they were only part of the story,” said team leader Mohamed Abdel Maqsud.
For the archaeologists, more significant was finding a fortress used by ancient Egyptians to expel the Hyksos enemy during the New Kingdom, a Pharaonic empire that lasted from about 1500 B.C. to about 1000 B.C. The easternmost forts were so important that they were depicted in the reliefs on the walls of Karnak Temple in the ancient capital of Thebes, the present day city of Luxor, 300 miles south of Cairo.
Hawass did not elaborate on the geological tests that linked the Sinai pumice to Santorini, but said he was convinced more such lava would be found. “This is only the beginning,” he said.
Festival celebrates Tarkovsky April 3, 2007Posted by grhomeboy in Movies.
Event will unfold July 6-13 Ivanovo
Russia’s film world is marking the 75th anniversary of the birth of classic director Andrei Tarkovsky today. Main celebration will come in the summer, however, with the bow of an international film festival, titled “Mirror,” after the helmer’s 1974 masterpiece. The FIAPF-accredited event will unfold July 6-13 in the city of Ivanovo, 200 miles north east of Moscow, where Tarkovsky was born.
Honorary jury prexy is Italian scribe Tonino Guerra, a friend and collaborator of the Russian multi-hyphenate who died of cancer in 1986. Fest prexy is screen and stage thesp Inna Churikova, with Greece’s Theo Angelopoulos tentatively agreeing to jury duty.
Fest will have feature, docu and animation prize programs with both Russian and international submissions. Sergei Lavrentiev, for many years the foreign programmer for the Kinotavr event in Sochi, will select the international pics. A Fipresci critics’ jury is also expected.
Grand Canyon’s Glass Walkway April 3, 2007Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture.
Members of a Native American group based in a remote part of Arizona are hoping to entice more tourists by inviting visitors to step off the edge of the Grand Canyon.
The 1,500-member Hualapai tribe announced last week that the Skywalk, a giant, 30-million-dollar steel-and-glass walkway, has opened to the public.
The Skywalk will jut out 70 feet (21 meters) from the canyon rim, allowing tourists to go for a stroll with nothing between their feet and the Colorado River, 4,000 feet (1,220 meters) below, except for four inches (ten centimeters) of glass.
The Hualapai, or “People of the Tall Pines,” are working with the Las Vegas, Nevada-based Destination Grand Canyon to market the Skywalk and draw in valuable tourist dollars. Many other tribes have turned their government-sanctioned right to run casinos into a major revenue source. But the Hualapai’s remote location has undermined their efforts to host gambling.
Few tourists were willing to make the drive to the reservation with Las Vegas so close. And once they did, said Hualapai tribal member Robert Bravo, they didn’t stay long. “Ninety-four percent were coming out of Las Vegas. They’d throw a couple of nickels, a couple of dimes here and there. They’re all on a time schedule.”
Bravo, who serves as operations manager for the tribe’s tourist hub, says other tribes can rely on gaming to support their people, but the Skywalk is the answer for the Hualapai. “This is what’s going to feed our tribe.”
California businessman David Jin was first inspired to build the Skywalk in 1996 after taking a tour of the canyon. According to the Associated Press, the Hualapai tribe will own the Skywalk, but Jin will collect up to half of the money from ticket sales for the next 25 years. The Skywalk will be accessible through Grand Canyon West, the tribe’s once-humble tourist destination.
Although Grand Canyon National Park along the south rim sees about four million tourists a year, until recently Grand Canyon West hosted only about 125,000 visitors. To help bolster their numbers, the tribe agreed to build the Skywalk, which will eventually be joined by a three-story visitors’ center, including a restaurant with patio seating along the canyon.
Mark Johnson, of Las Vegas-based MRJ Architects, has been working on the Skywalk for about three years, beginning with a lengthy design phase. “There really is no building type for this,” Johnson said. He and a team of tribal consultants, engineers, and geologists started with the idea to build a single, straight walkway that would have stuck out from the canyon wall like a diving board. They moved through several more design concepts before settling on a U-shaped walkway.
Sometime before opening day in March, the behemoth structure will be rolled out at a rate of half an inch (1.3 centimeters) a minute on tracks while concrete weights anchor the back. When it’s in place, the Skywalk will be anchored to giant poles drilled 40 feet (12 meters) into the canyon wall. Only 120 people will be allowed on the walkway at a time.
Johnson says the rock wall, not the walkway’s design, is the wild card that could determine the Skywalk’s life span. At that height, the wall is made of 350-million-year-old limestone, porous material that is highly prone to erosion.
Geologists have a simple explanation for the formation of the Grand Canyon: the Colorado River cuts down through the rock, and the canyon’s sides fall in. Periodic rockfalls are an accepted and unpredictable reality. Johnson said there’s no way to tell whether the part of the canyon that will support the Skywalk will last a hundred years or a thousand.
Several locals say that, while they are excited for the increased revenues from tourism, they’re also leery of actually touring the Skywalk. Jeanna Kay, a real estate agent in the neighboring community of Dolan Springs, hopes the project will give area land prices a boost. But, she said, “I tell everybody, if you see me on the Skywalk, call 911.”
Allison Raskansky, president and CEO of Destination Grand Canyon, said her company’s efforts to promote Grand Canyon West and the Skywalk have shown promising early success. “In the one year we’ve been marketing, we’ve more than doubled visitor traffic,” she said. Raskansky said the idea is to follow an existing Hualapai land-use plan to keep all the development modest and earthy. The visitors’ center will be made from native rock, she pointed out, and “there will never be a McDonald’s.”
But Hualapai member Honta, who at age 70 is considered a tribal elder, thinks the development is already going too far. “I feel that they’re tearing down our ground,” she said. “It’s a very sacred ground to us.”
Honta says Native American soldiers killed in past conflicts were entombed in caves throughout the area. But the builders don’t know where those burial grounds are. “They don’t know much about what’s here, and one day they might run into them,” she says.
Bravo, Grand Canyon West’s operations manager, acknowledges that it took quite a bit of convincing to get a majority of the tribal elders to endorse plans for the Skywalk, and the project had to pass muster with the Hualapai Department of Natural Resources.
But now that it’s under way, the project’s backers say they’re excited to have a chance to offer an experience that will be unique the world over. “It should be scary, but it should be really a feeling of floating out there,” Johnson, the architect, said. “It’s going to keep your attention.”
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Japanese play the 182-hour concert April 3, 2007Posted by grhomeboy in Music.
A new world record for the longest non-stop concert has been set by hundreds of musicians in Japan.
The performance began on the evening of 23 March in the city of Omi, the BBC said. Over 900 musicians aged 6 to 89 took turns performing in the 9-day marathon, with breaks of no more than 5 minutes between acts. About 2,000 tunes were performed over 182 hours.
An official from Guinness World Records was present to declare when the record had been set. The previous world record was set in Canada in 2001 with 181 hours.
On Sunday, a magnitude 6.9 quake in northwestern Japan jolted the stage, but didn’t stop a determined pianist from ploughing on with her tune, said Hiroshi Mizutani, 51, another organizer.
“This pianist was amazing. The whole place was shaking quite badly but she went right on playing,” Mizutani said. “Even an earthquake couldn’t stop us.”