S: Stuff You Should Know Volume 1 by Marti Ingram
FC: Stuff You Should Know Volume 1 | by Marti Ingram
1: Table of Contents | Article One: Top 10 Bungled Attempts At One-Person Flight Article Two: What Is A Scytale? Article Three: The Amber Room Article Four: The Lost City Of Angkor Article Five: Henry Ford's Lost City In The Amazon Article Six: Who Was D.B. Cooper? Article Seven: Zenobia, Warrior Queen Article Eight: Is The Taj Mahal A Symbol Of Love? | page 1 page 14 page 16 page 27 page 38 page 53 page 63 page 74
2: Article One: Top 10 Bungled Attempts At One-Person Flight
3: "God denied to men the faculty of flight so that they might lead a quiet and tranquil life, for if they knew how to fly they would always be in perpetual danger." - Juan Caramuel y Loldovitz (1606-1682) Human history is filled with marvelous achievements. The invention of the automobile changed the landscapes of cities, and the surrounding suburbs around the world; the Internet connected people on a scale unimaginable before computers; and of course, the arrival of airplanes only 100 years ago gave us the ability to cross oceans and connect the far corners of the Earth. Before each of these innovations settled in and were taken for granted, however, their inventors struggled to get them off the ground. Early railway systems and gas-powered vehicles were bumpy, uncomfortable, and inefficient. For centuries, the abacus was the only tool available for making calculations. Attempts at flight, meanwhile, were the most dangerous, since the point was maintaining control of a body or machine in the middle of the air, high above the ground. The history of flight, in particular, is peppered with mishaps, failures, and fatalities. In their efforts to understand the mechanics of flight, would-be inventors mostly tried to mimic the anatomy of birds. Some of the attempts are mythical and legendary; others are true stories with real documentation. Some were simple designs destined for loud thuds; others were complicated contraptions meant for equally chaotic crashes. | A bicycle with wings attached to its frame for an early attempt at a flying machine, circa 1900. This, strangely enough, is a tame design.
4: #10. The Legend of King Bladud (c. 850 B.C.) Before Orville and Wilbur Wright successfully flew the first heavier-than-air airplane at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in 1903, humans had been attempting flight for thousands of years. Ovid published his collection of myths, "Metamorphoses", at the very beginning of the first millennium, which included the tale of Daedalus and Icarus escaping the island of Crete by way of glue and feathers attached to their arms. Actors at Roman feasts frequently entertained audiences simply by jumping from tall heights with nothing but feathered arms, falling often to their deaths. | The very first recorded attempt at human flight, however, goes as far back as 850 B.C. to Troja Nova, or New Troy, where the legendary King Bladud made his mark on aviation history. Although there's little evidence supporting his existence, Bladud is still an important mythical figure who may have had an actual historical counterpart. According to the tales, Bladud was a great user of magic. He allegedly discovered the cure for leprosy in the city of Bath, of which many consider him the founder. King Bladud also practiced necromancy, or communication with the spirits of the dead. Legend says he used necromancy to build a pair of wings that attached to his arms. Bladud made an attempt to fly at the Temple of Apollo while wearing his wings, but the mythical figure unfortunately didn't get the right blueprints from the spirits: he fell to his death. After his fall, he was apparently buried in Troja Nova and was succeeded by his son, Lear, the very same king on whom Shakespeare based his tragic play, "King Lear". Could the sensational death of his father be the real reason King Lear went mad during his old age, raging against the wind in the forest? | King Bladud didn't just fail the world's first recorded attempt at flight, he also allegedly discovered the healing springs of Bath, England, with his pigs around 3000 years ago. One hundred model pigs were placed around Bath in 2008 to honor him.
5: #9. Leonardo da Vinci's Complex Ornithopter (c. 1505) Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) is well-known around the world as an artist. Millions of people every year flock to the Louvre Museum in Paris, France, to get a glimpse of his painting, "The Mona Lisa". His sketch of "The Vitruvian Man" changed the way people used proportion in art. His depiction of Christ and his disciples in "The Last Supper" even influenced the plot for the immensely popular best-selling book by Dan Brown, "The Da Vinci Code". But Leonardo isn't called the ultimate Renaissance man without reason. He didn't just paint: he was also a sculptor, an anatomy expert and an engineer, and he managed to predict the steam engine, the tank, and the submarine. During his thirties, Leonardo also took a great interest in flight, and by about 1505 had collected around 20 years of theory on flight. It is around this time that some think Leonardo built a complex ornithopter, a machine with flapping wings that closely mimicked the anatomy of birds. | No one really knows if Leonardo actually built a model of and tested his ornithopter. Many of his designs remained on paper during his lifetime and weren't built until much later; a working model of his primitive version of a car, for instance, wasn't actually constructed until 2004 because of a misunderstanding of the sketches. In 1550, one of Leonardo's associates, Cardanus, wrote that he had tried "in vain" to get the ornithopter off the ground, so there's a possibility that the Renaissance man took his machine for a few disastrous spins. | A sketch of Leonardo da Vinci's ornithopter.
6: #8. Giovanni Battista Danti and Paolo Guidotti Leonardo da Vinci wasn't the only man in the Renaissance around to try his hand at flying. One of Leonardo's contemporaries, the Italian mathematician Giovanni Battista Danti, was one of the many men throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance to mistakenly interpret the anatomy of birds and take the motion of flapping wings a little too far. Like many before and after him, Giovanni simply glued feathers to his arms and moved them rapidly up and down, hoping the feathers had some physical property that aided the mechanics of flight. Unfortunately, trial flights by Lake Trasimeno only ended up in violent crashes on the roof of St. Mary's Church. Another Renaissance man, Paolo Guidotti, who lived about 100 years later than Leonardo and Giovanni, just couldn't let go of the bird's-wing theory. Constructing wings made of whalebone (once again, covered with feathers) and curved into shape using springs, Giovanni attempted a flight that lasted 400 yards (366 meters) before falling through a roof and breaking his thigh. Like most others from his age, he concluded that painting was a safer, much more enjoyable act than aviation. Leonardo, Giovanni, and Paolo were all in their 50s when they attempted to fly, but the person who took the next leap of faith was much younger. | Lake Trasimeno in southern Italy, of which Giovanni Battista Danti had a great view of before he crashed.
7: #7. John Williams, Archbishop of York (c. 1589) Children often express their desire to fly from a young age. We often have fantastic dreams of floating or flying around effortlessly when we're young, and it's no surprise adolescents are drawn to superheroes like Superman, who can run, jump, and fly faster than a speeding bullet. If we're lucky enough, however, our parents let us know that actually attempting to fly without an airplane or helicopter and a licensed professional behind the wheel is not a good idea. Unfortunately for one boy, seven-year-old John Williams from Conway, Wales, no one passed on this valuable information concerning the human body's inability to fly. One day, while wandering the walls of Conway, young Williams was compelled to throw himself out toward the sea, hoping the wind would carry him away. The coat he was wearing at the time was long, and he assumed it could billow out and act like a sail or wings. The boy, according to John Hacket in 1693, "suffer'd an adventurous Mischance" and fell immediately onto a rock below. The stone "caused a secret Infirmity, fitter to be understood then further describ'd" - in other words, the fall Williams suffered castrated him. Williams' infirmity didn't slow him down, though, as he became Archbishop of York and lived to the age of 78. | The massive, eight-towered Conway Castle and its walled garrison tower, the latter of which the seven-year-old John Williams expected to jump off of and fly.
8: #6. Pierre Desforges (1770-1772) Although the Abbe Pierre Desforges, a French clergyman born around the year 1723, surrounded himself with a bit of controversy during his lifetime - in 1758, he was imprisoned in the Bastille for almost a year because of a treatise he wrote stating that Catholic priests and bishops should be allowed to marry - authorities mostly saw him as a harmless yet stubborn eccentric. During his time in prison, Desforges found the time to study the habits of swallows, and it was this endeavor that most likely led to his future obsession with the mechanics of flight. In 1770, the Abbe constructed a pair of wings, but Desforges wasn't confident enough to try them out himself. Instead, he attached the wings to the nearest peasant and covered him from head to toe in feathers. Leading him up to the top of a belfry, Desforges proceeded to instruct the peasant to start flapping and throw himself into the air, assuring him the wings would work. Desforges gave up after the peasant outright refused to commit suicide, and set to work on gathering funds to build a more reliable flying contraption. | After two years of hard work, Desforges eventually unveiled his flying machine, a six-foot (1.8 meter) long gondola covered by a canopy and attached with wings, the latter of which had a wingspan of nearly 20 feet (6.1 meters). The Abbe sought the help of four more peasants to carry the flying gondola up to the top of the Tour Guinette, a lookout tower near his church. This time Desforges was the one flying, as he most likely assumed that word had spread among the peasants to look out for any clergyman seeking aid near heights. In front of a large crowd, the peasants pushed Desforges over the edge, whereupon he promptly fell straight to the ground. The churchman suffered no more than a broken arm, but onlooker Baron von Grimm noted that although Desforges wouldn't be burned as a sorcerer, "the idea of the gondola would be likely to lead him straight to the madhouse". | In the background of this painting is the Tour Guinette, from which Desforges dropped in his gondola.
9: #5. Besnier the Locksmith (1678) Much of the history of aviation involves a long line of people who are altogether unassociated with flying but for a brief stint. One such person was Besnier, a locksmith from Sable, France, who decided to put locks aside for a moment and try his hand at a flying machine. Besnier had a bit more sense than the eccentric Desforges, and he understood that he didn't quite have the right materials to build a flying machine that would let him take off from the ground. Instead, the locksmith decided on an apparatus made of two wooden rods placed over the shoulders, on each of which was attached two wings. The rods, according to the illustration, were also tied to the pilot's feet, which helped to pull the wings down alternately and flap the folded wings. Besnier never attempted to flap violently from the ground; he tested his contraption out on short distances, jumping from chairs, tables, window sills, and, eventually, the tops of garrets and over rooftops. Although he became fairly skilled at floating for short distances, attempts at long distances only ended up in failure. | Somehow, Besnier the locksmith managed to fly short distances with his wacky design.
10: #4. The Marquis de Bacqueville (1742) The Marquis de Bacqueville (c. 1680 - 1760) appeared to have had very little experience in the way of flight, but one morning in 1742 he woke and announced his intent to fly from one side of the river Seine to the other. More specifically, the marquis planned to launch from a point in his mansion, located in Paris on a quay near the river, fly a distance of about 500 to 600 feet (152 to 183 meters) and land in the Jardin des Tuileries, the gardens situated near the palace of the same name. A large crowd came to witness his attempt on the planned date in the same year. With large wings resembling paddles attached to both his hands and feet, the marquis jumped from a terrace on his mansion and proceeded to float towards the gardens. For a moment, the marquis appeared to have control, but after a short while he began to waver, and he eventually fell, slamming into the deck of a barge and breaking his leg. Admitting defeat, the marquis gave up flying for good. #3. Joao Torto (June 20, 1540, 5 p.m.) The small European country of Portugal has a long history of aviation: attempts at flying go back as early as medieval times, and the Portuguese Air Museum dates back as far as 1909, only six years after the Wright brothers flew at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. | An illustration depicting the Marquis de Bacqueville's attempted flight across the Seine, the moment before he plunged on top of the deck of a barge and broke his leg.
11: One famous attempt, however, made the wrong kind of history, ending up in failure. The man who took the hit for Portuguese aviation was Joao Torto. A true Renaissance man, Torto was a man of many trades: he was a nurse, a barber, a certified bleeder and healer, an astrologer, and a teacher. Unfortunately, Torto also had a big head about his well-rounded education, and decided he wanted another title added to his list: aviator. | Using two pairs of calico-covered wings attached to his arms and an eagle-shaped helmet, Torto jumped from the cathedral tower in St. Mateus Square on June 20, 1540 at 5 p.m. (in front of a large crowd, of course) and fell a short distance to a nearby chapel. Unfortunately, when he landed, his helmet slipped over his face and obscured his view. He fell to the ground, fatally wounding himself. #2. Philippe le Picard's Laborer (c. 16th Century) Because of several accounts detailing the uncertainty of attaching a pair of wings to one's arms and falling several stories, there were many stories and moral tales describing the dangers of flight attempts before the beginning of modern aviation. One 16th century writer named Philippe le Picard, who went by the pen name of Philippe d-Alcripe, wrote one such story, infusing his fable with a bit of humor. Le Picard's moral tale involves a French laborer, known across Normandy as a great swearer and drunkard. The fable says that one day, when the laborer had had too much curdled milk to drink, he decided on a whim to make himself a flying apparatus and have a bit of fun. | Torto demonstrates his flying machine for a group of onlookers with disastrous results.
12: Without notifying his wife (who should have been more concerned about him getting poisoned from drinking curdled milk?!?), the worker cut a winnowing basket, used to separate corn kernels from husks, in half, fashioning the two halves to his back. After failing to lift himself off the ground, the man got a brilliant idea: he needed to find a tail in order to look more like a bird. Being a laborer, the man had a nearby shovel, which he placed between his legs and secured with a belt. Climbing to the top of a nearby tree, he jumped off, soared through the air for a split second, and then fell headfirst to the ground, where he broke his shoulder. The shoulder never healed properly, preventing him from making any more drunken, misguided attempts. Indeed, there was a "moral issue" connected with flight. As excited and curious as most people were about the possibility of flight before the invention of the airplane, some were downright terrified of the idea. People weren't just worried about the potentially foolish dangers of flying - moral concerns about the potential criminal misuse of flying also frequently popped up in writing. In the 17th century, for instance, Johann Daniel Major imagines a world in which "treachery, robbery, and assassination... would be heaped upon one another! Towns and castles, whole provinces and kingdoms, would presumably soon be obliged to fill the air either by means of the frequent firing of canon or by stirring up rising smoke... to protect themselves... against total invasion." By the 18th century, as the possibility of flight was becoming more of a reality, fears in France of risky flying even led to proposed legislation that detailed strict control over the use of new flying machines. | Early flying contraptions typically led to death or at least severe injury.
13: #1. Al-Djawhari (c. 1000) The first more or less reliable historical account of attempted flight happened around the year A.D. 1000, in Nisabur, Arabia. The would-be aviator in question was al-Djawhari, the great Turkish scholar from Farab. Sometime between the years of 1002 and 1010 (several different accounts vary), al-Djawhari tied two pieces of wood to his arms and climbed the roof of a tall mosque in Nisabur. According to eye witnesses, the scholar's bold move drew a large crowd, to whom he announced, "O People! No one has made this discovery before. Now I will fly before your very eyes. The most important thing on Earth is to fly to the skies. That I will do now." That, unfortunately, he did not do. Al-Djawhari fell straight to the ground and was killed, stamping into history the first recorded attempt at human flight. In fact, the Turks had always had an interest in human flight. Sciences such as mathematics and astronomy were very important to Islamic scholars during the Middle Ages, and flight became a sacred ideal to Turks well before it was seriously discussed in Europe. Around the 13th century, the Turkish lyric poet Sultan Veled included the word "ugmak" in his poems, which means both "heaven" and "to fly". Experiments with gunpowder and rockets were just as revered, and, according to anecdotes, one man named Lagari Hasan Celebi even mounted a rocket, lit it, and flew over a lake before falling in unharmed. | The picture above is a collage of several different types of flying machines, created over the ages with varying degrees of success.
14: Article Two: What Is A Scytale?
15: In cryptology, the practice and study of hiding information, a scytale or skytale (pronounced skit-alley) is a tool used to perform a transposition cipher. Transposition ciphers are codes which use the movement of letters to hide a message or meaning. A scytale consists of a cylinder with a strip of leather wound around it, on which is written a message. The ancient Greeks, and the Spartans in particular, are said to have used this cipher to communicate during military campaigns. The recipient uses a rod of the same diameter on which he wraps the leather to read the message. It has the advantage of being fast and not prone to mistakes - a necessary property when on the battlefield. It can, however, be easily broken. Since the strip of leather (or paper in more modern times) hints strongly at the method, the ciphertext would have to be translated in message or riddle to be effective. To Encrypt: Suppose the rod allows one to write 4 letters around in a circle, and 5 letters along the length of it. The plaintext could be: "Help me I am under attack." To encrypt, one simply writes across the leather... H E L P M E I A M U So, the ciphertext becomes "HENTEIDTLAEAPMRCMUAK" N D E R A after unwinding. T T A C K To Decrypt: To decrypt, all one must do is wrap the leather strip around the rod and read across. The ciphertext is "HENTEIDTLAEAPMRCMUAK". Every 5th letter will appear on the same line, so the plaintext becomes the original message. A rod of the exact same diameter must be used or letters will not line up properly, and the message will not be visible.
16: Article Three: The Amber Room
17: While many people associate amber with the casing for dinosaur DNA in 1993's "Jurassic Park", the stone has enthralled Europeans, and especially the Russians, for centuries. An example of how prized amber was in Russia can be found in the "Amber Room", a marvel of design sometimes called the eighth wonder of the world. It is a magnificent room made of amber, gold, and precious gemstones, an ornate Baroque masterpiece. People who have had the pleasure of being inside of it compare it to being inside of a jewelry box. The other fascinating aspect of the Amber Room is that it is missing. So what happened to the Amber Room? Before this can be explored, it is necessary to delve into the history of the Amber Room. The Amber Room is not actually from Russia - it is from Prussia. Construction of the Amber Room began in 1701. It was originally installed at Charlottenburg Palace, home of Friedrich I, the first King of Prussia. Truly an international collaboration, the room was designed by German baroque sculptor Andreas Schluter and constructed by the Danish amber craftsman Gottfried Wolfram. Peter the Great, of Russia, visited and admired the room, and in 1716 the new King of Prussia, Frederick William I (son of Friedrich I) was willing to share. Frederick was more interested in his army than art, and considering the Amber Room wasn't even finished yet, gave it to Peter the Great at a diplomatic gift, therefore cementing the Russian-Prussian alliance against Sweden. | Amber, a semi-precious stone. | Friedrich I of Prussia; Frederick I of Prussia | Peter the Great of Russia
18: The Amber Room was shipped off to Russia in 18 boxes, where it was finished by Russian craftsmen (and German supervisors). It was then installed in the Winter House in St. Petersburg as part of a European art collection. The room isn't really a 'room', but rather a series of wall panels inlaid with carved amber, wall mirrors, and four Florentine mosaics with onyx, quartz, and jade. The mosaics were meant to represent allegories of the senses. There were parquet floors, as well, along with baroque gilded wood carvings. The amber itself was carved into garlands and cherubs - all very intricate designs, which were then backed in gold leaf so that the entire panel sparkled. The entire room was said to emit a golden hue. | In 1755, Czarina Elizabeth ordered the room to be moved to the Catherine Palace (in Russian, 'Tsarskoye Selo') or the 'Czar's Village'. However, the room she chose was much bigger than the room in the Winter Palace, and so the Italian designer Bartolomeo Francesco Rastrelli redesigned the room to fit into its new, larger space. Amber had to be shipped in from Berlin to complete the task. | The Winter Palace on the left; Catherine Palace on the right
19: After other 18th century renovations, the room covered about 180 square feet and glowed with six tons of amber and other semi-precious stones. The amber panels were backed with gold leaf and historians estimate that, at the time, the room was worth $142 million dollars by today's standards. Over time, Czarina Elizabeth began to use the Amber Room as her own private meditation chamber, which seems like it might have been difficult to do when all you want to do is stare and marvel at the walls. The room was also used as a gathering room for Catherine the Great, and as a trophy space for amber collector and connoisseur Alexander II. The Amber Room's value was sure to get some attention - especially during World War 2 from the treasure-hungry Nazis. The Nazis are famous for their genocidal ambitions, but this ambition was coupled with another great 'passion', and that was looting. They are infamous for looting from nations down to individuals, stealing money, art, gold, and cultural artifacts. The Germans were majorly under-financed at the beginning of the second World War, so to make up for that, they had to steal. The U.S. State Department estimates that the Nazis stole over $400 million in gold from occupied nations, and $140 million in gold from individuals, mainly from those sent to concentration camps. The Nazis would steal not only people's personal wealth, but jewelry, art, and even their gold fillings! | The Kingdom of Prussia | Treasure-hungry Hitler
20: Along with the need to finance an army, Hitler also wanted to build his reputation as a cultured man, and create one of the most prestigious museums in the world. This way, Germany would be the center of world art. Hitler literally had a "wish list" of art that he desired, and managed to seize a sizable portion of it. On June 22, 1941, Adolf Hitler initiated Operation Barbarossa, which launched three million German soldiers into the Soviet Union. This invasion led to the looting of tens of thousands of art treasures. Naturally, the Nazis, as treasure-hungry as they were, knew about the Amber Room. The Germans believed that the Amber Room had been made by Germany, and certainly, made for Germans. One of the major goals of the Nazis was to return German art to Germany - and it also helped that the Amber Room was worth a lot of money. As the forces moved into Pushkin, officials and curators of the Catherine Palace attempted to dissemble and hide the Amber Room. They tried to take down the walls, but because the Amber Room was dry and in need of restoration, the amber itself began to crumble. Instead of destroying it, the curators tried to hide the Amber Room by covering it with thin wallpaper. But the ruse didn't fool the German soldiers, who tore down the Amber Room within 36 hours, packed it up in 27 crates, and shipped it to Konigsberg, Germany (now current-day Kaliningrad). The room was reinstalled in Konigsberg's castle museum on the Baltic Coast. Ironically enough, this area had been the center of the amber industry for the past 300 years. (Kaliningrad is now in Russia). | Now called Kaliningrad, Konigsberg is where the Germans shipped the Amber Room.
21: The museum's director in Kaliningrad, Alfred Rohde, was extremely interested in amber and studied the room's panels. He put them on display for two years at the museum. However, in 1943 the Germans found themselves in the same position Russia had been in a few years earlier: the enemy was coming, in this case the Allies. Rohde was told to pack the Amber Room up, and this was where it was last seen - in crates. In August of 1944, the Allies bombed the city of Kaliningrad, including its museum castle, which was destroyed in the attack. With this act, the trail of the Amber Room was lost. About a year later, on April 9th, 1945, Stalin's Red Army entered the city of Kaliningrad and burned whatever they could. At this time, the city of Konigsberg was annexed and became known as Kaliningrad. But what happened to the Amber Room? Since then, the majority of the Amber Room has been missing. Everyone from the K.G.B. to amateur Amber Room hunters have searched for it, and theories abound over what has happened to it. The most basic theory is that the crates were accidentally destroyed by the Allies during the 1944 museum bombings. Another theory is that the crates survived the bombing, but were destroyed in the Red Army fires of 1945. Dissenters of this theory say that if the amber had been burned, the whole city would have smelled of tree resin and the incident would have been reported in the news. | Konigsberg castle after the fire. | Interestingly, the way that you could test the authenticity of amber was by warming up a pin and pushing it into or against the amber object. However, counterfeiters today can get around this by coating objects in a layer of real amber. Another idea is that the Amber Room is still in Kaliningrad, still hidden. It could be in a secret and undiscovered bunker. Yet another theory is that the Amber Room was successfully spirited away to another city - theories range from somewhere in the Czech Republic to Germany.
22: Some historians have also theorized that the room was loaded onto a ship for transport, but it is now sunken somewhere in the Baltic Sea. One of the more crazy theories is that there were two Amber Rooms, and the one that was stolen by the Nazis was a decoy. Some say Hitler's body wasn't burnt, but actually was buried with the Amber Room, which doesn't answer the question of where the room is, but is interesting nevertheless. In 1997, a group of German art detectives got a tip that someone was trying to hawk a piece of the Amber Room. They raided the office of the seller's lawyer and found one of the room's mosaic panels in Bremen, but the seller was the son of a deceased soldier and had no idea as to the panel's origin. At least there is a piece of the room still in existence, and this remnant proved to be very useful, as you will find out later on. In 2004, British investigative journalists concluded that the Amber Room had probably been destroyed in the Konigsberg castle fire. Stalin, however, wouldn't have agreed with these findings. He actually believed that the room had been shipped out before the bombings, and consequently in 1945 and 1946, ordered that the castle ruins be searched for any trace of amber. None was found. The K.G.B. and the Stasi, the German secret police, tried to find the Amber Room instead. The search became quite important to the Soviets as Cold War propaganda: the | room was still a patriotic point for many. In 2008, two men, Hans-Peter Haustein and Christian Hanisch, insisted that Nazi gold and maybe even the Amber Room were to be found in Deutschneudorf, Germany. They excavated slowly because they believed that there were booby traps guarding the treasure room. After more research and exploration, Haustein later retracted his statement about the Amber Room, and instead claimed he was only about to discover Nazi gold. | Joseph Stalin, Russian leader from 1941 to 1953
23: In even more recent news, Sergei Trofonov revealed in 2010 that he believed he had located the Amber Room buried underground in a bunker in Kaliningrad. Even if Trofonov proves to be incorrect, the museum has still benefited not only from increased publicity, but also because Trofonov has spent time and money to helpfully pump unwanted water from below the museum structure in his search for the treasure. This would not be the first time huge discoveries in Nazi gold and loot have been made, however. One of the biggest discoveries was made right in 1945 when Patton's army discovered 'Merkers Mine". Most of the stolen Nazi gold was kept in the Reichsbank, the central bank of Germany from 1876 to 1945, and was based in Berlin. After the fall of the Nazi regime in 1945, much of the wealth was transferred to mines outside of Berlin | because the Germans believed the money to be safer there. The Allies heard about these mines and decided to explore. General George S. Patton's army crossed the Rhine river and entered deep into the heart of Germany. Just before noon on April 4, 1945, the village of Merkers fell to Patton's Third Battalion. Soon, rumors began to run rampant through the soldiers stationed there. Many of the townspeople were apparently insisting that the Nazis had been using nearby abandoned potassium mines to store gold and artwork that had been stolen by the Reich. On April 7, 1945, William Russell and German mining officials descended down the mine shaft twenty-one hundred feet beneath the surface. In the main hallway, stacked against the walls, they found 550 bags of Reichmarks, or German currency. Moving down the tunnel, the Americans found the main vault. It was blocked by a wall three feet thick, enclosing a portion of the mine at least one hundred feet wide. In the center of the wall was a large bank-type steel safe door, complete with a combination lock and timing mechanism with a heavy steel door set in the middle of it. Initial attempts to open the steel vault door were unsuccessful, but on April 8, the army blasted through the brick wall using a half stick of dynamite. Inside the main room were more than 7,000 bags full of loot. There were bales of currency stacked alongside the wall. In the back was another, smaller room | Nazi stolen treasure at Merkers Mine
24: that held 18 more bags and 189 suitcases, trunks, and boxes. Artwork, 8198 bars of gold bullion, silver, platinum, foreign and German currency, and gold upon gold pieces were found in the little room. Rembrandts, Renoirs, and Raphaels were all discovered amongst the Nazi's stolen artwork. But if the Amber Room had been buried in some deep mine like this, would it even be okay? The answer is... probably not. According to amber experts, the amber would probably have been ruined by the dank atmosphere of a mine. The Amber Room was in need of restoration before being packed up in crates, so a rough journey and less than ideal storage atmosphere does not bode well for these famous panels. It had already partially crumbled when the Russians had first dismantled it, and no doubt had disintegrated further due to its constant movement in crates.
25: By the late 1970s, the Russians had given up seriously searching for the Amber Room, and instead commissioned a replica. Work began in 1979, with the actual construction starting in 1982 at Tsarskoye Sela. It was indeed a daunting task, as the craftsmen working on the room had to relearn the long-lost skills of the amber guilds. Cutting, carving, and dying amber are not common trades to find in today's modern world! Funding for the project stopped in the mid-nineties, but it was saved by a $3.5 million donation from Ruhrgas, a German | This Page: Artworks at Merkers Mine. Opposite Page: Various loot from Merkers Mine. | natural gas company. It is interesting that the Amber Room replica was able to begin a 'rekindling' of that long-lost Russian-Prussian alliance! Another donation, in the sum of $10,000 came from a woman in Manhattan, and was used to purchase rare, great pieces of amber for the restoration. According to the New York Times, these larger pieces of amber had been held in private collections for so long that they were rare and valuable and had to be purchased right away. Without the help from the Manhattan donation, the amber may have never been acquired for the Amber Room restoration. The recreation of the Amber Room was based entirely on old photos, memories from museum curators and visitors, and that one single panel that had been discovered in 1997. That one panel enabled the German craftsmen to compare their work to the original. Other objects from the Amber Room have managed to survive as well. The Russians were able to hide - and keep track of - items such as tables, jewelry boxes, and chess sets, all made of amber. Most had been hidden in Siberia. After 25 years of construction, the 2003 the new $11 million Amber Room opened to the public. It was dedicated by Russian President Vladimir Putin and then German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder as part of the celebrations for the 300 year anniversary of St. Petersburg. The replica room is still on display today and open to the public.
26: But what happens if the Amber Room, the original room, is finally found again? Who owns it? Towards the end of the 20th century, countries got more invested in making efforts to return stolen Nazi gold and cultural items to their rightful owners. If individuals were no longer alive to reclaim their items, it was encouraged that money and artifacts were donated to humanitarian groups, especially those that benefit Holocaust survivors. However, the Geneva conventions dictate that items of cultural significance, such as precious paintings or rooms made of amber, be returned to the country that they came from. Any Amber Room discoveries will not be able to become private property. Another note for Amber Room hunters is the so-called "Amber Room Curse". To begin with, Alfred Rohde and his wife died of typhus while the K.G.B. was investigating the room. A General Gusev, a Russian intelligence officer, died in a car crash after he talked to a journalist about the Amber Room. Another disturbing tale is of Amber Room hunter and former German soldier Georg Stein, who was murdered in a Bavarian forest. | The gorgeous Amber Room. | Visitors to today's Amber Room are allowed to view the room and enter the chamber, but to preserve the state of the amber, photographs are strictly forbidden. Some visitors claim that you can feel heat emanating from the walls, as if some bizarre form of energy is being released. This phenomenon was also reported by the Russian tsars. Of course, the heat in the Amber Room can probably be explained by the 500 candles used to light and create ambiance in the chamber. Next time you travel to Russia, be sure to visit the Amber Room!
27: Article 4: The Lost City of Angkor
28: At its height, the city of Angkor was larger than Rhode Island. Replete with ornate architecture, the metropolis also served as a religious center. Yet by the time Europeans discovered the site, it was ruined. What happened to make the city of Angkor fall? Today the area is known for its famous temple, Angkor Wat, and its weathered ruins surrounded by rice-growing peasant villages in the region of north-western Cambodia. But back in medieval times, Angkor was a very impressive city, large in scale and cutting edge with its works of engineering. To figure out how a city of Angkor's stature could fall, we need to go back and learn some history about it. Let's start at A.D. 800, with a powerful regional king named Jayavarmin II. Jayavarmin consolidated the chiefdoms in Cambodia and formed the kingdom of Angkor. He called his royal line the Khmer Empire, and declared that he and his descendants were linked to the gods. With this, Jayavarmin created a cult in which the royalty was known as the "Devaraja" or "Good King / God King" - otherwise known as the King of the Gods. This proved to be very important in the city of Angkor's development, as the relationship between kings and gods dictated the structures that were built. | Angkor Wat Temple
29: Angkor became the capital of the Khmer Empire from the 9th century to the 15th century A.D., which was known as the 'classical' era of Cambodian history. Originally the people of this empire were descended from the Phnom people of the Mekong River delta. The Khmer culture was highly influenced by Hinduism and Buddhism - a result of centuries of contact with Indian traders. However, some original remnants of the Phnom traditions remained, and the Khmer people had their own unique blend of religions. The empire covered a huge area: it ran from the tip of the Indo-Chinese peninsula in the north to the modern Yunnan province in China, and from Vietnam westward to the Bay of Bengal. The city of Angkor itself was bigger than Rhode Island in the United States of America! Due to the city's huge size, leaders were able to fund huge construction projects. The biggest one, of course, was Angkor Wat, a temple complex that was built in the 12th century. Another large construction project was Angkor Thom (pronounced Tom), which was another temple complex that was built in 1200 by King Jayavarmin VII. It is after Jayavarmin VII's rule that Angkor itself began to fail. By 1431, the city had been partially abandoned. By the 1600s, when Portuguese missionaries came across Angkor, it was a mere shell of the thriving city it had once been. Royalty was briefly re-established in the 16th century, but was not successful and did not last long. What happened to make this city turn into a jungle-infested ghost town? | Map of the Khmer Empire
30: It cannot be said that Angkor has been completely forgotten. Angkor Wat is a popular tourist location for brave tourists., and the temple itself is lived in and maintained by monks and hermits, and is still considered an important pilgrimage site in Southeast Asia. However, often the vastness of the city of Angkor is forgotten. The word "angkor" is derived from Sanskrit, an ancient Indian language. "angkor" is actually a loose version of the word "nagara", which means "city". Angkor Wat literally means "City of Temple" and Angkor Thom means "The Magnificent City". There are constant reminders that Angkor was once an expansive and impressive metropolis. | Angkor has been 'rediscovered' many times, sometimes being mistaken for an ancient city founded by Roman leader Alexander the Great. In the 1860s, the French Colonial Regime in Cambodia began to restore Angkor's temples, reservoirs, and canals, reworking the structures that laced throughout this mammoth complex. The French explorer, Henri Mouhot, reintroduced Angkor to the west through his book "Travels in Siam, Cambodia, and Laos" in 1864. In the 20th century, there was a lot of upheaval in Cambodia, and through this there was more damage done to the site: some theft, but mainly damage due to general neglect. It was too dangerous of a place, at the time, for most people to go to and take care of the ruins. During this time, the jungle's vegetation began to engulf and erode the ancient city. One of the most impressive forms of jungle vegetation overtaking Angkor are the strangler fig trees, which have roots that
31: pour like molten lava over the stones, and grow great hollow trunks that reach for the sky. In 1992, Angkor Wat became a World Heritage Site, which went a long way towards helping efforts to preserve the site. By 1994, the cultural monument had been scanned by the radar of the space shuttle Endeavor, which surprisingly unveiled some key elements about Angkor and Angkor Wat. But what was Angkor like - why should we care about this forgotten city? During the medieval times, the Khmer people erected thousands of shrines in Angkor and went on a building spree. The city was built with purpose, not haphazardly, and the structural concept was tied to the Hindu concept of the universe. The structure of the city itself was built to represent ideas in Hindu cosmology: the outer walls of the temples were meant to recall the mystical mountains that edged the world, and the waters in the reservoirs, canals, and moats that laced through the city were meant to symbolize the waters of the cosmos. In this way, the city modeled the people's idea of the universe. This was actually a common practice for large cities: the Mexican Aztec city of Tenochtitlan was built with the same theme. | Henri Mouhot | Strangler fig flowing over Angkor Wat
32: The temples weren't only religious centers; they were also commercial centers. Many of them operated as independent cities, be it small or large. There were around 750,000 people in Angkor, which was the capital of the Khmer Kingdom. It was the most extensive urban complex of the pre-industrial world. There only exists one first-hand account of what Angkor was really like. This comes from a Chinese diplomat named Zhou Daguan (pronounced Zow Dah Gwahn) who visitied Angkor at the end of the 13th century. In this account, he describes the city itself, and city life. He discusses how, when he entered the city, he was struck by the moat that surrounded it, with a border of 54 giants holding a snake. He describes a golden bridge, gilded lions, a pavilion held aloft by stone elephants, a bronze Buddha surrounded by a lake, who dispensed water from his bellybutton, and much more. He tells of fireworks and boar fighting, royal processions with horses clad in gold, and palace women dressed in flowers. He paints a picture of luxury and excess. | Zhou Daguan's book | However, this is only one side of the culture in Angkor. The average life of a peasant probably held none of these accounts. Peasants would most likely have employment working hard on a temple, as they were constantly being constructed, and peasants were the main work force. Peasants had to pay tribute, a form of taxes, and often did so with home-grown rice, which was frequently accepted as currency. Peasants were also drafted into war - there were constant battles with armies from Thailand and Champa, which is Vietnam today. Zhou Daguan also discussed what could only be considered the 'middle class', as he was staying with such a family. In the house, there was matting but no tables, chairs, or beds. They cooked rice over a clay stove, and then sat on the mats to eat off of ceramic plates. They drank a wine, made from honey, rice, leaves, and water, from tin cups. They slept on mats on the floor, and according to Zhou Daguan, it was so hot at night that people got up at all hours just to bathe. A few families all shared a single ditch as a latrine, and when it was full they would dig another (or, if they owned one, had their slave do it.) Wealthy families could have
33: more than 100 slaves each, which would have been taken (kidnapped) from the uplands. The slaves could speak Khmer, but had no rights. An interesting aspect of Angkor life occurred when two families fought. The families would take one family member each and isolate them in a tower. After an extended period of confinement, they would release the person and examine them for any ailments or misfortunes that may have befallen them during that time, such as a fever. In this way, the feuding families would determine who had been 'guilty'. The king's punishment for committing a crime could range from a fine to crushing one's limbs. Another strange custom in Angkor was the collecting of human gall, which was thought to give both men and elephants courage. (Elephants?) If you were a person who needed courage, you could drink gall mixed with wine. If you were an elephant, you would have it poured over you in a different mixture. A job in Angkor was the commissioner, who watched over the collection of the gall. Other than Zhou Daguan's account, there is not much else to go on to study Angkor's cultural history. There are a few carvings on walls, but all of the homes (high class to lower class) and the administrative buildings were all made of wood. Consequently, they have not survived to give us stories of Angkor's past, particularly its fall. | Human gallbladder, where gall is created
34: Historically, ideas on Angkor's downfall range from invaders, religion changes, and maritime trade shutting down the coastal city... but none have any tangible proof to back them up. It is a "choose your own ending" mystery in history! One option to explain how Angkor fell is that of rivalry. The Khmer kings each had a few wives, and therefore several children. Because of this, there were constant battles over which baby would be the next king. There were plenty of attempts to usurp the throne. Having no clear line of succession caused a lot of tension, not just among the royal family, but within all of Angkor. | Another potential problem was that of war. Warriors from the state or Kingdom of Ayutthaya sacked and conquered Angkor in 1431. During this time, the Ayutthaya invaded the city and made off with a lot of treasure and women. However, it is unlikely that they completely destroyed the city itself. This is because the ruler of the Ayutthaya then installed his son on the throne of Angkor. No king would want his son ruling over piles of rubble. The third option to explain the fall of Angkor is that of religion. Anthropologists call Angkor the 'regal ritual' city, where the citizens loved religion and had it as a part of their daily lives. The kings were the world emperors of Hindu lore. But by the 13th and 14th centuries, Theravada Buddhism (pronounced Tara-vah-dah) began to surpass Hinduism. This religion preached social equality, which wasn't a big part of Angkor | Above: Angkor Thom temple carvings Below: Angkor Thom; Strangler fig at Angkor Thom
35: traditionally. Buddhist ideals may have inflamed the slaves and lower classes, who were used to giving away large chunks of their income as tribute to an excessive king. Rice, used as currency, paid for luxurious ceremonies, and also fed the priests, dancers, concubines, etc. These people were all employed by the regency. This is a plausible explanation as to why the society collapsed. Finally, it must be considered that the city was simply abandoned. This is possible, as the rulers were obsessed with building their own, new temples, and typically neglected the older temples (built for long-dead rulers). Preservation was not a concern in their culture. (This happened in Egypt as well, when pharaohs, while constructing their own grand tombs, would pilfer rocks from the tombs of other past pharaohs.) So perhaps the rulers of Angkor simply looked for a new location, closer to the Mekong River near Cambodia's modern capital. This would allow for them easier sea trade and expansion. This new town was called Phnom Penh. Recently, there has been a more modern theory, which is that the city suffered from water troubles. In order to grow the large amounts of rice they relied on, the city needed a steady water supply. The Khmer Empire was excellent at engineering, particularly with canals and reservoirs. This water system allowed them to harvest the bounty of the monsoon season and keep a constant supply of water available, therefore allowing year-long rice growth. | Ruins at Ayutthaya, Thailand | Buddhist statue at Ayutthaya
36: If this system failed, so would the city, and perhaps this indeed occurred. There was a moat 5 miles long and 1.5 miles wide - the Khmer people did not build small bodies of water. The moat was perfectly rectangular. Here is how the water system worked: During the summer monsoon months, the overflow channels took care of excess water to save it for later. The rains stopped in October / November and the irrigation channels dispensed the stored water. It was possible to grow rice, when normally you wouldn't be able to. These channels also prevented the area from flooding as they usually would during the monsoon season. NASA images from the spacecraft Endeavor actually helped researchers study these irrigation channels. Images from the space craft showed lines in places that were too dangerous to actually visit, due to the internal turmoil and fighting in Cambodia. (It is somewhat of a scary place to travel in these modern times.) The satellite images of Angkor showed that the reservoirs had inlets and outlets for irrigation, and that they weren't designed merely for religious purposes. By the early 13th century, the water works had begun to deteriorate. The main cause is unknown. It has been hypothesized that floods may have broken some of | The moat around Angkor Wat, which clearly shows the geometric accuracy the Khmer people possessed | the masonry, or that it just became too massive of a system for the engineers to handle. This is a bit surprising, as the 13th century is still quite early in Angkor's history to have water failure - Angkor still existed as a functioning city in the 16th century. What may have happened is that, while the waterworks were in disrepair, the environment suffered what is called "The Little Ice Age". This phenomenon began in 1300 and lasted a couple of centuries, causing abnormally cold seasons. This ice age affected both Europe and Asia. Angkor would have suffered mega-droughts, then monsoons ranging from huge to
37: barely existent - no regular weather pattern to rely on. The unstable monsoon season and failing waterworks meant crops could not be guaranteed. Scientists found proof of "The Little Ice Age" and its effects in trees called Poh Moh, or cypress trees. Rings from these 979-year-old trees were studied, and showed signs of major stress at the time of the city's decline. Because of this environmental stress, the city's rice crops had little yield, which would have led to starvation, turmoil, and a weak army. One other environmental possibility regarding the fall of Angkor deals with deforestation and the clearing of jungle land, which may have caused flooding and silted-in canals. Cambodia has recently tamed some of its inner conflict and has re-opened its borders for tourism. Perhaps now further study of Angkor Wat can be made. Cambodia makes a great deal of income from tourism to Angkor Wat. Of course, the tourism also threatens the structural integrity of the temples, causing erosion, groundwater removal (which weakens foundations and causes slumping, sinkholes, and collapses), and even looting! Museums in Cambodia and all the way to France contain artifacts taken and recovered from the city and its temples. If you ever have a chance and the courage, be sure to visit this beautiful and mysterious lost city! | Angkor Wat sits serenely in the background of an ancient Khmer reservoir. | A reservoir, called a 'baray' in Cambodia.
38: Article 5: Henry Ford's City in the Amazon
39: "Fordlandia" was the name of Henry Ford's failed attempt at a utopian company town in the middle of the Amazon. He built the town with a dream: neat suburban homes, swimming pools, doctors, wholesome Detroit-style food, and a successful rubber plantation to fund it all. What he didn't envision was malaria, knife fights, wasted money, or caterpillars. Learn all about Henry Ford's forgotten jungle town in this article! Before details are given about Fordlandia itself, the life of Henry Ford needs to be briefly discussed. By the 1920s, Henry Ford had been in the motor car business for decades. He'd established his moving assembly line, he'd rolled out the Model T and even the Model A, and had revolutionized the modern industrial world with his labor theories: the five-dollar work day, the 40-hour work week, and profit sharing. He also dabbled in the idea of model communities, which seems like a natural extension for someone who had an interest and experience in model factories. According to an article on Ford by author Wayne Curtis, until then, Ford's experiments with model communities had gone well. He had already set up a small logging village in Northern Michigan, and stocked it with everything a working man could want, such as recreation centers, schools for the kids, and churches. By the late 1920s, however, Ford found himself feeling discouraged despite all his accomplishments. World War 1 had shaken him, as well as his growing media regarding his anti-Semetic views! He was at this point, in his 60s, starting to look back and feel nostalgic for his own rustic, rural upbringing. | When Ford was presented with the opportunity to establish his own rubber production company in Brazil, he jumped at this new challenge. He planned to create a model community around this factory. He was imagining how impressive it would be to tame the Amazon into a series of paved suburban streets, and creating a society that was connected to global industry, but still small and quaint enough to grow its own vegetables and raise its own animals. | Henry Ford with his Model T
40: A United States diplomat stated that, "Mr. Ford considers the project a 'work of civilization'" and noted that for Ford it was not just a business prospect. It was a chance to build a utopia. But why would Ford choose the Amazon of all places - why rubber? To understand this, we must go back a bit into the 19th century annals of history. Rubber trees are native to the Amazon, and when rubber became a global commodity in the 19th century, some people became very, very rich! But when the Englishman Henry Wickham smuggled out sacks of seeds, it was discovered that rubber trees actually grew much better in Southeast Asia, where none of its natural predators lived. Because there were no natural predators, you can establish huge plantations, full of rubber trees that create a consistent product. South American rubber was still collected from wild trees, which never yielded reliable amounts. The rubber barons from South America lost their monopoly on the industry. At this time, British and American companies actually wanted the rubber production out of Brazil, partly because the anti-slavery campaigners in these nations did not approve of South American labor conditions. Another reason was that it was much cheaper to ship rubber from South America than from Southeast Asia. | Henry Wickham posing next to a rubber tree. | A cluster of wild rubber trees.
41: Natural rubber is an elastomer (elastic hydrocarbon polymer) that was originally derived from latex, a milky colloid found in the sap of rubber plants. The plants would be 'tapped'; that is, an incision was made into the bark of the tree and the latex sap was collected and refined into a usable rubber. The trees are called Para rubber trees (Hevea brasiliensis) and can reach a height of up to 144 feet (44 meters), although in plantations they are kept smaller, at about 78 feet (23 meters). The latex itself is found in the bark, just outside the phloem. The tree requires a climate with heavy rainfall and without frost. If frost does occur, the results can be disastrous for production. One frost can cause the rubber from an entire plantation to become brittle and break once it has been refined. | Once the trees are 5 - 6 years old, harvesting can begin: incisions are made orthogonally (at a right angle) to the latex vessels, just deep enough to tap the vessels without harming the tree's growth, and the sap is collected in small buckets. This process is known as rubber tapping. Older trees yield more latex. The Para rubber tree initially only grew in the Amazon rain forest, but increasing demand and the discovery of the vulcanization procedure in 1839 led to the rubber boom in that region. This enriched the cities of Belem and Manaus. The name of the tree derives from Para, the second largest state in Brazil, whose capital is Belem. Of course, with Henry Wickham's successful endeavor to | Rubber trees on a plantation | Latex being harvested from a rubber tree
42: smuggle and grow Para seeds in Asia, the Amazon became the second-best place to grow rubber. Decades after Wickham, Henry Ford had growing concerns about this Asian corner on the market. Rubber was a necessary commodity for Ford's production of car tires, and he needed access to supplies. Shipping mass quantities of rubber to America from Asia was costly, and Ford would have rather had his rubber come from South America. He got the idea that if he established his own rubber plantation in South America, he wouldn't have to worry about costs, deals with outside companies, and shipping. However, Ford's company in the Amazon was going to be run using American industrial guidelines, and this proved to be a fatal error. Ford was actually not the first person to think of American-controlled rubber production. Back in 1923, the United States government had started looking into the rubber resources of South and Central America. The University of Michigan botanist Carl LaRoue flagged a spot in Brazil near where the Tapajos River feeds into the Amazon. By 1927, Ford had chosen this spot for his own and had arranged a deal with the Brazilian government: 2.5 million acres of land plus police protection and duty-free imports of supplies in exchange for 9% of the plantation's profits after 12 years. In 1928, the supplies from Deerbourne started heading south, and Ford's plan was in action. Four months later, a steamer and a barge arrived in Brazil with a pile driver, | Henry Ford wanted cheaper rubber | Fordlandia was set up in the Boa Vista area
43: steam shovel tractors, a locomotive, pre-fabricated buildings, and parts for a saw mill (to name a few items). Basically, all the supplies needed to set up a suburban company town were sent in the first shipment. It was literally a company on a boat. Ford named his Brazilian rubber harvesting division "Compania Industrial du Brazil". The area formerly known as "Boa Vista" became "Fordlandia". The plan was to employ 25,000 people, house 100,000 people, and export 6 million tons of rubber a year. How well did this plan go in reality? It didn't take long to set up the town itself. The town was to be run by managers imported from Michigan, and native workers would be the ones harvesting the rubber and doing other tasks related to the running of the model community. The native workers were very interested in applying for the job, as Ford was paying Michigan wages: double to what they were used to receiving, plus the inclusion of housing, medical care, and food. The houses were stylish for the day, situated on neat streets with manicured lawns, run with electricity from power lines run by a diesel generator. The workers had access to well water run from spigots, while the white-collar and U.S. workers had running water inside. There were several schools, swimming pools, Michigan-made fire hydrants on street corners, and the Villa Brasilera part of town had tailors, shops, bakeries, butcher shops, shoe-makers, and restaurants. Fordlandia even boasted a golf course, a library, a hotel, a hospital with modern amenities - even its own power plant! | Could this wild Amazon jungle be tamed into a suburban paradise?
44: Model Ts were seen frequently cruising the newly paved streets. Working mothers had child care options: they could take their children to the day care, or "baby clinic". If you died while in Fordlandia, you would get a paid funeral, replete with a U.S. made coffin! Despite this idyllic set-up, there were issues. The main issue was Ford's ignorance to the customs of native life regarding the climate, work habits, and safety precautions. The traditional form of housing in this particular area was well-suited to the heat and humidity of the Amazon: cool dirt floors and thatch roofs. The new style in Fordlandia was cute little | Swiss-cottage style houses and Cape Cod-style model homes, all with asbestos-insulated metal roofs. Under the Amazon sun, this design was not a logical choice! One employee called them "galvanized iron bake ovens", and a Harper's reporter stated that "Mr. Ford and Brazil are somewhat in disagreement in matters of doors, screenings, and heights of ceilings." The indoor bathrooms disgusted the native workers, who found them a cultural anomaly. This was an immediate problem for making Fordlandia work as planned. The rubber harvesting didn't go so well either. In the traditional way of harvesting, workers lived amidst the jungle and would get paid for their work by the pound, rewarding what they actually accomplished. In the Ford way, the workers lived in suburbia, punched in to work every day using a time card which tracked their hours, and were notified of the time using a Flintstones-esque whistle mounted to the water tower that could be heard for seven miles. The whistle signaled meals, the start and end of the work day, and breaks. This system did not mesh well with natives. They were used to the old ways of working with the sun and the seasons as their clock and calendar. When harvesting rubber, the smartest move is to work during the coolest time of the day, such as dawn and dusk. You don't work from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., which was the Ford schedule. To punch into the clock, all workers had to swing by the main building, even if it meant a detour to simply reach the clock. Even more ridiculous, the entire community ran on Detroit time | Fordlandia aerial view from 1933
45: to coincide with Ford company time. The notion of a "boss" was different as well. The plantation manager from days of yore may have paid terrible wages and worked employees too hard, but would have also been paternal in some cases (some plantation managers became godfathers to plantation employees' newly born children). The new way was very 'hands-off': Ford NEVER once visited Fordlandia, ever. He never even set foot in the country of Brazil. That must have been demoralizing, not only to the native | Suburban street of Fordlandia | Riverside Avenue | Fordlandia dance hall | Fordlandia saw mill
46: employees used to a more personable job setting, but also to the Michigan-born managers, who had left everything familiar and uprooted their families for the job. Many things were forced upon the Brazilian workers that must have made the wage of thirty-seven cents a day (double the Brazilian norm) seem not worth it. Ford, in his effort to create a model community, tried to implement mandatory "American" lifestyles and values. Workers had to live in the American-style houses, and they were each assigned a number which they had to wear on a badge - the cost of which was deducted from their first paycheck. Brazilian laborers were also required to attend squeaky-clean American festivities on weekends, such as poetry readings, English-language sing-alongs, and square dancing. Even in the 1920s and 1930s, square dancing was considered old-fashioned! According to a report from Harper's magazine, "the natives did not choose to square dance on the village green nor to sing the quaint folk-songs of merry England or to treasure Longfellow." Not surprising considering the natives had worked a 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. shift and didn't speak fluent English! One of the more jarring cultural differences was Henry Ford's mini-prohibition. To create his model community, Ford strictly forbade the consumption of alcohol inside Fordlandia, even within the workers' | Abandoned Fordlandia structures today
47: homes, on pain of immediate termination. However, no one really paid attention to this rule: native workers immediately bought 'supplies' from river boats that came up the river on pay day. Then men responsible for entering the jungle to collect rubber tree seeds would hide in the jungle to drink themselves silly. Perhaps the most problematic issue with Ford's model community structure was that of food. In Ford's vision, every person was to eat in a mess hall (which was stiflingly hot) which only served "All-American" Detroit-style food: wheat bread, oatmeal, and canned Detroit peaches. Hamburgers were also served, and the native workers were disgusted by the fare provided, and complained bitterly of indigestion. Ford, halfway through the project, cut waiter service and made the mess hall serve food cafeteria-style (buffet). The workers, already unhappy with the food, did not enjoy waiting in line after a long day's work. The only release from the 'model community lifestyle' was to leave the premises and visit some of the more industrious local businesses (businesses of ill-repute) beyond the outskirts of town. These businesses enabled the workers to exchange their generous pay for the comforts of rum and women. The release was not enough, however, and the cafeteria-style food change was the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back. As one worker shouted, "I'm a worker, not a waiter!", a riot broke out. Workers ransacked the dining hall, drove trucks into the river, smashed windows, wrecked the saw mill, broke the radio station, and of course, destroyed the time clock. Members of Fordlandia's | A ghost-town in the middle of the Amazon jungle - Fordlandia's buildings stand empty
48: American management team fled swiftly to their homes or into the jungle, some of them chased by machete-wielding workers. A group of managers scrambled to the docks and boarded the boats there, which they moved to the center of the river and out of reach of the escalating riots. It didn't bode well for Ford that merely changing the way food is served caused a full-blown riot. The most damning issue, however, was the rubber itself. The old way of rubber harvesting was to grow and collect rubber from wild trees. Typically, there are only about seven wild rubber trees per acre in the | Amazon jungle. The plantations of East Asia, however, were packed with flourishing trees, so Ford didn't do his research properly, and mimicked the East Asian method - to his detriment. He should have planted the trees spaced out and clumped together. The spacing actually protected the trees from natural predators, and the clumping protected them from the heat. Ford's vision was to plant 1.4 million trees in neat rows, akin to his neat and tidy factories. He planted two hundred trees per acre (versus the seven per acre as found in the wild). This high density region of plants attracted leaf blight, fungi, and pests such as caterpillars. The neat rows also exposed the trees to the elements. Due to these problems, the rubber production, which was the entire point of this mission, was completely unsuccessful. This was the result of not hiring native botanists, and instead relying on company engineers. | A truck overturned during the riots | Even if they had been smarter about planting the trees, the terrain of Fordlandia was terrible. The hilly terrain hemorrhaged all of its topsoil, leaving infertile, rocky soil behind. The tiny saplings weren't growing at all; those that were able to survive into arbor adolescence were soon stricken with the leaf blight that ate away the leaves and left the trees stunted and useless. | Tree suffering from leaf blight
49: The climate also was too hot and humid for the saplings. When it rained in Fordlandia, the water collected in low spots, which led to epidemics of malaria. When it didn't rain, there was a dry season from July to November, where the waters of the river dropped about 40 feet. This prevented supply boats from coming in. Bugs were also an issue. Mosquitoes, ants, and moths plagued the people. Violence was also recorded on site: knife fights, protests (over the import of workers from Barbados, which the Brazilian workers disliked), and of course, the December riot of 1930. The Brazilian military arrived to Fordlandia after the riot, and work resumed shortly thereafter, although not much had improved. A British journalist writing for the "Indian Rubber Journal" visited in 1931 and wrote, "In a long history of tropical agriculture, never has such a vast scheme been entered in such a lavish manner, and with so little to show for the money. Mr. Ford's scheme is doomed to failure." | The intervening months offered little evidence to counter the journalist's grim depiction. In 1933, after three years with no appreciable quantity of rubber to show for the investment, Henry Ford finally hired a botanist to assess the situation. The botanist tried to coax some fertile rubber | Barren rubber tree field | Amazon army ant
50: trees from the pitiful soil, but he was ultimately forced to conclude that the land was simply not up to the task. The damp, hilly terrain was terrible for the trees, but excellent for the blight. Unfortunately, no one had paid attention to the fact that the land's previous owner was a man named Villares - the same man Henry Ford had hired to choose the plantation's site. Henry Ford had been sold a lame piece of land, and Fordlandia was an unadulterated failure. Ford wasn't ready to admit defeat just yet. In 1934, he traded part of his original concession for 703,750 acres to the north, fifty miles downstream of Fordlandia, and set up yet another model town, which he hoped would be an improved model. He named this town Belterra. The land here was more flat and less damp, making it much more suitable for the finicky rubber trees. Other improvements included a manager who made square dancing optional, a Catholic Church built in town (something Ford was opposed to doing in Fordlandia), and doctors armed with quinine to eradicate the malaria issue. On the botanical side of things, Ford imported grafts from the East Asia plantations, where the trees had been bred for resistance to the leaf blight. Starting from scratch, the new enterprise showed more promise than its predecessor, but progress was slow. For ten years, Ford's workers labored to transform soil into rubber, yielding a peak output of 750 tons of latex in 1942 - far short of that year's goal of 38,000 tons. | Belterra today
51: Forces eventually conspired against Ford. In 1939, the Amazon workers decided to unionize, which set Ford back a bit regarding treatment and wages. Around this time, as well, scientists developed a much more economical synthetic rubber just as Belterra's crops were starting to mature. Ford couldn't even start trading other items, such as eucalyptus, teak, or balsam due to such limited timber export regulations. (Some of this wood was, however, used to trim the Ford Lincolns of this time.) He was also able to trade small amounts of cinnamon, ginger, coffee, and tea, but not enough to support Belterra. | When World War II began, Belterra experienced further hardships. German submarines, stopped supply ships from reaching the city, so people had to rely on food they could grow near their homes. By December 1945, Ford gave up the ghost. His company issued a statement, saying, "Our war experience has taught us that synthetic rubber is superior to natural rubber for certain of our products." Synthetic rubber is made from raw materials derived from petroleum, coal, oil, natural gas, and acetylene. SBR is the type of synthetic rubber used for car tires. Ford retired from the rubber business in 1945, selling back his land to the Brazilian government for $250,000 only. He lost over $20 million in Brazil, all without ever having stepped foot in the country. (Years later, documents emerged suggesting Ford lost closer to $25 million.) Some historians even put it at $30 million, which is $200 million in today's sums. | Weighing a chunk of synthetic rubber | Using Google Earth, you can see exactly how isolated Fordlandia was in the Amazon jungle.
52: The ghost towns of Fordlandia and Belterra still exist today, although it takes 18 hours on a river boat to get there. There has been talk about reviving Belterra (but not Fordlandia). The towns are still standing because teams of Brazilian workers were tasked with maintaining the areas to preserve the buildings, but their remote locations left the Brazilian government wondering how it could be modernized. Until recently, the resources have gone largely untapped; today the plantation towns are being marked as stops on Amazon tours. At Belterra, a building once used to coagulate rubber was briefly reanimated for the purposes of producing surgical gloves and condoms, but it was a short-lived enterprise. Much of the plantation land is now used for local agriculture, producing crops such as beans, rice, and corn. Many of the towns' residents today are squatters. Henry Ford's losses in Fordlandia and Belterra proved that people cannot simply buy their way into rubber royalty. Ford' efforts to spread his American "healthy lifestyle" were met with hostility and resentment. But history has repeatedly shown that obscene wealth gives one the privilege or even the obligation, to make bizarre and astonishing mistakes on a grand scale. From that perspective, Fordlandia could not have been more successful.
53: Article Six: Who was D.B. Cooper?
54: D.B. Cooper is famous for committing what some call the greatest heist of all time, and getting away with it too. So who was he, what did he do, and what became of him? The tale begins on November 24th, 1971, on Thanksgiving eve. A man boarded a Boeing 727 airplane bearing a ticket with the name Dan Cooper. (A later press miscommunication cast him mistakenly as "D.B. Cooper" which stuck.) The plane was headed to Seattle, Washington from Portland, Oregon, a relatively short flight. He sat in his seat, 18C, ordered a bourbon and soda, and even chain-smoked (in those days, smoking was allowed on planes). In the midst of this busy schedule, he found the time to pass a ransom note to the stewardess. The note stated he would blow up the plane if he wasn't given $200,000 and four parachutes. The bills were to be unmarked, and the parachutes were to be two main back chutes and two emergency chest chutes. The flight attendant, young Florence Schaffner, grabbed the proffered note, and originally slipped it, unopened, into her pocket, thinking it was his phone number. Cooper leaned closer and said, "Miss, you'd better look at that note. I have a bomb." In the envelope, the note reportedly read, "I have a bomb in my briefcase. I will use it if necessary. I want you to sit next to me. You are being hijacked." The note also carried instructions ordering the items to be delivered to the plane, Flight 305 for Northwest Orient, when it landed in Seattle-Tacoma International Airport; if demands were not met, he'd blow up the plane. | Left: An F.B.I. composite sketch of D.B. Cooper Right: Florence Schaffner, the flight attendant who received Cooper's note
55: Schaffner told the pilot, William Scott, who contacted Seattle-Tacoma air control. They in turn contacted Seattle police and the F.B.I. Scott was instructed to cooperate with the hijacker. The pilot instructed Schaffner to sit with Cooper and ascertain if the bomb was indeed real. Cooper opened his briefcase for her, and she saw red cylinders, a large battery, and wires (enough to convince her it was real!) She informed the pilot, and the jet was set into a holding pattern until the money could be rounded up. In assembling the cash demands, the F.B.I. kept their promise to not use marked bills, but did selectively choose bills printed mostly in 1969, so they had serial numbers beginning with "L". All of the 10,000 $20 bills had their serial numbers recorded. They had to buy the civilian-style, ripcord operated parachutes at a local skydiving school. While they did this, Cooper relaxed in the plane and ordered another bourbon, which he offered to pay for. In fact, he was so polite, one stewardess, Tina Mucklow, said he was "rather nice", especially when he requested the crew be brought meals when the flight landed in Seattle. The F.B.I. didn't get the same impression, saying Cooper was "obscene" and used "filthy" language. The plane landed at 5:39 p.m. after the demands had been met. The civilians deboarded the plane, clueless to the dramatic events. Ms. Schaffner was allowed to leave as well. The pilot, Scott, Ms. Mucklow, and two other employees were instructed by Cooper to stay. Cooper then instructed Scott to taxi the plane to a remote area of the tarmac, and dim the lights to deter police snipers. A Northwest
56: Orient employee delivered the money and parachutes to Mucklow via the aft (back) stairs. The F.B.I. was puzzled regarding Cooper's plans and his request for four parachutes. The agents wondered if Cooper had an accomplice on board, or if the parachutes were intended for the crew members who were still on the plane. Up to this point in history, nobody had ever attempted to jump with a parachute from a hijacked commercial aircraft. While the plane was being refueled, the FAA tried to stall, but Cooper got suspicious when refueling took longer than 15 minutes. He threatened again to explode the plane, and so the FAA quit stalling and completed the task. At 7:40 p.m. the plane took off again, this time headed for Mexico City. The speed was kept relatively slow at about 170 knots (310 km/h), at an altitude of just under 10,000 feet (3000 miles), with the landing gear down and 15 degrees of flap. Cooper also ordered Scott to leave the cabin unpressurized, since an unpressurized cabin at 10,000 feet would curtail the risk of a sudden rush of air exiting the plane, and ease the opening of the pressure door. Immediately upon take-off, Cooper sent Mucklow to the cockpit. Before she went behind the curtain, she watched him tie something to his waist with what she thought was a rope. Moments later in the cockpit, the crew noticed a light flash indicating that Cooper had attempted to operate the door. Over the intercom, Scott asked Cooper if there was anything they could do for him, but the hijacker replied curtly, "No!" | Images of the parachute Cooper used, the parachute bag, and police composite sketches of D.B. Cooper.
57: The crew started to notice a change of air pressure in the cabin (an "ear popping experience"). Cooper had lowered the aft stairs and jumped out of the plane, never to be seen again. That was the last time he was known to be alive. The F.B.I. believed his descent was at 20:13 (8:13 p.m.) over the southwestern portion of the state of Washington. At the time that Cooper jumped, the plane was flying through a heavy rainstorm, with no light source coming from the ground because of cloud coverage. Because of the poor visibility, his descent went unnoticed by the United States jet fighters tracking the airline. His precise landing location to this day remains unknown. | At 10:15, nearly 2 1/2 hours after take-off from Seattle-Tacoma, the Boeing 727 landed safely in Reno. The airport and runway were surrounded by F.B.I. agents and local police. After communicating with Captain Scott, it was determined that Cooper was gone, and F.B.I. agents boarded the plane to search for any evidence left behind. They recovered a number of fingerprints (which may or may not have belonged to Cooper), and two of the four parachutes. The F.B.I. were given a detailed description of Cooper: in his mid-forties, between 5 feet 10 inches and 6 feet tall, wearing a black raincoat, loafers, a dark suit, a neatly pressed white collared shirt, a black necktie, black sunglasses, and a mother-of-pearl tie pin. The description was enough to make a sketch and determine that two pieces of evidence, a tie and a mother-of-pearl tie pin, belonged to Cooper. | Money recovered that is believed to have been part of D.B. Cooper's delivery. | The recovered tie and mother-of-pearl tie pin.
58: Cooper was nowhere to be found, nor was his briefcase, the money or moneybag, or the two remaining parachutes. Two years of aerial and ground searches did not yield a single trace of Cooper and his parachutes. Because of the storm, the F.B.I. determined that Cooper couldn't have made a specific landing in a pre-determined spot, and therefore probably didn't have an accomplice waiting to assist him upon landing. Detailed, large, and thorough searches turned up nothing, leading people to question if he had maybe landed outside the large search zone, or had survived the jump and subsequently escaped on foot. The police found a Portland man who was actually named D.B. Cooper, but he was released and was never actually a significant suspect. | The F.B.I. also tried to track the serial numbers of the $20 bills. They sent the numbers to law enforcement agencies around the world, including Scotland Yard. No luck came of this, despite Northwest Orient Airlines offering a $25,000 reward. The serial numbers were then posted publicly, and several rewards were offered, but still nothing came of it. In 1978, a hunter walking just a few flying minutes north of Cooper's projected drop zone found a placard with instructions on how to lower the aft stairs of a Boeing 727. The placard was from the rear stairway of the plane from which Cooper jumped. On February 10, 1980, Brian Ingram, an eight-year-old boy, was with his family on a picnic when he found $5,880 in decaying bills (a total of 294
59: $20 bills) still bundled in rubber bands near the Columbia River. After comparing several serial numbers, it was proved that the bills were the same given to Cooper nine years earlier. The F.B.I. agreed that the bills would have appeared at the location on the riverbank no earlier than 1974. Ingram's discovery of the $5,880 reinforced the F.B.I.'s belief that Cooper probably did not survive the jump, in large part because of the unlikelihood that such a criminal would be wiling to leave behind any of the loot for which he had risked his life. Authorities eventually allowed Ingram to keep a split of about $2,860 of the recovered money. Some of the bills were auctioned off to various buyers for about $37,000. As of 2010, the rest of the money remains unrecovered. The remaining serial numbers are available on a public database. As for suspects, there were many. Dan Cooper was obviously an alias. So who was he? That question is also still unanswered. The F.B.I. has investigated over a thousand "serious suspects" and ruled out most of them. The F.B.I. believed that Cooper was familiar with the Seattle area, as he was able to recognize Tacoma from the air while the jet was circling over the Puget Sound. He also remarked to flight attendant Mucklow that McChord Air Force Base was approximately 20 minutes from the airport.
60: Initially, the F.B.I. believed that Cooper might have been an active or retired member of the U.S. Air Force, based on his apparent knowledge of jet aerodynamics and skydiving. That later changed, seeing as no experienced parachutist would have attempted that risky jump, and the fact that Cooper chose the older parachute set of the two which had been given to him. The other parachute, the one he left behind, was a professional sport parachute, the ideal choice. Suspects included men such as John List, a mass-murderer from Westfield, New Jersey. Only 15 days before the high-jacking, List had killed his whole family, and he matched the physical description of Cooper. List died in prison, the entire time adamantly denying his involvement in the high-jacking (to the point that the F.B.I. believed him.) One of the more colorful suspects in the Cooper case was Richard McCoy, Jr. On April 7, 1972, four months after Cooper's high-jacking, McCoy Jr., under the alias "James Johnson", boarded United Airlines flight 855 during a stopover in Denver, Colorado, and gave the flight steward an envelope labeled "Hijack Instructions", in which he demanded four parachutes and $500,000. He also instructed the pilot to land at San Fransisco International Airport and order a refueling truck for the plane. The plane was a Boeing 727 with aft stairs, which McCoy used in his escape. He was carrying a paper weight grenade and an empty pistol. He left his handwritten message on the plane, along with his fingerprints on a magazine he had been reading, which the F.B.I. later used to establish positive identification.
61: Police began investigating McCoy following a tip from Utah Highway Patrolman Robert van Lepren, who was a friend of McCoy's. Apparently, after the Cooper high-jacking, McCoy had made a reference that Cooper should have asked for $500,000 instead of $200,000. McCoy also had a record as a Vietnam veteran, and was a former helicopter pilot. On April 9, following the fingerprint and handwriting match, McCoy was arrested for the United 855 high-jacking. McCoy claimed innocence, but was convicted and received a 45 year sentence. Once incarcerated, using his access to the prison's dental office, McCoy fashioned a fake handgun out of dental paste. He and a crew of convicts escaped in August of 1974 by crashing a garbage truck through the prison's main gate. It took three months before the F.B.I. located McCoy in Virginia. McCoy shot at the F.B.I. agents, and agent Nicholas O'Hara fired back with a shotgun, killing McCoy. Many F.B.I. agents believe McCoy was D.B. Cooper, but others say he couldn't possibly have been Cooper because he didn't match the description, and it was claimed that he was home having Thanksgiving dinner with his family in Utah at the time of the high-jacking. | A woman named Jo Weber claimed her husband, Duane, had confessed to being Cooper before he died, but DNA and fingerprint analysis disproved this. Perhaps the most likely suspect for the D.B. Cooper case was Kenneth Christianson. He wasn't identified as a suspect until October 29, 2007, when an article in the "New York Magazine" stated that Kenneth P. Christianson, a former U.S. Army paratrooper and former Northwest Airlines employee, was a man of interest. He had settled in Washington state near the site of the hijacking, was familiar with the local terrain, had purchased property with cash a year after the hijacking, drank bourbon and smoked (as Cooper did during the flight), and resembled the eyewitness sketches of Cooper.
62: Nevertheless, the F.B.I. ruled out Christianson because his complexion, height, weight, and eye color did not match the description given by passengers or the crew of Flight 305. However, some intriguing evidence has arisen to perhaps convince the F.B.I. otherwise. A picture was discovered after Christianson's death, in one of his photo albums tucked behind another picture, taken in December of 1971, three weeks after the hijacking. It shows Christianson walking through the front door of his apartment, carrying a briefcase and a paper bag - the same items carried on board Flight 305 by Cooper, and Christianson is dressed similarly to the hijacker. The picture could have been a self-portrait or taken by an accomplice as a memento. After Christianson's death in 1994, his family discovered valuable gold coin and stamp collections at his house in Bonney Lake, and a folder of news clippings about Northwest Airlines. The clippings begin in the 1950s, and stop just before the date of the hijacking. Whoever D.B. Cooper was, one thing is clear - he was able to accomplish one of the boldest hijacking heists in history. If he survived long enough to enjoy his money - we shall never know. | A photograph of Kenneth Christianson set beside the sketch of "D.B. Cooper" makes the connection seem plausible.
63: Article Seven: Zenobia, Warrior Queen
64: Some historians have described Zenobia, a queen of Palmyra, as a second Cleopatra. Strong, cunning, and seductive, she joins the ranks as one of history's most memorable female monarchs. She stood against the mighty power that was Rome, and can be properly introduced with this quote: "How, oh Zenobia, has thou dared to insult Roman emperors." - Aurelian Zenobia lived in the third century in Palmyra, which is now present-day Syria. She became queen, and not only that, but a warrior queen - and a successful one, too. She conquered again and again, until she came up against the Roman emperor Aurelian. Zenobia's comparison to Cleopatra is not coincidental: she viewed Cleopatra as a role model and styled herself after the famous queen. Her beauty became a legend of its own, and stories remain today about her dark, soft skin and pearly white teeth. She was also someone who could drink with the boys, and use sex as a weapon (within the bounds of her marriage). | Left: A bust of Zenobia Above: A map of current day Syria. Palmyra is not shown on this map.
65: Of course, this kind of woman gets written about, and Zenobia was immortalized by writers such as Longinus and Chaucer. Chaucer references Zenobia in "The Monk's Tale" of his Canterbury Tales. Zenobia has two names. In Latin, she was known as Septimia Zenobia and in Aramaic she was Bat-Zabbai (at-Zabba). She was Arab, but she may also have been Arameian. Some have even ventured to say she may have been Jewish, but this is based on the fact that she treated the Jews of Alexandria well - not much of a ground to make this claim. Rather, this is more of a comment on how poorly Jews were treated in history; just because one was nice to a Jew shouldn't automatically make that person Jewish! Zenobia's mother's origins are somewhat unclear, but she may have been Egyptian. Zenobia's father was definitely a wealthy, educated Arab merchant and aristocrat. Zenobia wanted to be like Cleopatra, as she viewed Cleopatra as a role model, and claimed that she was descended from Cleopatra's child, Cleopatra Selene. She probably wasn't, but yet she seized onto this notion of a potential famous ancestor. Perhaps it was strategic to her to align herself with Cleopatra, just at Cleo aligned herself with the goddess Isis to make herself seem more powerful. | Geoffrey Chaucer | Painting of Zenobia
66: To understand Zenobia, one must also understand Palmyra and the kingdom the Zenobia eventually ruled. Palmyra was also known by its more ancient name, the city of Tadmur. In the third century B.C., the city's location and relation to trade made it become especially important. It was located between the Mediterranean Sea and the Euphrates River on an oasis, making it a welcome stop along trade routes. It was linked by caravan routes to Phoenicia, Emesa, and Damascus, which meant Palmyra was important to linking Mesopotamia to the East. Palmyra was rich with exotic trade products. Camels brought in silk and jade from China, spices and ebony from India, and other such goods. The wealthy trade merchants were often patrons of the arts, as well. In A.D. 114, Palmyra was technically part of the Roman empire, but emperor Hadrian gave the city a lot of freedom. The city of Palmyra was able to levy their own taxes, which was virtually unheard of at that time. Hadrian had to keep Palmyra cooperative, because it was so valuable as part of the Eastern trade route. Palmyra was also valuable as a military power - Palmyran archers were considered extremely adept. The Romans wanted to use the Palmyrans to fight against the Parthians. Palmyra eventually became a colony, and with that, added freedoms from Rome. Rome put Zenobia's husband, Odaenathus, in charge, as they were too | Palmyra on the map | Palmyra archway
67: busy dealing with the Goths to come themselves. Odaenathus turned out to be a wise choice, as he did the Roman empire a service. The Emperor Valerian had been defeated, captured, and killed in quite a gory fashion by the Persian King Shapur I: there are a couple of hypotheses on how Valerian died. (On a side note, Valerian's time in captivity was also not fun - he was made to act as Shapur's human footstool when mounting his horse.) Valerian either died by being forced to drink molten gold, or was flayed alive. (Flaying involves skinning the victim). Either way, in the end Shapur had Valerian skinned, and his skin was then stuffed with straw and preserved as a trophy in the main Persian temple. After Valerian's fall from power, it looked like Persia was set to take over the lands surrounding Palmyra, but Odaenathus managed to repel them. | However, Odaenathus was assassinated in 266 or 267, as was his heir from his first marriage. There are questions surrounding his murder as to who killed him, while he was at the height of his career, and many have pointed fingers at Zenobia herself. After all, her son Lucius Iulius Aurelius Septimus Vaballathus Athenodorus (or more simply known as Vaballathus) was next in line for the throne. Unfortunately, he was only a year old at the time of the assassinations. Zenobia then acted as regent for the baby king, bestowing upon herself and her son the honorific titles of "Augusta" and "Augustus". Others say Odaenathus' nephew, Maconius, did this. | Zenobia ruled over Palmyra | The ruins of Palmyra still stand in Syria
68: Another theory surrounding the death of Odaenathus was that the Romans killed him due to his manner of ruling his country, only sometimes following Roman orders. Once Zenobia became regent, she immediately attacked Egypt. She was left undisturbed by the Romans, as they were still occupied with the Goths. By 269, Zenobia had conquered Egypt, expanded the Syrian empire, and had expelled the Roman prefect, Tenagino Probus. (He didn't stay away, and instead attempted to recapture his territory, so she had him beheaded.) By the year 270, Zenobia had worked her way into taking over land in Asia Minor. By 270, Palmyra's kingdom had expanded from Egypt to the Bosporus Strait (in Turkey) and included Syria, Mesopotamia, Palestine, northern Arabia, Egypt, and a big part of Asia Minor. Zenobia now controlled a huge amount of territory, and all of the trade routes that went through the area. The trade route control became a crucial issue to Rome. The Roman Empire depended on Egypt for corn, and Zenobia began to cut off that precious supply. Rome continued to allow her some freedoms while they dealt with the Goths, but soon Zenobia, | Left: Bosporus Strait, the edge of Zenobia's empire Above: The Goths, who occupied the Romans' time and gave Zenobia the chance to grow her empire
69: growing confident with her power and rule, announced that she was independent from Rome and no longer part of their empire. In 271, to highlight this independent break, she had money made with her and her son's image stamped on it. (An action that her heroine, Cleopatra, also did.) Rome took this as an act of war. The Palmyrans went to an oracle, concerned about the future of their empire, and the event did not go well. The Oracle at Apollo was consulted, but turned them away, stating their inquiry was an insult. The Oracle at Venus wouldn't even take their offerings. It was even recorded that the Oracle of Venus floated before them, traditionally a very bad omen. In 270, Rome gained a new emperor, Aurelian, and he was tired of Zenobia's shenanigans. He marched to Asia Minor to put her in her place. The Palmyrans met Aurelian just outside of Antioch. They began with their legendary line of archers, backed by the calvary. Then the infantry was behind that. The calvary had a bad habit of becoming over-zealous and out-of-sync with the rest of the divisions. The Romans were aware of this fact. The Romans were tricky, and pretended to retreat, hoping the jumpy Palmyran calvary would break rank and follow. They did. The Romans then had the calvary and riders run pointlessly through the desert until they tired, at which point the Romans encircled and killed them all. | Emperor Aurelian | Romans marching
70: Zenobia was in dire straits by this time. She retreated to Emesa with Aurelian in hot pursuit. Each side of the battle had about 70,000 men, which was a truly large number. Aurelian's army caught up with Zenobia at Emesa, and the armies clashed. It was recorded that dead men and horses littered the countryside. Zenobia then fled again. She went back to Palmyra, which was about 100 miles from where they had been hiding near Emesa. She was probably hoping the distance, terrain, and heat would keep Aurelian from getting to her, but she was wrong. Aurelian essentially cornered Zenobia, and she became stuck. She was in an isolated area with no where else to go, and Aurelian set up a blockade. Famine began to set in. Aurelian and Zenobia actually wrote letters to each other during this time - Aurelian told Zenobia to surrender and offered her some pretty good terms. Aurelian executed any who refused to surrender, such as Zenobia's chief counselor. Zenobia did surrender and was taken hostage, along with her son, Vaballathus, who died en route to Rome. Some versions of the story claim that Zenobia refused surrender and once again fled Palmyra, leaving the people of her city to their fates. Surrender or not, Zenobia was captured on the Euphrates River, Palmyra did fall, and any citizens who refused to obey Roman rule were executed. And now Zenobia had to deal with Aurelian. | Aurelian and Zenobia
71: Aurelian was not happy that all this trouble had occurred due to a woman. He gave many speeches to his army basically to justify why he was fighting against a woman, saying that she was more like a man than a woman (which his army did not buy - after all, her nickname was "al-Zabba" which meant "she with the lovely, flowing locks"). To counteract Aurelian's speeches, Zenobia publicly claimed that she was merely a "weak woman" and had been tricked by men into being a pawn, and that none of her actions had been her own doing. She even denied writing letters to Aurelian, stating they had been written by a scholar (and then the poor scholar had been executed). She played her cards well - rather than being executed herself, she was taken back to Rome in a giant parade that Aurelian himself set up. He dressed Zenobia in tons of jewels - literally pounds of them - and reportedly shackled in chains of gold. In addition to this glittering queen, she was accompanied by elephants, giraffes, gladiators, finely dressed ambassadors, and other captives wearing placards. It was like an exotic natural history triumph! The fate of Zenobia is something of a historical mystery. There are many different spectacular and gruesome accounts of her death, | Rome's empire in 271
72: ranging from her starving herself to death, to dying of an unknown illness, to being beheaded. None of these stories have been substantiated. The more upbeat version of her fate is that Emperor Aurelian, out of clemency and impressed by her beauty and dignity, freed Zenobia and allowed her to marry a Roman senator or governor whose name is not known. He is also said to have granted her an elegant villa in Tibur, which is now known as Tivoli, Itlay. She lived in luxury and, according to this version of the story, became a prominent philosopher, socialite, and Roman matron. It is believed she had several daughters who married into noble families and may have had descendants well into the 5th century. This slow denouement of Zenobia's life contrasts drastically with that of her heroine, Cleopatra, of whom she modeled herself after in her earlier years. As most people are aware, Cleopatra refused to surrender to the Romans, and so killed herself by allowing a poisonous asp (snake) to bite her. Zenobia did quite the opposite. Perhaps this is because Zenobia was never fighting a moral fight, to right a wrong for example. She fought purely out | Tivoli, Italy
73: of ambition and a desire to be great. Perhaps her complacency in later life was because she simply wanted to get the most out of life, and living with a wealthy husband in an Italian villa wasn't so bad! Doesn't sound so bad to me... | Picture of Zenobia, displaying her power. | Inscription to Zenobia at Palmyra | Palmyran ruins
74: Article 8: Was the Taj Mahal a Symbol of Love?
75: The building of the beautiful and famous Taj Mahal has always been considered part of a great love story... but was it really? Read this article to determine for yourself! The Taj Mahal was built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in Agra, India. The Mughal empire included most of south Asia: it was a huge land holding. Shah Jahan was the emperor in the seventeenth century, making him the fifth emperor in this 200-year-old dynasty, which ended in 1739 after the Persian invasion. The title "Shah Jahan" means "emperor / king of the world", so he was very powerful. He was born as Prince Khurram, and was descended from Genghis Khan, Tamerlane, and his legendary grandfather, Akbar the Great. | Shah Jahan took the throne after his father, Jahangir, died in 1627. He wasn't the oldest son, but he was his father's favorite, and had commanded his father's army for many years. He was so successful in his military endeavors that he was given the name Shah Jahan then, as a military figure (not when he was crowned, which goes to show why perhaps his father chose him to rule, rather than his older brothers.) When Shah Jahan's father got sick, all the brothers began to fight, as there wasn't a clear line of succession. Some family issues arose, particularly in the form of Shah Jahan's conniving step-mother, Nur Jahan. She was actually a very powerful woman - she was the "power behind the throne" for most of her married life, as Jehangir battled serious addictions to alcohol | Taj Mahal at sunset | Map of India - the Taj Mahal is located at Agra
76: and opiates and was often unable to rule himself. Nur Jahan was known to be the powerful woman who ruled India with an iron fist. At the time near Jehangir's death, Nur Jahan chose to ally with one of the younger sons, and even married him off to her only daughter to strengthen this alliance. She wanted to retain her power, and rule herself using the young man as a puppet. So Shah Jahan rebelled, and with the help of his uncle (Nur's brother) Asaf Khan, led an army against her. The battle didn't really work, except to show Nur Jahan that he was serious about taking up the rule. When Shah Jahan's older brother, the only remaining elder brother, died of drink, Shah Jahan eliminated ALL competition by having his younger brothers executed, and then took power. He spared Nur Jahan, but exiled her to a fairly comfortable mansion in Lahore, Pakistan. However, while Shah Jahan may have viewed Nur Jahan as an "evil stepmother", she was also a major player in Shah Jahan's famous love story. It all began when Shah Jahan was 15-years-old... In 1607, a young Shah Jahan met 14-year-old Arjumand Banu Begum, and it was love at first sight. She was the daughter of a Persian nobleman. The marriage wasn't arranged until five years later, but was in fact set up by the stepmother, Nur Jahan, who was a relative of the girl. After the wedding celebrations, Khurram gave her the title "Mumtaz Mahal", meaning "Jewel of the Palace". He was completely enamored with her. He ended up having a few other wives, as was tradition, but she was his favorite. They were devoted to one another: for example, she accompanied him on all of his military campaigns. They ended up having 14 children together! Their relationship was described by others as being very "intense", and Shah Jahan called her a perfect wife. He appreciated how opposite she was | Shah Jahan | Nur Jahan
77: to his stepmother, as Mumtaz Mahal had no aspirations for political power. Sadly, in their 19th year of marriage, Mumtaz Mahal died while giving birth to their 14th child. She was with him on yet another of his military campaigns, and complications arose, but help was too far away. In another sad note, only 7 of their 14 children actually lived to adulthood, the 14th child being one of those. Reportedly, after Mumtaz Mahal died, Shah Jahan's beard turned gray and he took no pleasure in anything again in life, including his two lesser wives, Akbarabadi Mahal and Kandahari Mahal. Another part of the story was that as Mumtaz Mahal was dying, she asked her husband for the most beautiful mausoleum to have ever been built, and Shah Jahan complied. With his instruction, he gave the world and his late wife the Taj Mahal. | Most people have seen pictures of the amazing Taj Mahal, located in Agra, India. The giant white marble building topped with a dome is Mumtaz Mahal's mausoleum. The white marble reflects the colors of the sky, mirrors the light from the sun and the moon, and glistens from the waters of the reflecting pool. But there is also a mosque, a gateway house (darwaza), and tombs for Shah Jahan's other wives and Mumtaz's favorite servant. The wall around the Taj Mahal complex is interspersed with domed chattris and small buildings that may have been viewing areas or watch towers, like the Music House, which is now used as a museum. Most of the outbuildings are made of red sandstone. There is also a lovely garden. The tall pillars that flank the white marble mausoleum are called minarets, and they are angled slightly outwards so that in the event of an earthquake, they won't fall inwards and crush the tomb. The architecture is a mix of Indian, Persian, and Islamic styles. Construction began in 1632, but it took 21 to 22 years to finish, and | Mumtaz Mahal
78: used 20,000 artisans, craftsmen, and workers to complete. Architects, calligraphers, and stonemasons were brought in from around the world. The marble was brought in from 100 miles away, and semi-precious and precious stones were mined from all around the region. One amazing feature of the Taj Mahal is the Pietra Dura decoration, which is what looks like a painting, but is actually a series of colored stones inlaid in another material (and not just any stones, but jade, lapis lazuli, amethyst, and opals) all organized into geometrical and floral patterns. There is also a lot of lapidary, which is when designs and motifs are carved out of the actual stone. Many flowers can be found carved into the marble walls of the Taj | Taj Mahal mosque or masjid | The interior of the mosque | The Great Gate | Incised paintings on the ceilings
79: Mahal: irises, daffodils, lilies, tulips, etc. There are also verses from the Koran written directly onto columns in calligraphy. In a testament to the craftsmanship, the letters actually increase in height as they move up the column to make them look uniform to the standing viewer. Many court poets wrote beautiful verses about the Taj Mahal to try to describe it to outsiders. One verse says, "They set stone flowers in the marble / That by their color if not their perfume / Surpass real flowers." Part of the legend of the building of the Taj Mahal was that Shah Jahan had the craftsmen's hand chopped off when it had been completed so that they would never be able to make anything like it ever again. However, another rumor was that Shah Jahan also had supposedly planned to build a matching 'Shah Jahan' mausoleum for himself across the Yamuna River, connected to the Taj Mahal by a bridge. This makes the story of the mutilated craftsmen seem highly unlikely. Why would one maim or kill all the highly skilled craftsmen BEFORE you had your own tomb on the ground? It would come to no surprise to learn that this lavish undertaking was incredibly | expensive. As much money as Shah Jahan had (and it was said that he had a lot, as his jewel collection was rumored to be the best that ever existed), it still wasn't quite enough. At the same time as the 22-year construction of the Taj Mahal was taking place, Shah Jahan was also carrying on a lot of expensive wars, and was also constructing a new capital, Shahjahanabad, now known as "Old Delhi". Consequently, to fund all of these endeavors, Shah Jahan had to tax his people, which made him become | Top Left: Pietra Dura Bottom Left: Calligraphy on a column Right: Floral lapidary
80: less popular with his citizens. As well, at this time, Shah Jahan had to deal with his rebellious son, Aurangzeb, who weaseled his way into power when Shah Jahan became ill in 1658. His son Dara, the eldest, declared himself regent while Shah Jahan was sick, much to the animosity of his older brothers. Aurangzeb, the third son, along with two older brothers, gathered an army and marched on Agra, and defeated their eldest brother Dara. Although Shah Jahan actually recovered fully from his sickness, he had by this time lost his power, and Aurangzeb declared him incompetent to rule (nice son!) and put him under house arrest in Agra Fort (a great walled fort large enough to be a city). | To further solidify his position in power, the always lovely Aurangzeb beheaded his brothers to eliminate any kind of competition. (See a pattern in this family at all?) For the rest of his life, Shah Jahan lived within the walls of Agra Fort, where, poetically, he could look out the windows and gaze upon the Taj Mahal at his beloved wife's resting place. When he did die in 1666, he was buried beside Mumtaz Mahal, but you can tell he didn't plan to be laid to rest there himself. The tomb is quite plain and nothing like what he had originally been rumored to be buried in - his own 'Shah Jahan' building. Some people believe that Aurangzeb was trying to honor his father by laying | Across the Yamuna River, where Shah Jahan planned to build his own mausoleum | Agra Fort, where Shah Jahan was placed under house arrest by his own son
81: him to rest beside his beloved wife in the magnificent Taj Mahal, but others say it was an act actually designed to spite his father. This is believed because symmetry is reserved for God in Islam, which may have bothered Aurangzeb, as Shah Jahan had erected the Taj Mahal with such great symmetry, and not to honor God, but his dead wife. So when Shah Jahan's body was interred in the Taj Mahal, Aurangzeb placed the tomb against a wall, throwing off the perfect symmetry of Mumtaz Mahal's tomb, and the symmetry of the room altogether. The tomb of Shah Jahan is literally the only asymmetrical aspect of the entire Taj Mahal. | It was fortunate that the Taj Mahal became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983, because by that time, it was beginning to look its age. By the mid-nineteenth century, the Taj Mahal was actually abandoned and in a terrible state of disrepair. Some of the British colonialists actually looted items from the Taj Mahal: the precious and semi-precious stones in particular. There was a myth that the first colonial British governor-general actually planned to dismantle the Taj Mahal and sell off the marble for profit. This had happened in the past to other famous monuments: the pilings and marble from the Coliseum, and the limestone from Egypt's pyramids (limestone can only be found on the very tips of the pyramids now). Fortunately, this was not the fate of the Taj Mahal. Eventually, and to its own longevity, the Taj Mahal became a pleasure resort for the British. At the end of the 19th century, British viceroy Lord Curzon ordered a | Tombs of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal in the Taj Mahal
82: sweeping restoration project, which was completed in 1908. During this time, the garden was remodeled with British-style lawns that are still in place today. By the mid-1990s, it was not a lack of care that affected the appearance of the Taj Mahal, but environmental effects, most notably air pollution and smog. The beautiful white marble was becoming discolored, so the Indian government launched a multi-million restoration effort, which is still going on in 2011, to scrub the exterior. Also being maintained are the red sandstone outer buildings and main gates. Steps are being taken to replace the semi-precious inlays as well. Long-term goals include a plan to recreate the original gardens, not the British-styled gardens. The Taj Mahal gets 2.2 million visitors per year, and a lot of them are honeymooners. Prince Charles and Princess Diana were supposed to spend their 10th anniversary there, but Diana ended up attending alone (Charles was probably with Camilla!). She sat on a bench that now tourists love to pose by. So, was the Taj Mahal a monument to love? Opinions on this are a little mixed - Ghandi believed it to be a monument to oppression and power, others believe it is a building without a function, and one slightly out-to-lunch historical revisionist believes it was built by a Hindu king (and not by Shah Jahan, who was a Muslim) in honor of Shiva (which is was NOT!) | The Taj Mahal at dawn, and from an aerial view
83: One quote may say it most plainly: "Let the splendor of the diamond, pearl, and ruby vanish like the magic shimmer of the rainbow. Only let this one teardrop, the Taj Mahal, glisten spotlessly bright on the cheek of time." - Rabindranath Tagore