Hellenistic Tesserakonteres: Largest Human-Powered Vessels In History
During the Hellenistic era, heavy polyremes warships such as hexaremes, septiremes, etc, became fairly common and were definitely used in battle, although the pentere remained the main line-of-battle galley.
“Appearing at the end of the fourth century BC in the fleet of Demetrios Poliorketes, these super-galleys expanded quickly to reach the level of twenty and thirty rows of oars and culminate, towards the end of the third century BC, with the forty of Ptolemy IV Philopator powered by 4000 rowers.”
During the war between Ptolemaios Keraunos and Antigonos Gonatas, the Heraklean fleet (which fought on Keraunos’ side) was made up of “hexaremes, penteres and an octere”. The latter, probably the flagship, had 1600 oarsmen and 1200 soldiers and mariners on the decks, and two helmsmen. Memnon states that this giant ship was actually effective during the battle.
“These warships resembled to floating fortresses, very similar in size to the modern battleships and aircraft carriers. The tessarakonteres had a crew of 6.000 men (officers, oarsmen, sailors, marines and others), as many as a modern aircraft carrier.”
Stats of the tesserakonteres: Length: 130 m. Beam: 17 m per catamaran hull. Longest rowing oars: 17 m. Oarsmen: 4,000, officers, ratings, deckhands: 400, Marines: 2,850.
Source & Illustration: Paweł Moszczyński for Mówią Wieki Magazine, Feb. 2010.
The Candy Lady is a legendary figure who is said to make children in Austin, Texas, disappear. “Children in the area told stories of how they would wake in the morning to find candy sitting on their windowsills … and would start to find notes on the wrappers, many times asking the children to come and play,” according to UrbanLegendsOnline.com. “The notes were signed ‘The Candy Lady.'”
According to legend, numerous children apparently took the Candy Lady up on her offer. “To this day, any time a kid goes missing, all the locals say The Candy Lady got them. Children believe that she takes them somewhere and pulls out their teeth or stabs them with a fork,” the website says.
When you approach a railway tunnel on Colchester Road in Fairfax County, be careful: This is where the Bunny Man is said to roam. According to local lore, the Bunny Man is a man dressed in a rabbit costume who carries and ax. A story by WAMU.org says, “In 1904, there was an asylum not far from this bridge. Clifton residents didn’t like the idea of mental patients near their new homes, so they got it shut down, and all the patients were taken by bus to Lorton prison.” The bus crashed and one inmate escaped. That story claims the name came from bunny carcasses left in the woods that the escapee had eaten.
The WAMU article reports that people began going to the tunnel on Halloween. Legend says if they see a bright light or orb, the people “are strung up like bunnies.”
The legend of the Bell Witch of Tennessee is arguably the most famous haunting in the country, or at least the best documented. It has been the subject of books and movies across 200 years. The Bell Witch remains popular with tourists today – people can visit the Bell Witch Cave, located on the land where John Bell and his daughter, Betsy, reportedly experienced horrific manifestations between 1817 and 1821 in Adams, Tenn.
It began when John Bell spotted a mysterious creature in the cornfield with “the body of a dog and the head of a rabbit.” Soon after the sighting, the Bell children began hearing scratching noises and experiencing various disturbances, thought to be the result of a curse by a local woman with whom John had a property dispute, Kate Batts.
Pat Fitzhugh wrote: “The encounters escalated, and the Bells’ youngest daughter, Betsy, began experiencing brutal encounters with the invisible entity. It would pull her hair and slap her relentlessly, often leaving welts and hand prints on her face and body.” In 1820, John Bell died, becoming, Fitzhugh said, “the only person in history whose death was attributed to the doings of a Spirit.”
He continued: “In 1817, Bell contracted a mysterious affliction that worsened over the next three years, ultimately leading to his death. Kate took pleasure in tormenting him during his affliction, finally poisoning him one December morning as he lay unconscious after suffering a number of violent seizures.”
Contemporary throughout its development to these three cultural phases, in Lower Egypt we first find the Maadian cultural complex, which is later joined by the Buto cultural complex in 3600 BC.
The Maadian specifically is made up of a dozen archaeological sites, among those that emphasize the cemetery and the establishment of the own Maadi. Contrary to what we see at the sites of the Naqada civilization, the Maadi cemeteries are much less important to the archaeological record than the settlements.
In this sense, the excavated structures show three types of remains, one of which is completely exceptional. It consists of houses excavated in the rock with oval plans measuring 3 x 5 meters in surface and up to three meters deep, which were accessed through an excavated passage.
The presence of hearths, semi-buried jugs and household remains suggests that they were permanent places of residence, which is not without attention for being underground. On the other side of the scale, around 600 tombs have been discovered in Maadi, which is nothing compared to the 15,000 predynastic tombs in the south of the country. It is not only a question of quantity, but also of quality: the tombs of Lower Egypt are extremely simple, based on oval holes with the deceased in a fetal position, wrapped in a mat or cloth and accompanied only by one or two ceramic containers or even for nothing at all.
Starting in 3600 BC, the Maadi-Buto culture not only had contact with the civilization of Naqada II to the south, but was also related to Asia by land with the Palestinian strip and by sea with the northern coast of Syria and, through it, with Mesopotamia.
The civilization or culture of Naqada was born shortly after in the time of the end of the Badarian culture and something more to the south. Specifically, it covers all the territories previously occupied by the Badarian plus the Thebes region, already in the middle of Upper Egypt.
This second great phase of the Predynastic period takes its name from the archaeological site of Naqada, where the famous Egyptologist Flinders Petrie discovered a huge cemetery of more than 3,000 graves in 1892. These burials consist of little more than the body in a fetal position on the left side, wrapped in animal skin, sometimes covered by a mat and deposited in simple oval holes dug in the sand. Compared with the important finds from the world of the dead, the preserved remains of the human settlements of Naqada I are poor and scarce.
The buildings, built using a mixture of mud and organic materials, have not been well preserved, so they have not been able to be well studied by archaeologists. This ignorance directly affects our understanding of the life forms of Naqada I, so that we can only theorize about them from other evidence, such as the presence of domestic animals in the grave goods: Goats, sheep and cattle.
Predynastic Egypt: Naqada II
Naqada II is an evolution of everything already seen in the Nagada I culture, rather than an abrupt change or an independent culture. The Naqada civilization spread south to Nubia at the second cataract, and north to cover the entirety of Middle Egypt and come into contact with the Maadi culture in Lower Egypt.
In fact, around 3400 BC it continued its penetration towards the north, occupying the south and east of the Delta, even overlapping the Maadi culture itself. Finally, around 3300 BC, the culture of Naqada II is archaeologically documented throughout the Delta, thus achieving for the first time the cultural unification of all Egypt, centuries before political unification took place.
From this moment, the sedentary Egyptians experienced a rapid development of their civilization, all coinciding with the beginning of the exploitation of the quarries, the manufacture of pottery on the wheel, the decoration of the vessels with red paint, the appearance of the jewelry and copper metallurgy at full capacity and the manufacture of stone vessels. Likewise, the agricultural surpluses of the new locations stimulated the division of labor, social stratification and the evolution of the political system towards state forms.
The Predynastic Period begins in the middle areas of Egypt with the so-called Badarian culture, a name given to group a series of archaeological sites – six hundred tombs with rich funerary equipment and forty little-investigated settlements – distributed over more than thirty kilometers of the eastern bank of the Nile.
At first it was thought that it was a culture restricted to the area that gives it its name, El Badari, but more recently objects very characteristic of it have been found in much more southern and eastern areas. Beyond its relevance as the first demonstration of the use of agriculture in Upper Egypt, the Badarian culture is known above all for its necropolis in the desert.
All the graves are simple oval holes in the ground that, in many cases, contain a mat on which the corpse is placed. In general, these bodies are in a not too hunched fetal position, lying on the left side, with the head directed south and facing west. Its rich funerary furnishings are striking, suggesting an unequal distribution of wealth and, therefore, the existence of a certain social stratification. This thesis is further reinforced by the fact that the richest tombs tend to separate from the others in specific areas of the necropolis.
A large fissure already existed at the time the inscription was created, divides the rock into two parts. Some areas are damaged, making some parts of the text unreadable.
It is written in hieroglyphs arranged in 42 columns. In the upper part three deities are represented; Khnum (the creator, represented with the head of a ram), Satis (a goddess, personification of the floods of the Nile) and Anuket (goddess of water and waterfalls). In front of them Pharaoh Djoser brings them offerings.
The text recounts the seven-year period of drought and famine that took place during the reign of Pharaoh Djoser of the Third Dynasty, the builder of the Step pyramid who reigned around 2665-2645 BC.
The drought began in the 18th year of his reign, caused because the Nile did not flood the farmlands and therefore there were no crops. The pharaoh then entrusted his vizier Imhotep to investigate where the god of the Nile was born, who was in charge of causing the flood annually. After consulting the archives in the temple of Thoth in Hermopolis, informs him that the rise of the Nile is the work of the god Khnum, who resides in a sacred spring on the island of Elephantine.
Imhotep travels to the temple of Khnum in Elephantine and while praying to the god he has a dream. In it, Khnum is introduced to him and describes his divine powers. He then promises the vizier to make the Nile flow again. Imhotep wakes up and writes down everything that Khnum has told him to tell pharaoh Djoser.
“I was grieving on my great throne, and those in the palace were grieving. My heart was in great pain, for the Nile had not arrived in time for seven years. The grain was scarce, the seeds were dry, everything that could be eaten was in short supply… Then I took pleasure in looking back and questioned the chief priest, Imhotep. Where does the Nile originate? I asked him, what god rests there, to support me? Imhotep replied, “There is a city in the middle of the water; the Nile surrounds it. Her name is Elephantine; Khnum is there”
Before the vizier’s account, the pharaoh orders priests, scribes and workers to restore Khnum´s temple and to once more make regular offerings to the god. Furthermore, by decree it grants him the territory between Aswan and Tachompso, and a part of all imports from Nubia.
However, the Famine Stela does not date from the reign of Djoser, or even that of any of his immediate successors. Researchers believe it was made during the time of the reign of the Ptolemies, the Greek rulers of Egypt after Alexander the Great, between 332 and 31 BC. That is, more than 2,300 years after the events that it narrates.
Specifically, it would belong to the reign of Ptolemy V (205-180 BC), and its creators would be the own priests of the temple of Khnum, who thus tried to justify their dominion over Elephantine Island and the surrounding regions. For this reason, for a time the inscription was considered a forgery of the priests. Today some Egyptologists believe that the facts it relates are true, others believe that they are fiction.
Doggerland, the area of land that once connected Britain to Europe. This map shows the gradual sea level rise with estimated dates.
It was often thought that there could be a lost land submerged beneath the North Sea. In the 20th century fishermen discovered evidence to support this belief when they dragged up an antler from the seabed. Other finds include the remains of lions and mammoths and prehistoric tools.
Doggerland was a land of small sloping hills with wooded valleys, rivers, lagoons and salt marshes. It is believed to have been abundant in wildlife including woolly rhinoceros and mammoth. The land was home to hunter-gatherers who probably migrated with the seasons.
Over thousands of years Doggerland was gradually submerged by rising sea levels until the last remnants were flooded possibly by a huge tsunami just over 8,000 years ago. But some disagree with the tsunami hypothesis and believe that Doggerland survived the tsunami and was gradually submerged afterwards…