Στήλη: History-Archaeology

Antikythera mechanism

By Marianna & Christiana Kriki

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           It was found by some sponge men on a shipwreck near the Greek island of Antikythera. After further research and based on the Greek inscriptions it carries, it was dated between 150 BC and 100 BC.

Usage

           This mechanism is an ancient artifact that functioned as an analogue, mechanical computer and an astronomical observation instrument. It also presents similarities with a complex clock mechanism. Specifically it was used to accurately calculate the position of the Sun, the Moon, and possibly the planets Hermes, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. It calculated the phases of the Moon, predicted both sun and moon eclipses, and also predicted the date of the ancient Stephanite and other PanHellenic games.

Its complexity is much greater than that of all the devices that man made over the next millennium.

 

Structure

           It was made out of bronze and was assembled in a wooden box 32cmx16cmx10cm (about as much as a current Laptop!). It contained at least 35 cooperating gears rotating around 10 axes. The operation of the mechanism resulted in, at least, 5 dials, with one or more indicators for each.

 

Front view:  It has two concentric circular scales.

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  1. The outer scale has 365 subdivisions with the option of adding an extra day every four years and the names of the 12 months in Egyptian language with Greek characters.
  2. The internal scale has 360 subdivisions and the names of the 12 constellations.

 

Back view:  It has two helical spirals.

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  1. The upper helical spiral has 5 windings. Its total length was divided in 235 segments each corresponding to the 235 months (19 years) of the Methon period. In the empty space inside the spiral there is a smaller circular scale, divided in quadrants.
  2. The lower helical spiral has 4 windings. Its total length was divided in 223 sections each corresponding to the 223 months of the Saros period. In the months, where eclipses occur, someone can distinguish engraved symbols (H, S, EH, OH). In the empty space inside the spiral there is a smaller circular scale, divided in three sections.

 

Nowadays investigations about the mechanism are still underway. The mechanism is kept in the archaeological museum of Athens.

We still have a lot to discover about the Antikythera mechanism. Its significance as a scientific discovery is extremely great for the scientific community and proves once more time the ingenuity and resourcefulness of our ancestors.

A Lost Empire

By Miltos Aggelopoulos, Jim Zachiotis & Maria Zafiri

One of the most unexplainable mysteries in the whole history is the legend of Atlantis. According to Plato, it was an island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and it founders were half god and half human. Moreover, they had created a utopian civilization, had developed advanced technology and they were known for their navy.

  The kingdom of Atlantis was by far one of the biggest and strongest realms in the ancient world and also was religiously dedicated to the god of water and the seas, Poseidon.Their home was made up of concentric islands separated by wide moats and linked by a canal that penetrated to the center. The lush islands contained gold, silver and other precious metals, and supported an abundance of rare, exotic wildlife. There was a great capital city on the central island.

  Unfortunately, in one cataclysmic night, the gods sent a battalion of fire and earthquakes so intense that the Utopian kingdom of Atlantis sank deep into the ocean, never to be found again. Τhat was because the gods decided to punish the citizens of Atlantis for their bad behaviour and arrogance.

  Few, if any, scientists think Atlantis actually existed. Ocean explorer Robert Ballard notes that «no Nobel laureates» have said that what Plato wrote about Atlantis is true. Still, Ballard says, the legend of Atlantis is a «logical» one since cataclysmic floods and volcanic explosions have happened throughout history, including one event that had some similarities to the story of the destruction of Atlantis.

 About 3,600 years ago, a massive volcanic eruption devastated the island of Santorini in the Aegean Sea near Greece. At the time, a highly advanced society of Minoans lived on Santorini. The Minoan civilization disappeared suddenly at about the same time as the volcanic eruption.But Ballard doesn’t think Santorini was Atlantis, because the time of the eruption on that island doesn’t coincide with when Plato said Atlantis was destroyed.

  On the other hand , Romm believes Plato created the story of Atlantis to convey some of his philosophical theories. «He was dealing with a number of issues, themes that run throughout his work,» he says. «His ideas about divine versus human nature, ideal societies, the gradual corruption of human society—these ideas are all found in many of his works. Atlantis was a different vehicle to get at some of his favorite themes.

Whether or not the island of Atlantis existed will  remain unsolved.

The City of Helike at Your Doorstep

By Stamatia Kotta, Maria Koufi & Jim Varvatsoulis

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Have you ever thought about a city with a great history that disappeared during a disaster? The answer is certainly no. Nevertheless, it will be important to know the truth about the history of the culture and the civilization of the city.

Helike was an ancient Greek city. It was located in Achaea, northern Peloponnesos. Helike was founded in the Bronze Age, becoming the principal city of Achaea. The poet Homer states that the city of Eliki participated in the Trojan War with one ship. Later, following its fall to the Achaeans, Eliki led the Achaean League, an association that joined twelve neighboring cities in an area including today’s town of Aigion. Eliki, also known as Dodekapolis (from the Greek words dodeka meaning twelve and polis meaning city), became a cultural and religious center with its own coinage. Finds from ancient Eliki are limited to two 5th-century copper coins, now housed in the Staatliches Museum, Berlin. The obverse shows the head of Poseidon, the city’s patron, and the reverse his trident. There was a temple dedicated to the Helikonian Poseidon.

Helike founded colonies including Priene in Asia Minor and Sybaris in South Italy. Its panhellenic temple and sanctuary of Helikonian Poseidon were known throughout the Classical world, and second only in religious importance to Delphi.

The city was destroyed in 373 BC, two years before the Battle of Leuctra, during a winter night. Several events were construed in retrospect as having warned of the disaster: some «immense columns of flame» appeared, and five days previously, all animals and vermin fled the city, going toward Keryneia.

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The Treaty of Lausanne “1923”

 An overview of a historical event that changed the

face of modern GREECE

by Haralampos Fotopoulos & Nikos Klapsis (A Class)

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“Our world is demolished…Izmir is demolished as well…Horror, a merciless catalyst, grabbed that crowd in his nails and heaved it … You’re not afraid of death, you’re afraid of the terror…It crashes humanity. It starts from the garment and reaches the heart…The terror…Whatever language you speak, you will not find words to describe it …”

Dido Sotiriou “Bloody Earth”   P.p. 311-314

 

September 1922 … The Asia Minor Disaster has happened…

Lifeless silence… Dense black smoke filled the sky of Izmir, above Mount Pago. Minor, flaming pieces of wood swirled in the air and fell on the cosmopolitan quay of Izmir’s old waterfront. And the water, where the waves break on the jetty, took a deep red color….

 T3he Metropolitan of Izmir, Chrysostom saw the catastrophe approaching and sent a letter to the exiled E. Venizelos:

«… Dear friend Eleftherios Venizelos. Hellenism of Minor Asia, the Greek state and the entire Greek nation, is now descending to Hades, from which no more power will be able to rebuild it and save it… «

And shortly before his tragic death, in his last letter, he wrote him, among other things, by begging him to come and unleash them with his rhetorical ability from their diplomatic boundaries…

“But the national hardship was not avoided”…

The successors of Venizelos, who won the elections in 1920 instead of stopping the war, as promised in pre-election terms, led the Greek army into a devastating campaign to the verge of Ankara. Should Greece have attempted such a tremendous invasion by misjudging the conditions presented at that time? However, the new Turkish government no longer recognized the Treaty of Sevres (1920), which made Greece’s dream come into existence. Instead of that, they demanded new peace negotiations with the World War I winners.

“At these critical moments, Greece recalls the man who had been led to abdication two years before”…

Venizelos was recalled from the Greeks to rescue whatever he could. The New Greek regime under the leadership of Nikolaos Plastiras and Stylianos Gonatas, pleads the exiled Venizelos to take on the heavy duty of representing it. Notwithstanding Venizelos returned and faced difficulties which seemed to be unsurpassed. He knew that by the Treaty of Sevres everything had changed. Now the Turkish delegation, headed by Ismet Inonou, adjacent to Mustafa Kemal, was coming to the conference by considering themselves leaders. Venizelos was the visionary of the Great Idea and now he had to negotiate whether this dream could go on or end forever…

 4Negotiations for the definitive restoration of peace in the East began on 20 November 1922. Finally, the Peace Treaty (consisting of 5 parts with 143 Articles) and the accompanying Conventions – Agreements – Declarations and Protocols (in total 104 Articles) was signed on 24/7/1923 in Lausanne by the proxies of the governments of the British Empire, France, Italy, Japan, Greece, Romania, the Serbo-Croat-Slovenian State, the US, Turkey, Bulgaria, Russia, Belgium and Portugal. In particular, representatives of Greece were Eleftherios Venizelos and the proxy minister in London Dimitrios Kaklamanos, while Turkey was represented by Ismet Pacha (Minister of Foreign Affairs), Dor Riza Nour Bey (Minister of Health and Social Care – Sinope MP) and Hassan Bey (former Minister – MP of Trebizond).

Venizelos signed this treaty, by putting aside ambiguities, focusing his policy on actions and especially on the difficulties he had to face…

 The Dodecanese were granted in Italy and Turkey, regained a strip of land on the border with Syria and the Bosphorus Strait Internationalized Zone. In Turkey were also granted the islands of Imbros and Tenedos, provided that they would be governed by favorable conditions for the Greeks, as well as Eastern Thrace and Izmir. Greece was obliged to pay in kind the war reparations. The Patriarch of Constantinople lost his leading position, which gave him important status with multiple implications, and the Patriarchate was placed under a special legal status, now controlled by the Turkish government.

 Turkey also regained full sovereign rights throughout its territory, with corresponding rights to militarize it – outside the Strait Zone. Turkey resigned from all her sovereign rights in Cyprus (Article 23 of the Treaty) … and from all her claims to areas previously of the Ottoman Empire while being obliged to guarantee the rights of all minorities within her territory. These obligations are of “International Interest”, with a fundamental principle of international law, “pacta sunt servanda”.

This meant that everything that was agreed, had to be respected, and no reconsideration of this Treaty had to be stated. Any sign of disregard was legally mandatory…

The Treaty of Lausanne also included a special, bilateral agreement between Greece and Turkey – signed six months before, on 30 January 1923 – which provided the mandatory exchange of populations between the two countries. This agreement differed from the previous ones. Initially, the mass movement of the populations was established and from then on, it had a mandatory character. Agreements so far have provided voluntary migration of residents to some controversial regions. This exchange was based not on the ethnological composition but on the religious identity of the populations. The excluded areas were West Thrace for Greece and the wider region of Istanbul, the islands of Imbros and Tenedos for Turkey. It is estimated that at least 1,600,000 Greeks were «uprooted» by Turkey, followed by many Armenians, while some 600,000 Turks left Greece.

5Those people according to the exchange contract could:

- Acquire the nationality of the country that they would be settled in.

- Have the right to transfer their property.

- Take from the state to which they emigrated as compensation, property of equal value to what they abandoned.

- Have the help of the Joint Exchange Committee for their movement.

It was established in accordance with Article 11 of the Lausanne Convention. It was chaired in Konstantinople and consisted of eleven members (four Greeks, four Turks and three non-neutral members of the First World War). Mainly it determined the mode of immigration and valued the real estate of the exchanges.

Venizelos was a «visionary» and a supporter of refugee settlements in Northern Greece … for «national reasons». He was also a great «politician» and «pacifist,» and the Treaty of Lausanne was the outcome of his political, realism. The Treaty made the possibility of a new war unfeasible and had effectively defended Greek interests in the establishment of the borders with Turkey…. On the contrary to the Treaty of Sevres, the Treaty of Lausanne was humiliating for Greece, since what he won in World War I lost it by Asia. Turkey, on the other hand, lost the prestige of the Empire, but it kept a large part of its territory and its sovereign rights on it.

“Venizelos said that”:

«… The Treaty of Lausanne imposes sacrifice on both States …»

And the People agreed with him…

6This «Honorable Peace» treaty … served the «superior national interest». The people got relieved even though they didn’t welcome Venizelos with excitement.

The Treaty of Lausanne was also characterized by many as the «Reciprocity Treaty» because it obliged both countries (Greece – Turkey) to behave in the same way to minorities established in their territory …Generally, it is the only treaty, as it was signed as a consequence of the First World War, which is still in force….

After the Treaty of Lausanne, Greece in 1923, was a defeated and politically divided country, internationally isolated and threatened by the neighboring countries. It was financially shaken and forced to treat more than one million refugees. As for Turkey, after signing the treaty, Mustafa Kemal became President of the Republic of Turkey …

 

Nowadays, we can count 94 years since the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne…

Greece has always respected the territorial boundaries that have been created by it. Turkey, however, in 1936 with the Mover Convention, allowed the fortification of certain estates (Lemnos-Samothraki) and from 1973 its attitude changed radically. The course of Greek-Turkish relations continues to show a constant controversy, suspicion and hostility…

The Treaty of Lausanne is in dispute…

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This challenge opens a new, unknown and multiplied dangerous risk to Turkey’s relations with Greece…

  • When does the Lausanne Treaty expire…?
  • Has it got an expiring date…?
  • Does Greece, have to take everything in mind and be prepared to protect its interests…?
  • Is Eleftherios Venizelos dead or not? Is his word, his actions, his mind, his national conscience that make him be a role model for our society? Should we be inspired nowadays by him…? «

A Reply to these questions is going to be revealed by History!!!

 However, we have the pleasure to live in a land that it is highly influenced by European values. Either we want it or not, we are still being the offspring of what has happened to the past years regarding the Treaty of Lausanne. A Treaty signed on the shore of a Swiss lake, a treaty which has been until recently considered the keystone of Greek-Turkish relations…..

Let us all be aware …

 

The terror… This merciless threat…

Whatever language you speak, you will not find words to describe it…

Our epoch got to know wars, hardships, tortures, imprisonment, emigration, and finally contemplates:

“Wars and … wars again…”

“Beast is man ….”

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Cargo Cults

 By Alexander Marathianakis, George Kalogeris, Alex Stathopoulos,

Nick Simeonidis & George Spiropoulos

Have you ever wondered how a new religion was born and how it grew over the years? Luckily, we know and we have pictures and video documents along with tributes from the worshipers.

1Our story begins in the Fiji islands around the 1880’s, an era when the British empire used to built posts around the globe in order to maintain its strength and make sure that the needs of the conquered states were fulfilled. A post usually consisted of a small port for the supplies and a couple of quarters for the army. So what does all this has to do with a religious cult? Let’s say you are a native of the islands and you see the army being resupplied with food every month or so from a huge wooden thing floating on the sea (yes that’s a ship), what happens when the empire tears apart and all these posts get abandoned and the huge mechanisms that brought the cargo disappear?

The natives destroyed their religion’s statues and replaced them with others that looked like British ports. Their religious dances looked like a British march because they thought that this is how they would call the big ship that would bring them food and other goods. This phenomenon has been observed in other places too, where the empire used to have their posts such as the New Guinea and Melanesia with small differences depending on how the cargo was being imported. In Melanesia for Instance, the cargo used to be imported with airplanes so their statues and monuments represent British airdrops.

These are the so called cargo cults

2Over the last sixty five years, most cargo cults have disappeared. However,some cargo cults are still active including:

● The John Frum cult

● The Tom Navy cult

● The Prince Philip movement

● The Turuga movement

● Yalis cargo cult

● The paliau movement

● the peli association

● The Pomio Kivung

The biggest and most famous cult is The John Frum cult. It started in the late 1930’s in the Vanuatu islands. Nowadays it’s considered a legitimate religion with a single god just like the ones we have today. The figure they worship is John Frum the spirit of which comes down once a year and spreads cargo to all of his worshipers. Just like santa but with a uniform. He is sometimes portrayed as black, sometimes as white.The fun part is that the john from cult exists only on one side of the island on the other they worship the Tom Navy cult which is basically the same but with a different name and God figure. John Frum may have left in 1945 taking the cargo but his worshipers are devoted to him until this day. The prophecy says that John Frum will come back on the 15th of February of some year and will bring his cargo with him.The John Frum cult is the official religion of the island with an annual anniversary (on the 15th of February) just like most religions.

In one of his books David Attenborough mentioned a conversation he had with a native in which he asked “John Frum is gone for more than 20 years, why are you still waiting for his return?” and the native gave him a pretty solid and straightforward answer that personally intrigues me:“You are waiting for Jesus to come back for more than 2000 years and he hasn’t ,why shouldn’t I wait for John Frum?”

The Story of cargo cults puts a lot of people in thoughts and as a personal belief it should be an example and a step for us to reconsider our religious beliefs and how our ancestors used to live.

 

 

 

The seven Wonders of the Ancient World

By Olga Dimitrakopoulou and Olga Kalogeri (A Class)

 

The seven Wonders of the Ancient World are marvelous monuments that were enlisted as masterpieces of the ancient times until the Christian Age. Inspirator of this list is considered to be Antipatros the Sidonian, a writer who visited every monument to verify if they were worthy to be in the catalog. This catalog consists of 7 unique buildings all around the Mediterranean Sea.

1. The Great Pyramids of Giza

2584-1561 B.C.

Egyptians

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The Pyramids of Giza are the oldest survivors of the seven wonders of the ancient world and are the most famous pyramids in the world. They are in Egypt. Their construction dates back to 2580 BC and are located in the Giza Necropolis. The ancient Necropolis of Giza includes: The Pyramid of Cheops, also known as the «Great Pyramid», the slightly smaller Pyramid of Heaven and the relatively moderate Pyramid of Mycenaeus. Necropolis is home to the famous Great Sphinx.

 

 The largest and most famous is the pyramid of Cheops, while the other two are smaller and are some meters farther from the pyramid of Cheops. It has a height of 146,60 m and a perfect square base with a side of 230,35 m. It gives the impression to modern researchers about the data of the time of its construction. It has a volume of 2,521,000 cubic meters, covers an area of ​​54,000 square meters and it its weight reaches 6.5 million tons. For its completion, it took 30 years of work from 100,000 slave workers.The monument today puzzles modern experts about how they managed to solve their mechanical and static problems with their ancient colleagues.

2. The Grand Babylonian Gardens

8th-6th century B.C.

Babylonians

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They were supposed to be located in ancient Babylon, where Iraq is found today. Specialists speculate that they were built approximately at 600 B.C. as a gift to Queen Amytis from her husband, King Nebuchadnezzar II because she missed the green hills and valleys of her homeland, Media. The Gardens were rumored to be in the shape of square, be more than 80ft high and have several vaulted crypts in cubic foundations, where one could visit thanks to a ladder. The plants were either grown in a votanic garden or came from every corner of the world; the roots of the treeswere placed in one of the rooftops instead of the earth. The whole structure was supported by huge stone pillars and streams of water were flooding from lifted springs that kept flora always alive and green; it is often described as a pensile paradise by many historians who had visited them. The luxurious hanging Gardens were said to be destroyed completely after an earthquake in 100 B.C. and although they are enlisted among The Wonders of The Ancient World, their actual existance is debatable by many people even today.  

3. The Colossus of Rhodes

292-280 B.C.

Greeks

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A huge statue of the God of Helios (Sun) that was located at the pier of the ancient port of the Greek island of  Rhodes and was 35 meters high. In the Hellenistic years, Rhodes became famous in the Mediterranean for the huge building that was not actually built so that the ships could pass under its feet, as it is believed (and as depicted in the above figure), but stood at the side of the harbor. The Colossus was the example of Rhodes” gratitude to the god Helios (Sun), who protected them from the Macedonian general Dimitrios. The height of the bronze statue was 33 meters high and its reputation spread in the blink of an eye. Unfortunately, in the blink of an eye – 56 years – it quit its post as it fell because of an earthquake. After its fall – according to Pliny – «few people managed to join their hands, embracing their thumbs» – so large is its size. No one knows what the statue looked like – only hypothetical plans can be attempted.

4. The Lighthouse of Alexandria

280 B.C.

Greeks, Ptolemian Dynasty

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The lighthouse was 135 meters high and was among the tallest structures on earth for many centuries. He was in Alexandria, Egypt, and was built by Sostratius the Knidius and Alexander the Great. Built on the ancient island of Faros, next to Alexandria, from where it was named, this building was built in the 3rd century BC. It was the only «Miracle» that had practical use beyond architectural grandeur. For seafarers, it meant safety on their journeys to the «Grand Harbor». For architects, it was one of the tallest buildings in the world. For scientists, it was a mysterious play using the mirror. The lighthouse mirror was such that the reflected light could be seen 50 kilometers away. The Lighthouse was the last of the six «miracles» that were destroyed – which is depicted in its marble façade, the statue of Poseidon at its peak and the delicate work of Socrates of Knidus who had undertaken its construction. It was destroyed in the 14th century due to an earthquake.

5. The Statue of Jupiter Olympus 

430 B.C.

Greeks

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It was created by the famous sculptor Pheidias in antiquity, was located in Olympia and reached 12 meters hight. The famous sculptor Phidias undertook in 435 BC to build a huge statue in honor of the god who was closely associated with the Olympic Games. During the Olympic Truce, every war stopped, and from Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt and Sicily, pilgrims arrived to honor the statue. The golden-haired Zeus was made so tall that it touched the ceiling of the building that hosted it, and visitors had the impression that if it rose, it would break the roof. Its sandals and mantle were carved in gold and the other decorative elements were made of the most precious metals of antiquity. For centuries, it was one of the spectacles that every mortal had to see before dying, while during the Roman period, Caligula ordered to take it to Rome and change its face, something that never happened because the boater that would carry it got hit by… lightning and burned before loading. The twelve-meter statue was destroyed in the 6th century AD due to a large fire.

6. TheTemple of Artemis at Ephesus

323 B.C.

Greeks, Lydians

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It was a pledge to the goddess Artemis and its construction lasted for 120 years. It was located in today’s Ephesus, in Turkey. When the temple was completed, the known world was talking about “the most beautiful monument ever made by a human hand”. Antipatros himself noted that not even the Sun had seen something more marvelous except Olympus. Initially, the building was burnt to the ground by Hirostratos, who wanted to make his name ‘immortal’. The same night, according to a legend, Alexander the Great was born, who later rebuilt the temple just to be destroyed again in 262 AD by some Goths. Antipatros chose it for his list because it was a sample of the greatness of the Ancient Greek Civilization but also a legacy of Alexander’s empire.

7. The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus

351 B.C.

Greeks, Persians, Carians

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Built between 353 B.C. and 350 B.C. by famous Greek and Persian architects of the time, this tomb was for Mausolus, a Persian satrap (a provincial governor) that was buried there in the 4th century B.C. It is said that the mausoleum was a request from Mausoleus’s wife, Artemisia, as a symbol of love and honor after his sudden death. The tomb was located at Halicarnassus, in Turkey and was unfortunately destroyed by an earthquake and an invasion from Crusaders at the 15th century A.C. Its Great Room had supposedly Mausoleus’s sarcophagus and was decorated everywhere with golden elements; the roof had the shape of a pyramid and sculptures all around it. The mausoleum had height up to 45 meters and was surrounded by 36 columns. The monument was enhanced with white marble and had an amazing view of the hills and the crystal-like sea. Since its construction, the word “mausoleum” has come to represent any above-ground tomb.

Did you know?

The only “Wonder” that managed to be preserved until today is the Pyramid of Cheops. The one with the smallest date of life is the Colossus of Rode as it was destroyed only 58 years after its construction due to a catastrophic earthquake on the island…

 

 

Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

The History of Castles

By Chris-Achilles Falaris (A Class)

Fortresses have been built in Japan since early times. A particular need for castles arose in the 15th century after the central government’s authority had weakened and Japan had fallen into the chaotic era of warring states (sengoku jidai). During that era, Japan consisted of dozens of small independent states which fought each other and built small castles on top of mountains for defense purposes.

When Oda Nobunaga reestablished a central authority over Japan in the second half of the 16th century, and his successor Toyotomi Hideyoshi completed the reunification of Japan, many larger castles were built across the country. Unlike the earlier castles, they were built in the plains or on small hills in the plains, where they served as a region’s administrative and military headquarters and a symbol of authority. They became the centers of «castle towns».

After the end of the feudal age (1868), many castles were destroyed as unwelcome relics of the past or were lost in World War II. Only a dozen «original castles», i.e. castles with a main keep that dates from the feudal era (before 1868), survive today. Furthermore, several dozen castles were reconstructed over the past decades – mostly using concrete instead of traditional building materials.

Castle Structures and Castle Towns

The typical castle consisted of multiple rings of defense, with the so called honmaru («main circle») in the center followed by the ninomaru («second circle») and sannomaru («third circle»). The castle tower stood in the honmaru, while the lords usually lived at a more comfortable residence in the ninomaru.

In the town around the castle, the samurai were residing. The higher their rank, the closer they lived to the castle. Merchants and artisans lived in specially designated areas, while temple and entertainment districts were usually located in the outskirts of the city or just outside of it. Tokyo and Kanazawa are two good examples among many Japanese cities which evolved as castle towns.

The main construction material for castle buildings used to be wood, as can be witnessed when visiting the interior of one of the surviving original castles. Newer reconstructions, however, were made of concrete, and their interiors are modern. Many castles now house a museum.

The following are some typical castle structures:

Castle Tower (Tenshukaku)
Also known as donjon or castle keep, this is the innermost, best defended and most prominent structure of a castle. Most castle towers have two to five stories, and there are often more floors inside than there are stories on the outside.
Example: castle tower of Kumamoto Castle

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Walls and Moats
Several rings of walls and moats serve as the main defense measure of castles. Osaka Castle and the former Edo Castle (now Tokyo’s Imperial Palace) offer the most impressive examples.
Example: Castle walls and moat of Osaka Castle

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Guard Towers (Yagura)
Also known as turrets, these are watch towers and storage rooms along the castle walls, often placed at the corners. Castles usually have multiple guard towers. They are much smaller in size than the main castle tower and are usually made up of two floors.
Example: a guard tower of Hiroshima Castle

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Gates
Castles have a number of well defended entrance gates. The typical castle gate consists of two gates which are placed at a 90-degree angle to each other, creating a small inner yard which is heavily defended from all sides.
Example: Sakurada Gate of the former Edo Castle

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Palace (Goten)
The palace houses the lord’s residence and offices. Most castles have lost their palace over time. A rare surviving example is the Ninomaru Palace of Nijo Castle. Among the few castles with reconstructed palaces are Kumamoto Castle, Hikone Castle and Nagoya Castle.
Example: partially reconstructed palace of Kumamoto Castle

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A Butcher or a Great Emperor?

By Nick Frantzis (A Class)

      Genghis Khan was born in Temüjin in 1162 and he died in 1227. He was the founder and Great Khan (Emperor) of the Mongol Empire. In 1206, when he came to power, he began a string of conquests which, if continued for the next 70 years by his successors, would have created the largest land empire in history. The death and destruction caused by the Mongols are legendary, but there was a positive side as well. For the first time in history, Asia came under one rule, and as a result, its diverse cultures came into contact with one another. These cultures had new opportunities to trade with and learn from each other.

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  • A statue of Genghis Khan

The name of Genghis Khan brings to mind the most completely ruthless and murderous of history’s conquerors. It is said that even on his death bed, he ordered the killing of the entire population of Xi Xia, a neighboring state that had defied him. Yet, the reputation of Genghis Khan as an utterly ruthless warrior may be worse than the reality. In the city of Nishapur, a chronicler wrote that the Mongols were brutal to the extent that even the city’s dogs and cats were killed. It is true that the Mongols under Genghis Khan committed ruthless acts, killing armies as well as peaceful citizens and forcing millions to accept their rules.

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  • The Ark of Heart was one of the few structures to survive when Genghis Khan ordered the slaughter of the city’s inhabitants.

At the age of about 60, after conquering much of continental Asia, Genghis Khan died, possibly after falling from his horse. His body was taken back to Mongolia for burial. Of his grave, like much of the societies he conquered, nothing remains.

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  • Genghis Khan’s tomb

In his homeland, Genghis Khan’s reputation needs a little enhancement. There he is revered as the first ruler of a united Mongolia and his face can be found on paper currency. It can be argued that Genghis Khan was simply a man of his time, a man who happened to be a brilliant military leader, who gave to his descendants the greatest empire – and the most powerful army – the world had ever seen.

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  • A stone tortoise is one of the few things that remain of Genghis Khan’s once great capital of Karakorum

 

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