The stones stood as they had stood for a millennium. Perhaps longer. No one knew. There were stories. Rumors. Legends.
Despite the disastrous ending of the Druids, the worshippers lived on. Quietly, softly. Sometimes hidden in the folds of Christianity and always deep in moss and woodland, they found their way to the tiny circle to greet the dark and full of the moon, and the sun rising on an equinox.
The stones wore down through wind and weather, yet they stood and we came to stand with them. We came though times changed. Finally, we could be ourselves and worship in our way.
Time, wind, and weather will have their way. Times will change and we will become what we must to worship as we should. As long as the stones stand, as long as the woods enclose us, we endure.
We will always find our way to the circle — this or any circle — and be true to our ourselves and our truths.
This is a guest post by writer and blogger Emily Watts. Emily is the author of multiple articles concerning mysterious and intriguing historical facts and theories. However, she also writes about problems of education, business, modern technology, personal relationships, and other topics.
History of the Great Library of Alexandria
World history is full of terrible losses. No, I’m not talking about people who fell in numerous wars and battles. This post is devoted to another sort of loss: a cultural one. Unfortunately, humanity has lost too many antiquities, and cultural heritage can be irreplaceable. One such tragedy is the burning of the library of Alexandria.
The great library of Alexandria is one of the most discussed historical buildings. The main reason why there are so many theories and debates concerning it is lack of evidence. We know very little about its history and the way it came to ruin and, as a result, you’d be surprised as to how many students leave us online requests with, “I need help writing my research paper on the ancient library of Alexandria.”
So, how does one define the truth and separate it from legend?
Let’s start with what made it so great: from what ancient sources tell us, no other library could match its majesty and importance. It contained numerous irreplaceable books. It was all destroyed by a fire which obliterated these precious writings and devoured the whole structure. Today, there are no ruins left; not a single brick. Only stories, theories, and myths remain.
Concerning its founding
From these stories, we can determine that the Alexandria library was founded in Egypt around 330 BC. However, this date is only an approximation, as no one can name the exact date of library’s foundation. We only know it was founded after Alexander the Great was assassinated in 323 BC.
A similar fog surrounds its founder. It is believed that Ptolemy Lagides was its founder. He was one of Alexander’s successors. The library was named in honor and tribute to the great emperor, warrior, and cultural leader, Alexander, who adored the arts, history, and science.
Pretty soon, the library became a keeping place for all rare writings. According to one theory, one of Aristotle’s students named Demetrius initiated the organization of this marvelous endeavor. According to another, Ptolemy’s son was the one who stood behind its creation.
Whom to Blame?
So, what happened? How was it all destroyed?
What is really known is that the library was burned down and its contents lost forever. The first person who was accused of this terrible crime was one of the most famous persons in the world history – Julius Caesar. In 48 BC he pursued Pompey who ran to Egypt. An Egyptian fleet intercepted Caesar, and he was forced to use fire to fight back. This happened near the shores of Alexandria. It is said that the Library was in the part of the city that got burned down.
Another theory implicates Theophilus, then Patriarch of Alexandria, and his great success in converting people to Christianity. This found a strong opposition amongst the city’s pagan followers, who rioted after Theophilus’ death. His successor, Cyril, wasn’t able to hold back the riots and quite soon the fires were all around the city, finally reaching the Library. Some accused Hypatia, one of the world’s first women philosophers, for the destruction, leading to her death.
A third theory accuses the Moslem Caliph, Omar. The Caliph said that the habitats of the city ought to honor the Koran. As the Library contained great numbers of manuscripts which belonged to other religions, religious intolerance induced the burning. In Omar’s alleged words, anything contained in the Library was either in accordance to the Koran, therefore obsolete, or against it, in which case it was heretical. Either way, there was no reason for its existence.
Just like everything else surrounding the Library, these are the main theories surrounding the Library’s destruction. However, there are multiple factors which contradict one another. Sadly enough for a place of learning, it is unlikely we will ever uncover the full truth behind the legend of the Great Library of Alexandria.
It’s a little late for me to marry an archaeologist, but a man who still thinks you are beautiful when every law of your universe tells you that you are not, is even better.
Beauty is not in the eyes of every beholder. Many people don’t find anything older than a 2-year old cell phone beautiful. Not everyone likes to wander the ruins of previous ages or gets teary-eyed while looking at a stone circle. There are many who look at the wilds of the arctic and only see places to drill for oil. They look at cities and imagine a bulldozer taking it down to nothing so they can build again.
None of us expects to get old. We might anticipate maturity. A mellowness, perhaps. A few gray hairs, the odd wrinkle that could still be considered a laugh line. None of us expects to get old and tired, full of aches and pains. No one thinks struggling to climb the stairs or even get up from the sofa is something great, to which we all aspire.
A few people will age with few complaints and some lucky ones will continue to have some of the powers of youth. Whenever I see one of these 90+ people who has been waiting his whole life to run a marathon, all I can think is:
Is that “it” for you? Now that you’ve run the distance, what’s next? You going to keep running until your legs crumple under you? If this was your lifelong plan, what waits for you in your future?
I never expected to become ill or too damaged to do the things I’d always managed to do. I was damaged early, but for a long time, I did it — whatever “it” was — anyway. When age and ill-health crept up, I gradually recognized no amount of will or determination was going to make the days of youth return. Age was not a number. Age was a reality and now, a big part of my reality. Age wasn’t going away or even taking a long vacation. But I can live with it. Getting older is not willing yourself to keep doing the same things you did thirty years ago. It’s creatively figuring out what you can do that you will enjoy and will find worth doing.
Surprisingly, there’s a lot of that. Arts and crafts and painting and writing and thinking and talking and learning don’t have to disappear.
Dealing with age is not forcing yourself to do the things you did when you were younger. Dealing with age is recognizing what you can’t do and probably should not even try to do … while simultaneously figuring out what you can do. Even when you were more fit, not everything worth doing involved running, strength, speed, or agility. Your brain is part of your body too — and it needs a lot more exercise than you imagine. Even if you can’t remember the name of that person you used to work with — how important is he or she? A lot of the things we forget as we get older weren’t important anyway. For the small stuff, we have lists. Just to be fair, I’ve always needed lists and that included when I was a lot younger!
As for the people whose names we’ve misplaced? Ted Kennedy, famous for his inability to remember names, used to say to everyone: “Hey, it’s YOU!”
Not being a politician I have a different mode: “Excuse me. I’m sorry, I’ve misplaced your name! It’s an old person thing. Could you remind me?”
Surprisingly, it works. Try it. Do you really want to spend the rest of your life looking at people and not knowing who the hell he or she is? Won’t that make you feel stupid? When they give you their name, but you still have no idea who they are … well … maybe they weren’t all that important. I’ve had people give me their names, what we did together in High School, mutual friends … and I still don’t know who they are. That really is embarrassing.
Sunday started like any other Sunday. Harold arose punctually with the sound of the alarm clock. There was never any pressing the snooze button for Harold. Time was too valuable to be wasted pressing a snooze button. The world never snoozes, so why should Harold? He quickly went through his morning routine, then went on to the kitchen for coffee.
As expected, Harold found the coffee already brewing. He set it up the night before so that there would be no fumbling through the coffee-making process in the morning. When Harold was ready, so was the coffee. You would not expect anything less from the time managing genius that he was. He had a light breakfast, did some light reading and followed that by cleaning the dishes and neatly putting them away.
Now Harold, master of organization, commander of the schedule, and ruler of all the cleaning supplies, was ready to begin. He would start cleaning in the living room at the front of the house and follow through all the rooms, closets included, until he got to the back of the house. This would generally take all day with a little time off for a second cup of coffee and then again later for a light lunch.
So Harold dusted and vacuumed and swept. Every item was cleaned. As there were very few item on tables or cabinets, the job could be done quickly. Each drawer had to be opened and inspected. Everything had to be in place. A quick visual inventory was taken by Harold’s computer like mind, and nothing was out-of-place when he was finished. Actually, nothing was out-of-place when Harold started, but he just had to check to make sure.
When he got to the bedroom closet he spied a box on the top shelf above the space where his clothes were neatly hung. Harold removed a two-step ladder from behind the bedroom door and put it in from of the closet door. He used it to reach the case on the shelf and then carefully lifted it as if it held a king’s treasure. He brought it carefully down the steps and carried it to the living room. There he set it on the coffee table, which never saw any coffee, and he sat down on the sofa.
Years earlier Harold had the case made to his exact specifications. While its outward appearance was of an ordinary cardboard box, it was reinforced on the inside to hold the heavy and precious items Harold had so carefully collected in his lifetime. The sections were of various sizes because the contents were all different in shape.
While no one who saw Harold’s neat, clean and modest apartment would ever suspect, Harold was a collector of rare Japanese and Chinese porcelain. They were the only collectables in his possession and they were as much an investment as they were a collection. The pieces were carefully procured over many years. He had to be careful in his choices, as there were many fakes on the market.
The items also had to be something that Harold enjoyed. If they were not aesthetically pleasing to his eye, he did not purchase them. He could not imagine spending a lot of money on something, if they were not good to look at. Of course, he was the only one who ever saw them.
Once Harold went to China for vacation, partly because he thought he had a lead on a piece of Imperial porcelain of the Yuan dynasty. It turned out not to be so, but he settled on a piece from a later period. It was his only trip outside the country. Everything else was purchased from collectors and auctions. Now he had a box full, a little bigger than the standard shirt box.
As always, Harold carefully removed the cover. On this day, as in every Sunday, he would pick up one piece and examine and admire it closely, but wait! There was a piece missing. A porcelain egg was not in its place. Harold’s mind was racing.
Where could it be? Did someone break in and steal it? No, that makes no sense. Why steal the egg and leave the rest? Did he lose it? Impossible! He never took them out of the house. It must simply be misplaced. How could the well-organized Harold have misplaced anything?
Harold was frantic. He wanted to get up and start searching the house but his body went numb. He started to shiver. Never was an item of Harold’s life out-of-place and now a precious piece was missing. His stomach was all twisted in knots. He struggled just to get to his feet.
When he got his wits about himself, he started a careful and well-organized search of the house. Since it seem unlikely to be in any of the places he just cleaned, he searched everywhere else, some places multiple times. When the egg was not found, Harold sunk to his knees and prayed to St. Anthony, patron of lost items. The egg remained lost.
Harold returned to the sofa, sat down and stared at the case with the empty space. Through the careful collection of these porcelain items over the years, Harold felt that his very life had gained in value. Now the missing porcelain egg, soft and beautiful in his mind, caused a tear to come to Harold’s eye. He could not shake the feeling that he himself, through stupidity or carelessness or whatever, was now worth a little less.
Did mom and dad let you hunt woolly mammoths after you finished your homework? Didn’t you love tearing the raw mammoth meat from the bones and making fire by pounding flint-on-flint? We didn’t need no stinking cell phones or cable TV. We did it all with flint and raw muscle power. If you were weak, you were soon also dead. And that’s the way it going to be again really soon.
Hey, remember having to walk ten miles for a small piece of flint?
Those were the days, weren’t they? Kids today. They have it so easy!
Medical care? If you got too sick, they whacked you over the head with a mammoth bone and left you to rot. Kids, if you didn’t know, that was how the Republican party was born. Mammoths evolved into elephants and voilà! Our first political party!
Don’t forget to grab your flint before you leave the room today.
I was distinctly sceptical…unsure what to expect when we parked at the entrance to the mines. So many ancient sites, once commercialised, seem to lose both their intimacy and essence, but I remembered watching something about the discovery many years ago and was curious to see for myself what had been found. A landscaping project in an area thought to be above Victorian mines had uncovered something much older which had astonished archaeologists and changed the way the nation’s ancient history was written.
At school we were taught that the Stone Age peoples were primitive … pretty much your archetypal cave-man, with a minimal survivalist technology and little else to recommend him. That never really added up to me, not when I had seen so many of the great stone circles as a child. It made even less sense when you looked at the incredible artwork of the caves at Lascaux and the ancient figurines and carvings that have survived. How could Ugg and his companions be so unsophisticated and yet produce such beauty?
Working with the ancient sites in recent years, it became clear to us that the stone of the Stone Age was as much, and as complex, a technology in its day as electronics are to the Digital Age. We lack the context of their mindset; we do not understand a fraction of what they saw and built, in and upon the land… but we can see that it is a lack in our knowledge, not in theirs, that renders their monuments so mysterious to our eyes.
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