Stranger than fiction: Gobekli Tepe

One of the oldest surviving theories about the emergence of civilization is V. Gordon’s Childe’s Neolithic Revolution, in which the invention of agriculture (around 9,000 years ago) gave rise to all that we recognize as “civilized” – villages, writing, cities, and organized religion.  While Childe wasn’t wrong about the big picture (agriculture was a revolutionary thing for human societies), recent discoveries from the Middle East and elsewhere have shown that he didn’t have the details quite right.

In particular, towns seem to have come before the invention of agriculture in the Middle East…and organized religion may have predated them both.

Pillars at the temple of Göbekli Tepe

The site of Göbekli Tepe, Turkey, has revealed itself as a possible religious pilgrimage site – one without evidence of residential occupation and predating the rise of most villages in the region.  A spectacular arrangement of elaborately carved standing stones, the site is the oldest known example of monumental architecture.  The stones comprising the open-air temple were quarried some distance away and carved with a wild assortment of gazelles, snakes, foxes, scorpions, and ferocious wild boars.

The excavators speculate that construction, use, and worship at the site may have prompted scattered, semi-nomadic hunter-gatherers to begin to organize themselves and come together to built the region’s first permanent villages — all hundreds of years before they domesticated their first plant or animal.

Get thee to the capital: Madrid

Right now the hubs and I are sitting on the train watching the Spanish countryside fly by.  In a few hours, we’ll arrive at Atocha station in Madrid and the last phase of our holiday will begin.  This is sad because it’s the last few days of the trip.  But it’s happy too, as Madrid is a favorite city of mine.

Madrid is a fun city to wander in, and that is exactly what we plan to do, exploring historic neighborhoods, snoozing in the shade at Buen Retiro park, eating in tapas bars, and (of course) visiting some of the city’s incredible museums:

     

Our holiday ends on Sunday, when we troop back to the Madrid airport and fly home to New York.  Hopefully the break will invigorate me for a summer of non-stop writing 🙂

Llegada Granada

After four days of imitating sloths in Mallorca, the hubs and I are ready for some sightseeing.  Up first, two nights in Granada.  The lure here, of course, is the Alhambra:

…an incredible complex of palaces, gardens, and fortresses in Andalusia.  The site was built first by the Moors and later taken over and added to by Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor.  We plan to spend most of our time in Granada here and are touring the palace at night and gardens during the day.

On Thursday we hop the train up to Madrid to finish our trip with several days of museums, exploring, and grazing at every tapas bar in the city.

Stranger than fiction: Science to the rescue

Archaeologists are notorious Luddites — forever crowing about how much we can discover with just a trowel, a bucket, and a strong constitution.

Technology, though, will not be denied, and every once in awhile it reminds us that we ignore it at our peril.

Case in point: archaeologists working at the site of Ashkelon, Israel uncovered a white, powdery surface they originally interpreted as a plaster floor inside a residential or ritual structure.  When they subjected a sample of the material to spectroscopic analysis, however, they discovered it was something quite different from what they’d imagined.  Rather than a fine floor, the white substance was decayed plant life and fecal matter.  That’s right, folks, it was poop.

They hadn’t found the interior of a house or temple, but an animal pen.

Archaeology, meet Science.  You two should hang out more often.

Here’s the article in the New York Times if you’d like to read more.

Adios Nueva York, hola España!

Today I’m off to Spain!

As you read this, I’ll probably be stumbling, jet-lagged and caffeine-deprived, through the Madrid airport as I transfer planes en route to Mallorca.

The hubs and I will be spending five nights here:

      

We shall eat, drink, swim, hot air balloon, and generally laze about.

Then it’s on to Granada to tour the Alhambra and up to Madrid for a few days.

I’ve got a few blog posts scheduled during my absence, so it won’t be total radio silence here at Comedy and Tragedy, cause I’m awesome that way.  Abrazos y besos! I’ll miss you all while I’m gone.

Updates to follow 🙂

RIP Ray Bradbury

A literary great has died today.  Ray Bradbury.

So sad.

I thought I’d remember him by re-reading my favorite of his books: Dandelion Wine.  I love the sweet nostalgia of it, the golden summer it captures.

Here’s a quote:

“It won’t work,” Mr. Bentley continued, sipping his tea. “No matter how hard you try to be what you once were, you can only be what you are here and now. Time hypnotizes. When you’re nine, you think you’ve always been nine years old and will always be. When you’re thirty, it seems you’ve always been balanced there on that bright rim of middle life. And then when you turn seventy, you are always and forever seventy. You’re in the present, you’re trapped in a young now or an old now, but there is no other now to be seen.”

So, that’s my favorite of Bradbury’s many excellent works.  What’s yours?

Worth 1000 words

Whether it inspires a story or just serves to make your day a little more interesting, here’s an image to start the morning with: