intellectual property rights: This blogger firmly believes in intellectual and other property rights. Links have been given to the material including images and maps used from outside sources. The blogger requests pointing out any material that have escaped this policy.
Today: consumption kills eco-systems; fraud, greed, grand larceny and theft bring down world's finances; deceit, infidelity and instant gratification destroy families; murders and wars have left us without peace or stability. On top we have droughts, earthquakes, floods, storms, tsunamis … has the world gone mad! Submit now to Allah before it is too late - to the One and Only God, the Creator, Lord and Sustainer of the universe, Unique in His Person and Actions, without any blemish, weakness or relatives. Follow the Sunnah of Muhammad (the last Messenger and Prophet - upon whom be the peace and blessings of Allah), and join those who will be the really successful ones.

see end of page for buttoned useful links

Thursday, February 26, 2009

world heritage tour: Petra

Here is Petra on the world heritage site. The panoramic photos are awesome. Please do visit that website linked below and see for yourself

Petra: interactive map

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

world heritage tour: Damascus

It is amazing the info available on the net. take a look at this site:

world heritage tours

I registered and looked at ancient Damascus. Here is a map displayed when we search for damascus. To discover more, and see the interactive panoramic photos, go and register. If you can, donate as well, and do subscribe to their feed:

world heritage tour.RSS

and for Damascus (Damishq), the link is:

Damascus interactive map

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The war on Muslims - III

comment on previous two posts by JustOne

I agree with you, but...

Do you think maybe it starts from a far more micro level then what you have proposed?

The muslim world is faced either with things like dwindling literacy rates and minimal health care OR with mismanaged resources.  Not to mention petty corruption, broken homes, and a preoccupation with western popular culture that is spacing out both the youth and adults.

I mean I point the finger at myself first.  Currently, I am a part of the problem, if only by lack of action to bring about a lasting change.

timbuktu's reply:

Of course, the problems do stem from the individual, whether of the elite or the common man.

I am not sure if it is true that there is dwindling literacy and health care rate. True that the government funded services have failed to keep with the rising needs brought on by increased population, urbanization, improved infrastructure and hence demand, and increased expectations. In the private sector, however, both indicators have gone up, unless the increase in population has caused a decline in the percentage of those covered.

The economy, literacy rate, and health care can be improved if there is investment in the Ummah. As I have mentioned on other threads, consider the 3.1/2 trillion dollars of only Saudi money parked in the US. $2.3 trillion of this was private money, and $0.8 trillion was Saudi government's. Who are the Saudi individuals who have that kind of money? They are the princes and associated tycoons, of course. Where did they get this money from? From sale of the oil and execution of infrastructure projects at inflated rates. To whom does the oil belong? It should belong to the Saudi people, but since this is a kingdom, it is usurped by the royal family.

Imagine what just the investment of this 3.1 trillion dollars can do to the Ummah. There are other Muslims with large amounts of money - the Kuwaitis, the Emiratis, etc. And here the external factors come into play. If Suhartu had not been placed in power in Indonesia by the CIA, the murder of over a million Indonesians would not have taken place, and the oil money from Indonesia would have been invested in Indonesia, not in the US. Similarly, the history of Iran would have been different if Musaddiq had not been deposed by CIA.

The leadership of Pakistan has been mostly feudal, and it pays only lip service to Islam, which it uses with either direct assumption of peership, or co-opts the local peer to control the rural population.

There are other players here, too: Musharraf and other generals before him, Zardari and other corrupt people before him. If the money they had swindled from their nations had not found safe havens in the West, it would have to stay in their homelands, and would have to be invested there.

Since these generals and politicians and business leaders come from the ordinary citizen class, it is indeed our failure at the micro level. We are not just good Muslims. Having accepted that, is it necessary to become good Muslims in order to defeat the Imperialists of today? It is true that the Quran tells us if we are good Muslims, Allah (swt) will hand over power to us.

If you look at the history of Muslims, time and again an ideologically motivated group has managed to gain control of a region and dispelled the kuffar. Yusuf bin Tashfeen's murabeteen were not the same as the easy-going urbanite Andalucíans, yet they were the need of the hour. The muwwahedeen who replaced them were followers of Imam Ghazali, a different approach to the deen, but they too were successful in defeating the Christian Reconquesta until the Andalucians as a whole fell to schism on ethnic and sectarian grounds.

The culprit then is schism, but I agree that this comes from the individual's ignoring of the basic injunctions of being one ummah in the Quran and Sunnah, hence it is a failure at the micro-level. What I have demonstrated above is that despite this schism, many times it was possible to impose rule of one group, and keep the kuffar at bay. Of course it is better that instead of a coercive imposition, there is voluntary acceptance (and that would definitely involve power sharing). There are many organizations that claim to bring Muslims together as one. Some individuals among them may falter, but by and large these organizations do try.

Unscrupulous people come mostly from the class educated in the secular western way. Me and you are part of this class. But not all from this only class are corrupt. The madrassa educated (and scion of the very pious Mufti Mahmood) Fazlur Rehman gets into politics, he plays the same game, but he is not the only Islamist player. There are others, and they are seemingly pious.

What happened in the decolonization era was a fraud. The departing empires left behind a class to which the empire's capital was still home. The leadership was subservient to the white master. The leading world powers also devised financial institutions - the World bank and the IMF - that served to bring the so-called independent nations under inflated debt burdens, so as to keep them permanently under their thumbs. The leaders of these third world countries were encouraged to be corrupt and wars were imposed on them so that the loot could find its way into the banks of the West.

This is the story of my generation. We understood some of what was happening, and we struggled in our own ways to break the yoke.

My intention is to make people aware of what is happening around them. Just as decolonization was made possible due to several factors - indigenous struggle, development of an aware class in the center of the Empire, economic decline of the Empire through wars, this struggle for emancipation may involve  all three factors. Of course, it is Allah's will that will cause the emancipation. But we have to analyze and struggle accordingly. Praying in the dead of night may not be enough.

If people in the West were made aware of the money-laundering that goes on there, eventually loot and corruption on such a large scale may come to an end.

The war on Muslims - II; Failure of the State

 Failure of the state

Friday, February 20, 2009
By by Dr Masooda Bano

The agreement between the NWFP government and Maulana Sufi Mohammad of Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat, which promises enforcement of 'Nizam-e-Adl Regulation' in Malakand division in return for promises of Maulana Fazlullah and his followers stopping taking the law in their hands does not have an easy response. True, the regulation will only lead to some cosmetic changes and Qazi courts already exist in that area. Also, the Malakand division and FATA already have many peculiarities and if the population there has a higher preference for Shariah law then the solution might be to let them have a slightly different set of constitutional rules. Finally, it has been argued that imposing the regulation will deprive Maulana Fazlullah of the moral authority that he enjoys among his recruits. This far the arguments make sense. However, what is important is that this peace agreement does not deter analysts from arguing for bigger reforms within the state that are required to check underlying causes of the mayhem visible in Swat today.

The war on Muslims - I

To think that there is no war on Muslims is to close your eyes to the truth, and to buy the line of our enemies.

To start with, we accept that there are major internal problems with the Muslim world, and these need urgent attention.

However, there are similarly urgent external problems. To dismiss these as conspiracy theories would be to bury our heads in the sand.

The primary aims of the major powers are:

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

USA not an ATM, and Pakistan no vending machine

America not an ATM

Monday, February 16, 2009

This is with reference to the article “Can the US get real on Pakistan” by Mosharraf Zaidi (Feb 12). I want to ask the writer when Pakistan will learn to ‘get real about its relationship with the United States’? From the 1950s onwards the US gave an immense amount of aid to Pakistan to build its military and economic potential. However, it should be clear to Pakistan that the US will never go to war with India for Pakistan’s sake. That was something the Americans emphasised right from the very beginning. Despite the huge amount of aid that Pakistan received and in spite of being a US ally for five decades the average American sees Pakistan as a dangerous country. The US gave Pakistan aid and helped it both economically and militarily. However, Pakistan betrayed the US trust by secretly building nuclear weapons while insisting it was doing nothing of the sort.

Also while doing all this Pakistan still insists it is America’s ally and keeps asking for economic and military aid. Pakistan needs to realise that the United States is not an ATM machine where Pakistan can keep taking out money without there being any accounting. There is a need for Pakistan to realise it cannot have its cake and eat it too.

Greg Martin

Springfield, MA, US

USA not an ATM

Pakistan no vending machine

Thursday, February 19, 2009

This is with reference to Greg Martin's letter "America not an ATM machine" (Feb 16). As a Pakistani I am extremely offended by the writer's assertion that Pakistan is a banana republic that has no economy and military and is strictly dependent on US aid. The writer seems to be imagining things when he makes the claim that Pakistan expects the US to go to war with India for Pakistan's sake. Furthermore, I wonder if the opinion of average Americans matters considering that they can't even locate Pakistan on the map let alone understand the dynamics of the problems that Pakistan is facing today.

The average Pakistani sees the United States as a global bully. How can the average Pakistani respect the US if it keeps on attacking Pakistan's sovereignty day in and day out via drone attacks? Do I need to remind Mr Martin about how the US ditched Pakistan after achieving its goals in Afghanistan after the Soviet invasion?

The fact of the matter is that America needs to realise that Pakistan is not a vending machine that it can just use and then discard.

Zubair Nabi



This is in reference to the letter titled "America not an ATM machine" by Greg Martin (Feb 16). Mr Martin seems to be slightly well-versed with history than the average American. Yet, he suffers from partial amnesia. He remembers the aid that flowed to Pakistan from the US in the 1950s but somehow forgets that it was given because Islamabad was a CENTO/SEATO ally during the Cold War and to counter a USSR-leaning India. He remembers the aid given during the 1980s but forgets that Pakistani intelligence and troops were coordinating the US fight against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan.

He also remembers the aid given in the past eight years but forgets the thousands of Pakistani civilians and soldiers who have died fighting yet another war on behalf of America. He says that Pakistan secretly built nuclear weapons but forgets that the US is the only country to actually have used a nuclear device on an enemy population. It is time for the US to stop pointing fingers and clean up the mess it has created over decades of incompetence in world affairs.

Syed Umair Javed


Pakistan no vending machine

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Timbuktu, Islamic History: video by Dr Abdul Hakim Quick

isn't this great?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

An Eyewitness Account of the Eruption of Vesuvius

My dear Tacitus,

You ask me to write you something about the death of my uncle so that the account you transmit to posterity is as reliable as possible. I am grateful to you, for I see that his death will be remembered forever if you treat it [sc. in your Histories]. He perished in a devastation of the loveliest of lands, in a memorable disaster shared by peoples and cities, but this will be a kind of eternal life for him. Although he wrote a great number of enduring works himself, the imperishable nature of your writings will add a great deal to his survival. Happy are they, in my opinion, to whom it is given either to do something worth writing about, or to write something worth reading; most happy, of course, those who do both. With his own books and yours, my uncle will be counted among the latter. It is therefore with great pleasure that I take up, or rather take upon myself the task you have set me.

He was at Misenum in his capacity as commander of the fleet on the 24th of August [sc. in 79 AD], when between 2 and 3 in the afternoon my mother drew his attention to a cloud of unusual size and appearance. He had had a sunbath, then a cold bath, and was reclining after dinner with his books. He called for his shoes and climbed up to where he could get the best view of the phenomenon. The cloud was rising from a mountain-at such a distance we couldn't tell which, but afterwards learned that it was Vesuvius. I can best describe its shape by likening it to a pine tree. It rose into the sky on a very long "trunk" from which spread some "branches." I imagine it had been raised by a sudden blast, which then weakened, leaving the cloud unsupported so that its own weight caused it to spread sideways. Some of the cloud was white, in other parts there were dark patches of dirt and ash. The sight of it made the scientist in my uncle determined to see it from closer at hand.

He ordered a boat made ready. He offered me the opportunity of going along, but I preferred to study-he himself happened to have set me a writing exercise. As he was leaving the house he was brought a letter from Tascius' wife Rectina, who was terrified by the looming danger. Her villa lay at the foot of Vesuvius, and there was no way out except by boat. She begged him to get her away. He changed his plans. The expedition that started out as a quest for knowledge now called for courage. He launched the quadriremes and embarked himself, a source of aid for more people than just Rectina, for that delightful shore was a populous one. He hurried to a place from which others were fleeing, and held his course directly into danger. Was he afraid? It seems not, as he kept up a continuous observation of the various movements and shapes of that evil cloud, dictating what he saw.

Ash was falling onto the ships now, darker and denser the closer they went. Now it was bits of pumice, and rocks that were blackened and burned and shattered by the fire. Now the sea is shoal; debris from the mountain blocks the shore. He paused for a moment wondering whether to turn back as the helmsman urged him. "Fortune helps the brave," he said, "Head for Pomponianus."

At Stabiae, on the other side of the bay formed by the gradually curving shore, Pomponianus had loaded up his ships even before the danger arrived, though it was visible and indeed extremely close, once it intensified. He planned to put out as soon as the contrary wind let up. That very wind carried my uncle right in, and he embraced the frightened man and gave him comfort and courage. In order to lessen the other's fear by showing his own unconcern he asked to be taken to the baths. He bathed and dined, carefree or at least appearing so (which is equally impressive). Meanwhile, broad sheets of flame were lighting up many parts of Vesuvius; their light and brightness were the more vivid for the darkness of the night. To alleviate people's fears my uncle claimed that the flames came from the deserted homes of farmers who had left in a panic with the hearth fires still alight. Then he rested, and gave every indication of actually sleeping; people who passed by his door heard his snores, which were rather resonant since he was a heavy man. The ground outside his room rose so high with the mixture of ash and stones that if he had spent any more time there escape would have been impossible. He got up and came out, restoring himself to Pomponianus and the others who had been unable to sleep. They discussed what to do, whether to remain under cover or to try the open air. The buildings were being rocked by a series of strong tremors, and appeared to have come loose from their foundations and to be sliding this way and that. Outside, however, there was danger from the rocks that were coming down, light and fire-consumed as these bits of pumice were. Weighing the relative dangers they chose the outdoors; in my uncle's case it was a rational decision, others just chose the alternative that frightened them the least.

They tied pillows on top of their heads as protection against the shower of rock. It was daylight now elsewhere in the world, but there the darkness was darker and thicker than any night. But they had torches and other lights. They decided to go down to the shore, to see from close up if anything was possible by sea. But it remained as rough and uncooperative as before. Resting in the shade of a sail he drank once or twice from the cold water he had asked for. Then came an smell of sulfur, announcing the flames, and the flames themselves, sending others into flight but reviving him. Supported by two small slaves he stood up, and immediately collapsed. As I understand it, his breathing was obstructed by the dust-laden air, and his innards, which were never strong and often blocked or upset, simply shut down. When daylight came again 2 days after he died, his body was found untouched, unharmed, in the clothing that he had had on. He looked more asleep than dead.

Meanwhile at Misenum, my mother and I-but this has nothing to do with history, and you only asked for information about his death. I'll stop here then. But I will say one more thing, namely, that I have written out everything that I did at the time and heard while memories were still fresh. You will use the important bits, for it is one thing to write a letter, another to write history, one thing to write to a friend, another to write for the public. Farewell.

-- Pliny the Younger (A.D. 61 - 113)

Found on the Website ... it is a site well worth visiting!

Vesuvius the Volcano

Pliny the Younger describes Vesuvius eruption in 79 CE

7. The story of Caius Julius Polybius


By Rossella Lorenzi

A day in the life of one of Pompeii's residents is re-created in this fictional account based on research findings.

Caius Julius Polybius woke up early that summer day in A.D. 79. He was excited: workers were to arrive soon to restore some rooms in his beautiful house.
He was proud of himself.

A descendant of a former slave who in A.D 14 wrote and read the testament of the emperor Augustus, he was now a wealthy and respected merchant.

He opened the front door and breathed deeply the cool air of the morning. Like every day, he read the graffiti on the facade of his house: "The mule drivers ask you to elect Caius Julius Polybius as duovir." He smiled.

At 65 he was finally enjoying an enviable social position, holding the most important public office in Pompeii.

He turned and began to walk through his house, stopping to look at a fresco and admire his treasure. Others in the city had more interesting pieces. How much he would have liked to have had the silver collection he saw in the House of the Meander!

Yet, he couldn't complain: on the table, lit by a bronze lamp sculpture of young Apollo, were bronzes, vases, a beautiful embossed tray, and the best piece of the collection, a Greek water container.

The house was bustling. Women were already in the kitchen preparing honey doughnuts and Julius' favorite dish, garum, a sauce made with marinated fish.

In the garden, a tortoise was sleeping under the fig tree, undisturbed by Julius' grandchild, who had just put down a tree ladder and a basket full of figs. The earth was shaking lightly beneath people's feet, but nobody cared. They were used to earthquakes, which occurred often in Pompeii.

But at noon a frightening roar made the 12 people in the house forget their lunch. Julius looked at Mount Vesuvius. A huge cloud spewed out of the massive volcano, and fire reached for the sky. Soon white and gray pumice began to fall from the column of smoke. A false night, darker and thicker than any night, descended on the city.

There was panic. People cried in terror, rushing into the streets looking for shelter. Like everybody, Julius and his family tried to escape, but a horse that had collapsed on the ground blocked their way. They returned under a shower of burning rock, flaming cinders, fragments of lava and pumice. They rushed into two rooms in the back of their house, away from the street.

They sat on the floor and waited for what seemed an eternity. In the darkness, they could hear groans of the dying and shrieks of the terrified, noises from the mountain, the sound of roofs collapsing. It was nothing compared to what was still to come.

At 7 a.m. strong winds howled down the streets, bringing sharp streams of ash, poisonous vapors and an unbearable temperature.

In Julius' garden, the tortoise withdrew into its shell for the last time.

 End of slide show. But click here for ongoing archaeological work in and around Pompeii. »


7. The story of Caius Julius Polybius

6. Pompeii: part II

By Rossella Lorenzi

"Here are impressive pieces of evidence of the degree of civilization in Pompeii," says Paolo Galluzzi, director of Florence's Institute and Museum of the History of Science.

Several of the contraptions show a surprising similarity to modern machines. For example, any Pompeian embarking on a trip could establish how many Roman miles he had traveled through the use of a contraption attached to the wheel of a cart. For every mile, it dropped a pebble into a box.

To help assemble this strikingly detailed re-creation of life in Pompeii, researchers employed a range of high-tech tools. Among them were DNA testing of bones to decipher genetic history and physical analysis of the bones to study the physical structure of Pompeians and to determine some of the most prevalent diseases, such as arthritis.

With high-powered microscopes, scientists analyzed pollens, animal bones and fragments of wood, glass, plants and daily objects to figure out the natural history of the region as well as cultural and agricultural practices.

Using 3-D forensic techniques, they reconstructed the faces of four Pompeians (including Caius Julius Polybius), bringing the ancient residents back to life hundreds of years into the future. Their blank eyes stare at a harsh, unforgiving light.


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Pompeii, part II

5. Pompeii


By Rossella Lorenzi

More than 400 finds recorded by 25 international research groups in the past 10 years have provided the most accurate picture of what life was like in Pompeii.

At the time Mount Vesuvius erupted, this was a wealthy Roman trading town, famous for its fish sauce and grand villas. Indeed, it was international and cosmopolitan.

In addition to Greeks and Etruscans, the population included residents from Africa. Of Pompeii's 20,000 inhabitants, half were children. The average Pompeian woman was 4 1/2 feet tall and lived to the age of 39. The average man was a few inches taller and could expect to live to the age of 41.

Pompeians poured their savings into their houses. Wealthy people enriched their homes with elegant courtyard gardens decorated with frescoes of plants and flowers and an abundance of modern conveniences. Each room was heated by hot air running through cavity walls and spaces under the floors, while sophisticated hydraulic pumps provided running water.

The entire city had an excellent system for the control and distribution of water. From a great reservoir, water flowed invisibly through underground pipelines into drainage systems and into aqueducts supported by arches. It reappeared in the city's houses, public buildings and fountains.

"The ancient Romans achieved their power because they had a deep knowledge of technology and science, not to mention that they understood many aspects of nature," Paolo Galluzzi, director of Florence's Institute and Museum of the History of Science, said.

Having studied iconographic sources and ancient texts for three years, Galluzzi has been able to reconstruct models and computer animations of the complex machines created by the ancient residents.


4. The story of Lupercus

By Rossella Lorenzi

Lupercus is one of the only victims whose identity has survived, thanks to his personal bronze seal declaring his status as an imperial slave. This fictional account of his last day is based on the recent findings.

It was a summer night in A.D. 79 and Lupercus watched a young couple sitting cross-legged on the beach at Herculaneum. They looked like they were under the spell of the Cupids on the fresco near the Decumanus Maximus, but it wasn't a romantic moment. The couple was frightened; torrents of hot mud were spewing out of Mount Vesuvius.

Lupercus cleaned his mouth with his left hand. Despite the sea breeze, his tongue felt furry with thin ash. In the other hand he held his bronze seal, inscribed with "Lupercus Augusti servus." It was the only thing he took with him as he rushed to the beach.

He looked again at Vesuvius, worried. "I am close to the water, I shall be safe," he reassured himself. But what would happen to the imperial villa he had to take care of? He had worked so hard to make a good impression on the emperor and be released one day.

After all, he wasn't a just a common slave. He had been appointed with a great responsibility: he had to take care of the garden of the villa that had belonged to the lunatic emperor Caligula.

He looked around at the crowded beach. The women wore their most beautiful jewels. Lupercus recognized the matron of the house with the mosaic atrium: she was wearing rings on every finger and two beautiful bracelets in the shape of snakes. A more modest woman was carrying a basket with nuts and pomegranates, while others carried bronze oil lamps.

"It is going be a long night," Lupercus thought. Some lay on the beach to sleep, while many others decided to find shelter in the boat chambers.

Lupercus entered the one reserved to men. He noticed the doctor with his bag of surgical instruments and a soldier clad in armor, who stood at the entrance.
There was nothing to do but wait. They huddled together in a circle, talking late into the night.

Suddenly, an unbearable heat struck like lightning. The soldier was thrown on his face, his arms outstretched to try to break his fall. Lupercus fell with the others in a tangle of bodies.

Outside, gray ash drifted down like snow. The young couple lay solidified on the beach, the man's arm wrapped around his love.

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\The story of Lupercus

3. Two days in August 79 AD

By Rossella Lorenzi

Aug. 24, A.D. 79

1 p.m.: When the people of Herculaneum saw a column of smoke bursting from Vesuvius, reaching nine miles into the sky, they looked around, astonished. As the first ash fell on the roofs of their houses, they understood it was time to run. Most stopped to gather what belongings they could: money, jewels, the family dog. Everybody rushed into the streets. Some thought the sea was their route to safety; those who didn't try to escape on boats assembled on the beach.

Midnight: The cloud reached almost 19 miles into the sky, and torrents of lava poured down Vesuvius. The beach probably offered a spectacular view of the eruption, but the fugitives didn't live much longer to admire it.

Aug. 25, A.D. 79

1 a.m.: A cloud of gas and ash plunged down on the town; the hot breath of Vesuvius killed the fugitives in a fraction of a second. By studying bone fractures and the position of the remains, anthropologist Paolo Petrone and volcanologist Giuseppe Mastrolorenzo established beyond a doubt that the fugitives were wrapped in a 900-degree Fahrenheit cloud. They died instantly of thermal shock, not from slow suffocation as scientists long assumed.

1 to 6 a.m.: More surges followed.

7 a.m.: A devastating surge killed the remaining inhabitants of Pompeii; they lay down with death on a thick carpet of pumice.

8 a.m.: Silence fell on Herculaneum and Pompeii.

Two days in August 79 AD

2. Herculaneum

By Rossella Lorenzi

Since it was discovered in the 18th century buried under 75 feet of solidified ash, the ancient Roman city of Herculaneum has always been overshadowed by Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius.

Yet, in ancient times, Herculaneum was a dream town. Overlooking the Bay of Naples, it was the aristocratic dwelling of a wealthy elite, a cluster of fabulous villas and gardens.

"Herculaneum could not stand out in all its importance because of problems with digging. The resistance of the volcanic material made it very difficult to excavate, not to mention the urban settlements that had grown above the ancient town.
There is still a lot to discover about this place," archaeologist Mario Pagano, director of the town's excavation, said.

Indeed, a 18-year dig led by Pagano near the ancient seashore has provided the conclusive evidence on how the victims of history's most famous volcanic explosion died.

The excavation uncovered 300 bodies, a significant and precious sample of Herculaneum's population, which at the time of the eruption in A.D. 79 numbered about 5,000.

Pagano's team found bodies of adults on the surface, many carrying money and valuable objects; deeper down, they found children and newborns.
Most of all, Pagano found 80 nearly intact bodies trapped by death as they packed into 12 storerooms on the beach to escape the molten lava and boiling mud pouring down from the crater.

It has long been assumed that the victims died from asphyxiation. But a study of the bone fractures and the position of the remains, indicates that the fugitives died instantly from extreme thermal shock when the surge hurled down on the beach area, covering the seven miles to the coast in about four minutes. Herculaneum was baked in seconds.

"These 80 people do not display any evidence of voluntary self-protective reaction or agony contortions. They were killed before they had time to display a reaction, in less than a fraction of a second," said study author Giuseppe Mastrolorenzo, a volcanologist with the Vesuvius Observatory.

The finding prompted a team of archaeologists, vulcanologists, geologists and anthropologists to draw a diary of Herculaneum's last hours.


Pompeii: The Last Day - I/7

The Long, Deathly Silence

By Rossella Lorenzi

"You could hear women lamenting, children crying, men shouting. There were some so afraid of death that they prayed for death. Many raised their hands to the gods, and even more believed that there were no gods any longer and that this was one unending night for the world." —Pliny the Younger, circa A.D. 97 to 109

It all lasted 19 hours.

Then, there was only a long, deathly silence. Pompeii lay buried for nearly 1,700 years. It wasn't until 1748 that archaeologists began slowly uncovering the ancient city, preserved under 9 feet of volcanic ash and frozen in time by Pliny the Younger's vivid report.

About three-fifths of the city has been liberated from the solidified volcanic ash and pumice that engulfed it. But many questions remained unanswered for a long time.

What was life like under the volcano? What exactly did happen that summer day in A.D. 79? Here we take a look into the latest findings.

The Long, Deathly Silence

Vesuvius: Deadly Fury

BBC: Pompeii, The Last Day - part 1 of 5

BBC: Pompeii, The Last Day

BBC - Pompeii - The Last Day

part 1/5

part 2/5

part 3/5

part 4/5

part 5/5

Friday, February 13, 2009

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


80% words & practice

Explanatory Dictionary

Thursday, February 05, 2009

JuD writes to the UN for lifting of ban

JuD writes to the UN for lifting of ban

The News International reported on its front page today (Thursday Feb 5th, Kashmir Day) that the Jamaatud-Dawa has made a six-page representation to the Secreatary General of the UN that the ban on its activities at the misinformation campaign of the Indian government is unjustified under the rules of the UN as it is neither connected wih the Taliban or al-Qaeda, and is not engaged in any activities related to terrorrism. Rather this ban is detrimental to the people of Pakistan as it has resulted in cessation of JuD's welfare activities.

I read this report together with the representation in the printed newspaper, but the site is down. The report starts on the front page in a small column and continues on page 8.

Now it is up to the UN to either prove that the JuD is a terrorist group, or to lift the ban and apologize to the people of Pakistan, including the Hindu and Christian womwen and children which were being supported by the JuD, and who have now been without this humantarian support ever since the ban on JuD.

Nandankanan, Chittagong: once my home

What is my home?

Among other places, once we also lived in Jamila Manzil, in a lane off the main road where the Nandakanan Buddhist Temple is situated. The temple had a huge statue of Buddha, and I wondered why people prayed to it. I went to Chittagong Government College. And I went to many schools before that. At Chittagong, it was St. Placid's.

When I lived there, Chittagong was my home, or so I thought, until I was told that I was mistaken. I wasn't a Bengali, and so I could not consider it my home.

Most of my life up to age thirty was spent like that. I have lived in many places. Most of the time, I fell in love with that place, thinking it was home, and then discovered that no, it wasn't. I did not have the right identity, that I did not speak the right language, the color of my skin wasn't right, mine was not the right religion, etc. etc.

Until I figured this Earth couldn't be my home. It was just a transit camp. Since that discovery, I haven't been pushed out, although having the wrong identity has not left me.

It does not matter to me anymore. If people want false identities, it is their choice. On the Day of Judgment the only real identity that will count is whether you are of the people of Jannah, or of Jahannam; whether you have recognised your God as the One, indivisible, above everyone beyond comprehension, etc. or you follow false gods, including your whims.

Here is the entrance to the Buddhist temple there, that I passed every day to College:

today's false gods and goddesses: ethnicity and nationalism

False gods and goddesses need not take the shape of idols.

Here I talk of some:

The Quran tells us of not dividing ourselves into sects. The final Prophet Muhammad (saw) told us that the Jews divided themselves into 71, the Christians into 72, and this Ummah (the Ummah of the last Prophet) will divide itself into 73 sects, and of those only one will be on the right path.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Trip to Petra

Petra Jordan (a video tour) part 2

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Petra Jordan (a video tour) part 1

Monday, February 02, 2009

Great Pyramid Mystery Solved?

BBC: Building the Great Pyramid - 6 of 6

Engineering an Empire - Egypt - 10 of 10

Engineering an Empire - Egypt - 9 of 10

Engineering an Empire - Egypt - 8 of 10

Engineering an Empire - Egypt - 7 of 10

Engineering an Empire - Egypt - 6 of 10

Engineering an Empire - Egypt - 5 of 10

Engineering an Empire - Egypt - 4 of 10

Engineering an Empire - Egypt - 3 of 10

Engineering an Empire - Egypt - 2 of 10

Engineering an Empire - Egypt - 1 of 10

Lost Civilization - Inca - 6 of 6

Lost Civilization - Inca - 5 of 6

Lost Civilization - Inca - 4 of 6

Lost Civilization - Inca - 3 of 6

Lost Civilization - Inca - 2 of 6

Lost Civilization - Inca - 1 of 6

Lost Civilization - Maya - 6 of 6

Lost Civilization - Maya - 5 of 6

Lost Civilization - Maya - 4 of 6

Lost Civilization - Maya - 3 of 6

Lost Civilization - Maya - 2 of 6

Lost Civilization - Maya - 1 of 6

Cities of the Underworld - Maya underground cities

Don Wildman takes us underground into cities of the Maya

Decline of the Maya Civilization