21 abril 2018

Satellites Over The Silk Road

For decades, the U.S. Departments of Defense and State have had spy satellites collecting images over Afghanistan. Some of those images have now been shared with researchers at the University of Chicago’s Afghan Heritage Mapping Project. The goal of the project, working with Afghan colleagues, is to record all of Afghanistan’s cultural features. You know, just a small goal. One of their more stunning discoveries, so far, is over 160 early modern caravanserais, unknown before this. They appear to have been built in the 1600s. The caravanserais would have been stopping spots for travelers and traders, as their camels traveled the Silk Road through Afghanistan.

The size and frequency of the caravanserais is amazing. And they contradict a previous belief in historical circles, that as soon as people could use boats to travel across the Indian Ocean and around Africa to Europe, they did so exclusively, causing the old land route of the Silk Road to languish. But these early modern caravanserais, dating to the Persian and Mughal Empires, show that lots of traders still used the Silk Road. Enough that caravanserais needed to be built or rebuilt to service them.

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Messengers For The Mightiest God

Huginn (from Old Norse “thought”) and Muninn (Old Norse “memory” or “mind”) are a pair of ravens that fly over the world of men, and report everything they see to the god Odin. The appear on Viking coinage, brooches, tapestries, and even a helmet!

Moral of the story: don’t do anything shady if you see a crow nearby.

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