Dutch Goes the Photo has a weekly Tuesday Photo Challenge; the theme this week is Layer.
Israel is full of archaeological layers, called tels. We saw several of these when we toured Israel last month, including Hazor, Meggido and others. These were cities or communities built over time one on top of the other. The original city was generally built on a natural mound or hill of land in a defendable location. The sides of the hill would be reinforced and the city built on top. After a war, the city would be leveled by fire or other destructive force, and a new city built on top of it. This cycle is repeated several times over the course of time. There was an advantage in building on top of a previous city in that the infrastructure (such as water supply) would already be intact and the stones used for the buildings were readily available. Archaeologists can learn much of the history of a place by excavating and studying these tels.
One good example of a tel is at the archaeological site of Hazor. This sign, although hard to read on this photo, shows a timeline on the left side which indicate the periods during which Hazor was occupied, and the written text next to it speaks of two distinct periods.
Photographically, the best example I have of this layered construction is found at an archaeological site in Old Jerusalem. By looking down or up at the site, the layers of occupation are easy to see.
Here is a close up of a wall of an ancient temple, with layers of bricks.
Another example of layers can be seen at Masada. Throughout the site, there is a black line which divides the original layer of the structures from the reconstructed layer on top of it.
Fandango’s One Word Challenge today is finite. I have read other posts that have managed to cover several one word daily prompts in one post, which I admire. I have not attempted to do that. I don’t usually respond to the daily prompts due to lack of time or lack of inspiration. But the concept of FINITE got me to thinking…
Is there really such a thing as infinity or is it merely theoretical? Energy is infinite: it cannot be created or destroyed so it just moves around from one energy-based organism to another. Supposedly the universe is infinite, numbers are infinite, but the human mind cannot really conceive of infinity. In the human mind everything is finite. Our lives are finite: we are born on a particular date, we live our lives and then we die. Our experience exists within a finite framework: We live on a finite planet whose size and shape are fixed. The land forms on Earth have a beginning and an end. The bodies of water have delineated borders.
Time is finite even though we might say that we “have all the time in the world.” A day begins and ends, then another one begins. Years begin on January 1 and end on December 31, although time as we know and use it is an artificially imposed system that allows us to organize our lives. Perhaps time is infinite. Even after our deaths, the world goes on – or so we hope, if we don’t destroy it first.
Which brings me to something else that is finite: fossil fuels are finite. Eventually they will run out and there will be no more to be found. In our constant, frenzied search for sources of fossil fuels and our insatiable appetite to consume them, we are putting too much of the carbon that was safely trapped in the Earth into the atmosphere, which is essentially choking the Earth and causing changes to occur on our planet that may eventually lead to the impossibility of sustaining life.
Every natural disaster is finite, but after enduring one, there comes another one, and another one. How long can we take it? How many fires can California endure before the forests and cities become totally and irrevocably destroyed? How many hurricanes can people on the East Coast of the U.S. endure before they have nothing left and no way to even live where they do anymore? How many times can they “rebuild” in their stubbornness to stay put?
The Arctic is finite: climate conditions are causing the polar ice caps to melt. Trees and forests, which provide us with oxygen, are finite. It’s not just individual trees that die, to be replaced with others. Whole forests can die, will die if we don’t accept that our natural resources are finite unless we take care of them and the environment in which they exist.
Even the sun is finite – it’s halfway through its life now and is only expected to live another five billion years. That may seem like infinity to insignificant life forms with relatively short life spans and really, the death of the sun is not something humans need to worry about, but even so, the sun’s life – like the lives of all stars – is finite.
We are used to and expect this finite existence. Most people who die when they get old have left behind children and grandchildren, who will continue to perpetuate life on Earth. Species may continue, but not individuals. But even species – all species – will die eventually. How long will that be? How long will we accept species to go extinct and when will it be our turn?
Without Earth itself, there will be no more human life or any life at all on this planet. All the infinite energy that has inhabited every living thing will disperse into space and find a home elsewhere. That is why we must all accept that our planet is finite and how soon the end will come depends on us. Time is growing shorter until the demise of our dominion over the planet and all living things that depend on it. We have the power to stretch the finiteness of our planet farther toward infinity. It will probably require sacrifice on our part, as we will need to consume less. However, transferring to all clean energy sources will also create employment opportunities at every level. We can do this!
The only question remaining to be asked is, how finite are we willing to be?
This poem is written for my son, who turns 34 today. It expresses a mother’s hope for his future.
Today is your birthday…
Someday you will be happy
Someday you will feel confidence
Someday you will love yourself
Someday you will have a steady income
Someday you won’t live alone
Someday you will believe in yourself
Someday you will be in love
Someday someone will be in love with you
Someday you will know how to deal with depression
Someday you will conquer your anxiety
Someday you will meet your soulmate
Someday you will look forward to the future
Someday you will look in the mirror and see
how beautiful you really are.
Even if not today.
Why not today?
Happy birthday, Jayme! I hope 2019 brings you joy!
We left the Egyptian Museum ready for lunch. We boarded our bus and headed to Old Cairo, where we would go to a restaurant for lunch and to the Christian Quarter of Old Cairo.
At Felfela Restaurant we were greeted by this hookah-smoking dwarf.
The restaurant had interesting décor.
Our tummies satisfied, we boarded our bus again and headed to the Christian Quarter. Here are some scenes taken from the bus.
Near the Marriott Hotel:
Seen on the street near the restaurant – we would see many more stray cats.
St. Virgin Mary’s Coptic Orthodox Church, also known as the Hanging Church, is one of the oldest Christian churches in Egypt; its history dates to the 3rd century CE (AD), when there was first built a church on the site.
The name “Hanging Church” comes from its location above a gatehouse of the Roman fortress, Babylon Fortress – its nave is suspended above a passageway.
The ruins of Babylon fortress
This doorway leads into the courtyard shown in the next picture.
Mosaics on the walls of the courtyard
The church was built in Basilican style (rectangular buildings with a central nave and aisles, and a raised platform for the altar in front) and is meant to resemble the shape of Noah’s Ark. The church was mostly rebuilt in the 10th century and many restorations have occurred since then, major repairs and restoration most recently made in 2011.
In 1047 Cairo became the official and fixed residence of the Coptic pope at the Hanging Church.
Entering the church proper
Church interior, influenced by Arabic design and patterns
Orthodox churches do not have statues (which they consider to be idolatry), so Christian symbols and pictures are represented by icons. The Hanging Church has 110 icons, most of them dating to the 18th century.
The main altar design is made of ebony with inlaid ivory.
Over the altar is a row of seven icons, with Christ seated on a throne in the center.
Chapels: note the designs of Coptic crosses above and along the sides of the central icons.
View of Babylon Fortress from inside the church
From the Hanging Church, we went next door to the Church of St. Sergius and Bacchus, known as Abu Serga. It is also referred to as the Cavern Church, and is believed to be where the Holy Family rested at the end of their voyage into Egypt.
Sergius and Bacchus were soldier-saints martyred in the 4th century in Syria by the Roman emperor Maximium.
This church is where many of the early Patriarchs of the Coptic Church were elected, the first being Patriarch Isaac (681-692).
The church was built in the 4th century and finished in the 5th century. It was burned in the 8th century and restored in the 9th century. It has been continuously restored since that time.
The most interesting part of the church is the crypt in which Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus were to have lived for three months, possibly when Joseph worked at the fortress (he was a carpenter).
This is the room where the Holy family spent three months. It is 10 meters deep and when the Nile River rises, it often floods.
I was very moved by this place, picturing Mary and Joseph with their small child trying to keep warm in this space. Below is the well used by the family.
It is always significant to stand in the place where one’s ancestors or in this case, where Jesus, lived, sharing that space with the spirit of those from long ago.
We were not allowed to take any photographs inside the synagogue, so my photos are only from the outside. It is famous for the fact that it is believed to be the spot where baby Moses was found, and later where Moses prayed.
There are very few Jews left in Egypt; tens of thousands left at the foundation of the state of Israel in 1948. Now there are less than a dozen Jews left, yet a few dedicated individuals preserve this holy place.
The synagogue is not used as a place of worship or study today; it is instead primarily a museum.
It is believed the synagogue predates 882 CE, based on documents found in a store room (see below), and probably was built prior to Islamic rule. However, little is known about the original building. In about 1012 Fatimid caliph Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah ordered the destruction of all Jewish and Christian places of worship.
In this synagogue, a store room was found in the 19th century that contained a treasure trove of ancient secular and religious manuscripts written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Judeo-Arabic. The collection is known as the Cairo Geniza and is now divided among several academic libraries.
This is the location of a well on the spot where Moses was said to be found floating in a basket on the Nile River.
I live in a suburb northwest of Chicago. I also have ADHD, which craves variety. My mind constantly looks for new things to distract me from, for example, the tedium of paying bills. Life can get tedious and routine, but there always ways to create variety. Although I dislike the cold and can’t wait for winter to be over, it would be weird to live in a place where the seasons don’t change much.
In Northeastern Brazil, where I lived for two years in the 1980s, “winter” is the rainy season, so there are two winters per year! Nothing much changes; it just rains more and then the fruit trees produce their delicious fruits for human variety. I admit I like the changing of the seasons, and I delight in seeing life reborn after a long winter. In this part of the U.S., the change in seasons allows us to experience the entire life cycle of plants and small critters.
Some people like to eat the same things every day. I don’t do this, although I admit that I restrict my choice of breakfast to those foods which one usually associates with breakfast: eggs, oatmeal, pancakes, toast or English muffins with jam or honey. In the winter, I usually have soup for lunch, but that too gets boring. By dinnertime, I’m worn out thinking about what I can eat that is different but healthy, so we often go out!
Even my cat craves variety. We tried buying food in bulk with only a few selections and she soon got bored. So now we pick and choose a variety of flavors in her canned food.
Travel is the way I usually get variety in my life. I have my habits and routines at home, which are comforting and comfortable, but there is nothing like traveling to a new place to awaken the excitement in me to experience something new! It’s even better when we travel in the winter, because even if the weather isn’t really pleasant in the places we visit, it is most likely better than being in Chicago!
Breakfast in Egypt and Israel, for example, includes salads and a variety of breads to choose from. Street vendors provide variety by offering something I have never tasted before. In Israel last month, we came across a vendor selling “Jerusalem bagels” – these are nothing like the bagels we have here! They are elliptical in shape, and easy to share, because they are soft and light so it’s easy to tear off pieces for friends.
I admit to having fallen in love with Middle Eastern food. When I got home, what did I buy on my next trip to Costco? Things that reminded me of the places I’d just been – mini pitas, hummus, pomegranates – these all went into our shopping cart our second day back!
Eventually, though, I will get bored even of these things. Then it will be time to go somewhere different – France, which is where we are going in June! I have preconceived notions about French food and culture, but I am sure that I will find a variety of things to love and to wish I had when we return home!