Sex is Depicted from Hindu and Jain temples of Khajuraho Wednesday, Feb 18 2009 

Temples of Khajuraho

Back when India was more stylish some lovers made monuments to their lovers just in case true love died or was forgotten. These monuments took years to build and hung around for centuries till the current horde of capitalism discovered their potential to attract tourists.

Built in the time of the Chandela dynasty over a period of 200 years, the Hindu and Jain temples of Khajuraho were originally 80 in number, however now only 25 stand in reasonable state over a park area of 21km. These temples are more than just a faded lover’s tribute and actually celebrate the act of love in all its intriguing variations (including orgies and animals).

What makes Khajuraho famous is the erotic art that covers the external façade. Strangely, the insides of the temples do not contain any erotic carvings. Most of the carvings are about the everyday life — women putting make-up, farmers, potters, musicians, dancers, etc. Sure, sex is a part of it, but only in so far as to match its importance in everyday life.

It takes time to take in the temples and truly appreciate the amount of detail and immense amount of ‘involvement’ the sculptors must have had in their art. The depictions are almost perfect.The broad-hipped, high-breasted women have lovely eyes and a taste for incredibly sexy jewelry and accessories such as bangles, anklets, necklaces, etc. They (the sculptors) have managed to find what makes Indian women unique and attractive and have incorporated this understanding into the face and bodily proportions that really represent the best of Indian beauty. Their knowledge of human anatomy is probably second to their willingness to depict the nature of all things sexual.

Extremely interesting, the confluence of religious idols and erotic art gives depth to each. Make sure that you arrive well in time to slowly walk around the temples, on an average; it takes about an hour to tour a single temple. There’s more than just the jaw-dropping display of sexual practices and enjoyment, the temples are an education on human life, spirituality and yes, some more sex.


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A Remarkable Neolithic Mural Discovered in Syria Tuesday, Feb 17 2009 

Neolithic Mural • Syria

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In the fall of 2006, French archaeologists digging at the Neolithic site of Djade al Mugahara in northern Syria announced the discovery of a remarkable mural. Made up of red, black, and white geometric shapes painted 11,000 years ago, the small panel bore an uncanny resemblance to the early work of modernist masters Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee.

The discovery didn’t make our list last year, but further excavation this past summer revealed that the team had only uncovered the very top of the mural in 2006. “During the 2007 campaign we excavated the complete panel, about three and a half feet by six feet,” says expedition leader Eric Coqueugniot. “We also discovered a new wall with similar geometric patterns in a very good state of preservation.” The paintings decorate the walls of a round communal building about 25 feet wide that probably served some ritual purpose. In the same structure Coqueugniot’s team discovered anthropomorphic figurines made of gypsum and chalk.

The rules guiding our selection of the top discoveries of 2007 disqualified the Djade al Mugahara mural from being included, since archaeologists announced the discovery of the masterwork in 2006. But archaeology is an incremental science, every season of excavation builds on the one before it, and the significance of a discovery made one year may only become apparent after further work. This year Coqueugniot’s team not only gave us a more vivid glimpse into the ritual life of Djade al Mugahara, but a sense of just how close Neolithic aesthetic sensibilities were to those of early European modernists, the kind of eerie connection with the past that only archaeology can make.

Discovery of Otzi the Iceman Thursday, Feb 12 2009 

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Ötzi’s Final Moments • South Tyrol, Italy

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The 5,300-year-old mummy–dubbed “Ötzi the Iceman”–found frozen in the Alps in 1991 made headlines again in 2007. Researchers at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano, Italy, where Ötzi’s remains are housed, conducted CT scans that revealed exactly how he died: an arrow to the back pierced an artery; basically, he bled to death. Although X-rays and CT scans carried out in 2001 showed that an arrow had been wedged in his shoulder, this new evidence suggests the arrow inflicted the fatal blow (after which, the poor guy fell, hit his head, and suffered a brain hemorrhage).

For more than 15 years, scientists have been reconstructing every detail of Ötzi’s life, down to the contents of his last meal. One of their most interesting findings was that the Iceman sports some of the world’s oldest tattoos, most of which resemble blue-black hash marks. Many tattoo artists feel they are carrying on his tradition even today, a phenomenon that may have had a role in another significant story this year.