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Revealing how Portus was Destroyed

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABritish archeologists led by University of Southampton have recently found evidence that sheds light on how Portus was destroyed. Portus, was by all historical records and accounts a port unlike any other. The port could host 350 ships at a time and kept the ravenous capital of the Roman Empire supplied with grain, wine, oil, slaves and luxuries from around the world.

The archeologists also believe that they have unravelled the mystery of how the site’s luxurious palace and huge warehouse vanished almost overnight, leaving no trace of the port’s scale and wealth as Guardian Newspaper reported. It was previously believed that the port and the beautiful palace had been burnt down by invading barbarians or Ostrogoths. However, the new picture drawn by the archeologists show that as the empire declined, Portus was systematically demolished in the 6th century by the Byzantines – the eastern emperors who fought the invading Ostrogoths to regain control of Rome. In addition, the archeologists discovered that the magnificent, three-story palace was in fact flattened and the 50ft walls were destroyed methodically. It is believed that by the 6th century, the Byzantines felt the port could be a threat as it was vulnerable to being occupied by the Ostrogoths, so they took the decision to destroy it themselves.

Portus was very important to the Roman Empire and new findings further emphasize the grandeur of what the port. The archeologists found the 60-room imperial palace covering nine acres. It was fronted by a long colonnade and boasted a first floor courtyard with a pool fed by a cistern below. The remains of an amphitheatre and an enormous, 260-yard long warehouse have also been discovered.<

Built by the emperor Trajan in the second century, Portus included a mile-wide main basin that has now silted up, and an inner, hexagonal basin that still exists as a lake in woodland at the end of the runway of Rome’s Fiumicino airport – it’s perfect hexagonal shape is clearly visible from above.

The Byzantine Empire was the predominantly Greek-speaking continuation of the Roman Empire during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Its capital city was Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul), originally known as Byzantium. Initially the eastern half of the Roman Empire (often called the Eastern Roman Empire in this context), it survived the 5th century fragmentation and collapse of the Western Roman Empire and continued to thrive, existing for an additional thousand years until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453 (Wikipedia).

Ancient Site Unearthed in Israel

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photo credit: Dr. Ya‘akov Vardi/Courtesy Israel Antiquities Authority.

photo credit: Dr. Ya‘akov Vardi/Courtesy Israel Antiquities Authority.

Archeologists have found rare prehistoric sites including a 10,000-year old house, and a 6,000-year old temple. The findings were unearthed in Eshtaol, located about 17 miles west of Jerusalem, ahead of widening a highway.  The building, almost all of which was found as reported by CNN, seems to have undergone renovations and repairs and represents a time when humans first began living in permanent settlements rather than migrating regularly in search of food. The team also found a cluster of abandoned flint and limestone axes nearby. The archeologists also discovered the remains of a temple built in the second half of the fifth millennium B.C., including a 4-foot-high stone column weighing several hundred kilograms.

The archeologists believe that these new findings show a very informative and broad picture of formation of early human civilization centers where thousands of years ago people first started domesticating animals and plants.  The findings also provide evidence of how rural societies made the transition to urban societies in the early Bronze Age, about 5,000 years ago.

NBC reports that throughout Israel, construction projects often lead to new archaeological discoveries. For example, during recent expansions of Highway 1, the main road connecting Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, excavators discovered 9,500-year-old animal figurines, a carving of a phallus from the Stone Age and a ritual building from the First Temple era.

Eshtaolis in central Israel, and located about 27 kilometers from Jerusalem.

Human Rights Day

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Human Rights DayHuman Rights Day is celebrated on December 10, 2013. The date was chosen to honor the United Nations General Assembly’s adoption and proclamation on 10 December 1948, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the first global enunciation of human rights and one of the first major achievements of the new United Nations.

Human Rights Day is normally marked both by high-level political conferences and meetings and by cultural events and exhibitions dealing with human rights issues. In addition, it is traditionally on 10 December that the five-yearly United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights and Nobel Peace Prize are awarded. Many governmental and nongovernmental organizations active in the human rights field also schedule special events to commemorate the day, as do many civil and social-cause organisations.

The Declaration of Human Rights arose directly from the experience of the Second World War and represents the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled. It consists of 30 articles which have been elaborated in subsequent international treaties, regional human rights instruments, national constitutions and laws. The Guinness Book of Records describes the UDHR as the “Most Translated Document” in the world.

While not a treaty itself, the Declaration of Human Rights was explicitly adopted for the purpose of defining the meaning of the words “fundamental freedoms” and “human rights” appearing in the United Nations Charter, which is binding on all member states. For this reason the Universal Declaration is a fundamental constitutive document of the United Nations. Many international lawyers, in addition, believe that the Declaration forms part of customary international law[ and is a powerful tool in applying diplomatic and moral pressure to governments that violate any of its articles.

In South Africa, Human Rights Day is celebrated on 21 March, in remembrance of the Sharpeville massacre which took place on 21 March 1960. This massacre occurred as a result of protests against the Apartheid regime in South Africa. (With material from: Wikipedia)