Posts Tagged ‘history’

Chiprovski Monastery

Monday, June 30th, 2008

“St. Ivan Rilsky”

In the western Stara Planina, on the banks of the Chiprovska Ogosta River, sits the Chiprovski monastery. Founded during the First Bulgarian Kingdom (10th century), it was one of the bases from which Christianity and Slavonic writing spread throughout ancient Bulgaria. Ever since, this compound has been a center for literary, educational and revolutionary activity.

Destroyed in 1837, the current form was created by hieromonks Dionysius and Gerasim from Berkovitsa. The tower-ossuary was built at this time, and holds the remains of Bulgarian revolutionaries who perished in the Chiprovsti rebellion.

The church is a one-nave three-concha building, with an octathedral cupola and places for singers. It houses many valuable items, one of which is a throne Gospel with silver repousse cover – a gift from the Russian emperor Paul I.

Some Bulgarians believe that the cloister has mysterious healing powers.

Images: Taken 26 June 2008 (click to enlarge)

Lopushanski Monastery

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

“St. John the Precursor”

Lopushanski Monastery is located in Chiprovtsi, in Bulgaria’s Stara Planina Mountains, 17 km from the town of Montana. Erected on the site of an earlier structure, from the time of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom, the four-year reconstruction began in 1850. In 1989, the Holy place was reconstructed and two wood-carved verandas were added. Both projects were financed by the Vidin Holy Bishopric.

The monastery is dedicated to St. John the Precursor. A monumental five-dome building, it has a circular arcade narthex and a pair of side chapels – “Saints Kosmas and Damian” and “Saint John the Baptist.” The facade and the gates are adorned with stone reliefs. The central iconostasis was created in 1863 by Stoycho Fandakov, from the Samokov wood-carving school. The focal icons – of Jesus and the Holy Virgin – were painted by Stanislav Dospevski in 1863, during the Bulgarian national revival. Stanislav’s brother, Nicola, created the rest.

Ivan Vazov, Bulgaria’s national poet, frequented Lopushanski.

Image: Taken 26 June 2008 (click to enlarge)

Tomorrow for Everyone

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

Utre za Vseki is a Bulgarian organization dedicated to research into breast cancer and, more importantly, providing breast cancer survivors medical care during their recovery. This video is a song recorded by various Bulgarian entertainers in support of the cause:

Utre’s current campaign is aimed at raising funds for an Ayurveda center for cancer survivors. Avon, and other corporate donors, have contributed large sums to the project, but it’s still underfunded. To make up the difference, there have been a number of PSAs airing on Bulgarian TV, encouraging private citizens to contribute. This video is the main one:

This evening, I attended a production at the cultural palace in Sofia, the proceeds of which will go to support the rehab center. I’m not sure who the dancers were – though I think many were part of the Bulgarian Olympic rhythmic gymnastics team – but I know that the show was choreographed by Neshka Robeva.

The show was amazing. It started with an old woman who lies down by a stream and dreams about the history of her people. From there, the motions cascade through Bulgarian history: young women washing clothes by the Danube, Spartacus’s rebellion against Rome and the subsequent crucifixion of the rebels, an incredible sequence with ‘crows’ foreshadowing war with Byzantium, a recounting of the fall of Tsar Samuil, and an homage to those who suffered for 500 years under the yoke of Turkish rule.

I only wish I could get my hands on the soundtrack. Stunning.

Tsar Samuil (997 – 1014)

Saturday, May 3rd, 2008

In the SW corner of Bulgaria, excavations are underway at the sight of an ancient fortress from the Byzantium era. Known as “Samuil’s Fortress,” it is the site where the king of Bulgaria, Tsar Samuil, stationed his forces in defiance of the Byzantine army in 1014 AD…

In 986 AD, Emperor Basil II fled Bulgaria after the battle at Troyanovi Vrata, leaving behind his treasure hoard and a supply train. Under Samuil, Bulgaria entered a period of expansion and cultural revival, even commanding the attention of the Holy See.

But, in 1001, Basil II raised another army and started a new campaign against Bulgaria. Samuil was not able to stand against his old enemy, and after a series of defeats, disunity began to plague his state.

In the summer of 1014, Basil soundly defeated the Bulgarian army near the village of Klyuch, in Macedonia. Angered at the death of a close friend, the Emperor ordered that his prisoners, some 14,000 in number, be blinded. One man in every hundred was left with one eye in order to lead his comrades home.

Legend states that Samuil was so grieved at the sight of his blinded soldiers that he suffered a heart attack and died.

Bannerman Castle

Saturday, December 22nd, 2007

An Amtrak ride from Albany to NYC takes approximately 2.5 hours. For much of the trip, the tracks skirt the Hudson River. Just outside Beacon, if you look out into the water, you can see an island capped with the ruin of what appears to be a castle. Very inspirational even at a glance. I don’t know if I’ll ever get there, but thought I’d write about it anyway, in case one of my readers has, and cares to enlighten me.

LINK: Bannerman Castle.

The Forgotten Technology

Sunday, November 25th, 2007

Wally Wallington, a retired construction worker from Flint, Michigan, may have just solved the mystery of how Stonehenge was constructed. Enjoy.

Ancient Warfare 4-2007

Saturday, November 24th, 2007

The next issue of Ancient Warfare Magazine is about to hit the stands. Check it out…

Theme: The Roman conquest of Spain 218 BC – 24 BC.
* Jasper Oorthuys, Introduction to the theme
* Jona Lendering, ‘A view from the periphery. Appian of Alexandria’
* Ed Healy, ‘The General: Viriathus’
* Duncan B. Campbell, ‘The siege of Numantia. How Scipio Aemilianus conquered the bravest of all cities’
* Xavi Rubio, ‘The battle of Emporion: Cato’s Triumph’
* Kim Stubbs, ‘The battle of Ilipa. Scipio’s rise begins’

* Patryk Skupniewicz, ‘The Warrior: Sasanian heavy cavalry’
* Be a General, ‘Xenophon’s Cavalry Commander’

Land from which there is no return

Monday, October 8th, 2007

The Sumerians had a very hazy idea about any other life than this. For them there was no Hell and no Paradise; the spirit of man lived after death, but at best in a ghostly and miserable world:

Earth is their food, their nourishment clay;
Ghosts like birds flutter their wings there,
On the gates and the gate-posts the dust lies undisturbed.

Such was the ‘Land from which there is no return’, to which a man might win if respect were paid to his corpse; but if he were not duly buried, if no offerings of food and drink were placed in the grave to satisfy his needs, then his spirit must haunt the streets and byways of this world and vampire-like attack benighted travelers in search of food.

The offerings made to the dead were for their comfort, but were also a protection for the living.

cf. Leonard Woolley

Back to School

Saturday, October 6th, 2007

I am so close to getting out of the Army I can almost taste it. The next 27 days will probably fly by, but they can’t go fast enough.

I’m not going back to school right away, but at some point I’ll be taking advantage of my GI Bill. Pondering going back to college has got me thinking about my past experiences…

I went to Harding University after high school. It’s a small school, as Universities go, but it’s a good one. I especially liked the School of Business. The staff and faculty were talented and genuinely interested in the welfare of their students. Unfortunately, I was an Accounting major and most of the jobs in public accounting are in the NYC area. When I transferred to SUNYA, I exchanged a great education for a good one, but I gained better prospects for a job. I guess for some that’s what counts, but I often bemoan the loss of the small-school atmosphere.

So here I am looking to go back to school. The thing is, I already have a degree and I don’t have the desire to enter an intensive degree program. I’ve had a “career”; now I want a life. If I were enrolling today, I’d probably take a bunch of history classes, none of which would gain me a degree, but all of which would be on topics I’m interested in. I spend so much time studying ancient cultures and history, it’ll be nice to have someone (the US Government, no less) paying me to do what I love. Who cares if I get a degree out of it, I’ll enjoy the ride.

Of course, I only need 12 credit-hours for a Masters. I wonder if UW has a program in ancient near eastern history…

Uruk King List

Sunday, September 30th, 2007

As you may know, I have served two tours in Iraq. Unfortunately, I was not able to see many of ‘the sites’ while I was there. Now that I’m home, half-way around the world, I find myself in need of some research material and the only place to get what I need is Iraq! Go figure.

What I need is a new photo of a cuneiform tablet known as IM 65066, or the “Uruk King List”. It is housed in the Baghdad Museum, or was at one time. It is important because it helps to solve a chronological issue; unfortunately, the existing photo is very poor.

If any of you have a better photo, know someone who does, know someone who can get one, or know someone with enough pull to get me one… well, I’d be most grateful.