Friday, 29 May 2015

Treasures of Pompeii

The city of Pompeii is a partially buried Roman town near modern Naples. When Mt. Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, Pompeii was burned and buried in ash, while nearby Herculaneum was destroyed by the pyroclastic flow. The area was buried under 4 to 6m (13 to 20 ft) of ash and pumice from the eruption.

Pompeii was lost for 1500 years until its rediscovery in 1599 and broader rediscovery almost 150 years later in 1748.

The objects that lay beneath the city have been well preserved for thousands of years.

Marble statue with traces of gold-plating from the Temple of Isis, Pompeii.

Helmet of a ‘Thracian’ (Thrax) gladiator. Bronze, from Pompeii.

Mosaic (detail) from Pompeii.

Apollo as an Archer

Diana as an Archer.

A gold bracelet bears an inscription. On its inside face are the words dominus ancillae suae – from the master (dominus) to his slave-girl (ancilla).

Saturday, 23 May 2015

309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group - AMARG

The 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG), often called The Boneyard, is a United States Air Force aircraft and missile storage and maintenance facility in Tucson, Arizona.

AMARG takes care of more than 4,400 aircraft, which makes it the largest aircraft storage and preservation facility in the world.

AMARG was established in 1946 as the 4105th Army Air Force Unit to house B-29 and C-47 aircraft. Davis-Monthan Air Force Base was chosen because of Tucson's low humidity, infrequent rainfall, alkaline soil and high altitude of 2,550 feet, reducing rust and corrosion.

The hard soil makes it possible to move aircraft around without having to pave the storage areas.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Sapphires of Didy, Madagascar

Didy is a town in Madagascar. It belongs to the district of Ambatondrazaka, which is a part of Alaotra-Mangoro Region. In late 2011 a new deposit of gem quality sapphire was found there.

The island is one of the poorest countries in the world, with 81 percent of the population living on less than $1.25 a day, according to the World Bank.
The deposit is 25 kilometers south-east of Didy. Reaching the mine takes two days of hard walking from Didy, the closest place reachable by bush taxi. Even getting to Didi is tough. It’s 300 kilometres from the capital, and less than a third of that distance is on paved roads.

The last 10 hours of the trek is through rain forest, climbing precipitous hills on barely perceptive boggy paths.
After falling a tree, locals found transparent blue gemstones. By June 2012 sapphires began sporadically arriving at the capital Antananarivo, brought there by gold miners.

The stones are of exceptional quality. Vivid in color, beautiful clarity and size, the Didy discovery could be the most important recent ruby and sapphire discovery in the world. The rubies and sapphires found there do not need to be heat treated.
Within days, hundreds of tents and huts rose in the forest. An unbridled rush happened over the next 3 months before the Malagasy authorities sent a force to expel the miners as the discovery happened to be in one of Madagascar’s newest national parks, Makira Natural Park, an area dedicated to conservation.

Sapphires present an irresistible lure of quick riches for impoverished locals, who say they don't have to dig more than three metres (10 feet) to find large stones. Madagascar is rich with mineral deposits, but its people remain some of the poorest on earth.
As many as 10,000 miners and precious stone traders from around the world are reported to have raced to the eastern region to extract the stones and ship them overseas. As well as digging up the forest floor, they cut down trees for firewood and shelter in the hitherto untouched wilderness and hunted resident animals, particularly lemurs, for bushmeat.

Despite the mining being illegal on protected land, the Malagasy government was unable to control the masses. Along with the Ministry of Environment, they are looking to restore the damage once the mining is finished.
The Malagasy government has banned foreigners from the area but cannot control it. Armed gangs are the rule of law and unreported crime is common.

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