Saturday, 27 May 2017

Salt Mining


Halite rock salt
Salt (NaCl) is a mineral made up of white cube-shaped crystals composed of two elements, sodium and chlorine. It is translucent, colourless, and odourless.

For centuries salt has had a permanent place in the life of human beings. Salt was considered sacred, a gift from the Gods; it was used to confirm oaths and sacrifices. Salt served as money at various times and places, and the quest for salt has been the cause of bitter warfare. Offering bread and salt to visitors is, in many cultures, a traditional sign of hospitality.
Prior to industrialization, it was expensive, dangerous, and labor intensive to harvest the mass quantities of salt necessary for food preservation and seasoning. Mining salt caused rapid dehydration. Other problems related to accidental excessive sodium intake.

This made salt an extremely valuable commodity throughout history. Entire economies were based solely on salt production and trade.

Inca ancient salt production farm in Peru.
The World's oldest salt mine. The “Man in Salt” greets visitors on their journey through time at the Salzwelten Hallstatt Mine, Austria.

In 1734 a corpse preserved in salt was discovered in the deposit.

The Dachstein-Hallstättersee region has been appointed a UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage Site.
At the Chehrabad Salt Mine, Iranian miners recently uncovered the sixth "salt man" to be found in the last fifteen years. Salt men are ancient corpses killed or crushed in the cave and mummified by the extreme conditions. Hair, flesh and bone are all preserved by the dry salinity of the cave, and even internal organs have been found intact.

The first salt man, dated to 300 A.D., was discovered in 1993, sporting a long white beard, iron knives and a single gold earring. In 2004 another mummy was discovered 50 feet away, followed by another in 2005 and a "teenage" boy later that year. The oldest of the salt men found is truly ancient and has been carbon dated to 9550 B.C.
Egyptians may have been the first civilization to preserve fish and meat with salt. Food that could be preserved was highly valuable. Recognizing the worth of preserving food, Egyptians turned to trade. The Egyptians did not export salt by itself, it was bulky and difficult to transport, but rather food that was salted, which transported easily without spoiling and had a value added per pound.

Ancient Egypt's trade started a 4000 year-long history of trade and export involving salt and food.

Ancient method of boiling brine into pure salt in China.
In the Iron Age, the British evaporated salt by boiling seawater or brine from salt spri­ngs in small clay pots over open fires.

Roman salt-making entailed boiling the seawater in large lead-lined pans. In ancient Rome, salt on the table was a mark of a very rich patron; those who sat nearer the host were "above the salt," and those less favored were "below the salt".

Malta Roman salt flats

Ancient Roman Glass Salt Dishes
Roman salt mining was often done by slave or prison labor, and life expectancy was low. The Roman historian Pliny the Elder stated as an aside in his Natural History's discussion of sea water, that "[I]n Rome ... the soldier's pay was originally salt and the word 'salary' derives from it ..."

Roman Salt Pans in Hortales.

A salt waterfall in the Nemocon salt mine, Colombia. The mine is a popular tourist attraction.

Salar de Uyuni, the world’s biggest salt desert, in southwestern Bolivia.

The Maras salt mines in Cuzco, Peru. The Maras mines have been a source of salt since ancient pre-Incan civilizations and comprise about 3,000 small pools constructed on the slope of a mountain at the Urubamba valley in the Andean region of Cuzco.

Pools of mineral-colored water gathered on salt flats in holes dug by salt collectors on the Senegalese coastline. Women collect salt by hand into 50kg (110lbs) sacks, which sell for about $2. The salt is mainly used for preserving fish in areas without electricity

A truck drives between ponds at Rio Tinto’s Dampier Salt Limited’s facility at Port Hedland, about 1,600 km (960 mi) north of Perth, Australia.

A laborer works at a salt production factory in Nangqian county, northwest China’s Qinghai province.

Workers collect blocks of salt from the salt pan of Ethiopia’s Danakil depression. Generations of Afar salt merchants have hauled blocks of salt along camel caravan routes from the depression to the Tigray highlands.

The Saint Kinga’s Chapel in the Wieliczka Salt Mine near Krakow, Poland. The historic mine extends for a total of about 300 km (186 miles) and functioned continuously since the Middle Ages until 1996, when it was finally depleted.

Rock salt moves along a conveyor belt towards a crushing unit at the Sifto Salt-Compass Minerals mine in Goderich, Ont


Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Ancient coins from Amman Citadel replaced with fakes

AMMAN — The Lower House Integrity Committee recently asked the tourism minister to provide a list containing the ancient artifacts, coins and antiquities that are displayed in the Kingdom’s museums. The request was made following the discovery of fake ancient gold and silver coins in the Citadel Museum in Amman.

There were 401 ancient coins in the Citadel Museum. 400 of these were replaced by fakes.
A French archaeologist discovered the ancient gold coins a few years ago. He brought students to Jordan to show them his discovery, and found out that the coins were fake.

He alerted authorities.
The Amman Citadel is a historical site at the center of downtown Amman, Jordan. Known in Arabic as Jabal al-Qal'a, the L-shaped hill is one of the seven jabals that originally made up Amman. There is evidence of occupation since the Neolithic period.
Most of the buildings still visible at the site are from the Roman, Byzantine, and Umayyad periods.
The Temple of Hercules was built between 162-166AD when Geminius Marcianus was governor of the Province of Arabia. It is the most significant Roman structure in the Amman Citadel. The site contains a hand carved out of stone ... the hand of Hercules. It is the remains of a statue.


http://www.jordantimes.com/news/local/house-panel-looking-museum-artefacts-after-400-ancient-coins-replaced-fakes

Sunday, 21 May 2017

The Flor de la Mar Treasure

The Flor de la Mar (Flower of the Sea) was a 400 ton Portuguese carrack (frigate) built in Lisbon during 1502 for traveling from Portugal to India and back. It was twice the size of other ships that had gone on the run.

The Flor’s service life had been long for a ship on the India run. Built for only three or four years of work, she lasted from 1502-1511. However, her design made her dangerously unseaworthy when fully loaded, and her service in various campaigns had necessitated many repairs.
In command of the Flor was Alfonso de Albuquerque. Alfonso was a Portuguese fidalgo, or nobleman, whose titles included Duke of Goa and Governor of Portuguese India. His successes in conquest were many and his bounty and tribute massive.

It was the largest treasure ever assembled by the Portuguese navy, and included 60 tons of gold from the house of the Sultan of Malacca. Supposedly, 200 gem chests were filled with diamonds, rubies and emeralds. Accompanied by four other ships, the Flor set sail for Portugal in November, 1511.
A violent storm blew up in the Straits of Malacca and the heavily overloaded Flor de la Mar was shipwrecked on the reefs near the Straits, just northeast of Sumatra on the 20th of November 1511. The ship broke in two and although Alfonso was saved, the treasure was lost to the waves.

The exact location of the shipwreck is confused due to the inaccurate maps of the time. It is considered one of the richest treasure yet to be found.

Sceptre of the Armillary, King Joao VI of Portugal