5 antiquities ahead of their time

Al Khazneh Many travelers come to the Jordanian city of Petra for the sole purpose of seeing the Al Khazneh Temple with their own eyes. The construction is almost forty meters high and 25 meters wide dates from the 1st century AD Almost two thousand years ago, the Nabataean people faced a seemingly impossible task: in a lifeless desert, with bare bare hands to carve out a facade with columns, reliefs and patterns in the rock. For this, revolutionary methods by those standards were applied - construction not from bottom to top, from the foundation to the roof, but from top to bottom, that is, from the vaults to the base. Climbing to the top of the mountain, and even with building materials and tools, was very dangerous, so the first thing the ramparts hollowed out the stairs in the cliff, and then proceeded to the preparatory stage - leveling the surface of the rock.

To stand and work at an altitude of almost 40 meters, a ledge was needed - it was a platform-tunnel cut out of stone in front of the rock. Month after month, builders using axes with chisel-shaped tips polished the outer side of the rock. When they reached the ground, the cliff became perfectly smooth. Then the builders again went upstairs, made another tunnel platform and began to carve out the facade - bas-reliefs and columns. Their soft non-forged iron guns did an excellent job of soft red sandstone, but the problem arose of removing the spent rock. And then the Nabataeans again found an unusual way out: the whole dump went down in the form of massive blocks and was used to build another temple nearby. So Al-Khazneh became both a construction site and a quarry at the same time, and its monumental red-pink facade, emerging straight from the rock, is still amazing. Cuculcan Pyramid The Cuculcan Pyramid is one of Mexico's most recognizable structures, a visiting card of the country and a unique architectural heritage of the Mayan tribe. Built in the XI century, it combines the features of both the Egyptian pyramids and the Babylonian ziggurats, but this is not the only amazing feature of the structure. Many tourists are amazed and delighted by the acoustic effect of the pyramid, which is especially clearly audible at its foot: when someone climbs up the stairs, a sound similar to raindrops or the flapping of bird wings is heard below. At first, scientists thought it was a coincidence, but after conducting a similar study on the pyramid of the moon in Teotihuacan, they found that “rain drops” were clearly heard at its base as someone walks up the stairs. The two pyramids are not similar in design, but the acoustic effects are almost the same. This allowed scientists to conclude that the Mayans possessed certain knowledge in the field of sound physics as early as the 11th century.

Due to the diffraction of sound waves arising from the impact of the foot on the corrugated surface of the step, some of the waves change direction at the interface between the air and the solid, and the heterogeneity of the stone distorts the waves so much that a sound similar to the sound of rain spreads along the stairs. No less astounding are the Mayan astronomical and topographical knowledge. Twice a year, on the days of the autumn and spring equinoxes, everyone who is close to the Kukulkan pyramid can watch a serpent descend from its top. Such a bizarre play of light and shadow arises due to the fact that the rays of the sun build seven isosceles triangles that draw the body of a huge snake. If the pyramid was located at least a few meters to the right or left or if it were turned at least one degree in the other direction, such an effect would not have arisen. And this is centuries before the invention of GPS, navigators and satellites - but what's there, at least cartography. Angkor wat The giant Hindu temple complex Angkor Wat in Cambodia was built in the XII century in just 35 years and still remains one of the largest religious buildings of mankind - its total area is 200 hectares. At the same time, Europe spent two or three centuries on the construction of temples. Angkor wat stands in a swamp and drifts like a giant stone ship. Before construction began, the workers, using a machete and axes, cleared a huge area from the trees, then dug a hole and filled it with sand, stones and sand again. On this foundation, a temple was erected. The climate of Cambodia also dictated to the engineers certain building conditions: it rains here for six months a year, and drought lasts six months. The soil, including under the temple, then dries up, then is saturated with moisture. Modern calculations suggest that the change of dry and wet periods should have brought down the temple long ago. Therefore, it was necessary to make water work - this is how a huge moat appeared, surrounding the temple from all sides and allowing to maintain the water level in the soil always at a constant level.

Since Angkor Wat was built in a lowland, there was no quarry near it. Materials were transported through canals and rivers on rafts and barges from the Kulen Plateau, and Khmer often used elephants and buffaloes to tow the Khmer. In order not to be left without vital transport systems in the dry season, builders blocked the arches of road bridges and thus created a gateway. In addition to sandstone, laterite was used - a relatively soft and easy to process material that is most often found in hot and humid tropical areas. Khmers used elephants to transport the laterite blocks. When the temple was almost completed, the architects found that they forgot to make an arch of wedge-shaped stones, as provided for by the project. It was decided to apply the technique of cantilever masonry, which almost no one had heard of in Europe at that time: each subsequent row came forward relative to the previous one until it met at the end point with another row (as if several stairs converge into one). This design allows you to withstand the weight of five towers (and this is several thousand tons), and without a radial joint of the arch. Temple of the Holy Family Many engineering solutions by Antonio Gaudi seemed to his contemporaries simply unthinkable, if not dangerous. When erecting his main brainchild - the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona - Gaudi invented a unique design that holds the multi-ton vaults of the temple. They rest on multi-colored reinforced concrete columns driven into the ground twenty meters deep. This allows the building to withstand not only the weight of the stone structure, but also earthquakes up to 7 points and gusts of wind up to almost 200 meters per second.

5256.JPG The famous unsupported floor system is another Gaudi know-how. The architect really did not like when the space was artificially divided and cut into pieces, and still did not like corners and regular geometric shapes. The system he invented was able to decipher and reproduce only with the help of special NASA software designed to calculate the flight path of spacecraft. Another example is the model of the Sagrada Familia. It is a cascade system of hundreds of small bags filled with sand and suspended by thread. At the bottom and at an angle, Gaudi placed a mirror and, looking into it, received an image of how the main facade of the temple would look. Only a modern computer could recreate a 3D model based on this layout. Moai Statues Easter Island is surrounded by many secrets and mysteries, the main of which, of course, is associated with giant idols - moai, monolithic statues from two to twenty two meters in height, carved from a single piece of volcanic compressed ash. Quarries were located right in the crater of the long-extinct volcano Rano Raraku, and work was carried out with the help of a hammer and chisels. The weight of the moai varied from size - from ten to ninety tons, but a total of about fifty tons, with the idols moving from the quarry to the other end of the island for twelve kilometers. For a long time, scientists believed that this was done with the help of mobile logs: a statue was tied to them and rolled along the road, but several facts speak against this theory at once. Firstly, such transportation requires large trees, which are not on the island.

Secondly, rolling fifty tons is relatively convenient only from the mountain and along a smooth road, but it will not work uphill and along bumps and potholes. Thirdly, the moai’s faces were cut out directly in the quarry, and not on the spot, so transporting them across the island with the risk of spoiling (breaking off or knocking off your nose, ears, mouth) would be irrational. The descendants of the aborigines shed light on the riddle of moai transportation: they told - and even showed - to scientists how this actually happened. The Moai were tied with ropes on three sides — left, right, and back — and swayed by groups of people, gradually “striding” forward. In this manner, and now moving large objects - for example, cabinets and refrigerators. Confirms the words of the islanders and the fact that the base of the statues are perfectly adapted for such a “walk” - they are not quite straight, but rounded, which allowed the colossus to turn over with the forces of fifteen to twenty people. For other incredible architectural and technical achievements of the past, legends and myths of the most grandiose monuments of mankind, see the program “Exploding History” from January 22 to Sunday at 11:00 on the Discovery Channel.


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