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Antelope Canyon – A Stunningly Beautiful, Amazing Place

Antelope Canyon

Characterized by brilliantly colored sandstone walls carved into smooth wave like formations, and captivating beams of light that illuminate portions of the canyon from above, Antelope Canyon is a stunning, and rather surreal example of nature at work. No wonder it is one of the most widely photographed, famous canyons in the world!

(Click on the images below to view the full size photo!)

Antelope Canyonphoto credit: brentbat via photopin cc

The canyon actually owes its existence mainly to swiftly flowing flash flood water, which has carved its way through the soft sandstone bedrock of the area for millennia, creating hauntingly beautiful structures. Flash flooding can actually create flows of water that can reach up to 50 ft. deep in some areas of the canyon, and can sweep in suddenly after storms.

A Stunningly Beautiful, Amazing Place

One of the most stunningly unique regions of the country, the canyon winds its way through portions of Utah and Arizona, offering a retreat from the suppressing heat of the dessert day with temperatures up to 20 degrees lower than outside the canyon. Some sections of the canyon may be cooler than others, especially in areas where there is little to no opening overhead.

These cave like sections of the canyon are dotted with small openings where sunlight streams into the canyon, illuminating the brilliant colors of the sandstone walls and portions of the sand covered canyon floor, creating the enchanting scenes shown here. The canyon walls can reach up to 120 feet high in some areas, treating visitors to astonishing views of their smooth, wave like surface.

Antelope Canyon 4photo credit: brentbat via photopin cc

The canyon area also boasts the world’s largest natural land bridge, The Rainbow Bridge Trail, an astounding 42 ft. thick natural rock structure which spans 275 ft. The Rainbow Bridge is an understandably especially sacred and religious place for the Navajo, and also one of the most popular features of Antelope Canyon.

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Bioluminescent 1

Rainbow Bridgephoto credit: exquisitur via photopin cc

Another simply dazing feature of the area is the infamous “Wave” which straddles the border of Utah and Arizona. This remote area lies above ground, presenting a colorful display of smooth, carved sandstone formations resembling waves, in a wide range of red, yellow, and orange hues. (Shown Below)

The Wave is one of the most amazing places in the world to visit, though it is accessible only by obtaining a Back Country Use (Hiking) Permit via a BLM permit lottery. Only 10 permits to the area are issued each day, with only 20 people allowed into the area per day, in order to prevent premature erosion of the soft sandstone features by human foot traffic.

ntelope Canyon – The Wave 1photo credit: DIVA007 via photopin cc

Antelope Canyon – The Wavephoto credit: mypubliclands via photopin cc

Despite its rugged beauty, Antelope Canyon can be dangerous to traverse. Prone to unbearable temperatures, flash flooding, and possessing a vast and confusing landscape, the canyon sees many hikers go missing each year.  None the less, the smoothly curving shapes of the interior walls, and gentle waves of age old sand illuminated by stunning beams of light continue to attract multitudes of eager visitors from around the world each year as well.

Antelope Canyon 7photo credit: kholkute via photopin cc

Fortunately for those who cannot, or do not wish to endure the searing heat and potential dangers of Antelope Canyon in order to catch a glimpse of this vast and striking natural feature, others have taken gorgeous photographs for all to view.

Viewing these spectacular images of Antelope Canyon alone, it is little wonder why the ancient, indigenous peoples of the area determined it to be a sacred site. It certainly lives up to this sentiment, and is sure to continue to do so for millennia to come!

Antelope Canyon – A Stunningly Beautiful, Amazing Place

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Aztec – Mysterious, Violent Ancient Civilization

Aztec – Mysterious, Violent Ancient Civilization

This intriguing Mesoamerican Culture left behind a rich legacy of ruins and artifacts from which we have learned much about the Aztec culture and way of life.

Like all of the ancient peoples we have discovered in our endeavors to learn about our past, the Aztecs were a spiritual people, and despite the violence for which they are known, they remain a topic of interest for historians and the curious alike.

Aztec
Image Courtesy of: gripso_banana_prune via photopin cc

Though the Aztecs performed astonishing feats of engineering, including the construction of aqueducts, canals, and temples, they are believed to have constructed their entire civilization of the course of 200 year. The practice of human sacrifice, performed during spiritual rituals, gained the Aztecs their reputation as a violent culture.

The Aztecs modeled their first city, Tenochtitlan, after Teotihuacan, an ancient city complex of pyramids, homes, and roads located just about 30 miles east of present day Mexico City. The Aztecs believed that the ancient city of Teotihuacan, which was already in ruin even in their time,  was laid out in the image of the Mesoamerican cosmos and created by their gods. (See Teotihuacan Below)

Teotihuacan
Image Courtesy of: AmateurArtGuy via photopin cc

Though the question of who built Teotihuacan remains unanswered, the Aztecs had good reason for their inspiration, it was carefully planned and constructed, and remains one of the best examples of such a feat in human history. We do know that construction of the city began in earnest around 80 AD, and that it was abandoned around 550 AD. Archaeological evidence suggests that the city was intentionally burned by it’s inhabitants during a revolt against the priests or rulers of the city.

It is this city that the Aztecs re-created in their construction of Tenochtitlan around 700 years ago, on an island that lay in an ancient lake called Lake Texcoco. This area is now the location of modern day Mexico City, however at the time the Aztecs built their city, this vast valley was mostly covered in water and so swampy that no one had thought to build in the area. The image below depicts how the city would have looked at the height of it’s era.

Aztec Tenochtitlan
Image Courtesy of: Xuan Che via photopin cc

Much ingenuity went into the construction of the city other than the practices they observed at Teotihuacan, including the wooden pilings which were driven into the ground under their structures to stabilize them in the marshy ground. Without the use of beasts of burden, construction of the city often required a force of up to 50,000 men to transport the stone building blocks and other materials used to build the city. The Aztecs also created a network of causeways in order to connect their beautiful island city to the mainland on the north, west and south.

Aztec Facts

  • The average lifespan of an Aztec citizen was 37 yrs.
  • At the hight of the cities existence, it housed over 200,000 people.
  • The Aztecs created a vast network of “super highways” throughout central Mexico which enabled them to transport messages or goods 200 miles to the coast in just 24 hours.
  • The massive pyramid which sat at the very center of Tenochtitlan had a 300 ft. wide base and was15 stories high.
  • The temple, which was initially constructed in 1325 with the founding of the city, was re-constructed on the same location 7 times. As with other ancient temples, it was increased in size over time as the city grew by adding new stages on top of the old portions of the temple
  • Lime plaster was applied to floors and walls of Aztec structures; even after 500 years some examples of this ancient concrete remain as strong as our modern concrete.
  • The temple was uncovered by power company workers digging a trench in 1978. The first artifact unearthed at the site was the huge carved stone. (Shown Below) It is 11 ft. in diameter and weighs 8 tons. 
Aztec Carving 2
Image Courtesy of: archer10 (Dennis) via photopin cc

The Aztec calendar, or calendar wheel shown in the image below, is one of the most intriguing artifacts left by this culture. As with all of the earliest Mesoamerican calendars, such as the Mayan calendar, the Aztec calendar used a 260 day cycle. This system, called Tonalpohualli, was actually comprised of three “wheels”, or individual cycles which worked together; a 260 day cycle, a 365 day cycle, and a 52 year cycle. Though this system may seem quite precise, it was less so than the Mayan calendar system. Certain dates on the Aztec calendar can refer to a couple of different times in the year, resulting in modern disagreements over events that occurred in the Aztec Empire, and adding to the mystery of the Aztecs.

Aztec Calendar
Image Courtesy of: gripso_banana_prune via photopin cc

Though much has been learned about the Aztec culture, many aspects remain unknown, and this ancient civilization is sure to remain a topic of great discussion and wonder as we strive to learn more about the history of mankind.

Aztec – Mysterious, Violent Ancient Civilization

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