The Umayyad Mosque, aka The Great Mosque (715 CE), Damascus, Syria.

-General view.

-View of the courtyard.

-Ablution fountain in the courtyard.

-The Dome of the Treasury (“Qubbat Al-Khazna”) in the courtyard.

-The main facade.

-View of the interior with the shrine of St. John the Baptist.

-The main mihrab & the minbar.

-Minaret of the Bride

-The mausoleum of Saladin in a gardin adjoining the north wall of the mosque.


Italy unveils record haul of rare antiquities

Authorities have unveiled what they said was a record haul of rare antiquities looted from Italy and discovered during raids on Swiss warehouses belonging to an accused Sicilian art dealer.

Police estimated the value of the 5,361 vases, kraters, bronze statues and frescoes at about 50 million euros ($58 million). The works, from the 8th century B.C. to the 3rd century, were laid out Wednesday at the National Roman Museum and may go on public display.

Carabineri Gen. Mariano Mossa says it was “by a long shot the biggest recovery in history in terms of the quantity and quality of archaeological treasures.”

They were found during an investigation into Basel-based art dealer Gianfranco Becchina, accused by prosecutors of being part of a huge trafficking network. (source)

Polish legends: Wawel Dragon

Legend from Kraków [Cracow], one of the oldest cities of Poland and its former royal capital - seat of the Polish kings from medieval to renaissance eras.

This story also tells about the king Krak [or Krakus], legendary founder of the Kraków city, who might have been ruling in c. 8th century. This is a popular version of the legend:

King Krak was a good and wise ruler. Under his guidance the lands were blooming, the walls of Wawel Castle growing and the people remaining happy and safe.

One day a terrible dragon appeared in one of the caves underneath the Wawel Hill, no one knew when and where from - or if it had just awoken in one of the unexplored rock tunnels.

The ancient creature started demanding offerings in young maidens and cattle. Weeks were passing by and the whole-eater terrorized Krak’s lands completely. All the best warriors of the king and all the courageous knights who had been coming from the faraway lands to slay the monster were burned to death. Dragon’s skin was too thick to be cut even with the best swords or the sharpest spears. Many people escaped their land, choking in fear, and much of the fields and buildings were destroyed by the greedy creature.

Upon king’s desperate last call, a poor shoemaker’s apprentice named Skuba arrived in the throne room. He said that he’d found a way to kill the dragon. The unusual certainty in his voice and logic behind his expressions convinced the king to give him a chance. But the boy refused to get any kind of armour, shield or sword offered to him and asked only for a big barrel of sulphur from the royal warehouse.

On the next day all the king’s people begun to joke, first time in months, noticing that Skuba arrived only with a sheepskin, shoemaker’s thread and few long needles to the royal workshop. But Krak was observing the boy and only nodding in silence from time to time.

Skuba stuffed the sheepskin with sulphur and sewn it together carefully, covering bigger holes with slices of meat in order to hide the smell of the minerals. Then he put the sheep in front of the dragon’s den and hid behind a big rock.

When evening came, the hungry dragon crawled out of the den and devoured the offering without hesitation, only looking around for more. But it didn’t take much time until the sulphur reacted with dragon’s fiery entrails. Feeling the stomach burning, it run down the hill to the Wisła River and started drinking. Eventually drank so much water, that it couldn’t move around anymore.

Skuba came out of the hiding and the enraged dragon attempted to blow fire at him - but … boom! The sudden muscle tensions appeared to be crucial and dragon’s swollen body simply exploded. The land of Krak was free again.*

In some of the versions Skuba marries Krak’s daughter afterwards. Even though you’d hear that story almost everywhere, blended with the folk myths, the older writings were in fact telling that the dragon was killed either by the King Krak himself [with a sword or a royal club] or by one of his two sons [that version was then directly connected to the legend about Princess Wanda which I’ll describe in the future].

Nowadays you can see a modern statue of the Wawel Dragon right next to the Wawel Castle’s walls, standing by the path that goes along the riverbank. It spits fire every few minutes [photo source]:

Right next to the statue you will find the entrance to the Dragon Den [in Polish: Smocza Jama]. Its passages are rather small and not many people can go in at once, so you’d be really lucky if you managed to get inside during a regular “tourist day” [photo source]:

You can also visit the sculpture of King Krak fighting the Dragon, which is hidden in the courtyard of Archiwum Narodowe [National Archives] building on the Sienna Street. This sculpture was created by artist Franciszek Kalfas in 1929 [source]:

On the first picture: early 20th-century painting by Marian Wawrzeniecki (1863-1943).

*There are also many variants within that version of the legend, that differ in some details, and this is the story as I know it since childhood.

[Check also my general tales and legends tag.]

If an unfortunately quite conservative Catholic pope feels free to call being decidedly pregnant with an 8th child after seven C-sections “an irresponsibility” AND state that Catholics should practice “responsible parenting” by using non-artificial methods of birth control, then you DEFINITELY know over-active reproducing is dangerous to the world and has some real fucking implications.

My brother, Daniel, and his wife, Jackie, just opened up @bullseyebattlefield in Colorado Springs at 1791 S. 8th Street, Suite C/D. Go check it out, and bring your loved ones so you can shoot them with Nerf guns. #Nerf #Coloradosprings

POM As Art Throughout History

Though pomegranates have become a super on-trend ingredient as of late, they’ve been around for quite some time. Check out this incredible piece from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, which dates back to the 8-9th century B.C. POMs were even cool back then! We just love it when we can eat our history lessons.

Pictured: Pomegranate. Assyrian, Mesopotamia, Nimrud (ancient Kalhu). Neo-Assyrian period, ca. 9th-8th century B.C. Ivory. 1.3 in. (3.3 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rogers Fund, 1954 (54.117.7)

Credit: Image copyright © The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Image source: Art Resource, NY

there were three middle school class trips

6th grade: toronto

7th grade: chicago

8th grade: washington, d.c.

i willingly chose to skip out on all of them. every student that didn’t go were corralled into a large classroom and watched napoleon dynamite and because of winn-dixie. that was where i learned egyptian rat screw.

those were the best days of school.