Orichalcum: The Red Metal of Atlantis

While it isn’t proof that legendary Atlantis ever existed, the discovery of a large quantity of metal bars in an ancient shipwreck is a figurative gold mine for archaeologists.

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Metal bars recovered from a sixth century BCE shipwreck.

The ingots discovered by marine archaeologists in 2015 were determined to be an alloy of 75 to 80 percent copper, 15 to 20 percent zinc, and small percentages of nickel, lead, and iron. Professor Sebastiano Tusa, an archaeologist on the team recovering artifacts from a shipwreck dating to the early sixth century BCE off the coast of Sicily, claimed an X-ray fluorescent analysis of the metal had confirmed that it was orichalcum. Orichalcum is a highly prized and possibly mythical reddish metal said to have been mined on Atlantis.


Treasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin KeySet in the third century, Treasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin Key is a historical sword-and-science fantasy adventure. A Persian warrior’s curiosity is ignited when he leads an invasion of Dodrazeb, a strange isolated kingdom that knows something about islands disappearing into the sea. Ancient Dodrazeb’s puzzling choice to hide from the world draws the warrior deeper into layers of mysteries as its princess does everything she can to expel the invaders. What are the Dodrazebbians so desperate to keep hidden? Get your copy on Amazon.com! Available in both e-book and paperback.


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Dive team that recovered the ingots and identified them as orichalcum.

While most scientists believe the island of Atlantis never really existed, others insist it may have been based on a real place that was swallowed by rising sea levels or destroyed by a tsunami. What we know about Atlantis comes from the Greek philosopher Plato, who may have invented the myth to illustrate his theories about politics. He tells us that orichalcum was so plentiful in Atlantis, it flashed with the dazzling “red light” of the metal. Highly prized and second only in value to gold, Plato says orichalcum was mined in the mythical island.

The existence of orichalcum and its composition has been widely debated. Ordinary brass is made from copper and zinc. Though it is not known for certain what orichalcum was, it has variously been describd as a gold-copper alloy, a copper-tin alloy, or copper-zinc brass, or a metal no longer known. The copper content in orichalcum is thought to be responsible for its red color.

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Location of the shipwreck off the coast of Sicily.

Some archaeologists believe that when the ancients referred to orichalchum, they actually meant amber. During the Late Bronze Age, the yellowish fossil resin was one of the main products traded through the Mediterranean along with other materials like silver, bronze, or tin. It makes more sense that orichalcum was amber if it was mined rather than created as an alloy of various metals.

Even if Atlantis is merely a myth, orichalcum could have been a real type of metal used by the ancients. If a metal with a particular reddish tint was highly desirable, large percentages of copper in the alloy could have achieved that result. And if the process used to create such a reddish metal was inordinately complicated, it could have been rare and as valuable as gold. Regardless, the discovery of the ingots and the continuing investigation of the shipwreck will yield valuable information about ancient artisan workshops.

Sources:

http://www.ancient-origins.net/news-history-archaeology/rare-orichalcum-metal-shipwreck-legendary-atlantis-020158

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2901795/Does-strange-metal-2-600-year-old-shipwreck-prove-Atlantis-DID-exist-Mythical-red-alloy-said-lost-island-discovered-coast-Sicily.html

http://www.iflscience.com/chemistry/mysterious-metal-atlantis-found-shipwreck-sicily/

http://www.seeker.com/atlantis-legendary-metal-found-in-shipwreck-1769435405.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orichalcum

http://www.livescience.com/49354-atlantis-legendary-metal-found-in-shipwreck.html

http://www.ancient-code.com/legendary-atlantis-metal-found-shipwreck/

The Boy King’s Space Blade

Here’s some history that even fans of futuristic space operas can appreciate—one of the daggers buried with King Tut was made of extraterrestrial metal.

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King Tut’s burial mask

King Tut occupies a unique place in popular culture. Ancient Egypt’s “Boy King” was made famous in 1925 when archaeologist Howard Carter discovered the undisturbed tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun, and Tut has been making headlines ever since. Scholars have written enough books to fill the Great Pyramids of Giza concerning the circumstances of his youthful ascent to the throne, political intrigue during his brief reign, and the conundrum of his untimely death more than 3,300 years ago. Less scholarly, but more popular, are the lurid tales of a mummy’s curse that captured the public’s imagination with a death grip that has continued to tighten with recent CG-enhanced big-screen spectacles.


Treasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin KeyTreasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin Key is a historical sword-and-science fantasy adventure set in the third century. Older and more mysterious than ancient Egypt, the strange kingdom of Dodrazeb ignites a Persian warrior’s curiosity when he leads an army to conquer it. Mesmerized by Dodrazeb’s puzzles, the warrior is determined to reveal its many layers of secrets as its desperate princess does everything she can to expel the invaders. What have they been hiding from the rest of the world for thousands of years? Get your copy on Amazon.com! Available in both e-book and paperback.


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Interior of King Tut’s tomb

Every few years, scientists apply some new advanced technique to Tut’s mummy and artifacts to try to solve the enduring mysteries that swirl endlessly around his story like the thick curtain of a desert sandstorm. The latest headlines inspired by King Tut are really something out of this world. A study published in the journal Meteoritics & Planetary Science declares that Tutankhamun’s blade is not made of iron from Earth, but from a meteorite that fell from space.

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The space dagger, crafted from meteoritic iron

Two daggers were placed in the folds of material used to wrap Tut’s mummified body. One was made of gold. The other had an iron blade with a decorated gold handle ending in a round crystal pommel, encased in an ornate gold sheath decorated in a pattern of feathers, lilies, and the head of a jackal. As property of the Pharaoh, though likely ceremonial, both daggers would have been extremely valuable, crafted from rare and precious materials.

The ancient Egyptians of Tut’s Bronze Age era referred to meteoric metal as “iron from the sky,” and considered it more valuable than gold. Most archaeologists agree that the few iron objects dating to Egypt’s Old Kingdom (third millennium B.C.E.) were probably produced from meteors as iron smelting was not introduced to the Nile Valley until thousands of years later.

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Close up of an iron meteorite

Observing that the dagger’s metal had not rusted and knowing that ironwork was rare in ancient Egypt, scientists have been intrigued by the remarkable gold-handled dagger with a crystal knob for decades. The Egyptian and Italian research team, led by Daniela Comelli of the Polytechnic University of Milan, analyzed the blade with an X-ray fluorescence spectrometer. They found that its nickel and cobalt content are consistent with an extraterrestrial origin.

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The Chinese Nangan meteorite, similar to the Kharga meteorite

With their spectrographic analysis complete, the research team set out to identify exactly which meteor provided the iron used to create Tut’s dagger. They found one whose composition was nearly identical to the iron in the blade: the Kharga meteorite. It was found in the year 2000 on a limestone plateau in Mersa Matruh, a seaport west of the city of Alexandria.

The scientists who made the breakthrough hope that their findings will provide further insight into the use of meteoric iron in Tut’s era and help archaeologists understand the evolution of metalworking technology in the region.

Sources:

http://www.iflscience.com/space/king-tuts-burial-blade-was-forged-iron-meteorite/

http://nypost.com/2016/06/02/king-tuts-dagger-came-from-outer-space/

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2016/06/space-dagger/486185/

http://www.history.com/news/researchers-say-king-tuts-dagger-was-made-from-a-meteorite

http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/02/africa/king-tut-dagger-meteorite/

http://www.pri.org/stories/2016-06-02/why-king-tut-had-awesome-dagger-outer-space

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/maps.12664/abstract

The Glorious Ruins of Ani

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The ruined church of the Holy Redeemer.

Location, location, location… As history teaches, any ancient settlement that survived and flourished for a significant period of time did so because it was located in a strategically defendable spot that provided easy access to water, fertile land for growing crops, space for herding livestock, and other amenities that attracted large numbers of people to live together. But in ancient times there were downsides to developing a thriving city in a great location as well. A bustling center of commerce attracted hostile invaders looking to plunder. A strong, established, and prosperous city invited unwanted attention from political rivals seeking to expand their influence and territory.


Treasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin KeyTreasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin Key, is a historical sword-and-science fantasy adventure set in the third century. A Persian warrior’s curiosity is ignited when he leads an invasion of Dodrazeb, a strange kingdom isolated from the rest of the world. Ancient Dodrazeb’s puzzling choice to remain hidden draws the warrior deeper into layers of mysteries as its princess does everything she can to expel the invaders. What is she so desperate to keep hidden? Get your copy on Amazon.com! Available in both e-book and paperback.


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The Monastery of the Hripsimian Virgins, thought to have been built between 1000 and 1200 AD, near the height of Ani’s importance and strength. The Akhurian River below acts as the modern border between Turkey and Armenia.

The Armenian city of Ani in present-day eastern Turkey is a prime example of a magnificent medieval city that fell into ruin over the centuries. At the height of its prominence, Ani boasted numerous palaces, places of worship, and military fortifications that were some of the most technically and artistically advanced structures anywhere. The city is located on a triangular site at an elevation of 4,390 feet, protected on the east by a deep ravine and the Akhurian River, and on the west by the steep Bostanlar valley.

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A gate in the medieval walls of Ani.

Unlike many other prominent ancient cities, Ani did not spring up along any established trade routes. It was Ani’s size, power, and wealth that made it an important trading hub, attracting business from the Byzantine Empire, the Persian Empire, the Arabs, and smaller nations in Russia and Central Asia. Ani is first mentioned in the 5th century by Armenian writers who referred to it as “a strong fortress built on a hilltop and a possession of the Armenian Kamsarakan dynasty.”

As the Armenian Bagratuni Dynasty expanded, they acquired Ani. Between 953 and 977, King Ashot III transferred the capital there from Kars. In 992, The Armenian Church moved its seat to Ani. By the beginning of the 11th century, Ani was renowned as the “City of Forty Gates” and the “City of a Thousand and One Churches.” Its population was well over 100,000 and it housed the royal mausoleum of Bagratuni kings.

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Ani cathedral with Armenia’s Little Ararat in the background.

Ani’s downfall began soon after it achieved its apex of power. A quarrel between two sons of King Gagik I (989-1020) left one brother in control of Ani while the other ruled over other parts of the Bagratuni kingdom. Decades of escalated disputes led to attempts to capture Ani, but the city repulsed several attacks by Byzantine armies. In 1046 Ani surrendered to the Byzantines, spurred by many pro-Byzantine citizens among its cosmopolitan population. Then in 1064, an army of the Turkish Muslim Seljuk Empire attacked Ani. After a 25-day-long siege, they captured the city and killed many citizens.

In 1072, the Seljuks sold Ani to the Shaddadids, a Muslim Kurdish dynasty, who were tolerant of the city’s overwhelmingly Armenian and Christian population for several decades. But eventually the Shaddadid governance became too rigid, and the population appealed to the Christian Kingdom of Georgia for help—more than once. The Georgians captured Ani five times: in 1124, 1161, 1174, 1199, and 1209. During brief periods of peace, prosperity returned to Ani and its defenses were strengthened and many new churches were built.

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The Ani Cathedral, in the Turkey-Armenia border province of Kars, Turkey.

The Mongols tried to capture Ani in 1226, but didn’t succeed until 1236. When they captured and sacked the city, the Mongols also massacred large numbers of its population. Later ruled by many different Turkish dynasties, Ani was devastated by a massive earthquake in 1319. No longer the grand and important city it had once been, control of Ani passed through many hands as its population shrank. Reduced to a small town of no particular consequence, it became a part of the Turkish Ottoman Empire in 1579. The site was abandoned by 1735 when the last monks left the monastery in the Virgin’s Fortress.

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Damaged frescoes of the church of St Gregory of Tigran Honents.

Eager to share their discovery, European travelers in the first half of the 19th century described the ruins of Ani in popular travel and academic journals. By then most of the structures were nothing but piles of rubble, but the grand public buildings and portions of the city’s double wall had survived. In the early 20th century, archaeologists professionally excavated large sectors of the city. Buildings were uncovered and measured, the whole site was surveyed for the first time, and emergency repairs were undertaken on buildings that were most at risk of collapse. A museum was established to house the tens of thousands of items found during the excavations. In 1918, during World War I, archaeologists saved thousands of the most portable items from the armies of the Ottoman Empire fighting their way across the region. Everything left behind was later looted or destroyed. Ani reverted to Armenian control when Turkey surrendered at the end of World War I, but Turkey recaptured it in 1920.

The archaeological site of Ani was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site on July 15, 2016.

Sources:

http://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2014/01/the-ancient-ghost-city-of-ani/100668/

http://www.kuriositas.com/2011/01/ani-ghost-city-of-1001-churches.html

http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/five-towns-abandoned-after-disasters

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ani

Ancient Underground Cities

derinkuyu_graphicThe Cappadocia region of central Anatolia in Turkey earned a World Heritage site designation some time ago for its underground cities. They’ve been there for millennia, but most were forgotten when they were no longer needed for protection from invaders. In 1963, Derinkuyu became a popular tourist destination shortly after a man discovered a man-made passageway linked to subterranean tunnels while renovating his home.


Treasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin KeyTreasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin Key is a historical sword-and-science fantasy adventure set in the third century. Older and more mysterious than ancient Egypt, the strange kingdom of Dodrazeb ignites a Persian warrior’s curiosity when he leads an army to conquer it. Mesmerized by Dodrazeb’s puzzles, the warrior is determined to peel back its layers of secrets as a desperate princess does everything she can to expel the invaders. What have they been hiding for thousands of years? Get your copy on Amazon.com! Available in both e-book and paperback.


Cappadocia - Kaymakli Underground CityIn 2013, a public urban building project unearthed a complex of hand-carved rooms and tunnels beneath a Byzantine-era hilltop castle. The newer find in Nevşehir Province includes artifacts and hidden rooms interconnected by miles of tunnels that may date to 3,000 BCE. The new site appears to be even larger than Derinkuyu, an impressive 18-story underground city that once housed around 20,000 people. Millions of years ago, the region was buried under layer upon layer of volcanic ash. The hardened volcanic rock, known as “tuff,” provided a natural building material that was easy to work with. Because the caves are carved from natural rock, archaeologists can’t date their first use, but most agree that the Anatolian Hittites are the original builders.

derinkuyu-underground-city-roomWhen the region’s ancient inhabitants retreated to their subterranean homes, everyday life continued as usual. They carved out sprawling underground cities that featured apartments, stables, worship centers, ventilation shafts, tombs, water tanks, kitchens, and communal rooms. Some contained functional freshwater wells and stone doors for added protection. There are also arsenals for storing weapons, wineries, chapels, schoolrooms, staircases, and bezirhane—linseed presses for producing lamp oil to light the underground city. Hidden escape routes offered residents a last chance for a getaway.

1_460973772cappadocia-adapt-1900-1Over time, the need for hidden shelter varied. When dangerous invaders threatened, Cappadocians went underground, blocked the access tunnels with stone doors, and sealed themselves in with livestock and supplies until the threat passed. They lived comfortably in the year-round consistent temperature of 55 degrees Fahrenheit. In peacetime, people returned to building and living on the surface, using the subterranean city as cold storage for food and stables for livestock.

Sources

http://www.history.com/news/vast-underground-city-found-in-turkey-may-be-one-of-the-worlds-largest

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/03/150325-underground-city-cappadocia-turkey-archaeology/

http://thehigherlearning.com/2014/08/25/a-man-just-discovered-an-ancient-underground-city-underneath-his-house/

http://sometimes-interesting.com/2014/05/09/derinkuyu-the-underground-cities-of-cappadocia/

When Did Cats Become Pets?

img_2873aCats and people began interacting as humans developed agriculture. As rodents and other small prey were drawn to stockpiles of grains and other food, cats were drawn to human settlements. Hungry felines were a boon to hardworking farmers, helping to dispose of critters who wanted to consume the harvest. At one time, researchers had believed that cats were domesticated by the Egyptians between 4,000 and 6,000 years ago. The recent discovery of a human and a cat buried together on the island of Cyprus dating back 9,500 years has overturned that theory.


Treasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin KeySet in the third century, Treasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin Key is a historical sword-and-science fantasy adventure. A Persian warrior’s curiosity is ignited when he leads an invasion into Dodrazeb, a strange isolated kingdom claiming to possess incredible technology. They also seem to have influenced every ancient culture on earth, including the ancient Egyptians who may have gotten their love of felines from them. Ancient Dodrazeb’s puzzling choice to hide from the world draws the warrior deeper into layers of mysteries as its princess does everything she can to expel the invaders. What are the Dodrazebbians so desperate to keep hidden? Get your copy on Amazon.com! Available in both e-book and paperback.


img_2980aChinese villagers 5,300 years ago may have had domesticated cats. Researchers excavating a village called Quanhucun found that both the humans and cats dwelling there ate a diet heavy in the grain millet. The cats most likely consumed rodents that fed on the humans’ stores of millet.

When did cats become domesticated pets, coexisting in households with human families and relying on them for food and shelter? Scientists aren’t sure, but they have determined by genetic analysis that the first major wave of cat expansion began in the Middle East. From there, cats spread into the eastern Mediterranean along with human farmers. A second major expansion, thousands of years after the first, took housecats from Egypt to Eurasia and Africa by sea between the fourth century BCE to the fourth century CE.

img_3096A DNA analysis of cat remains found at a Viking archaeological site in northern Germany dating to between 700 CE and 1000 CE shows that the seafaring warriors kept felines that had originated in Egypt. Cats were the most efficient way to get rid of rats and mice on board ships.

There’s another interesting tidbit revealed by studying the DNA of ancient cats. Tabbies didn’t exist until Medieval times, as the genetic mutation responsible for their distinctive stripes, spots, and whorls didn’t occur until then.

Today’s domestic housecats appeared between 10,000 and 20,000 years ago and are descended from a wild ancestor called Felis silvestris lybica. But unlike dogs that have been bred for specific desired traits and abilities for thousands of years, cats were never selectively bred until about 200 years ago. Furthermore, there is no genetic difference between house cats and feral cats that live wild and fend for themselves. Since most house cats are tamed feral cats that survived past six months of age, the personality traits in our beloved feline pets are the result of natural selection.

http://www.livescience.com/41984-cats-domesticated-china.html
http://www.livescience.com/56222-early-cats-travelled-with-vikings.html
http://www.livescience.com/40708-secrets-to-cat-personality.html

Ancient Urkesh: The Real Thing

I write historical fantasy adventure, but the archaeologists working to study and preserve ancient sites are the true heroes. Unique and priceless sites like Urkesh are in danger of being destroyed because of war and political turmoil before we can learn about our ancient ancestors and the civilizations they built.


Treasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin KeySet in the third century, Treasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin Key is a historical sword-and-science fantasy adventure. A Persian warrior’s curiosity is ignited when he leads an invasion into Dodrazeb, a strange isolated kingdom that possesses incredible technology. Ancient Dodrazeb’s puzzling choice to hide from the world draws the warrior deeper into layers of mysteries as its princess does everything she can to expel the invaders. What are the Dodrazebbians so desperate to keep hidden? Get your copy on Amazon.com! Available in both e-book and paperback.


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Ancient city of Urkesh, home to the Hurrian culture.

One of the most ancient cities known to exist on earth is Urkesh. Its exact location was a mystery until the 1990s when, after ten years of painstaking excavations, archaeologists identified Tel Mozan in northern Syria near the borders of Turkey and Iran as Urkesh. The capital city of the Hurrians, it flourished between 4000 and 1300 BCE. It initially became powerful because of its location at the intersection of major trade routes as well as its control of valuable copper deposits.

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Intact stone stairway at Urkesh.

Ruins of monumental public buildings, including a large temple and a palace, have been found. The architecture is not only mud-brick construction, but also rare stone structures. Archaeologists have discovered remains of an open plaza, a monumental flight of stairs, and a deep underground shaft related to religious rituals known as the “Passage to the Netherworld.” Urkesh dominated the ancient skyline at the top of a built-up terrace that rivaled nearby mountains.

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Lion and stone tablet inscribed with Hurrian language.

Very little was known about the Hurrians before Urkesh was positively identified. There may not have been many Hurrian cities in what is present-day southern Syria, but their civilization influenced the entire Middle East. They were a major influence on Mesopotamia to the south and cultures such as the Hittites as cities were first developing in that region. Unlike the centralized political structures of ancient Assyria and Egypt, Hurrian urban culture seems to have been more feudal in organization, possibly limiting the development of large palace or temple complexes.

The unique Hurrian language is unlike any other known ancient language. Historians believe that the speakers of this language originally came from the Armenian Highlands and spread over southeast Anatolia and northern Mesopotamia at the beginning of the second millennium BCE.

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Hurrian incense container.

Accomplished ceramists, Hurrian pottery was highly valued in distant Egypt. Khabur ware and Nuzi ware are two types of wheel-made pottery used by the Hurrians. Khabur ware is characterized by reddish painted lines with a geometric triangular pattern and dots, while Nuzi ware has very distinctive forms, and are painted in brown or black.

Also known for achievements in metallurgy, Hurrians traded copper south to Mesopotamia from the highlands of Anatolia. The Khabur Valley had a central position in the metal trade, and copper, silver and even tin were accessible from Hurrian-dominated countries in the Anatolian highland. Among the few surviving examples of Hurrian metal work, some small fine bronze lion figurines were discovered at Urkesh.

Sadly, the Syrian civil war has disrupted the fascinating archaeological activities at Urkesh and endangered future discoveries about the Hurrian culture. The site lies close to the Turkish border, and is now protected by Kurdish troops and a team of local workers.

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4,000 year-old bakery with paved floor and “beehive” oven.

Sources:

http://www.ancient-origins.net/ancient-places-africa/rediscovery-urkesh-forgotten-city-hurrians-003287
http://www.urkesh.org/
http://www.historyfiles.co.uk/KingListsMiddEast/AnatoliaHurrians.htm
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/06/150604-urkesh-syria-mozan-buccellati-archaeology/
http://ancients-bg.com/urkesh-the-forgotten-city-of-the-mysterious-hurrian-civilization/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurrians

Shangri-La: The Ideal “Happy Place”

KalachakraSeraJames Hilton’s novel Lost Horizon, published in 1933, popularized the idea of a hidden, peaceful valley isolated from the strife of the outside world with happy, contented inhabitants who enjoyed long life in harmony with each other. He called his fictional paradise on earth Shangri-La and located it somewhere in the Himalaya Mountains.

Hilton’s inspiration for this type of Utopia may have been influenced by an ancient belief system known as Shambhala that pre-dates and influenced both the Tibetan Buddhist and Hindu traditions. Wherever it originated, the idea of Shambhala has become associated with a fabulous realm that may be less geographical and more metaphysical.


Treasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin KeySet in the third century, Treasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin Key is a historical sword-and-science fantasy adventure. A Persian warrior’s curiosity is ignited when he leads an invasion into Dodrazeb, a strange isolated kingdom that possesses incredible technology. Ancient Dodrazeb’s puzzling choice to hide from the world draws the warrior deeper into layers of mysteries as its princess does everything she can to expel the invaders. What are the Dodrazebbians so desperate to keep hidden? Get your copy on Amazon.com! Available in both e-book and paperback.


Rigdan_Tagpa

Manjuśrīkīrti, King of Shambhala

Tibetans say that the need to find paradise is what keeps us from experiencing it. The present Dalai Lama describes the search for Shambala as “an outer journey that becomes a journey of inner exploration and discovery.”

Since the early twentieth century, the idea of a paradise on earth has permeated western pop culture. “Shambala,” a song written by Daniel Moore, was released in 1973 by Three Dog Night. (Click here to go to YouTube to view a live performance.) The lyrics are simple, the tune is catchy, and who wouldn’t want to live in peaceful harmony where “everyone is lucky, everyone is so kind?”

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Josh Gates of Expedition Unknown

Josh Gates, the globe-trotting host of the television show Expedition Unknown, recently trekked high into the Sky Caves of Nepal with a team of archaeologists and explorers in search of the origins of the Shangri-La myth. What he found high in the Mustang region of the Himalayan mountains was hauntingly beautiful, fascinating, and may actually be a “real-life counterpart” to the legend.

I’ve put a different kind of spin on the Shangri-La theme in my novel The Treasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin KeyThe inhabitants of the mystical kingdom in my story work hard to remain hidden from the rest of the world. When a Persian prince discovers it in the course of a brutal invasion, ancient secrets are revealed that may threaten not only the Persian Empire, but the future of all mankind.

Sources:

http://www.pbs.org/mythsandheroes/myths_four_shangrila.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lost_Horizon
http://www.travelchannel.com/shows/expedition-unknown/episodes/secrets-of-shangri-la