Sacred Sunday: 11th and 12th Century European Cathedral Architecture

Interior view c. 1050 Photo San Miniato al Monte, Florence

Interior view
c. 1050
Photo
San Miniato al Monte, Florence

Italy remained closest to the classical language of architecture. San Miniato al Monte in Florence uses Corinthian columns and marble veneer.

Exterior view c. 1080 Photo Saint-Nectaire, Puy-de-Dôme

Exterior view
c. 1080
Photo
Saint-Nectaire, Puy-de-Dôme

This Romanesque church was built in the middle of the twelfth century in honor of St. Nectaire by the monks of La Chaise-Dieu. It was built on the site of the shrine erected by Nectaire Auvergne on Mount Cornadore. It features 103 magnificent capitals. In the mid-nineteenth century, the church was still surrounded by walls, a cemetery, a castle and a small chapel. These parts were destroyed shortly after, at a church restoration. Now surrounded by forests, the church was in the Middle Ages to the early twentieth century, at the heart of a densely populated region, where wood was scarce.

The building is a typical church of the Auvergne, with an octagonal crossing tower and a round apse with radiating chapels.

Pantheon of the Kings of León 1063-1100 Photo Royal Basilica of San Isidoro, León

Pantheon of the Kings of León
1063-1100
Photo
Royal Basilica of San Isidoro, León

The Royal Pantheon in the basilica is a funeral chapel of the kings of León. It is one of the examples of surviving Romanesque art in León. The columns are crowned with rare Visigothic capitals (re-used Roman capitals), with floral or historic designs. The 12th century painted murals are in an exceptional state of preservation and consist of an ensemble of New Testament subjects along with scenes of contemporary rural life.

Chapter house c. 1100 Photo Monastery, Osek

Chapter house
c. 1100
Photo
Monastery, Osek

The Cistercian monastery in Osek was the spiritual centre of the region of Northern Bohemia between Decin and Karlovy Vary. It has a history of more than 800-year.

The picture shows the chapter house where the abbot presided. The administrative matters were settled here.

Sainte-Foy Abbey Church: Exterior view 12th century Photo Sainte-Foy Abbey Church, Conques

Sainte-Foy Abbey Church: Exterior view
12th century
Photo
Sainte-Foy Abbey Church, Conques

The 12th-century Romanesque church at Conques, in central France, was a stopping-place on the road to Compostela. The church contains the relics of Sainte-Foy, which arrived in Conques through theft in 866.

The original chapel was destroyed in the eleventh century in order to facilitate the creation of a much larger church as the arrival of the relics of St. Foy caused the pilgrimage route to shift from Agen to Conques. The second phase of construction, which was completed by the end of the eleventh-century, included the building of the five radiating chapels, the ambulatory with a lower roof, the choir without the gallery and the nave without the galleries.

The third phase of construction, which was completed early in the twelfth-century, was inspired by the churches of Toulouse and Santiago Compostela. Like most pilgrimage churches Conques is a basilica plan that has been modified into a cruciform plan. Galleries were added over the aisle and the roof was raised over the transept and choir to allow people to circulate at the gallery level.

Sainte-Foy Abbey Church: Exterior view 12th century Photo Sainte-Foy Abbey Church, Conques

Sainte-Foy Abbey Church: Exterior view
12th century
Photo
Sainte-Foy Abbey Church, Conques

Abbey of Saint-Gilles: Façade c. 1150 Photo Saint-Gilles-du-Gard, Provence

Abbey of Saint-Gilles: Façade
c. 1150
Photo
Saint-Gilles-du-Gard, Provence

The façade of the church bears witness to the presence of Roman temples in the vicinity.

Interior view 1140s Photo Abbey Church, Saint-Denis

Interior view
1140s
Photo
Abbey Church, Saint-Denis

The picture shows the east end of the abbey church of Saint-Denis. The technique of Gothic architecture allows spaces to flow freely into one another instead of being compartmentalized.

Exterior view 12th century Photo Cathedral, Durham

Exterior view
12th century
Photo
Cathedral, Durham

Durham Cathedral was built between the late 11th and early 12th century to house the bodies of St. Cuthbert (634-687 AD) (the evangelizer of Northumbria) and the Venerable Bede (672/3-735 AD).

It attests to the importance of the early Benedictine monastic community and is the largest and finest example of Norman architecture in England. The innovative audacity of its vaulting foreshadowed Gothic architecture. The Cathedral lies within the precinct of Durham Castle, first constructed in the late eleventh century under the orders of William the Conqueror.

Interior view 1100-20 Photo Cathedral, Durham

Interior view
1100-20
Photo
Cathedral, Durham

Durham Cathedral has thick circular piers with incised (and originally painted) patterns and one of the earliest rib-vaults in Europe.

Exterior view 12th century Photo Cathedral, Ely

Exterior view
12th century
Photo
Cathedral, Ely

Ely Cathedral is the principal church of the Diocese of Ely, in Cambridgeshire, England, and is the seat of the Bishop of Ely and a suffragan bishop, the Bishop of Huntingdon. It has a cruciform plan with central crossing tower, and it was likewise one of the largest buildings under construction north of the Alps at the time.

The construction was started in 1081 and was completed in the 1180s. The 66 m high west tower of the cathedral represents the last, profusely ornamented, stage of Romanesque. The porch and upper parts are already Gothic.

Interior view 12th century Photo Cathedral, Ely

Interior view
12th century
Photo
Cathedral, Ely

Exterior view c. 1150 Photo Abbey Church, Maria Laach

Exterior view
c. 1150
Photo
Abbey Church, Maria Laach

Maria Laach Abbey is a Benedictine abbey situated on the southwestern shore of the Laacher See (Lake Laach), in the region of the Rhineland-Palatinate in Germany. The church exemplifies a particular German form of Romanesque with apses and round towers at both east and west ends.

Exterior view c. 1160 Photo Colegiata de Santa María la Mayor, Toro

Exterior view
c. 1160
Photo
Colegiata de Santa María la Mayor, Toro

The Collegiate church of Santa María la Mayor (Church of Saint Mary the Great) is a church in Toro, Spain. It was begun around 1100, and was finished in the mid-13th century. It is one of the most characteristic examples of transitional Romanesque architecture in Spain. The crossing tower is a Spanish specialty – an octagon of repeated arches with four tourelles at the corners.

Refectory 1180-1200 Photo Monastery, Alcobaça

Refectory
1180-1200
Photo
Monastery, Alcobaça

Monasteries were places of peace and order in the disturbed medieval society, organized round a routine of liturgy, work, study, and regular meetings, in which a man could spend his whole life. In the refectory, during meals a monk read from the raised pulpit.

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Photo Essay: The Winds of War

Politics aside, there are times when war is necessary. However, whether justified or unprovoked, war inevitably has its share of victims, the innocent, the powerless – those souls who are unwilling thrown into the mix as their world unravels as well as those who unknowingly, blindly follow a tyrant hellbent on domination and destruction.

This rather eye-opening edition of Throwback Thursday is dedicated to them…

War is about as close to Hell as a human being can be.

Some readers may find some of the images disturbing. 

Reader discretion is advised.

June 1944 : A sergeant of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps bandages the wounded ear of 'Jasper', a mine-detecting dog, Bayeux, France

June 1944 : A sergeant of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps bandages the wounded ear of ‘Jasper’, a mine-detecting dog, Bayeux, France

April 1945 : A German woman runs through the streets of burning Siegburg with what belongings she is able to carry, as the American 97th Infantry Division and German troops battle for control of the city street by street.

April 1945 : A German woman runs through the streets of burning Siegburg with what belongings she is able to carry, as the American 97th Infantry Division and German troops battle for control of the city street by street.

1932 : An uniformed small child joins a parade of forty thousand teenage Fascists(ONB) at Rome's Place du Peuple Opera Nazionale Balilla (ONB) was an Italian Fascist youth organization.

1932 : An uniformed small child joins a parade of forty thousand teenage Fascists(ONB) at Rome’s Place du Peuple
Opera Nazionale Balilla (ONB) was an Italian Fascist youth organization.

Oct 1945 : Homeless orphaned sisters on a street in Rome, Italy after the end of WWII.

Oct 1945 : Homeless orphaned sisters on a street in Rome, Italy after the end of WWII.

1915 : 19 year old Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna of Russia with wounded Russian soldiers.  "My sister Olga is working as a Nurse. Olga, Tatiana and mother became nurses and worked in hospitals, even assisting in surgeries. Maria and I were too young to become real nurses, but both of us, and Aleksey, observed and helped out in operations. We saw many wounded soldiers die. Maria and I had our own hospital in the Fyodorovsky Village near the Alexander Palace. We went there all the time and tried to cheer up the wounded men. It felt like we were attending funeral services all the time." - Anastasia Olga was assassinated by the Bolsheviks on July 17, 1918 aged 22 after they were refused sanctuary in England. Olga fell in love with a wounded officer she was nursing.

1915 : 19 year old Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna of Russia with wounded Russian soldiers.
“My sister Olga is working as a Nurse. Olga, Tatiana and mother became nurses and worked in hospitals, even assisting in surgeries. Maria and I were too young to become real nurses, but both of us, and Aleksey, observed and helped out in operations. We saw many wounded soldiers die. Maria and I had our own hospital in the Fyodorovsky Village near the Alexander Palace. We went there all the time and tried to cheer up the wounded men. It felt like we were attending funeral services all the time.”
– Anastasia
Olga was assassinated by the Bolsheviks on July 17, 1918 aged 22 after they were refused sanctuary in England. Olga fell in love with a wounded officer she was nursing.

March 1933 : The last picture taken of Anne, Edith, and Margot Frank in Germany, prior to emigrating to Netherlands.  Anne Frank is 3 years, 9 months old. They are standing in the Hauptwache square in the center of Frankfurt am Main.

March 1933 : The last picture taken of Anne, Edith, and Margot Frank in Germany, prior to emigrating to Netherlands.
Anne Frank is 3 years, 9 months old. They are standing in the Hauptwache square in the center of Frankfurt am Main.

Dec 1940 : A Dutch woman keeping Balls of paper - the main fuel in winter during Nazi occupation, Amsterdam.

Dec 1940 : A Dutch woman keeping Balls of paper – the main fuel in winter during Nazi occupation, Amsterdam.

1917 : A loaded cart pulled by two dogs in Belgium during WW1  Horses in World War I were used by the belligerent nations for transportation of troops, artillery, materiel, and, to a lesser extent, in mobile cavalry troops. Due to lack of Horses, most carts in France, Germany and Belgium were pulled by dogs.

1917 : A loaded cart pulled by two dogs in Belgium during WWI
Horses in World War I were used by the belligerent nations for transportation of troops, artillery, materiel, and, to a lesser extent, in mobile cavalry troops. Due to lack of Horses, most carts in France, Germany and Belgium were pulled by dogs.

Dec 1945 : Elderly citizens of Berlin rest on a bench marked 'Not for Jews', after the end of WW2 An ugly reminder of Nazi days. It took 3 years to remove of all Nazi images and symbols, however with a country as large as Germany, a few were missed and still exist even to this very day.

Dec 1945 : Elderly citizens of Berlin rest on a bench marked ‘Not for Jews’, after the end of WWII
An ugly reminder of Nazi days.
It took 3 years to remove of all Nazi images and symbols, however with a country as large as Germany, a few were missed and still exist even to this very day.

Jan 1945 : A Chinese girl who recently discovered her husband's body in their burned out home, sifting through the ashes for personal possessions, Kweilin, China  Much like the Slavs, Jews, Poles, Indians and Gypsies, the Chinese were slaughtered without mercy during WWII. Photo by Jack Wilkes, LIFE magazine.

Jan 1945 : A Chinese girl who recently discovered her husband’s body in their burned out home, sifting through the ashes for personal possessions, Kweilin, China
Much like the Slavs, Jews, Poles, Indians and Gypsies, the Chinese were slaughtered without mercy during WWII.
Photo by Jack Wilkes, LIFE magazine.

70 years ago this month - Mar 1945: Anne Frank dies at age 15 of typhus in Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp.  Anne Frank's enduring legacy still resonates around the world.

70 years ago this month – Mar 1945: Anne Frank dies at age 15 of typhus in Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp.
Anne Frank’s enduring legacy still resonates around the world.

1943 : Polish youngster carrying an armload of loaves of bread at Red Cross refuge camp in Tehran, Iran during WWII.

1943 : Polish youngster carrying an armload of loaves of bread at Red Cross refuge camp in Tehran, Iran during WWII.

English children who had been evacuated during WWII are finally reunited with their families.

English children who had been evacuated during WWII are finally reunited with their families.

A man looks directly at the photographer, an Einsatzgruppen soldier, the moment before he is shot; below him are his dead friends, neighbors and family. The soldier wrote on the back of this photo "the last Jew in Vinnitsa, 1941."

A man looks directly at the photographer, an Einsatzgruppen soldier, the moment before he is shot; below him are his dead friends, neighbors and family. The soldier wrote on the back of this photo “the last Jew in Vinnitsa, 1941.”

Dec 1918 : A young Serbian refugee in the town of Grdjelitza after the end of WWI, as photographed by Lewis W. Hine. Hine was hired by the Red Cross to document its European relief efforts. In the waning months of World War I and after the armistice, Hine traveled through France, Belgium, Germany and the Balkans shooting the shattered continent devastated by World War One.  Hine wrote as he took the picture of this young Serbian girl: "With not even a roof over their heads, these families were finding their way back home on foot from northern Serbia where the Austrians and Germans had sent them to produce food for the enemy … When these people reach home, it will not be home, but simply ruins."

Dec 1918 : A young Serbian refugee in the town of Grdjelitza after the end of WWI, as photographed by Lewis W. Hine.
Hine was hired by the Red Cross to document its European relief efforts. In the waning months of World War I and after the armistice, Hine traveled through France, Belgium, Germany and the Balkans shooting the shattered continent devastated by World War One.
Hine wrote as he took the picture of this young Serbian girl: “With not even a roof over their heads, these families were finding their way back home on foot from northern Serbia where the Austrians and Germans had sent them to produce food for the enemy … When these people reach home, it will not be home, but simply ruins.”

Allied servicemen stop to hand out sweets to Dutch children during the Allied liberation of the Netherlands, summer 1944.

Allied servicemen stop to hand out sweets to Dutch children during the Allied liberation of the Netherlands, summer 1944.

A German dog hospital, treating wounded dispatch dogs coming from the front, 1918

A German dog hospital, treating wounded dispatch dogs coming from the front, 1918

Colourized WWII photo : Pfc. Harvey White of Minneapolis gives blood plasma to a Pvt. Roy W. Humphrey from Toledo, Ohio of the 7th Inf. Regt., US 3rd Division at the aid station, Sant'Agata, Sicily, after he was wounded by shrapnel on the 9th August 1943  (Pvt. Humphrey was wounded near San Fratello and was later taken to the 93rd. Evacuation Hospital, where he recovered)

Colourized WWII photo :
Pfc. Harvey White of Minneapolis gives blood plasma to a Pvt. Roy W. Humphrey from Toledo, Ohio of the 7th Inf. Regt., US 3rd Division at the aid station, Sant’Agata, Sicily, after he was wounded by shrapnel on the 9th August 1943
(Pvt. Humphrey was wounded near San Fratello and was later taken to the 93rd. Evacuation Hospital, where he recovered)

1943 : An on-leave serviceman and his date take a break from a dance at Fullerton Beach, Chicago.

1943 : An on-leave serviceman and his date take a break from a dance at Fullerton Beach, Chicago.

Anna Zakrzewska served with the Polish underground army as a courier and a medical orderly.  Zakrzewska's underground code name was Hanka Biała (White Hannah). She received training at the end of June and in July 1944 in the Wyszkowa forest. She was killed in the course of desperate combat during the Warsaw Uprising, aged 18.

Anna Zakrzewska served with the Polish underground army as a courier and a medical orderly.
Zakrzewska’s underground code name was Hanka Biała (White Hannah). She received training at the end of June and in July 1944 in the Wyszkowa forest. She was killed in the course of desperate combat during the Warsaw Uprising, aged 18.

Concentration camp survivor - This little girl was asked to draw a picture of her home, while living in a residence for disturbed children in Poland 1948. As you can see, she no longer has any concept of what 'home' is (or was) The look in her eyes is truly haunting...

Concentration camp survivor – This little girl was asked to draw a picture of her home, while living in a residence for disturbed children in Poland 1948.
As you can see, she no longer has any concept of what ‘home’ is (or was) The look in her eyes is truly haunting…

May 1945 : Inmates of the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria pull down the swastika emblem over the main gate after Liberation This camp had many prisoners of war(Pow's); mostly Soviet & French officers. Nearly 210,000 inmates perished at Mauthausen.

May 1945 : Inmates of the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria pull down the swastika emblem over the main gate after Liberation
This camp had many prisoners of war(Pow’s); mostly Soviet & French officers. Nearly 210,000 inmates perished at Mauthausen.

1942 : Three Soviet citizens are hanged from a tree near Minsk in Belorussia by SS forces with a placard reading “We are partisans and have shot at Germans” in both German and Russian.

1942 : Three Soviet citizens are hanged from a tree near Minsk in Belorussia by SS forces with a placard reading “We are partisans and have shot at Germans” in both German and Russian.

1948 : A little girl with her battered doll, waiting for milk distribution along with her little brother at an Orphanage run by Unesco at Naples, Italy  The World War II casualties and even larger numbers of POWs meant that many Italian children were left with only their mother to support them. And in a collapsing economy this was very difficult. When the fighting reached Italy itself, villages and cities were devastated all the way up the peninsula. Many children were killed or wounded and in many cases lost both parents. Large numbers of children were displaced as well as many orphaned.

1948 : A little girl with her battered doll, waiting for milk distribution along with her little brother at an Orphanage run by Unesco at Naples, Italy
The World War II casualties and even larger numbers of POWs meant that many Italian children were left with only their mother to support them. And in a collapsing economy this was very difficult. When the fighting reached Italy itself, villages and cities were devastated all the way up the peninsula. Many children were killed or wounded and in many cases lost both parents. Large numbers of children were displaced as well as many orphaned.

March 1946 : A young orphan eating bread provided by the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Association in post war Rome, Italy. From mid 1945 to 1949, most of mainland Europe was in absolute poverty caused by the devastation of WWII.

March 1946 : A young orphan eating bread provided by the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Association in post war Rome, Italy.
From mid 1945 to 1949, most of mainland Europe was in absolute poverty caused by the devastation of WWII.

Guide Dogs for the Blind was founded in 1942 to aid blinded servicemen returning from World War II.  The first veteran to graduate from the program was Sgt. Leonard Foulk, who was paired with a Guide Dog named Blondie.

Guide Dogs for the Blind was founded in 1942 to aid blinded servicemen returning from World War II.
The first veteran to graduate from the program was Sgt. Leonard Foulk, who was paired with a Guide Dog named Blondie.

1945 : The Cologne Cathedral stands tall in the midst the ruins of the city after Allied bombings, Germany. During the 1939 to 1945 period the Royal Air Force dropped 34,711 tons of bombs on the Cologne.

1945 : The Cologne Cathedral stands tall in the midst the ruins of the city after Allied bombings, Germany.
During the period from 1939 to 1945, the Royal Air Force dropped 34,711 tons of bombs on Cologne.

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Sunday Reader: Tomb of Celtic Prince Uncovered in France

Aerial view showing the site in Lavau, France, where a Celtic prince's tomb was found. Here, a large trench can be seen surrounding the princely tomb, which dates to the early fifth century B.C. (Photo credit: Copyright Denis Gliksman/Inrap)

Aerial view showing the site in Lavau, France, where a Celtic prince’s tomb was found. Here, a large trench can be seen surrounding the princely tomb, which dates to the early fifth century B.C. (Photo credit: Copyright Denis Gliksman/Inrap)

Archaeologists with France’s National Institute of Preventive Archaeological Research have discovered the tomb of a Celtic prince dating to the fifth century B.C.

Many of the artifacts of 2,500-year-old lavish tomb and chariot of the prince are completely preserved in their intricate detail.

The ancient princely tomb, which was discovered in a large burial mound, was filled with stunning grave goods, including gorgeous pottery and a gold-tipped drinking vessel. The giant jug was decorated with images of the Greek god of wine and revelry, and was probably made by Greek or Etruscan artists.

The stunning new finds “are evidence of the exchanges that happened between  the Mediterranean and the Celts,” Dominique Garcia, president of France’s National institute of Preventive Archaeological Research (INRAP), told journalists at a field visit, according to France 24.

Archaeologists in France recently unearthed the fifth century B.C. grave of a Celtic prince and his chariot. One of the lavish grave goods found in the burial mound was a large cauldron meant for feasting. The handles of the bronze cauldron are decorated with the Greek deity Achelous. Credit: Copyright Denis Gliksman/Inrap

Archaeologists in France recently unearthed the fifth century B.C. grave of a Celtic prince and his chariot. One of the lavish grave goods found in the burial mound was a large cauldron meant for feasting. The handles of the bronze cauldron are decorated with the Greek deity Achelous.
Credit: Copyright Denis Gliksman/Inrap

Ancient trade routes

Though the heartland of the Greek  city-states was clustered in Greece in the fifth and sixth centuries B.C., the economic powerhouses later expanded their reach throughout the Mediterranean. At their peak, the Greek and Western Etruscan city-states had settlements dotting coastlines all the way to modern-day southern Spain to the south and to the Black Sea, near modern-day Russia, to the north.

Researchers carefully excavate at the Lavau site where the ancient princely tomb and cauldron were found. The funerary complex where the artifacts were found spans an area of about 150 square feet (14 square meters), making it one of the largest such structures known to archaeologists from the Hallstatt period at the end of the Early Iron Age, the researchers noted. (Photo credit: Copyright Denis Gliksman/Inrap)

Researchers carefully excavate at the Lavau site where the ancient princely tomb and cauldron were found. The funerary complex where the artifacts were found spans an area of about 150 square feet (14 square meters), making it one of the largest such structures known to archaeologists from the Hallstatt period at the end of the Early Iron Age, the researchers noted. (Photo credit: Copyright Denis Gliksman/Inrap)

One of the key trading centers for this region was Massilia, in what is now modern-day Marseille, France. Merchants from the East came to the region seeking slaves, metals and amber, according to an INRAP statement about the find.

Many of the Mediterranean merchants bestowed impressive goods from Greek and Etruscan cultures as diplomatic gifts, in hopes of opening new trade channels. As a result, the Celts who ruled centrally located inland regions in the central river valleys amassed great wealth. The most elite of these ancient rulers were buried in impressive burial mounds, some of which can be found in Hochdorf, Germany, and Bourges, France.

At the center of the burial mound, called a tumulus, which measures about 130 feet (40 meters) across, the deceased individual and his chariot reside at the center of a funerary complex. (Photo credit: Copyright Denis Gliksman/Inrap)

At the center of the burial mound, called a tumulus, which measures about 130 feet (40 meters) across, the deceased individual and his chariot reside at the center of a funerary complex. (Photo credit: Copyright Denis Gliksman/Inrap)

Long burial tradition

The current site — located in the little village of Lavau, France, just a few hours’ drive south of Paris — served as an ancient burial place for centuries. In 1300 B.C., the ancient inhabitants left burial mounds with bodies and the cremated remains of people, archaeologists have found. Another burial at the site, dating to about 800 B.C., holds the body of an ancient warrior bearing a sword, along with a woman bedecked in solid-bronze bracelets.

The current tomb was part of a set of four burial mounds that were grouped together, dating to about 500 B.C., though the tomb itself is likely younger than the rest of the burials. People continued to use the ancient cemetery during the Roman period, when some of the graves were emptied and replaced by newer graves.

Archaeologists excavated a bronze cauldron, measuring about 3.3 feet (1 meter) across, that they found in the princely tomb in Lavau. (Photo credit: Copyright Denis Gliksman/Inrap)

Archaeologists excavated a bronze cauldron, measuring about 3.3 feet (1 meter) across, that they found in the princely tomb in Lavau. (Photo credit: Copyright Denis Gliksman/Inrap)

a close-up view of the head of a feline adorning the opening of the bronze cauldron found in the princely grave within the funerary complex in Lavau. (Photo credit: Copyright Denis Gliksman/Inrap)

a close-up view of the head of a feline adorning the opening of the bronze cauldron found in the princely grave within the funerary complex in Lavau. (Photo credit: Copyright Denis Gliksman/Inrap)

The newly discovered funeral chamber was found in a giant mound about 130 feet (40 meters) wide — one of the largest found from that time period. Inside lies the body of an ancient prince in his chariot. In a corner of the tomb, someone had placed several basins; a bronze bucket; a fluted piece of pottery; and a large, sheathed knife.

The most striking find was a stunning bronze cauldron, about 3.3 feet (1 m) in diameter, that may have been made by the Greeks or the Etruscans.

The giant jug has four handles, with images of the Greek god Achelous, a Greek river deity. In this depiction, Achelous is shown with horns and bulls’ ears, as well as a beard and three moustaches. The stunningly worked cauldron also depicts eight lion heads, and the interior contains an image of the Greek god Dionysus, the god of winemaking, lying under a vine and looking at a woman.

Inside the bronze cauldron from within the princely tomb, scientists found a decorated Greek wine jug. A black-figure decoration on the jug shows Dionysus lying under a vine facing a female, possibly a banquet scene, which is common in Greek iconography, the researchers said. (Photo credit: Copyright Denis Gliksman/Inrap)

Inside the bronze cauldron from within the princely tomb, scientists found a decorated Greek wine jug. A black-figure decoration on the jug shows Dionysus lying under a vine facing a female, possibly a banquet scene, which is common in Greek iconography, the researchers said. (Photo credit: Copyright Denis Gliksman/Inrap)

“This appears to be a banquet scene, a recurrent theme in Greek iconography,” researchers from INRAP, which is overseeing the excavations at the site, said in a statement.

The cauldron, which was likely used by the ancient Celtic aristocrats in feasts, is also covered in gold at the top and the base.

On the Web:  Exceptional Iron-Age elite tomb discovered in France

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Thursday Reader: Ancient Skeletons in Paris and a Rare Roman Tombstone in England

paris

Photo courtesy of BFM-TV

Hundreds of Skeletons Found Under a Paris Supermarket

Workers digging underneath a Paris supermarket have made an unsettling discovery: as many as 200 skeletons.

The grocery store, Monoprix, was doing some renovations in January and workers removing an underground wall discovered the bones. The area was apparently part of a cemetery for the Hospital of the Trinity, according to France’s BFM-TV. The cemetery operated from the 12th century to around the 17th century.

Photo courtesy of BFM-TV.

Photo courtesy of BFM-TV.

Photo courtesy of BFM-TV

Photo courtesy of BFM-TV

Researchers and archaeologists are conducting carbon dating and DNA testing to try to figure out when and why the people died, the affiliate said. It’s clear they all died around the same time, lead archaeologist Isabelle Abadie told BFM-TV, because of the way the bodies were neatly arranged.

“What’s surprising is the bodies were not thrown in (the graves) but were carefully placed there in an organized manner. The individuals, men, women, and children, were placed head-to-toe,” to fit as many as possible in the grave, Abadie explained.

The bodies were found at the site of an ancient cemetery attached to the Trinity Hospital, which was founded in the 13th century. Paris suffered several plague epidemics during the times that the hospital was in operation, as well as a smallpox outbreak in the 17th century, not to mention Europe’s Black Death in the 1300’s.

Though it’s not clear exactly how these ancient people died, the trove of bodies could reveal insights into how people in the Middle Ages buried their dead during epidemics or famine, the researchers involved said.

Photo courtesy of BFM-TV.

Photo courtesy of BFM-TV.

Archaeologists working the site have found eight common graves in an area that is 100 square meters, with seven of the graves containing between five and 20 skeletons each and another site with more than 150 skeletons, BFM-TV said. The groupings suggest that whole families were buried together.

Abadie told BFM-TV that when the cemetery was shut down centuries ago, most of the remains were moved to the Catacombs of Paris.

“But apparently the job was not done well,” she said.

*      *      *      *      *

The Latin inscription memorializes the death of a 27-year-old woman. Credit: Cotswold Archaeology

Eighteen Thousand year Old Tombstone Found in England

A 1,800-year-old tombstone was discovered at a Roman cemetery in England this week. Because of its inscription, archaeologists know who was buried in the grave: a 27-year-old woman named Bodica.

“It’s incredibly rare,” Neil Holbrook, of Cotswold Archaeology, told BBC News.

For the last two months, Holbrook’s team has been excavating a Roman cemetery just outside the ancient city walls of Cirencester, a town in Gloucestershire, to make way for the construction of a new office park. They documented about 55 graves — some of which contained wooden coffins and copper bracelets — but only one was covered up with a toppled-over stone slab. 

The discovery comes on the heels of another Roman cemetery being found in the spring of 2013 in Leicester, England.

The excavators waited until February 25th to lift up the stone, discovering it was indeed a tombstone. The grave marker is among just nine other Roman tombstones found in Cirencester and about 300 found in the rest of Britain.

The grave dates to the second century, at a time when Cirencester was the second-largest city in Britain after London. The stone has very finely carved decorative details, Holbrook said, suggesting that Bodica had money or was married to someone with money. Inside the pediment, there’s a sculpture of the Roman god Oceanus, perhaps to mark the “watery journey” between life and death, Holbrook said.

The Latin text reads “D.M. BODICACIA CONIUNX VIXIT ANNO S XXVII,” or, roughly, “To the spirits of the dead, Bodica, loyal wife, lived 27 years.”

But the inscription has some archaeologists scratching their heads.

“The lettering and the writing is very poorly done — perhaps by someone who was illiterate,” Holbrook said.

Some letters seem to be missing, and the spelling of “Bodica” — a Celtic name that means “victory” — as “Bodicacia” is somewhat puzzling. It might be a misspelling. Maybe Bodica selected this skillfully made tombstone before her death, but when it came time to actually inscribe it, the stone fell into the hands of someone who wasn’t entirely equipped to do so. Or perhaps part of the Latin word “acacia,” meaning “ax,” was intentionally tacked onto her name to deter vandals, Holbrook said.

“We’ve only had it out of the ground 24 hours, but already it’s created a massive amount of interest and debate,” Holbrook said.

The archaeologists, who are wrapping up their excavation this week, found a skeleton associated with the grave. Eventually, an analysis of the woman’s bones should reveal more details about the woman’s life.

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#MilitaryMonday Photostudy: WWI Battle Sites Revisited 100 Years Later

The British World War I Charing Cross Advance Dressing Station bunker in Ploegsteert, Belgium. The bunker was used to treat casualties running up to the Battle of Messines Ridge. Part of the bunker today is used as a house for birds.

For over a century now, the four seasons bring constant changes to the scarred landscapes and ruins of the World War I battlefields in Belgium and northern France, yet many of the relics still exist, both above and below the surface.

“As a soldier, I survived World War I when most of my comrades did not.”

           – Lester B. Pearson

Spring has its red poppies; summer its sun-kissed green foliage; fall stuns with vibrant colors; and winter brings the bleakness of rain and mud.

Two German World War I bunkers are situated on farmland in Pervijze, Belgium, on Feb. 28. One hundred years after the guns went silent, thousands of bunkers still exist along what was the Western Front which stretched from Belgium to the Swiss border. Many are protected by local historical authorities, while many others decay slowly.

Two German World War I bunkers are situated on farmland in Pervijze, Belgium. One hundred years after the guns went silent, thousands of bunkers still exist along what was the Western Front which stretched from Belgium to the Swiss border. Many are protected by local historical authorities, while many others decay slowly.

Soldiers of the 1914-1918 Great War had precious little time to appreciate the color. Instead they endured the mud as relentless shelling destroyed woods and villages and created desolate treeless landscapes, while many cities were reduced to heaps of rubble.

One hundred years and the force of nature have slowly changed these haunted places, yet many of the relics still exist, both above and below the surface. Some bunkers have turned into stables; shell craters became drinking ponds for cattle. Many trenches and tunnels remained largely untouched on what was known as the Western Front, a battle line stretching from Belgium to the Swiss border.

World War I British trenches are preserved at Hill 62, Sanctuary Wood, in Ypres, Belgium. The farmer who owned the site was required to leave his land in 1914 when the war began. After returning to reclaim the land much was cleared away, but he maintained a large section of British trench.

World War I British trenches are preserved at Hill 62, Sanctuary Wood, in Ypres, Belgium. The farmer who owned the site was required to leave his land in 1914 when the war began. After returning to reclaim the land much was cleared away, but he maintained a large section of British trench.

Each season offers a different view to the relic hunter. A road that seems to yield nothing in summer due to heavy foliage unveils a trove of treasures in the desolate winter. The Ziegler Bunker in Boezinge, Belgium, is likely one of the best preserved on the Ypres Salient, and the line of bunkers on Aubers Ridge in France give the viewer an idea of how important high ground was in World War I.

An artillery shell lies in the opening of a World War I bunker near Beaucamps-Ligny, France. Fifteen British WWI soldiers were re-buried at nearby Y Farm Commonwealth cemetery in Bois-Grenier, France, nearly a century after they died in battle. The soldiers, who served with the 2nd Battalion, York and Lancaster Regiment, were discovered in a field five years ago in Beaucamps Ligny and identified through a variety of means, including DNA.

The World War I British bunker at Hellfire Corner in Ypres, Belgium. The bunker lies near a section referred to in World War I as Hellfire Corner, so named for the frequent shelling by the German Army.

The World War I British bunker at Hellfire Corner in Ypres, Belgium. The bunker lies near a section referred to in World War I as Hellfire Corner, so named for the frequent shelling by the German Army.

The remains of the World War I German Lange Max gun in Koekelare, Belgium. The gun was originally designed to be a naval gun, but was later adapted as a railroad gun which was capable of long range.

World War I German bunker is situated on a farm in Langemark, Belgium. The bunker was constructed by German troops and formed part of the first line of defense.

A wooden cross with a poppy is left at the World War I bomb crater named the “Pool of Peace” in Heuvelland, Belgium. The crater was created by the largest of 19 mine explosions detonated to signal the start of the Messines phase of the Third Battle of Ypres. The explosion was set off on June 7, 1917, underneath one of the then highest German front-line positions on Messines Ridge. The sound of the 19 mine explosions was reportedly heard as far away as London.

A bomb crater from World War I named "Ultimo Crater" is surrounded by a fence and trees in St. Yves, Belgium, July 28, 2010. The crater is a result of one of several explosions under the German front line in WWI.

A bomb crater from World War I named “Ultimo Crater” is surrounded by a fence and trees in St. Yves, Belgium. The crater is a result of one of several explosions under the German front line in WWI.

A World War I bunker is situated next to a modern house in Menen, Belgium, on Feb. 18. Many WWI and WWII bunkers in Belgium are protected and cannot be removed from the land.

A World War I bunker is situated next to a modern house in Menen, Belgium. Many WWI and WWII bunkers in Belgium are protected and cannot be removed from the land.

The World War I Ziegler bunker in Boezinge, Belgium, is seen Aug. 17. The bunker is sometimes referred to as the "Viking Ship" due to its shape. It was constructed by the German army and later conquered by the French Army.

The World War I Ziegler bunker in Boezinge, Belgium, is seen. The bunker is sometimes referred to as the “Viking Ship” due to its shape. It was constructed by the German army and later conquered by the French Army.

The remains of a German World War I bunker is situated at the Australian Memorial Park in Fromelles, France, on Oct. 21. The park is situated on what would have been the German defensive line during battles in 1916 against Australian forces.

The remains of a German World War I bunker is situated at the Australian Memorial Park in Fromelles, France. The park is situated on what would have been the German defensive line during battles in 1916 against Australian forces.

A World War I bunker is situated at the Fort of Walem in Walem, Belgium, on Sept. 13. The fort was built in 1878 as part of the fortifications around the city of Antwerp. After heavy shelling during WWI in 1914, the fort surrendered and under the rubble still lay the bodies of Belgian soldiers.

A World War I bunker is situated at the Fort of Walem in Walem, Belgium. The fort was built in 1878 as part of the fortifications around the city of Antwerp. After heavy shelling during WWI in 1914, the fort surrendered and under the rubble still lay the bodies of Belgian soldiers.

A World War I German-built bunker is situated next to a farm building in Lizerne, Belgium, on May 3. Local archeologists have recently discovered Belgian and French trenches in the area, which was bitterly fought over during the war and was also the site of one of the first poison gas attacks.

A World War I German-built bunker is situated next to a farm building in Lizerne, Belgium. Local archaeologists have recently discovered Belgian and French trenches in the area, which was bitterly fought over during the war and was also the site of one of the first poison gas attacks.

Horses eat in a pasture surrounding a World War I German-built bunker in St. Jan, Belgium.

Horses eat in a pasture surrounding a World War I German-built bunker in St. Jan, Belgium.

The remains of the Chateau de la Hutte, in Ploegsteert, Belgium, on Nov. 21. The chateau, due to its high position, served as an observation post for the British artillery but soon afterward was destroyed by German artillery. The cellars would serve as a shelter for a great part of the war, and Canadian soldiers soon nicknamed it "Henessy Chateau" after the name of the owner.

The remains of the Chateau de la Hutte, in Ploegsteert, Belgium. The chateau, due to its high position, served as an observation post for the British artillery but soon afterward was destroyed by German artillery. The cellars would serve as a shelter for a great part of the war, and Canadian soldiers soon nicknamed it “Henessy Chateau” after the name of the owner.

Sugar beets are piled high in front of a German World War I bunker on farmland in Wervik, Belgium, on Nov. 21.

Sugar beets are piled high in front of a German World War I bunker on farmland in Wervik, Belgium.

The World War I Anzac Camp bunkers in Voormezele, Belgium, on Nov. 21. The bunkers were originally constructed by the British. Their location was close to the front line with trenches running both in front and in back of the bunkers.

The World War I Anzac Camp bunkers in Voormezele, Belgium. The bunkers were originally constructed by the British. Their location was close to the front line with trenches running both in front and in back of the bunkers.

A restored World War I German trench at the Bayernwald Trench site in Wijtschate, Belgium, on Nov. 21. The area was instrumental for the German Army in the assault on Messines Ridge. The trench was restored in 1998 after being abandoned for nearly 100 years and is based on an actual German trench that existed on the site.

A restored World War I German trench at the Bayernwald Trench site in Wijtschate, Belgium. The area was instrumental for the German Army in the assault on Messines Ridge. The trench was restored in 1998 after being abandoned for nearly 100 years and is based on an actual German trench that existed on the site.

“Victorious troops are those who kill more, and here we were the victims. This put the finishing touch to our demoralisation. The soldiers had lost conviction long ago. Now they lost confidence.”
Gabriel Chevallier, Fear: A Novel of World War I

A large World War I German-built bunker is situated in the center of a farm field on Aubers Ridge near Illies, France, Oct. 21. Aubers Ridge offered German troops as of October 1914 a strategic advantage by being located on the high ground near the River Lys.

A large World War I German-built bunker is situated in the center of a farm field on Aubers Ridge near Illies, France. Aubers Ridge offered German troops as of October 1914 a strategic advantage by being located on the high ground near the River Lys.

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World War I German bunker is situated on a farm in Langemark, Belgium. The bunker, an above-ground structure, was located just behind the German front line.

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A World War I bunker is situated next to a muddy field in La Bassee, France. La Bassee was occupied by the German army from October 1914 and was part of the battleground of what is known as the “Race to the Sea.”

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A World War I German-built bunker is situated at the end of a reconstructed trench at the Bayernwald Trench site in Wijtschate, Belgium. The area was instrumental for the German Army in the assault on Messines Ridge.

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A British World War I bunker is situated between two newly planted trees in Wijtschate, Belgium.

A World War I bunker is covered in overgrowth in Fromelles, France. One hundred years after the guns went silent thousands of bunkers still exist along what was the Western Front, stretching from Belgium to the Swiss border.

A World War I bunker is covered in overgrowth in Fromelles, France. One hundred years after the guns went silent thousands of bunkers still exist along what was the Western Front, stretching from Belgium to the Swiss border.

A German World War I commando bunker is situated next to a house in Zandvoorde, Belgium. Many bunkers are protected by local historical authorities while many others are slowly decaying. The Zandvoorde bunker has been a listed monument since 1999.

A German World War I commando bunker is situated next to a house in Zandvoorde, Belgium. Many bunkers are protected by local historical authorities while many others are slowly decaying. The Zandvoorde bunker has been a listed monument since 1999.

The World War I Lettenberg bunker is situated in Kemmel, Belgium, on Nov. 21. The bunker, one of four British concrete shelters built into the hill, were constructed in 1917. The shelters were later captured by the German army in 1918.

The World War I Lettenberg bunker is situated in Kemmel, Belgium. The bunker, one of four British concrete shelters built into the hill, were constructed in 1917. The shelters were later captured by the German army in 1918.

A World War I German-built bunker is situated next to the roadside in La Bassee, France, on Dec. 6. The bunker was named Le Trois Maisons (the three houses). La Bassee was occupied by the German army from October 1914 and was part of the battleground of what is known as the "Race to the Sea."

A World War I German-built bunker is situated next to the roadside in La Bassee, France. The bunker was named Le Trois Maisons (the three houses). La Bassee was occupied by the German army from October 1914 and was part of the battleground of what is known as the “Race to the Sea.”

A World War I bunker is situated on Aubers Ridge near Illies, France, on Oct. 21. Aubers Ridge offered German troops as of October 1914 a strategic advantage by being located on the high ground near the River Lys.

A World War I bunker is situated on Aubers Ridge near Illies, France. Aubers Ridge offered German troops as of October 1914 a strategic advantage by being located on the high ground near the River Lys.

A World War I German machine gun post bunker is situated in a field in Langemark, Belgium.

A World War I German machine gun post bunker is situated in a field in Langemark, Belgium.

“World War I was the most colossal, murderous, mismanaged butchery that has ever taken place on earth. Any writer who said otherwise lied, So the writers either wrote propaganda, shut up, or fought.”
― Ernest Hemingway

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#MilitaryMonday: Late June 1944 – Normandy, France

A glimpse into what was happening in Normandy, France 70 years ago…

National Ensigns fly proudly as a pair of landing craft hits the beach somewhere in Normandy. Overhead barrage balloons protect against dive-bomber attack. US Navy Official photograph, Gift of Charles Ives, from the collection of The National WWII Museum.

National Ensigns fly proudly as a pair of landing craft hits the beach somewhere in Normandy. Overhead barrage balloons protect against dive-bomber attack.
US Navy Official photograph, Gift of Charles Ives, from the collection of The National WWII Museum.

Clearing Normandy beaches of the tricks and devices set up by the Nazis in a futile attempt to prevent or delay an Allied landing, members of a U. S. Navy Beach Battalion uproot the spider-like obstructions intended to rip out the bottoms of our ships. Though visible at low tide, the obstructions were covered with water at high tide. US Navy Official photograph, Gift of Charles Ives, from the collection of The National WWII Museum.

Clearing Normandy beaches of the tricks and devices set up by the Nazis in a futile attempt to prevent or delay an Allied landing, members of a U. S. Navy Beach Battalion uproot the spider-like obstructions intended to rip out the bottoms of our ships. Though visible at low tide, the obstructions were covered with water at high tide.
US Navy Official photograph, Gift of Charles Ives, from the collection of The National WWII Museum.

Proving the amphibious nature of World War II, these US Navy men are stationed ashore somewhere in France to perform duties which will further the cooperation of land and sea forces. US Navy Official photograph, Gift of Charles Ives, from the collection of The National WWII Museum.

Proving the amphibious nature of World War II, these US Navy men are stationed ashore somewhere in France to perform duties which will further the cooperation of land and sea forces.
US Navy Official photograph, Gift of Charles Ives, from the collection of The National WWII Museum.

Exhausted from their rapid advance inland from the Normandy beachhead, US soldiers relax for a few minutes outside a French cafe. US Navy Official photograph, Gift of Charles Ives, from the collection of The National WWII Museum.

Exhausted from their rapid advance inland from the Normandy beachhead, US soldiers relax for a few minutes outside a French cafe.
US Navy Official photograph, Gift of Charles Ives, from the collection of The National WWII Museum.

All images courtesy of The National WWII Museum, New Orleans, LA.

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Paris Bridge Partially Collapses Under Weight of “Love Locks”

Love locks are fixed on the Pont des Arts in Paris, Wednesday April 16, 2014. A recent fad among travellers of hitching padlocks on bridges and at tourist attractions worldwide to symbolically immortalize their amorous attraction has swept up this reputed City of Love more than most. Now, two American-born women who live in Paris say they've had enough, launching a petition drive to try to get mostly laissez-faire city officials to step in and do something about what they call an unbearable eyesore in a majestic municipality.

Love locks are fixed on the Pont des Arts in Paris, Wednesday April 16, 2014. A recent fad among travellers of hitching padlocks on bridges and at tourist attractions worldwide to symbolically immortalize their amorous attraction has swept up this reputed City of Love more than most. Now, two American-born women who live in Paris say they’ve had enough, launching a petition drive to try to get mostly laissez-faire city officials to step in and do something about what they call an unbearable eyesore in a majestic municipality.

Lovebird visitors to the Pont des Arts, a footbridge in Paris, typically mark the occasion by fixing a padlock to its handrail and tossing the key into the Seine to symbolize their eternal devotion. Yesterday evening, police evacuated the bridge after a 2.4-meter section of railing collapsed under the weight of their adoration.

From the Agency France-Presse:

“The bridge was immediately evacuated and closed,” local police told AFP.

An architect and local officials rushed to the site and a barrier put in place to stop further access. Police said the bridge would be re-opened by Monday.

The locks started appearing in 2008, and authorities and activists alike have asked visitors to cease the practice since then, citing concerns about weight and aesthetics. The Paris city government warned about the potential for collapse in 2010:

Frequent inspections are carried out in search of segments of bent grating that must be removed and replaced. Two railings were replaced in July and one in August. Is the Passerelle des Arts to become a victim of the lovebirds who wish to solemnise their enduring love?

Perhaps the collapse will serve as a warning to NYC visitors, who recently began attaching love locks to the Brooklyn Bridge. Said Department of Transportation spokeswoman Nicole Garcialast month:

“When a minor component such as a hand railing is impacted by the number or weight of the locks, these custom elements of this national landmark must be removed and a replacement must be newly fabricated, further increasing costs.”

Campaigners Lisa Taylor Huff and Lisa Anselmo are denouncing what they call a padlock plague, warning of alleged safety risks and arguing the craze is now a cliche. Their petition, atwww.change.org , says “the heart of Paris has been made ugly” by the locks and the Seine has been polluted by thousands of keys.

Plus, they say, tourists shouldn’t be fooled: The locks aren’t forever. City crews regularly remove them as they replace damaged structures. One strained rail weighing 500 kilograms (1,100 pounds) was recently taken down, a Paris official said.

What qualifies as an eyesore depends on the beholder. Some historians once felt the Pont des Arts itself — whose origins date to Napoleon’s wish in 1804 for a footbridge — impeded views of the Louvre, City Hall’s website says.

The petition has garnered more than 5,200 signatures so far, mostly by French people, Huff said. She and Anselmo make their case on www.nolovelocks.com , but some comments posted there show not all are favorable to their crusade.

The city official said municipal architects have examined and generally discounted the alleged risk that bridge railings might not withstand the weight and could topple over onto tour-boat gawkers.

And now the locks have become an attraction in themselves.

“That’s the other sad part: People used to come here to look at the view,” Huff said.

“They just see the wall of metal,” she said of young children too short to see over the railings. “Is that going to be their memory of Paris?”

On one recent day, Chinese women snapped photos of the Eiffel Tower from the bridge, then posed for one with the locks as a backdrop. A young woman cried with joy and wiped her eyes as a kneeling suitor shouted in English, “She said ‘Yes’!” to the applause of other tourists. A vendor quickly folded up a sheet showing his padlocks for sale and fled as four police officers approached.

Huff claimed the illegal vendors sometimes damage railings, prompting city crews to replace them for safety reasons — thus creating more space for the locks they sell.

Other cities have found ways to cope with the lock mania. In Russia, artificial “trees” offer a dedicated padlock area. A mayor in Florence, Italy, reportedly has threatened fines for those who put locks on the famed Ponte Vecchio.

Some have suggested lighter plastic locks, while a Paris website in English suggests that lovers can exchange “e-locks” instead.

Two years ago, contemporary artist Loris Greaud took about 130 kilograms (285 pounds) of locks off the Pont des Arts, melted them and cast a series of sculptures called “Tainted Love.”

When asked about the anti-lock campaign, tourists showed a mix of understanding and exasperation.

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#MilitaryMonday: #DDay70 – A Final Look

dday Landing ship put cargo ashore at low tide. Beaches are secured by the evening of June 6th. (Photo courtesy of NHHC Photo Archives) #DDay70 dday44 “Say WHAT?!” said Gen. Eisenhower during a review of the crew of USS Quincy (CA 71) in May 1944. Okay, that’s probably not what he said, but in retrospect of the 70th anniversary of D-Day, I thought I’d offer you the chance to put words into the mouth of the Supreme Allied Commander as he visited a ship that would engage the enemy on Utah Beach. But wait there’s more! Quincy had a couple more brushes with history on and following D-Day. At 0537, 6 June 1944, she engaged shore batteries from her station on the right flank of Utah Beach, Baie de la Seine. During the period 6 through 17 June, in conjunction with shore fire control parties and aircraft spotters, Quincy conducted highly accurate pinpoint firing against enemy mobile batteries and concentrations of tanks, trucks, and troops. She also neutralized and destroyed heavy, long range enemy batteries, supported minesweepers operating under enemy fire, engaged enemy batteries that were firing on the crews of the ships USS Corry (DD-463) and Glennon (DD-620) during their efforts to abandon their ships after they had struck mines and participated in the reduction of the town of Quineville on 12 June. dday2 Crash

Wine and Cycling: the French Loire Valley

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Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t need to know French (or bring your bike) to cycle the French valleys this fall (but neither would hurt)

There’s something in the water (or should I say, wine) in the Loire Valley. Carved by the longest river in France, this fertile region is so pretty it inspired the Renaissance monarchs to go on a building spree. Competitive construction projects resulted in chateaux so grandiose (Chambord) that the Venetian ambassador in 1577 was said to depart “open mouthed” in wonder. Rising from the vineyards, these architectural monuments helped clinch the Loire Valley’s UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2000.

Not far from the Atlantic Ocean, the Loire Valley has a long wine-making tradition. Vines were first planted under the Roman Empire, then coaxed into greatness by monks in the Middle Ages. From the full-bodied red wines of Saumur-Champigny, made with Cabernet Franc grapes, to the sweet whites aged in troglodyte cellars at Montlouis-sur-Loire, the Loire Valley comprises 69 different appellations and is France’s leading producer of white wines. On a guided wine tour, visitors can discover why the Loire Valley was a hedonist’s playground for François I. His motto? Car tel est notre bon plaisir. (“Because such is our pleasure.”)

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Loire Valley Bike Tour, DuVine Adventures

First started by Andy Levine in 1996 with, as he says, “a bottle of wine, a bike and a dream,” DuVine Adventures has become one of the top tour operators in France. The Loire Valley is paradise for cyclists because of its hundreds of miles of trails traversing flat terrain. On an adventure with DuVine, fitness enthusiasts can indulge, guilt-free, in wining and dining across the Loire Valley. On the menu? Gourmet picnics, copious wine tastings, and terroir-inspired cuisine prepared by Michelin-starred chefs.

What’s more, DuVine’s Loire Valley Bike Tour provides an authentic experience, as cyclists are intimately connected with the landscape and interact with locals along the way. For example, you ride through Chenin Blanc vineyards before meeting thevigneron who harvests the grapes to craft Vouvray wines. In the evening aperitif hour, you might be privy to a blind tasting to “quiz” your newly-acquired wine knowledge.

You also get a dose of history, stopping along the way at chateaux such as Cheverny and Chenonceau. Guides have extensive regional knowledge. Thomas Kevill-Davies, known as the “Hungry Cyclist,” wrote a book about biking from New York to Los Angeles to Rio de Janeiro, and eating his way through the Americas. Precisely the ethos of the Loire Valley Bike Tour. Another popular guide, Vincent Reboul is passionate about wine, and he comes by it honestly; his great-great-grandfather was Charles Heidsieck, the famous 19th century Champagne merchant.

6 day/5 night tour from $4295 per person. The maximum group size is 14, and the average is 8-10. Tel: 888-396-5383. duvine.com

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Wine Tasting Boat Ride, Château du Petit Thouars

What better way to appreciate the Loire scenery than to cruise along the river in a traditional flat-bottomed wood boat? The Château du Petit Thouars, a wine-producing domaine that’s been in the same family since 1634, has teamed up with a local boat-maker, Bruno Perdriau, to offer wine tasting excursions onboard L’Harassay. Perdriau is one of only four carpenters in France with the skills and savoir-faire to make these magnificent vessels.

During the two-hour cruise, Sébastien du Petit Thouars — who runs the family vineyard — provides the commentary. He points out the passing landscapes and picturesque villages, while also pouring the libations. The tasting includes a selection of Château du Petit Thouars wines, accompanied by regional snacks like rillettes(cooked, shredded meat preserved in fat) and saucisson à l’ail (garlic sausage).

Starting at a dock in the chateau’s village of St Germain sur Vienne, L’Harassay can navigate three different possible itineraries: round-trip along the Vienne River to where it meets the Loire at Montsoreau; continuing along the Loire to the stately town of Saumur; or the other direction up the Vienne to Chinon, if the water level is high enough. Not to miss: The former fishing port of Candes Saint Martin, perched at the confluence of the Loire and Vienne rivers, and classified “one of the most beautiful villages in France.”

The chateau itself makes a lovely spot for picnics overlooking the vines, and the tasting room welcomes visitors with open arms. Available for purchase in select U.S. states (Pennsylvania and Colorado among them), Château du Petit Thouars wines have won distinctions at the International Wine Challenge and the Decanter Magazine World Wine Awards.

30 euros (about $40 US) per person, maximum of eight allowed on the boat.chateaudupetitthouars.wordpress.com

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Mini-Bus Excursion in the Vineyards of Nantes, Muscadet Loire Océan, VLO Oenotourisme

From the happening port city of Nantes, a local agency called VLO (Vignoble Loisirs Organisation) arranges guided tours through the Muscadet vineyards. Nantes itself is an under-the-radar destination ripe with attractions, including a large-scale art project called Machines de l’île, inspired by the city’s industrial history. (Imagine riding on a 40-foot mechanical elephant, which can carry 50 passengers on its back as it “walks” through the streets and sprays water out of its sycamore-and-steel trunk.)

VLO’s English-speaking guides are trained in oenotourism and have impressive knowledge of the vineyards surrounding Nantes. Muscadet comprises the biggest production in the Loire Valley, and as a dry white wine with a fruity and floral aroma, is perfect paired with shellfish and the fresh fish of the day served in Nantes’ bistros. VLO has a vast network of wine-makers who welcome visitors. The four-hour tour includes a stop for a degustation in the vineyards, and also at one of the winemakers whose cellars are labeled cave touristique, which ensures the quality of the experience.

A bountiful picnic, priced at 15 euros, can be enjoyed in the vineyards, on the banks of the river, or at a winery. Each basket is prepared to order, but examples of dishes include a terrine made from Loire fish; seasonal raw vegetables; local charcuterie; cheese from St. Lumine de Clisson; fresh fruit; and Muscadet or red Anjou wine. Note that VLO also offers separate tours of the Saumur and Anjou vineyards.

52 euros (about $70 US) per person for three-eight people, 78 euros (about $104 US) per person for two people, oenotourisme-muscadet.fr

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The Loire from East to West by Coach, Arblaster & Clarke Wine Tours

Britain-based Arblaster & Clarke Wine Tours Ltd has been operating guided wine tours to France for 26 years. In the process, they’ve racked up the awards and a rolodex of insider addresses. This six-night tour traverses the leading appellations of the Loire Valley, including Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé, Vouvray, Chinon, Saumur and Côteaux du Layon. Traveling by coach, participants have plenty of space to stock up on interesting wines at great prices straight from the producers.

Guides like Lys Hall are wine specialists who communicate their love of wine with joie de vivre. In addition to their scheduled Loire Valley tour, Arblaster & Clarke arranges bespoke itineraries for wine clubs and groups.

£1,799 (about $2811 US) per person, including six nights in three-star hotels and seven meals with wines, with one Michelin star dinner, winetours.co.uk

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