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Here today, gone tomorrow?

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In a very amateur way I am fascinated by the history and evolution of man's attempts to build permanent civilisations on Earth.
Great empires like those in Central America, Asia and Europe from a bygone millenium.
I admire the educated scholars who are able to decipher ancient scripts, and the archaeologists who can postulate explanatory theories for the rise and demise of cities as they excavate and examine buried ruins.

Apparently we still do not understand why some of these flourishing cities of stone suddenly ceased to function.
The answers may still be lying buried in the rubble. 
Copan and the Maya civilisation which declined in the 8th century. 
Angkor Wat abandoned by the Khmer in the 14th.
Information which might just prove to be valuable to the architects and urban planners of the 21st century.

It is a monument to human ingenuity that cities like New York or London continue to operate as smoothly as they do.
I am awestruck by the technology, and the dynamics, and the sheer wonder of it all.  Not only the skyscrapers, cathedrals and buildings of Government above ground, but the astonishing array of supportive engineering underground which provides the lifeblood for the living organism above.

Concrete foundations of enormous proportions, water and sewerage tunnels, pipes and pumps, electrical cable, telephone lines all constantly being repaired and renewed, rail and road tunnels.
All of the invisible infrastructure without which the city would die.

It is quite an extraordinary human achievement.

But I still occasionally worry about the Khmer and the Maya.


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About GOF

"Life is like a sewer. What you get out of it, depends upon what you put into it." (Tom Lehrer)

8 responses »

  1. But I still occasionally worry about the Khmer and the Maya.And with good reason, GOF. I share your admiration of the genius of man, and also your despair at his stupidity.

  2. Great post! It is facinating especially to imagine how on Earth they could have done all that without modern equipment or technology.
    I totally dream of going on a dig one day, it's one of the things I missed out on in life. By the way, have you read Labyrinth?

  3. I've been watching Le Tour this month and marveling at the Roman built aqueducts.When we build up instead of destroying we can achieve just about anything.

  4. Thanks Snowy. We certainly are reluctant to learn from history.We have recently been blessed with Dan Cruikshanks wonderful television series on ABC about the evolution of architecture. Essential viewing for me.

  5. Thanks Ellie. It is, as you say, simply mind boggling how huge blocks of stone were transported from far away then elevated into place without modern machinery.The British TV program "Time Team" totally intrigues me every week. I have probably already dug more than enough dirt in my life (of the organic variety) but I understand how you might feel wanting to participate in an archaeological dig.Thanks for the Labyrinth link, I will check it out.

  6. When we build up instead of destroying we can achieve just about anything.Nice sentiment Peter. It is really quite depressing to consider all the wonderful architecture which has been lost to the world as a result of deliberate acts of destruction…..wars, religious purges etc etc.

  7. I look at these monuments to MAN and always feel the suffering that went into making them…I can glory at the achievement, but the pain that underpins it just cries out to me…

  8. Indeed. Monuments to man, and also monuments to man's history…the good and the bad.


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