In the west of Naples, Italy, is a large volcanic area called Phlegraean Fields filled with craters of old, extinguished volcanoes. Lying mostly underwater, the area is still volcanically active as evidenced by the numerous boiling pools of mud and fumaroles from which copious amount of steam can be seen rising at any time of day or night.
Centuries ago, travellers who could afford to travel came to Naples to see the famous volcano that buried the Roman towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum under magma and ash. They also made a visit to Phlegraean Fields, where tour guides took them to a small cave called “Cave of Dogs”, or Grotta del Cane, for a gruesome little experiment.
A guide shows a suffocated dog to two … Read the rest
For more than four thousand years, on the Loess Plateau in northern China, people have been residing in caves known as yaodong, which is Chinese for “house cave”. Some of these cave dwellings are carved out of the hillside, while others are dug vertically down to form a sunken courtyard from which rooms are excavated horizontally. The latter is the most unusual of which few equals exist in this world. The pit houses of Matmata in Tunisia come the closest.
The Loess Plateau, located around the Wei River valley in the provinces of Shaanxi and Shanxi, was enormously important to Chinese history as it formed one of the earliest cradle of Chinese civilization. The plateau was formed by the deposition of very fine particles of soil … Read the rest
Some 250 million years ago, a part of Ukraine was under a shallow ocean. When the ocean dried up, it left behind a huge deposit of salt which got buried underneath due to upheavals in the earth’s crust. A large concentration of this salt is located under a small city called Soledar, a Russian word meaning “gift of salt”.
For a long time, this area was known for brine springs, caused by the solution of underground salt deposits by ground water. This brine was used to produce salt since the 16th century. The brine was cooked in pans with wood fires, to evaporate the water. This process was extremely energy hungry, leading to large scale deforestation in the regions south of Soledar. In the 18th century, … Read the rest
Emperor Hirohito’s announcement of Japan’s surrender at the end of the Second Word War came as a blessed relief to millions of Japanese who had suffered during the long hostilities, but not everybody was prepared to lay down their arms. Japanese soldiers had been indoctrinated to fight onto death, refuse surrender and sacrifice themselves instead of being taken as prisoners. So when the shocking announcement came through the mouth of the Emperor on 15 August 1945, hundreds of soldiers went into hiding out of embarrassment. Some continued fighting for years after the war had ended.
Lieutenant Hiroo Onoda was 22 years old when he was sent to Lubang Island in the Philippines in December 1944, as an intelligence officer. Onoda’s job was to disrupt and sabotage … Read the rest
What appears to be an ordinary rabbit hole in a farmer's field is actually the humble entrance to a large underground cave whose origins are shrouded in mystery.
Located in the grounds of Caynton Hall, near Beckbury, in Shropshire, England, the Caynton Caves were believed to have been dug in the late 18th or early 19th Century, but popular legend associate them with the Knights Templar, a Catholic military order that was founded in the 12th Century, originally to guard pilgrims on their way along the dangerous roads that led to Jerusalem. During the Middle Ages, the order grew rapidly in power and membership to become one of wealthiest and most powerful in Christendom. The order was dissolved in the early 14th century but story of … Read the rest