Today, the majestic El Castillo temple looms proudly over the remains of the ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza. But not all that long ago, it looked as if those historic remains would never live to see the 21st century at all.
In 1913, archaeologist Sylvanus Morley proposed an expedition to the Yucatan peninsula in order to unearth Chichen Itza, then in shambles. Ten years later, after being delayed by the Mexican Revolution, Morley was finally able to begin excavating this incredible site.
By the time Morley and his team arrived in the Yucatan in 1923, El Castillo had fallen into ruin, barely visible through the vegetation that had taken over its outer structure.
This was hardly surprising, given the estimates that say the structure was builtbetween 800 and 900 AD on the foundations of earlier temples and had been abandoned since the 15th century.
With centuries of wear and tear to fight against, Morley and company began restoring El Castillo — known as the Temple of Kukulcan to the Mayans, named for their feathered serpent god.
It took almost ten more years to get inside El Castillo, where the team found inner chambers containing statues inlaid with mother-of-pearl, boxes filled with turquoise, and a jaguar made almost entirely from jade.
Since those early efforts, Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History spearheads all efforts to preserve El Castillo and all of Chichen Itza’s stunning remains, which have been designated as a UNESCO World Heritagesite.
However, the fact that El Castillo and Chichen Itza were restored so well may now be hurting them. According to UNESCO, the site’s now stunning remains are vulnerable because of intense tourism. An estimated 3,500 people visit Chichen Itza everyday, which necessitates constant maintenance.
Unfortunately, according to UNESCO, a lack of the personnel needed to care for Chichen Itza means that “no emergency plan exists for the site and there is no long term monitoring of the state of conservation.”
But for now at least we can enjoy one of the most spectacular rebirths of all the world’s ancient monuments:
THE TOPIARY GARDEN IS BOTH A WORK OF ART AND
A WORK OF NATURE.
IT PLAYS UPON THE RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN NATURE, ART AND LIFE.
Amazing & Fascinating Stuff ...
Fun-loving Sports You've Never Heard of:
You think you know the sports, don't you?
Everyone has heard of soccer, football, rugby, tennis, swimming and running, but not everyone knows about wife-carrying or chess boxing.
Different sports are enjoyed by people in different climates and countries.
Here are 10 of the most unusual and fun-loving sports events from around the world, some of these may seem truly bizarre!
1. Sepak takraw
A popular sport in Southeast Asia, this action pack game resembles volleyball, but instead of hands, players use their feet, knees, chest and head to move the ball, made from soft wood.
The International Sepak Takraw Federation holds competitions with teams from over a hundred countries.
This sport was first described in the popular Harry Potter book series, which involves a semi-contact ball sport, played on broomsticks.
Real world enthusiasts have invented a land version which is played on a hockey field.
The game first began in US colleges and has spread across the states.
Supporters refer to the game as muggle quidditch because muggles are what the series characters call non-magic folk.
3. Tuna tossing
This sport began in South Australia in the small fishing community of Port Lincoln.
It was inspired by the local fishermen who would toss fish onto their trucks with a force and used as a way to spice up the local festival.
The winner is the person who throws a 20 pound fish the furthest.
Nowadays, the competition has become somewhat cleaner: participants use a rubber fish.
4. Toe wrestling
This sport is similar to arm wrestling with players attempting to pin down their opponents toes for three seconds.
Players play with their bare feet and alternate between their left and right feet, and play the best of three rounds.
There are separate men and women’s divisions.
The World Toe Wrestling Championship has been ongoing since the 1970’s and enjoys growing participation.
5. Chess boxing
This unlikely combination of sports involves brains and brawn.
Competitors play 11 alternating rounds of chess and boxing for 3 minutes each.
This little known sport has fans in Germany, India, Russia and the UK.
6. Hotdog eating contest
One of the more prominent forms of competitive eating; the rules involve participants trying to eat as many hot dogs as they can in a ten minute period.
The sport began in US county fairs and has gained recognition due to Nathan’s Hotdog Eating Contest, held annually on the 4th of July.
The sport has spawned a huge industry and enjoys popularity in the US, Canada, and Japan.
7. Man vs. Horse marathon
This marathon began as a way to settle a pub argument in 1979 when Welsh locals Gordon Green and Glyn Hones wondered who would win a marathon: a horse or man.
Ever since then an annual 22 mile |(35.4 km) marathon is held in Welsh Town, Wales with both men and horses running.
Men have won on two occasions, but usually the horses are seen winning.
If a human wins, they are eligible to win a $40,000 cash prize.
8. Redneck games
Held in East Dublin, Georgia every summer since 1996 this athletic event involves unique sports you might not usually see in any other sporting context.
Some of the events include toilet seat tossing, seed spitting, mud belly flops, armpit serenades and dumpster diving.
9. Wheelbarrow racecourse
You might have played this as a kid, using a friend’s legs as the wheelbarrow.
Some people make this activity a competitive race.
Some participants even have taken to using real wheelbarrows.
In Kenya, there is a race called “To Hell’s Gate on a Wheelbarrow” so named after the National Park that holds the 5 kilometre (3.1 miles) race course.
Funds raised from this fun event go to conservation efforts for the park.
10. Wife carrying
While this activity sounds like it could be a race held in a quaint European town this sport enjoys global appeal.
The game has its origins in Finland where local women were commonly abducted.
The World Wife Carrying World Championship has teams competing from Australia, Germany, Great Britain, Estonia, Ireland, and the United States.
The United States team is competitive: participants need to win their state championship to qualify for the global championship.
Despite the title, any team of two can participate.
By Erin Kelly on May 4, 2016
“Mermaids at Brighton” by William Heath c. 1829 Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
If 21st century society may be described as “overexposed,” it’s fair to qualify the 19th century as one of underexposure — and there’s perhaps no better example of that than the bathing machine.
Bathing machines actually began appearing in the 1750s, but were borne out of more practical concerns: At that time, men and women generally bathed together, and naked. Ironically, as soon as swimsuits were invented it was decided that a “proper” lady shouldn’t ever be seen wearing one.
While Victorian men were free to frolic in full view up and down the seaside, their female peers were virtual prisoners of the bathing contraption. Essentially mobile dressing rooms, these bathing machines took women to and from the shore, providing them cover while they dipped their toes in the water — in full swim dress, of course.
Southport Iron Pier in the 1860s. The 3,600 foot structure is considered to be the first of Britain’s pleasure piers. Photo: SSPL/Getty Images
In theory, the bathing machine experience ensured that women of the time would not be seen by onlookers and therefore maintain their modesty at the beach — in 1832, a law was passed which dictated that men and women were to be at least 60 feet apart at the beach. In reality, no walls or fences separated female swimmers from the gaze of the crowds on the beach itself, rendering the normative utility of the bathing machine rather hollow.
Three girls walking barefoot at the edge of the water, not knowing they were being photographed, c. 1890s. Photo: SSPL/Getty Images
The bathing machine, whose invention is historically credited to a Quaker named Benjamin Beale, consisted of little more than a box on four carriage wheels. Typically its walls were wood or canvas over a wooden frame, and advertising for products like soap and pills were often featured on the exterior. A raised box within the carriage allowed the bather to leave her clothing there, preventing it from getting wet when the machine entered the water.
Some machines were more luxurious than others. As this 1847 account has it,
1864 photograph of the outside of the Victoria Hotel with bathing machines on the seafront. Photo: SSPL/Getty Images
With doors at both the back and front of the machine, a woman could enter the machine and change into her swimming attire in complete privacy. After what was deemed an appropriate amount of time, the bathing machine would then be brought (typically by horse — or less often with human power) to sea.
A horse pulls a bathing machine into the water at the beach at Margate in Kent. Photo: Otto Herschan/Getty Images
An attendant known as a “dipper” would help their patron exit. When the bather neared the back of the bathing machine, the dipper would essentially push her into the water.
A view of the town of Tenby in Pembrokeshire, Wales taken from St. Katherine’s Rock. Photo: SSPL/Getty Images
When swim time was over, the dipper would escort the woman back into the machine. Given the additional weight a swimmer would take on as water soaked their clothing, dippers had to be quite strong.
Bathing machines crowd the beach at Llandudno on the north coast of Wales. Photo: SSPL/Getty Images
Two ladies wade beside a bathing machine adorned with advertisement for Pears’ Soap. Photo: SSPL/Getty Images
Though the Victorian age is most associated with Queen Victoria and the United Kingdom, bathing machines were also used in Germany, France, Mexico, and the United States.
Daytrippers and rows of bathing machines at Pensarn Beach in North Whales, c. 1880. Photo: SSPL/Getty Images
When the legal segregation of male and female beach-goers officially ended in 1901, use of the bathing machine quickly fell out of fashion. For several years after, bathing machines would remain parked at numerous beaches as stationary changing houses for women and men alike – but by 1914 most of the bathing machines had disappeared.
A re-purposed bathing machine. Photo: Liberty Martin / Flickr
In some places, the few remaining bathing machines have taken on new life, and are used as beach huts or bathing boxes. Elsewhere, they have been re-purposed for more creative endeavors, such as the performing arts project, Dip Your Toe.