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Now archaeologists are saying it may not be a tomb at all, but rather a temple to one of the ancient world's most mysterious religions. A team from the University of Pablo de Olavide, Seville, has analyzed the structure and says it was once a mithraeum, an underground temple for the god Mithras.
Mithraism centered on secret rites centered on the mystical slaying of a bull was one of the most popular faiths in the last years of paganism. Several mithraeums are scattered about Europe, including in London, Mérida, and along Hadrian's Wall.
The archaeologists point out that its general shape, with a columned, three-chambered room leading to an area for altars, is the same as other mithraeums. They also found astronomical alignments. Sunlight would hit the center of the chamber during the equinoxes, and during the winter and summer solstices, the sun would light up the north and south walls respectively. As the sun shines through the window during the spring equinox, Taurus rises to the East and Scorpio hides to the West. The opposite occurred during the autumn equinox. Taurus and Scorpio figure prominently in the religion's astrological symbolism, with the God Mithras slaying a bull as a scorpion stings the animal's testicles.
It was only later that the temple was turned into a burial chamber, researchers say.
Carmona is less than 20 miles from Seville and is a popular day trip from there.
[Top photo courtesy Daniel Villafruela. Bottom photo courtesy Henri de Boisgelin.]
Covering an area more than twice the size of Texas, Alaska is by far the largest state in the Union. That makes it a daunting place for travelers, who often struggle to determine what it is that they want to see and do in the limited time that they have there. Fortunately we were able to call in some local experts to provide Gadling readers with some great travel tips for visiting the 49th state. These experts all happen to be residents of Alaska and they also happen to be featured on two new television shows that are debuting soon on the National Geographic Channel. They have been kind enough to share their thoughts on the best experiences that Alaska has to offer.
Our first two experts are Dallas Seavey of Willow and Marty Raney of Wasilla, both of whom appear in the new Nat Geo show "Ultimate Survival Alaska," which debuts tonight at 10 p.m. ET/PT. The show drops eight survival experts into the Alaskan backcountry, where they must cross 3000 miles of remote wilderness with nothing but the gear on their back. Dallas is best known as the youngest winner in the history of the infamous Iditarod sled dog race, while his co-star Marty is a mountain guide who has led 17 successful expeditions to the summit of Denali – also known as Mt. McKinley.
Mark captions the image:
"On Sunday, May 8th, 2011, an estimated 100,000 people attended a ceremony to give alms to 12,600 monks in front of CentralWorld in downtown Bangkok. Almsgiving is a daily event in Thailand and is a way for lay people to support the monks and to gain merit. This ceremony was organized as a symnbolic and practical gesture of support for 286 temples in Southern Thailand. Monks at those temples are unable to collect alms due to the risk of being shot and killed. The food and other items collected here will be sent to support the temples in the South."
Want to be featured? Upload your best shots to the Gadling Group Pool on Flickr. Several times a week we choose our favorite images from the pool as a Photo of the Day.
Tips for being featured: add a caption describing the image and (better yet) your personal experience when capturing it, details of the photography gear used and any tips you might have for others wanting to emulate your work.
Now, you can also submit photos through Instagram; just mention @GadlingTravel and use the hashtag #gadling when posting your images.
[Photo Credit Gadling Flickr pool member Mark Fischer]
The National Park Service's African American Experience Fund (the only nonprofit partner of the National Park Service) offers a number of heritage trip tour itineraries that combine some of the country's best attractions with a vibrant trip through history.
The nearly 50 sites are spread throughout the country, and many are clustered around a single state or region, making it simple to take a single or multi-day driving trip. The website also offers an easy-to-use map and itinerary generator to custom design a trip that suits your individual goals and needs.
We only wish it was this easy to plan heritage travel outside of this particular portion of the population!
[Image Credit: National Park Service's African American Experience Fund]
This has been, obviously, a long time coming. The current speed, quality and price of Wi-Fi connections on planes are reminiscent of the dial-up days. To boot, most in-flight Wi-Fi is only available over the continental US, with only a few services running very expensive satellite-based signals that provide Wi-Fi over the oceans. Only a few people have really cottoned on to the service. Virgin says only 12 percent to 15 percent of its passengers use Wi-Fi, which is probably higher than the industry average. More than the spotty, lag-heavy service, it's the cost of it ($14 per flight with Gogo, a service provider) that puts off most consumers, who have had ubiquitous free Wi-Fi for so long that paying for it seems like a rip-off at any price point.
Well, what consumer wants, consumer gets. We're not turning our devices off like we're supposed to anyway. 500 MHz of bandwidth will allow higher-quality service, and more importantly room for competition. And the free market will do the rest, maybe. At the very least we will be able to Instagram our in-flight meals with no lag before long, even if it's costing us $14 to do it.
[Photo credit: Flickr user Daquella manera]
It's the weekend, and you know that that means – it's time for "Hotel News We Noted," your annual wrap up of the best, wackiest and downright odd hotel news of the week. Spring has sprung in the hotel world, and we're seeing tons of openings from major brands and boutique properties alike, as well as a slew of packages, many of which incentivize travelers to book early for summer stays. Time is running out for Memorial Day bookings in prime locations, but you'll still find some great last-minute specials in major cities. Of course, don't forget that Mother's Day is this weekend. It's not too late to snag a special at an area hotel there either – Saturday night stays and Sunday brunch offerings abound.
So without further ado, here's the news you need for this week:
Crazy Hotel Package: Cockle Fishing (With your TOES!) at Hermitage Bay in Antigua
We've heard of hotels that will take guests out to "catch" their dinner, but never one quite like this. The ultra-luxe Hermitage Bay in Antigua will escort guests cockle fishing in in a hidden mangrove near the property. What is a cockle, you ask? It's a small saltwater clam that lives in the deep, swampy mud. Desi, the Chef, and a local fisherman named Deon take guests hunting for the sweet things. Guests stand submerged to mid-thigh, calf-deep in mud, and find the clams by wiggling their toes! This sure brings new meaning to the idea of working for your home-cooked meal.
In 1975, when the rest of the Comoros became independent, Mayotte elected to remain with France. In 2011, the association got even tighter when Mayotte became an overseas department of France. But despite its integration into France, Mayotte is a world apart from the mainland. Its population is largely Sunni Muslim and its most common language is not French but Shimaore, a tongue related to Swahili.
Mayotte is incredibly lush. There are lemurs and lizards on the land, dolphins skipping along the surface of the sea, and huge bats with wingspans as wide as eagles hovering above. The diving and snorkeling is world-class, reefs buzzing with life. The tourist infrastructure is operated largely by métros, or French people from metropolitan France. It would be easy to spend an entire vacation there enveloped by a "métro" bubble. It became clear very quickly that we would have to make an effort to engage with Comorian culture.
I was keen to try Comorian food. Food is a good route to a sense of culture – maybe the best. The Petit Futé guide to Mayotte lists a favorable review of Zam-Zam, a restaurant in the southern town of Bandrélé, conveniently near our guesthouse. One afternoon we set out to find it. After a 15-minute walk we came across a sign for it. A man saw us looking around and pointed to a yellow shack on a side street. He told us the restaurant would reopen later that evening.
The discounted trips will be displayed prominently on both the company's website and its Facebook page, although exactly which trips will go on sale remains a mystery at this time. Considering Mountain Travel Sobek offers dozens of itineraries to nearly every corner of the globe, it is possible that the flash sale could send you just about anywhere. With so many options in their catalog, travelers will also have to weigh whether or not they should grab a current deal or wait until the following day to see what is offered next. But once the 24-hour period is up, the sale on that particular trip is over and if you haven't booked it, you've missed your chance.
In addition to the flash sale that runs next week, the company is also currently running a sweepstakes to give away the Ultimate African Safari in celebration of its 40th anniversary. One lucky winner will receive a 12-day trip to Tanzania, including airfare and travel gear, which will send them to the Serengeti to witness the greatest collection of wildlife on the planet. The contest runs through July 18. Enter here.
Although its origins can be traced as far back as 1969, Mountain Travel Sobek was officially launched in 1991 with the merger of two top adventure travel companies. Over the years it has continued the legacy set down by its founders, offering trips to all seven continents and constantly providing customers with exciting new options.
[Photo Credit: Kraig Becker]
In northern Italy, the Alps meet Lake Como at the comune of Bellagio to form some of the most beautiful vistas in Europe. Not only has the region provided inspiration for the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas, but it is unequivocally gorgeous. Instagram user Jason Rodman absolutely captured the best thing to do at locations such as this, just sitting alone with your thoughts.
If you have a great travel photo, share it with us and it could be featured as our Photo of the Day! You can do so either by tagging your Instagram photos with #Gadling and mentioning us @GadlingTravel, like Jason did, or by submitting it to our Gadling Flickr Pool.
[Photo Credit: Instagram user jrodmanjr]
Michael Fay flew for Libya's Afriqiyah Airways on false credentials, according to the news story that referred to him as a "fake airline pilot." It claims he forged his pilot's license and medical certifications to get the position. Calling him a "clever and resourceful man" who had settled in Hampshire County in southeast England, a British law-enforcement official told the BBC that Fay "targeted Libyan aviation at a time when the country's political and economic standing was vulnerable and volatile."
During his eight months in the cockpit of an Airbus 320, the former U.S. Air Force pilot landed at London's Gatwick airport eight times, apparently without incident. But he aroused suspicion on an aviation forum online, prompting another user to tip off the British police. They arrested Fay in 2011, and he was found guilt of fraud. Though he failed to appear for his sentencing hearing last week, the court gave him a three-year prison term. According to the article, Fay might be seeking work as a pilot or flight instructor outside of the U.K.
A quick Internet search turned up a possible explanation for how Fay got the job. In 2010, a secondary school called La Salle Academy in Providence, Rhode Island, printed a letter from a graduate named Mike Fay in an alumni newsletter, under the headline "Mike Fay '69 Sends A Note From the U.K." His message:
"Had a few minutes of free time, so I thought I would take a moment and update everyone as to what is happening on the other side of the Atlantic!
I had been working as a pilot for the Royal Family in Abu Dhabi. However, one of their financial interests, Afriqiyah Airways, located in Libya had a very bad crash in May. I am not [sic? now?] the Director of Training there. Interesting would be an understatement to say the least. But, I spend about 2 weeks in Tripoli and then I am back in the UK.
As I write this email, I am sitting in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo."
Via the BBC
[Photo credit: Mauro Orlando via Flickr]