Six wonders of the ancient world
When it comes to ancient wonders, there's more to explore than Petra, Angkor Wat and the Coliseum. So to uncover a few structures that aren't typically on the tourist trail, we turned to question-and-answer site Quora, where users have been sharing their opinions on some of the most impressive ancient structures in the world. What made the list? Among others: a network of ancient Micronesian floating islands, an underground Anatolian city carved entirely of volcanic rock and a prehistoric Phoenician site comprised of monumental stone blocks so large, it remains a mystery how they were cut and moved.
Underneath the small town of Derinkuyu, 750km southeast of Istanbul in Cappadocia's Nevsehir province, lies the largest system of caverns ever built by hand – Derinkuyu – Turkey's underground city, which shares a name with its more conventional, above-ground counterpart.
This ancient Anatolian wonder has all the trappings of a well-developed municipal centre, with schools, stables and churches – but rather than rising from the ground, Derinkuyu's meeting places are carved from soft volcanic rock 60m to 85m beneath the surface.
Built between the 7th and 8th Century BC, the underground complex was built to defend against attacks from marauding armies. Though it was intended as a temporary shelter, its amenities were impressive: some 600 above-ground doors from which someone can enter the underground city from, 15,000 ventilation ducts to provide fresh air, as well as multiple wineries, cellars and a complex network of passages, tunnels, and corridors.
“It was large enough to shelter around 20,000 people with their livestock and food stores," Quora user Trishla Prasad wrote.
Considering its age, the underground city is in excellent condition and is accessible today via numerous tours. Travellers should be advised, however, that exploring the complex involves a lot of stairs.
Nan Madol, Federated States of Micronesia
Built around 1200, the mysterious floating Micronesian city of Nan Madol comprises a series of man-made basalt islets separated by a network of canals. Located on Pohnpei, more than 3,600km east of the Philippines in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, it's no surprise that the site is fairly unknown.
“[Nan Madol] was apparently the residential complex of the island elite and each islet served a specific purpose, such as canoe building, cooking, caring for the sick, and was probably roofed over with timber and palm thatch," said Terry Newman, who has visited the site twice. “It is a crude and primitive Angkor Wat overgrown by the jungle, but no less mind blowing in a place with no history of permanent structures, let alone architecture."
Located in eastern Lebanon's Beqaa Valley, the well-preserved ancient site of Baalbek was settled some 9,000 years ago, eventually attracting a series of ancient peoples, including Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans. It was used primarily as a religious site, with monumental temples devoted to gods such as Bacchus, Venus and Jupiter.
“The Temple of Bacchus alone is bigger than the Parthenon in Greece," wrote Quora user Ella Ryan. “The neighbouring Temple of Jupiter has only five of its 54 Corinthian columns still standing, but at 22m tall and two metres in girth, they are jaw-droppingly enormous and are said to be the largest in the world."
At the foundation of Jupiter's temple is a trio of megaliths, some of the biggest individual building blocks in the world. How each block was cut and moved into place is still somewhat of a mystery, but some say they were positioned into place by Roman cranes (primitive devices consisting of a winch, a rope and a block with pulleys).
Newgrange, County Meath, Ireland
Newgrange's massive, rounded dome rises from the emerald plains of Ireland's County Meath like a grass-topped UFO. Constructed more than 5,000 years ago, during the Neolithic period around 3,200BC, this ancient site is storied in Irish folklore and considered one of the most important megalithic structures in Europe.
The structure itself is a huge grass-topped mound made of alternate layers of earth and stone. At 76m across, 12m high and covering 4,500sqm of ground, the Unesco World Heritage site is ringed with a facade of white quartz stone, added during a reconstruction in the 1970s. Inside is a chambered passage that stretches for 19m, ending with three small chambers thought to be ancient burial sites.
This ancient structure's secret: it's a remarkably accurate time-telling device, wrote Elle Land. The structure is aligned with the rising sun and its chambers are flooded with light during the Northern Hemisphere's winter solstice (occurring on 21 December this year). “As the sun rises higher… the whole room becomes dramatically illuminated," Land said. “The intent of its builders was undoubtedly to mark the beginning of the New Year."
Ajanta and Ellora Caves, Maharashtra, India
About 30km northwest from the city of Aurangabad, India's Ellora Caves are considered the pinnacle of Indian rock-cut architecture. The site's 34 caves were carved from the stone face of the Charanandri hills between the 6th and 9th Century.
The caves are most valued for their ancient paintings and sculptures, considered masterpieces of Buddhist art that are considered the beginning of classical Indian art. The Archaeological Survey of India calls them “the finest surviving examples of Indian art, particularly painting". The Ellora site is also home to the impressive Kailasa Temple, which is carved from a single rock. “Its sheer size and architectural finesse completely stuns anyone," said Hamid Shah.
About 100km northeast are the Ajanta Caves, a spectacle dubbed “one of the great wonders of the ancient world" by British historian William Dalrymple. The formidable caverns were cut into cliffs between the 2nd and 7th Century to house Buddhist temples, shrines, prayer halls and dormitories.
“Over the years, due to time and negligence, most of [the cave's] mural paintings have peeled off but you can see its former glory from the ones which have survived and been preserved," Shah wrote. “It is still a beauty even after 1,500 years."
This article was written by Husna Haq from BBC and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.
As a member in the tourism, travel and transportation industries, United offers a unique perspective into the economic and operational effects rippling across the U.S. To advocate United's efforts, and in anticipation of a bright future, New York/New Jersey President Jill Kaplan and California President Janet Lamkin have both been named to their states' respective governor's COVID-19 response task force committees.
Appointed by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, Jill joins the New Jersey Restart and Recovery Advisory Council — a group of business and municipal leaders tasked with planning to restart the state's economy.
"Serving on Governor Murphy's Restart & Advisory Council uniquely positions us in the epicenter of helping to restart state's economy by providing innovative ideas, sharing best practices and creative thinking to help ensure the rebuilding of New Jersey's economic vitality alongside notable business leaders," said Jill. "I'm honored to represent United Airlines and the transportation industry as a core building block to expediting the state's recovery."
United is the sixth largest company in the state and one of the largest essential businesses continuing to operate through this crisis, and as or advocate, Jill will share some of our best practices and lessons we're learning with the nine different committees through the customer and employee lens.
On the opposite coast, California Governor Gavin Newsom last month appointed Janet to his Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery. Joining Janet at the table are former California governors, legislative leaders and CEOs and executives from numerous businesses with large stakes in the state, such as Apple and Disney. In addition to Janet's position on the task force, Janet is also serving on the Long-Term Jobs Recovery sub-committee and will advocate for industries suffering long-term ramifications of COVID-19 such as tourism, travel and entertainment.
"Being appointed to Governor Newsom's Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery ensures that United is part of the important conversation and part of the plan to help California pave the way toward a fast, safe recovery of jobs," said Janet. "It is an honor to represent the only transportation business on the task force, and I look forward to working alongside a group of very distinguished leaders and focusing on innovative ways to rebuild the economy for our 40 million residents. This work will build on our partnership with the Governor to provide free flights for medical volunteers and having our employees call to check in on isolated older adults as part of the Social Bridging Project."
Pre-COVID, we transported 38 million passengers to, from and within California each year, and directly and indirectly supported tens of thousands of jobs, so the health and well-being of the industry is vital to the prosperity of the state.
As the only airline represented among each of these groups, Jill and Janet are working hard to ensure that our voices, as a company and industry, are heard, valued and utilized as a new chapter dawns on the horizon.
Hello. I'm Scott Kirby, the new CEO of United Airlines. I'm a proud Air Force Academy graduate and have spent my entire career in and around aviation, including the last four years as President of United.
While I had planned for my first communication with you to be about the meaningful investments we were making to the travel experience and our continued growth across the U.S. and expansion to exciting new destinations around the world, today, the situation rendered to us by the COVID-19 pandemic leads me to a different type of message.
First, I graciously and humbly thank you for your business. Now, more than ever, our customers' loyalty is so deeply appreciated by every member of the United family.
As essential workers, the men and women of our airline have been hard at work over the past two months to transport vital medical supplies and critical goods to places that need them most, to provide free travel to healthcare professionals and to help thousands of individuals repatriate to their home countries.
Safety has always been our top priority, and right now in the midst of an unprecedented crisis, it's our singular customer focus. We recognize that COVID-19 has brought cleanliness and hygiene standards to the front of your mind when making travel decisions. We're not leaving a single stone unturned in our pursuit to protect our customers and employees.
We are installing plexiglass in lobby and gate areas, we're using the same equipment used to clean hospitals to disinfect the interiors of our aircraft, all crew and customers on board are required to wear face mask coverings and we're taking the temperature of our employees before they start work.
But at United, we're not stopping there. We're teaming up with experts from Clorox and the Cleveland Clinic to set a new standard for cleanliness and healthy flying that we are calling United CleanPlus℠.
Clorox is working closely with us to improve how we disinfect common surfaces and provide our customers with amenities that support a healthy and safe environment.
Physicians and scientists at the Cleveland Clinic, will advise us on new technologies and approaches, assist in training development and create a rigorous quality assurance program. And, as scientists learn more about how to fight COVID-19, Cleveland Clinic experts will help us use those discoveries to quickly implement new ways to keep our customers safe.
While we may not know when this pandemic will subside, what we do know is that travel is so deeply woven into the fabric of our global culture. We all desire to visit family, dance at a friend's wedding, hug parents…and see the wonders of this beautiful world. No matter how sharp the picture quality – or how strong the WiFi signal – there's simply no substitute for being there – in person – to collaborate, celebrate, explore. We are confident that travel will return. And when it does, United Airlines will be ready to serve you again in the friendly skies.
Thank you. Be well. And I look forward to seeing you on board.
At the airport
1Implementing temperature checks for employees and flight attendants working at hub airports
2Installing sneeze guards at check-in and gate podiums
3Encouraging use of the United app for contactless travel assistance and more
4Promoting social distancing with floor decals to help customers stand 6 feet apart
5Introducing touchless check-in for customers with bags
At the gate:
6Disinfecting high-touch areas such as door handles, handrails, elevator buttons, telephones and computers
7Providing hand sanitizer and
8Allowing customers to self-scan boarding passes
9Boarding fewer customers at a time and, after pre-boarding, boarding from the back of the plane to the front to promote social distancing
On our aircraft
1Providing individual hand sanitizer wipes for customers
2Requiring all customers and employees to wear a face covering and providing disposable face coverings for customers who need them
3Temporarily removing onboard items like pillows, blankets and inflight magazines
4Disinfecting high-touch areas, like tray tables and armrests, before boarding
5Reducing contact between flight attendants and customers during snack and beverage service
6Ensuring aircraft cleaning standards meet or exceed CDC guidelines
7Applying social distancing to seating procedures when possible, including:
- Limiting middle seat selection
- Moving customers seated closely together
- De-planing in groups of five rows at a time to reduce crowding
8Using electrostatic spraying to disinfect aircraft, to be completed on all flights by mid-June
9Using state-of-the-art, hospital-grade, high-efficiency (HEPA) filters to circulate air and remove up to 99.7% of airborne particles
We're working closely with the experts at Cleveland Clinic to advise us on enhancing our cleaning and disinfection protocols for the safety of our employees and customers. Visit Cleveland Clinic's website to learn more about COVID-19.
Together, we are facing an unprecedented challenge. United Together, we rise to meet that challenge.
Calling all AvGeeks and travelers! Here's a fun way to take your next video call….from a United Polaris® seat, the cockpit or cruising altitude. We're introducing United-themed backgrounds for use on Zoom and Microsoft Teams, video conferencing tools that many people are using to stay connected.
So for your next meeting or catch up with friends and family, download the app to either your computer or mobile device to get started. If you've already downloaded Zoom you can skip ahead to updating your background image (see instructions below).
To use on Zoom:
- Start here by downloading your favorite United image to your computer or mobile device. Just click "download" in the bottom left corner of the image.
- Next go to your Zoom app (you'll need to download the app to access backgrounds) and click on the arrow to the right of your video camera icon in the bottom of the screen.
- From here select, "choose virtual background" to upload your uniquely United photo.
- Start by downloading your favorite United image to your computer. Just click "download" in the bottom left corner of the image.
- If you're using a PC, copy the image you want to use into this folder:
- C:\[insert your device user name here]\AppData\Microsoft\Teams\Backgrounds\Uploads
- If you're using a Mac copy the images to this folder on your computer:
- /users/<username>/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Teams/Backgrounds/Uploads
- If you're using a PC, copy the image you want to use into this folder:
- Once you start a Teams meeting, click the "…" in the menu bar and select "Show background effects" and your image should be there
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This is why we fly.
20 UCSF Health workers, who voluntarily set aside their own lives to help save lives, are on their way to New York City.
We are humbled by your selfless sacrifice.
In celebration and appreciation of all first responders and essential workers. 👏🏻👏🏼👏🏽👏🏾👏🏿
This is the story of Jason and Shantel. You see, Jason and Shantel love each other very much. They also love traveling and they love the classic Adam Sandler film, The Wedding Singer.
It all began when Jason reached out to United's social media team, hoping for assistance with his upcoming plan to propose. Some phone calls and one borrowed guitar later, the stage was set for Jason. Put all that together, mix in some helpful United employees and, voila, you have a truly memorable marriage proposal. Congratulations to this fun-loving and happy couple, and here's to many more years of making beautiful music together.
A big thank you to Chicago-based flight attendants Donna W., Marie M., Karen J. and Mark K. for making this proposal come to life.