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Stuck Indoors? Enjoy These Museums, Aquariums, National Parks, Zoos and Symphonies From Home

Here are a few cultural “outings” you can now enjoy from your computer, tablet, or phone!

Elias Marat

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(TMU) — Let’s face it: things are looking bad in the world, and if we haven’t already felt the heavy impact of the coronavirus outbreak, we soon will.

Across the English-speaking world, public events are being canceled, schools are being closed or placed on extended vacation, and cultural and art institutions are being shuttered en masse. Professional athletic organizations like the NCAA and MLB are canceling or delaying the start of their seasons, leaving sports fans in the lurch.

Meanwhile, whole municipal zones are instructing to shelter in place, self-quarantine, and otherwise lie low as authorities grasp at ways to keep the novel virus under control.

However, while we may be stuck at home, cultural institutions, national park services, symphonies, and zoos are now offering stunning virtual tours online, allowing us to enjoy some of humankind’s most amazing artistic and musical achievements from our homes.

Here are a few cultural “outings” you can enjoy from your computer, tablet, or phone!

A “Trip” to the Museum

Google’s Arts and Culture pages offer no less than 2,500 world-class museums and galleries, where you can peruse the collections of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Whitney Museum in New York City, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, and the Tate Modern in London. You can also take a virtual tour of such locales as the Uffizi Galleries. And one cool “feature” of these Google tours is that you can zoom in on the priceless art far closer than you would ever be able to lean into it.

Various museums are also offering virtual tours through their websites. This includes the Louvre, which has a breathtaking exhibit in its Egyptian antiquities department; Madrid’s Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, which offers a virtual tour of its Rembrandt and Portraiture in Amsterdam, 1590-1670 exhibit on virtual view; the Vatican Museums, which offer state-of-the-art 360-degree tours of Raphael’s Rooms, the Sistine Chapel, and other attractions; as well as a self-guided tour of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC.

Take a Guided (Virtual) Tour of U.S. National Parks

In partnership with the U.S. National Parks Services, Google’s Arts & Culture pages are also offering a program called “The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks” that will bring the great outdoors to your living room or bedroom. The digital tour includes five national parks, including Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah, Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico, Dry Tortugas National Park in Florida, Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, and Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska.

Take the Kids to a Virtual Aquarium or Zoo

The Monterey Bay Aquarium in California may have been closed since March 12, but that’s not stopping it from allowing online visitors from enjoying the everyday life of its aquatic critters. Visitors can see a range of free live camera streams, ranging from their world-famous kelp forest to the jellyfish exhibit, or you can just watch penguins waddle about adorably. Scheduled feeding times will also be shown.

Meanwhile, at Boston’s New England Aquarium you can also watch feedings, tours, and a behind-the-scenes glimpse of operations through scheduled Facebook Live streams.

The California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco is also featuring views of penguins as well as their Philippine Coral Reef exhibit, while the Oakland Zoo is offering live views of their elephants, sun bears and black bears.

Enjoy a Night Out at the Symphony (Without Dressing Up)!

While nothing can substitute a live performance from a symphony orchestra, many are offering live streams of their performances rather than cancel them entirely. Old shows are also being offered for free online.

The Philharmonie Berlin, which will remain closed until at least April 19, has opened its digital library of performances to the public, allowing unfettered access to over 600 shows. Just use the code BERLINPHIL by March 31 to get a 30-day all-access pass to the orchestra’s amazing work. The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra is also live-streaming its performances through YouTube, and while those of us in the Western Hemisphere may not prefer to wake up at 7 p.m. AEDT (or 4 a.m. EDT) to catch a symphony performance, we can still watch replays on the orchestra’s YouTube channel. Make sure to check out their outstanding performance of Rimsky-Korsakov’s immortal classic, Scheherazade.

By Elias Marat | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

Ancient History

59 ancient coffins, buried for 2,600 years, discovered in incredible archaeological find in Egypt

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(TMU) – 59 well-preserved and sealed wooden coffins were recently discovered by archeologists in Egypt, and it is possible that there could be even more waiting to be discovered.

Three weeks ago researchers first announced that they found 13 coffins, and then further searches in the area revealed that there were even more. Scientists estimate that the coffins were buried over 2,500 years ago, and some of the remains were wrapped in burial cloth that showed hieroglyphic inscriptions.

The discovery was made in the burial ground of Saqqara, which is located just south of Cairo, near the 4,700-year-old pyramid of Djoser.

“We are very happy about this discovery,” said Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities in the Egyptian government.

Tourism and Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anani said that the coffins can be dated back to the Late Period of ancient Egypt, which is estimated to be from the sixth or seventh century BC.

“I have witnessed the opening of one of the coffins … the mummy seems as if it was mummified yesterday,” al-Anani said, according to Aljazeera.

Other artifacts have been discovered as well, including a bronze figurine depicting Nefertem, an ancient god of the lotus blossom, as well as mummified animals like snakes, birds, scarab beetles. Dozens of statues were also found in the same area that the coffins were discovered.

It is suspected that the coffins belonged to high ranking figures in ancient Egyptian society, likely from the 26th dynasty.

The coffins will be taken to the Grand Egyptian Museum on the Giza Plateau, which is currently being built. The museum is expected to open soon, but the opening has already been delayed several times. At this point, the most recent opening date for the museum is planned for 2021.

The museum will feature an entire hall dedicated to the sarcophagi that were found in the region, and this hall will reportedly hold the new discoveries.

Saqqara, where the discovery was made features numerous pyramids, including the world-famous Step pyramid of Djoser, which is sometimes called the Step Tomb due to its rectangular base, as well as a number of mastaba tombs.

Saqqara and the surrounding areas of Abusir and Dahshur suffered damage by looters during the 2011 Egyptian protests. Storerooms were broken into, but the monuments were mostly unharmed. A series of discoveries have been made at the site in recent years. Some findings have been dated back to as far as 4,000 years ago.

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Ancient History

What Artists From Over 100 Years Ago Thought The Year 2000 Would Look Like

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(TMU) – Art from the past is fascinating, from the most basic rock art, to the most detailed and realistic, the bizarre, the fantastical, the surreal and the futuristic, art provides us with insight into cultures and history. Visual records of the lives, struggles, triumphs and beliefs during the evolution of human kind.

Throughout our evolution, there has always been forward thinkers, those who could envisage a very different future, such as Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), best known as an artist, he was also an architect, scientist and inventor with the vision and imagination to create, on paper, inventions such as the bicycle, the helicopter and an airplane.

Perhaps da Vinci innovative ideas inspired artists through the centuries that followed, such as those created by French Jean-Marc Cote and others in 1899, 1900, 1901 and 1910 who were asked to imagine what life would be like in the year 2020. The futuristic images they created were originally in the form of postcards or cards enclosed in cigarette boxes.

These pictures were created before the second industrial revolution and high tech machinery and flying machines. Life was much simpler, food was still grown organically and the world still had clean air, rivers and oceans. Many of the illustrations turned out to be quite accurate, such as machines for farming, robotic equipment, flying machines, underwater breathing apparatus, and sadly, weapons of war. The buildings, clothing and hairstyles seemed to remain in the previous century.

Over 100 years have passed and some of those artists may have lived to see some of their ideas become reality. Unfortunately the third revolution brought with it innovations that propelled the modern human into an easier, faster lifestyle for those who could afford it. Machines and appliances do the work, in the home and workplace. Motor cars, appliances, pre-packed food, fast food and waste, so much waste! With not a thought of the consequences. Our air and water polluted by chemicals, of rivers and oceans choked by our single use waste and not just our planet, but our health suffering under the strain.

How would we, and the artists of our world depict life on earth in 2099, 2100, 2101 and 2110?

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Ancient History

World’s largest mammoth graveyard found near Mexico City with over 200 skeletons from Ice Age

Elias Marat

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As construction workers race to complete building Mexico City’s new international airport, archaeologists have stumbled on the world’s largest graveyard of mammoths, with officials saying on Thursday that the number has risen to at least 200.

Experts believe that the site, which lies about 30 miles (50 km) north of the capital’s downtown at the Santa Lucía Air Force Base in the state of Mexico, is now the world’s largest concentration of skeletons belonging to the extinct Ice Age mammal – and a large number of them are still yet to be excavated.

The humongous creatures are believed to have died between 10,000 and 20,000 years ago, when the region was the site of a number of ancient lakes that both attracted and trapped the extinct relative of modern elephants.

Other Ice Age mammals have also been found at the nearly 200 excavation sites, including about 200 mammoths, 25 camels, and five horses, archaeologists with the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) say.

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Around 24,000 years ago, the geography of the region was a lush and vibrant place filled with sprawling grassland and lakes that attracted herds of mammoths.

“This place was like a paradise,” lead INAH archaeologist Ruben Manzanilla Lopez told Reuters, adding that the melting of the last glaciers happened at a time when ancient species of horses, camels, and buffalo thrived in the extremely muddy shorelines of the region.

“Then over many years the same story repeated itself: The animals ventured too far, got trapped and couldn’t get their legs out of the muck,” Manzanilla added.

Wild horses largely died out in North America at the end of the last ice age, and only returned during the Spanish invasion of the Americas, beginning with Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the West Indies in 1493 and continuing with the arrival of Hernan Cortes in Mexico in 1519.

A number of compelling finds are still being made at the site, including evidence that humans constructed tools from the bones of the massive creatures. The site lies roughly 12 miles from artificial pits or shallow mammoth traps dug by early inhabitants to trap and kill the creatures.

The flint arrows, spears, and rudimentary shallow water pits suggest that early humans may have also played a role in wiping out the lumbering beasts.

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“What caused these animals’ extinction, everywhere there is a debate, whether it was climate change or the presence of humans. I think in the end the decision will be that there was a synergy effect between climate change and human presence,” paleontologist Joaquin Arroyo Cabrales told Associated Press.

However, the pure volume of mammoth remains unearthed – comprised of extraordinarily well-preserved skeletons including their long and curling tusks – is what has come as a shock.

“We had the idea that we’d find mammoth remains, but not this many,” Manzanilla said.

The sheer glut of mammoth remains at the Santa Lucía site is such that INAH observers are now accompanying construction workers using bulldozers to make sure that work halts when bones are found.

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Manzanilla is confident that when the excavations are complete, the site will likely rank higher than similar sites in the United States and Siberia as the largest deposit of mammoth skeletons.

A museum-style mammoth exhibit is also being planned for the main terminal of the new commercial airport.

The Valley of Mexico was once a verdant and lush region rich in biodiversity that teemed with interconnected lakes and countless rivers. In 1325, the Aztecs or Tenochcas began building what would later become the major metropolis of Tenochtitlan, now Mexico City, on a rock in Lake Texcoco.

However, in the 1600s the Spanish colonizers began draining the lakes in a bid to rein in annual floods and accompanying disease resulting from the region’s torrential rain seasons.

In the 20th century, local authorities continued to pave over the 45 rivers that still cut through the growing city. The process of urbanization transformed Mexico City into a dry, dusty, and smoggy region teeming with busy roads and working-class neighborhoods.

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