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The Ancient Roman City of Timgad Reveals Remarkable Modern Grid Design

This city ruins is one of the best surviving examples of the grid plan used by the ancient Roman city planners.


In 1765, when Scottish explorer James Bruce discovered an ancient city partly buried in the sands of the Algerian desert. He did not realize that he was actually standing above the ruins of the largest Roman Empire settlement ever built in North Africa — the ancient city of Thamugadi, now called Timgad.

The ruins of Timgad offer us a glimpse of ancient Roman urban planning at its height with its precise design and modern grid plan. Located on the slopes of Aures Massif in what is now known as Algeria, it was built nearly 2,000 years ago by the Roman Emperor Trajan.

The city was originally designed as a perfect square, 355 meters long on each side. The angled design was highlighted by the decumanus maximus (east-west oriented street) and the cardo (north-south-oriented street) lined by a Corinthian colonnade.

The city’s original design was a perfect square, 355 meters long on each side.

The ancient city ruins can be found in Algeria.

When the Romans extended their rule over North Africa during the first century, they founded Timgad for retired Parthian veterans of the Roman army in return for their years of service. It was originally intended for a population of 15,000, but it soon outgrew beyond the original grid. The extension was looser, but still followed an organized manner. For the next 300 years, the city quadrupled from its original ground plan.

It quickly expanded four times its original ground plan over a span of 300 years.

It became a center of Christian activity in the 4th century.

Source: Flickt Gabyu

The ancient city thrived during the second and third century, serving as an image of the grandeur of Rome on African soil. It also became a center of Christian activity and a Donatist center in the 4th century.

However, the city was sacked by the Vandals during the 5th century causing its decline. The Byzantine Emperor Justinian revived it in the 6th century, building a fortress outside the town. The Arabs invaded the city in the 7th century which led to its complete downfall and abandonment.

Marketplace with elegant colonnades and stalls.

The city was completely abandoned in the 7th century due to Arab invasion.

Source: Flickr

After the Arab invasion, Timgad laid under the sand of the Sahara for years exceptionally well-preserved. The Colonia Marciana Traiana Thamugadi , complete name of Timgad, was unearthed by explorers in 1881 and was declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1982. The 12 meter-high Arch of Trajan still proudly stands at the west end of the decumanus maximus. You can also find the remains of a temple dedicated to Jupiter, large Byzantine citadel, 3,500-seat theater, library, basilica and four bath houses.

The 3,500 seat-theater was built for the entertainment of Timgad’s citizens.

Source: Flick
The Arch of Trajan still proudly stands today.


Before Radar, Great Britain Uses Ridiculous Sound Mirrors to Detect Enemy Planes

They may look ridiculous now but these sound mirrors were Great Britain’s greatest defense against incoming enemy planes!

World War I saw the use of airplanes during the war but their role during the time was mostly for surveillance and observation. It wasn't until World War II that airplanes took on an offensive role wherein they could drop bombs and shoot at other planes.

At the end of World War I, Great Britain needed a method to know when a plane was approaching. One of the most important means they developed of detecting an oncoming plane was the "sound mirror."

This is one of Great Britain's sound mirrors.

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In Medieval Times, Weighing Scales Are Used to Weigh Suspected Witches

Will you pass the Heksenwaag witch weigh-in?

Back in the Medieval Ages, goods for trade and sale that entered different markets across Europe were weighed in weigh houses to determine the tax levied upon them. Traders weren’t the only ones required to have their products weighed, however.

In the Netherlands, weigh houses also had another purpose.

To weigh witches.

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The Bizarre Reasons Why People Are Scared of the Number 13

The mystery behind the ‘cursed date’ goes back to ancient times.

We’ve all heard about the slasher flick 'Friday the 13th' but do you know where did this fear about the said date even come from? How did this superstition begin and why do many people consider it unlucky?

To accurately answer that, we need to understand why people often associate the number 13 with bad luck in the first place. This fear is called ‘Triskaidekaphobia’ and is not exclusively associated with Friday the 13th but in all things involving the number. This is the main reason why many buildings do not have a 13th floor!

In Christian history, Catholics teach that the crucifixion of Jesus Christ – the most significant event in the religion – occurred on a Friday the 13th.

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