Amazeing Art: Wonders of the Ancient World

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In Amazeing Art, Christopher Berg showcases an astonishingly beautiful series of mazes depicting the wonders of the ancient world. From Stonehenge to the Colossus of Rhodes, he matches each with a capsule history that explains its background, and brilliantly evokes its mystery and significance. Fun, fascinating, and educational, Amazeing Art contains thirty-five mazes and their solutions printed on special easy-to-erase paper for the determined maze-solver.

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Overview

In Amazeing Art, Christopher Berg showcases an astonishingly beautiful series of mazes depicting the wonders of the ancient world. From Stonehenge to the Colossus of Rhodes, he matches each with a capsule history that explains its background, and brilliantly evokes its mystery and significance. Fun, fascinating, and educational, Amazeing Art contains thirty-five mazes and their solutions printed on special easy-to-erase paper for the determined maze-solver.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060956745
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/1/2001
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Pages: 144
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 10.87 (h) x 0.36 (d)

Meet the Author

Christopher Berg has been creating puzzles since the fifth grade, when he first began drawing labyrinths of various exotic and formless objects such as amoebas. While studying archaeology at Dartmouth College, he traveled to Greece and was inspired to draw a maze of the Parthenon. Thus began the second phase of his maze-drawing career, which has culminated in the artwork and essays in this book. Christopher has worked as an astronomer with one of the largest telescopes in the world, was a management consultant for many years, and was once foolish enough to ride his motorcycle all the way across the United States accompanied by little more than a jar of peanut butter. His only major published work prior to this book, the analysis of unusual stellar objects from an international quasar survey, can be found in the Astrophysical Journal. He lives in Berkeley, California, with his partner, Patricia, and her small, cute, and pleasantly deranged dog.

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Read an Excerpt

Introduction



The Wonders of the Ancient World



So Notable a Monument,
Buried in Oblivion


In 1817 Giovanni Belzoni, an adventurous excavator of Egyptian temples and tombs, brought the immense torso of a granite colossus to the British Museum. The torso had been recovered from the Ramesseum, the mortuary temple of Ramesses II in the City of the Dead across the Nile from ancient Thebes, and it caused a sensation in London society. Belzoni, however, had been unable to remove the enormous fragments of a second colossus that had fallen nearby. By all accounts this second colossus had originally stood 60 feet high and had weighed over 900 tons. The tale of its broken foot, lying amid the crumbling ruins of a temple that Ramesses had intended to "last for a million years," inspired one of the museum's visitors, Percy Bysshe Shelley, to pen his famous sonnet "Ozymandias."

Few poems have awakened popular imagination to the vast ebb and flow of history as much as "Ozymandias." It is a sobering image — the colossal statue of a proud king, lying broken amid the boundless desert, with only the testimony of a solitary traveler to bring word of its existence. What unknown tales might lie behind such a colossal ruin? And how did it happen that the great empire that raised it no longer exists?

"The ideas that ruins awaken in me are grand. Everything is annihilated, everything perishes, everything passes, there is only the world that remains, only time which endures."

—DenisDiderot, Philosopher and Encyclopediast, Eighteenth Century



The Egyptian colossus that inspired Shelley's sonnet, one of the largest freestanding sculptures ever cut from stone, was an architectural and technological marvel of its time. Along with the Roman aqueducts, the Great Wall of China, and the Egyptian pyramids, it is an enduring testament to the control of vast resources and the technical skill of its builders. Such imposing monuments inspire awe and wonder among those who behold them, and even in their time were seen as powerful symbols of the civilizations that raised them. "Will anybody compare the pyramids, or those useless though renowned works of the Greeks, with these aqueducts?" wrote Frontinus, a Roman water commissioner in the first century A.D. He had cause to be proud: The Roman aqueducts, which were engineered to drop in height by only a few feet per mile, brought hundreds of millions of gallons of water into the city of Rome every day — as much water per person as many modern cities can provide.

Today the elegant arched bridges of the aqueducts have fallen into ruin, yet their power to impress us has only increased with age. Like the Great Sphinx, a monument so old that Egyptian pharaohs themselves worshipped it as a god, the ruined aqueducts hint at tales of splendor and of calamity, of distant ages whose memories are only vaguely preserved in the scant material remains that have survived intact into modern times. Over the centuries a sense of mystery has slowly gathered around such ruins, a sense that perhaps somewhere in their past lies an undiscovered and as yet unimaginable tale. Shakespeare wrote of the "undiscover'd country from whose bourn no traveler returns." His words might well be applied to the distant past; we can try to picture it in our mind's eye, but in truth it is utterly beyond our direct comprehension, hidden beyond a horizon no explorer can ever cross. All we can do is collect the few clues we find scattered about — a few stones here, a few written words there — put them together, and marvel at the stories they reveal.

"Truth is always strange," wrote Byron, and the actual tales behind many of the most impressive monuments from antiquity — the reasons they were built, their eventual fates, and the stories and achievements of the men and women who created and lived with them — are just as captivating as Shelley's flights of poetic fancy in "Ozymandias." On top of the Ziggurat of Marduk at Babylon, a 300-foot-tall multicolored stepped pyramid that was almost certainly the inspiration behind the biblical Tower of Babel, lay nothing more than an opulent bedchamber. This was occupied at night by only one woman, chosen from among all the women of Babylon to be the companion of the god Marduk, who was believed to dwell atop the ziggurat. Upon the summits of Mayan pyramids, which were both temples and tombs, Mayan lords communicated via narrow stone tubes with their ancestors interred in burial chambers far below — while engaging in ritual bloodletting and self-torture. They believed that blood nourished the gods, and that without it, cosmic disorder would result; among other practices they pierced their tongues with stingray spines and passed thorny strings through the holes.

"I love above all the sight of vegetation resting upon old ruins; this embrace of nature, coming swiftly to bury the work of man the moment his hand is no longer there to defend it, fills me with deep and ample joy."

—Gustave Flaubert, French novelist, Nineteenth Century



Then there was the Artemesion, a Greek temple that became one of the Wonders of the Ancient World, burned down by a madman whose only purpose was to immortalize his name. Some monuments even contributed to the decline of the civilizations that created them. The Polynesian society on Easter Island, for example, collapsed after the inhabitants felled most of the trees on their island, in part to make the wooden rollers and levers necessary for moving their giant statues.

However startling and varied the stories behind them, such impressive monuments have, over the centuries and millennia, suffered similar fates: They have been toppled by earthquakes, quarried for stone, and despoiled by human hands. Some have been reclaimed by the grasping fingers of the jungle, buried beneath the silt and mud of wandering rivers, or engulfed by desert sands. Yet many of them still endure, visible symbols of man's greatest successes against the...

Amazeing Art. Copyright © by Christopher Berg. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 9, 2014

    Lovely...! beautiful.....!.... Just enjoy it.....!

    Lovely...! beautiful.....!.... Just enjoy it.....!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2001

    Wow, great mazes!

    This book is full of beautiful and tricky mazes of ancient monuments. The stories that go with the mazes are filled with all kinds of little known secrets and fascinating tales. Like the story of the Colossus of Rhodes, an ancient bronze statue the size of the Statue of Liberty. Its ruins were eventually carried off on the backs of 900 camels to be melted down. It was intriguing and entertaining! PS Buy a large eraser when you get this book...

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