Slab with a Nereid Relief

Slab with a Nereid Relief


In 1848, antiquarian Charles Fellows began directing an excavation on the south-west coast of Turkey. Inspired by ancient literary descriptions of the socio-political influence of Lycia during the Persian Wars, Fellows began searching for material remains of the key Lycian settlement, Xanthos.[1] During the excavation, large stone fragments surrounded by the rubble of carved stones were discovered, just outside the city. These fragments belonged to the large platform-base of a monumental building, still standing in-situ and encircled by the debris of the buildings walls and decorative friezes, ruined during the fourth century CE.[2] These find were recorded by Fellow’s staff in detailed site journals which included colleague George Scharf’s sketches of decorative elements, architectural measurements and notes of the monuments contextual location. Like many British discoveries of the era, the finds were taken from their original site to the British Museum for study, the ethics of which are still debated today.[3] The ruins were partially reconstructed by a team led by Fellows including archaeologists, architects and specialist historians and the building was named the Nereid Monument, after the female nymph-like statues which were found within the same ruins. Three of these statues can still be seen today in the 1960s installation of the Monument’s eastern facade which remains in Room 17 of the British Museum (Figure 1).

Figure 1: The original location of the Nereid Monument (left) and the reconstructed eastern facade in the British Museum.

What is a bas-relief?

Lorenzo Ghiberti, Joshua from The Gates of Paradise Original-Museo dell Opera del Duomo

In high relief, the figures and subjects extend further from the background generally by more than half of the sculpture’s mass. Conversely, the bas-relief remains a shallow sculpture, with figures that barely protrude from the surface behind. These techniques can be used to varying degrees, even within the same piece of artwork, as in Lorenzo Ghiberti’s Gates of Paradise in Florence, which utilizes high relief for the main foreground figures and bas-relief to depict the background environment.

As one of the oldest forms of art, bas-relief has been used by many different civilizations. Some of the earliest discovered bas-reliefs were carved into rock caves around 30,000 years ago. The style became immensely popular in the ancient empires of Egypt, Assyria, and later Persia.

Combined bas-relief and high-relief was a particular favorite in Greece and Rome. These reliefs from ancient civilizations have proved invaluable for historians in the reconstruction of past cultures and events, and perhaps none more so than the intricate bas-reliefs of the palace at Persepolis.


Jaggayyapeta and Andhra’s Great Stupa

The sculptures from the Amaravati and Nagarjunakonda stupas in Andhra Pradesh are considered wonders of ancient Indian art. However, around 70 km north-west from Amaravati, lies the remains of one of the oldest stupas of Andhra Pradesh, at Jaggayyapeta. This too would have been a celebrated marvel, had its slabs and sculptures, not been burned in kilns to make limestone!

Dhanyakataka or the ‘abode of grains’ attracted merchants from around the world

The great Buddhist stupas of Andhra Pradesh date back to the time when the region was at the heart of the flourishing Satavahana empire, from 2nd century BCE to 2nd century CE. The growth of this Empire was fed by the gold from Rome, thanks to flourishing trade. The Satavahana rulers were great patrons of Buddhism, along with Hinduism.

Around the late 1st century CE, the Satavahana capital was shifted from Paithan in Maharashtra to Dhanyakataka, present day Amaravati in Andhra Pradesh. Dhanyakataka or the ‘abode of grains’ attracted merchants from around the world. They, in turn, patronized Buddhist establishments.

The sheer number of stupas in the region are a testament to the fact that Buddhism flourished here for hundreds of years. Historians believe that the Jaggayyapeta Stupa is one of the oldest stupas in the region, dating back to the 2nd century BCE. Known in Satavahana times as Velagiri, Jaggayyapeta Stupa was an important Buddhist establishment for monks, and over time, thanks to donations from various rulers and merchants, it became very grand and ornate.

The Jaggayyapeta Stupa is one of the oldest stupas in the region, dating back to 2nd century BCE

The Jaggayyapeta was just one among the network of great stupas of Andhra, such as Amaravati, Bhattiprolu, Nagarajunakonda and Dantapuram. These emerged as centers of learning, art and culture. It is from the stupa at Dantapuram, in Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh, that the Buddha’s tooth, a prized relic, is said to have moved to Kandy.

However, as centuries passed, trade collapsed and the Satavahanas fell Buddhism too went into decline. The stupas were abandoned and forgotten. Over time, the Jaggayyapeta stupa too turned into a mound, which the locals called ‘Dhana Bodu’ or the ‘Hill of Wealth’. The Trigonometric Survey of India, in its survey between 1802 – 1841, used this mound as one of its stations without realizing what lay underneath!

In the 18th century, tragedy struck. After surviving for 2000 years, the stupas in the Krishna-Godavari delta area could not withstand the greed and ambition of a man. The local zamindar or land lord of the area of Chintapalli, Vasireddy Venkatadri Naidu (1783-1816). By the end of the 18th century, he grew extremely powerful and wealthy and wanted to show it off. A prolific builder, he built the new township at Amaravati, as his capital in 1792 CE. He also renovated a number of temples in the region, such as the Kanakadurga at Vijaywada, the temples at Mangalagiri, and the Amaralingeswar at Amaravati. He also established the town of Jaggayyapeta, in honour of his father Jaggaya.

The valuable fragments from the Amaravati, Jaggayyapeta and other stupas were used to build temples or palaces

However, as he built his new capital, to save costs, his men also stripped the nearby ‘mounds’ (under which lay the old stupas) for slabs, stones and marble – which were reused! This meant that valuable fragments from the Amaravati, Jaggayyapeta and other stupas were used either to build houses or palaces. For example, the beautiful marble from Amaravati stupa was used to make the steps at the Amarlingeshwar temple. Meanwhile the slabs and sculptures from the Jaggayyapeta stupa were burnt in kilns, as the stone they were made from, when burnt, could be transformed into high-quality limestone. This has been mentioned by the British archaeologist James Burgess, in his excavation report ‘The Buddhist Stupas of Amaravati and Jaggayyapeta’, published in 1886.

To be fair, even the British agreed that Raja Vasireddy Venkatadri Naidu was not a vandal, but an exceptionally enlightened and cultured ruler. It was a very common practice, till the late 19th century to erect new buildings, taking material from the old ruins. Perhaps the Raja’s men were simply following a precedent.

It was James Burgess who first excavated the mount at Jaggayyapeta in 1882. In his findings, he concluded that there were a number of small stupas and other buildings, which stood on the site, along with the main stupa, but most had been vandalized and destroyed for bricks and slabs. The main stupa was about 30 ft in diameter and the carved railing that surrounded it, had completely disappeared. Burgess found the stupa to be stylistically quite similar to the Sanchi stupa.

Interestingly, the few surviving carvings, especially of doubled winged animals, were very similar to those at Pitalkhora caves near Aurangabad in Maharashtra dating back to the Satavahana period. The most important of the marbles, found at Jaggayyapeta, is the slab relief of a Chakravartin Mandhata, a character in Buddhist mythology, with his seven jewels – queen, prince, minister, wheel, elephant, horse and the gems. The relief is presently in the Government Museum in Chennai. Interestingly, a relief very similar to in features with the Mandhata relief is also found at the Bhaja Caves, near Mumbai, dating to the same period. It is really surprising that there has been almost no academic research on the linkages between the Buddhist sites in the Western Ghats and those in Andhra Pradesh.

The most important of the marbles is the slab relief of a Chakravartin with his seven jewels

Thanks to the intervention of James Burgess in 1882 and then the Archaeological Survey of India, the destruction of the stupas stopped. But what had been already lost was unimaginable.

Today, the Jaggayyapeta Stupa, along with the other great stupas are being promoted by Government of Andhra Pradesh as tourist attractions. Hopefully this will help develop them and also encourage research on them and the period they were at their prime, so that we can celebrate Andhra Pradesh’s great Buddhist past.


3. Methods: Sampling and Analytical Techniques

[14] We applied high-temperature feldspar thermochronology to 10 bedrock samples previously collected along a north to south ∼11 km transect along the spine of the Tordrillo Mountains [ Haeussler et al., 2008 ] to better constrain the tectono-thermal history of the region. Samples were analyzed using 40 Ar/ 39 Ar thermochronology on potassium feldspar (K-spar) degassed using an argon laser (8 samples) or a resistance furnace (2 samples) at the University of Alaska Fairbanks geochronology facility (Data Set S1 in the auxiliary material). Benowitz et al. [2011] provide further details of the K-spar mineral separation and 40 Ar/ 39 Ar methods used at the University of Alaska Fairbanks geochronological facility.

[15] We examine the resulting age spectra using a multidomain diffusion modeling (MDD) approach [e.g., Lovera et al., 2002 ] to determine thermal histories. However, we do not model the complete time-temperature history of the KFAT analyzed samples. The short duration of the cooling age span (∼4 Ma) exhibited by almost all of the Tordrillo Mountains samples limits the usefulness of the full furnace iso-thermal duplicate heating schedule approach [ Lovera et al., 2002 ]. Due to the rapid cooling of the samples, time-temperature models for the majority of samples would produce a steep straight line between ∼350°C and ∼150°C reflecting very rapid cooling (50°C/Ma) and would not provide additional information. Instead of a thermal modeling approach, we look at the time span between closure of the high-temperature (∼350°C) and low-temperature (∼150°C) domains for K-spar [ Copeland and Harrison, 1990 McDougall and Harrison, 1999 Thoms, 2000 Ridgway et al., 2007 ]. We interpret the KFAT thermal histories in relation to the timing of regional pluton and dike emplacement to distinguish among cooling related to magmatism, exhumation and thermal relaxation. We use the KFAT data to interpret fault blocks based on inferred cooling history parameters (timing and cause) and compare the new structural interpretation with the previous interpretation of unmapped thrust faults in the Tordrillo Mountains [ Haeussler et al., 2008 ]. The new KFAT data permit us to reconstruct the original relative positions of the inferred structural blocks. In addition, we used the KFAT maximum closure temperature age data (KFATmax) to evaluate the overall Tordrillo Mountains relief history since KFATmax closure.


Monte Alban – The Conquest Slabs?

Etched into the walls of Building J, the Observatory, are around 40 curious reliefs that date from the period known as Monte Alban II (100BCE-200CE) and feature upside down heads. Bearing in mind the significance of Building J, both in its locale within the city and the practical use that it had, the reliefs must be of monumental importance – quite literally. Many are badly weathered and hard to make out, but there are a few that have been sufficiently sheltered from the elements and cut deep enough to stand out prominently still.

fig. 0255 – Conquest Slab fig. 0256 – Conquest Slab fig. 0257 – Conquest Slab fig. 0258 – Conquest Slab fig. 0259 – Conquest Slab

The most striking part of the images is the upside-down head. The heads’ position and the lack of iris within the eye (suggesting that that eye is closed) is almost certainly indicating that the subject is dead. The arrangement of the reliefs, which hang like trophies on one of the most important buildings at Monte Alban, has led to the common belief that they record the subjugation of rival tribes and are hence known as the “Conquest Slabs”.

The images are hard to make out, partly due to weathering over the past two millennia, but also because the images are stylised. So in Fig. 0258c you can see a colourised “Conquest Slab”, which is designed to make the imagery more defined. Figure 0258C clearly shows that above the head is the torso with arms outstretched and hands clenched.
Fig. 0258c – Colourised Conquest Slab The torso has markings/lines across the chest, which could indicate rank or the uniform of a particular tribe – the number of lines is normally 3 or 4. From the lower half of the torso, (the upper half as we look) the legs extend perpendicular to the body, in parallel with the arms, and are bent at the knee so that the lower leg is pointing upward. This position looks unnatural and, even with the relief coloured in, it is hard to visualise what this image is designed to portray. But, if you imagine this to be a man lain on his back on a sacrificial altar, with his head hanging down towards you, his arms outstretched and his legs leading away from you in perspective, then it actually makes perfect sense. We can see this exact position, but in profile, in the Selden Codex (fig. SC1),

The Selden Codex also answers another, more perplexing, mystery and provides a vital clue to what the Conquest Slabs’ message really is. All the images have lines across the face, sometimes horizontally across the eyes and sometimes diagonally across the cheek. First impressions suggest that the lines
Fig. SC1 – Excerpt from the Selden Codex might be a fabric mask of unknown importance. But, in the Selden Codex we can see the horizontal band across the eyes is face paint and it is present on the sacrificial subject. F ace paint was used by warriors, priests and chiefs as an identifier of status and affiliation, and the diagonal make-up is thought to be an identifier of the Zapotec culture 1 . The horizontal paint across the eyes is thought to indicate the person is a sacrificial subject, but in the Selden Codex (fig. SC1) we can see that both the executioner and the sacrificial subject have black face paint across the eyes. Elsewhere in the Selden Codex the horizontal face paint is used in conjunction with human sacrifice, but not solely to indicate victims, but anyone associated with the act.


City Glyph – Tututepec The final element, above the body, is pictographic and almost certainly represents the name of a place from where he came from or on whose behalf he was sacrificed. In fig. 0258c this looks like a low temple structure on top of a hill, with an “X” and 5 dots along the bottom plus three dots across the middle to indicate the name of this place (I cannot decipher this yet). When looking at the Silden Codex (fig. SC1), we can see that above the body is the heart, which would have been the sacrificial offering, so it would make sense that in the Conquest Slabs it was this place that the person sacrificed. So these images may be entirely symbolic of local Lords sacrificing their cities to Monte Albán and there may have been no physical sacrifice or death at all.

The final piece of the puzzle is why these images are mounted on Building J, the observatory. So in an attempt to pull all the evidence together, I would suggest the “Conquest Slabs” are in fact records of Lords or Priests of the syndicated tribes of the valley who sacrificed their cities for the furtherment of the Zapotec civilisation and Monte Albán. This was most likely part of Monte Albán’s inauguration or during the dedication ceremony of Building J, which seems to have a mysterious and powerful purpose (see the article “Monte Albán – Ancient Observatory).


Relief

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Relief, also called relievo, (from Italian relievare, “to raise”), in sculpture, any work in which the figures project from a supporting background, usually a plane surface. Reliefs are classified according to the height of the figures’ projection or detachment from the background. In a low relief, or bas-relief (basso-relievo), the design projects only slightly from the ground and there is little or no undercutting of outlines. In a high relief, or alto-relievo, the forms project at least half or more of their natural circumference from the background and may in parts be completely disengaged from the ground, thus approximating sculpture in the round. Middle relief, or mezzo-relievo, falls roughly between the high and low forms. A variation of relief carving, found almost exclusively in ancient Egyptian sculpture, is sunken relief (also called incised relief), in which the carving is sunk below the level of the surrounding surface and is contained within a sharply incised contour line that frames it with a powerful line of light and shade. Intaglio, likewise, is a sunken relief but is carved as a negative image like a mold instead of a positive (projecting) form.

Reliefs on the walls of stone buildings were common in ancient Egypt, Assyria, and other Middle Eastern cultures. The Egyptians depicted carefully modeled figures standing out from the ground in very low relief figures are shown standing sideways and are contained within a sharply incised outline. High reliefs first became common in the sculpture of the ancient Greeks, who fully explored the artistic potentialities of the genre. Attic tomb reliefs from the 4th century bce showing individual figures or family groups are notable examples, as are the sculptured friezes used in the decoration of the Parthenon and other classical temples. Relief sculptures were prominent in the sarcophagi of Roman art during the 2nd and 3rd centuries ce .

During the European Middle Ages the emphasis in sculpture was definitely on relief work. Some of the most outstanding examples decorate the Romanesque portals (tympana) of churches in France, England, and other countries. The Gothic period continued this tradition but often preferred a higher relief, in accordance with the renewed interest in statuary that characterized the late Middle Ages.

During the Italian Renaissance the qualities of relief work began to change, as is evident in the famous bronze doors that Lorenzo Ghiberti created for the baptistry of the Cathedral of Florence. The free play between high and low relief and the strikingly illusionistic style of composition in these reliefs show Renaissance artists’ new interest in and understanding of space as a subjective visual experience that could be faithfully reproduced. Figures in the foreground of the composition were done in high relief, thus appearing close at hand, while background features were done in low relief, thus approximating distance. Donatello further exploited these experiments, adding textural contrasts between rough and smooth surfaces to the interplay between high and low relief and completely modeling some forms while leaving others in an almost painterly state of incompleteness. Two different trends subsequently became apparent in Italian relief sculpture: delicate and low reliefs in marble and terra-cotta by Desiderio da Settignano and Mino da Fiesole, for example, and the more robust and sculptural relief style used by Bertoldo di Giovanni and later by Michelangelo.

Baroque sculptors continued these illusionistic experiments, often on a very large scale. Their large relief compositions became a kind of painting in marble, being set off by deep boxlike frames and special stagelike conditions of lighting. Lorenzo Bernini’s Ecstasy of Santa Theresa, with figures carved almost fully in the round but encased in a marble altar, offers a most impressive example. Neoclassical artists of the early 19th century temporarily revived experimentation with low reliefs in pursuit of what they saw as classical rigour and purity such works relied on fine surface modeling and clarity of design for their effect. The works of Antonio Canova and Bertel Thorwaldsen are typical in this regard. But on the whole the Renaissance concept of relief prevailed, and its dramatic and emotive possibilities were keenly and vigorously employed by such subsequent 19th-century sculptors as François Rude in The Marseillaise (decorating the Arc de Triomphe in Paris) and by Auguste Rodin in his famous Gates of Hell and other reliefs. Relief techniques came to be used in 20th-century modern art for abstract compositions that emphasized spatial recession and contrasts of light and shade. Reliefs were also a feature in pre-Columbian and Asian Indian sculpture.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Adam Augustyn, Managing Editor, Reference Content.


Greek and Roman sculpture

Visit Room 23 to enjoy many sculptures that are Roman versions of Greek originals.

During the Roman conquest of the Mediterranean in the second and first centuries BC, Greek sculpture was both admired and looted, with many statues shipped back to Rome. When Greek originals couldn't be acquired, Roman patrons commissioned new sculptures to decorate their public buildings, private villas or sanctuaries to the gods.

Room 23 displays Roman statues, some based closely on marble or bronze originals, others only loosely inspired by Greek sculpture. Most of these sculptures survive in multiple Roman versions, discovered at sites all over the Mediterranean. In many cases, the Greek originals don't survive.

Gods, athletes, heroic figures, subjects inhabiting the sensual worlds of the gods Aphrodite and Dionysos and decorative relief sculptures were popular. From the Renaissance onwards, sculptures like these were being discovered in Rome and other ancient sites around the Mediterranean, collected by royalty, successive Popes and European antiquarians during their Grand Tours of Italy.

Later artists drew inspiration from Greek and Roman sculptures and created innovative works in 'Classical' styles.


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Alternatives to Rolling Slab
Some people wheel throw their tiles. Just figure the diameter you need to reach corner to corner on your finished tile including shrinkage, mark that size with a magic marker on your bat, and throw to the mark. Weigh out the clay balls so the tiles are always the same thickness when thrown to the mark.

Some people press their tiles. You can make a bottomless frame out of wood, pound the clay into this form, use your cut off wire to cut off excess clay, then push the clay out the bottom. To avoid bending, use a piece of wood the size of the clay to push it through. You will have to let the clay dry to the point where it doesn't stick to the wood, or use something like WD40 or cooking oil to coat the wood.

Some people cut their tiles directly off the block of pugged clay. You can buy devices that act like cheese slicers to cut the clay off at a certain thickness. Or, to make your own, take two wood dowels (or wood strips) and make notches at even intervals (one half inch apart for half inch thick tiles.) Wrap a piece of wire between and around the wood dowels, starting at the top notch. Grab onto one piece of wood with each hand, pull the wire tight, and sliding the wood pieces toward, pull the wire evenly through the clay. Make sure you hold the wood pieces vertical as you pull. Then move the wire to the next lower notch and repeat.

Cutting the Tiles
Wait until the clay is leather hard before cutting the actual tiles out. Also, if you are impressing designs make sure you do this before cutting the tiles out, or the pressing action will deform the shape.

Make a template from metal or wood to make it easy to cut out same size tiles.

Drying

Drying flat forms is very critical. You want to make sure the tiles dry evenly on both sides, or they will warp. Keep them away from drafts, and dry them slowly by covering with plastic. There are two main techniques used to dry tiles.

1. Place each tile between two pieces of drywall (also called sheetrock.) This is the stuff used to build walls. You can sandwich many tiles between layers of sheetrock and stack them up. The moisture is pulled evenly out of both sides. A variation on this is to dry between layers of three quarter inch thick plywood, or layers of calcium silicate board (often used as a non-asbestos fire proofing board).

2. Place the tiles on a wire rack to dry. This allows good air circulation. A variation on this is drying on plastic grids that are often used in fluorescent light fixtures.

Other slab and tile making tips:
- Use drywall method for the first day or two, then transfer to wire racks.
- Wax the edges before they dry. This prevents them from drying much faster than the center. Or wrap dry-cleaning plastic over the edges.
- Weight the corners with kiln posts overnight -- each stilt laid across the adjacent corners of two tiles .

Grooves:
For functional tiles, people often cut grooves in the back of the tiles. This allows more surface area for adhesion they dig into the mortar bed better. An interesting way to get the grooves is to roll the tiles out onto corrugated, grooved cardboard. Grooves do not seem to affect warpage.

Firing Tiles
For bisque firing, you can stack tiles on top of each other, or put them into a tile setter.

For glaze firing at low temperatures, tiles can be put into many types of tile setters. But if you are using high fire clay and firing it to maturity, the tiles will slump at high temperatures. In these cases you have to fire the tiles on a flat surface.

Fire tiles on a kiln shelf dusted with silica sand.

Make a moat around your tiles by putting bars of clay around their edges. This helps them heat from above and below rather than the edges heating faster.

Remember that clay will shrink, and you have to adjust for this when making your tiles. To determine shrinkage, take a slab of clay and incise a line 100 millimeters long. Re-measure this line at the bisque and high fire state. If the line ends up 90 mm's long then your shrinkage rate is 10%. If your ending number is 87mm's then your shrinkage rate is 13%, etc. Remember to make the first line at the same dryness stage as you will be cutting your tiles, as there will be shrinkage between wet and leather hard as well.

Considerations For making Large Tile (over 12" x 12")
Warping and cracking are a more likely to occur when making larger tiles. Below are some thoughts that will make you more successful.

1) Use clay body with higher grog content (10% +)
2) Make the tile much thicker
3) Make all the edges a bit round and smooth to prevent weaknesses
4) Use higher cone clay (e.g., cone 6 and firing lower). This will make the final product more porous but less likely to crack during firing / cooling)
5) Kiln firing cooling cracks for large and flat items are hard to solve. When you attempt to solve the cooling cracks, you increase the chances of warping. For example, the kiln shelf stores high temperature during kiln cooling due to it's large mass. If the tile seats flat on the shelf, the bottom of the tile will cool slower than the tile's top and therefore create different expansion / shrinkage (coefficient rate) between the lower part and the top part. This will stress the tile and could cause cracks. If you take close look at the bottom of a commercial tile, you'll see that the tile mold included "risers" to enable air to pass between the kiln shelf and the bottom of the tile and therefore cool more evenly. These "risers" will also help with better bonding during installation. When you do create these riser / lifters, you have to distribute them in such a way that will reduce sagging at high temperature.
6) Dry tiles slowly without moving air (fan, wind or people traffic)
7) Dry tiles uniformly (e.g., wire rack)
8) Use electric computerized kiln for better temperature heating and cooling control with firing
9) When bisque firing, preheat to about 180 degrees for 7-12 hours and using the “slow” mode. If your kiln is capable for “slow controlled cooling” (see Skutt's KilnMaster Operating Manuel - page 19), use it for bisque and glaze firing. If your kiln is not capable to use controlled cooling, make sure the kiln is very loaded to increase cooling time (bisque and glaze firings).

Note: To identify cooling crack, if the tile cracks and the glaze edge is sharp - it is a cooling crack. It indicates that the crack occurred after the cooling passed the glaze melting point.

APPENDIX A - Making Tiles For Outdoors Use

Clay absorption rate of 3% or lower is required for tile to withstand frost. The absorption test typically used is established by the American Society for Testing and Materials. First, a fired tile is weighed dry (Wd), then soaked for 24 hours in cold water. Immediately after being dried with a towel, the tile is weighed again (Ws). The absorption rate is then calculated from the two measurements using the formula below:

In other words, to find the absorption rate, subtract the saturated weight from the dry weight. Divide the difference by the dry weight. For example, let's say a pot weighed 0.75 pounds after it was fired to maturity. After getting it wet, it weighed 0.8 pounds. The difference is 0.05. Dividing 0.05 by 0.75, we get 0.067, or an absorption rate of 6.7%.

To test the fit between the glaze and the clay body. Put glazed tiles through a hot dishwasher cycle, then into the freezer for a day or two, then back into the dishwasher, and again returning it to the freezer. Repeat this process several times (7-10), then check for crazing.

See example specification of a good low fire clay for outdoors use:

Standard 417 Red Earthenware - Cone 06-02
Low fire body containing fire clay & small amount of fine grog.
Good for Majolica technique. Superior throwing body.
C/06: Shrinkage 6%, Absorption 5.3%
C/02: Shrinkage 11 %, Absorption 1%


The map of "the Creator"

This seems to be impossible. Scientists of Bashkir State University have found indisputable proofs of an ancient highly developed civilization’s existence. The question is about a great plate found in 1999, with picture of the region done according to an unknown technology. This is a real relief map. Today’s military has almost similar maps. The map contains civil engineering works: a system of channels with a length of about 12,000 km, weirs, powerful dams. Not far from the channels, diamond-shaped grounds are shown, whose destination is unknown. The map also contains some inscriptions. Even numerous inscriptions. At first, the scientists thought that was Old Chinese language. Though, it turned out that the subscriptions were done in a hieroglyphic-syllabic language of unknown origin. The scientists never managed to read it…

“The more I learn the more I understand that I know nothing,” – the doctor of physical and mathematical science, professor of Bashkir State University, Alexander Chuvyrov admits. Namely Chuvyrov made that sensational find. Already in 1995, the professor and his post-graduate student from China Huan Hun decided to study the hypothesis of possible migration of Old Chinese population to the territory of Siberia and Ural. In an expedition to Bashkiria, they found several rock carvings done in Old Chinese language. These finds confirmed the hypothesis of Chinese migrants. The subscriptions were read. They mostly contained information about trade bargains, marriage and death registration.

Though, during the searches, notes dated the 18th century were found in archives of Ufa governor-general. They reported about 200 unusual stone slabs which were situated not far from the Chandar village, Nurimanov Region. Chuvyrov and his colleague at once decided that slabs could be connected with Chinese migrants. Archive notes also reported that in 17th-18th centuries, expeditions of Russian scientists who investigated Ural Region had studied 200 white slabs with signs and patterns, while in early 20th century, archaeologist A.Schmidt also had seen some white slabs in Bashkiria. This made the scientist start the search. In 1998, after having formed a team of his students, Chuvyrov launched the work. He hired a helicopter, and the first expedition carried a flying around of the places where the slabs were supposed to be. Though, despite all efforts, the ancient slabs were not found. Chuvyrov was very upset and even thought the slabs were just a beautiful legend.

The luck was unexpected. During one of Chuvyrov’s trips to the village, ex-chairman of the local agricultural council, Vladimir Krainov, came to him (apropos, in the house of Krainov’s father, archaelogist Schmidt once staid) and said: “Are you searching for some stone slabs? I have a strange slab in my yard.” “At first, I did not took that report seriously, - Chuvyrov told. – Though, I decided to go to that yard to see it. I remember this day exactly: July 21, 1999. Under the porch of the house, the slab with some dents lied. The stab was so heavy that we together could not take it out. So I went to the city of Ufa, to ask for help.”

In a week, work was launched in Chandar. After having dug out the slab, the searchers were stroke with its size: it was 148 cm high, 106 cm wide and 16 cm thick. While it weighed at least one ton. The master of the house made special wooden rollers, so the slab was rolled out from the hole. The find was called “Dashka’s stone” (in honour of Alexander Chuvyrov’s granddaughter born the day before it) and transported to the university for investigation. After the slab was cleaned of earth, the scientists could not entrust to their eyes. “At first sight, - Chuvyrov sais, - I understood that was not a simple stone piece, but a real map, and not a simple map, but a three-dimensional. You can see it yourself.”

“How did we manage to identify the place? At first, we could not imagine the map was so ancient. Happily, relief of today’s Bashkiria has not changed so much within millions of years. We could identify Ufa Height, while Ufa Canyon is the main point of our proofs, because we carried out geological studies and found its track where it must be according to the ancient map. Displacement of the canyon happened because of tectonic stabs which moved from East. The group of Russian and Chinese specialists in the field of cartography, physics, mathematics, geology, chemistry, and Old Chinese language managed to precisely find out that the slab contains the map of Ural region, with rivers Belya, Ufimka, Sutolka,” – Alexander Chuvyrov said while showing the lines on the stone to the journalists. – You can see Ufa Canyon – the break of the earth’s crust, stretched out from the city of Ufa to the city of Sterlitimak. At the moment, Urshak River runs over the former canyon.” The map is done on a scale 1 : 1.1 km.

Alexander Chuvyrov, being physicist, has got into the habit of entrusting only to results of investigation. While today there are such facts.

Geological structure of the slab was determined: it cosists of three levels. The base is 14 cm chick, made of the firmest dolomite. The second level is probably the most interesting, “made” of diopside glas. The technology of its treatement is not known to modern science. Actually, the picture is marked on this level. While the third level is 2 mm thick and made of calcium porcelain protecting the map from external impact.

“It should be noticed, - the professor said, - that the relief has not been manually made by an ancient stonecutter. It is simply impossible. It is obvious that the stone was machined.” X-ray photographs confirmed that the slab was of artificial origin and has been made with some precision tools.

At first, the scientists supposed that the ancient map could have been made by the ancient Chinese, because of vertical inscriptions on the map. As well known, vertical literature was used in Old Chinese language before 3rd century. To check his supposition, professor Chuvyrov visited Chinese empire library. Within 40 minutes he could spend in the library according to the permission he looked through several rare books, though no one of them contained literature similar to that one on the slab. After the meeting with his colleagues from Hunan university, he completely gave up the version about “Chinese track.” The scientist concluded that porcelain covering the slab had never been used in China. Although all the efforts to decipher the inscriptions were fruitless, it was found out that the literature had hieroglyphic-syllabic character. Chuvyrov, however, states he has deciphered one sign on the map: it signifies latitude of today’s city of Ufa.

The longer the slab was studied, the more mysteries appeared. On the map, a giant irrigative system could be seen: in addition to the rivers, there are two 500-metre-wide channel systems, 12 dams, 300-500 metres wide, approximately 10 km long and 3 km deep each. The dams most likely helped in turning water in either side, while to create them over 1 quadrillion cubic metres of earth was shifted. In comparison with that irrigative system, Volga-Don Channel looks like a scratch on the today’s relief. As a physicist, Alexander Chuvyrov supposes that now mankind can build only a small part of what is pictured on the map. According to the map, initially, Belaya River had an artificial river-bad.

It was difficult to determine even an approximate age of the slab. At first, radiocarbonic analysis was carried out, afterwards levels of stab were scanned with uranium chronometer, though the investigations showed different results and the age of the slab remained unclear. While examining the stone, two shells were found on its surface. The age of one of them – Navicopsina munitus of Gyrodeidae family - is about 500 million years, while of the second one – Ecculiomphalus princeps of Ecculiomphalinae subfamily - is about 120 million years. Namely that age was accepted as a “working version.” “The map was probably created at the time when the Earth’s magnetic pole situated in the today’s area of Franz Josef Land, while this was exactly 120 million years ago, - professor Chuvyrov says. – The map we have is beyond of traditional perception of mankind and we need a long time to get used to it. We have got used to our miracle. At first we thought that the stone was about 3,000 years. Though, that age was gradually growing, till we identified the shells ingrained in the stone to sign some objects. Though, who could guarantee that the shell was alive while being ingrained in the map? The map’s creator probably used a petrified find.”

What could be the destination of the map? That is probably the most interesting thing. Materials of the Bashkir find were already investigated in Centre of Historical Cartography in Visconsin, USA. The Americans were amazed. According to them, such three-dimensional map could have only one destination – a navigational one, while it could be worked out only through aerospace survey. Moreover, namely now in the US, work is being carried out at creation of world three-dimensional map like that. Though, the Americans intend to complete the work only to 2010. The question is that while compiling such three-dimensional map, it is necessary to work over too many figures. “Try to map at least a mountain! – Chuvyrov says. – The technology of compiling such maps demands super-power computers and aerospace survey from the Shuttle.” So, who then did created this map? Chuvyrov, while speaking about the unknown cartographers, is wary: “I do not like talks about some UFO and extraterrestrial. Let us call the author of the map simply – the creator.”

It looks like that who lived and built at that time used only air transport means: there is no ways on the map. Or they, probably, used water ways. There is also an opinion, that the authors of the ancient map did not live there at all, but only prepared that place for settlement through draining the land. This seems to be the most probable version, though nothing could be stated for the time being. Why not to assume that the authors belonged to a civilization which existed earlier?

Latest investigations of the map bring one sensation after another. Now, the scientists are sure of the map being only a fragment of a big map of the Earth. According to some hypothesis, there were totally 348 fragments like that. The other fragments could be probably somewhere near there. In outskirts of Chandar, the scientists took over 400 samples of soil and found out that the whole map had been most likely situated in the gorge of Sokolinaya Mountain (Falcon Mountain). Though, during the glacial epoch it was tore to pieces. But if the scientists manage to gather the “mosaic,” the map should have an approximate seize of 340 x 340 m. After having studied the archive materials, Chuvyrov ascertained approximate place where four pieces could be situated: one could lie under one house in Chandar, the other – under the house of merchant Khasanov, the third – under one of the village baths, the fourth – under the bridge’s pier of the local narrow-gauge railway.

In the meanwhile, Bashkir scientists send out information about their find to different scientific centres of the world in several international congresses, they have already given reports on the subject: The Civil Engineering Works Map of an Unknown Civilization of South Ural.”

The find of Bashkir scientists has no analogues. With only one exclusion. When the research was at its height, a small stone – chalcedony - got to professor Chuvyrov’s table, containing a similar relief. Probably somebody, who saw the stab wanted to copy the relief. Though, who and why?


Watch the video: FloorCAD Hollowcore slab design.