Piri Reis Map
This simple piece of preserved gazelle skin has been the basis of intense controversy in the world of cartography. For one thing, the map appears to show Antarctica almost 300 years before it was discovered. Not only does it show Antarctica, but the continent is drawn as a land mass as it would have appeared before it was covered with its ice cap over 6,000 years ago.
there was no explanation for the inclusion of Antarctica without the ice cap. Professor Hapgood and his students theorized that the Piri Reis map had to have been based on information older than 4,000 BCE. This is long before any known sophisticated civilizations or any well-defined languages; the map introduces the theory of an ancient civilization that had the skills to navigate the world’s oceans, and accurately chart the lands they visited. Professor Hapgood went on to state that the topographical representation of the area inland from the coast was so accurate that this ancient super-civilization had to have aerial capabilities in addition to their nautical and cartographic abilities. This naturally led to a theory of an alien civilization or one based on the lost city of Atlantis.
Researchers at the Drents Museum in the Netherlands made a shocking discovery when they imaged an ancient Chinese statue and found a nearly 1,000-year-old mummy inside. Sitting in the lotus position, the mummy fits within the statue perfectly. “On the outside, it looks like a large statue of Buddha,” the museum said in a release. “Scan research has shown that on the inside, it is the mummy of a Buddhist monk who lived around the year 1100.”
Glowing through the statue’s golden cast, the human skeleton is believed to belong to Buddhist master Liuquan, a member of the Chinese Meditation School. The mummified body hidden inside the buddhist statue is sitting on a roll of cloth,” Buddhism expert Erik Bruijn told Discovery News. “On this cloth are Chinese characters written in black ink, mentioning the name of the venerable monk: Liuquan,” he added. According to Bruijn, the name means “Six Perfections.”
“It refers to the virtues perfected by a being who seeks buddhahood through the systematic practice of the six perfect virtues but renounces complete entry into nirvana until all beings are saved,” Bruijn said. The museum speculates Liu Quan Liuquan may have “self-mummified” in order to become a “living Buddha.” Practiced mainly in Japan, self-mummification was a grueling process that required a monk to follow a strict 1,000-day diet of nuts and seeds in order to strip the body of fat. A diet of bark and roots would follow for another 1,000 days.
At the end of this period, the monk began drinking a poisonous tea made from the sap of the Japanese varnish tree, normally used to lacquer bowls and plates. The tea caused profuse vomiting as well as a rapid loss of bodily fluids, possibly making the body too poisonous to be eaten by bacteria and insects. A living skeleton, the monk was then placed in a stone tomb barely larger than his body, which was equipped with an air tube and a bell.
Never moving from the lotus position, the monk would ring the bell each day to let those outside know that he was still alive. When the bell stopped ringing, the monk was presumed dead, the air tube removed and the tomb sealed. After another 1,000 days the tomb would be opened to check whether the monk had been successfully mummified. Of the hundreds of monks that tried this horrifying process, only a few dozen actually became self-mummified and venerated in temples as a Buddha.
The temple is dedicated to the adoration of a particular manifestation, or avatar, of the Hindu god known as Vishnu (or Krishna), here enshrined in the Anantha Shayanam posture on the serpent known as Shesha. For generations, the temple has been managed by the Maharaja of Travancore. You see, deities can actually own property in India, though, for obvious reasons, they require an earthly representative to act as guardian or custodian for anything concerning its administration. The role in this case is fulfilled by the royal figure, the Maharaja, as per Indian law and custom. However, by 2011, several concerns were brought to the Supreme Court of India about mismanagement of the temple and its contents. It was suspected many artifacts had been stolen—artifacts that had been left as offerings to Vishnu across the centuries and that were now being taken away from their rightful place. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of opening several of the vaults in order to ascertain the state of the treasures held within, so a special committee was send. And what they found was staggering.
For a long time now, the temple management authorities had been aware of the existence of six different vaults, designated in official documents by a single letter, from A to F. Two additional chambers, Vault G and H, have been discovered since. Four of the vaults, C, D, E, and F, were routinely opened every year by the temple priests in order to take out items for use in special ceremonies, which were deposited back afterward. As for the rest of the chambers: they knew they had been closed for centuries and feared what might happen if they were opened. Supposedly sealed by religious rituals, opening them could cause the anger of the gods, after all. Legends about them abound. Some said they were guarded by giant snakes, who would kill anyone who tried accessing beyond the permitted boundaries. Others claimed behind the doors there was an entire ocean, so that opening them would flood the entire city in an instant. Yet others believed traps and curses would befall trespassers. But pretty much everyone knew the chambers contained unimaginable wonders accumulated over thousands of years of devotees donating their riches as tribute to the Deity.
And this is where legend meets fact. When the Supreme Court of India sent an official committee to open vault A, they discovered a wealth of treasure valued in the billions. But still the other vaults remain closed after centuries, and no one can ascertain what riches might lie behind. Supposedly, the largest treasure could be hidden in Vault B. And the Supreme Court wanted to know. But when the special committee managed to open the metal-grille door that secured the entrance, they found a big and sturdy wooden portal behind it. So they opened that one too. And then they found a third door, this one made of iron, securely jammed and hard to budge. The committee discussed forcing their way in, but in the end decided not to. After all, this is a sacred temple, and terrible rumors warn against any such entry. Even beyond the myths and superstition, it would be nothing short of disrespectful by any measure. So what can you do? Hire a locksmith, of course!
But before the locksmith could arrive, the royal family filed an injunction against opening Vault B—an injunction that still stands today. As per the law, no one can open that door for now, so its contents shall remain a mystery for a while still. We can only imagine: a vault whose walls are made of gold. Golden weapons and thrones encrusted with thousands of invaluable gems. Statues made of solid gold and beautiful craftsmanship lying on mounts of diamonds and emeralds far too numerous to catch in a single glimpse. Or so the legend goes.
The Hall of Records