Asian-inspired night market comes to Brooklyn, New York

brooklyn night bazaar in brooklyn, new yorkOn Sunday, October 9, 2011, from 5PM to midnight, the Brooklyn Night Bazaar will be held at Dekalb Market in Brooklyn, New York. The event, which is inspired by the night markets across Asia, will feature more than 65 independent vendors, food, music, art, and a beer and wine garden, all outdoors. While the event is free, there will be a ticket charge of $12-$15 to enter the performance area. Tickets can be purchased here.

Some things to expect:

Dekalb Market is located at 138 Willoughby St., at the intersection of Flatbush Avenue Extension and Willoughby in Brooklyn, New York.

SkyMall Monday: Five Stones Ring

skymall monday five stones rings gadlingThere was big news out of SkyMall Monday headquarters this weekend. I got engaged! As you can imagine, we’re pretty thrilled. As you might also imagine, there’s been a lot of talk about rings. I was fortunate enough to be able to give my fiancée my great-grandmother’s ring. It saved me the agony of having to shop for jewelry (and, yes, also a lot of money). Ring shopping is tough. It’s nerve-racking, complicated and, of course, expensive. Thankfully, if you’re in the market for a special ring for an ever more special lady, SkyMall makes the search simple. Forget diamonds. In fact, forget the idea of having just one stone. If you really want to impress your lady – and everyone else – then you need to go all out. You need to maximize your stones. You need the semiprecious power of the Five Stones Ring.Everyone gets a diamond engagement ring. Where’s the fun in that? And plenty of girls have birthstone rings. That’s also cliche. What you need is more stones. Why choose just one? Or two? Five is the real magic number. It took five people to form Voltron. There were five members of The Breakfast Club. And there are five semiprecious stones in the Five Stones Ring. Coincidence? Not at all. Five is where it’s at.

Think that engagement rings need diamonds? Believe that haphazardly throwing five stones into a ring looks like a geologist threw up? Well, keep playing with your rock tumbler while we read the product description:

Can’t decide which semiprecious stone is your favorite? This impressive ring features five of the most popular: amethyst, peridot, citrine, garnet, and iolite.

Oval, emerald, and pear-shaped stones are hand-set in sterling silver bezels on a polished sterling band.

While I have only ever heard of two of those stones, I can only assume it’s because the other three – peridot, citrine and iolite – are so fantastic that they are only known to people much more powerful and sophisticated than me. And since you are combining five different stones, it only makes sense to use three different cuts.

Thankfully, the Five Stones Ring can fit anyone, as it’s available in whole sizes 6-10. I mean, sure, my fiancée is a size 4, but the Five Stones Ring looks even more amazing when worn on the thumb. That should ensure a snug fit.

So, if you need to pop the question – or any question, really – make sure that you go all out. Don’t do the expected. Remember Voltron. Remember the power of five.

Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts HERE.

The Visigoths: Spain’s forgotten conquerors

Spain, Visigoth, Visigoths, Visigothic, MéridaWhen most people think of the fall of the Roman Empire, they think of hordes of howling barbarians swarming over the frontier and laying waste to civilization. That’s only partially true. In reality, many tribes were invited, and even those that weren’t came with their families not just to conquer, but to settle. This is why historians prefer the term “Migration Period”. And although these tribes conquered, the Romans ended up changing them more than they changed the Romans.

Take the gravestone pictured here, for instance. The product of “barbarians” who had taken Spain, it has Christian symbolism and is written in Latin. It reads, “Cantonus, servant of God, lived 87 years. He rested in peace on 22 December 517 AD.”

The Visigoths spread over much of the western Roman Empire in the fourth and fifth centuries. Their attacks prompted the emperor Honorius to withdraw his legions from Britain so he could get reinforcements, but this didn’t stop the Visigoths from sacking Rome itself in 410 AD. Like other Germanic tribes, they came to settle, and eventually moved as far as southern France and Spain. There they took over the government but left the society pretty much intact. Roman bureaucrats still ran day-to-day affairs. The Visigoths were already Christian like most Romans by this time, and since they lacked a written language they started using Latin.

Their kingdom lasted from 475 to 711, when they were defeated by the Umayyid Muslims. That’s a long time, but the Visigoths have basically become the Invisigoths, a forgotten people sandwiched in time between the Romans and the Moors. Why? Because they had little effect on the people they ruled. The Iberian Romans continued pretty much as they were, developing from the crumbling Classical era into the Early Middle Ages. These Ibero-Romans vastly outnumbered their Visigothic rulers. The only Visigothic word to make it into Spanish is verdugo, which means “executioner”.

If you look hard enough, you can still see traces of the Visigoths. Four of their churches still stand, two in Spain and two in Portugal. One of the best is San Pedro de la Nave near Campillo, Spain. Two shots of this church are in the gallery. Bits of other buildings have been incorporated into later structures. In Mérida, a Moorish fortress called the Alcazaba uses a bunch of pillars taken from a Visigothic hospital. They’re shown in the gallery too. The Visigoths had a distinct artistic style of carvings in low relief, showing plants or animals or people in Biblical or battle scenes. The Visigothic Museum in Mérida has an excellent collection of these.

The Germanic tribes were also good at making jewelry, and the Visigoths were no exception. They liked huge, intricately carved pins called fibulae to hold their cloaks, and wore bejeweled belt buckles big enough to make any Texan proud. Several of their chunky gold crowns also survive, with the names of their kings spelled out in gold letters hanging like a fringe around the edge.

So when visiting Spain’s many museums and historic sights, keep an eye out for remnants of Spain’s underrated rulers!

Don’t miss the rest of my series: Exploring Extremadura, Spain’s historic southwest

Coming up next: The wine and cuisine of Extremadura!

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Ethiopian Jesus

Jesus, Nativity, Christ, jesus, Christmas
It’s Christmas, when the Christian world celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. The Muslim world celebrates too because in Islam Jesus is considered a prophet.

Christianity has spread all over the world. One of the best things about travel is the different world views it exposes you to, and one of these insights is that religious artists have created Jesus in their own image. Europe has a white Jesus, Africa has a black Jesus, and Latin America has a Latino Jesus.

So what did Jesus really look like? The Bible is a bit sketchy about his personal appearance, but being a Levantine Jew he wouldn’t have looked like the Nordic hippie we’re familiar with in the West. He probably looked a bit more like this picture above, which is in the 16th century church of Ura Kidane Mihret on Lake Tana, Ethiopia. Brown skin, dark eyes and hair. . .this is what most people in ancient Judea looked like.

Ethiopia became Christian in the 4th century, and is the second oldest Christian nation after Armenia. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church has built incredible houses of worship all over the country, including the famous rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, stone buildings dug out of the bedrock.

For more on the fascinating culture that produced this image, check out my series on travel in Ethiopia.

Archaeologists discover Roman swimming pool in Jerusalem

Jerusalem, Israel, archaeology
Roman soldiers liked a good swim, especially after a hard day’s work suppressing rebellions.

Archaeologists digging in Jerusalem have discovered the remains of a Roman swimming pool. Some roof tiles at the site bear the inscription “LEG X FR”, which stands for Tenth Legion Fretensis (“of the sea strait”, referring to one of the legion’s early victories). This legion was responsible for controlling Jerusalem. During the Jewish rebellion of 70 AD it besieged Jerusalem and destroyed the Jewish Temple, as seen here in an 1850 painting by David Roberts. During the bloody Bar Kokhba Rebellion of 135 AD the Roman legions were again kicked out of the city but were again able to recapture it.

The pools are more like large bathtubs lined with plaster. They’re part of a large complex of buildings housing pools and of course Roman baths. It’s not unusual for Roman military bases to have such luxuries, especially if the legion stayed put for any length of time.

The site is in Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter. One surprising find was a ceramic roof tile that a dog walked over while it was still wet. Check out this article for a photo. Tiles from the Roman baths in York, England, bear human footprints, some so clear you can see the nails used to attach the sole of the sandal to the upper.