Sunday, 25 October 2020

Haunted Ruins in the Gobi Desert

While I was working on the fifth book in the RHUNA series, namely Rhuna, The Snow Dreamer, which is set in Tibet, I was planning ahead and paving the way for Rhuna to journey northwards towards China.   Naturally, she would take the ancient Silk Road, and  I browsed the internet for interesting and unusual places along this famous trade route which might provide further ideas or inspiration for the next books in the series.   

I wasn’t expecting to find much in that region of the Gobi Desert and Inner Mongolia, so I was thrilled and delighted when I came across articles about the ruins of Etzina, known locally as Khara-Khoto, which means Black City in the Mongolian language.  And there was the title of my sixth book already, namely Rhuna: Black City!

When I read this opening sentence of a National Geographic article, I knew I had found the real life inspiration for my next novel:

Ghosts live here. That's what the Chinese say. They claim this place, a walled fortress abandoned in the 14th century and called Khara Khoto—Black City—is inhabited by demons and spirits.”

Today, these ruins are a tourist attraction, and you can find the site on Google Maps using this link:

It’s actually quite beautiful, isn’t it?  But these ruins can be very frightening at night, according to local legends and many stories about seeing moving lights and hearing strange sounds.  Most people are intrigued by such ghost stories, so I was inspired to include them near the end of Rhuna: Black City when Rhuna and her party investigate the ruins.

Magic and supernatural events are frequently mentioned in describing the city’s history and ultimate demise as well.  Imagine my surprise when I read about the ruler of the Black City using Black Magic in “Men and Gods in Mongolia” by Henning Haslund, a Danish anthropologist and travel writer who explored Mongolia in the 1920s.

“And then I began to hear the legends of Khara-Khoto, “The Black and Dead city”, which once was ruled by Khara-Bator Janjyn…who bore the name of Khara because he could talk “Khara ugge” (black words = magic formulas)”

It was exciting to find that real-life historical texts mirrored the villain in my Rhuna series whom I had named ‘the Dark Master’ because he wore black and practiced black magic!  For example, in one text, the ruler is called “the Black Hero”, and when his city was about to be defeated, he killed his family and tried to escape using black magic. 

There are several different versions of the Black City’s demise, but most are similar in describing the attack on the city by first re-directing the course of its river and thereby cutting off the city’s water supply.   Some records describe the Chinese Emperor destroying Black City in this way:

“The (Chinese) Emperor himself threw a magic stone into the river, which gave water to the besieged, and the stone, falling between the town and the sources of the river, caused the water to leave its ancient bed and break a new course for itself far to the westward of the town. 

 (from “Men and Gods in Mongolia” by Henning Haslund)

When the site of Khara-Khoto was excavated and documented by archaeologists early last century, many scrolls in an unknown language were discovered. 

“But parts of the documents were never deciphered, because they were written in a language unknown to the researchers.  According to one of the versions, ancient priests had encrypted magic texts in the scrolls. And according to others, those were probably the only documents serving as proof of the ancient civilization that built the city of Khara-Khoto.”

It is quite surprising that this ancient city has so many legends and stories involving magic, the supernatural and continual hauntings down to this present day.  You could almost believe that the Dark Master really did exist and caused such supernatural chaos in the Black City!

Friday, 26 June 2020

Amazing Megaliths Around the World

What are Megaliths?  
The basic answer is: a large stone that is part of a prehistoric structure or monument.  The famous pyramids of Giza in Egypt are considered megalithic structures because they were built with enormous blocks of granite or other dense and heavy stone.  Stonehenge is also a megalithic site, along with dozens more around the world.   The Easter Island statues are also megaliths.

They were built to last and endure the passage of time.  They did a good job of that too, because they outlived their civilizations by far, leaving only questions and mysteries as to their purpose and even with which technology they were built.

Technology?  Yes - look at this:

This was found in Peru, the home of the ancient Incas who were megalith builders.  It looks like the stone was softened so that it could fit into the slot of the other stone.   Softening stone for this purpose was something I came across when reading all kinds of books as research for my RHUNA series which is based on theories of an ancient megalithic civilization that spread across the world - perhaps from a legendary advanced place like Atlantis.

One of the most outstanding main features of the megalithic culture around the world is the way stone blocks were cut and put together in a wall.  The faces of each block are perfectly straight and smooth, and fit perfectly next to adjoining stone blocks.

Megaliths come in all shapes and sizes, all over the world.  Here are some I came across recently:

"Arsh Bilqis" - part of a temple in Yemen.

They don't come in basic rectangles either, but often have many more facets, some with slots, grooves, holes and other mysterious bits which once served to connect the block to another block or device.  Check these out!


Shrine of Panoias, Portugal

A strange megalith with precise cuts in Indonesia...and something even more bizarre in India

A wall in Japan...much like walls on the South Pacific Island of Tonga...

And here is a wall in India, identical to those in Cusco, Peru, Easter Island and other megalithic sites:

Warangal, India

And this was just a sample of the extraordinary megaliths around the world!