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Ancient Arab Temple Art Reveals Hybrid Camels

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(CNN) — Evidence of ancient hybrid camels has been uncovered by archaeologists who were working to restore a temple in northern Iraq damaged by ISIS.

The Temple of Allat, which dates to the second century AD, is located in the city of Hatra, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Once a sprawling metropolis, it served as the capital of the Kingdom of Hatra. The remains of the ancient city were heavily vandalized by religious extremists between 2015 and 2017. Before that, the temple had also suffered decades of neglect.

During restoration after the recent damage, researchers spied something unexpected in a frieze above a door of the Temple of Allat. The horizontal stone piece of artwork appeared to show hybrid camels that resulted from crossing two different breeds.

The depiction of these camels has helped researchers gain a better understanding of ancient Hatra, which was a small neighboring kingdom of the Roman and Parthian empires — though those neighbors were often more hostile than friendly.

The artwork also adds to the growing evidence that researchers have of when and where camel hybrids were bred. Previously, researchers believed different types of camels were crossbred primarily in expansive empires. This latest finding shows the practice was more widespread.

“The image appears to express a precise message — the direct involvement of the king in camel herding, management and hybridization practices,” said Massimo Vidale, an associate professor at the Università degli Studi di Padova in Italy.

Breeding hybrids of a sacred animal

The artwork was added to the temple during a renovation conducted by King Sanatruq I and his son, Abdsamiya in 168 AD, the researchers believe. It was during this time that the royals rededicated the temple to the goddess Allat, in addition to erecting nearly life-size statues of themselves.

Previous research on the stone frieze suggested that it depicted eight dromedaries, with two Bactrian camels in the middle.

Dromedaries are Arabian camels that sport one hump. These swift animals are ideal for riding or even racing. In contrast, Bactrian camels are native to Central Asia and have two humps. These hardy pack animals can withstand high altitudes, cold temperatures and even drought.

When Vidale and his colleagues took a closer look at the artwork, they noticed that the faces and fur of the two so-called Bactrian camels actually looked more like a cross between a Bactrian camel and dromedary.

And rather than a sizable space between the two humps, there was just a slight indentation — a trait that has been observed in hybrids of these camel breeds.

People have been breeding camels since the first century AD, according to the oldest hybrid camel animal skeletons recovered from the Roman and Parthian empires.

This husbandry practice went into effect thousands of years ago because it leads to stronger and more resilient animals. Hybrid camels could carry double the load of dromedaries and more than double what a Bactrian camel could support.

Despite its diminutive size when compared with the surrounding empires, the kingdom of Hatra was still able to import distant Bactrian camels from the steppes of Central Asia and breed camels as a show of power.

Political power flex

Camels were likely considered to be a sacred animal to Allat, and other sculptures and friezes within the temple show the goddess riding the animals sidesaddle.

The elaborate temple would have been seen by both religious visitors and the members of trade caravans. It might have even hosted markets.

“The construction of the Temple of Allat seems to be a bold move by King Sanatruq I, importing Allat — one of the most important pre-Islamic Arab deities,” Vidale said.

Creating and owning the best camels was also a political move because it created a direct association between the king and a sacred animal — and distinguished the kingdom from relying on its powerful neighbors.

“By appealing to Arab groups, the king made a serious step in the process of detaching Hatra from the shadow of the Parthian empire,” Vidale said.

The king might have even had a monopoly on the breeding of these special camels, as well as an interest “in the management of the long-distance caravans of an ancient Silk Road that could expand the trade interests that made Hatra so rich,” the researchers wrote in the study. “The camels of the king, after all, are always the best.”

A study detailing the findings published Tuesday in the journal Antiquity.

Source: wsvn.com

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Revenge Travel: How Vacation Vengeance Became a Thing

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(CNN) — As more and more countries reopen their borders to eager tourists, a trendy new phrase has emerged on social media: revenge travel.

The term has been used to describe trips as varied as family reunions, big splurge vacations and re-visits to favorite places, which leads to one question: so, what is it?

“Revenge” generally has a negative connotation, which contradicts the joyful, excited feeling so many people have about making their first vacation in two-plus years.

But the idea of “revenge travel” seems to be more about loving to travel rather than expecting a specific destination to make amends. Unless, say, Romania stole your girlfriend or Peru got you fired from your job, it sounds strange to take revenge on a place.

Perhaps “revenge travel” can be interpreted as getting revenge against the pandemic, or against Covid itself.

No. Really. What is it?

“Revenge travel is a media buzzword that originated in 2021 when the world began to reopen, and people decided to make up for lost time,” says Erika Richter, vice president of the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA).

Part of the problem is that there isn’t one good way to describe the current mood of travel around the globe. “Post-pandemic travel” isn’t quite accurate, since the pandemic isn’t over in many places. Different countries and regions are operating on different timelines, with some eliminating all barriers to entry while others remain strictly controlled or even closed to foreign visitors.

Richter agrees with the overall sentiment behind the concept, even if she doesn’t use the term “revenge travel.”

“It’s another way of saying, “Hey, life is short. I want to book that trip. I want to spend more time with family. I want to connect with humanity and with nature. I want to explore the world and seek experiences that make me feel alive.”

She isn’t the only one in the tourism industry struggling to figure out how to talk about “revenge travel” as a trend.

“I don’t think the prefix ‘revenge’ is appropriate to what travel should be about,” Rory Boland, editor of Which? magazine, tells CNN Travel. He calls “revenge travel” an “ugly term.”

However, he acknowledges that the phrase has clearly connected with people.

“What it is trying to capture, I think, is the desire many people have to travel again, to see new places and meet new people, after a period that has felt static and dreary.”

The people who are doing it

Whether they use the term “revenge travel” or not, many travelers report that they’re taking their first big trip since the beginning of the pandemic.

Deborah Campagnaro, who lives in British Columbia, Canada, is one of them.

She retired from her investment services job of 30-plus years during the pandemic and looked forward to going on a big celebratory vacation with her husband. The couple went on a group trip to Nepal in 2016 to hike the Annapurna Circuit, a challenging trek through some of the country’s highest peaks.

They loved the trip so much they had planned to go back to Nepal, this time on a custom itinerary. Pandemic related closures and weather difficulties meant they had to postpone multiple times. Finally, they have confirmed tickets and bookings for September 2022.

Campagnaro and her husband are indulging in additional time and experiences instead of fancy resort stays. They will be staying in Nepal for an entire month and have added on a few days in the lakeside town of Pokhara as a treat.

“That wouldn’t have happened before,” she says about the side trip. “We’re just doing it now because we can. it’s very, very nice to have some downtime there after a trek.”

Rhode Island resident Brittney Darcy is also looking forward to a trip that was scuttled by the pandemic.

The 26-year-old has dreamed of going to Paris since she was a little girl watching her favorite movie, “Sabrina.” But the planned summer 2020 trip with her boyfriend was called off when Covid broke out.

Now, she has finally rescheduled her dream vacation — but with more stops and some upgrades. Instead of five days in Paris, she will be spending two weeks abroad in France and Italy.

“I went on a cross-country trip during Covid, but it wasn’t enough and I’ve always wanted to go to Paris and Italy and I’ve never been. We’re young and why not?” she told CNN.

The money she saved from not traveling for two years is being put toward some vacation upgrades. Instead of having a layover in Iceland or Ireland, Darcy and her boyfriend paid more for a direct flight from Boston.

Darcy admits that she had never heard the term “revenge travel,” but once she did it was a perfect term to apply to her Europe trip.

“Covid has made me less frugal. We only live once, so I might as well spend my money on experiences.”

Making up for lost time

One thing is clear: as vaccines roll out and doors reopen, people around the world are eager to get back out on the road again.

Travel booking company Expedia tracks online search data related to travel and tourism. In 2021, the single highest increase in average travel search traffic — 10% — was in May, the week after the European Union voted to extend their contract with Pfizer and approve the vaccine for use on adolescents.

Expedia’s survey found that 60% of consumers had plans to travel domestically and 27% to travel internationally in 2022.

And many of these travelers are willing to spend more money on a vacation than they would have in the past.

Two-ish years of staying home means that some people have saved up money and can now splurge on a fancier hotel, a first-class airplane ticket or a spendy once-in-a-lifetime experience.

On top of that, more and more companies have permanently changed their remote work policies post-pandemic.

A Pew survey published in February showed that 60% of workers with jobs that can be done from home said they’d like to work from home all or most of the time when the pandemic is over if given the choice.

For some people, working from home doesn’t necessarily mean from home — it could mean trying out an Airbnb in another country and spending several weeks there combining work and travel.

Some destinations are openly courting remote workers. Caribbean islands like Barbados and Anguilla have offered visas specifically for remote workers or “digital nomads” as a way to boost tourism.

So call it “revenge travel” or don’t. Either way, it’s apparent that people have changed their travel mindsets since the pandemic began, and that feeling of “oh, finally!” has a lot of power to sell airline tickets and hotel packages.

One of the people taking part in the trend is Christie Hudson, Expedia’s head of public relations, who worked on the company’s travel survey.

“Honestly, I wasn’t very surprised [by the survey results] simply because the findings resonated so strongly with the way I feel personally,” she says. “During my last weekend getaway, I booked multiple spa appointments and upgraded our flights to first class. I felt like I deserved it.”

Original Article: wsvn.com

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Naomi Judd Remembered in Song and Tears at Public Memorial

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(CNN) — Remarks and music with lyrics about love, loss and heaven were a common thread throughout the public memorial held for Naomi Judd Sunday at Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee.

CMT aired the emotional event for the singer and songwriter who died by suicide in April at the age of 76.

Her daughter, actress Ashley Judd, was welcomed to the stage at the beginning of the tribute with a standing ovation.

“Thank you for being in community and fellowship with us,” the younger Judd said. “Because we can pretend to care, but we cannot pretend to show up. So thank you for showing up for our mom.”

She explained that her mother had wanted the public memorial to be held at Ryman, the former home of the Grand Ole Opry, which she referred to as the “mother church.”

Judd also offered an obituary about her mother before introducing her older sister, Wynonna, who emotionally performed a song their mother wrote, “River of Time.”

“I’m holding back a flood of tears/Just thinking ’bout those happy years,” Wynonna Judd sang. “Like all the good times that are no more. My love is gone, gone, gone forever more.”

The event was hosted by Judd family friend and “Good Morning America” co-host Robin Roberts.

“She loved with her whole heart and I know she would be so touched by the outpouring of love in all of our hearts tonight , especially the love towards her daughters,” Roberts said of Judd.

Wynonna and Naomi Judd made up the Grammy-winning duo The Judds and plenty of their hits were performed by current artists, including Little Big Town, Jamey Johnson, EmmyLou Harris with Allison Russell and Brad Paisley.

Members of The Gaither Vocal Band also performed a gospel song as tribute to Judd’s love of spiritual music.

Rock star Bono appeared in a video where he recited the lyrics to the Judd’s song, “Guardian Angel.” Other stars also offered remarks via video including Oprah Winfrey, Salma Hayek, Reese Witherspoon, Morgan Freeman and Bette Midler.

Judd’s husband, Larry Strickland, spoke to those gathered explaining that his wife never met a stranger and enjoyed talking to everyone she came across.

He read an email he received from a man who met his wife on a flight and shared how Judd expressed her love for her husband and their life together.

“Needless to say it brought great pleasure and comfort to me,” Strickland said, emotionally.

Wynonna Judd made the audience laugh by teasing about her sometimes tumultuous relationship with her mother.

“We’re showing the world what a dysfunctional family does,” she said as she looked at her sister and Strickland. “You show up for each other.”

She returned to the stage to peform “The Rose” with Brandi Carlile.

Judd announced that to honor her mother, she planned to continue on the tour they were supposed to do together. She then closed the show with a rousing rendition of “Love Can Build a Bridge.”

Original Post: wsvn.com

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SIHOO M90D Ergonomic Office Chair

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Two minute review

The SIHOO M90D is an ergonomic office chair from the Chinese office furniture maker SIHOO which was founded in 2011 but only began selling its products overseas in 2018. The company has built up a lot of momentum in the time since and it now sells a wide variety of office chairs on its website as well as on Amazon. While the model we tested has a mesh back and a padded seat cushion, SIHOO also sells a version of this chair with the same design which has a mesh seat cushion.

Ergonomics is the main focus of this chair and even the box it ships in features a diagram showing you how to correctly sit in it to avoid putting unnecessary stress on your back. The SIHOO M90D’s best feature is its adaptive lumbar support bar which adjusts on its own to ensure that your lower back is supported when using it. Elsewhere, the mesh back keeps you cool when working and its armrests can be turned inward or outward. Pulling a lever at its side out lets you recline while pushing it down lets you raise or lower the chair’s height. While you could save a few bucks on a budget model instead, for just a bit more the SIHOO M90D gives you the experience of sitting in a premium office chair without breaking the bank.

SIHOO M90D: Pricing and availability

The SIHOO M90D is available for $359 on the company’s website at the time of writing but it can also be purchased from Amazon for $369 with a $29 coupon that brings the price down to $340. However, Amazon only offers this office chair in black and gray while there is a two-tone red option (red back and headrest with a black seat) in addition to black and gray available on SIHOO’s website.

If you like the design and features of the SIHOO M90D but prefer an office chair with a mesh seat as well as a mesh back like with the X-Chair X2, The SIHOO M90C may be what you’re after instead and it’s even a few dollars cheaper at $356. It’s worth noting that the SIHOO M90C is only available in black and gray though.

(Image credit: Future)

SIHOO M90D: Design and build quality

The mesh backrest of the SIHOO M90D immediately draws your eye due to the fact that SIHOO decided to add a pattern to it. While some may prefer a mesh backrest without a pattern, this design decision is definitely unique to this chair as we’ve yet to see something similar from other office furniture makers.

(Image credit: Future)

While the SIHOO M90D’s backrest is made from mesh, the back of the chair is made of hard plastic. The center of the chair’s frame features a small SIHOO logo in red and there are also gray accents on either side from the backplate.

(Image credit: Future)

On the left underside of the chair you’ll find a lever that can be used to raise and lower the chair’s height by rotating it forward. However, pulling the lever out allows you to lean back in the chair while pushing it in locks the chair in place. Meanwhile, the knob in the middle can be tightened or loosened to make it easier or harder to lean back in the chair.

(Image credit: Future)

Although the SIHOO M90D’s armrests are black at the top and on the sides, you can see a bit of silver metal at their base. At the same time, you can see the gray of the backplate which connects the backrest to the chair’s cushion from the side.

(Image credit: Future)

The base of SIHOO M90D is made of metal and its silver color provides a nice contrast to its black seat cushion, armrests and backrest. This same silver extends to the five 2.5” casters and the gas cylinder that allows the chair to be raised or lowered is also silver.

(Image credit: Future)

SIHOO M90D: Setup and assembly

The SIHOO M90D sent to TechRadar Pro for review arrived in a single large brown box that features a diagram which shows you the correct way to sit in an ergonomic position and we thought this was a nice touch.

(Image credit: Future)

Once unpacked, we were left with five 2.5” casters, the silver base, a headrest, a pair of armrests, the backrests, a gas cylinder, a lever mechanism, a seat cushion, an instruction manual and all of the bolts needed to assemble the chair. We also appreciated how SIHOO included a pair of white gloves to wear while assembling the chair to avoid getting any grease from the gas cylinder on your hands.

(Image credit: Future)

Assembling the SIHOO M90D begins with inserting the five casters into the metal base and then putting the gas cylinder into the hole at its center.

(Image credit: Future)

From here, you need to use three bolts on each side to attach both of the armrests to the seat cushion. You then need to use another three bolts to connect the lever mechanism to the middle of the underside of the seat cushion.

(Image credit: Future)

With the armrests and lever mechanism attached to the seat cushion, you then need to connect the backrest to it using three bolts.

(Image credit: Future)

Next up, you need to attach the seat cushion and backrest to the base by lining up the hole at the bottom of the seat cushion with the gas cylinder.

(Image credit: Future)

To finish assembling the SIHOO M90D, you just have to insert the headrest into the slot at the back of the backrest and then you’re done.

(Image credit: Future)

SIHOO M90D: In use and comfortability

After assembling the SIHOO M90D, we sat in the chair and adjusted everything to our liking. First off, we lowered the chair so that our feet rested on the ground and then we pulled the armrest’s arm pads all the way forward. Next up we lifted the chair’s backrest up so that the adaptive lumbar support was right in the center of the small of our back. We also loosened the knob on the underside of the chair to allow us to lean back more easily.

(Image credit: Future)

During our time testing the SIHOO M90D, we found the chair to be quite comfortable and the adaptive lumbar support made it possible to use for long stretches at a time. The firmness of the seat cushion was another plus but we also liked that it was still somewhat soft. The casters did their job effectively and rolling the chair around was easy on our hardwood floors.

(Image credit: Future)

The arm pads at the top of each of the armrests can be raised or lowered and pushed forward or backward depending on your preference. However, they can also be tilted out if you prefer to have your arms wider when at rest. 

Should I buy the SIHOO M90D?

Also consider

The Branch Ergonomic Chair from Branch Furniture is slightly cheaper than the SIHOO M90D and is also available in light blue in addition to black and gray. It has an eye-catching design thanks to its white frame, plenty of adjustability and pairs quite well with the Branch Standing Desk. However, it doesn’t come with a headrest and there isn’t an option to add one either.

The Vari Task Chair is another alternative to the SIHOO M90D that is slightly more expensive if you choose the configuration that comes with a headrest. However, Vari offers several different variations of this chair depending on the size of your budget. Likewise, it pairs nicely with the Vari Electric Standing Desk or even the new, cheaper Vari Essential Electric Standing Desk.

First reviewed May 2022

Sit comfortably at your desk all day with one of the best office chairs

Source Here: techradar.com

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