tuque /tūk/ n Canadian English, var. toque [19th c. Canadian French, from the French toque, from the Basque tauka] 1 A close-fitting knitted cap, often with a long tapering end or tassel or pompom. 2 fig Something quintessentially Canadian.
souq /sūk/ n from the Arabic سوق var. souk 1 An open-air marketplace. 2 fig A central meeting place for the circulation of news and ideas.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Excavations highlight early Christians' penchant for burying stuff in the sand

From the needle-in-a-haystack department, Israeli excavators stumbled upon a 2,000-year-old gold earring near the Old City walls of Jerusalem.

2,000 years, eh? Why does that sound familiar? What was going on in Jerusalem two thou- oh my God! Could it be... His?

Men have been wearing earrings since, uh, pre-Christian times. Some pagans thought that earrings protected the mind by guarding the ear cavity against invading evil spirits. The ancient Persians just thought they looked hip. When Jay-C was preaching his radical message about faith, love and hope, He was probably trying to appeal to the hip crowd, too. And He was all about keeping out the jinns.

Call it a hunch.

Meanwhile, from impossibly small things found in the sand to impossibly large things kept hidden all these years, archaeologists in Syria just discovered a 1,200-year-old, nearly 700,000 cubic-foot church buried in the desert outside of Damascus.

What is really spectacular about the find, aside from the fact that a colossal cathedral went undetected for twelve centuries' worth of human curiosity and scavenging, is that the site where it was found - Palmyra - is one of the most heavily excavated (and rewarding, to the visitor) digs in the Middle East.

Archaeologists have found pottery shards, gold chains, glassware, oil lamps, gravestones... yes, even earrings. And only now an entire church!

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