Sinai Peninsular, Egypt, December 2005: A short video documenting an excursion from Dahab on the Gulf of Aquaba- to Mount Sinai in the southern interior part of the peninsular. My travel companion and I were determined to do this independently using local transport, whether it be on the back of a 4WD or on the back of a […]

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Damascus, Syria, Nov 2005:  Damascene refers to someone from Damascus- (alternatively it could be read as ‘Damascus Scenes’)- hence the title of this video. I was fortunate enough to visit Damascus in a relative time of peace- but in a matter of years the country would be torn apart, into a war  that does not seem to have an end…

In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is/was a major cultural and religious center of the Levant. Filmed somewhat clandestinely in the Umayyad Mosque- one of the largest and oldest mosques in the world (considered by some Muslims to be the fourth-holiest place in Islam)- and the Al-Hamidiyah Souq- the soundtrack is mixed with the original audio, capturing the Mullah’s call etc….


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Jerusalem, Israel, Nov 2005: An exploration/pilgrimage of sorts. It was a Sunday morning, mass was on in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. I wasn’t at mass though- but rather exploring the ground floor of the church as the organ rang out above…

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The Dome of the Rock

Jerusalem, November 2005: As a holy city for Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Jerusalem has always been of great symbolic importance. Among its 220 historic monuments, the Dome of the Rock stands out: built in the 7th century, it is decorated with beautiful geometric and floral motifs.  The Dome of the Rock is located on a rocky outcrop known as Mount Moriah, where according to Jewish belief, Abraham offered his son Isaac as a sacrifice. The inscriptions inside the building glorify Islam as the final true revelation and culmination of the faiths of Judaism and Christianity. According to later Islamic tradition, the Rock (al-Sakhra) in the midst of the building was the spot from which Mohammed ascended to heaven after his miraculous night journey from Mecca to Jerusalem on the winged steed al-Buraq.

During the Crusades, the Dome of the Rock was commandeered by the Knight’s Templar, who later patterned their churches after it’s design.  Many medieval people believed it to actually be the famous Temple of King Solomon. Although sometimes referred to as the Mosque of Omar, the Dome of the Rock is in fact not a mosque at all. Today, it is at the very core of a bitter dispute between Palestinians and Israelis.

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Ireland, 2001: Newgrange (Irish: Sí an Bhrú) is a prehistoric monument in County Meath, Ireland, about one kilometre north of the River Boyne. It was built about 3200 BC,during the Neolithic period, which makes it older than both Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids. Newgrange is a large circular mound with a stone passageway and chambers inside. There have been various debates as to its original purpose. Many archaeologists believe that the monument had religious significance of some sort, either as a place of worship for a “cult of the dead” or for an astronomically-based faith. Once a year, at the winter solstice, the rising sun shines directly along the long passage into the chamber for about 17 minutes and illuminates the chamber floor. It is the most famous monument within the Neolithic Brú na Bóinne complex, alongside the similar passage tomb mounds of Knowth and Dowth, and as such is a part of the Brú na Bóinne UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Baalbek, Lebanon, Nov 2005: Baalbek- situated in the Beqaa Valley 85 km northeast of Beirut- contains some of the best preserved Roman ruins in Lebanon. Baal1Known as Heliopolis during Roman rule, it had one of the largest sanctuaries in the whole of the Roman empire.Baal2The history of settlement in the area of Baalbek dates back about 9,000 years, with almost continual settlement of the tell under the Temple of Jupiter, which was a temple since the pre-Hellenistic era.Baal3When I visited in November 2005, there was hardly a soul around except the odd military security patrol.Baal6Less than a year after my visit, on August 4, 2006, as part of the 2006 Lebanon War, Israeli helicopter-borne soldiers supported by aircraft entered the Shi’ite Islamic Hikmeh Hospital in Baalbek to capture senior members of Hezbollah.Baal7 They were considered to be responsible for the kidnapping of the two Israeli IDF soldiers on July 13, 2006, and who were believed to be residing in the building. Baal5The fighting caused minor damage to the hospital. Several gunmen were killed, and weapons and ammunition were seized from inside the hospital building. It has been reported that during the conflict, vibrations caused by bombing damaged the ruins.Baal4“Baalbek, with its colossal structures, is one of the finest examples of Imperial Roman architecture at its apogee”, UNESCO reported in making Baalbek a World Heritage Site in 1984.Baal8

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