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Cradles of civilizations rock Expo

WHILE World Expo pavilions address the present and visualize the future, they also showcase their past, and in many cases brilliant ancient civilizations in all continents.

One can glimpse many cradles of world civilization at the World Expo through ancient relics and exquisite replicas, and multimedia exhibitions.

Here's a look at how a few civilizations are presented. (China, of course, is another topic.)

We visit Egypt, Greece, India, Iraq, Israel, Mexico and Turkey.


Not much is left of the fabled land of Babylon in Mesopotamia but the Iraq Pavilion recreates a bit of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

The fertile crescent between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers is regarded as a cradle of glorious civilizations, such as Sumer.

Writing and the wheel are often said to have been invented in Mesopotamia.

The Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II built the Hanging Garden around 600 BC to please his wife Amytis of Media, who missed her green homeland in Persia where there were trees and fragrant plants. Several pillars are carved with plant patterns and small delicate fountains suggest the luxurious life of Babylon.

The venue also presents two statues of characters from the "Arabian Nights," a collection of stories said to have originated in the territory that comprises Iraq.


The Land of the Pharaohs is renown for its great pyramids, the Sphinx, tombs, hieroglyphics, mummies and the Nile culture.

The Egypt Pavilion offers a bit of them all in a glimpse of more than 5,000 years of recorded history.

Ancient Egypt, a land of mysteries and beauty, created a brilliant civilization in North Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River.

The ancient Egyptians, who were skilled in mathematics, managed unrivaled architectural miracles, such as the pyramids and the Sphinx. Many are still standing.

Ancient Egyptians believed pyramids and tombs were houses of eternity for the pharaohs and their queens - something Chinese emperors understood, especially the Qin Emperor and his terracotta army.

Egyptians have brought eight ancient treasures from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, including a large statue of the Pharaoh Amenhotep IV and the Mask of Sheshonq II.


The Greece Pavilion gives visitors a window on Greek civilization, the first civilization in Europe and one that inspired the Western world.

It is generally considered to have lasted around 1,300 years from the 8th century BC to the AD 6th century.

In the center of the pavilion, a steering wheel and zoom lever control a screen providing a 360-degree view of ancient Athens. Viewers can zero-in on details of the Parthenon on the Acropolis.

It shows the agora or market place, where people gathered and exchanged not only goods but ideas. It was the original marketplace of ideas, a concept passed down to this day.

In ancient Greek cities, the agora was the focal point of everyday life. It was also where philosophers taught and argued. The agora of ancient Athens was just below the Parthenon, almost exactly where it is today.


The Mexico Pavilion shares its Mayan and Huasteca culture that flowered more than 1,200 years ago.

Thirty cultural relics and artistic masterpieces are displayed, all strongly conveying man's harmony with nature in ancient times.

A 3.7-meter-high stele depicting the all-powerful deity Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl stands at the entrance, demonstrating worship of and gratitude to nature. It was created in the late Postclassical Era. The god was considered creator of man, keeper of time and patron of the arts.

Created in the early Postclassical period, a relief shows deities holding up the celestial dome and permitting the world to exist.

Mayans believed that only by finding balance in the universe could the world survive.


The Israel Pavilion offers a glimpse of history, studded with great hardships and splendid glories.

If learning and study is the heart of Jewish tradition, then the love for art, music and literature is its soul.

Jewish culture, a 4,000-year-old energetic civilization with an indomitable spirit, permeates and integrates itself into other cultures. It makes its contributions to world civilization, though being subjugated and rejected by others for centuries.

As early as more than 700 years ago, Jewish groups settled in the ancient city of Kaifeng, located in what is Henan Province today, and lived in harmony with locals and other religious traditions.

Upon entering the sea-shell shaped, streamlined Israel Pavilion, visitors enter a corridor of history posted with old photos of the Shanghai ghetto for Jewish refugees in World War II.

The main hall features dozens of ball-shaped touch screens, showing short films about the achievements of Israel and Israelis in scientific and innovative fields.


The India Pavilion invites visitors to explore the history and culture of ancient India, one of the oldest civilizations in the world that arose in the Indus River Valley 2,000 years ago.

The main structure, a huge dome, is inspired by Sanchi Stupa of central India and reflects influence of Buddhism that arose in India.

Many Chinese pilgrims went to India for Buddhism studies while Indian monks came to China to spread their wisdom.

The famous Chinese story "Journey to the West" is about the Monkey King protecting a monk, Xuanzang, on travels to India to retrieve Buddhist scriptures.

Inside the pavilion, a 360-degree holographic projection depicts India's evolution from ancient times through the medieval period to modern day.


"The Cradle of Civilizations" is the theme of the Turkey Pavilion. It is inspired by Catalhoyuk (which means fork mound), the culture center in the Neolithic period in the center of today's Anatolia.

Turkey, connecting the European and Asian continents, has been the center of various civilizations and empires.

The pavilion contains a recreated archeological site displaying ancient cultures.

Istanbul, Turkey's largest city, was nominated as the European Capital of Culture by the European Union this year due to its historical role in civilization's journey.

Catalhoyuk in the Anatolian region is the largest and best preserved Neolithic site found to date. It existed between 7,500 BC to 5,700 BC.

Archeologists discovered that obsidian tools used by people of Catalhoyuk had an immense impact on later civilizations.

The pavilion's exterior is bright red, its entrance covered by black glass, suggesting obsidian, a volcanic glass.

Through the Silk Road, Turkey has one of the longest connections with China. The largest collection of Chinese porcelains outside China is in Turkey.

The first section, "Dreaming of the Past," displays ancient Chinese and Turkish clocks with 12 zodiac signs (the two are almost the same). It contains the recreated archeological site, the earliest China-Turkey agreement carved on a stone table and relics of different civilizations.

Visitors can also watch demonstrations of ebru, the Turkish art of paper marbling and Turkish calligraphy in the last section.

More than 20 academic papers about Turkish civilizations are also available for downloading in the Turkey Pavilion if visitors use Bluetooth or mobile phones.


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