November 16, 2011

This Post Has Been Censored

If you visit Stella's Tomb Raider Site today, you'll notice a new look. I apologize for the black screen, but I think it's important that sites like mine help observe American Censorship Day. Today the black screen is just temporary, but if H.R.3261, the "Stop Online Piracy Act" passes, it could become permanent since walkthrough writers, speedrunners, amateur videographers and others could have their sites shut down permanently—and even face prosecution. I urge you all to visit americancensorship.org to find out more.

November 13, 2011

TOMB RAIDER Media Section Updated

Just a quick post to announce that the TOMB RAIDER media pages on Stella's Site have been updated. Along with the wallpapers, videos and audio files that have already been posted, we now have a huge collection of high-resolution screenshots and concept art—all without logos or watermarks.

I hope to have some brand new stuff for you soon, but in the meantime, enjoy these top-quality re-issues. As always, I thank Meagan Marie, our woman on the inside at Crystal Dynamics, for sharing these official assets.

TOMB RAIDER Media at Stella's Site

TOMB RAIDER Night Hub concept art
TOMB RAIDER Night Hub concept art, one of many images available in high resolution without watermarks or logos at tombraiders.net.

November 12, 2011

Bosnian Valley of Pyramids

Today guest blogger Eldin Mostic introduces us to a fascinating archaeological find located in his native Bosnia-Herzegovina. Perhaps someday Lara's adventures will take her there.

The Bosnian Pyramid, Visocica Hill, is the first European pyramid to be discovered. It is located in the heart of Bosnia, in the town of Visoko. The structure has all the classic elements: four perfectly shaped slopes pointing toward the cardinal points, a flat top and an entrance complex. At 720 feet high, it stands about one and a half times taller than the Great Pyramid of Giza. On the top of the pyramid are also the ruins of a Medieval walled town, once the base of a Bosnian king, Tvrtko of Kotromanic (1338-1391). Because of its similarities to the Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacan, Mexico, it has been named the "Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun". There are also four more ancient structures on the site: the Bosnian Pyramid of the Moon, Bosnian Pyramid of the Dragon, Bosnian Pyramid of Love and Temple of the Earth.


The Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun


Dr. Semir Osmanagic
Dr. Semir "Sam" Osmanagic, who has been called the "Bosnian Indiana Jones", was born in that country and now resides in the United States. He is credited with the discovery of the Visoko pyramid complex. During his first trip to the area in 2005, Osmanagic noticed the precise geometric appearance of the region's hills. To him they seemed clearly man-made. Subsequent research revealed that the hillsides were not only symmetrical, they also aligned to the points of the compass—north, south, east and west; and the Pyramids of the Sun, Moon and Dragon form a perfect equilateral triangle with 2.170 meters between their tops

Osmanagic began exploratory digs in the area and soon confirmed the existence of stone tiles and other man-made structures across the site, possibly dating back to the Ice Age. Osmanagic says: "We have already dug out stone blocks which I believe are covering the pyramid." He established a non-profit foundation to undertake further excavation of the site. (More at www.bosnianpyramidofthesun.com.)


Diagram of the pyramid site. Click for larger version.

There is still some controversy as to whether the structures were in fact created by ancient humans or are naturally occurring geological features called "flatirons" with man-made structures built into them.

In 2007 Egyptologist Nabil Mohamed Swelim visited Visoko. His report, publicised by the Archeological Park, agreed with Osmanagic's finding that the Pyramid of the Sun was the world's largest pyramid. Swelim concluded, "Arguments in favour or in disfavour have no effect on the fact that the pyramid concept and the properties are there for everyone to see." However, in 2010 he released a report in which he clarified that he does not claim it is man-made pyramid, but rather that he uses the term for any feature, natural or artificial, which is a geometric pyramid, but he does not exclude the possibility it is man-made.

Additional research will no doubt reveal more. Meanwhile, regardless of the structures' origins, many interesting archeological discoveries have been made on the site.
·     ·     ·

Here are some of the artifacts that were discovered here in the past 3 years:

Stone WheelA stone wheel, the first artifact found in the KTK tunnels (shown on the map below), has attracted a lot of public attention. The material that composes this wheel is marl and sandstone and it has diameter of one meter. Its width is 15-17 cm. It was found in the right-side tunnel at 17 meters length during the removal of the debris.

Parts of this wheel were also found at a depth of 1.20 - 1.50 meters within the landslide material. During the removal of the debris, parts of this wheel were carefully separated from marl and clay, where they were found. These parts have been pieced together.

Carved Stone BlockThis stone block was discovered in the Ravne tunnel complex, a labyrinth of underground passages to the northeast of the Sun Pyramid site, with two moulds containing traces of oxidized molten metal. The composition of this stone is not the same as the materials found in the tunnel.

Glass LumpArtificial glass lump (right) also found during the Ravne tunnel excavation. At 110 meters from the entrance, workers found this forged glass lump. Its age is still to be determined.

Megalith K-1Megalith K-1 (left) was the first megalith found that contains what appears to be an ancient writings.

An initial interpretation of megalith K-1 suggests it may be a diagram of the pyramid complex itself, as shown by this map overlay:

Megalith K-1 map overlay

Another carved stone mould containing traces of molten oxidized metal. It was found during the excavation works in tunnel Ravne at a distance of 130 meters, just before another tunnel intersection.

The Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun was the location where yet another sandstone megalith with markings has been found (shown below). At this time the experts are not trying to interpret the signs but rather let the public come to it's own conclusions. What we have here is just another piece of evidence of an ancient civilization. One thing that seems consistent is the sign resembling the letter "E" which we saw on several locations in Tunnel Ravne and on Visoko plate.

 

The removal of the debris from the underground tunnels is ongoing and with the use of gravel filtration technique in the Ravne location, another stone artifact was found (below). It looks like a stone shell and could be possibly man made. Samples were taken which will be sent for further archaeological analysis.

 

Two-sided human foot (below), found in the uncovered paved northern part of the plateau of the Toprakalia hill, in Gornje Vratnice, near Visoko, 3 feet under the ground.

 

200 meters from the Ravne tunnel entrance another megalith block was found underneath 60 cm of debris that was removed while clearing the tunnel. Its length is approximately 2 meters. New writings were found, which can be seen on the photographs. This block was photographed, then covered to protect it at its original location. Foundation workers expect that by mid-October this part of tunnel will be available and safe to visit by general public.

 

Discovered on May 6th this artifact speaks for itself. At this time it has not yet been dated, but it is obvious that it was part of something greater. It was moved from it's original location most probably several times and traces are found hinting that it was worked on for further incorporation.

Various web sites devoted to the excavation and its findings include many more photos and descriptions of the interesting objects that have been found so far. See the links below.

Parts of the site are open to tourists, and every summer people from all over the world come to Visoko to work on the excavation. If you'd like to visit or volunteer, the people of Bosnia welcome you.


Dr. Osmanagic explains his hypothesis about the origins of
the Bosnian pyramids.

LINKS:

Eldin Mostic is a long-time Tomb Raider fan who lives in Visoko, Bosnia. He is a frequent contributor to Stella's Site, and his own YouTube Channel and forums feature Tomb Raider videos and discussion. Follow him on Twitter @EldinSuper.

Photos courtesy of the Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun Foundation.

November 9, 2011

Rumor: Dead Space's Jason Graves composing the score to Tomb Raider reboot?

Thanks to some clever detective work by fans, we may now know the secret identity of the new Tomb Raider composer. According to H4RR7H, webmaster of The Music of Tomb Raider blog:

"Multiple British Academy Award and BAFTA winning composer, Jason Graves, most famous for his recent work on Dead Space and its sequel, might have let slip the possibility of a con­nec­tion to Crystal Dynamics and their new Tomb Raider reboot in an interview at The Sound Cast back in February this year.

"By using all too familiar words like 'survival', 'gritty' and 'realistic', words purported by Crystal's marketing for the game at the time, fans are convinced they're at least a step closer to prematurely homing in on the composer...."

Read the full story at The Music of Tomb Raider.


Game composer Jason Graves. Photo courtesy of Inside Gaming Daily. Visit jasongraves.com for more info about this talented artist.

November 1, 2011

Tomb Raider 2 Hits Mac App Store

Mac raiders rejoice! Aspyr Media has just released an updated version of this classic game through the Mac App Store. The game costs $7.99 U.S. and is compatible with Macintosh OS X 10.6.6 or later. The App Store page includes detailed list of system requirements.

Tomb Raider 2 includes 17 extensive levels set in China, Tibet, Venice and a sunken ocean liner, plus the Croft Manor training level. One of the screenshots from the updated version shows the first level of the Golden Mask expansion pack, yet it doesn't appear those levels are included.*

TR2 was originally the first game in the series available for Macintosh. (TR1 Gold came later.) Aspyr has not yet announced any future plans to re-release other titles in the series, but perhaps if this one is well received, more updated classics could follow.

I'm primarily a Windows PC gamer myself, but I encourage any Mac players who try this new version to post your impressions in a comment below. How does it run? Are the graphics much improved? Any other changes from the original?

*UPDATE: The app does not include the Golden Mask levels, but it's possible to play them by downloading the free level pack and doing a simple set of file replacements. For step-by-step instructions, see here. Thanks to Attila for this info.

SECOND UPDATE 11/6: Save files from the original game don't seem to work, but my Mac crew is searching for a solution. If there isn't one, we hope to have new save files available soon. Also, MacRaider has posted info on enabling widescreen and anti-aliasing. See here.


Tomb Raider 2 screenshot. Click for larger version. More screenshots available on the Mac App Store page.

Thanks to Trevor from MacRaider and the Mac Matts (Matt from Matt's Tomb Raider Blog and Matt Hardwick) for keeping me posted on these developments.
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