Ancient Secrets

Cover to Dusty Cover (Dusted Off)

The secret ancient library behind the walls of the world’s oldest monastery.//

The fortress-like Saint Catherine’s Monastery at Mt. Sinai houses the world’s oldest continually operating library. -SacredSites.com

Bloggers note: I’ve been visiting a lot of libraries lately but none as old as this old, old, old library. This a re-post of a piece I wrote a while back. Enjoy.

Ever heard of the Sacred and Imperial Monastery of the God-Trodden Mount of Sinai? No? It’s also known as Saint Catherine’s Monastery. Nothing?

If you haven’t heard of it, that’s because this ancient monastery at the foot of Mt. Sinai is so remote that until modern times only the most devout of seekers could get there via ten-day camel ride.

The monastery was built in the mid-6th century AD at what is considered to be the spot where Moses saw the burning bush. Known to have been occupied by Christians since at least as far back as the 4th century AD, the site, in fact, claims to host the original living bush that Moses witnessed.

Monk studying at Saint Catherine’s Monastery library – among the world’s most exclusive libraries. -beautiful-libraries.com

Just as amazing is that Saint Catherine’s also claims the worlds oldest continually operating library, stuffed with 5,000 early books, 3,500 manuscripts and 2,000 scrolls – a collection rivaled only by the Vatican. This is also one of the most exclusive libraries in the world. Only the monks of the monastery and select clergy and scholars are allowed in.

I am so fascinated with libraries – especially old ones – that I made a monolithic, centuries-old library the central battleground of my thriller The League of Delphi. And the fact that this library is surrounded by a virtual fortress makes it ten times more fascinating and meaningful to the story.

After a millenium and a half of cloistered existence Saint Catherine’s is now bringing the collection to the world through the tools of the digital age but the library itself remains inaccessible to most outsiders.

Now, here’s the cheese on this Brain Burger.

3 books you might find in the world’s oldest library:

  1. Twilight: The Dawn of History
  2. The Genghis Khan Cookbook: Feeding a Band of Marauding Barbarians on a Budget
  3. Fifty Shades of Black: A Monk’s Wardrobe Confessions

SPREAD THE CONSPIRACY – GET “THE DELPHI DECEPTION: BOOK II OF THE DELPHI TRILOGY” NOW!

Paperback amazon Delphi Deception

Delphi 2 kindle

Ingram Delphi Deception

What librarians are saying about The Delphi Trilogy:

“The League of Delphi by Chris Everheart is super suspenseful and unputdownable in the best sense of the word. A great readalike for kids who have plowed through Percy Jackson and The Hunger Games. We have multiple copies of the book and they have not been on the shelf since we bought them. Teen patrons have loved The League of Delphi.” – Hannahlily Smith, Teen Coordinator, Johnson City Public Library, Johnson City, TN.

“Fast-paced and well written, this thrilling mystery sucks readers in and leaves them anxiously waiting for the next installment of the trilogy. This is exactly the type of book teens enjoy and it will draw in even the most reluctant readers.” – Kiersten Doucette, Teen Services Librarian, Naperville Public Library, Naperville, IL

Readers rave about The Delphi Trilogy:

“Read. This. Book! Each chapter leaves you on the edge of your seat, and it all leads up to one of the most exciting endings I’ve read in a long time.”

“It has it all: romance, intrigue and suspense… and very well written characters.”

“From the very first page to the very last page I felt like I was on this wild ride.”

“Even the most reluctant of reluctant readers will have a hard time putting these books down.”

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Categories: Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Ancient Secrets, archaeology, Hidden Archealogy, My Books, The Ancient World, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

All We Got Was This Cave Painting

Early hunter-gatherers left 5,000 cave paintings as souvenirs of their lost era.
Burgos cave 1

Abstract vacation photos from a bygone era (we’re not talking the 1950’s here).

Archaeologists in northeastern Mexico recently discovered all the deals they’ve been missing. In a ravine cave complex near the town of Burgos, at least three different groups of ancient hunter-gatherers painted human, animal, landscape, and abstract depictions in eleven locations over a number of generations. And no one knew about this (literal) hole in the wall destination!

“The discovery is important,” said  Mexican National Institute of Anthropology (INAH) archaeologist, “because we have documented the presence of pre-Hispanic groups in Burgos, where before it was said there was nothing.”

Ramirez’s team is still working to date the artwork, which is difficult because seasonal rains have constantly washed away the sedimentary layers that are typically used to peel back the geological clock.

Exceptional natural preservation makes ancient postcards available today.

Exceptional natural preservation makes ancient postcards available today.

To further confound their dating efforts, any original tribes who could have provided clues to the pre-Columbian life of the region took a permanent vacation centuries ago. Archaeologist Martha Garcia Sanchez, who is involved in the study, said, “These groups escaped the Spanish rule for almost 200 years because they fled to the Sierra de San Carlos where they had water, plants and animals to feed themselves,” she said.

Some of the images are of exceptional quality, rivaling those of the American Southwest and even Europe – a high-def postcard in stone from a long forgotten hotspot.

Now, here’s the cheese on this Brain Burger.

3 reasons to go souvenir hunting in a cave:

  1. Ancient exotic animal skeletons make better pets than any live impulse purchase.
  2. Open on rainy days.
  3. The deeper you go, the deeper the discounts!
Chris Everheart is author of the YA thriller
Categories: Ancient Secrets, archaeology, Hidden Archealogy, History, The Ancient World, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Oracle of Death

The Gate to Hell gave the Oracle at Delphi a run for her money.
The Plutonion: Phrygia's Gate to Hell (c.190 BCE) -digital reconstruction by Francesco D'Andria

The Plutonion, Phrygia’s Gate to Hell, on the right (c.190 BCE) -digital reconstruction by Francesco D’Andria

If you’re looking for a hot bath and visit to the edge of hell, you can plan a spa night at home topped off by this week’s episode of The Walking Dead or you can pack your household and make a pilgrimage to the Plutonion.

The ancient temple complex dedicated to Pluto, Greek god of the underworld, was built around a cave emitting fumes so toxic that small animals can barely pass by without dropping dead and prolonged exposure easily kills large animals and people – even today.

Roman and Greek commentators of the time referenced the strange site at Hierapolis (in modern Turkey). Hierapolis’ hot baths and temples attracted people from around the known world for healing and worship, making it one of the ancient Mediterranean’s most popular destinations. But the city was destroyed by repeated earthquakes in the first century CE and eventually shut down as a pagan sanctuary by Christian Rome in the sixth century.

Archaeologists searched for years to confirm the Plutonion’s existence. “We found the Plutonium [its Roman name] by reconstructing the route of a thermal spring,” Francesco D’Andria, leader of the archaeological team, told Discovery News.

Originally misidentified as Apollo (Delphi's patron god), this huge statue is now known be Pluto, god of the underworld.

Originally misidentified as Apollo (Delphi’s patron god), this huge statue is now known be Pluto, god of the underworld.

Like its famous sister, Delphi, the unique geology of the site provided its mystical power. Underground springs – hot springs, in the case of Hierapolis – running over rocks and minerals produced the intoxicating fumes, considered to be supplied by the gods. The temple was built to manage the gate to hell responsibly.

The Plutonion’s priests – the Eunuchs of Cybele – conducted animal sacrifices for spectators sitting on banks of steps above the low gate, which was constructed around the mouth of the deadly cave. Because they were able to enter and leave the cave safely while their sacrificial animals died, the priests were presumed to have special powers or the protection of their patron god Pluto.

Meanwhile, pilgrims who slept near the temple reported prophetic visions, not unlike those experienced by the Pythia at Delphi. But – beware! – approaching the Gate of Hell no doubt meant a speedy death for the average person.

Now, here’s the cheese on this Brain Burger.

3 things to do in Hierapolis when you’re dead (from exposure to the Gate of Hell):

  1. Stop by the famous shawarma cart for a gyro that’s to die for!
  2. Pick a fight with the biggest, baddest eunuch you can find – what’s the worst that could happen? You’re already dead!
  3. Take pictures – we all want to know if the doorstep of hell looks like our in-laws’ front stoop at Thanksgiving.
Chris Everheart is author of the YA thriller
THE LEAGUE OF DELPHI

Available Now
Categories: Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Ancient Secrets, archaeology, Hidden Archealogy, History, The Ancient World, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Goats to Gods: The Delphi Legacy

How a goatherder’s pasture became the center of the world for over 1,000 years.

(Re-post in celebration of my latest author interview at B.L. Kosiner’s Book Blog – Enjoy!)

Model of the temple mount at Delphi, Temple of Apollo top. -Lonely Planet

A crack in a mountainside 100 miles from Athens influenced the ancient Mediterranean world for an entire age. The holy city of Delphi was home to sacred temples, wealthy treasuries, renowned theaters, and active sporting arenas that marked it as the most important cultural, religious and financial hub in the Western world.

The mother of Delphi’s influence was a fissure in the rock breathing a mind-altering vapor, discovered by a goatherder around 1400 BCE. As the ancient mind went, this was obviously a portal into the divine dimension. The spot was considered the navel of the world and a sacred site grew up around it, eventually inspiring a huge Temple of Apollo to awe its visitors.

Priestess of Delphi -John Collier, 1891

Ensconced on a tripod seat over the fissure in the temple’s hallowed chamber, the entranced oracle – called the Pythia – became the conduit for the god Apollo, who would deliver for seekers vague personal messages to be interpreted by the attendant priests. The prophecies covered every human interest from romance to finance to empires.

The oracles were famously, even cruelly, cryptic. In the most infamous military blunder of all time Lydian king Croesus consulted the Oracle before invading Persia and was assured that a great empire would be destroyed if he did. Imagine his surprise when he lost the war he started and it was his empire that was destroyed!

Aegeus Consults the Pythia -ancienthistory.about.com

Among the many seers and oracles of the ancient world, none wielded the power and respect of Delphi. For more than a millennium kings, aristocrats, commoners and colonists paid dearly for a precognitive utterance from the Pythia that would give them some warning, guidance or blessing for their next endeavor.

Delphi’s influence eventually waned and it was shut down by Christian Rome in the 4th Century CE. But the mark of Delphi on our civilization is an undeniable hint at our magical, mythical and humble past.

Now, here’s the cheese on this Brain Burger

3 oracles from Delphi we wish we hadn’t followed:

  1. “Gerard Butler and the cast of 300 shall go into battle shirtless.”
  2. “The great vessel Titanic is indestructible – you shall turn off the radio and sail it anywhere.”
  3. “You shall have a new queen and she shall be named ‘Snooki!'”
Chris Everheart is author of the YA thriller
THE LEAGUE OF DELPHI

Available Now
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Monsters of Archaeology

“Frankenstein” mummies of Scotland rise from the grave to scare the bejeebers out of us rational modernites!
Meet Jeff, Troy, Annie, Pierce, Britta, Shirley, and maybe even Abed - a "Frankenstein" mummy of Cladh Hallan. c.1600-1300 BCE

Meet Jeff, Troy, Annie, Pierce, Britta, Shirley, and maybe even Abed – a “Frankenstein” mummy from the community of Cladh Hallan, Scotland (c.1600-1300 BCE). – The Telegraph-UK

Didn’t the Burger tell you about the great job archaeologists have been doing keeping us safe from the monsters waiting to rise from the dust of the past? Well, here’s another example of their heroics.

Four bodies discovered in 2001 at Cladh Hallan village in Scotland have turned out to be the earliest evidence of deliberate mummification in Britain – as old as 1600 BCE. The high-acid, low-oxygen soil of ancient peat bogs like the ones in these northern isles was a perfect preservative for flesh, prompting the bronze-age people of northern Europe to use the bogs as small-scale mummy factories.

Tollund Man, Denmark's perfectly preserved bog mummy from 2,400 years ago.

2,400-year-old Tollund Man of Denmark is considered an unintentional bog mummy (note the unceremonious noose around his neck).

Immersion in a bog for a year or so was enough to preserve the body of a loved one or an important leader for the ages. It is thought that such mummies were then enshrined for centuries, included in rituals, and even consulted on topics important to their tribes. The job of interpreting a mummy’s thoughts and wisdom no doubt fell to a shaman or priest(ess), like at Delphi and other ancient oracles of the Mediterranean.

But here’s the especially fascinating and macabre thing about the mummies of Cladh Hallan – the body parts of each skeleton are from multiple individuals! Indeed, archaeologists have determined that some body parts are hundreds of years older than others – and of different genders – suggesting that the parts of long-revered mummies were reorganized and buried to sort-of graft together the limbs of multiple family trees.

According to Prof Mike Parker Pearson, an expert in the Bronze Age and burial rituals, such blending of reanimated tribal icons could have been strictly ceremonial or may have been intended to determine property rights or solidify authority. It remains unclear why these mummies were buried in graves after generations of being hosted among the inhabitants of the village.

Boris Karloff played Frankenstein's monster and the Mummy - 3 millennia after the people of Cladh Hallan perfected the mash-up.

Boris Karloff played Frankenstein‘s monster and The Mummy – three millennia after the people of Cladh Hallan perfected the mash-up.

Of course, archaeologists are sticking to the official story – that these skeletons were assembled after mummification. But Brain Burgers can put the pieces together (pun intended) and see the truth – that these were proto-Frankenstein monsters walking the earth who stumbled into the bog after a night of stalking and groaning through the village streets. Archaeologists just haven’t found the neck bolts yet. Hehe, stupid monsters.

Now, here’s the cheese on this Brain Burger.

3 other artefacts found mummified in the peat bogs of Scotland:

  1. One sock – argh!
  2. An Ancient Navy polar fleece hoodie – those things really do last forever!
  3. Twinkies (peat bog soil determined totally unnecessary for preservation)
Chris Everheart is author of the thriller
THE LEAGUE OF DELPHI

Available Now
Read my latest author interview at Chompasaurus!
Categories: Ancient Secrets, archaeology, Hidden Archealogy, History, Monsters, The Ancient World, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The League of Delphi Launches

A lone teen, a suspicious death, an ancient conspiracy.

By my posts on the Brain Burgers Blog, I’m sure you can tell how much I love history, archaeology, kids, books, and libraries. Want to see it all come together in one dark, hair-raising place?

My thriller The League of Delphi launched this week on Kindle! (Available in paperback in two weeks.)

History’s darkest secrets
hide in plain sight.

In The League of Delphi 17-year-old Zach secretly returns to his wealthy hometown to discover that the deaths of his parents and a childhood friend are tied to a secret government that runs the town with mysterious links to Ancient Greece and the Oracle at Delphi.

I’m so happy about a review I got from a reader who read the book in ONE DAY!

5 stars. “Can’t put it down! This is such a great book. I found myself not being able to put my Kindle down because I needed to read what was going to happen next. I definitely was not disappointed & have been telling everyone I know to get a copy!”

The League of Delphi is a labor of love and fascination, the first in a thriller series that I expect to keep you up all night reading, dying to know what will happen next.

Kindle readers can pop over and download it today. If you’re a paperback reader, get ready for the release in two weeks.

Categories: Ancient Greece, Ancient Secrets, Hidden Archealogy, History, My Books, The Ancient World, Uncategorized, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Books: The New Old-fangled Thing

Digitization of Europe’s oldest book sparks medieval future shock.

St. Cuthbert’s Gospel – 7th century CE -British Library

When we released my new thriller “The League of Delphi” on Kindle Monday, I remembered a fascinating book-related NPR news story from this spring that got me contemplating the “evolution” of the book in the digital world.

In April, the British Library in London acquired a pocket-sized book with a hand-tooled, red leather cover and clean, creamy inside pages in like-new condition. The book – a hand-scribed Gospel of St. John entombed with British cleric St. Cuthbert – cost £9 million (US$14 million) and is over 1,300 years old.

St Cuthbert’s Gospel inner page -Daily Mail UK

Books are fragile artifacts. Few survive centuries of weathering and relocation intact. Unlike the collection preserved in the world’s oldest continually operating library at Saint Catherine’s Monastery in Egypt, where arid conditions aid naturally in the preservation of books and scrolls, Europe’s climate is rather hostile to books and manuscripts. This is what makes the so-called St. Cuthbert’s Gospel so special – it is the oldest intact book known to have been produced in Europe.

Another notoriously hostile element to books: fire. One reason that St. Cuthbert’s Gospel survived was that the monks at his shrine on the isle of Lindesfarne removed the coffin from its original tomb in the 9th century and fled the marauding Viking invaders known to pillage and burn everything in their path.

Marauding Vikings pillaged and burned many of England’s landmarks in Medieval times. -Cracked.com

The coffin traveled northern England until it finally settled at Durham Cathedral, where it was opened in 1104 and the book was discovered “at the head of our blessed father Cuthbert lying in his tomb.”

On loan from the Jesuits of England since 1979, the main motives for finally raising the money to purchase the gospel were preserving it and sharing it with the world. The Library wasted no time digitizing the book and posting it to their online archives where anyone with an Internet connection can see it.

YA thriller The League of Delphi by Chris Everheart “A lone teen, a suspicious death, an ancient conspiracy.” Now on Kindle

Will St. Cuthbert’s Gospel crack Amazon Kindle’s top 100 downloads? Probably not. But in a world where some insiders are anticipating that 80% of books may be digital by the year 2020, the idea of digitizing a 1,300 year old book to share it with the world is … um … ahead of its time?

Now, here’s the cheese on this Brain Burger.

3 unconfirmed details about Europe’s oldest book:

  1. A phone number found scribbled on one of the pages is only 3 digits long.
  2. It’s written in an archaic language that no one seems to know anymore called English.
  3. Early reviews were terrible, but sales picked up after the movie came out.

Chris Everheart is author of the thriller

THE LEAGUE OF DELPHI

Available Now
Categories: Ancient Secrets, archaeology, Hidden Archealogy, History, My Books, The Ancient World, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Cover to Dusty Cover

The secret ancient library behind the walls of the world’s oldest monastery.//

The fortress-like Saint Catherine’s Monastery at Mt. Sinai houses the world’s oldest continually operating library. -SacredSites.com

Ever heard of the Sacred and Imperial Monastery of the God-Trodden Mount of Sinai? No? It’s also known as Saint Catherine’s Monastery. Nothing?

If you haven’t heard of it, that’s because this ancient monastery at the foot of Mt. Sinai is so remote that until modern times only the most devout of seekers could get there via ten-day camel ride.

The monastery was built in the mid-6th century AD at what is considered to be the spot where Moses saw the burning bush. Known to have been occupied by Christians since at least as far back as the 4th century AD, the site, in fact, claims to host the original living bush that Moses witnessed.

Monk studying at Saint Catherine’s Monastery library – among the world’s most exclusive libraries. -beautiful-libraries.com

Just as amazing is that Saint Catherine’s also claims the worlds oldest continually operating library, stuffed with 5,000 early books, 3,500 manuscripts and 2,000 scrolls – a collection rivaled only by the Vatican. This is also one of the most exclusive libraries in the world. Only the monks of the monastery and select clergy and scholars are allowed in.

I am so fascinated with libraries – especially old ones – that I made a monolithic, centuries-old library the central battleground of my thriller The League of Delphi. And the fact that this library is surrounded by a virtual fortress makes it ten times more fascinating and meaningful to the story.

After a millenium and a half of cloistered existence Saint Catherine’s is now bringing the collection to the world through the tools of the digital age but the library itself remains inaccessible to most outsiders.

Now, here’s the cheese on this Brain Burger.

3 books you might find in the world’s oldest library:

  1. Twilight: The Dawn of History
  2. The Genghis Khan Cookbook: Feeding a Band of Marauding Barbarians on a Budget
  3. Fifty Shades of Black: A Monk’s Wardrobe Confessions
Chris Everheart is author of the thriller
THE LEAGUE OF DELPHI

Available Now
Categories: Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Ancient Secrets, archaeology, Hidden Archealogy, My Books, The Ancient World, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

The Fountain of Youth Achievement

5 reasons why pressuring our kids into sometimes-dangerous overachievement may be completely unnecessary – in today’s Burger Bite:

Kids feel more pressure to achieve than ever before.

  1. As it turns out, there’s little evidence that being a childhood high-achiever guarantees future success. The landmark Terman Study of the Gifted  followed a group of 1,500 “gifted” children from the 1920s on and discovered that most of the youths judged in primary school to have the greatest potential did not achieve at the highest levels of career or society after all.
  2. In the book Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell points out that more important than where you go to school or what grades you achieve the amount of passion and time you put into an activity will determine true achievement. And the level of commitment that will propel a high-achiever through Gladwell’s estimated 10,000 hours of practice toward mastery is much more healthy when driven by inner passion rather than outside pressure.
  3. Gladwell also points out that there is a limit to how helpful circumstances can be as success factors. Like a basketball player’s height, once a person is tall enough, smart enough, skilled enough, etc.to give them a legitimate place in their field, success is mostly determined by that passion and practice.
  4. In The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth: Popularity, Quirk Theory, and Why Outsiders Thrive After High School, author Alexandra Robbins offers this “‘Quirk Theory’: Many of the differences that cause a student to be excluded in school are the same traits or real-world skills that others will value, love, respect, or find compelling about that person in adulthood and outside the school setting.” Overachievement can have the effect of leveling these differences to fit a kid into someone else’s mold, ultimately reducing desirability and fulfillment in adulthood.
  5. In his book The Success Principles, Jack Canfield shares this 2003 statistic: 20% of America’s millionaires never set foot in college; 21 of the 222 Americans listed as billionaires never got their college diplomas; 2 of those billionaires were high school dropouts.
Chris Everheart is author of the thriller
THE LEAGUE OF DELPHI

Available Now
Categories: Ancient Greece, Ancient Secrets, Hidden Archealogy, My Books, The Ancient World, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Overly Unachievable

The crushing pressure on kids to be the best – at everything

The author posing as an overachiever – University of Minnesota 1992.

Before “travel leagues” and “advanced placement,” kids played sports at the neighborhood park and competed in class for a teacher’s attention and at home for a parental pat on the head. But along with every other aspect of our lives today, childhood is accelerating.

Because it has become one of the scariest parts of being a kid today I made overachievement a key part of teens’ lives in my thriller The League of Delphi. Writing about a secret society that runs a town and pressures teens into dangerous overachievement is a creative way of dealing with this dark and destructive issue facing our kids in real life.

The Overachievers by Alexandra Robbins

In her revealing and sometimes shocking book The Overachievers: The Secret Lives of Driven Kids, Alexandra Robbins (a recovering overachiever herself) exposed the new world of social, academic, parental and extracurricular pressure overwhelming children’s lives. She found that the kids at her former high school were often dismayed, disheartened and depressed over their self-image in the face of constantly rising expectations. (BTW: Robbins also delved into another central theme of The League of Delphi – secret societies – in Secrets of the Tomb: Skull and Bones, the Ivy League, and the Hidden Paths of Power)

The trend of helicopter parents jockeying to get their kids into the best preschools, terrified by the prospect of an ordinary, underachieving childhood, is not an urban myth. Even more disturbing, stories of parents like Wanda Holloway, the Texas mom willing to kill to get her daughter into a key cheerleading spot, have become a reality.

Today, kids feel more obligation than ever to be smart, popular, attractive, athletic – all of the above. Blame the media, fashion, video games, or simply the times we live in, but something in our culture is causing kids to push themselves to extremes formerly known only in the adult world.

In the near future kids may realize that only their own judgment matters when deciding how to spend the hours of their days and the days of their lives. Will they live in a society that punishes them for their individualism or will they remake the culture into one that supports the search for their true, self-determined inner calling?

Now, here’s the cheese on this Brain Burger.

3 things overheard at a gathering of overachievers:

  1. “I thought San Andreas was my fault!”
  2. “That Einstein dude was such a slacker.”
  3. “I can’t cut back to only 7 hours of studying a day!”
Chris Everheart is author of the thriller
THE LEAGUE OF DELPHI

Available Now
Categories: Ancient Greece, Ancient Secrets, My Books, The Ancient World, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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