Saturday, June 16, 2007
Friday, June 15, 2007
That’s a minimum of ten (1999 through 2006) scholarships that I could find information on, about $400,000 worth of sponsorship. (UTD may have awarded more scholarships during the 1990's, but my internet searches didn’t turn up any concrete information). This is in addition to the money that Mr. Denker and, after his death in 2005, his family contributed to help Denker players offset some of the costs of attending the event, in addition to funding several scholarship prizes.
And then we come to 2007. Here is an announcement about the 2007 Denker from the USCF website:
The U.S. Chess Trust will award $2200 in Scholarships ($500-300-250-200-200-150-150-150-150-150) (a total of 20). Scholarships are designated for college expenses and will be sent to winners only upon proof of college enrollment (copies of paid bills, or official letters, etc.) There will also be a $500 Ursula Foster scholarship awarded to the highest finisher who is under the age of 14 on the first day of the tournament. If no participant is under 14 then the scholarship will go the under 15, etc.
That’s it. No mention of a UTD scholarship. UTD had funded Denker scholarships for years, adding a great deal of luster and financial reward to the title "winner of the Denker," and then poof – no more sponsorship.
Now, one may reasonably ask "what happened – why did UTD pull its funding from the Denker?" Why, indeed? I’ll get to that – but there’s more to this story – a happy ending! I’m so American – I just love happy endings where the guys in the white hats triumph!
On June 14, 2007 it was announced at Susan Polgar’s blog that Texas Tech would award a 4-year full tuition scholarship to the winner of the 2007 Denker! Hooray!
I checked the Texas Tech website to see that their full-time tuition for resident students will be about $7,100 a year for the 2007-2008 school year The press release did not mention non-resident tuition; the 2006-2007 non-resident tuition was $14,709 (30 credits, 15 a semester). So, conservatively, the Texas Tech scholarship for the 2007 Denker could be worth anywhere from $28,400 to $58,800.
I'll be posting more about this story later.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
The decapitated body was found in the Nasca region, named for the ancient civilization that thrived in southern Peru from A.D. 1 to 750.
The age and condition of both the body and the jar, which is painted with two inverted human faces, suggests that the victim was killed in a rite of ancestral worship, Conlee said.
The burial site, called La Tiza, contains only the third known Nasca head jar found with a decapitated body.
Head jars have been found at other Nasca sites and are often associated with high-status burials, though scientists know little about their function.
The archaeologist also noted that the head jar is painted with the reversible image of a human face that can be seen right-side up or upside down, suggesting that the jar might have been meant as a substitute for the victim's missing head. Full story here.
Half a world away, in China, in May, 1987 at the archaeological site at Jiahu (discovered in 1962), archaeologists opened Grave M344, and saw an adult male whose head was missing. Where his head would have been were eight sets of tortoise shells and one fork-shaped bone artifact. Full story here.
Unfortunately, I could find no further development of the Jiahu "substitute head" burial online; the 2003 article in devoted mainly to a discussion of the possibility that the Jiahu "signs" are a precursor to or possibly even proto-writing, some 5000 years before it is generally accepted that Chinese writing first appeared during the Shang period.
Tortoise shells and animal scapula have been used by diviners in China since before the Shang period, so my guess is that the "substitute head" burial using eight pairs of tortoise shells (which may have contained pebbles of various colors and shapes) was of a very important diviner whose head was retained as an oracle, much like the Druids did thousands of years later. The number eight, of course, has long been significant in Chinese divination (i.e., the I Ching).
More information was provided in the article about the 2004 Nasca "substitute head" burial, but much of it was speculation. Just not enough is known yet about the whys and wherefores of these rare burials in South America. My suggestion is that this burial, too, is of an important personage (not a sacrificed prisoner of war) whose head was kept as an oracle.
Yes, I know – these burials are half a world and thousands of years apart. But human nature has remained stubbornly static since the dawn of time despite our spreading out across the globe in the intervening millennia. Rite and ritual are as old as we are, and probably older. There is evidence, for instance, that the "not human" Neanderthals buried their dead and, in one grave of a child, someone left a small bouquet of flowers on top of the body before it was buried. Despite cultural differences that it suits some folks to play up these days, we all come into the world the same way, we all die and, in between, we are primarily concerned with pursuing our survival and satisfaction, to the best of our ability.
Oftentimes, the simplest explanation is the correct one. It makes more sense to me that these burials, strikingly alike in the use of a "substitute head," were done for the same reason – the head was taken and used as an oracle.