Saturday, May 10, 2008

2008 U.S. Women's Chess Championship

Prior pertinent post. Hola! It's been a busy day; I spent several hours this afternoon and this evening working on pages at Chess Femme News that will cover the FKB U.S. Women's Chess Championship. Since I have not been able to find anything else in online searches, I assume that the pages at Monroi will be the only "official" website for the Women's Championship for 2008. I have nothing against Monroi, but I have to say that at this point, what Monroi has put together is disappointing after the excellent website that was presented for the 2007 U.S. Women's Championship. Monroi is a large commercial website that provides coverage on MANY events, and whatever they are being paid (? I cannot say for certain that they are being paid anything, but I assume they are receiving some payment for their services), they are not concentating all of their resources on a website for the U.S. WOMEN'S CHAMPIONSHIP. It would be unreasonable to expect them to do so when they are covering so many other events. It may be that more content (and I assume, lots of photos) will be added as the Championships progress. On a separate matter, today while I was putting together comprehensive pages that will cover the 2008 FKB U.S. Women's Chess Championship at Chess Femme News (I hope to finish the initial pages and have them online tomorrow), I discovered that I did not have the complete roster or results for the Qualifer event held in March published here. Several chess femmes participated in that event along with dozens of chess hommes, and here are their final standings: Final Standings of Female Participants in 2008 U.S. Chess Championships Qualifier (104 players, male and female):

31 WFM Zenyuk NY 2205 2215 L2 W70 W72 L10 W37 L25 W71 4.0 41 WFM Airapetian WA 2143 2160 L21 W81 W35 W23 L16 =51 L29 3.5 46 WFM Zorigt MGL 2219 2213 W95 L16 =48 W47 L56 W76 L30 3.5 48 WFM Hana Itkis N J 2084 2104 L14 W65 =46 =49 =50 L29 W76 3.5 58 Courtney Jamison TX 2064 2072 H-- H-- =97 L60 W92 W73 L26 3.5 64 Jennifer Acon CA 1972 1987 W29 =24 L25 L36 H-- L47 W93 3.0 78 WIM Mokryak UKR 2175 2161 L16 W95 =55 L56 W87 L52 L44 2.5 92 Julie O’Neill TX 1800 1807 H-- W57 L33 L58 =79 L66 2.0 94 WIM Alexey Root TX 2001 1985 H-- L26 L49 W88 H-- L71 L74 2.0

Friday, May 9, 2008

Friday Night Miscellany

Bonjour darlings! That's about the extent of the French I remember being force-fed as a school girl. I was hopeless, never did learn to "roll" my "r"s, lol! Another work week is over, thank Goddess! Free at last! Now I have to try and squeeze into two days of forecasted crappy weather a week's worth of chores, including yard work (the backyard is still an awful mess, and with each storm it gets worse). I always lose that battle... There is so much depressing news these days - the situation in Burma with the Junta depriving thirsty, starving, homeless hundreds of thousands of people of much needed supplies because "they want to distribute it themselves" - yeah, right - right into the mouths of the army and forget the rest of the people. What's it to them if a couple hundred thousand people die as a result of a cyclone, heh? Less voters to deal with. And then, of course, there's every prospect of a new civil war breaking out in Lebanon because the Shiites just don't know how to get along with everyone else. Sorry guys - but you are one religion that should be wiped off the face of the earth - along with all adherents of Jerry Farwell. No difference as far as I can see. Not to be forgotten are our ever-rising gasoline prices, natural gas prices, the cost of food at the super-market, mass lay-offs, the sinking dollar - all blamed on China's voracious appetite for EVERYTHING - well, if the shoe fits. Speaking of China, how many children now have died from a "common ailment" called foot and mouth disease? Say what? I thought that was something cows and sheep caught, for Goddess' sake! The last thing I read, it was something like 223 children dead, and nearly 20,000 more infected. Oh - I know - they'll blame it on the USA - we force-fed tainted Coca-Cola to the babies as a way to kill a few hundred thousand and cut demand for scarce natural resources. What do they call the Politburo in China? Neo-Putinists? Whatever they're called, they'll order that the heads of a few not good-Communist medium level managers (everyone knows they're all corrupt, darlings) are chopped off accidentally in prison where they would otherwise be sentenced for the next 240 years. And the Glorious Leaders and their obedient munchkins in the Chinese press will tell their citizens (and the west) that the problem of fraudulently under-reporting (or not reporting at all) such outbreaks to the World Health Organization (not to mention the Chinese big wigs in Peking) has been solved. Chop chop... All is just fine for Summer Olympics and much propaganda making, tankee bery much. Makes me want to puke. So, tonight, I'm trying to find uplifting, happy news. Well, let's see - there's this report that the Sahara dried out "gradually" over a couple thousand of years rather than "all at once" - well, who the heck thought it dried out all at once, anyway? Duh! So, all you folks afraid of dying within my lifetime from global warming-caused climatic changes - relax! It won't happen until your great-grandchildren are grandparents! Oh, here's good news! The wave of the future - getting rid of the dead with jazzed-up lye! Oh - wait a minute - that's what they used to do thousands of years and, come to think of it, not so long ago - throw people and dead animals into lime pits, or something like that. Then - didn't they fish out the bones and suck out the marrow? Eeeeeeuuuuuuwwwwww! Okay, okay, I'm not doing so well in the "happy news" department. What about this - cue spooky music from classic Alfred Hitchcock movie "The Birds:" Crows are taking over Japan - they're rummaging for yummies in the garbage bags piled up on city streets (ooooh, yech), they're nesting in electric power poles and causing continual power outages across the country, and - CUE THAT SPOOKY MUSIC - hungry crows have bloodied the faces of children while trying to steal candy from their hands. Crows have even carried away baby prairie dogs and ducklings from Tokyo zoos, city officials said... Flocks of ravens on killing sprees in the United Kingdom. Calves, lambs, and sheep pecked to death. Animals not killed have been left in agony as the birds eat their eyes, tongues and the soft flesh of their underbelly. Ohmygoddess! It's a sign of the end, I tell you, a sign of the end!!! EEEEEEEEEEKKKK! Everyone - learn how to use slingshots - QUICK! Maybe if you can pick out the buggers' eyes with a couple of stones you can save yourselves and your children - not to mention your cattle... Ha ha ha, we can laugh, right, because bird attacks aren't happening here on our home turf (USA) - wrongo! Check this out: An unusual kind of bird-watching is underway in Downtown Austin (Texas, USA) these days. Several mockingbirds are attacking people as they pass by the Stephen F. Austin building. On a happier note (yes, I found one, yippee!), tomorrow morning is our monthly meeting of the ladies' investment club. We are now five strong, having added our fifth member formally in March. We are doing great. Our share value, which started out at $10 back in January, 2005, is now close to $20. Our goal is to double our money every five years (to do that we need to make an annual return of 14.9% a year), and we've nearly done that with about 1.5 years to spare before our next 5-year cycle starts. We're not sitting on a ton of cash, either. We're nearly fully invested. Just a day ago we made our latest purchase and now we've only got about $350 in cash left, so we'll accumulate a kitty and pull the trigger again, when we find a suitable investment opportunity. My investing partners are some smart women! By pooling our resources we accumulate cash in a relatively short period of time and invest by consensus after doing work-ups on likely companies and publicly-traded partnerships within which to invest, following the precepts of the National Association of Investors Corporation. Email makes communication so easy, we can pull the trigger on an investment at the drop of a hat if we wish; but we love getting together once a month for breakfast, gossip, planning our next ladies' outing (we've done Chicago shopping, two spa visits, and Christmas shopping with the carolers at Bayshore Mall), doing portfolio reviews and making and studying investment suggestions. Making money is fun! One last note for tonight. Spare money is hard to come by these days, but please consider contributing goods and whatever cash you can to your local food pantries. On May 10th locally the U.S. Postal Workers are having a collection here tomorrow for the Hunger Task Force, and I've been busy lugging canned goods home all week (a mile on foot, since you know I don't drive) from the supermarket. Our local food pantries, which depend on the Hunger Task Force, are in trouble because so many more families are visiting each month now. There are severe shortages of goods and cash. There are hungry children here, in Milwaukee, and in nearly every community in the United States. The federal government's in-kind contributions to food pantries across the land has greatly decreased under George Bush's administration. Hunger Task Force sent the word out that they would run out of food and money long before the end of the year. The Postal Workers' pick-up of food contributions right from your front porch and your mail boxes (like mine, which is at the curb) is only a few years old here, but it's a great idea. It makes in-kind contributions easy - all you have to do is buy the stuff, the postal workers pick it up and deliver it. It's amazing what you can buy on sale in canned goods with just $20 (and a few coupons) - and I'm not just talking about string beans! I purchased canned tuna in water, sliced peaches, sliced pears (these are treats for food pantries), canned stews, hearty-eating soups with meat and spaghetti sauce with meat in addition to the standard fare of Campbell's Chicken Noodle and Tomato soups. I'll send a cash contribution for those things that shouldn't be put into a food drive - such as packaged pastas and "Hamburger Helper," cereals, etc. etc. Hunger Task Force can pool all cash contributions and buy these items in bulk, along with other bulk goods such as dried milk that the federal government no longer contributes in amounts it used to, despite the growing need. Tomorrow morning on my way to breakfast with the ladies, I'm stopping by Walgreens, which this week is having a sale on "Taster's Choice" freeze-dried instant coffee (regular and de-caf), and I'll fork over some cash to buy some coffee for the food drive. People don't think about it, but food pantries don't have the cash, usually, to buy coffee to stock their shelves (same for canned fruit), and this isn't something that people ordinarily think to contribute. My driving thought always is - if I have to go to a food pantry, what would I ask for, and what would I want to be able to receive? I've been so richly blessed by the Goddess - oh, not cash wise - I'm not a six figure a year person (through my own choice0. My blessings are my family, my friends, my loved ones, the knowledge I've been able to acquire about so many different subjects, my "voice." And I've got some $$$ to contribute to those who are in need. Tell me, what more do I need? It really is true that if you share what you have with others, you will receive so much more back in return. Good night, darlings.

Builder Uncovers Etruscan Tombs

Story reported on May 7, 2008 at The Scotsman: Italian builders uncover 2,000-year-old tomb ARCHAEOLOGISTS were yesterday celebrating the discovery of 27 2,000-year-old tombs in Italy's "Valley of the Dead". The tombs, some dating back to the 7th century BC, were found by chance while builders carried out work. The whole area was sealed off yesterday and put under police guard to prevent anyone from trying to steal artefacts inside the burial chambers. Grave robbers, or tombaroli as they are known in Italy, make a lucrative living from selling such objects to museums or private collectors. Archaeologists say there is also a "good chance" that there may well be other tombs waiting to be discovered. The tombs were discovered at Tarquinia, 50 miles north of Rome in an area named a World Heritage Site by Unesco. Covering more than 400 acres, the area was the burial ground for the Etruscan tribes who predated the Romans. Maria Tecla Castaldi, an archaeologist, said: "This is the most exciting discovery here in decades. There are frescoes of two figures on the walls, but we need to carry out a proper excavation and search. "The problem we have is that grave robbers have plundered this area in the last few years, so sometimes we find tombs but they have been there before us. I hope that we have found tombs that are still intact."

2008 U.S. Women's Chess Championship

The pairings for Round 1 for the 2008 Frank K. Berry U.S. Women's Chess Championship (from USCF's Chess Life Online): Player Draw (pairing numbers) 1. Chouchanik Airapetian (WFM) v. 10. Courtney Jamison 2. Anna Zatonskih (WGM, IM) v. 9. Iryna Zenyuk (WFM, CM) 3. Katerine Rohonyan (WGM) v. 8. Tsagaan Battsetseg (WIM) 4. Tatev Abrahamyan (WFM) v. 7. Irina Krush (WGM, IM) 5. Esther Epstein (WM) v. 6. Chimi Tuvshintugs (WIM) Play begins on May 13th!

Chessville Column

JanXena's May, 2008 column is now up and running at Chessville. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Goddess Chomolungma

Challenges of ‘Goddess of the Sky’ May 2 2008 by Sarah Manners, Western Mail Mount Everest, is also called Chomolungma or Qomolangma in Tibetan, which translates as “Mother of the Universe” or “Goddess of the Mother Earth” or Sagarmatha in Nepali, which means “Goddess of the Sky”. It is the highest mountain on Earth, as measured by the height of its summit above sea level at 8,848 metres or 29,029 feet. New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay from Nepal were the first people to conquer Everest. They reached the summit at 11:30am local time on May 29, 1953 via the South Col route. News of the expedition’s success reached London the morning of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation. The mountain, part of the Himalayan range in High Asia, is to be found on the border between Sagarmatha, Nepal, and Tibet, China. By the end of the 2007 climbing season there had been 3,679 ascents to the summit by 2,436 individuals. There have been 210 deaths on the mountain, where conditions are so difficult that most corpses have been left where they fell; some are visible from standard climbing routes. Everest climbers are a significant source of tourist revenue for Nepal, whose government also requires all prospective climbers to obtain a permit costing up to US$25,000 per person.

Odyssey Marine Exploration - Spanish Claim Update

Har, me mateys! An update on the sunken treasure, estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars, that Spain claims for its own. From Time Online Spain Claims Sunken Treasure By Lisa Abend, Madrid May 8, 2008 The deep surrendered one of its mysteries today. Ever since May 2007, when the American shipwreck salvage company Odyssey Marine gave its latest and most spectacular discovery the appropriately pirate-esque code name of "The Black Swan," controversy about the ship's true identity has spawned speculation and even litigation about who owned the lucrative shipwreck. Today, the Spanish government submitted evidence a Florida court that the ship was actually Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes, a Spanish navy frigate that sank in the early 19th century. In other words, that it was theirs. "The mystery is over," said James Goold, the lawyer representing the Spanish government, at a Madrid press conference on Thursday. "Odyssey stripped the gravesite of Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes." Although Odyssey representatives said they had sought to keep the shipwreck's exact location secret out of concern for the site's security, in January, the court ordered the American company to reveal its findings to Spain. That information, coupled with the government's own investigations, enabled Madrid to assert today that the sunken ship — and the trove of silver treasure it contained — rightfully belong to the Spanish state. The ownership dispute first erupted in April 2007, when the for-profit company Odyssey filed claim to and extracted some 17 tons of silver coins and other treasure from the underwater site, moving the artifacts to an undisclosed storage facility near its company headquarters in Tampa. From the outset, Spain believed that the ship was Spanish, and that the excavation therefore amounted to an attack on its historical patrimony. Odyssey, on the other hand, argued that as salvager it had the right to a significant percentage of the reclaimed booty regardless of the ship's origins. And as recently as January 2008, Odyssey CEO Greg Stemm said that the company's own experts were still uncertain of the ship's identity. But according to the Spanish, both the wreck's location and the booty recovered from it clearly point to the Mercedes. "We have been able to pinpoint Odyssey's operations in international waters, and confirm that they were working where the Battle of Cape Saint Mary occurred," says Goold, referring to the 1804 battle in which a British warship fired upon the Mercedes and blew it up. "The artifacts that remain are spilled in a way consistent with an explosion. There's only one ship that fits that description." Stemm contests Goold's conclusion. "He is either trying to twist the historical records," the Odyssey CEO says, "or he has not reviewed them." At the press conference, Carmen Marcos, chief coin curator for Spain's National Archaeology Museum, said that limited, preliminary evidence suggested that the pieces of eight recovered from the ship were minted in 1803 in the then-Spanish colony of Peru. "The coins show us that the ship had recently left the port of El Callao in Lima. Of that, there is no doubt," she said. Historical documents that Spain presented today show that the Mercedes left El Callao in April 1804. They also show that approximately 200 sailors and members of their families were killed in the explosion. "We can consider the site an underwater cemetery," said José Jiménez, director of fine arts for the culture ministry. "It contains the human remains of our sailors." Those remains now look to play a significant role in Spain's legal strategy, as the case drags on in the Tampa court. One of Odyssey's arguments is that Spain had abandoned the shipwreck site — a justification that another salvager, Mel Fisher, used successfully to lay claim to a pair of Spanish ships sunk off the coast of Florida. But by contending that the shipwreck constitutes a "cemetery", Spain can say that it hasn't disturbed the site out of respect for its own dead. The depiction also makes for good p.r. "People have this idea of treasure hunters as glamorous," says Goold. "But if it involves going down to a gravesite and taking someone's wedding ring, it's a different kind of thing."

If You Haven't Already Heard - World to End in 2012

From Yahoo News Benjamin Radford LiveScience's Bad Science Columnist Thu May 8, 4:55 PM ET Three children were recently removed from a remote church compound called Strong City in New Mexico. There had been allegations that children at the cult may have been sexually abused, though the matter remains under investigation and charges have yet to be filed. The leader of the group, Wayne Bent, claims to be the son of God. In early 2007, Bent said that the world would end on Halloween of that year. That apparently fell through, however Bent was undeterred and has updated his prophecy to say that the Apocalypse will happen at any moment: "The seven last plagues are all falling now and the end of all things is at hand," Bent wrote on his church's Web site. Failed doomsday predictions are nothing new, of course. There have been thousands of people predicting the imminent end of the world, dating back to at least 2800 B.C. They have all been wrong for thousands of years (or however how long since they spoke), but that doesn't keep people from trying. End-times claims are often rooted in Bible passages, but also based on everything from schizophrenia to misunderstood astronomy. Most doomsday promoters are quite sincere, genuinely believing that they have discovered a (literally) Earth-shaking secret that must be shared with others. Doomsday deferred It seems quaint now, but as the last century came to a close, there was fear of the "Y2K bug," the computer programming glitch that supposedly was going to bring the world to its knees as the millennium turned. The news media ran alarmist stories of possible consequences, ranging from the timing on your coffeemaker being off to a global nuclear war started by mistakenly-launched missiles. While most people were only mildly concerned, many stocked up on survival gear, and some even headed to remote areas to wait out the impending holocaust. And it wasn't just the Y2K bug; there were dozens of predictions that the world would end in 2000 (just as there had been a century earlier - some things never change)[a century earlier? How about a millennium earlier? End of the world fever was rampant approaching the year 1000]. For example, author Richard Noone decided that the planets would align catastrophically almost exactly eight years ago, on May 5, 2000. The result would be the end of civilization through the melting and shifting of the polar icecaps. Noone was so concerned about it he wrote a book titled "5/5/2000: Ice, The Ultimate Disaster." (About 18 months before doomsday, I interviewed Mr. Noone about his book and prophecy; when we concluded, I asked if we could arrange a follow-up interview on May 6, 2000, just in case the world didn't end. He declined. Noone's book is currently for sale on for 1 cent.) Now what? So how do true believers react when it's clear that the world didn't end? In many cases, followers have sold or given away all their possessions, assuming that they would have no need of them after the apocalypse. There must be some red faces as the hour of judgment comes ... and goes. You might also think that followers would decide they'd been fooled and rebel. More often, however, the failed prophecy actually makes their belief stronger. In the case of cults, members have invested their money, time, lives, and sometimes even children in the cult leader. It's very difficult to suddenly reject all that, since their very identity is often linked to the beliefs. Believers may rationalize away the failure in one or more of the following ways: They may decide that the end is in fact near, but that the time or date was simply misinterpreted and move the true end-times date forward (as Wayne Bent did); they may decide that their faith and prayer actually saved the world and averted disaster; or they may believe that the end of the world did in fact occur, but nobody else noticed it because it was a mystical or spiritual apocalypse, not a physical one. For more on the psychology of failed apocalyptic predictions, see Leon Festinger's classic book "When Prophecy Fails." The latest fad in end-times predictions is for the year 2012, which (depending on which "expert" you listen to) will supposedly bring about either a new age of global spiritual awakening, or the end of the world. Or maybe something in between. There are several Web sites dedicated to cataloging hundreds of past doomsdays. One of the best is A Brief History of the Apocalypse. Check the site in 2013 to see what it says.

Viking Trading Center Discovered in Ireland

From the sound of the article, I think perhaps the town may have originally been called something with the god's name "Woden" in it - Wodentown - Woodstown... From BBC News May 6, 2008 Irish Viking trade centre unearthed One of the Vikings' most important trading centres has been discovered in Ireland. The settlement at Woodstown in County Waterford is estimated to be about 1,200 years old. It was discovered during archaeological excavations for a road by-pass for Waterford city, which was founded by the Vikings. The Irish government said the settlement was one of the most important early Viking age trading centres discovered in the country. Its working group, which includes archaeologists from Ireland's museum and monuments service, said it was of international significance and showed the community was wealthy and sought to remain at Woodstown permanently. Almost 6,000 artefacts and a Viking chieftain's grave have been discovered at the site, which was established by the year 860. The grave contains a sword, shield and silver mark. The working group report said the discoveries of silver and lead weights showed it was "apparent that Woodstown falls firmly into the Scandinavian tradition." "There can be little doubt that many, if not all of the settlement's occupants were either Scandinavian, or had strong insular Scandinavian associations," it said. "The Woodstown site provides a rare opportunity to study a Scandinavian settlement of this period outside Scandinavia itself."

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Superstar Xie Jun Playing in Major Tournament!

From Vietnam News: Chinese chess and Go regional tournament to open in Ha Noi (07-05-2008) HA NOI — Chinese chess and Go players from Viet Nam will be up against some of the best in Asia this weekend when Ha Noi hosts a major regional tournament for the first time The Chinese chess (Xiangqi) and Go Ha Noi Open has been organised by the Ha Noi Sports Department, and is being jointly sponsored by China’s Guangxi Hualan and the C-Hope groups. Some 64 players from China, South Korea, Japan and Viet Nam will be competing in the event, which starts on Saturday at Quan Ngua Sports Palace. At a press conference in Ha Noi yesterday, organisers proudly boasted that Chinese chess stars such as Li Dong Jun and Xie Yun (from China) and Go champs Guangxi Yu Xue Jun (China), Miyata Takeshi (Japan) and Park Kyun-chul and Kwon Kwe-hyun from South Korea would be participating in the tournament. "We are honoured to be able to sponsor the tournament, which is being held for the first time in Viet Nam," said John Chin, assistant director of the Guangxi Hualan Group. Danny Kung, executive president of the C-Hope Group, said he hoped the tournament would boost economic co-operation and friendship between China and Viet Nam. In recent years, Viet Nam has become one of the leading Chinese chess nations in the region. "[Chinese] chess has been played in Viet Nam for a long time, but this is the first time Ha Noi has hosted such a big tournament, which has attracted top players from chess giants in Asia," said Nguyen Manh Hung, vice director of the Ha Noi Sports Department. "The event marks a new era [for the game in Viet Nam]." Among Viet Nam’s leading representatives at the competition will be Treng A Sang, Nguyen Thanh Bao, Tran Van Ninh and Nguyen Vu Quan. At the 10th World Chinese Chess Championship in Macau last year Viet Nam’s Nguyen Thanh Bao won a bronze medal. Also last year in Macau, Nguyen Vu Quan won a silver medal at the Asian Indoor Games. At the Asian Chinese Chess Team Championships in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau last year in which Viet Nam finished fourth, Quan caused an upset by beating world champion Lu Qin. The tournament ends on Monday. — VNS ********************************************************************************** GM Xie Jun was the Women's World Chess Champion from 1991-1996 and 1999-2001 -- that is, "international (or western)" chess, not "xiang qi" or Chinese chess. All I could find about Xie Jun and xiang qi was this information from Wikipedia: At the age of six Xie began to play Chinese chess, and by the age of 10 she had become the girls' Xiangqi champion of Beijing. I cannot be sure, of course, but it sounds as if Xie Jun has taken up xiang qi again, but there is no information available via a regular Google search. A search on Chinese Google wouldn't be helpful, though, since I don't read Chinese. It's great to see a great chess champion's name in print again!

Linear A - An Undeciphered Language

This is one of the exhibits from the Land of the Labyrinth: Minoan Crete, 3000-1100 B.C., which will be on view at The Onassis Cultural Center (645 Fifth Avenue) through September 13, 2008, Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is free. The catalog accompanying the exhibition is exceptional and well worth obtaining.

Identification: Clay tablet inscribed with six lines of Linear A writing, Zakros, end of Late Minoan IB (ca. 1450 B.C.)(Courtesy Onassis Public Benefit Foundation)

Jiroft Back in the News

Jiroft at Goddesschess. From the Tehran Times: Date : Wednesday, May 7, 2008 Jiroft is the ancient city of Marhashi: U.S. scholar Tehran Times Culture Desk TEHRAN -- Piotr Steinkeller, professor of Assyriology in Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations of Harvard University, believes that the prehistoric site of Jiroft is the lost ancient city of Marhashi. He developed the theory in his paper during the first round of the International Conference on Jiroft Civilization, which was held in Tehran on May 5 and 6. Marhashi, (in earlier sources Warahshe) was a 3rd millennium BC polity situated east of Elam, on the Iranian plateau. It is known from Mesopotamian sources, and its precise location has not been identified. An inscription of Lugal-Anne-Mundu, the most important king of the Adab city-state in Sumer, locates it, along with Elam, to the south of Gutium, an ancient polity in upper Mesopotamia. The inscription also explains that Lugal-Anne-Mundu confronted the Warahshe king, Migir-Enlil. Jiroft is the lost ancient city of Marhashi, which had been located between Anshan and Meluhha, Steinkeller said. Anshan was one of the early capitals of Elam, from the 3rd millennium BC, which is located 36 kilometers northwest of modern Shiraz in Fars Province, southwestern Iran. The Indus Valley Civilization has been tentatively identified with the toponym Meluhha known from Sumerian records. According to Steinkeller, Marhashi was a political and economic power in eastern Iran, which had been in a close contact with Babylonia. This relationship had been developed over two periods, which has influenced the political history of the region for at least a half century. Steinkeller had previously been searching the Kerman region in order to identify a site from the 3rd millennium BC, which he could consider it as Marhashi. He had found Tepe Yahya and Tall-e Eblis, but he believes that Tepe Yahya is too small to be considered as Marhashi and Tall-e Eblis has been has almost entirely been destroyed over the years. Thus, he said that Jiroft is the heart of the ancient city of Marhashi and hoped that upcoming excavations and studies would help archaeologists discover other parts of the city. According to the conference scientific secretary Professor Yusef Majidzadeh, over 700 ancient sites such as tepes and graves have been discovered in Jiroft over the past six seasons of excavation by a team of archaeologists led by Majidzadeh. Located next to the Halil-Rud River in southern Iran’s Kerman Province, Jiroft came into the spotlight in 2002 when reports surfaced of extensive illegal excavations being carried out by local people who went on to plunder priceless historical items. Majidzadeh team unearthed a great number of artifacts at Jiroft as well as three tablets in one of the present-day villager’s homes and a brick inscription near Jiroft’s Konar-Sandal region wherein they also discovered ruins of a large fortress, which previously was believed to be a ziggurat. The structure is surmised have been made of more than four million mud bricks. The pottery works and the shards discovered in the Konar-Sandal fortress date back to an interval between the fourth millennium BC and early years of the Islamic period, Majidzadeh said during the conference. Once, Majidzadeh had said that Jiroft is the ancient city of Aratta, which was described in a Sumerian clay inscription as an impressive center of civilization. In December 2007, he suggested that archaeologists use the term Proto-Iranian instead of Proto-Elamite for the script found at Jiroft. He believes that the world should revise its knowledge of the Eastern civilizations due to the inscriptions discovered at Jiroft. Majidzadeh describes the inscriptions as unique and also elaborates that the tablets and the brick inscription bearing a script which has been invented along with the Mesopotamia script at the same time. A great number of Iranian and foreign archaeologists and scholars will discuss latest studies on the Jiroft civilization during the conference, which will be continued in Jiroft from May 8 to 9.

Illegal Antiquities Traders Busted

Page last updated at 16:24 GMT, Tuesday, 6 May 2008 17:24 UK

Spain seizes 'priceless' antiques
By Steve Kingstone BBC News, Madrid

Spanish police have arrested a couple accused of illegally trafficking a "priceless" haul of artefacts from Latin America for resale in Europe.

The artefacts, which predate the discovery of the Americas by Columbus, were allegedly destined for France.

An Interpol investigation in Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador led to the arrest of the Spanish man and Colombian woman.

Police searched their Spanish home and luggage to find 700 pieces allegedly looted from archaeological sites.

Items seized from the married couple included masks, pendants, paintings and ceramics.

Dozens of the smuggled items were made of gold, and all are at least 500 years old - offering a valuable insight into life in the Americas before the arrival of Columbus.

Colombian middlemen?
It is alleged that the historic treasures were plundered from archaeological sites - mostly in Peru and Ecuador - and then sold on to the couple through middlemen in Colombia.

The couple had just returned from a trip to the Colombian capital, Bogota.

Interpol played a co-ordinating role in the investigation.

The Spanish police seized documents and a computer which allegedly detailed a trade in cultural contraband stretching back years.

Smuggled goods are said to have been sold on in various European countries - principally France, where the couple had planned an auction later this month.

The confiscated artefacts are due to be analysed at a museum in Madrid, and will later be returned to their countries of origin. The artefacts, which predate the discovery of the Americas by Columbus, were allegedly destined for France.

An Interpol investigation in Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador led to the arrest of the Spanish man and Colombian woman.

Police searched their Spanish home and luggage to find 700 pieces allegedly looted from archaeological sites.

Items seized from the married couple included masks, pendants, paintings and ceramics.

Dozens of the smuggled items were made of gold, and all are at least 500 years old - offering a valuable insight into life in the Americas before the arrival of Columbus.

Caveman Bling!

From the Brisbane Times: Archaeologists uncover caveman bling May 7, 2008 - 6:28AM RABAT - Archaeologists have uncovered shells used for finery by prehistoric man 85,000 years ago in a cave in eastern Morocco, the country's heritage institute said today. A research team led by archaeology and heritage institute (INSAP) member Abdeljalil Bouzouggar and Nick Barton from Oxford University found the 20 perforated shells in a cave near Taforalt between March and April this year. The Nassarius gibbosulus shells are the type prehistoric man would have worn, according to a statement from the Moroccan Ministry for Culture. In 2007, Bouzouggar and Barton discovered 14 perforated shells in the same cave. "This discovery shows that the making and use of objects of finery is very anchored in the traditions of Morocco's prehistoric people," said Bouzouggar, in whose opinion the country is the original centre of artistic and symbolic creation. Objects of finery discovered in Morocco are "now considered to be even more ancient than those discovered in Algeria, South Africa and in Palestine", said the culture ministry. Known as the "cave of pigeons", the 30-metre deep and 10-metre high cave is situated 50km from Morocco's Mediterranean coast. AFP ********************************************************************************************* What was not explained - was the cave inhabited by so-called "modern" man, or by so-called "Neanderthal" man? Inquiring minds want to know!

2008 European Individual Chess Championships

Here are the female qualifiers for the next World Cup: № Rank SNo. Name IRtg FED Ptt 1 1 5 GM Lahno Kateryna 2479 UKR 8.5 2 2 10 IM Cmilyte Viktorija 2466 LTU 8 3 3 8 IM Ushenina Anna 2474 UKR 8 4 4 14 WGM Zhukova Natalia 2450 UKR 8 5 5 24 IM Mkrtchian Lilit 2413 ARM 8 6 6 17 IM Skripchenko Almira 2443 FRA 8 7 7 20 IM Dembo Yelena 2429 GRE 8 8 8 1 GM Cramling Pia 2539 SWE 7.5 9 9 9 WGM Pogonina Natalija 2470 RUS 7.5 10 10 4 IM Muzychuk Anna 2486 SLO 7.5 11 11 2 GM Stefanova Antoaneta 2538 BUL 7.5 12 12 16 IM Dzagnidze Nana 2443 GEO 7.5 13 13 6 IM Danielian Elina 2479 ARM 7.5 14 14 30 IM Lomineishvili Maia 2400 GEO 7.5

Olympic Athletes Warned - No Politics

A disturbing story from the Wall Street Journal this morning: Olympic Committee Tells Athletes To Avoid Political Statements By MEI FONGMay 7, 2008; Page A15 BEIJING -- To Olympic athletes contemplating wearing messages of support for Tibet, Darfur or even the notion of a better world, the International Olympic Committee is saying, "Don't." Last week, the IOC sent a letter to all national Olympic organizing committees saying athletes should stay away from clothes, gestures or moves that demonstrate "political, religious or racial propaganda" at venues for the Beijing Games. This includes "all actions, reactions, attitudes" by people, including "external appearance, clothing, gestures and written or oral statements." The letter appears to represent the IOC's most explicit statements to date clarifying an existing prohibition on the use of the Olympic Games as a political venue, and it is a bid to prevent protests from swamping what already has become one of the most contentious Games in recent history. Recent demonstrations over China's human-rights record in Paris, London and San Francisco during the Olympic torch relay have in turn fanned a wave of patriotism and anti-Western sentiment in China. IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said the letter, earlier reported by the Associated Press, makes it clear the IOC won't allow requests by, for instance, French athletes to wear a badge marked "For a better world," an attempt by the French contingent to express its disquiet in a way that wouldn't offend its Chinese hosts. "We're not saying athletes can't express their views, but not at Games venues. The Olympics are about celebrating sporting achievements," she said. Athletes would be free to express their opinions outside Olympic venues, including in blogs, but must abide by local laws, she said. Under Chinese law, protesters must apply for permits, a practice that frequently isn't followed. Chinese officials have said that visitors to the Olympics must observe Chinese law. [What does this mean? Will you be arrested if you say that China sucks?] Activist groups that have called on athletes to express their views through clothing include Team Darfur, a Washington-based coalition of athletes, and a Danish group called the Color Orange, which is encouraging Olympic participants to wear orange to protest human-rights violations in China. "How can they ban a color? They look like fools," said Color Orange's founder, Jens Galschiot. He was denied entry into Hong Kong last week, when the Olympic torch relay was being held there. The Olympic prohibitions also might be challenged by patriotic Chinese wearing gear with a message professing love for China. Sales of such items have soared in recent weeks, as Chinese reacted with fury to outside criticism and perceived bias by Western media companies -- some of whom are underwriting the Games' running costs. Past Olympians punished for making political gestures include American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who protested racial inequality by raising black-gloved fists during the 1968 Summer Games in Mexico City. Both were suspended from the U.S. team. Another was Korean marathoner Sohn Kee-Chung, who in 1936 became the first Korean to win an Olympic medal. An ardent patriot, Mr. Sohn publicly lamented competing under Japan's flag -- Korea was at the time a de facto Japanese colony -- and openly wept when it was hoisted during his medal presentation at the 1936 Summer Games in Berlin. Japanese authorities then banned him from competing in other running events, according to historian David Clay Large in the book "Nazi Games: The Olympics of 1936." Separately, China acknowledged for the first time that it is tightening its visa policy ahead of the Olympic Games. Foreign-ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a regular media briefing Tuesday that "we are more strict and more serious" in approving visas. For weeks, travel agents and foreign businesspeople have complained of extra difficulties in obtaining business or tourism visas to China. Mr. Qin said the tighter measures were to be maintained indefinitely, to create "a safe environment" and ensure "all the foreign friends who come to China can feel safer and happier."

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Goddess Aurora

Aurora’s tale a sad one of love May 05, 2008 05:07 PM Faces and Places By: Sean Pearce, Staff Writer Ever been to Machell’s Corners? Chances are if you are reading this, you’re sitting there right now. That’s because from 1804 until January 1, 1854, Aurora was called Machell’s Corners. With the arrival of the railway and what was perceived as the dawning of a new era, postmaster Charles Doan decided to re-christen the town, Aurora, the Latin name for the Greek goddess of the dawn. But who was Aurora? In mythology, Aurora was, as was previously mentioned, the goddess of the dawn. Each morning, she renewed herself and flew across the sky heralding the arrival of the sun.According to ancient lore, Aurora, or Eos as she was known in Greek mythology, was the daughter of the titan, Hyperion. In addition to her father, she also had a brother named Sol/Helios, the sun and a sister named Luna/Selene, the moon. Despite her role as the herald of the sunrise and her frequent references in Homeric poetry as the “rosy-fingered”, her love life was anything but rosy. One myth, adapted by a Roman poet from a story about the goddess, tells Aurora once fell madly in love with a prince of Troy named Tithonus. The tragedy being that Tithonus was doomed, as all mortals are, to age and die. Hoping she could cheat fate and be with Tithonus forever, Aurora went to Olympus and asked Zeus, the king of the gods, to grant her love immortality. Zeus consented, but, seeing as Aurora neglected to ask for Tithonus to remain eternally young, he was condemned to age forever. Realizing her error, Aurora, for some reason, turned Tithonus into a grasshopper. Still, Aurora couldn’t have been too heartbroken as she had many relationships before and after Tithonus and bore many children as a result. While a relatively minor figure in mythology, Aurora was immortalized by numerous artists. The Greek bard, Homer, made reference to her in the Iliad and the Odyssey and Aurora was also mentioned frequently by Shakespeare in his poems and plays. Incidentally, the tale of doomed love between Aurora and Tithonus was also adapted as a poem by the British poet laureate, Lord Alfred Tennyson. Apart from that, Aurora was also a well represented figure in other artistic mediums and, thus, her name has survived from antiquity until present day. Of course, around these parts, her legacy is most recognizably her role as the namesake of the community that still bears the name; Aurora.

For Adults Only

From - brace yourself - The Biblical Archaeology Review: Did Captured Ark Afflict Philistines with E.D.? BAR 34:03, May/June 2008 By Aren M. Maeir I’ve always been troubled by the Philistine hemorrhoids. The Hebrew word is ‘opalim (Mylpe). That was supposedly their affliction when they captured the Ark of the Covenant and placed it before a statue of their god Dagon. The story is told about the Ark (sometimes called the Ark of God) when it was resting at Shiloh, cared for by Eli the priest, before it was ultimately brought to Jerusalem by King David. The Israelites had engaged their enemies the Philistines in battle at Ebenezer.a The battle went badly for the Israelites, and Eli’s sons allowed the Ark to be brought from Shiloh to the battlefield at Ebenezer as a paladin in the hope that this would turn the tide of battle. Instead, the Philistines captured the Ark (1Samuel 5–6). The Philistines took the Ark to Ashdod and placed it before a statue of Dagon in the Philistine temple. The next day, the Philistines found Dagon toppled, lying on the ground. They set him back up, but the same thing happened the next day. The text goes on to tell us that “the hand of the Lord was heavy on the Ashdodites.” The Lord afflicted them with “hemorrhoids” (‘opalim). The Philistines then took the Ark to Gath, another city of the Philistine pentapolis. This time the men of Gath were afflicted with “hemorrhoids.” Finally, the Philistines decided to send the Ark back to the Israelites. To mollify the Israelite God, the Philistines included five golden “hemorrhoids” (one for each city of the Philistine pentapolis) and five golden mice. (The text tells us that “hemorrhoids” and mice had been ravaging the land of the Philistines.) Rest of article (including footnoted articles).

Treasures from Afghanistan

Here is one of the artifacts from the exhibit:

Ring with an image of Athena, Tillya Tepe, Tomb II, Second quarter of the 1st century AD.Gold.National Museum of AfghanistanPhoto © Thierry Ollivier/Musée Guimet

Notice the serpent fringe that falls around Athena's knees.

A Different Take on the Origins of the Celts

From Our Celtic roots lie in Spain and Portugal May 5 2008 by Darren Devine, Western Mail THE Welsh have more in common with sun-kissed glamour pusses like actress Penelope Cruz and footballer Christiano Ronaldo than pale- faced Germans like Helmet Kohl, according to an academic. Professor John Koch suggests the Welsh can trace their ancestry back to Portugal and Spain, debunking the century-old received wisdom that our forebears came from Iron Age Germany and Austria. His radical work on Celtic origins flatly contradicts the writing of Sir John Rhys, who in the late 19th century established the idea that we originally came from central Europe. Sir John believed the Celts were the remnants of a great culture that extended here from modern-day eastern France, Switzerland, southern Germany and Austria. But Professor Koch, of the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh & Celtic Studies, in Aberystwyth, says archaeological inscriptions on stones show we came from southern Portugal and south-west Spain. He said: “Celts are said to come from west central Europe – Austria, southern Germany, eastern France and that part of the world. “That’s been the theory that everybody has grown up with for at least 100 years. “There is evidence that the Celtic languages were spoken there because of place names and people’s names. “But the assumption was that was where they came from. I think they got there later. “There is evidence in Spain and Portugal indicating they were there 500 or more years before.” Professor Koch says there are Celtic texts in Portugal and Spain way before they started springing up in central Europe during Roman times. One key piece of evidence is the earliest written language of western Europe – Tartessian, found on inscribed stones in Portugal and Spain dating back to between 800BC and 400BC. The professor maintains this language can be deciphered as Celtic. Expert on Welsh history and archaeology Dr Raimund Karl, says there is also biological and genetic evidence to support professor Koch’s theory. He said: “In the last couple of years there have been a number of genetic studies of human DNA indicating that the population of much of the western part of the British Isles is related to other communities along the Atlantic seafront. These include Brittany, northern Spain, Portugal and the French Atlantic coast. That’s their genetic origin.” But Dr Karl, of the University of Wales, Bangor, said there is also archaeological evidence suggesting a cultural link with central Europe. “There is evidence suggesting a link with central Europe from elite-material culture – stuff associated with the upper parts of society. This includes weaponry, feasting equipment, artwork on jewellery and other prestigious items.” However the academic said attempts to identify a biological Celt or notions of cultures emanating from a particular spot are meaningless. He believes human cultures and populations are constantly in a state of flux, drawing their influences from far and wide. Dr Karl, himself an Austrian, added: “I personally think the question of where Celtic culture originated is by and large meaningless. Culture is constantly changing and never has a single point of origin. “The biological Celt is meaningless because human populations inter-mingle.”

Monday, May 5, 2008


It's been a rough night. I worked like a maniac after I got home from the office to finish up my May, 2008 Chessville column which had been - ever so politely - called for, starting last Friday night. I started the thing three weeks ago but, per usual, at the end of the month crunch with all the news crashing down upon me and trying to decide which stories were most newsworthy for Chessville (well, damn it all, they all are, but then I may as well just copy and paste everything from Chess Femme News and this blog into a monthly article and be done with it - NOT! It would take up a large part of their website every month but, come to think of it, maybe that would be a good idea...) I worked on it Saturday AND Sunday, hours and hours. I didn't even realize that the IDJUTS at Chessville had been writing to me until this morning because they were using an alterate email address (not my primary - although they all bloody well know it). The reason I didn't realize it until this morning is because I DO NOT CHECK THAT EMAIL ADDRESS ON THE WEEKENDS. Well, that's the Chessville men for you. No wonder their website design is stuck somewhere back in the 1907's... Anyway, I absolutely hate this month's column - not because it's lousy but because it is so incomplete and disconnected. So, I emailed Mr. Webmaster (because my former Editor and I no longer SPEAK to each other) and said, okay it's ready. But you see, it's really not, but it's as ready as it is going to be because it's already far too long and has too many photographs of beautiful chess femmes (they're all beautiful in my eyes), and fascinating stories - arggghhh. I wanted to pick up on this month's theme of "fashion" but I ran out of space and time. The running gag (at least, it is supposed to be) is that Xena (who is a sort of action figure avatar for yours truly) does her thing every month and she allows me to snap some photos of her, which I use in the Chessville column, and every now and then "I" appear, as in March's column, where I showed up with my uber-expensive Coach bag and so women's handbags were a theme throughout the column. This month, Xena let me photograph her in a ratty looking pink towel - well - the fashion angles were obvious but I didn't have time to fully develop them and interweave them into the chess stories of the month. Not only that, I left out several interesting match and tournament results. Writing a column is @%^&3!)+. What I want to know is - where is that column that was only supposed to take an hour or two a month? That's what I was promised when I agreed to this undertaking. Ha! Double Ha! Triple Ha! In addition to compiling the chess femme news on a regular basis (which I do for Chess Femme News and when I'm not posting it there I'm posting it here at the blog, and that's all done out of sheer love for the game of chess, the female players I admire so much and just out of plain stubborness) I'm spending between about 18-24 hours each month putting Xena's Chessville column together. Talk about LABOR! Argggh, well, that's my vent for the night. As it's now past 11:30 p.m. and I'm absolutely exhausted, this is all the more I'm going to post tonight.

Nigerian Chess Scandal - Will It Finally Be Resolved?

This is absolutely outrageous - a gold medal winner deprived of his medal for 10 years! Give the man his medal. GIVE THE MAN HIS MEDAL! HE EARNED IT. Story from Nigeria: Soyinka Wades Into Medal Saga 5 May 2008Posted to the web 5 May 2008 Femi SolajaLagos Almost 10 years after International Master Odion Aikhoje had been denied the honour of being in possession of the gold medal he won at the World Chess Olympiad held in Elista, Russia in 1998, there seems to be a ray of hope for the former national champion to reap the sweat of his efforts following the intervention of Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka. Aikhoje, one of the most colourful and entertaining Nigerian chess players whom a prominent international chess commentator once referred to as 'Young Casisus Clay of chess', took the world chess scene by storm at the Elista'98 Olympiad when he won a gold medal on board two to thus became the third African player to achieve the feat at that level. But as fate would have it, the Nigerian star could not wait for the medal presentation at the closing ceremony of the event because he had to meet up with a connecting flight back to Lagos with other members of the team. His medal was, however, sent to him by the International Chess Federation (FIDE) to its Nigerian affiliate for onward presentation to the chess prodigy. However, the then President of the Nigeria Chess Federation (NCF) Arch Theophilus Caifias, allegedly decided to hold on to the medal claiming that the Sports Ministry had failed to refund the expenses incurred in attending the event. Four years ago Mr. Wole Elegbede, the International Coordinator of Chess, who reside in USA resurrected the issue at the last World Chess Olympiad in 2006 in Turin, Italy to the amazement of FIDE officials and only recently, the player in question, Aikhoje wrote a formal protest letter to the NSC boss, Abdulrahman Gimba. However, the good news is that Professor Soyinka, according to Mr. Elegbede has stepped into the lingering matter. "Professor Soyinka has waded into the matter he said 'Odion won his gold medal and should have it'", Elegbede explained. He also said that the professor has gotten across to both the NSC boss and Arch. Caifias and in the next few weeks or so the young man (Aikhoje) will have cause to smile because it better later than never," Elegbede confirmed in a telephone interview last week. He also revealed that the Nobel Laureate winner had been a lover of the brain game in his younger days and plans are underway to stage a major tournament in his honour probably early next year. "In his younger days, Wole Soyinka used to play chess and was part of chess enthusiasts that followed keenly the Late Bobby Fischer of USA and Boris Spassky of the then USSR's world title chess match. "Incidentally in September last year, at an international festival in Mantua, Italy at the Festivalettatura, Spassky, who was playing chess with a number of people, at a time wanted Soyinka to sit to have a game with him but the Laureate winner declined jokingly saying 'he would not want to be Spassky's sacrificial lamb!'".

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Fraud by Chess Players in India

Oh my - I do not know what to make of this story. It does seem suspicious to me that so many girls would be cheating as to age, but no boys? Just what, exactly, is being examined during these medical examinations to determine age? Is there something else really going on here - discrimination against the girls, a way to force them out of the game? From The Sunday May 4, 2008 National champion found over-age in under-9 chess tourney New Delhi (PTI): In an embarrassing revelation, the under-7 girls' national champion -- along with five others -- has been found over-age in the ongoing under-9 National Chess Competition here. National under-7 champion N Madhumita, Akhila S, H Tejaswini, Sagarika ILVK -- all from Andhra Pradesh -- and Orissa's Shovna and Sonali Jena were declared over-age after the Delhi Chess Association (DCA) conducted medical examination of 14 players on Saturday suspecting the correctness of their submitted birth certificates. DCA President and All India Chess Federation (AICF) treasurer Bharat Singh Chauhan said if the organising committee has doubts about players' age, they can subject them to medical examination to verify their age. "We found it strange that some of the candidates who were born in 1999 got themselves registered only last month. As per the rules, it is the authorities' responsibility to register the child born in their hospital within 45 days of the birth," Chauhan told PTI. "How could they not do it in these cases was a bit difficult to understand and raised suspicion," he said. Chauhan, however, said they were still "open" to a second opinion if the AICF instructs. Here is the prior story I saw yesterday and meant to post here earlier: From The Four AP girls among five debarred Special Correspondent Includes last year’s National under-7 champion Tests on eight boys proves to be inconclusive NEW DELHI: The age-old malady of older children being made to play in the younger age-groups competitions in chess surfaced again when five girls, including last year’s National under-7 champion, were found ineligible to play in the on-going Parsvnath National under-9 chess championship here on Saturday. Andhra Pradesh, under the scanner of the All India Chess Federation for some time now, has done its reputation no good. Out of the six girls medically examined, four AP girls — National under-7 champion N. Madhumita, I.L.V.K. Sagarika, H. Tejaswini and S. Akhila — along with Orissa’s Sovna Sonali Jena were found “above 10 years of age” by the doctors of Fortis Hospital here. According to the AICF joint secretary and organising secretary of the National under-9 championship, Bharat Singh Chauhan, eight boys were also medically examined. “The boys were found to be between the age of eight and 10. The doctors could not conclusively prove whether these children were overage,” he said.[But they could conclusively prove that 4 of 5 girls examined were overage? Seems a bit strange to me, more than a coincidence, wouldn't you say?] “We have debarred these five girls from the tournament. One other girl, Priyavada Karmcheti, also from AP, was earlier removed from competition following complaints of her being ineligible. “We conducted enquiries and found out that she was a student of Class VI. Priyavada’s mother also admitted to this fact,” said Mr. Chauhan.

2008 European Individual Chess Championships

GM Kateryna Lahno won the Women's tournament and the gold medal outright with her 8.5/11, but there were tie-break play-offs for the silver and bronze medals as well as spots for the World Chess Championship. Silver: IM Victoria Cmilyte Bronze: IM Anna Ushenina Qualified for WCC: IM Elina Danielian IM Maia Lomineishvili

More on the Rochdale Circle

From the Rochdale Observer

Magic and mystery tour
Alice McKeegan 29/ 4/2008

(Photo: POINTING the way ... Observer reporter Alice McKeegan and archaeologist for a guided tour and (right) the breathtaking stone circle site.) AFTER a month of waiting and wondering, the mystery of the stone circle has finally been captured on camera.

I have just been treated to an exclusive guided tour of the moors north of Rochdale by Stuart Mendelsohn, the archaeologist who believes he has discovered a stone circle as old as Stonehenge.

We have been asked not to reveal the exact location of the stone circle until Greater Manchester’s county archaeologist visits the site, hopefully later this month, to investigate Mr Mendelsohn’s theory.

The Sweden-based archaeologist made a special trip to the Observer offices for a chat and then took me to the site to see for myself just what all the fuss is about.

Mr Mendelsohn said: "This discovery could really put Rochdale on the map and change the way that the town is viewed. I think that there will be more sites in the area which are significant but we will have to wait and see what the experts say when they visit."

Our photographer Sean Hansford was on hand to capture the moment and snapped some stunning images of the findings. [Too bad none of them accompanied the article, but then, it might give away the location, which I'm sure looters already know about anyway.]

Despite being warned to expect freezing temperatures, as usual vanity stood in my way and I turned up wearing my designer trench coat, Prada trainers and highly inappropriate jeans.

Within minutes I regretted not bringing some wellies and a woolly hat, but thankfully, photographer Sean (or Saint Sean as I’ve renamed him) did the gentlemanly thing and offered me his comfy coat which I duly accepted.

This severely compromised my style but my appearance was the last thing on my mind by this stage.

We were taken to see the circle and the cairns, which even impressed an old cynic like me. I was struck by the tranquillity and magical atmosphere of the site and the views of Rochdale were absolutely breathtaking.

The cairns were beautiful but some of the stones were obscured by peat – understandable after 3,000 years. After glimpsing the site, my imagination started to run wild and it wasn’t hard to envisage just what the area would have been like thousands of years ago.

As a Rochdalian, I was stunned by the rustic beauty of the countryside and the visit has inspired me to return with a picnic, albeit on a warmer day.

Even after just a few hours in Mr Mendelsohn’s company, it was obvious that his life is completely dedicated to archaeology and the strength of his commitment was inspirational. He is determined that the circle will be properly surveyed and the significance of the site noted in the record books.

So far, English Heritage has confirmed that the area was of Bronze Age significance and that there were two cairns that probably date from the same period as Stonehenge.

The Bronze Age was the period from 3,000BC to 700BC when metal first began to be widely used in Britain. Middleton-born Mendelsohn, aged 52, estimates 20 stones in a precise arrangement marked a sacred site to the people of prehistoric Rochdale.

The discovery hasn’t just captured our imagination, we’ve had dozens of letters and emails from experts, offering their help with possible excavations.

One of these offers came from Michael Newark, a member of the Megalithic Portals website. He’s a dowsing expert and wrote to the Observer to plead for further investigations to take place.

He wrote: "Having just a brief look around Rochdale I was amazed to find so many interesting places that show this unique energy from the past. Without doubt these places over time would have become places of worship where local and people from afar would have travelled to visit, and enjoy the power and influence for good of this site. These are places where a controlled dig should take place to ensure all finds are recorded."

Mr. Mendelsohn echoed these sentiments, hoping that the site will be secured and preserved for future generations to enjoy for thousands of years to come.

Saudi women had more rights at the time of the Romans than today

05/02/2008 12:30

This is shown by a book written by a female scholar and published in Great Britain. At that time, they are able to run businesses; while today, at a discussion of work for women in Riyadh, all of the women were in another room.

Riyadh (AsiaNews) - Arab women had more rights at the time of the Romans than they have today. At that time, in fact, their capacity to conduct their own economic affairs was recognised, which is not true in Saudi Arabia today. This is maintained by a female Saudi scholar, Hatoon al-Fassi, in a book entitled "Women In Pre-Islamic Arabia", published by British Archaeological Reports.

Barred from teaching at King Saud University in 2001, the scholar has examined the situation of Nabataea, a kingdom that at the beginning of the Christian era included parts of modern-day Jordan, Syria, and Saudi Arabia, and had its capital in Petra. Here, Fassi maintains, women were able to conduct business, without even the form of "protection" required by Greek tradition in these matters.

In her opinion, it is precisely because of the lack of understanding on the part of Islamic scholars of the influences of Greco-Roman legislation on sharia that the limited rights and freedoms for women have arisen.

"We now live the worst status imaginable": this statement from Fawziya al-Oyouni, a women's rights activist, is reported in the review of the book on Middle East Online, which highlights how, when religious authorities, ministers, and businessmen met last month in Riyadh to discuss work for women, there were no women visible, because they were confined to another room, and the men were able only to hear them.

Treasure Trove!

Hola! It's Sunday already and it's beautiful outside; I'm itching to get out there and start the long clean-up process of a winter and storm-tossed back yard. Yesterday I got so caught up in finding interesting stuff for our Goddesschess Random Round-up and then I was working on May's Chessville column (which I want to finish today and get off to the editors) - and then 'Sis and I spent close to 2 hours gabbing over Skype (what a wonderful invention - we can talk to our hearts' content for free!) - before I knew it it was after 10 p.m. and I collapsed into sleep. I rarely do those 1 a.m. nights anymore! I like this story. It must be a wonderful feeling to be out there doing metal detecting and find something like this: From the Sunderland Echo May 4, 2008 Brooch deemed treasure trove A Roman brooch that sat in an archaeologist's drawer for seven years has been declared treasure by a coroner's court. Metal detecting enthusiast David Scott, 64, found the trumpet brooch, dating back to AD200, in 2000 on one of his hunts on a friend's farm in Seaham. In 2001 he realised that it was silver and could be classed as treasure, so he took it to the Count ADVERTISEMENT y Durham archaeologist's office to be looked at.But for some reason it was forgotten about, and laid untouched in a drawer for seven years. David, who has been metal detecting for 32 years and meets most Sundays with the Dunelm Metal Detecting Club, said: "I knew what it was, I knew the age of it. I didn't know it was silver, it's the first silver one I've found. It's exceptional." Over the years, David, who regularly travels to East Yorkshire on metal detecting expeditions, has discovered all sorts of relics – from a Bronze Age knife to various coins and artefacts dating back to 1500BC. He's given the majority of them away to local and national museums – saying he prefers the hunt for the artefacts rather than collecting.The 4cm-long brooch, which is about three quarters intact, was found alongside a broken silver coin. David, who is from Seaton and works as a hyrdaulics fitter, said: "It's not worth a lot in money value, but it is in terms of history." He added: "Whoever owned this brooch was very wealthy and important."They might have been buried with the brooch, and if they were they probably lived there. I can't say those things for sure." At an inquest earlier this week, Graham Hunsley, assistant deputy coroner, ruled that the brooch is legally classed as treasure. He said: "To fall within the treasure legislation and to be deemed treasure in its legal sense an item has got to be at least 300 years old and made of precious metal. "This clearly being the second century it is well beyond the 300 years old requirement and as Mr Scott realised, this is substantially of silver and therefore qualifies as precious metal." The brooch was examined by an expert at the British Museum, who confirmed it dated back to AD200 and that something similar had been found in the past. It is believed that the brooch will now go to a local museum.
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