Thursday, December 31, 2009

Our Year in Review

Greetings from some of the "Goddesseses" from Goddesschess :) Isis, Michelle and yours truly, taken at Battery Park during our May, 2009 visit to New York for Goddesschess' 10th Anniversary!!! We're so gorgeous! Here is a look back at Goddesschess' 2009. Wow - going over it again in this format really brings it home. Every year since our founding, our goal has been to reach just a few more people and touch them in some chessly way. This year, we outdid ourselves! Happy New Year blessings to everyone, and here's a toast to you (sip sip sip). Ahhhh, that's good wine... 2009 saw us celebrating Goddesschess' 10th anniversary online -- May 6, 1999 saw the debut of our first website! We made our second visit to New York City - and that reminds me, I never did finish the travelogue of our anniversary visit. Well, I finally managed to restore internet connection to my old laptop upstairs, so perhaps I will take a turn tomorrow at finishing that article -- after I finish some touch-up painting of windows and complete the clean-up of the basement windows that Mr. Don started before he had to leave. Mr. Don and I were in New York from May 12 - 19, 2009, and we had a wonderful time! I blogged from New York on my little Acer netbook and published lots of photos. Isis and Michelle joined us a few days later, after Michelle finished her final exams at UNLV. We all got to see the Statue of Liberty up close and personal. We also visited the 9/11 building site, which was a beehive of reconstruction activity. We spent most of two afternoons exploring lower Manhattan, Wall Street and Battery Park. We visited the Met, the Brooklyn Museum, the Asia Institute and - my memory fails me. We took buses and the subway for the first time. We ate off street vendors' carts. The weather was great! Applejack's Diner is still the same, as is Joey's in the basement of the Da Vinci Hotel, and we had excellent meals at both places. I can't wait to get back to Manhattan. Here are links to various photos from our New York adventures: http://goddesschess.blogspot.com/2009/07/some-more-new-york-photos.html http://goddesschess.blogspot.com/2009/05/new-york-back-home.html http://goddesschess.blogspot.com/2009/05/new-york-in-search-of-board-games.html http://goddesschess.blogspot.com/2009/05/new-york-some-street-scenes.html http://goddesschess.blogspot.com/2009/05/new-york-some-fav-photos.html http://goddesschess.blogspot.com/2009/05/new-york-more-game-pieces.html http://goddesschess.blogspot.com/2009/05/new-york-statue-of-liberty-and-ellis.html http://goddesschess.blogspot.com/2009/05/new-york-arches-and-arches.html http://goddesschess.blogspot.com/2009/05/new-york-wearing-ourselves-out.html http://goddesschess.blogspot.com/2009/05/new-york-shopping-mackenzie-childs.html http://goddesschess.blogspot.com/2009/05/new-york-3.html http://goddesschess.blogspot.com/2009/05/new-york-adventures-2.html http://goddesschess.blogspot.com/2009/05/new-york-new-york.html http://goddesschess.blogspot.com/2009/07/brooklyn-museum-unwraps-four-mummies.html 2009 saw our largest financial commitment for sponsorships yet to various chess events. We started out the year sponsoring prizes for the chess femmes in the Hales Corners Chess Challenge IX in late April. http://goddesschess.blogspot.com/2009/05/hales-corners-challenge-ix-interview.html http://goddesschess.blogspot.com/2009/04/hales-corners-challenge-ix-goddesschess_27.html http://goddesschess.blogspot.com/2009/04/hales-corners-challenge-ix-goddesschess.html http://goddesschess.blogspot.com/2009/04/hales-corners-challenge-ix_8052.html We finished out the year sponsoring prizes for the chess femmes (including special prizes furnished by current Women's World Chess Champion GM Alexandra Kosteniuk) in October for the Hales Corners Chess Challenge X. http://goddesschess.blogspot.com/2009/10/hales-corners-chess-challenge-x_18.html http://goddesschess.blogspot.com/2009/10/hales-corners-chess-challenge-x_22.html http://goddesschess.blogspot.com/2009/10/hales-corners-chess-challenge-x_2852.html http://goddesschess.blogspot.com/2009/10/hales-corners-chess-challenge-x_5727.html http://goddesschess.blogspot.com/2009/10/hales-corners-chess-challenge-x_19.html http://goddesschess.blogspot.com/2009/10/hales-corners-chess-challenge-x_6506.html http://goddesschess.blogspot.com/2009/10/hales-corners-chess-challenge-x_17.html Since 2007, Goddesschess has sponsored a special prize for the U.S. Women's Chess Championship, and we did so again this year in October, when the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis hosted the Championship for the very first time, and also sponsored the largest prize purse ever for the Women's Championship. Goddesschess' $500 prize this year was awarded to IM Anna Zatonskih after her outstanding performance in winning the Championship with 8.5/9, taking clear first. GM Susan Polgar once again agreed to select the winner of the Goddesschess prize. http://goddesschess.blogspot.com/2009/10/2009-us-womens-chess-championship_04.html http://goddesschess.blogspot.com/2009/10/2009-us-womens-chess-championship_12.html http://goddesschess.blogspot.com/2009/10/2009-us-womens-chess-championship_6788.htmlhttp://goddesschess.blogspot.com/2009/10/2009-us-womens-chess-championship_13.html http://goddesschess.blogspot.com/2009/10/2009-us-womens-chess-championship_16.html http://goddesschess.blogspot.com/2009/10/2009-us-womens-chess-championship_17.html http://goddesschess.blogspot.com/2009/10/2009-us-womens-chess-championship_22.html Normally, funding the prize of the U.S. Women's Championship is our largest financial commitment, but this year we went the extra mile and committed to assisting in obtaining the appearance of a WGM at the Montreal Open Chess Championships held in September, as well as sponsoring class prizes for the chess femmes who played in the Championship. We thus had the pleasure of meeting WGM Melia Salome of Georgia, who won the Women's Title and very nearly won the overall title. This was Salome's first trip to Canada. She fell in love with Montreal and Montreal (at least, the chess-playing part) fell in love with her! Since the event was held in Mr. Don's hometown, he was on-site during the entire event, filming video and taking lots of photographs, many of which were published here and the entire tournament captured in video and photos reported on at Goddesschess. http://goddesschess.blogspot.com/2009/06/2009-montreal-open-chess-championship.html http://goddesschess.blogspot.com/2009/07/we-need-female-gm-or-im-or-wgm.html http://goddesschess.blogspot.com/2009/08/2009-montreal-open-chess-championship.html http://goddesschess.blogspot.com/2009/08/2009-montreal-open-chess-championship_22.html http://goddesschess.blogspot.com/2009/09/2009-montreal-open-chess-championship.html http://goddesschess.blogspot.com/2009/09/2009-montreal-open-chess-championship_12.html http://goddesschess.blogspot.com/2009/09/2009-montreal-open-chess-championship_5153.html All of us Goddesschess folks wish you and yours a healthy, happy, safe and prosperous 2010. The best is yet to come - that's our heartfelt belief.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tomb of Cao Cao Unearthed in China: Follow-Up

Report from The Daily Mail on December 29, 2009 - with some photograph's of the tomb's interior. The tomb was evidently discovered about a year ago but not reported, and has been extensively looted in the meantime. Some locals were arrested with artifacts that alerted authorities to the tomb's existence, and archaeologists presume they were taken from 'this' tomb. The article contained this image of 'agate decorations.' It's difficult to say from the photograph, but perhaps the round items are beads from a necklace, as it looks as if at least two of them might have dirt-filled holes drilled in them. The flat disc - a gaming piece possibly? (Liubo image: from Wikipedia Commons, taken at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art: A pair of seated earthenware figures playing on a model Liubo board game, made during the 1st century in the Chinese Eastern Han Dynasty (25–220 AD).) At first glance I thought the round objects were game pieces, but I do not believe the Chinese of the late Han played marbles. It is possible, I suppose, that they are gaming pieces but the only pieces I've seen from Chinese games of the period are flatish discs used in wei qi (an indigenous game) and the Chinese version of backgammon (imported from ancient Persia no later than the late 3rd century BCE according to Murray), and small rectangular or square pieces and throwing sticks for liubo. Also sometimes mentioned in liubo are the existence of two "fish" pieces that were placed in the central "water" area - that, as far as I can tell, were flatish circular discs. It is a shame so much was lost from the tomb. Will we hear more about discoveries from this tomb in the future? For more information on liubo: BabelStone blog (by Andrew West): The Lost Game of Liubo BabelStone blog (by Andrew West): The Lost Game of Liubo Part 2 : Pictures of People playing Liubo Louis Cazeaux - Liubo Cultural China - Liubo Wapedia (Wiki) - Liubo

The Lost World of Old Europe

Female Figurine, Fired Clay, Cucuteni, Drăguşeni, 4050–3900 BC Botoşani County Museum, Botoşani: 7558 Photo: Marius Amarie Well, I guess Mr. Don and I are going to have to go back to New York just to visit this university museum! Female Figurine, Fired Clay, Hamangia, Baïa, 5000–4600 BC National History Museum of Romania, Bucharest: 11662 Photo: Marius Amarie New York University Institute for the Study of the Ancient World The Lost World of Old Europe: The Danube Valley, 5000 – 3500 BC November 11, 2009 – April 25, 2010 Open: Tues – Sun 11-6, Fri 11-8, Closed Monday Free admission The Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at NYU 15 East 84th Street New York, NY 10028 Please visit the Lost World of Old Europe Exhibition Website for complete information, images of items in the exhibition, a full public programming schedule (lectures, film series, musical performances) and more! The Lost World of Old Europe brings to the United States for the first time more than 160 objects recovered by archaeologists from the graves, towns, and villages of Old Europe, a cycle of related cultures that achieved a precocious peak of sophistication and creativity in what is now southeastern Europe between 5000 and 4000 BC, and then mysteriously collapsed by 3500 BC. Long before Egypt or Mesopotamia rose to an equivalent level of achievement, Old Europe was among the most sophisticated places that humans inhabited. Some of its towns grew to city-like sizes. Potters developed striking designs, and the ubiquitous goddess figurines found in houses and shrines have triggered intense debates about women’s roles in Old European society. Old European copper-smiths were, in their day, the most advanced metal artisans in the world. Their intense interest in acquiring copper, gold, Aegean shells, and other rare valuables created networks of negotiation that reached surprisingly far, permitting some of their chiefs to be buried with pounds of gold and copper in funerals without parallel in the Near East or Egypt at the time. The exhibition, arranged through loan agreements with 20 museums in three countries (Romania, The Republic of Bulgaria and the Republic of Moldova), brings the exuberant art, enigmatic goddess cults, and precocious metal ornaments and weapons of Old Europe to American audiences.

9 Queens

Reported at Chess Life Online and Alexandra Kosteniuk's blog: Kosteniuk Spreads Holiday Cheer in Tucson December 22, 2009 Move over Santa! Women's World Champion Alexandra Kosteniuk spread holiday cheer for 9 Queens students in Tucson, Arizona with her goodwill simultaneous exhibition on December 20. (Image: Three of the young participants in the Kosteniuk simul, by Jeff Smith). What a wonderful thing for GM Kosteniuk to do, and what a boost for the good work 9 Queens is doing. As Jean Hoffman, co-founder and Executive Director of 9 Queens noted in her email letter today to friends and donors, [s]ince 2007, 9 Queens has grown from a single after-school chess club in Tucson, Arizona into a national nonprofit organization serving thousands of at-risk children and women annually.The success of 9 Queens speaks not only to the strength of our organization but also to the need for our programs. From Parkersburg, West Virginia to Brooklyn, New York principals, teachers, and parents from throughout the country have contacted 9 Queens in need of our support. Currently there are over 25 schools, libraries and after-school centers on the 9 Queens waiting list. Here is an article about the work 9 Queens is doing in Tucson, as reported on December 24th in The New York Times: In Tucson, Women and Girls Are Finding a Place at the Chessboard By DYLAN LOEB McCLAIN Published: December 24, 2009 Becca Kinsey, a 39-year-old stage manager in Tucson, has three children, a husband and very little free time. But nearly every Wednesday, from 10 a.m. to noon, she goes to the Coffee X Change at Grant Road and Campbell Avenue to meet a group of women and play chess. “I never had an interest,” Mrs. Kinsey said of the game. “It always gave me headaches.” That changed a few months ago, when she finally learned to play. Now, she said, “people will say, ‘Come do this,’ and I’ll say: ‘I can’t go to that. I am going to chess on Wednesdays.’ ” Mrs. Kinsey’s chess group has 16 members, all of them women and most of them beginners. They all share an enthusiasm for chess that borders on obsession. The group is an outgrowth of a nonprofit organization in Tucson called 9 Queens, started in 2007 by Jean Hoffman, 29, and Jennifer Shahade, 28, a two-time United States women’s chess champion. The group’s name comes from the maximum number of queens that one player can have on the board. (While theoretically possible, it has never been known to happen.) Ms. Hoffman, who lives in Tucson, said the goal of 9 Queens was to encourage more girls and women, as well as students from low-income families, to take up chess. Girls make up a small fraction of the children who play in chess tournaments, and women competitors are even rarer. Bill Hall, executive director of the United States Chess Federation, estimated that fewer than 5 percent of the federation’s members are women over 21. “My dad, my grandfather, my brother played,” Mrs. Kinsey said, “and it was something that the girls never did.” To help achieve its goal, 9 Queens began holding monthly workshops limited to girls and women to create a more nurturing environment. “In the chess clubs that I have that are coed, the boys will be screaming out the right answer, and they will be fighting,” Ms. Hoffman said. The instructors are, with one exception, also women. In her effort to publicize the workshops, Ms. Hoffman asked Margo Burwell, 60, a retired college art instructor, to design a poster. Ms. Burwell used a picture of Marcel Duchamp, the Dada artist who was a passionate chess player, and a quotation from him: “I am still a victim of chess. It has all the beauty of art — and much more. It cannot be commercialized. Chess is much purer than art in its social position.” After she was done, Ms. Burwell, whose son played chess but who did not play herself, decided to go to a workshop. “It was good enough for Marcel, so perhaps it was good for me,” she said. At the first workshop Ms. Burwell attended, girls and women were taught the rules and then paired up to play. Ms. Burwell found herself opposite a 5-year-old girl. “At one point, she captured my queen, and she laughed and laughed, and I thought, ‘I better buckle down,’ ” Ms. Burwell said. After 45 minutes, she won. Ms. Burwell found that playing every month was not enough. She asked some women if they would be interested in meeting once a week. The women have different reasons for joining. Mrs. Kinsey wanted to be able to play with her 8-year-old daughter, Angela, who competes in chess tournaments. “I wanted to learn myself so I can be more of a support system for her,” she said. “I wanted to actually be able to play a game with her and actually be competitive.” Mrs. Kinsey said the Wednesday group had not just helped her improve her game. “I really like the ladies,” she said. “Some of the ladies have kids that play tournaments, and we’ll talk about how hard do you push them. It’s sort of like a support group.” Martha Underwood, 47, an assistant professor of education at the University of Arizona, said that even her children, Aiya, 11, and Zack, 9, who compete in scholastic chess tournaments, are startled by their mother’s newfound zeal for the game. “They are kind of annoyed with me because they are like, ‘That is all you do,’ ” Ms. Underwood said. She said that she and the rest of the group hoped that playing chess would have benefits. “We all talk about how we want to do this to stave off Alzheimer’s, instead of The New York Times crossword puzzle,” she said. While the women are collegial, they are also competitive. Ms. Underwood has played in two tournaments, including one run by 9 Queens. Ann Price, an architect newly laid off from her firm, said she had been a black belt in tae kwon do, but had to give it up after injuring her back five years ago. Chess, she said, was a good substitute. “One of the things that I missed about tae kwon do was the strategic way of thinking,” Ms. Price said. “The problem-solving is something that I did in my profession.” Sometimes, men at the Coffee X Change ask to play chess with the women and are welcomed. But there are no plans to make them a formal part of the group. Some members of the group say that learning chess with women who have become friends has given them a confidence that seems to spill over into the rest of their lives. “I tend to be talkative,” Ms. Underwood said. “I’m trying to be more thoughtful instead.”

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Wepwawet - Sacred "Opener of the Way"

I'm continuing research into the association of dogs with goddesses and gods, which I find of interest because, at least in parts of the ancient Middle East and also in ancient Greece, gaming pieces were often referred to as "dogs." For an overview of the dog's association with goddesses and gods in many cultures, see Dog as Diety, Ancestor and Royal Animal, by Paul Kekai Manansala. Here is more information about the ancient (pre-dynastic) Egyptian wolf-god, Wepwawet, called "The Opener of the Way" (hieroglphyic rendering of Wepwawet - wpwAwt, from Ancient Egypt Online - Wepwawet). "Opener of the Ways." Egyptian jackal god. [Wepwawet was also depicted as a wolf with jackal's head and a man with a wolf's head or jackal's head; in whatever form he took, he was usually depicted with grey or greyish-white fur, attesting to his lupine origins.] (Image from Late Predynastic and Early Dynastic Egypt, by Francesco Raffaele). Wepwawet had a dual role as a god of war and of the funerary cult, and could be said to "open the way" both for the armies of the pharaoh [as a scout and stealthy hunter/killer] and for the spirits of the dead. He originated as a god of Upper Egypt [that is, southern Egypt on a map], but his cult had spread throughout Egypt by the time of the Old Kingdom. Depicted as a jackal or in human form with the head of a jackal, often holding the 'shedshed', a standard which led the pharaoh to victory in war and on which the pharaoh was said to ascend into the sky after death. [There were four royal standards that were carried ahead of and led processions of Pharaoh. Here is one of the earliest depictions of the Royal Standards of which I am aware, from the Narmer Palette, c. 3500 BCE. The standard closest to Pharaoh carries the King's magical double (a/k/a his Twin), the linen-wrapped placenta (after-birth) from his birth. The second standard features a standing, alert Wepwawet. I also found this information from a Tour Egypt article: Wepwawet's image is generally portrayed with a uraeus and a hieroglyph that has been described as representing the king's placenta, surmounting a standard known as a shedshed. Thus, in later incarnations of the Royal Standards, an image of Wepwawet was substituted for the royal placenta, which by that time was no doubt judged as too valuable and too sacred to be exposed to the public and all the dangers that might entail. In still later times, two trailing ribbons substituted for the placenta.] Despite his origin in Upper Egypt, one inscription said that he was born in the sanctuary of the goddess Wadjet at Buto in the Nile delta. Another inscription identified him with Horus and thus by extension with the pharaoh. Wepwawet also symbolized the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt. In his capacity as a funerary deity he used his adze to break open the mouth of the deceased in the "opening of the mouth' ceremony which ensured that the person would have the enjoyment of all his faculties in the afterlife. At Abydos the 'procession of Wepwawet' initiated the mysteries of Osiris as a god of the dead. See: World Mythology - Egyptian Mythology, Wepwawet, at Thinkquest Egyptian Dreams, Wepwawet Crystal Links, Wepwawet (citing Budge's The Gods of the Egyptians) Tour Egypt, Wepwawet, the Jackal God of Abydos, by Taylor Ray Ellison Ancient Egypt Online, Wepwawet There is now quite a bit of information available online about the ancient practice of identifying a placenta with a newborn's "twin" or magical double - a belief not confined to predynastic Egypt. I remember hearing of "old wive's tales" of women burying the afterbirth (placenta and umbilical cord) of a newborn in secret in the dead of night to prevent it's being "captured" by the Devil or witches or - name your evil entity - and then used to control or even kill the newborn child - and this was in Europe thousands of years after the pharaohs had passed into herstory. If you are interested, try searches under pharaoh and placenta.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sad Cinderella

I wondered - why does this Cinderella look so sad in this original graphic from Charles Perrault's volume of fairy tales published in France in 1697 (an engraving by Gustave Doré illustrates the Cinderella tale and captures Louis XIV's France. (Oxford University Press)), when by marrying the prince all her problems will supposedly be over. Or perhaps just beginning??? I mean, this prince is not exactly my dream of a young hunky dude... I did a little research into the Cinderalla tale and was surprised what a long history it has, likely many hundreds of years older than before it was first written down into a form that later became known as a "fairy tale" -- I found this information at the website for the San Jose, California Opera Company: Cinderella Is Older Than She Looks Rossini’s captivating comedy La Cenerentola opens November 14th By Larry Hancock Once upon a time, a long time ago, about 1300 B.C., actually, so, a very, very long time ago, in Egypt, narratives were written that modern scholars have labeled the first fairy tales. Fairy tales have also been found in ancient India and ancient China, and just about every other place where we find a history of human habitation. We also find Cinderella, one of the most recurrent fairy tale themes, in many of these cultures. The oldest of these is thought to be of Greco-Egyptian origin and was recorded by Strabo in the first century B.C. There are now so many versions of the Cinderella story that they can’t possibly be so much as listed here, but if you are interested in doing a little research of your own, Google Cinderella; the movie results alone should keep you busy for quite some time. Among the earliest European versions of this story is "La gatta cenerentola" (The cinder cat), which was published in Naples in 1634 as part of Giambattista Basile’s collection of tales, though there is one even earlier Italian version, published by G.F. Straparola in 1550. It is reported that Basile’s version served as a basis for both Charles Perrault’s (Stories and Tales of Past Times, or Tales of Mother Goose, 1697) and the Grimm brothers’ (Children’s and Household Tales, 1812) versions. There are still more European variants, and among them is one from the Gothic Era by Chaucer (!) and yet another 17th-century version by Baronne d’Aulnoy, published in her 1697 collection (d’Aulnoy, by the way, was the first to use the term fairy tale, conte de fées). Cinderella, as Americans have come to know the story best, is Walt Disney’s variation of the Perrault; Perrault was the one who added a pumpkin and a fairy godmother (I believe Disney introduced the singing mice). No doubt Disney chose the Perrault over the Grimm to avoid the mutilation of the stepsisters’ feet as they trimmed away the bits that wouldn’t fit into the gold slipper (the glass slipper was Perrault’s idea), and the attack of angry birds that rendered those naughty girls blind as well as lame (one wonders if Hitchcock found inspiration here). Our version found its beginning in Rome, two days before the Christmas of 1816, when Rossini, at a very late hour (in more than one sense), was offered the opportunity to compose a Cinderella for Teatro del Valle. He accepted immediately, stretched out in his bed, and went to sleep. The impresario, librettist, and composer had been working late into the night in Rossini’s bedroom trying to think of a subject for a new opera that had been scheduled to open the day after Christmas (I should mention here that, though the opera was completed in a miraculously short time, they didn’t make that deadline). The librettist, Jacopo Ferretti, hurried home and stayed up the rest of the night drinking a reportedly excellent mocha coffee while creating the scenario, which he presented to Rossini in the morning. Ferretti’s work was made easier by the fact that two years earlier an opera on this subject had premiered at La Scala, libretto by Felice Romani and music by Stefano Pavesi. Rossini was in Milan at the time, and Ferretti knew Romani’s libretto. It was Romani who introduced Dandini and Alidoro to the Cinderella story (retained by Ferretti), but Ferretti who came up with bracelets to replace the glass slippers (Rome shuddered at the idea of naked feet on stage, so, no glass slippers). Ferretti’s libretto is an unapologetic plagiarism, but, clearly, time was of the essence—the opera season had to close on February 18, when Lent would begin. Before Rossini started composing he insisted on one thing (for which opera producers have been ever grateful): there was to be no technical "magic" on stage. He distrusted the theatre’s capacity to pull off reliable magic tricks. Rossini would later have a terrible experience producing his Moses in Egypt (also known as Moses and Pharaoh or The Passage Through the Red Sea). I’m sure you can see where this is going: he later obscured the parting of the waters with a ballet so that audiences could stop laughing hysterically at this very dramatic moment. We are grateful that we have not had to figure out a way to turn a pumpkin into a carriage, and we absolutely cringe at the thought of turning mice into horses. When I said the opera was completed in miraculous time, I should have said it was composed in 24 days. Each morning, the librettist handed over whatever he had completed the day before and Rossini set it to music. There was a little outside help from about day twenty, when Rossini solicited the assistance of Luca Agolini to compose an aria for Alidoro and another for Clorinda as well as the introduction to Act II. At the last minute, Rossini decided to use his overture from La Gazzetta, an earlier Rossini opera that was unknown to Rome and whose shelf life had clearly expired. The famous buffo duet between Magnifico and Dandini was composed the night before the opening. I repeat, THE NIGHT BEFORE THE OPENING. With the opera composed, it’s time to worry about the singers, who had to memorize, master, and perform roles, famous for their technical difficulty, in about a week. Opening night told the tale: it was an unhappy occasion. The singers did not complete the Herculean task, were exhausted by the attempt, and the first four performances made that evident. So, though the opening was soundly rejected, after a week, the opera was a resounding success and it achieved more than twenty performances before Lent put an end to it. The opera proved to travel well, and quickly, and it has aged nicely. We are excited to bring this delicious concoction back to San José. For those readers who do not yet know La Cenerentola, much of the above must seem mysterious; who in the world might Dandini, Magnifico, Alidoro, and Clorinda be? It’s time to relate the tale as we find it in Ferretti and Rossini’s 1817 version: Rossini’s La Cenerentola begins in the crumbling mansion of the baron, Don Magnifico, where his two daughters from a previous marriage, Clorinda and Tisbe, are admiring themselves, enormously and erroneously. Angelina, disparagingly called Cinderella, enters with the breakfast tray. Shortly, Alidoro (Goldenwings) enters disguised as a religious pilgrim and asks for food. The girls, shrieking, send him away, but Cinderella hides him and gives him bread and coffee. Out of nowhere, a group of courtiers arrive with the news that the crown prince, Don Ramiro, is on his way to this very house to escort all the daughters to his nearby country estate where he will choose one of them to be his bride. Clorinda and Tisbe lose their minds, and their shouting awakens their late-sleeping father, Don Magnifico, who was having a significant dream. When he discovers that the prince is coming to marry one of his daughters, he finds much of that dream coming true right before his eyes. He directs his two daughters to get beautifully dressed and commands Cinderella to bring him his coffee. With the room empty, Prince Ramiro sneaks in, disguised as a valet. He tells us that his father has commanded him to marry or he will no longer be the heir apparent. He is not pleased at having to marry someone of his father’s choosing and is out searching for a bride he might actually love. Cinderella enters and the two discover one another in a meaningful, promising way just before Ramiro’s valet, Dandini, enters, disporting himself as a crown prince—at least he gives it a good try. He meets the father and two of the daughters and invites everyone to the palace. They assemble to depart when Cinderella asks to go with them. This causes Magnifico to scold her in stunning fashion, but she persists until Alidoro, returning, this time without the disguise, opens a register of births in the region, asks where the third daughter might be. Magnifico tearfully announces that the girl died long ago. Cinderella is stunned to hear that she died and hadn’t even noticed, and everyone but she and Alidoro leave. Alidoro promises that he will take her to the palace, himself. At the palace, Dandini appoints Magnifico as Wine Steward and sends him off to taste all the vintages in the palace so that he can better observe the two daughters. An unknown lady has just arrived, and she turns out to look astonishingly like Cinderella, though much better dressed. Before the night is over, the prince is captivated with her and proposes marriage, but Cinderella tells him that he does not know her and that she will not marry him unless he searches for her. If upon finding her in her usual condition he still wants her, she will then consent. She takes off one of her matching bracelets, gives it to him, and tells him she will still be wearing the other one when he finds her. She leaves him standing there in amazement. Ramiro puts an end to the gathering, having found and then lost his intended bride, and he gathers the troops to search for his departed love. Dandini is put in the awkward position of telling Magnifico that he is no prince, but merely a valet. Everyone departs in some degree of excitement or annoyance. Back at the baron’s mansion, Cinderella has put on her rags to greet her family, while outside a storm rages. Ramiro, Dandini, and Alidoro arrive out of the rain, and, Ramiro notices that the serving girl he met that morning is wearing a very familiar bracelet. He makes his claim and takes his prize back to the palace. The rest of the Magnifico family is stunned. At the palace, Magnifico and his daughters join the assembly to witness the elevation of Cinderella. This is the point at which Magnifico should find himself clapped in chains and thrown into prison for the theft of Cinderella’s dowry. The girls don’t have sense enough to keep an eye out for vagrant birds, and Clorinda is not adjusting at all well to Cinderella’s new situation. But, surprisingly for this family, all is well, as the subtitle of this opera is "The Triumph of Goodness." Cinderella tells them that they are the only family she has, that she loves them, that she has always loved them, and she clasps them in her arms. The opera ends with a bravura aria that rattles off notes like machine gun bullets. Everyone, for the most part, is happy, and especially Ramiro, who gets his true love and his father’s crown. Cinderella, I suppose, is happy also. She certainly sounds happy...

Dogs in Myth and Legend

In addition to what I've previously posted about the close association of dogs and the Goddess (do a site search under "dog" using our search feature) I came across the following today in Barbara Walker's The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets:

Keres
Dog-faced Furies of the Earth Mother Demeter, giving rise to the Latin name of the same Goddess, Ceres. Like most other versions of the Great Goddess's death-hounds, the Keres visited battlefields and ate the dead to carry their souls to glory. They were another aspect of the frightening female psychopomps otherwise called Valkyries, dakins, harpies, Nekhbet-vultures, she-wolves, or sacred bitches.(1)

Notes:
(1) Larousse, 166.

Managarm
"Moon-Dog," firstborn wolf-son of Angurboda, the Danish death-goddess called Hag of the Iron Wood, mother of Hel. Managarm and his brother wolves carried the bodies of the dead to Valhalla - by eating them.

Update on Miracle Baby Who Survived Tsunami

From The Malaysian Star December 27, 2009 Miracle baby still basking in fame SHE was named after a sacred plant, an incarnation of the Goddess Lakshmi, and her parents hope that S. Thulaasi would grow up bringing joy to those around her. When she was just 22 days old, Thulaasi achieved fame as a “miracle baby” when she survived the tsunami that destroyed her family’s wooden cafe at the Miami Beach in Batu Ferringhi, Penang. She was sleeping on a mattress when the waves came at 1.15pm on Dec 26, 2004. The mattress with the baby on it was washed out to sea, and washed ashore again by a second wave – with the baby still intact, and in sweet slumber! Since then, the media have kept track of the child’s progress every anniversary of the tsunami. Thulaasi is five years old now and is still basking in the limelight. She has become a hit among tourists who visit her family’s cafe after being told by taxi drivers of the “miracle baby”. Her mother L. Annalmary, 47, says her daughter was named after the tulasi herb (basil). “The Goddess Lakshmi transformed herself into the basil bush to help the people as this plant has many medicinal properties. Perhaps Thulaasi will one day help many people too,” she says, looking fondly at her daughter. Annalmary hopes Thulaasi, who is now attending kindergarten, will become either a lecturer or a scientist who will dedicate herself to helping people. “I really believe she was saved by God for a reason,” she says. Thulaasi’s father, A. Suppiah, 60, says his daughter is “wise beyond her years”.

Tomb of Cao Cao Unearthed in China

Tomb of legendary general Cao Cao unearthed in central China www.chinaview.cn 2009-12-27 22:58:08 BEIJING, Dec. 27 (Xinhua) -- The tomb of Cao Cao, a renowned warlord and politician in the third century, was unearthed in Anyang City of central China's Henan Province, archaeologists said Sunday. Cao Cao (155-220 A.D.), who built the strongest and most prosperous state during the Three Kingdom period (208-280 A.D.), is remembered for his outstanding military and political talents. Cao Cao is also known for his poems that reflected his strong character. Some of the poems are included in China's middle school textbooks. Three ancient corpses, one man and two women, were found in the two-chamber tomb in Xigaoxue village of Anyang. The man was found to have died in his sixties, which coincides the age of Cao Cao when he died, Liu Qingzhu, director of the academic committee of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told a press conference in Beijing. More than 250 articles, made of gold, silver, pottery and etc, were unearthed from the 740-square-meter tomb, a size appropriate for a king. Archaeologists also found 59 engraved stone plates logging the name and amount of the articles buried in the tomb. Seven of the plates logged weapons "often used by the king of Wei", or Cao Cao, Liu said. Also unearthed were a large amount of paintings drawn on stone plates, Liu added. Cao Cao wrote in his will that his burial place should be simple, which corresponds to the fact that the walls of the tome were not painted and few precious articles were found, said Hao Benxing, head of Henan's Institute of Archaeology. The position of the tomb is in line with historical recordings and ancient books from Cao Cao's time, Hao added. Although further excavations are yet to be carried out, current evidences are adequate to prove this is Cao Cao's tomb, said Guan Qiang, director of the archaeology department of China's State Administration of Cultural Heritage. The tomb had been raided for several times before archaeologists started to excavate it in Dec. 2008, Guan said. The police are working to retrieve the stolen articles, he added. The governments of Henan and Anyang are planning to display the tomb to the public, Hao said.

Is Cleopatra Really Buried Here?

Hmmm... Threshold to Cleopatra's mausoleum discovered off Alexandria coast • Threshold to massive door found off Alexandria • Queen's mausoleum part of sunken palace complex Helena Smith in Athens guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 23 December 2009 22.10 GMT They were one of the world's most famous couples, who lived lives of power and glory – but who spent their last hours in despair and confusion. Now, more than 2,000 years since Antony and Cleopatra walked the earth, historians believe they may finally have solved the riddle of their last hours together. A team of Greek marine archaeologists who have spent years conducting underwater excavations off the coast of Alexandria in Egypt have unearthed a giant granite threshold to a door that they believe was once the entrance to a magnificent mausoleum that Cleopatra VII, queen of the Egyptians, had built for herself shortly before her death. They believe the 15-tonne antiquity would have held a seven metre-high door so heavy that it would have prevented the queen from consoling her Roman lover before he died, reputedly in 30BC. "As soon as I saw it, I thought we are in the presence of a very special piece of a very special door," Harry Tzalas, the historian who heads the Greek mission, said. "There was no way that such a heavy piece, with fittings for double hinges and double doors, could have moved with the waves so there was no doubt in my mind that it belonged to the mausoleum. Like Macedonian tomb doors, when it closed, it closed for good." Tzalas believes the discovery of the threshold sheds new light on an element of the couple's dying hours which has long eluded historians. In the first century AD the Greek historian Plutarch wrote that Mark Antony, after being wrongly informed that Cleopatra had killed herself, had tried to take his own life. When the dying general expressed his wish to pass away alongside his mistress, who was hiding inside the mausoleum with her ladies-in-waiting, he was "hoisted with chains and ropes" to the building's upper floor so that he could be brought in to the building through a window. Plutarch wrote, "when closed the [mausoleum's] door mechanism could not open again". The discovery in the Mediterranean Sea of such huge pieces of masonry at the entrance to what is believed to be the mausoleum would explain the historian's line. Tzalas said: "For years, archaeologists have wondered what Plutarch, a very reliable historian, meant by that. And now, finally, I think we have the answer. "Allowing a dying man to be hoisted on ropes was not a very nice, or comforting thing to do, but Cleopatra couldn't do otherwise. She was there only with females and they simply couldn't open such a heavy door." The threshold, part of the sunken palace complex in which Cleopatra is believed to have died, was discovered recently at a depth of eight metres but only revealed this week. It has yet to be brought to the surface. The archaeologists have also recovered a nine-tonne granite block which they believe formed part of a portico belonging to the adjoining temple of Isis Lochias. "We believe it was part of the complex surrounding Cleopatra's palace," said Zahi Hawas, Egypt's top archaeologist. "This is an important part of Alexandria's history and brings us closer to knowing more about the ancient city." According to Plutarch, who based his accounts largely on eyewitness testimonies, Antony died within seconds of laying eyes on his beloved queen and mother of his children. Cleopatra, the most powerful woman of her day and Egypt's most fabled ruler, is believed to have taken her own life just days later, legend has it with the aid of an asp.

Friday, December 25, 2009

BAR Presents

Biblical Archaeology Review presents several special online only articles related to Christmas, well worth the read: An examination of Luke's account of the circumstances and events surrounding the birth of Jesus in The Nativity According to Luke How December 25 Became Christmas Mary, Simeon or Anna: Who First Recognized Jesus as Messiah? What is Christmas without a recitation of "Twas the Night Before Christmas?" - which popularized St. Nick and his magical sleigh pulled by eight reindeer. This rendition of the poem is accompied by some interesting historical background about the author of the poem, which first appeared in 1823 in the New York Sentinel. 'Twas the night before Christmas, [and] all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there. The children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of sugar plums danced in their heads. And Mama in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap, had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap. When out on the roof there arose such a clatter, I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter. Away to the window I flew like a flash, tore open the shutter, and threw up the sash. The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow gave the lustre of midday to objects below, when, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer. With a little old driver, so lively and quick, I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick. More rapid than eagles, his coursers they came, and he whistled and shouted and called them by name: "Now Dasher! Now Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen! On, Comet! On, Cupid! On, Donner and Blitzen! To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall! Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!" As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, when they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky so up to the house-top the coursers they flew, with the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too. And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof the prancing and pawing of each little hoof. As I drew in my head and was turning around, down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound. He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot, and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot. A bundle of toys he had flung on his back, and he looked like a peddler just opening his pack. His eyes--how they twinkled! His dimples, how merry! His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry! His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, and the beard on his chin was as white as the snow. The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, and the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath. He had a broad face and a little round belly, that shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly. He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf, and I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself. A wink of his eye and a twist of his head soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread. He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work, and filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk. And laying his finger aside of his nose, and giving a nod, up the chimney he rose. He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, And away they all flew like the down of a thistle. But I heard him exclaim, 'ere he drove out of sight, "Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Milwaukee is in the midst of a typhoon! It started raining yesterday afternoon after depositing about 4 inches of snow the night before, and except for brief periods it has rained every since (it is now after 10 a.m. December 25). Here is a photo taken through the panes of my front window. The glass is frosted with rain drops. Amazingly, there is still lots of snow on the ground even though the temperature has been above freezing for several days. Right now it is 40 degrees F! Holiday greetings to everyone from Mr. Don and I. This evening we'll be going to my sister Deb's place for Christmas dinner. Despite my eagerness over the past couple of days, Mr. Don insisted that we wait until this morning to open our gifts, which can be seen strewn about the living room in this photo. Last night we had our Christmas Eve feast - I made beef burgundy and it turned out just perfectly! We had carrots and noodles and a cucumber salad, and apple-caramel tarts for dessert while we were watching "The Holiday". It was a chick flick but Mr. Don liked it - Jack Black is so funny! While I was doing supper prep Mr. Don was a good sport while I watched "A Christmas Carol" for the umpteenth time and we entertained each other by reciting full lines of dialog :) Here is another Christmas photo of the living room with opened gifts here and there. I tried several shots of the Christmas tree but could not hold the camera steady enough - all of them came out blurry, arrggghhh!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Pithos

From The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets by Barbara G. Walker: Pithos Female-symbolic Holy Vase, used in the Eleusinian Mysteries as a uterine receptacle for corpses, to give them a blessed rebirth. The Goddess herself was represented by a vase or pot in the guise of Pandora the "All-Giver." (See Pandora). The identity of the Great Mother with this vessel of rebirth and regeneration was an idea commn to most ancient cultures, where the manufacture of pots and vases of all kinds was usually the business of women.(1) In Christian custom the pithos was transformed into the pyx or "box" that enclosed the body of Christ; and Erasmus confused the two vessels in translating the patriarchal version of Pandora's myth. Notes: (1) Neumann, G.M., 132-33. Pandora "All-giver," title of the Earth-goddess Rhea, personified as the first woman in an anti-feminist fable by Hesiod, who tried to blame war, death, disease, and all other ills on women.(1) Pandora's vessel was not a box but a honey-vase, pithos, from which she poured out blessings: a womb-symbol like the Cornucopia, anciently used as a vessel of death and rebirth.(2) Pandora's Vase became Pandora's Box only in the late medieval period, when Erasmus mistakenly translated pithos as pyxis.(3) Hesiod claimed Zeus sent Pandora to earth to punish men, who had offended him. She bore a vase filled not with blessings but with curses: strife, pain, death, sickness, and all other afflictions. Pandora in her curiosity opened the vase, as Zeus knew she would, and released them among men. In a refinement of cruelty, Zeus also supplied delusive Hope, to prevent men from killing themselves in despair and escaping the full meed of suffering their Heavenly Father intended for them.(4) The basic theme is also familiar in the myth of Eve. Hesiod's story was further adapted to the legend of King Solomon, who was said to keep a horde of demons in a vase. After his death, greedy men broke the vase in seeking treasure and let the demons out into the world.(5) Notes: (1) Graves, G. M. 1, 148. (2) Neumann, G.M., 267. (3) Larousse, 93. (4) Graves, G.M. 1, 145. (5) de Voragine, 353. More about Pandora: Standing female figure with a vase. Neo-Sumerian (c. 1800 BCE), from Mari. (See Witcombe, below) Pandora Well, there is a lot of baloney in the patriarchal version of the myth, since Pandora did not make herself - according to the Zeus version of the legend the Heavenly Father Zeus had Pandora specially created and thus she had no control over what attributes he had "put into" her. Notice in this legend that Zeus himself gave his own attributes to Pandora: idleness, mischievousness, and foolishness. Further, Pandora has nothing to do with the creation of the evils that Zeus specifically designed her to "deliver" upon mankind upon opening the "box." Those were of Zeus' own creation and, as I understand, placed himself in the vessle that he knew Pandors would open, the bastard. Typical of men to blame women for being "evil" when it was Zeus/God who made them that way to begin with. Ha! That only goes to show how much nonsense has been incorporated into the patriarchal glosses of much older goddess-based myths and legends. Cf. Prof. Christopher Witcombe's witty Da Vinci Code: Mary Magdelene's Jar: Mary Magdalen is the most accessible of the female saints, a real human being, unlike the lofty, remote and far too pure and unreal Virgin Mary. Part of her appeal, to be sure, resides in her embodying a fundamental female identity, which may be very ancient. Her principal attribute is the ointment pot or jar. And then there are the heated discussions about Mary Magdelene herself being the "sacred vessel" -- Holy Grail. In reality, it seems to me that Magdelene ("tower" - interesting chess analogy to the rook, which is Medieval times was the "tower" in Italian tradition) is a somewhat garbled account of a Jewish rendition of a much older female tradition in the Middle East (woman with sacred vase/woman as sacred vessel). That the Magdelene's tale was deemed important enough to be preserved in the "New Testament" despite the Jewish bias of the time against females, suggests that the Magdelene was, indeed, extremely important, although her exact role in the life of Christ appears to me to be hopelessly lost under countless glosses of the original accounts. However, perhaps hints of the Magdelene's importance remain in the Christian tradition of the Holy Grail.

Getting Ready for the Holidays

Hola! Mr. Don has arrived. We are very happy that he was less than 2 hours behind schedule, even having to transfer at O'Hare for the flight here. He arrived before 6:30 p.m. as I was just getting into shoveling out the driveway from yesterday's snow. We had a brief reprieve of weather earlier today. The temperatures have been moderate, but a storm is going to bring a mixture of snow/rain/sleet and strong winds over the next 2 days. It held off until about 3 p.m. or so. Today was a busy day working around the house. Don and I prepped areas of the woodwork in the kitchen, dinette and family room for painting and staining tomorrow. That was harder work than I thought it would be. After the insulation contractor came by early this morning and we had our consultation about insulating the sill cavities in the basement, Mr. Don and I bundled up and walked down to Meyer's Restaurant for a leisurely, delicious breakfast. Then we went grocery shopping and lugged everything the mile home through deteriorating weather conditions. Then we got busy with the prep work - (Photo from Kegel's website) Earlier this evening we had dinner with my friend Ann at Kegel's. Yum! Unfortunately, Mr. Don's digital camera wasn't working correctly, we can't figure out why since the batteries are practically brand new. None of the photos came out - all were too dark and they were also blurry. With the weather turning nasty - by the time we left Kegel's the streets were already snow-covered and slippery. It was certainly "christmasy outside!" Before bringing us home, Ann took us for a drive through Candy Cane Lane. It is an area on Milwaukee's southwest side where many of the neighbors decorate their houses to raise money for the fight against childhood cancer. It has become a yearly tradition for area residents to take a drive through Candy Cane Lane and on the way "out" drive past Santa, who holds a bucket to collect contributions and doles out free candy. Don had never seen anything like it as, block after block, we slowly drove through the neighborhood admiring all of the decorated homes and beautiful lights and displays. With the snow coming down it was a perfect winter wonderland and perfect night for the tour, and we had lots of company! Finally, we were at the "end" and there was Santa! We put a donation for the three of us into his bucket and received hard candy in return. Thanks, Santa. It was a very enjoyable finish to a lovely dinner with Ann. Don couldn't stop talking about Candy Cane Lane for the next couple of days :) As we arrived home from Kegel's, a UPS truck pulled up and delivered a large package of goodies from Omaha Steaks, courtesy of Isis and Michelle! So now the freezer is filled with lots of good things to eat. Tomorrow I'm going to make beef burgundy for Christmas Eve supper, with candied carrots and a cucumber salad.

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Different Target

Hmmm, well, things are developing on the home sale/home search front. Today I signed papers to release myself from my offer on Home #1. Suffice to say that the foundation issues were enough to scare me away, and I don't scare easily. Today I also received information that indicates to me more than ever that the buyers of my house have developed a bad case of cold feet. I have once again offered to release them from the contract. I have not heard anything back on that, but perhaps it is just a matter of time. With no potential buyers in sight, all of this may be an exercise in futility, although the folks who came through last Saturday found the house fetching. So - we shall see. In the meantime, I have set my sites on Home #2 (photo above). It needs lots of TLC but has great potential and, most importantly, has (1) excellent location for my purposes; (2) more space than House #1 and includes a natural fireplace and unfinished patio area conveniently located to the house, which House #1 did not have; and (3) is less expensive. So - we shall see. If I get the clearances from the seller on House #1, I will put in an offer on House #2.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls?

From the Smithsonian online, Lawler's lengthy article: Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls? Resolving the dispute over authorship of the ancient manuscripts could have far-reaching implications for Christianity and Judaism By Andrew Lawler Smithsonian magazine, January 2010 ... [excerpt] Tour guides shepherding the tourists through the modest desert ruins [of Qumran] speak of the scrolls’ origin, a narrative that has been repeated almost since they were discovered more than 60 years ago. Qumran, the guides say, was home to a community of Jewish ascetics called the Essenes, who devoted their lives to writing and preserving sacred texts. They were hard at work by the time Jesus began preaching; ultimately they stored the scrolls in 11 caves before Romans destroyed their settlement in A.D. 68. But hearing the dramatic recitation, Peleg, 40, rolls his eyes. “There is no connection to the Essenes at this site,” he tells me as a hawk circles above in the warming air. He says the scrolls had nothing to do with the settlement. Evidence for a religious community here, he says, is unconvincing. He believes, rather, that Jews fleeing the Roman rampage hurriedly stuffed the documents into the Qumran caves for safekeeping. After digging at the site for ten years, he also believes that Qumran was originally a fort designed to protect a growing Jewish population from threats to the east. Later, it was converted into a pottery factory to serve nearby towns like Jericho, he says. Other scholars describe Qumran variously as a manor house, a perfume manufacturing center and even a tannery. Despite decades of excavations and careful analysis, there is no consensus about who lived there—and, consequently, no consensus about who actually wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls. “It’s an enigmatic and confusing site,” acknowledges Risa Levitt Kohn, who in 2007 curated an exhibit about the Dead Sea Scrolls in San Diego. She says the sheer breadth and age of the writings—during a period that intersects with the life of Jesus and the destruction of the Second Jewish Temple in Jerusalem—make Qumran “a powder keg” among normally placid scholars. Qumran has prompted bitter feuds and even a recent criminal investigation. ... Opening on January 22, 2010, the Milwaukee Public Museum is one of a few museums in the United States to present Dead Sea Scrolls and the Bible: Ancient Artifacts, Timeless Treasures. Limited engagement: Courtesy École biblique et archéologique française de JérusalemDead Sea Scrolls and the Bible: Ancient Artifacts, Timeless Treasures brings together archaeological objects and manuscripts to tell a story 2,000 years in the making. Witness actual Dead Sea Scrolls and other early biblical artifacts to learn how transmission of these early writings has shaped the beliefs of Judaism and Christianity and influenced aspects of Islam. The largest temporary exhibit ever produced by the Milwaukee Public Museum, Dead Sea Scrolls and the Bible explores the archaeological history of the Holy Land during the period the Scrolls were written, from the third century BCE through the first century CE. The exhibit also tracks the discovery of the first Scrolls and subsequent realization of their extraordinary significance.

Gaziantep, Turkey Steps Forward for Women's Chess

News for women's chess: Chess dudes reach an agreement on hosting women's chess events. From left to right: Vice General Secretary of the Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality (GMM) Mr. İbrahim Evrim, Prof. Dr. Kıvanç Güngör, Ali Nihat YAZICI, the Major of Gaziantep Dr. Asım Güzelbey, Boris Kutin, General Secretary of GMM İbrahim Fuat Özçörekçi, Mr. Fatih Ekinci Ach, I know using the term "women's chess" raises the hairs on the back of some necks, but let's face it - there is a chess ghetto where female chess players reside because they mostly play each other, only in women's events, and therefore practically guarantee lower ratings for themselves. Well, says I, why shouldn't the women receive the same level of prize funding as the chess dudes? Is it their fault that they may be rated 300 ELO points lower than the 'best' chess players in the world, or is it the system that reinforces and perpetuates the differences between top women's and top men's ELOs? It's not as if the chess femmes play any less fiercely against each other than their male counterparts do, and - there is some justification for the view that female players actually play more fiercely and with killer instinct that the top male players, who tend toward those "grandmaster draws" following well known boring "lines" when playing each other. Exhibit Number One is the remarkably few draws played by the chess femmes in the 2009 U.S. Women's Chess Championship. Whatever. There is some excellent news for female chess players that came out of Turkey last month. Since my desktop is still down and today I couldn't figure out how to get it directly linked to DSL (I thought I was doing it right), I don't have access to the program that I use to publish Chess Femme News at Goddesschess, which I had hoped to get back up and running and update, so now I'm like two months behind - but that's off topic. Here is the news, which I read at Susan Polgar's blog and also at Alexandria Kosteniuk's blog. In a nutshell, the FIDE chess dudes, the chess dudes of the Turkish Chess Federation and chess and non-chess dudes of the City of Gaziantep, Turkey have reached an agreement regarding hosting and providing prizes for the 2011 European Women Individual Chess Championship, European Women Rapid Championship, and European Women Blitz Championships with a prize fund of 150.000€ with projected prizes the same for 2012 and 2013 if Gaziantep wins the bids for those events. The prize fund will be a record and ECU and TSF will try to make the events a record in Guinness Book. 2011 is clear since there is no other bid for the event. Considering high prize funds, Gaziantep will be a strong candidate for 2012 and 2013 events to get it if there is no stronger bid to the ECU. Gaziantep Municipality Sport Club will also sponsor a female team in the Türkiye İş Bankası Chess League. The aim will be to win European Club Cup for women. In addition, over the next four years Gaziantep will invest in programs to promote chess for women and children and will open a chess museum. The goal is to start hosting many women's international chess events and make Gaziantep the premiere center for women's chess events. I laud these goals. Will Gaziantep and Turkey come through? Stay tuned...

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Bogged Down and Holding Tight

I wish I had some positive news to report on the continuing saga of selling Maison Newton and buying a different house (la Petite Maison Newton) but, alas, I do not. I am currently bogged down in finding a structural engineer to inspect the basement of the potential la Petite Maison Newton. Seller has provided me with one analysis and quote to remedy a bowed basement wall - and nothing addressed as to the others, or to the grading situation outside that led to the basement problems to begin with. The selling broker's response to my concerns was 'grading is NOT a material defect.' Yeah, right. So, instead of addressing the entire situation that led to deflected basement walls in the first place, Seller is doing the minimum necessary to make the house "saleable." Ruts of ruck, Seller. If I walk, some other potential buyer is going to raise the exact same issues I have. At this point, I do have the option of walking from my purchase contract for technical reasons peculiar to the contract and, believe me, I am very tempted to do so. But not for any reasons related to the potential la Petite Maison Newton. Nope. I've already invested a mini-fortune in repairs (all needed), improvements (greatly desired and the place is looking great) and today I even managed to do some cleaning in the basement (Super Yech); not to mention a "moisture" test I hired an expert to run on Maison Newton, and spending $$$ hiring a home inspector for the potential la Petite Maison Newton. I want to sell this place, and I want to buy potential la Petitie Maison Newton. And so I'm contemplating spending upwards of $700 more to hire a structural engineer to give me an independent analysis of the basement problems at my potential purchase. I want to know, one way or the other, if I will need to undertake substantial basement reinforcement work somewhere down the line - and get a handle on how much it may cost. Given the amount of money and time already invested, I would like to go forward, pending the results of the structural engineer's report - once he or she is engaged. I spent Thursday and Friday making frantic calls in between serious bouts of work -- this is one of our busiest times of the year because people are aiming to get lots of things accomplished by December 31. This whole process is just a nightmare. I don't have the time or the energy to be dealing with all of this BULLSH*T, but I am attempting to do it anyway. The muck in the stew, however, is MY buyers. Goddess, how frigging stupid I was. When I was presented with their offer to buy my place, I asked some questions, and got dumb looks from both of my real estate agents. I knew something was up. I persisted in questions. Eventually - reluctantly - one of the agents presented me with a print out of a brokers-only Multiple Listing Service info sheet on the house my buyers are trying to sell. I was ASSURED THAT WITH THE PRICE DROP the sellers/my buyers were putting into place, their house would sell QUICKLY. Well, guess what - I accepted their offer to buy Maison Newton on December 6, and as far as I know, they still have not received an offer on their house on this, December 19. Like a row of dominoes, their offer to buy my house is contingent upon selling their house, and my offer to buy potential la Petite Maison Newton is contingent upon my selling this house. That is par for the course in the world of buying/selling homes, BUT - - what I had failed to notice on that MLS print-out until TODAY, when I took a closer look at it, is that my Buyers' home was, as of December 6, 2009, already on the market for 206 days and had failed to sell. Of course, this information was shown near the bottom of the page, where I didn't see it. Shame on me. Evidently they have been dropping the price all along the line and STILL the house is not selling. It seems obvious that something is grossly wrong - either with the house itself, or with its location. And so, at this point, it appears that I have been royally screwed. But it's my own fault. I should have paid more attention to that MLS print out. I shouldn't have accepted that damn offer to buy this house. Even should I wish to go forward with my purchase of potential la Petite Maison Newton, I can't do so unless my current residence sells and closes. And thus - I ran around like a maniac once again this morning cleaning this and that to get the place ready for another showing -- "sometime between 2 and 3PM." After I swore up and down ten times that I would NOT allow any further showings until after Superbowl. Methinks it is time to throw a big hissy-fit, even bigger than the one I threw over the telephone on Monday night with one of my real estate agents. I think she finally GOT it that I was "somewhat upset" with what has been going on. DUH! Bottom line: I don't trust my Buyers, I don't trust the Seller of the property I have offered to buy, I sure as hell don't trust my real estate agents, or any real estate agents at this point. I have spent a small fortune for tests and inspections with the prospect of spending even more $$$ and have absolutely nothing to show for it. Hmmm - logically, in this situation, perhaps it is time to end this particular game.

Ceramic Beads Recovered from Irish Bronze Age Burial

Archaeological find on N9 Published Date: 17 December 2009 By Maeve McGovern CERAMIC beads dating back 3,500 years and described as being of great significance have been discovered on the route of the new N9/N10 Athy Link Road. The series of 25 small ceramic beads, the only ones of their kind from the Bronze Age and a major coup for Irish archaeology, were discovered along with the cremated remains of a human body on the route. The cremated remains were discovered recently in a shallow pit adjacent to the site of a Bronze Age burial mound or barrow, which was discovered in the summer of 2007. As part of a routine process of sieving soil associated with human burials, technicians from Headland Archaeology, the firm contracted to carry out the archaeological dig, uncovered the precious beads. They were passed to a leading expert in prehistoric ceramics who confirmed that the beads belonged to a necklace or bracelet for which he could find no comparison. Further study into the archaeology associated with the beads produced some intriguing information, according to a spokesperson for Headland Archeology. "Although the fragmentary nature of the cremated bone made analysis very difficult, it was possible to determine that the individual was an adult rather than a child, and probably female. A sample of the burnt bone was sent to the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre where it was subjected to radiocarbon dating. This confirmed that the individual was cremated around 3,500 years ago, and it would appear the body was cremated while wearing the beads." There have been significant finds of Bronze Age jewellery from Ireland, notably the gold collection in the National Museum; however these ceramic beads are a unique discovery for Irish archaeology. A total of 87 cremation burials were identified on the sections of the N9/N10 investigated by Headland Archaeology, and although this particular find was one of many cremations recovered dating to the Bronze Age along the route of the proposed new road, processing of samples taken from the burial revealed that this was by no means a normal burial. "Personal adornment was important in the Bronze Age. It is thought that beads would have been worn by both sexes and jewellery was not gender specific. The beads could signify that the individual was of a higher status, simply because such objects are generally not found associated with cremations. However, it is possible that less durable materials /or combustible materials were used for personal adornment and simply didn't survive the thousands of years in the ground or were burnt on the pyre," the spokesperson added. Colm Moloney MD of Headland Archaeology said the find was a great reward for all those people who invest so much time in the less glamorous side of archaeology such as processing soil samples.

Wharram's Muscular Women

Women worked double duties in this pre-plague village in England and developed Popeye-like muscles and larger than average bones. This painting by Pissarro was done several hundred years later in the 19th century, but shows that strong-built "country" women weren't just a fluke of the Middle Ages. (Image: Camille Pissarro, Country Women Chatting, Sunset, Eragny, 1892) Bones find from abandoned village 'show tough life of medieval women' Skeletons from Wharram Percy have much larger bones than those of city contemporaries Martin Wainwright guardian.co.uk, Thursday 17 December 2009 17.53 GMT The fearsome northern woman of legend and cliche, broadchested and with a frying pan poised to whack sense into her man, has proved to have genuine historic origins. Analysis of bones from Britain's biggest medieval excavation has unearthed a race of real-life Nora Battys, ruling a Yorkshire roost nearly 1,000 years ago. Skeletons from Wharram Percy, a village on the Yorkshire Wolds abandoned after the 14th century Black Death, have much larger bones than those of contemporaries elsewhere. "The differences are really quite pronounced," said Simon Mays, of English Heritage, who has measured 120 sets of women's bones from the site. "Women at Wharram were much more muscular and bigger boned than their city counterparts. Whilst they were still doing the domestic chores and looking after children, they clearly also mucked in with the hard labour in the fields, building up their arm strength." Whether they used this to assert themselves in the running of the village is likely to remain conjecture, but the archaeology suggests that social roles were less divided than they later became. Grinding poverty, if nothing else, obliged the "gentler sex" to multi-task in the fashion of many modern women. "The research underlines the way that the sexual division of labour was much less marked in rural areas than in the cities of the time," said Mays. "The evidence from the Wharram bones speaks volumes, and reinforces that notion that life in the village was far from a rural idyll." Like the archetypal Nora, a West Riding dragon played by Kathy Staff in the long-running TV comedy Last of the Summer Wine, the Wharram women were substantial as well as strong. Their bones are wider than average and with thicker walls, a sign of calcium and other components being deposited as muscles are worked harder and gain mass. Wharram's insights on the state of medieval Britain are set to continue, as work continues on hundreds of thousands of remains excavated between 1950 and 1990. The site, surrounding a lonely church in a remote grassy valley, is the best-preserved of Britain's 3,500 abandoned villages.

Computer Labs for Kids: Update SOS Childrens Village Chicago

Shira has posted a compilation video (from hours of Lynn's footage) at You Tube and Facebook. I am going to donate that sweater I wore. Well, to tell the truth, at first I was just going to use it in a bonfire out in the backyard, but then I started feeling guilty because it is still a perfectly serviceable sweater and it may suit someone else much better than it suited me in that video. Egoddess! Yes, filming puts 10 pounds on a person, so Shira, who is tall and lean in person, looks great in this video, and I look like a short blob next to her. LOL! I really am NOT that heavy - Goddess, at least I hope not. I swear I did not gain 50 pounds between May, 2009 in New York (see me in top photo in the left column) and November, 2009 in Chicago! Honest! GM Susan Polgar came through for us on this project in a big way, donating 28 copies of her instructional DVD geared toward teaching kids the basics of chess in 30 minutes. Shira downloaded the software on each of the Dell laptops for the kids. Watching the video brought back so many wonderful memories. It was a lot of work, and very tiring, but great fun and so rewarding - I can hardly put it into words. And I really didn't do all that much. I did some blogging, and made some contacts, and volunteered a day in Chicago. Shira bore the brunt of the work -- conceiving, structuring, organizing, soliciting donations, getting the computers ready, soliciting, training and organizing more than two dozen volunteers, and then putting on the program, etc. etc. I kind of remember what it was like to be that young and to have all of that energy :) In the spirit of the season, I hope you will consider making donations, however, small, to two of my favorite people and their causes: Shira Evans' Computer Labs for Kids, and Susan Polgar's Foundation. These ladies are doing wonderful work and are an inspiration to me.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Ahhh, Lunch at Karl Ratzsch's German Restaurant!

Ms. P and I have established a mini-tradition. Last year during the holiday season we ventured out to Karl Ratzsch's German Restaurant in the heart of downtown Milwaukee in bitter cold, less than two blocks away from where we work. This year Ms. P and I determined to once again dine at Ratzsch's for the holidays. We chose today for our festive luncheon. Shortly before the time we had agreed to meet in the lobby of our building to do the short trek to Ratzsch's, I ran down a floor to Ms. P's office and presented her with a festive gift bag. She, in turn, presented me with my much larger and heavier bagged gift. Oh my! She said she hoped it wouldn't be too heavy to carry home on the bus. I hefted it a few times - it wasn't. I've carried more weight the mile home from the Pick n' Save - up hill, many a time. The gift, Ms. P. said, was selected with me and Mr. Don in mind, as she knew he would be joining me for Christmas. When I got the bag back up to my office, I checked the gift out. It is in a bag from a local Cedarburg winery. Hmmmm - wonder if it's wine? I'm hoping so! Ms. P didn't say the contents needed to be refrigerated, but it could be a fake-out. Maybe it's just a year's supply of grapefruit. Still, I'm not opening the wrapped package, which is now resting beneath my Christmas tree, until Mr. Don gets here. Ms. P made reservations for our holiday luncheon - online, I learned today (I didn't even know Ratzsch's has a website!) and we arrived shortly before noon. When we visited last year around this time, I hadn't eaten there in probably 35 years - and so it was an adventure for me. Perhaps 4-5 years ago, the owners of Ratzsch's wanted to retire and after not being able to find a buyer for the business, announced that it would be closed! This was horrid news! Ratzsch's is one of the few fabled German restaurants left in Milwaukee that serves genuine German recipes. Some years earlier, the John Ernst Cafe, a short trip north of downtown, closed because of declining business, never to reopen. It's lovely building on the corner of Ogden and Van Buren was eventually turned into condos. The only authentic German restaurants left in the downtown area in this historically German city are Ratzsch's on East Mason Street and Mader's on North 3rd Street. Fortunately for Milwaukee and tourists who appreciate genuine and not kitschy atmosphere and really fine German food (some "American" entrees also offered), some long-time employees of Ratzsch's came forward with an offer to buy the restaurant, and it was accepted! Financing was procured and voila! A Milwaukee institution was saved and a new day started. I am so glad. Ratzsch's is really a lovely restaurant, and it is a tradition worth saving for our city. It is a wonderful place to eat, heavily Gothic/Germanic in style but with wonderful, whimsical design surprises everywhere you look. I love it! The eye finds constant delight in roving about the large dining room (great for couples who do not have much to say to each other, or business strangers going out to lunch or dinner by circumstance). For special guests (like romantic couples), there is an upper gallery that provides candle-lit intimacy with a great view of the great beamed dining hall below. By the way, the indescribible bar area itself is worth a separate visit :) Ratzsch's is a white table cloth restaurant with excellent food, excellent service, and excellent aura. If you are ever in Milwaukee, please stop by Ratzsch's for lunch or dinner. If you've got a sweetheart out on a date, ask to be seated in the upper gallery. Trust me, it's well worth the $10-$20 you pass to the maitre'de, depending upon how busy the restaurant is. The restaurant now offers convenient online reservations! Check out the Christmas Day dinner menu. After I read that earlier this evening, I was tempted to skip dinner at my sister Deb's place this year and take Mr. Don to Ratzsch's to experience this unique dining experience - Christmas Day! But I'm feeling guilty even writing those words... Well, I suppose Mr. Don and I shouldn't skip the family dinner, but if I can fit it in, I will take Mr. Don to Ratzsch's during his all-too-brief week here for Christmas. We're already scheduled to dine at another local (but not so famous) German restaurant institution - Kegel's, on December 23rd, with my good friend Ann. I love Kegel's, and I think Mr. Don will fall in love with it, too. Certainly not so grand a setting as Ratzsch's, but the service is as good and the food is fine, with lots of traditional German entrees! The neighborhood feeling - can't be beat. Ratzsch's has been beautifully decorated for the holiday season, with a large kissing bough in the center of the restaurant, traditional boughs of holly, and this year, lots of really cute teddy bears and other native Wisconsin critters appearing as stuffed animals tucked here and there, some in costumes, some not, all about the place. Ms. P and I were so busy talking, I have to say I hardly noticed the surroundings, except to soak in the general relaxing ambiance of dark wooden beams, stained glass, oil paintings, finely crafted large brass platters scattered about the walls, pristine table settings and sparkling crystal, and the greenery of the Yuletide season. My Goddess! I sound like an advertisement! LOL! Ratzsch's offers delicious daily specials at great prices. Ms. P had one of the specials, a half rack of pork ribs with spaetzel and red cabbage. She ate every single bit of food on her plate. I have NEVER seen her do that before! Not being a particular fan of red cabbage or sauerkraut, I ordered off the standard lunch menu a philo-crusted chicken breast with bacon smothered in fresh-chopped spinach and alfredo sauce, served with garnish/sides of pureed sweet potato and light as air spaetzel. OHMYGODDESS! Well, we were both splurging calory-wise today :) I found the sweet potato puree tasty and it was light as a feather and beautifully presented in about 3 inch wide piped swirls on either side of the entree, but it seemed to be lacking something - not sure what. Perhaps there was too much cumin and not enough cinnamon? Or no cinnamon? Or, now that I am thinking about it, a quick dash of salt may have done the trick. Duh! I told Ms. P that I thought my whipped sweet potatoes are better (my recipe doesn't use cumin). LOL! I'm not complaining! Everything was delicious. I only stopped eating because the alfredo sauce was so rich, and I wanted very much to have one of Ratzsch's famous desserts. As it was, I ate every single bit of chicken and bacon and left behind only whisps of spinach, sweet potato puree and spaetzel. The meal was impeccably served by a busy but attentive waitress in traditional 19th century German costume. She was a very good waitress, and so was the food. Yum! Ms. P and I managed to chat and broke all etiquette rules by talking with semi-full mouths, but I she was telling me about the latest amusing episodes with her two new kitties and I was telling her about the continuing adventures of selling this house and buying a different hous. And then, our plates were finished! Our waitrress asked about dessert and/or coffee. Ms. P and I looked at each other and said "YES! to dessert and "NO" to coffee. Our waitress suggested splitting a dessert, which was wonderful. So many places frown on this practice. However, Ratzsch's desserts are generously large and infamously rich, and so we welcomed the suggestion to split. We chose the Black Forest Torte which looked like one of the "lighter" offerings on the dessert plate. (I use the word "lighter" advisedly). The Black Forest Torte (with narry a cherry in sight) arrived at our comfortable leather-lined corner boot table shortly afterward, dressed with a generous tablespoon or so of fresh-whipped cream and it was absolutely gorgeous. Oy! The layers of the cake were traditional "German chocolate" - not the devilsfood dark chocolate one typically sees in Americanized versions of Black Forest Torte. We were presented with two dessert forks. Oh, that attention to detail, such a crucial touch to a delightful dining experience. Ms. P and I chatted away and soon the dessert was gone, and we were full and happy, but we were not uncomfortably "stuffed." Neither of us wanted to go back to the real world of office and work. We were sad. But the check made us smile. For two ample, delicious and beautifully presented entrees, two glasses of wine and the shared dessert that was like eating a little bit of Heaven, the total bill was less than $45, including tax. We left a generous tip, and there was nary a nay-say from Ms. P, who is very particular when it comes to restaurant servers and service. Thanks for a lovely day, Ms. P. May be have many more. Ms. P and I shared a lovely toast. May it come true for us and our loved ones in 2010. I'm already anticipating our 2010 Ratzsch's luncheon :)

One of the 2009 Archaeological Top Ten Discoveries

I visited Archaeology magazine online the other day and checked out its list of the top ten archaeological discoveries in 2009 (stretched to 15, which is great because that means it was a fabulous year for significant finds). (Image of necklace slide courtesy of Prof. N. Ch. Stampolidis - presumably from the noted burial. Are these females? What is it they are wearing on their heads? Are those headdresses of some sort [they remind me of a fool's cap!], or braids in some sort of serpentine hair style? The workmanship of the piece is exquisite.) One of the top ten was something I missed - not sure how that happened but it's a significant find: Iron Age Priestesses - Eleutherna, Crete Volume 63 Number 1, January/February 2010 by Eti Bonn-Muller The discovery of a powerful female bloodline--uninterrupted for nearly 200 years--in the Iron Age necropolis of Orthi Petra at Eleutherna is illuminating the role of women in the so-called "Dark Ages" of Greece. Last summer, the remains of four females, ranging in age from about seven to seventy, were excavated in an eighth-century b.c. monumental funerary building. Its floor was covered with thin strips of gold, once affixed to burial garments, and the women were surrounded by bronze vessels and figurines, and jewelry made of gold, silver, glass, ivory, and semiprecious stones imported from Asia Minor, the Near East, and North Africa. Other artifacts from the tomb--including a possible stone altar, ritual bronze saws and knives, and a rare glass phiale for pouring libations--suggest these women played an important role in Eleutherna's religious life. Dig director Nicholas Stampolidis of the University of Crete believes the oldest one was a high priestess interred with her protégés. Adelphi University forensic anthropologist Anagnostis Agelarakis has found all four women shared a genetic dental trait. Further research is expected to confirm they were related to a dozen women unearthed nearby last year, each of whom also had the trait. The other women were buried in three connected pithoi (large ceramic jars) containing equally luxurious grave goods, though without ritual implements. "This time period is erroneously called the Dark Ages," says Agelarakis. "The finds show that these women were aristocratic. Their social standing was superlative. I mean, the phiale alone--it must have been sent from a 'prince' of Mesopotamia! And their matrilineage was not ruptured for two centuries. I don't think it was dark at all." © 2009 by the Archaeological Institute of America www.archaeology.org/1001/topten/crete.html
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The article didn't say - were the four females buried at different times, or where they buried together all at once? If they were buried all at once, is there evidence from which to determine they all died in some common disaster or possibly from an epidemic? Or, is this grim evidence of human sacrifice? I searched online under several different topics and could only locate one article which I believe to be about the same discovery, but it is confusing, because it only mentions three women - actually one woman and "two adolescents:" From the Straits Time (Singapore) Aug 29, 2009 Rare ancient jewels found ATHENS - ARCHAEOLOGISTS on the Greek island of Crete have unearthed the 2,900-year-old tomb of three women buried with jewels of surprisingly advanced skill, culture officials said on Friday. The tomb in the ancient town of Eleutherna, near the modern city of Rethymno in northern Crete, held gold necklaces and medallions decorated with lion heads and the forms of ancient gods, excavation supervisor Nikos Stambolidis said. 'The jewels are of a style that appeared in the Hellenistic Era (many centuries later),' said Stambolidis, director of the Cycladic Museum in Athens. 'We had no knowledge that this level of craft existed earlier,' he told AFP. The elaborate nature of the tomb indicates that its three occupants, two of whom were adolescents, were likely priestesses or princesses. A number of offerings including scarabs, amber seals and earthenware were also found in the burial chamber which was two metres high. The town of Eleutherna is believed to have reached its peak in the Geometric Era around 3,000 years ago. Excavation in the last 25 years has so far yielded over 500 items of clay, metal and ivory including sculptures, tools and weapons. One of the most prized sculptures of the Louvre Museum in Paris, a limestone female statue called the Lady of Auxerre, is believed to have come from Eleutherna. -- AFP
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In reading this account, I get the impression that the three (four?) were all buried together, but that doesn't preclude the possibility that bodies were added to the original tomb over time. So - I was curious. Who is the Lady of Auxerre housed in the Lourve? I didn't recall hearing about her before. And how the heck did she end up in the Lourve as "one of its most prized sculptures?" Some background information on the Lady of Auxerre statue: (From the Archaeological Institute of America, article on Site Preservation): [T]he Dame d’Auxerre [was]was purchased in 1895 by a theater manager from the northern French town that gives this female image its name. No sure information about its provenance was known, though the piece was quickly recognized as a masterwork of the seventh century B.C. style of Greek art known as Daedalic. But where is this statue from? The bottom line is that the specific findspot is lost and irrecoverable. Comparisons with Cretan sculpture have long been recognized, such as with the seated goddess discovered at Prinias, now in the Herakleion museum. More recently, excavations at the Cretan site of Eleutherna have produced fragments of similar sculptures and the Louvre, where the Dame d’Auxerre has its permanent home, has suggested that the statue was removed from that site in the late 19th century. If the figure is from Crete, then it stands in a long line of sculptural development on the island that is likewise spectacularly illustrated by the three bronze statues – possibly depicting Apollo, Leto and Artemis – excavated at Dreros and also on display in the Herakleion Museum. Further consideration of the Auxerre figure within the long-term history of representations of the human body calls to mind the Neolithic statues scientifically excavated at 'Ain Ghazal in Jordan. It is through comparison with such examples of well-documented ancient sculpture that we can more fully understand both the artistic and cultural significance of an unprovenanced work such as the Dame d’Auxerre. Here is information from the Lourve Museum: Known as the "Lady of Auxerre" Second half of the seventh century BC Eleutherna, Crete(?), Greece Limestone, sculpted in the round and painted H. 75 cm Exchange with the Auxerre Municipal Museum, 1909 Ma 3098Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities Statue of a woman, known as the "Lady of Auxerre" The circumstances surrounding the discovery of this statuette, which was found in the storeroom of the Auxerre museum in 1907, remain unknown. However, it is the finest example of the Daedalic style, which marked the renewal of stone sculpting in the Greek world in the seventh century BC. The U-shaped face, the heavy, stepped hair, and the strict frontality are hallmarks of this style, which takes its name from Daedalus, who is said to have created the first statues in antiquity. Description The Lady of Auxerre, masterpiece of the Daedalic style The circumstances surrounding the discovery of this statuette, which was found in the storeroom of the Auxerre museum in 1907, remain unknown. However, it is the finest example of the Daedalic style, which marked the renewal of stone sculpting in the Greek world in the seventh century BC. The U-shaped face, the heavy, stepped hair, and the strict frontality are hallmarks of this style, which takes its name from Daedalus, who is said to have created the first statues in antiquity. An uncertain identification Since we know nothing about the context in which the statuette was discovered, it is difficult to identify the person depicted or to determine the meaning of the gesture of the right hand. Some think that this is the image of a goddess, considering the many terracotta figurines of Middle Eastern divinities (Astarte in particular) that highlight their sexual attributes. Others see this statue as a simple mortal, the servant of some fertility cult or perhaps the dedicator herself making a gesture of prayer. The revival of stone sculpture in Crete in the Orientalizing period This work is a testament to the intense artistic activity that took place in the eastern regions of the Mediterranean basin during the Orientalizing period. Techniques and decorative motifs originating in Egypt and the Near East were spread by Greek artisans who blended these models with their own traditions. The Auxerre statuette was created in Crete in the seventh century, around 640–620 BC. The work is assigned to Crete because of the type of limestone used as well as similarities of the young woman's costume, gesture, and face with works in bronze, limestone, and clay that have been discovered on the island. Comparison with funerary material excavated at Eleutherna, in northern Crete, suggests that the Lady of Auxerre was found in this necropolis in the late nineteenth century.
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