Saturday, May 30, 2009

Antiquities Fraud Redux

A further take on a subject I posted about a few days ago. (Image from article: Forms to cast fake 2nd to 3rd century coins found in Trier, Germany. Chris 73/Wikipedia licensed under CC-BY-SA 2.5) EBay Changing the Face of Antiquities Trade By Kat Piper, Epoch Times Staff May 30, 2009 With the launch of online auction website eBay over a decade ago, archaeologists feared that antiquities trafficking would suddenly become much more accessible and lead to increased looting of ancient sites. But in fact, eBay has inadvertently created a vast market for fake artifacts, according to Dr Charles “Chip” Stanish, UCLA professor of Anthropology and expert in Andean archaeology. Dr Stanish has followed items listed as antiquities on eBay for nine years. He has also worked with the US customs service and visited workshops in Peru and Bolivia that specialize in making reproductions of pottery. Rather than investing energy in looting, “[Greek], Chinese, Bulgarian, Egyptian, Peruvian and Mexican workshops are now producing fakes at a frenetic pace,” writes Dr Stanish in the May/June issue of the journal Archaeology. “People who used to make a few dollars selling a looted artifact to a middleman in their village can now produce their own ‘almost-as-good-as-old’ objects and go directly to a person in a nearby town who has an eBay account,” he said. “They will receive the same amount or even more than they could have received for actual antiquities.” The proliferation of fakes has depressed the value of real artifacts, acting as a further disincentive to looting, said Dr Stanish. When he first started tracking eBay sales of South American antiquities, Dr Stanish estimated that the ratio of real to fake artifacts was 50:50. Five years later, 95 per cent were fakes. But the quality of the fakes has improved so much that Dr Stanish admits that he can’t always tell. He estimates that about 30 per cent of objects currently listed as “antiquities” are obvious fakes and only 5 per cent are genuine. Modern forging techniques are so good nowadays it is “almost impossible” or prohibitively expensive to authenticate objects using current methods, said Dr Stanish. As long as there are people willing to buy the “genuine” Peruvian Moche pottery, currently being sold for as little as $US160 on eBay (a real pot is worth about $US16,000), the trade will continue to flourish, as will the quality of reproductions. Looting, which is illegal, is the bane of archaeologists because looters rarely remove artifacts using appropriate scientific methods, or record where they came from, so make the objects harder to date and break their valuable link to the wider context of the site and cultural heritage.

Vero Man - Er - Woman

Archaeological dig to start in early June at site where Vero Man was found By Elliott Jones Originally published 10:26 p.m., May 30, 2009 Updated 10:26 p.m., May 30, 2009 VERO BEACH — Part of an answer to how many thousands of years Indians lived on the Treasure Coast can be found in grains of sand 15 feet underground behind the new Indian River County Administration building. In early June, scientists are to drill down to get sand samples for laboratory dating of the site where very ancient Indian bones, dubbed the Vero Man, were unearthed around 1915. That’s part of a two-part initiative that is to include a scientific excavation of a portion of the site next year. For now, “If you line up 20 scientists and go down the line and ask how old are the bones, a third will say they are 10,000 years old,” said Florida State University archaeologist Glen Doran. “A third will say 6,000 years old. “I am among the others who shrug their shoulders and say no one knows for sure” about the age of the Vero Beach bones, he said. “I say let’s see what we can find out.” Elsewhere on the Treasure Coast, the oldest other human remains are dated around 4,300 years ago in Martin County, said Stuart resident Lucille Rieley Right, president of the South East Florida Archaeological Society. Early last century the digging of a large drainage canal on the north side of Vero Beach unearthed the human bones near remains of extinct species, including mammoths, that are assumed to have died out around 10,000 years ago. The discovery attracted national scientific attention — because it defied conventional wisdom that people dated back only 6,000 years in the United States. For 20 years the one-acre site was one of the most famous archaeological locations in the nation because it was the first to suggest people had been in North America at the end of the age of the great land mammals. That age included bear-sized sloths, camels and giant saber-tooth cats. Scientific excavations elsewhere in Florida have since confirmed humans date back at least 12,000 years in the state and were killing mammoths, Doran said. Indians were in other parts of the United States even earlier, research shows. But the antiquity of Vero Man — the bones turned out to be female — remained a question. Some of the human skeletal remains are in the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville, he said. However minerals saturated the bones for thousands of years making it virtually impossible to determine their age using high-tech methods, he said. In October, a laboratory dating test of a mammoth bone from the site didn’t work. Last summer Doran and others took 10 soil borings from the Vero Man site to help pinpoint where more excavation work should be done. Now Doran and several other scientists are returning to the site around the first week of June to get new soil samples to subject to the newest dating method: measuring the radioactivity of sand grains. Once quartz sand is buried, it progressively builds up radioactivity that can be measured to estimate how long ago it was on the surface. So Doran will be pulling up new soil borings encased in black plastic. Those will be tested in Canada by a scientist pioneering the dating method. Ultimately, though, it will take an old-style excavation of the site to probe for more definitive proof: actual human remains with bones of extinct animals, he said. Doran mailed a letter to the city of Vero Beach proposing such an excavation in 2010 in connection with the city’s plans to build a drainage cleanup system at the Vero Man site. The Florida Department of State wants the excavation done — at an estimated cost of $80,000 to $100,000 — before construction begins on an $850,000 water cleanup system, said Assistant City Engineer Bill Messersmith. Messersmith isn’t ready to say how the scientific excavation work would be financed. “I want to see both projects move forward: the excavation and the storm water project,” Messersmith said.
Okay, what I want to know is how did man get all the way to Florida 12,000 years ago when he was just supposed to be starting to cross the Bering land bridge by foot or, perhaps, taking boats across the straits and island hopping from Sibera to Alaska??? It is this kind of archaeological evidence that keeps cropping up that causes me to have serious doubts about DNA analysis "conclusively" determining who arrived in North America, from where, and when. At this point in time, it looks pretty clear to me that - WE JUST DON'T KNOW - despite what some experts assert otherwise.

Follow-Up: The Stone Turtle

From Expert: Turtle rock has tool marks Last Updated: 6:22 pm Friday, May 29, 2009 (Image from earlier article) Maybe there's something to the Morrow turtle rock after all. A local archeologist dismissed Dirk Morgan's find as just an odd sandstone boulder probably shaped by nature. But, Eric Law, a geologist and associate professor at Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio, said he's pretty confident someone carved the rock that resembles the head of a turtle. How did he come to that conclusion after examining the figure for two hours Wednesday? "The most significant (feature) is something I interpreted as tool marks...They are shown at a well-protected location and are not easily destroyed by weathering or erosion processes," Law said Friday. Simply put, he looked far back into the mouth. • In April, an archaeologist was skeptical. Law's conclusion is exciting news for Morgan, who unearthed the rock in his yard near the Little Miami River in April. "We now know what we have is an artifact without a doubt...a relic," he said. Morgan, who runs a canoe livery, is convinced that the 220-pound rock was left behind by American Indians who once inhabited the area. But, Law can't say when the tool marks were made or by whom. That's for an archeologist to figure out, he said. His job, as a geologist and specialist in petrology - the branch of science that deals with the composition of rocks -- was to find evidence that the rock was altered by something other than nature. Whatever the case, Morgan's find has sparked curiosity among professionals and amateurs who study rocks. Law said he may present a paper on the turtle rock in October at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America in Portland, Oregon. "This thing is just so damn big and obvious. You look at it and immediately it says 'animal head,'" said Alan Day, a retired engineering consultant in Cambridge, Ohio, who considers himself an amateur archeologist. Day spends much of his retirement studying the many artifacts he's found on his hilltop property since 1987. He has featured information about Morgan's turtle rock on his Web site, Day said he has heard from people all over the United States and Europe who have found similar but smaller artifacts. "The bottom line is that people thousands of years ago were constantly carving very simple images into rocks," Day said.

Busy Spring Day!

Whew! I'm tired! I spent part of the morning tracking down some Montreal chess tournaments that might be interested in providing special Goddesschess prizes just for the chess femmes; then I headed out doors and cut the grass in the back yard (1.5 hour project). Then I parked myself on the deck and looked through a decorating catalog and a decorating magazine while tossing almonds to the squirrels and peanuts to those black birds with the green-blue heads (I've no idea what kind of bird they are). When the electric grass shears were re-charged I trimmed the grass around the deck, the retaining wall around the big elm, the side walk back of the garage and the east fence line and around the plum trees in the lawn; then I did some weeding; then I cleaned out the birdbaths; then I camped out on the deck again and relaxed while listening to smooth jazz on the radio. Later, I clipped a spring bouquet from the yard - purple leaves from the plum trees, pink bleeding heart, and pink honeysuckle (photo). Later still, I decided to pull out the old hand saw and tackle some targeted branches on the "black berry" tree, to clean up the tree's lines and also hopefully let in some more sun into the rear portion of the gardens. If I keep this up, my arms will soon be tuned and toned... Hope you enjoy the bouquet as much as I am! Tomorrow it starts all over again...

A New Gimpy Squirrel

Last night I noticed a very small squirrel along the north fence line, with an obvious injury on his right leg, which he was dragging. I don't know if he got clipped by a car or tangled with a predator and escaped. The poor little guy was obviously spooked, and when he saw me peeking out at him from the patio door he gimped away into the underbrush that my neighbors have piled up on the other side of the fence. It's so thick and deep it would be pretty much inpenetrable to predators like a hawk or a cat. I felt horrid seeing the little guy in that condition. I tossed some peanuts and almonds as close to the fence line as I could from the patio door without stepping out on to the deck or approaching the fence, hoping that the squirrel would come out later on when the coast was clear and eat. This morning about 8:30 a.m. I noticed the little gimpy guy, so he survived the night. As far as I can tell, the injury on his right hind leg has scabbed over, but he's still dragging it. It may be broken, which does not bode well. He was having a very tough time climbing around the base the big tree that I can see outside my kitchen window. He was staying very close to the base of that tree where some of the bird seed lands every morning when I toss a cup-full of it off the end of the deck for the birds. Trying not to spook him, I took a handful of peanuts and a handful of almonds and tossed them, one by one, toward the base of the tree, being as quiet as I could and trying no to show myself from the patio door. I could see him but the deck is elevated above the area where he was but because of a railroad tie retaining wall behind part of the massive tree trunk, I do not think he could see me. Later I noticed that he had managed to climb up to a limb high above the yard, out of harm's way. I do hope he got at least some of the nuts I tossed out. This is a picture of him up on that tree limb. It's not as clear as I'd wish, and although I had the close-up x 3 on, it didn't seem to work on the shot. Drat! You can barely make him out as a sort of lump near the intersection of the limb and the trunk. I think he was sleeping in the sun when I took this shot. I figure he's pretty exhausted. I do hope he makes it. He's very small, smaller than the other "baby" squirrels in the yard who have grown a great deal over the last 4 weeks, so I don't think he's from a nest in one of the trees in my yard (two nests, both birthed about the same time), but he is familiar with my yard as a food source so he must come from somewhere nearby. Update (11:50 a.m.): It's almost a couple hours later and he's not up on the limb any more. I don't know where he got off to, unless he's sharing the next with the bigger "babies" further up the tree. I have to go out now and cut the grass, I will check around the base of the tree and hope I do not find a small dead squirrel. If he is alive, I'll see if I can get a better picture of him.

Quebec Invitational 2009

IM Irina Krush is busy! Here is one of the events she will be playing in this summer: Championnat Invitation du Québec 2009 19-27 June 2009 Le Championnat Invitation du Québec (CIQ) will have an international flavor this year with the participation of foreign players. An agreement between the organizer of the Montreal International Tournament 2009 (TIM), Mr. André Langlois, CIQ will allow to qualify the first four classification for the TIM to be held from 27 August to 7 September 2009. The idea is to increase competition and the CIQ Quebec allow players to achieve standards [norms] of IM and GM. 10 player round robin Invited players Peng Xiaomin (GM, 2588) China; Mark Bluvshtein (GM, 2558) Canada; Anton Kovalyov (GM, 2556) Argentina-Canada; Bator Sambuev (GM, 2498) Russia-Canada; Thomas Roussel-Roozmon (MI, 2479) Canada; Irina Krush (MI, 2452) United States; Renier Castellanos (MI, 2446) Spain; Sylvain Barbeau (MF, 2357) Canada; François Léveillé (MF, 2261) Canada; + a player to be confirmed. Dates: 19-27 June 2009: Round 1 to 9 Venue: Olympic Stadium, 4545 Pierre de Coubertin (RLQ), métro Pie IX. The parties start at 17:30 every day. The top four qualify for the 2009 TIM. The best player in Quebec will receive the title of Champion of Quebec. To be considered Quebecois player, it must reside in Québec for at least a year depending on the start date of the tournament.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Southwest Chess Club: At Polish Fest!

Great News! Southwest Chess Club has been invited back to Polish Fest to man a booth for a second year! That's good news for chess fans and for the Club, as volunteers at the booth give free lessons, play simuls and individual games, etc. Polish Fest will be held at Maier Festival Park on Milwaukee's beautiful lake front June 19 - 21, 2009. Thousands of Polish immigrants settled in Milwaukee during the 1800 - 1900's, and their traditions are alive and well in the region today. Polish Fest is a big event in Milwaukee and draws large crowds (not just people of Polish ancestry). This is a great opportunity for Southwest Chess Club to do community outreach and spread the word about a great club and a great game!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Rhiannon: Goddess of Horses

By Juliette Frette'

Women's Issues Examiner
Ancient goddess spotlight: Rhiannon May 22, 4:15 PM

An equine goddess-turned-magical queen, she is unique in the sense that she is exclusively a horse deity -- while other goddesses of antiquity typically have other identities and functions. Accordingly, horse themes are very strong in Irish and Welsh mythology. As such, Rhiannon's Irish sister Macha, a transfunctional goddess spanning all possible functions of society as priestess, warrior, and nurturer, has also been represented as a horse.

Nevertheless, Rhiannon is one of a kind with the exception of one Gaulish equine goddess counterpart known as Epona -- a deity who has no other function than being the patroness of horses. Rest of article.

Stevie Nicks rocking out in 2008 at Soundstage -- I've watched lots of videos of SN performing this song over the years, with and without Fleetwood Mac, but in my opinion, this is the best one. In the performance, at age 56, Nicks personifies the ageless mystery and timeless beauty and fascination of Rhiannon.

Lyrics to Fleetwood Mac's Rhiannon:

Rhiannon rings like a bell throu the night
And wouldnt you love to love her
Takes to the sky like a bird in flight
And who will be her lover
All your life you've never seen a woman
Taken by the wind
Would you stay if she promised you heaven
Will you ever win

She is like a cat in the dark A
nd then she is the darkness
She rules her life like a fine skylark
And when the sky is starless
All your life you've never seen a woman
Taken by the wind
Would you stay if she promised you heaven
Will you ever win
Will you ever win

[Verse sometimes added in live performances]
Once in a million years,
a lady like her rises
'Rhiannon' you cry but she's gone,
and your life knows no answer,
and your life knows no answer.

She rings like a bell throu the night
And wouldnt you love to love her
She rules her life like a bird in flight
And who will be her lover
All your life you've never seen a woman
Taken by the wind
Would you stay if she promised you heaven
Will you ever win Will you ever win

Dreams unwind
Love's a state of mind...

Wikipedia entry on Rhiannon

See also Nemeton, the Sacred Grove: Rhiannon

A Cymric and Brythonic Goddess, also known as Rigantona: Great Queen, from which the image (above) was taken -- a representation of Rhiannon (or one of her birds, the "Birds of Rhiannon"), riding on the back of a horse. Many thanks to the artist who crafted it!

Remains of temple of Isis found

From 2009-05-28 18:38 Workmen find fragments digging inside Florence courthouse (ANSA) - Florence, May 28 - Workmen inside Florence's courthouse have stumbled across a spiral column and hundreds of multicoloured fragments that experts believe may have belonged to a Roman temple dedicated to the Egyptian goddess Isis. Dating to the second century AD, the remains were discovered as the men dug a five by three metre hole, barely four metres deep, for a new water cistern for the courthouse's anti-incendiary system. ''These finds are of extraordinary importance,'' said Alessandro Palchetti, the archaeologist charged with overseeing the works in the courthouse by Florence's archaeology superintendency, who suspected something interesting might be uncovered because of the area's historic relevance. Palchetti said the remains were ''comparable'' to others found over the last three centuries in the immediate area that have also been attributed to the temple of Isis, the Egyptian goddess of motherhood and fertility who was later adopted by the Greeks and Romans. The location of the temple is unknown, Palchetti said, but it is believed to have been built just outside the Roman part of the city, near the current courthouse building. ...[rest of article unrelated to topic]

Antiquities Fraud Abounds on the Internet

Story from The Los Angeles Times 'Ancient' artifacts, cyber scams Archaeologists and legitimate antiquities dealers warn that most EBay sellers are duping bargain-hunters looking to buy a piece of the past on the cheap. By Mike Boehm May 29, 2009 When Charles "Chip" Stanish, director of UCLA's Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, craves a good laugh over human folly, he knows it's just a mouse-click away, on EBay's crowded bazaar of ancient artifacts. A reddish clay pot in the shape of a man's head pops onto the computer screen in his office beneath the campus' Fowler Museum. Stanish notes its wide-eyed, gape-mouthed face and tries to stifle a laugh, but there's no helping himself. The tousle-haired anthropologist, who researches ancient commerce and communal life in the mountainous Lake Titicaca region of Peru, is slain again. "Look at this stupid face with the stupid grin," he says. "The teeth are ridiculous. The eyes are goofy. . . . It's something you'd find at the Lima airport," selling for a few bucks. On EBay, the seller is advertising it as a mint-condition artifact of Peru's Nazca culture -- a depiction of a warrior, possibly 2,000 years old. It's yours for $499.99, satisfaction backed with a "lifetime guarantee," as long as that lifetime expires within the 14-day window for returns. Customers have given this seller a satisfaction rating of nearly 100%. "Oh, I have such a good time," Stanish says. "Sometimes I put it on my TV, and my friends and I have some glasses of wine and crack up." Rest of article. Just for the heck of it, I did a quick search at ebay for antiquities and located this "bronze figure amulet/Ra genuine." It is said to be 5.7 cm in height. No representation is made as to the age of the piece. Now darlings, I'm sure no expert, but after taking a look at this two times, I decided that if it is anything, it's an amulet of Sekhmet, the Goddess in the form of a lioness (an aspect of Goddess Hathor), and is not Ra, although there is a connection because Ra was Sekhmet's father (Sekhmet was one of the "Eyes of Ra"), if memory serves. About the first image above, it could be said it is at least questionable as to what god or goddess the amulet is meant to represent, given what I consider its poor condition; the second image shows a side profile of the amulet and indicates to me the distinctive profile of Sekhmet, along with the remains of her Sun crown enclosed by the Uraeus. For a comparison, check out the images at the Wikipedia entry on Sekhmet. I suppose just because I think it's something other than Ra doesn't mean it's a fraud. I also point out the poor condition of this piece of bronze. I've only seen photos on the internet and in catalogs and books and also in person at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Musem of Art (fresh in my mind as we returned from New York on May 19th), so I'm no expert on what the condition of an "ancient" Egyptian bronze should be, since the only ones I've seen have been in generally good condition, considering that most of them came from inside tombs. Perhaps this bronze amulet was owned by a camel herder and had a really rough life, being caught in sand storms and such. Or perhaps it came out of a really bad mold and was then suitably "antiqued" to look like something that might be 2,000 or more years old. Only the Shadow knows... For reasons that I believe will be clear to my readers, I'm not providing a link :)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Faulty Chess History - Arrggghhhh!

Hola darlings! I've had a very bad day. It was raining hard this morning when I left for the office. It was difficult enough to force myself out of a cozy warm bed at 6 a.m. while the rain was pounding on the roof. The half-mile walk to the bus stop at 7:20 a.m. resulted in me getting rather wet from the waist down from the blowing rain, and my shoes sprung leaks, so I went to work with wet socks. Oh YUCK! It stopped raining shortly after I boarded the bus. Of course. It started raining again shortly before I had to get off the bus to hike the blocks to the office. Of course. There is extra walking now since the bus has been detoured by summertime street repairs. Of course course. I was not in a very good mood when I got to the office. I had a pile of work still sitting from the day before (my first day back from nearly 3 weeks vacation), my hair looked like crap and I was hungry. I did get a very fat-filled breakfast sandwich from the cafeteria, which I scarfed down at my desk while going through my emails and prioritizing the work for the day. My hair - well, I won't even go there. I am so glad to be home tonight. The rain finally stopped and the fog has blown away. I swear my grass and plants have sprung up inches since the rain started in earnest late last night. Yes, yes, as an amateur gardener I realize the importance of regular deep watering. And so I could rationalize my discomfort and mushy socks (still mushy when I got home, eeeuuuuuwww) for the greater good of my water-starved garden. So what if the rain arrived 24 hours later than first forecast, that caused me to postpone doing serious watering with the sprinkler in the back yard on Sunday, because my herbaceous friends were looking somewhat peaked. And I felt so guilty, like I was personally murdering each and every blade of grass... Arrrgggghhhh. Anyway, I get home tonight, dispose of the stinking mushy socks, dry off, and settle down for a night of blogging since there is absolutely nothing decent on network television, and I'm too cheap to subscribe to cable or satellite. But now I'm all p.o.'d again, darlings, and it is all because of THIS MAN! I am not a member of Gamasutra, and I do not wish to become a member - I mean, come on - Gamasutra? Please - give me back my Kama Sutra! And no, that's not a World War II kamikaze game involving flying planes into battle cruisers. No offense to Mr. Dinehart, and I mean that sincerely. It's not the easiest thing in the world to go back into the mists of time trying to tease out the true origins of the game we call chess. We started out as rank amateurs and ten years later we're still amateurs - although not so rank as we used to be :)) For the vast majority of people alive today, I'd say somewhere between 99.94% and 99.99% - how chess came to be is not a compelling question. But for us at Goddesschess, it is. I'd say it has become almost an obsession (eek!) Suffice to say, after 10 years of continuous work, we believe we have accumulated sufficient evidence to say with confidence that "H.J.R. Murray got it wrong, baby!" Okay - I don't hear the trumpet fanfare I want - drat! Which only goes to show you. To most people, this ain't an important issue! But to us, it is. And so I'd like to go on the record with what we think is a more correct statement of facts about the origins of chess. Without going into too much boring detail. Before I get started, I'd like to state for the record that I thought Mr. Dinehart's blog post was great. I found it entertaining, charming, humorous and informative, all about a subject I could care less about - except for the history of chess part! Well done, Mr. Dinehart. Now, as to that: So I set out to do research, and like most things in western culture, one need look east to find their roots. I started with Chess and then dug a little deeper. It lead me to Chaturaga, a game whose rules are mostly lost, but the pieces remain. This, the first serious war-game, came before Europe was even a dream. There is evidence that points to at least three ancient games having their roots in divination, and warfare was not the primary motif or even a consideration at the beginning: in ancient Egypt, the games of Mehen (the serpent game) and Senet, and in ancient China, the game of Liubo (Image: liubo board, c. 400 BCE). In later times in ancient Egypt, Mehen ceased to be played for reasons that are unknown, although some have speculated that it was because playing a game on the back of a God (actually, a Goddess, but that's another story) was insulting. Senet and the much later game of Liubo could be played "straight" - that is - as a board game of chance - or as a game of divination. Two historians of whom I am aware have pointed to Liubo as a direct predecessor of chess: David Li and Joseph Needham. Thanks to the research of several historians and ethnographers, it is now generally accepted that the earliest board games probably had their roots in attempts to determine the future. The Sanskrit word "Chaturanga", means "four parts", or "Army", which for the ancient Indians was compromised by 4 parts. It is a game of 6th century BCE Indian origins consisting of two small armies with unique units, on an 8 x 8 board.Chaturanga predates Chess, but only in the little evidence had in artifact, not by popular record. Most likely a Persian invention, Chaturanga beats Chess in record by only a number of years. I believe most chess historians are in general agreement that chaturanga was a game invented or evolved sometime during the sixth century CE, not the 6th century BCE. Some posit an earlier date for invention or evolution of the game, but to my recollection, not as far back as the 6th century BCE (except Goddesschess). Perhaps Mr. Dinehart made a typo. The Sanskrit chaturanga literally means four ("chatur") and limbs (as in arms and legs) ("anga"). As such, it does not, per se, refer to anybody's army, Indian or otherwise. Chaturanga does, however, have a counterpart in the Pahlavi (middle Persian) word chatrang, which means the mandrake plant (it has the same meaning in modern Farsi). Sanskrit and Pahlavi, and their descendants, are all derived from an ancestral "mother tongue" - proto-Indo-European, placing the sub-continent of India firmly in the "west" linguistically. I can't locate it in my notes at the moment, but I believe the Pahlavi word for four is chatar, which is very close to the Sanskrit chatur four. Chess is an Arab invention first mentioned by the court poet Bana, in a poem he wrote between "625 and 640 CE"[3]. I haven't studied Bana's quotes, and so I'll only say this: most chess historians are in agreement that chess is NOT an invention of the Arabs, but was adopted by them as the game shatranj (from Pahlavi chatrang) after the Persians were conquered in the mid-7th century CE. Thanks to the trade routes of the ancient world Chess along with Chaturanga were both brought west to the likes of Africa, Spain, Germany, and the Ottoman Empire. The game evolved into chess and hung around for until 2400 years later when things got interesting. There is a lot of evidence of trade and cultural exchanges from the far east (China) to ancient Rome and beyond, over an extended period of time during period of time well within the historical, along the Silk Road routes. There is a great deal of evidence of direct trade and cultural exchanges between ancient Persia and ancient China dating to the first ruler of the Tang Dynasty (c. 600's CE). Who knows how long such trade might have existed for which evidence no longer exists, or has yet to be discovered? For instance, there is suggestive evidence that the trade in tin between the Middle East and mines in Cornwall existed as far back as the Bronze Age. There is even evidence of some ancient Egyptian pre-dynastic maces showing up in graves in far northwestern China, dating back to approximately 3500 BCE. What historians currently state is that the Arabs spread the game of chess they called shatranj as they conquered more and more lands, including modern-day Spain and Portugal. The Arab historians are quite honest in admitting that their game shatranj was taken from the Persian game chatrang. Murray wrote about how the game shatranj was carried into parts of India that were subsequently conquered by the Arabs and somehow morphed into a four-handed game where the pieces were moved depending on the throw of dice - also called chaturanga. Thus the confusion in trying to determine just what game was talked about in some written historical accounts. In any event, the four-handed dice-game called chaturanga was a far cry from the pure strategy game played by the Persians in the 6th century CE. It is documented that "chess" was spread by the Moslems (Arabs) during their conquests in the 7th and 8th centuries CE, and it is also documented that the game was spread by Vikings and other traders, including the "Rus" during the 8th to 11th centuries CE. Well, that's it, more or less in a nut-shell. There's much more - a veritable tapestry so rich in interconnecting threads that it is nearly inpenetrable. We at Goddesschess call it "The Weave." Like any good weavers, however, rather than being overwhelmed by the completed product, we start with a single thread and follow it as best we can to its origin. Pick a thread - any thread - and follow it to where it may lead. Please pay attention to all of those intersections with other threads along the way, and to where they may lead, too. Okay, end of harangue! I'm hungry, it's well past my supper time!

Eight Year Old Girl Wins Indian State Championship

Story from Aakansha wins state under-9 chess c’ship Express News Service Posted: Thursday , May 28, 2009 at 0241 hrs IST Pune: Aakansha Hagawane of Pune won the Maharashtra State under-9 girls chess championship cum selection tournament held at Sangli from May 22 -26. She scored five points in five rounds and bagged the first prize of rupees 2,500 and a trophy. Aakansha will represent Maharashtra in the national under-9 girls chess championship to be held in Chennai from June 15. A fourth standard student of ADES school, Tilak Road, has also won the Pune district under 7 girls chess championship in 2007 and the Pune district under-9 girls chess championship in 2008. She is also the winner of Pune district chess scholarship in the under 9 girls group. This scholarship by guardian minister Ajit Pawar.

Bobby Fischer Notebooks/Materials on Auction

Bonham's auction house has announced the auction of a lot containing several (all?) of Bobby Fischer's notebooks, chess magazines, and other materials that were claimed to have been forfeited by Fischer for failure to pay rental on a storage unit (I believe in California). See the link for information on what the lot contains.

Who is auctioning this material? My recollection is that when alive, Fischer vehemently denied that he failed to pay the rent due on the storage unit and claimed that the property was still legally his, although it seems he never followed up with bringing legal actions against the company owning the storage unit and/or those to whom, I presume, his property was subsequently sold.

Does whoever is offering the Fischer lot for auction have a legal right to do so, given Fischer's claims when he was alive? I wonder what the legal representatives of Fischer's daughter would have to say about this?

The auction in which the Fischer lot is to be offered is set for June 10, 2009 in New York. Chess collectors must be abuzz with this news!

Sale 17109 - Fine Books and Manuscripts, 10 Jun 2009 New York
Lot No: 3372

Even stranger - does this auction include materials that were originally offered for auction on e-bay back in 2005, according to this New York Times article:

Arts, Briefly; Bobby Fischer's Stuff At Auction on eBay
Published: December 16, 2005
(Photo- not included in this archive)

Chess enthusiasts eager to own a bit of the game's history have a unique opportunity, at least for a few more days. Someone is selling several personal effects of Bobby Fischer, the former world champion, on eBay. Most of the collection (one example, above), according to the list on the site, consists of chess books and magazines, many of them foreign, some of them inscribed by Mr. Fischer with his name. Also included are an original manuscript for Mr. Fischer's ''My 60 Memorable Games''; 20 small handwritten notebooks detailing the openings played by some of his top competitors; and legal papers surrounding his attempt to copyright a chess move. In all, the seller says, the trove includes about 16 cardboard boxes full of material. The minimum bid is $15,000, and at least one has been received, from the Netherlands. The auction, which started last Friday, ends on Monday. The seller said the material was bought at a flea market six years ago and evidently came from a storage locker that Mr. Fischer rented in Pasadena, Calif. The contents were seized for nonpayment of rent. Mr. Fischer went into a tirade about it several years ago in a radio interview with a Philippines radio station, saying the seizure was illegal. DYLAN LOEB McCLAIN

So, did the e-bay sale fall through? Or was the sale successful and the lot being offered by Bonham's is not the COMPLETE Bobby Fischer library?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

2009 Chicago Open

Final Standings in the Open Event. Sargissian and Ehlvest split a combined prize pot of $12,000. The lone chess femme in the Open, WIM Alisa Melekhina, finished at 50%, with 3.5/7:

# Name Rtng Post St Tot1 GM Gabriel Sargissian 2760 2768 ARM 5½/7
2 GM Jaan Ehlvest 2649 2703 NY 5½/7
3 GM Loek Van Wely 2730 2721 NED 5
4 GM Yury Shulman 2697 2694 IL 5
5 GM Varuzhan Akobian 2664 2667 CA 5
6 GM Giorgi Kacheishvili 2638 2660 NY 5
7 GM Alexander Shabalov 2620 2634 PA 5
8 IM Benjamin Finegold 2580 2582 MI 5
9 GM Tigran Petrosian 2698 2701 ARM 4½
10 GM Dashze Sharavdorj 2482 2493 CO 4½
11 FM Jake Kleiman 2373 2386 TN 4½
12 FM Carl B Boor 2306 2328 OH 4½
13 GM Darmen Sadvakasov 2618 2627 FR 4
14 IM Gergely Antal 2486 2494 HUN 4
15 IM Mackenzie Molner 2416 2433 NJ 4
16 FM Darwin Yang 2304 2344 TX 4
17 IM Joseph M Bradford 2476 2453 TX 3½
18 FM Florin Felecan 2409 2415 IL 3½
19 IM Angelo Young 2367 2366 IL 3½
20 GM Anatoly Y Lein 2359 2341 OH 3½
21 IM Oladapo O Adu 2344 2329 MD 3½
22 WIM Alisa Melekhina 2322 2323 PA 3½/7
23 FM Ali Morshedi 2294 2297 CA 3½
24 Seth Homa 2284 2294 MI 3½
25 Steven A Owen 2082 2116 TN 3½
26 GM Timur Gareev 2626 2627 TX 3
27 GM Eugene Perelshteyn 2599 2586 MA 3
28 IM Bryan G Smith 2550 2539 PA 3
29 GM Gildardo J Garcia 2483 2462 FL 3
30 Aung K Lwin 2313 2302 MA 3
31 Conrad Holt 2294 2296 KS 3
32 Robert O’Donnell 2153 2155 MI 3
33 Eric S Rosen 2133 2136 IL 3
34 GM Dmitry Gurevich 2557 2537 IL 2½
35 FM Michael Dougherty 2268 2252 ON 2½
36 Frankie Swindell II 1886 1893 IL 2½
37 GM Vladimir Georgiev 2585 2579 IL 2
38 GM Nikola Mitkov 2564 2557 IL 2
39 Brian Fiedler 2236 2227 ONT 2
40 Allen J Becker 2014 2013 WI 2 (Allen plays at Southwest Chess Club, my adopted chess club)
41 Luke Hellwig 2000 1995 AL 2
42 Jeremy M Madison 1922 1937 IA 2
43 Nolan Hendrickson 1882 1877 WI 2
44 Henry C Sobo 2019 1999 CT 1½
45 GM Zviad Izoria 2668 2653 GEO 1
46 Kenneth Odeh 1906 1904 CA 1
47 GM Mesgen Amanov 2394 2378 IL ½
48 Mark Jutovsky 1934 1933 IL ½
49 Matthew Pullin 2032 2023 IL 0
50 Rudy R Padilla 1593 1590 IL 0

10-Year Old Wins School Chess Championship

From the May 27-June 2, 2009 edition of Frost Illustrated (Fort Wayne, Indiana). (No exact date is given for the chamionship). Fairfield Chess Championship Montserrat Amieva (center), a 10- year-old fourth grader at Fairfield Elementary School, displays the trophy she recently won as the school’s chess champion. Pictured with her (from left) are Fairfield Chess Club coach Robert Wafford, Jeff Thomas, school interventionist, and Mary Marks, physical education instructor, who organized the after school club. In addition to winning the school chess championship title, Amieva was victorious in a recent demonstration match against last year’s champ who is now a middle student. Amieva is the daughter of Santos Amieva and Gabriela Ramos. (Photo by Michael F. Patterson)

New York: Some Street Scenes

One of the things I love about Manhattan is that, wherever, I turned, there was one fabulous building after another and one fabulous street scene after another. The juxtaposition of so many different types of architecture is a never-ending source of delight. Too, the city is filled with never-ending streams of people, taxis, private cars, delivery vans and trucks, buses, and lots of noise. The energy is contagious - but wearing. Columbus Circle is one of my favorite spots, for it's lovely, cooling fountains, lots of benches and places where people can sit, and the grand panorama that only a circle can provide in this grand city. I took TONS of photos, thank goddess for digital cameras! Some didn't turn out, unfortunately, either because the image was blurred or I wasn't happy with how the subject of the photo was framed. Among the four of us (Michelle, Isis, dondelion and I), I downloaded 907 photographs from our memory cards the afternoon before dondelion and I left! I've been going through the downloaded images and deleting duplicates, not so good shots and rotating and cleaning up others (mostly lightening them). Anyway, here are some shots I took the night dondelion and I arrived (May 12, 2009). We checked into the hotel and went out almost immediately! We walked and walked. I took these photos from Columbus Circle, which is just a couple of blocks up 7th Avenue from the Wellington, where we stayed. I'm very proud of these photos. Unfortunately, none of the photos that I took of the golden statue that sits at one corner of Central Park turned out - and I deleted all of them. The photo included here was taken by dondelion at the same time I was busy snapping away in my failed attempts! He takes forever to take a photo, he still acts as if he's snapping on a film camera and therefore each photo is precious! He drives me crazy because he just won't TAKE THE PICTURE, TAKE THE PICTURE (Audrey Hepburn to Fred Astaire, "Funny Face"). He's lost countless great photos of the three Goddesschess goddesses, for instance, by dinking around. But he did good on this photo - far better than any of my blurred and off-centered attempts!

Updates, We've Got Updates!

Long overdue updates for the month of May, 2009 made at Chess Femme News (go to Goddesschess and click on the link for Chess Femme News in the left hand navigation bar). I'm now working on April. Mr. Don has also put together a new Random Round-up now that he's back in the saddle in Montreal. RR can be found at Goddesschess in the right hand column. This week he presents an interesting mix. Teeth of the God, anyone? Q: What did the backgammon player say to the crocodile? A: My, what big teeth you have. Q: What did the crocodile say to the backgammon player? A: Crunch crunch, thanks for being lunch. Okay - so I'm lame.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Southwest Chess Club: Upcoming Events

June action at the Southwest Chess Club (of Hales Corners): Heatwave Action II: June 4 3-Round Swiss in Two Sections (G/30 Minutes and G/29 Minutes). USCF Rated. EF: $5 members, $7 others. (½ Point Bye available for only first round if requested prior to round) TD is Becker; ATD is Grochowski. Sizzling Summer Cook-off Swiss: June 11, 18 & 25 3-Round Swiss in Two Sections. (Open and Under 1600) Game/100 minutes. USCF Rated. EF: $5 members, $7 others. (One ½ Point Bye Available for any round (except round four) if requested at least 2-days prior to round). TD is Fogec; ATD is Grochowski. The Club meets meets every Thursday night from 6:00 PM at the St. James Catholic Church in the lower level of the Parish Center building (immediately in front of the church). The address is 7219 South 27th Street in Franklin. The club opens at 6 PM, Tournament Games at 7 PM. Here is a map to the club. We are just south of Rawson on 27th, and close to I-94 in Franklin. For further information, contact: Allen Becker: (414) 423-0206 (cell 414-807-0269) Email Allen Tom Fogec: (414) 425-6742 Email Tom Robin Grochowski (414) 744-4872 Email Robin Sheldon Gelbart (414) 529-5931 Email Sheldon

In Men's Clothes: Union Soldier Was a Woman

Story from National Public Radion In Civil War, Woman Fought Like A Man For Freedom by Linda Paul May 24, 2009 · Albert D.J. Cashier was the shortest soldier in the 95th Illinois Infantry. In one of the few existing photographs of Cashier during the Civil War, you can faintly detect the outline of breasts under his uniform. But that's if you're looking for it. And the military apparently was not. "They didn't conduct physical exams in those days, the way the military does now," says Rodney Davis, a retired professor of history at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill. "What they were looking for was warm bodies." Jennie Hodgers, masquerading as Cashier, marched thousands of miles during the war. She was at the Siege of Vicksburg and the surrender of Mobile. Her regiment took part in more than 40 skirmishes and battles. "Albert Cashier seems to have been in [the war] from the beginning to the end," Davis says. "She stuck it out." Davis' own great-grandfather was Cashier's commanding officer and one of several former comrades who rallied to Hodgers' defense when officials considered taking away her veteran's pension for identity fraud. To her fellow soldiers, Davis says, her status as a Union Army veteran trumped her identity as a woman. "She demonstrated that she was as good as they were," Davis says. "She was as brave as they were, as effective a soldier. For her to be a woman was obviously worthy of remark, but it's not anything that seems to have made them turn away from her." Why Live As A Man? After her secret was discovered, Hodgers told different stories to different people about why she had chosen to live as a man. She reportedly told one newspaper that lots of people had enlisted under fake names, and she did, too. "The country needed men, and I wanted excitement," she said. But to get another idea of why Hodgers may have subjected herself to the rigors of war, it helps to know a little about the U.S. job market in 1861. "A private in the Union Army made $13 a month, which was easily double what a woman would make as a laundress or a seamstress or even a maid," says Deanne Blanton, co-author of They Fought Like Demons: Women Soldiers in the Civil War. Blanton has documented hundreds of cases of women who masqueraded as men during the war. She says many joined for both patriotic and economic reasons. "But once they were in the pants and earning more money and spending their money," Blanton says, "they seemed to greatly enjoy the freedom that came with being perceived as a man." At the time of the Civil War, women couldn't vote. They mostly depended on men to survive. In return, they were supposed to devote their time and talents entirely to husbands, children and their extended families. That was the Victorian ideal. That ideal was mostly aimed at middle- and upper-class women. Blanton says they're not the ones who went off to war. "The women who went to war," she says, "who disguised themselves as men and carried a gun, were overwhelmingly working-class women, immigrant women, poor women, urban women and yeoman farm girls." Hodgers was an immigrant from Clogherhead, Ireland, who couldn't read or write. At the end of the war, she had to make some tough decisions about her identity. If she continued as Albert Cashier, it was more likely she would find work, keep the friends she had made during the war and be part of a respected community of Civil War veterans. "She can have a bank account. She can vote in elections -– and she did, by the way," Blanton says. "Or, if she goes back and puts on a dress and tells everyone that she's Jennie, she has just lost her entire life." Hodgers decided to continue her life as a man. A few years after the war, Cashier made his way to Saunemin, Ill. He worked many jobs, including a stint as a farmhand and the town lamplighter. He ended up living in a little house that is now sitting in pieces in a desolate storage building. Town Reluctantly Celebrates Veteran Saunemin is a pretty sleepy place: just a grain elevator, a few other businesses and The Tap — the only restaurant and bar along the main strip. Jim Schulz lives on a farm outside of Saunemin. He and his wife, Dina, have heard the talk around town. Dina says some residents believe that embracing the story of Jennie Hodgers will help bring tourists to town. "Other people, I think, frankly, would rather everybody not know we had a cross-dresser in Saunemin," she says. "I wouldn't like to think that that's what puts us on the map," Jim Schulz says, "but maybe it is." "The town was not especially proud of Cashier," says Cheryl O'Donnell, a church secretary and Cashier proponent. Since the 1960s, a handful of locals have been trying to save Cashier's house. Over the years, the house has been moved at least eight times. For a while, it was next to the Saunemin fire station. O'Donnell says the fire department used to joke about the house. "They said, 'We're gonna burn it for a practice drill,'" she says. "They thought that was funny." The house was saved thanks to Betty Estes, the tourism director of a town just down the road. She began bringing busloads of people over to Saunemin to view Cashier's grave. The city board of Saunemin seemed to take notice, and now there are big plans to finally reconstruct the old house and put it close to the spot where Cashier used to live. If things go according to plan, Hodgers' secret will soon be exposed to a larger audience. Visitors will be able to come to her grave site — and to her old house — to hear all about her remarkable and complicated life. This piece was produced by Linda Paul with help from Jay Allison and the public radio Web site

Workshop on the Bamboo Annals

Stanford Report, May 20, 2009 Real or forgery? Scholars gather at Stanford to debate origin of ancient Chinese text BY EMMANUEL ROMERO Scholars from China, the United States and Canada will soon converge on Stanford's East Asia Library to dissect the mysteries surrounding an ancient Chinese text. "Workshop on the Riddle of an Ancient Chinese Book Zhushu Jinian (the Bamboo Annals): Texts and Chronologies Therein," will bring together experts to carry on a debate that has raged since the late 1700s: Have scholars found a genuine copy of the millennia-old Bamboo Annals, or is it a more recent forgery, as evidenced by what some scholars believe to be anachronistic writing styles? The workshop will be held May 23-24 and marks the first scholarly gathering to debate the Bamboo Annals. "Many participants knew each other's articles and publications before, but they never met," said Dongfang Shao, director of the East Asia Library. "This is a good East and West scholarship exchange." The Bamboo Annals is a historical chronicle of the history of ancient China, spanning ca. 2400 to 299 BCE, Shao and Professor Emeritus David S. Nivison write in their forthcoming book, The Bamboo Annals: A New Study and Translation. This history encompasses the era from the perhaps mythical Huang Di to the second king of Wei, in the "Warring States" era. In the Western Jin Dynasty (CE 265-316), a peasant unearthed the book from a six-centuries-old king's tomb. The original book soon disappeared; however, a growing number of scholars claim that copies of it survived, and that the text we now have is authentic, said Nivison, who is co-organizing the workshop with Shao. As a chronicle, the Bamboo Annals has been used in combination with other ancient Chinese texts to paint a picture of China's history, said Yiqun Zhou, a workshop participant and assistant professor of Eastern Asian Languages and Cultures. Scholars have used dates and events from the book to amend information from other texts. The upcoming workshop focuses on a two-chapter sixteenth century text of the book. Participants hail from places such as the National Library of China and Montreal's McGill University. According to the workshop agenda, scholars will examine the Bamboo Annals' chronology and content, and the transmission history that shaped the book into what it is today. The workshop's participants come from various backgrounds and will create an interdisciplinary approach to the debate, Shao said. Participants will bring knowledge from history, archeology, and astronomy. The workshop is partly driven by the principle that it is important to have scholars of varying disciplines working together rather than individually, Shao said. The East Asia Library is located on the fourth floor of the Meyer Library at 560 Escondido Mall. The workshop, to be held May 23 and 24 from 9 am to 4 pm, is free and open to Stanford faculty, students, staff, and visiting scholars. Those wishing to attend must RSVP by 5 p.m. Friday, May 22. Contact Qiu Qi (650-724-7761,, or Dongfang Shao (650-724-1928, Emmanuel Romero is an intern at the Stanford News Service. - 30 -

Treasure Trove - With a Twist

Gardener digs up ancient fortune May 22 2009 at 10:07AM London -- A Herefordshire gardener keeps digging up valuable antiques from under her lawn, flower beds and vegetable patch. Since moving into a 15th century farmhouse six years ago, Jan Long has dug up hundreds of valuables, said reports. Her haul includes a diamond ring, solid gold Victorian watch, Edwardian chainmail bag, brooches, medals and coins - and even an ancient plough. Long, 57, first hit a stash of hundreds of Victorian bottles at her home.Auctioneers Biddell and Webb, of Birmingham, say the diamond ring and watch alone could be worth several hundred pounds each. But Long said: "The monetary value is not that important to me. It is more the tales which can be woven around each item that I find fascinating. For example, did a jilted lover throw away her engagement ring?" - This article was originally published on page 3 of Cape Times on May 22, 2009
Hmmmm, well, I'm inclined to think that a stash of valuables (family heirlooms perhaps?) was buried at some point during the past of this house, and whoever buried it was never able to come back and claim it. Without having a date on the plow (plough), I'd hardly say that was was reported as recovered is "ancient!" Would descendants of the family who once owned the property have a possible claim to recover the recovered items???

Calatagan Pot Inscription Finally Translated?

(Image: Calatagan pot) This is a fascinating story. The artifact in question is dated to between the 14th and 16th centuries (700 to 500 years ago) - not that old in terms of archaeology. But for years no one had any luck trying to render the inscription into a comprehensible message in modern language. How quickly the old languages seemingly passed into oblivion once Spanish took hold in the Philippines. Inquirer Visayas The mystery of the ancient inscription By Rolando O. Borrinaga First Posted 02:11:00 05/23/2009 Filed Under: history AFTER 50 years of enigma, the text inscribed around the shoulder of the Calatagan Pot, the country’s oldest cultural artifact with pre-Hispanic writing, may have been deciphered as written in the old Bisayan language. Diggers discovered the pot in an archeological site in Calatagan, Batangas, in 1958. They sold it for P6 to a certain Alfredo Evangelista. Later, the Anthropological Foundation of the Philippines purchased the find and donated it in 1961 to the National Museum, where it is displayed to this day. The pot, measuring 12 centimeters high and 20.2 cm at its widest and weighing 872 grams, is considered one of the Philippines’ most valuable cultural and anthropological artifacts. It has been dated back to the 14th and 16th centuries. The inscription puzzle Sometime in the early 1960s, the National Museum sought help from sculptor Guillermo Tolentino, the National Artist who produced the University of the Philippines (UP) Oblation, in deciphering the inscription on the pot. He was known for his fascination with the ancient Tagalog “baybayin” (alphabet). However, Tolentino’s output was set aside on scientific grounds. It was allegedly achieved through seance—he supposedly invoked the spirit of the ancient pot maker and asked him for the meaning of the inscription. According to Tolentino’s translation, the pot was an offering of a son or daughter to a dead mother. Through the decades, other scholars had tried to decipher the inscription. Among them were Juan Francisco, Jean-Paul Potet, Antoon Postma, Harold Conklin and Johannes de Casparis, known experts in the field of paleography. But no one was able to produce a transliteration, whether complete or partial. Only Francisco (in 1973) and Potet (in 1983) had come up with more or less complete symbol equivalence. But they failed to determine the actual language. Previous attempts at transcription faced three seemingly insurmountable problems: -- Equivalents of many symbols are unknown. --Language used is unknown, although the possibility of Tagalog or Mangyan had been proposed. --Even if the symbols are successfully identified, it is difficult to determine the start and end of words, as well as the final consonants of certain words. Recent attempts Early this year, Prof. Ramon G. Guillermo of UP Diliman published results of his attempt in a paper titled “Ina Bisa Kata: An Experimental Decipherment of the Calatagan Pot Inscription,” which has been posted in the Internet. He said he used paleography, cryptography and “brute force” to crack the code and decipher the symbols around the mouth of the pot. He approached his task by transcribing in clockwise direction starting from the character at the break of the circle of symbols, similar to what Francisco and Potet had done. In March, Guillermo released the following translation of the text: Sinikap sabihin ni ina / Para sa iyo mahal kong anak / Kumain ka sa aking dulang / Dibdib ko ’tong mabango / Doon ika’y mabasa / Tulad ng bulaklak His version carries a mother’s endearing message to her beloved child, the opposite of Tolentino’s interpretation. But although the methods that Guillermo used were deemed scientific and technical enough in academic circles, and his output was declared “most definitive” in an Internet feature story, some sectors have lingering doubts about the final revelation. These doubts prodded me to contribute my effort to resolve the issue. Rest of article.

Unique Bowl Recovered from Roman Era Burial

Story from the Unique Roman glass bowl found in east London grave Maev Kennedy The Guardian, Thursday 30 April 2009 It was only when the archaeologists lifted the bowl delicately from the grave and the light shone right through - before it disintegrated into a mass of brilliantly coloured fragments - that they realised they had something extraordinary: a glorious Roman glass bowl, probably made in Alexandria almost 2,000 years ago, whose travels ended in a pit in east London. The find is unique in the western Roman empire. All glass was precious in the ancient world, but Jenny Hall, early London curator at the Museum of London, said the bowl would have been fabulously expensive when made by the millefiori - thousand flowers - technique. Tiny brilliantly coloured glass rods were fused together, then sliced across like Brighton rock and fused again to form the vessel. Older but much smaller bowls have been found, but nothing comparable to this soup plate-sized discovery, believed to date from the 3rd century AD. The Corning Museum of Glass in New York, the world's largest collection, has just a few fragments of a comparable bowl. Liz Goodman, one of the most experienced conservators at the Museum of London, spent weeks cleaning the fragments and piecing them together with transparent adhesive which should last another century. The bowl was kept wet as found, while she worked on it. On her last few days she gently allowed it to dry out - and watched sadly as the brilliant red and bright blue faded because the outer surface had corroded in the soil. It was found towards the end of a three-month excavation of a site at Prescot Street in Aldgate, part of the great cemetery on the eastern outskirts of the Roman city, only a fraction of which has been excavated: the 3,000 square metre patch was one of the largest recent stretches uncovered. It was held fractured but upright and complete by the pressure of the sodden soil around it. The site was flattened in the Blitz and then spent decades as a surface car park, preserving the archaeology. The bowl is believed to have been placed on a wooden box holding the cremated remains. Only the metal fittings of the box survived, surrounded by other pottery and glass vessels rare enough to be an exciting find even without the bowl. "When we found it it was so unusual we really didn't know what we'd got - I thought first it might be the edge of a piece of enamelled metal," Guy Hunt, director of LP Archaeology, said. "It was only as we lifted it clear from the soil and the light shone right through it that we knew. Then it fell to pieces, which was a bit of a bad moment." The bowl has been given to the Museum of London, and is on display at its Museum in Docklands branch.
Is there a reason why the bowl cannot be kept wet somehow, so that the brilliant colors of the glass will once again shine through? Perhaps it is not technologically possible, and I suppose it would not be acceptable to coat the bowl with some kind of substance that would mimic the shine that water would give to the surface of the glass. Oy! I can just imagine the feelings of the person holding the bowl right after it came out of the ground, intact, and then disintegrated in front of his horrified eyes!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

He Did It - She Hangs for It

Oh my! Article from The New York Times The Early Days of Toxicology: Poisonous Powder By ELIZABETH SVOBODA Published: May 11, 2009 Life seemed to be coasting along smoothly for Mary Blandy. The daughter of Francis Blandy, a well-known lawyer in Oxfordshire, England, Mary was all grown up by the mid-1740s and preparing to marry the love of her life, Capt. William Henry Cranstoun, who was descended from Scottish nobility. But the relationship hit a snag when Mary’s father discovered that Cranstoun had concealed his marriage to a Scottish woman named Anne Murray. Intent on securing the £10,000 dowry that Francis Blandy had advertised to any man who married Mary, Cranstoun decided to take matters into his own hands — or, more accurately, to entrust them to his lover. “He sent Mary arsenic powder, which he said was a ‘love philter’ that would make her father more likely to like him as a suitor,” said Allan Jamieson, director of the Forensic Institute, based in Scotland. “She mixed this with her father’s food.” (It is unclear whether Mary realized at first that the substance was poison, but she later tried to hide evidence of her tampering.) It wasn’t long before the “love philter” began to have the anticipated effect. The powder Mary stirred into her father’s tea and gruel every day made him so ill that he would stay up all night with vomiting and stomach pain. In August 1751, he died. Anthony Addington, the doctor who had treated Francis Blandy, suspected arsenic was the substance that had felled him and conducted a series of physical tests to prove his point. When he put a sample of the powder Mary had given her father into cold water, for instance, part of it remained on the water’s surface, but most of it stayed on the bottom undissolved — the same thing that happened with a known sample of arsenic. Additionally, when Addington tossed the powder onto a red-hot piece of iron, it did not burn, but sublimated, rising up in garlic-smelling white clouds just as arsenic did. Addington argued at trial that these results proved Mary’s powder was, in fact, arsenic. “Nowadays, we would call this type of testing presumptive,” Dr. Jamieson said. “That is, the substance could be the material in question, but the tests are not definitive.” Nevertheless, the court agreed with Addington’s explanation — the first time any court had accepted toxicological evidence in an arsenic-poisoning case — and Mary was sentenced to death for her father’s murder and hanged on April 6, 1752. Cranstoun escaped before he could stand trial, but he died later that year.

A Woman's World

A series by The Washington Post: The Struggle for Equality from Around the World Here are just a few of the stories: In Togo, a 10-Year-Old's Muted Cry: 'I Couldn't Take Any More' As the Global Trade in Domestic Workers Surges, Millions of Young Girls Face Exploitation and Abuse By Kevin Sullivan. Washington Post Foreign Service Friday, December 26, 2008; Page A01 'This Is the Destiny of Girls' Across Much of South Asia, a Daughter's Life Is Circumscribed By Tradition and Poverty. But for Some, the Dreams Die Slower. By Mary Jordan Saturday, December 13, 2008; Page A01

Ancient Agriculture: The Migration of Millet

Here is an interesting article that says millet actually spread from ancient China to eastern Europe some 9,000 years ago. China's millet spread to Europe 7,000 years ago 13:37, May 14, 2009 Millet was brought into Europe from China more than 7,000 years ago, archaeologists from the University of Cambridge in the UK stated in a thesis published by US journal "Science" on May 8. The report, entitled "Origins of Agriculture in East Asia," was coauthored by Martin Jones, a professor of archaeology at the University of Cambridge and his Chinese student Liu Xinyi. The study said that charred millet seeds found in the Neolithic farming remains in Northeast China indicated that locals had planted millet as early as 8,000 years ago. Millet was gradually introduced to Europe during the next millennium. This research result shows that millet crops were first cultivated in China before being introduced to the West. By People's Daily Online
I think we still don't know a great deal about the rise of agriculture and/or how it spread. I do not think that we can discount China as a source for such things as the brewing of beers and the invention of wine. I believe that not enough attention has been paid to a very old trade coridor that linked parts of northwest China around the Tarim Basin to civilizations further west. Whisps of evidence exist that attest to a very old linkage, possibly as old as late-Naqada/Dynasty I Egypt. Unfortunately, money is tighter than ever when it comes to archaeological explorations of areas other than certain popular hot spots and/or hot topics (like the so-called tomb of Cleopatra and Marc Antony, oh please). Sigh.

China's "First Emperor" Banned Buddhism

Article from China View : China Exclusive: China's "first emperor" banned Buddhism, expert says 2009-05-11 19:00:38 XI'AN, May 11 (Xinhua) -- The first emperor of a united China could go down in history not only for the Great Wall or the terra cotta army of guards and horses, but also for his attempt to crush Buddhism that had apparently become prevalent in his days, according to a researcher on Monday. "China's first and most influential history book, the Historical Records, stated clearly that Emperor Qin Shihuang (259 BC-210 BC) strictly banned Buddhism and Buddhist temples," said Han Wei, a noted researcher with Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archeology. According to the Historical Records, the ban went alongside the emperor's major military strategies including the deportation of the invading Huns, and applied far beyond the ancient capital Xianyang in today's Xi'an to cover the whole country. Though the book, written between 104 B.C. to 91 B.C., provided no evidence of temples destroyed or monks exiled, Han said he believed the ban had been very effective. "Buddhism never appeared again in historical documents until 2 B.C.," Han said. Emperor Qin Shihuang's ban on Buddhism indicated the religion was already popular in China's interior regions in his reign, said Han, whose thesis on the subject was published Friday in Xi'an. Han recommended that textbooks be changed to reflect his discovery. Historians generally believed Buddhism was introduced into China around 67 A.D. in Han Dynasty that succeeded Qin. But Han held it must have spread to China from today's Xinjiang Ugyur Autonomous Region and central Asian countries, along the ancient Silk Road, more than two centuries earlier. Noted Silk Road archaeologist Wang Jianxin said Han's research finding, based on linguistic, historical as well as archeological studies, sounded "reasonable". "Another scholar raised the same hypothesis in the early 1900s,but couldn't provide sufficient evidence." Wang said. Han was one of the experts who helped locate and excavate a finger bone believed to belong to Sakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism. The sarira, or Buddhist relic, had been kept in the underground sanctum of Famen Temple in the suburbs of Xi'an since 874 before it was taken out in 1987. Editor: Chris
"China's first and most influential history book, the Historical Records, stated clearly that Emperor Qin Shihuang (259 BC-210 BC) strictly banned Buddhism and Buddhist temples," said Han Wei, a noted researcher with Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archeology. Er, well, guess that goes to show the extent of my lack of education about the spread of Buddhism into China. I thought it had long since spread into the entire area now known as China long before the "First Emperor" (of the so-called united China) took power. That Emperor Qin Shihuang thought the threat of Buddhism was so grave that he banned the practice of its tenets in his empire would seem to demonstrate that it was already well established in China by the time he seized control. Otherwise, why bother banning it?

Hatshepsut: The Uppity Woman

Way to go Judith! No - not chess icon GM Judit Polgar but archaeologist Judith Weingarten, who hosts the fantastic blog Zenobia: Empress of the East. JW's website showed up in Explorator Edition 12.04 for this post on a giant but unfinished obelisk commissioned by the "uppity woman" Pharaoh Hatshepsut. Fantastic photos! Mr. Don and I took these photos of Hatshepsut artifacts while visiting the Met and the Brooklyn Museum: (1) Taken by dondelion at the Met, May 13, 2009 - a collection of Hatshepsut artifacts. (2) Taken by Jan at the Brooklyn Museum, May 17, 2009. Photo (3) below is the identifying tag to the exhibit. Originally the archaeologists hedged on the identity of this sculpture, but recent research has led experts to conclude that it is, indeed, an image of Hatshepsut and not her step-son Thutmose III.

U.S. Chess Federation Executive Board Election

I have received my June, 2009 edition of Chess Life magazine that contains the ballot for this year's Excutive Board election (it's contained on a white outer wrap that can be filled out, folded, taped and mailed to the auditing firm that will count the ballots). Four (4) seats are up for election this year, and eleven (11) candidates are running for those seats. This is an important election; the new EB members may determine in which direction the USCF will go for the next four years (all seats in this election are elected for four year terms). After some digging around at Chess Life Online, I was able to locate online archives of the 2009 magazines (link is to April, 2009). Unfortunately, I've had no success locating candidates' statements for April and May, despite what the June print edition of Chess Life says that such statements can be located in the April and May archives (for the web version) or go to "Downloadable Files" to download the .pdf versions of the print magazine. Couldn't find "Downloadable Files" either. Maybe I'm blind - I couldn't find them. Chess Life, can't you make this important information easier to locate and access online?? Since I subscribe to Chess Life magazine, I have the prior issues with the candidates' statements. Anyway, I urge all members of USCF who can vote to do so, the sooner the better. According to my print ballot, all members of USCF who will be 16 years of age or older by June 30th may vote in this election. If you're not happy with the candidates on the list, you can write in your own candidates, as long as they are current USCF members and you supply the person's name and USCF ID number. You vote for a candidate (write-in or otherwise) by checking the box next to his or her name. The four candidates who receive the most votes will win the seats on the EB. Any ballot that has more than four boxes checked will be void - so be careful when you vote! All ballots must be received by the auditing office (Taylor, Bilyeu & Company, in Crossville, Tennessee) NO LATER THAN 3PM TUESDAY JULY 21, 2009. After a great deal of thought, I'm voting for Eric Hecht, Blas Lugo, Mikhail Korenman, and Ruth Haring. Just my two cents worth.

Chess Collectors International

CCI completes its Sixth Western Hemisphere meeting today: SIXTH WESTERN HEMISPHERE CCI MEETING Friday, May 22 to Sunday, May 24, 2009 PRINCETON, NEW JERSEY Susan Polgar has several photos from the CCI meeting at her blog. Next up, a meeting in Germany: German Chess Collector's Meeting from June 19th to 21st, 2009 in Naumburg, Germany
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...