Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Tale of the Goddess Durga

Carvings tell story of ancient female solidarity Retno K. Djojo, Contributor, East Java Fri, 06/26/2009 1:08 PM Lifestyle Whatever the era or situation, women's issues have always cropped up, and the relief panels at Candi Tegowangi, in Pare, Kediri, are testimony that in East Java also, issues concerning the fate of woman were not swept under the carpet. Instead, they are made overt, portrayed on the temple's walls for subsequent generations to learn from the past and prevent problems from recurring. The beautifully sculpted relief panels at Tegowangi also show that female solidarity in defending their cause was a force to be reckoned with. It was someone no less than Prince Sadewa, one of the Pandawa brothers in the Mahabharata Hindu epic, who had a rude awakening to the presence of female solidarity when he was literally dragged by his mother, Goddess Kunti, to address the case of Goddess Durga. Though initially reluctant on being taken to face the hideous Goddess Durga and her ogress-like handmaids, Sadewa willingly conducted a purification rite. The relief panels show Sadewa sitting cross-legged and in deep meditation to undo the wicked spell cast upon Durga and her handmaids by Lord Shiva. Shiva, Durga's husband, had cast the spell on his wife in a fit of anger, rendering the beauty into something hideous. Realizing his mistake, he decreed that the spell could be undone with the help of Sadewa. The purification rite instantly restored beauty to Durga and her companions. Durga's honor was restored, and she became known in a new role as benevolent Goddess Uma. As token of gratitude she awarded Sadewa the title of Sudamala, which means "savior". The relief panels at Tegowangi, which date back to the Majapahit era, display exquisitely fine workmanship. Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, who mentioned the existence of this ancient temple in his journal The History of Java, admired the rich decorations on the temple's walls and staircase. The pillars and panels are adorned with sculptures in a great variety of forms, demonstrating the artisans' creativity. Entirely constructed of andesite, the temple, measuring 11.2 meters on each side with a height of 4.35 meters, was built as a repository shrine for an important dignitary of the Majapahit kingdom, Bhre Matahun, who died in 1388. But work on the temple's wall could not be completed, so a large portion on the temple's wall behind the 13th panel has been left blank. It should have contained the purging of wicked infiltrators into the Pandawa camp through the joint efforts of Goddess Uma and Sadewa. The temple staircase and parts of its platform, which functioned as a place for worship, have suffered severe damage, but visitors can still enjoy the excellent workmanship of those ancient artisans. Visitors to the temple should not waste the opportunity to view a smaller temple located just a stone's throw away from the main temple and enjoy another series of fine workmanship on the temple walls. The smaller temple, Candi Pariwara, measuring 4.34 meters on each side, has relief panels with animal figures, placed in rectangular, diamond or circular frames. The temple's staircase is guarded by ornate statues, including a lion figure.

The Earliest Wheeled Vehicles

Men and their toys! When I was in high school the guys who attracted the girls had muscle cars, 450 hp eight (or more) cylinder Roadrunners, etc., with jazzy racing stripes :) Those days are long gone, but men have always liked their wheeled toys. Here, for instance, is a specimen (in miniature) from the 2nd half of the 3rd millenium BCE; if I'm doing my math right, that is about 2500-2000 BCE. If that is a "nostril" I'm seeing, than this is probably a camel - otherwise, my first impression was "possibly a horse." My question is - why isn't it out in front of the cart instead of looking like a "camel figurehead" (like on a ship) built into the cart? It was obviously not meant to be a real-life representation of a camel-pulled cart. The camel has no legs, for one thing, and there are no reins showing. It seems it was not meant to represent reality. On the other hand, I could easily imagine this model as a very early rook (the old war chariot chess piece used by the Persians). (Image: Lyubov Kircho, Early Wheels: This model dates to near the second part of the 3rd millennium B.C. and shows one of the first known carts. The model is now in St. Petersburg's State Hermitage museum.) The title of the article below is a bit misleading, because nowhere in the body of the article does it mention when this particular model was discovered and excavated; instead, it mentions "a new analysis." That seems to be a tip-off that this particular artifact (and others) have been known for some time. Models of Earliest (Camel-Pulled) Vehicles Found Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News June 26, 2009 -- Some of the world's first farmers may have sped around in two-wheeled carts pulled by camels and bulls, suggests a new analysis on tiny models of these carts that date to 6,000-5,000 years ago. The cart models, which may have been ritual objects or children's toys, were found at Altyndepe, a Chalcolithic and Bronze Age settlement in Western Central Asia near Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. Together with other finds, the cart models provide a history of how wheeled transportation first emerged in the area and later developed. "Horsepower" is a common term today, but the ancients had bull-power, followed by camel-power, researcher Lyubov Kircho explained to Discovery News. "I think that the carts pulled by bulls were mostly used in agriculture in the 4th millennium, when the climate was more humid," said Kircho, who is at the Institute for the History of Material Culture at the Russian Academy of Sciences. His study, published in Russian, appears in the journal Archaeology, Ethnology and Anthropology of Eurasia. An English version has been accepted for publication in the Proceedings of the 19th International Conference of the European Association of South Asian Archaeologists.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday Night Miscellany

Hola Darlings! The weather has turned somewhat more humane today, thank Goddess! The dew point has dropped from 70 to 58 and so I am able to breathe normally again. It's summer and hot, but bearable and, more importantly, I don't risk a weather-induced asthma attack by just walking to and from the bus stop! Tomorrow there is supposed to be a breeze, too, with the high temperature at only 81F, so I can get all of my yard work done. Tonight has a theme: Horrors of Mother Nature EEK EEK EEK!
  • I'm starting out this Friday night's edition of the Miscellany with an incredible paranoid fantasy. I laughed so hard while reading it I nearly peed my pants! Well, okay, I did - but just a little bit...
  • This is from I haven't seen this site before (paranoid fantasies are not my thing) but I'm sure there must be a kazillion of them out there right now, probably multiplying like rabbits since - GASP! - a Black African Radical Islamist Nazi who is not even a US citizen and was born to a Commie whore mother is now President of the US of A. GASP! And his wife is a Zombie. GASP! The dog, too. GASP GASP!! And the dog was a Voodoo Priest in a former life (everyone knows that, YAWN). I selected a few particularly juicy selections from the lengthy article for your reading enjoyment, darlings. Perhaps we should email Ms. Minton and ask her to show us past articles she has written about such monstrous conspiracies that have come true! GASP!

Journalist Files Charges against WHO and UN for Bioterrorism and Intent to Commit Mass Murder Barbara Minton Natural News June 25, 2009 Using the “swine flu” as a pretext, the defendants [President Obama, numerous appointees, bankers, two pharmaceutical companies, and a host of others] have preplanned the mass murder of the U.S. population by means of forced vaccination. They have installed an extensive network of FEMA concentration camps and identified mass grave sites, and they have been involved in devising and implementing a scheme to hand power over the U.S. to an international crime syndicate that uses the UN and WHO as a front for illegal racketeering influenced organized crime activities, in violation of the laws that govern treason. . . .pharmaceutical companies consisting of Baxter, Novartis and Sanofi Aventis are part of a foreign-based dual purpose bioweapons program, financed by this international criminal syndicate and designed to implement mass murder to reduce the world’s population by more than 5 billion people in the next ten years. Their plan is to spread terror to justify forcing people to give up their rights, and to force mass quarantine in FEMA camps. The houses, companies and farms and lands of those who are killed will be up for grabs by this syndicate. Okay - go ahead and wipe out 5 billion of us but please, start with the asshole Ayatollahs in Iran. Problem is, if the world's population is reduced to 1 billion from over 6 billion, none of that property, natural resources and land that this alleged international criminal syndicate is going to suck up at bargain prices (or for free) is going to be worth a flying fig for hundreds of years to come because there won't be any people around to CONSUME. Duh! No people to consume, no way to make wealth. Obviously none of these criminals who form this international syndicate have read "The Wealth of Nations." Geez, what is this world coming to when supposedly highly educated super-criminals intent on taking over the world haven't even read "The Wealth of Nations?" The other obvious "gotcha" is this - if one is going to play Almighty Goddess and destroy most of the population of the earth, one had better make sure that one has considered ALL contingencies before executing one's plan. The problem is that if humans are attempting to play Almighty Goddess, they do not have Almighty Goddess' powers to control everything and anything or, even with the aid of the most powerful computers, anticipate everything and plan accordingly. Unleashing a lethal virus among the population - ala "The Stand" (probably the best book Stephen King ever wrote) introduces the chance for random mutations to develop, and there will ALWAYS be some people who will NOT DIE LIKE THEY SHOULD. Uh oh. Mother Nature can be such an unruly bitch. There will also be some people who will not be vaccinated no matter what - like me. And just what does this international criminal syndicate expect people to do once they start dying because they've been vaccinated? People are not as stupid as governments (and international criminal syndicates) imagine. We are usually just busy doing other things - like, uh, living! Thing is, they cannot vaccinate the entire population of the USA in one day so that we all die at the same time. There are simply not enough people around to poke people with needles to insure this. Do you suppose the people who have not been vaccinated at that point won't be able to put 2 and 2 together and shoot to kill anyone who attempts to come near them with a needle as they see wave after wave of vaccinated people dying? Come on, dudes.

  • Nope - you can never anticipate what Mother Nature may or may not do. Here's an interesting example of how She acts in strange and uncanny ways - in ways that cannot be anticipated or even understood; even with a great deal of study we do not entirely understand how interrelated and complex is the system under which our Earth works. Check this out: Ozone hole has unforeseen effect on ocean carbon sink 12:54 26 June 2009 by Kate Ravilious

Yet more about the incredible possibilities (and potential horrors) that are lurking under Mother Nature's Terra Incognito. Here's a great teaser quote:

Research over the past two decades has shown that the energy trapped in ice within the permafrost and under the sea rivals that in all oil, coal and conventional gas fields, and could power the world for centuries to come. Imagine putting a match to an ice cube, and the damn thing bursts into flame... Ice on Fire: The next fossil fuel 24 June 2009 by Fred Pearce

  • And yet another good trick Mother Nature played on stupid Homo Sapiens Sapiens (we're supposed to be the Crowning Achievement of EVOLUTION? Geez!) when Hurricane Andrew blew through Florida and environs in 1992, shattering windows of pet shops that released Burmese pythons (and who knows what else?) into the local environment: "...counting pythons in the wild is a daunting task. Scientists don't have an accurate estimate of how many pythons are in Florida. "It's certainly in the thousands, or tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands," said Gibbons."

And now, they're coming to get us, us northerners, slithering their way north as sure as shooting... Burmese pythons slithering their way north? By ALYSIA PATTERSON – 2 days ago


Thursday, June 25, 2009

White Mares and Crop Circles

Epona is a Celtic horse goddess - a White Mare. A nice play of words could be made on Night Mare, and probably was, hmmm... Great Britain is known for the outlines of large white horses carved into underlying chalk deposits. Most of the horses aren't very old - at least, they cannot be classified as "ancient." There is one "white horse" that has drawn more than the usual attention by way of strang crop circle formations (for years). It's located near the Village of Alton Barnes in Wiltshire, England, on Milk Hill. This chalk horse outline is not ancient. It seems it was first created around the year 1812. Above is a photo of a current crop circle that appeared in a field lying below the Alton Barnes (or Milk Hill) white horse. The image is from Crop Circle and was reported just a few days ago, on June 21, 2009. The first day of Summer. The photo was taken by Lucy Pringle. In this depiction, Epona reminds of an older goddess, The Mistress of Beasts, a/k/a Astarte a/k/a Artemis. In those older renditions of the Goddess, she is sometimes depicted as a tree (Tree of Life) flanked on either side by rampant deer-like creatures or other wild life, sometimes depicted as a Goddess or woman with a crown flanked by rampant wild beasts. This image of Epona is from Wikipedia and dates to the 4th century CE from Greek Macedonia, and depicts the Goddess Epona flanked by two pairs of horses. The four knights on the chessboard???

This Little Thing is Worth - Ohmygoddess!

From the Mail Online The beep that made me leap: Housewife discovers £250,000 gold treasure after seven years of hunting with a metal detector By Dalya Alberge Last updated at 11:18 PM on 24th June 2009 (Image: (c) David Crump. Tiny: The 2.8cm by 2.3cm treasure) After seven years of combing fields and beaches with a metal detector, the only thing housewife Mary Hannaby had to show for her hobby was an old dental plate. But all those efforts paid off when her first proper find turned out to be a 15th-century gold treasure valued at £250,000 or more. The find is thought to be part of a high-quality reliquary or pendant, and depicts the Holy Trinity. Mrs Hannaby, 57, from Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, heard her metal detector's tell-tale beep while out on one of her regular six-hour Sunday detecting walks with her son, woodcarver Michael, 33. For 500 years, the treasure had lain buried four inches below the ground, despite repeated ploughing. The discovery is all the more astonishing as this was not the first time the Hannabys had scoured the arable field between Ashridge and Great Gaddesden. 'You get a buzz every time you get a signal, but chances are it won't be anything,' said Mrs Hannaby. 'This time, it popped up all of a sudden,' said her son. 'You can literally miss things by inches. We couldn't believe it. We always dreamed of finding treasure.' And the pair struck gold again when the landowner refused Mrs Hannaby's offer to split the money equally and said he wanted only 30 per cent, saying he would never have known about the treasure if not for her. Under the Treasure Act of 1996, finders must report potential treasure such as gold and silver objects more than 300 years old. Finders are offered the market value for their discoveries which museums have first option to buy. At 2.8cm by 2.3cm, the treasure is barely larger than a postage stamp, but its importance is exciting experts. Roger Bland, head of treasure at the British Museum, describes it as an 'important find', and regrets that the museum does not currently have the funds to buy it. Carolyn Miner, sculpture specialist at Sotheby's, was 'awestruck' when the Hannabys first showed the treasure to her and will auction it in London on July 9. As one of only three of its kind to have survived, the find could be worth even more than £250,000, and its engraving is being compared to that of the Middleham Jewel, which sold at auction for £1.3 million in 1986 and was later resold to the Yorkshire Museum for £2.5 million. Former pub kitchen worker Mrs Hannaby hopes the sale proceeds will pay off her mortgage.
Unbelievable that such a small piece could potentially be worth that much money. It doesn't appear to be even well done technically wise, compared, for instance, to some Scythian gold pieces I've seen that are a couple thousand years older. Ach!

Farrah Fawcett's Best Performance

Farrah Fawcett died today. I will always remember Farrah's performance in a made-for-tv movie I saw years ago. I couldn't remember the name of the movie or what year it was, but I found it at "The Substitute Wife." She played a worn-out prostitute who was recruited by a farmer in the 1880's or thereabouts, whose wife was dying. The wife had sent him out to find a replacement woman who would take over as his wife and mother to their several children once she had died. I thought it was the best thing Ms. Fawcett ever did. Nuanced, hard and vunerable at the same time, proud and humble, weary-wise and yearning for love, that finally came, when all thought and hope had long since vanished from her life. Two VHS videos of this movie are going for $146.99 while I'm writing this. I suppose more may come on the market now, and the price will go even higher. Like lots of other people back then, I watched "Charlie's Angels." I wasn't particularly a Farrah fan (no sex appeal for me!), but I liked Kate Jackson and I thought the most beautiful of the three original Angels is Jaclyn Smith. The three of them together were (to steal a phrase) DY-NO-MITE!

Shira Chess Challenge!

Hola! I still cannot believe that I am doing this. For details, please see "Shira Chess Challenge" at Chessville. I've already run into BIG problems. I am so frustrated, I feel like screaming at the top of my lungs (and drinking lots of wine). Of course that won't solve the issues. My volunteer trainer, Kelly Atkins, has sent me some stuff I'm supposed to use to study. Fine. I needed WinZip to download it. Fine. I had previously downloaded a trial version of WinZip to my laptop before Mr. Don and I left for New York in May. So I fired the laptop up tonight and turned on the program, and tried to download the files Kelly sent me. No go. Seems the trial program has expired. FINE. They wanted me to BUY the program to download the files. No frigging way! I email Kelly - I'm not going to BUY this program to open a few files. Kelly emails back you can download this and that for free. I hunt around on the internet and find that. I figure out how to download that to my computer. Fine. After I get this THING downloaded to my computer and showing on my desktop, I get an email from Kelly with a different thing attached. Here, he says, download this. No thank you darling. Except I cannot get the thing I downloaded to work. I keep getting strange Windows-type messages that may as well be written in ancient Greek, I do not understand them. In addition to not understanding any of the buttons inside this program (Chessbase Lite) and what they are supposed to do or what they mean, and clicking on all of them doesn't do anything except generate more error messages, I cannot find the files that I THOUGHT I had finally managed to download - I saw them go SOMEWHERE on my computer - from the email attachments Kelly had sent to me. So I'm stuck. This is NOT FINE. When things are NOT FINE like this, it's time to pull the plug. I can feel my blood pressure rising rapidly and my ears are burning (always a really bad sign, people). So I'm moving to Plan B. I'll play online chess until the Match Dates and cross my fingers and hope for the best. I was suspicious about being able to learn anything from a database anyway. I HATE databases. The way I learn things is by having a real live person walk me through stuff bit by bit - whether it be learning how to type, or learning how to draw, learning how to smoke (which I gave up in 1989) or learning how to use a comptuer and a mouse. I was the last one at the place I used to work to get an actual desktop computer, and the very last person to learn how to use a mouse - and I was dragged, kicking and screaming and biting, all the way. It was an extremely traumatic experience for all involved. I couldn't even bring myself to touch the mouse thing for weeks, and continued to create documents using DOS. I thought it was absolutely repellant. Whoever dreamed up the horrid name of MOUSE for a computer tool? UGH! I still don't like it. I don't like it so much I use my right hand to use it, because I do not want to touch it with my real hand (I'm left-handed). Yes, I know, that sounds psychotic. I feel somewhat psychotic at the moment. I cannot learn stuff by staring at words on a computer screen or moving chess pieces around on a computerized board. Nothing sinks in, I don't "get" it. I'm just not built that way. Even for Shira, I'm not going to go out and hire a face-to-face trainer!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

World's Oldest Flute?

Nah - the specialists rejected the oldest flute recovered from an archaeological dig and dated to 44,000 years ago because the archaeologist who uncovered THAT flute suggested it might have been made by so-called "Neanderthal" man. But this one (story follows) is a very important find, nonetheless. I just don't agree with their continued emphasis on a distinction between so-called "Neanderthal" and so-called "modern" human. But read this story - I think there's something else going on here. Prehistoric flute in Germany is oldest known By PATRICK McGROARTY, Associated Press Writer Patrick Mcgroarty, Associated Press Writer – Wed Jun 24, 1:30 pm ET BERLIN – A bird-bone flute unearthed in a German cave was carved some 35,000 years ago and is the oldest handcrafted musical instrument yet discovered, archaeologists say, offering the latest evidence that early modern humans in Europe had established a complex and creative culture. A team led by University of Tuebingen archaeologist Nicholas Conard assembled the flute from 12 pieces of griffon vulture bone scattered in a small plot of the Hohle Fels cave in southern Germany. Together, the pieces comprise a 8.6-inch (22-centimeter) instrument with five holes and a notched end. Conard said the flute was 35,000 years old. "It's unambiguously the oldest instrument in the world," Conard told The Associated Press this week. His findings were published online Wednesday by the journal Nature. Other archaeologists agreed with Conard's assessment. [Of course they would, because to do otherwise might cast the entire taught "human time-line of development" in doubt and trash generations of work, including perhaps their own work.] April Nowell, a Paleolithic archaeologist at the University of Victoria in Canada, said the flute predates previously discovered instruments "but the dates are not so much older that it's surprising or controversial." Nowell was not involved in Conard's research. [I'll take the reporter's word for that - but perhaps she has an ax to grind - see below.] The Hohle Fels flute is more complete and appears slightly older than bone and ivory fragments from seven other flutes recovered in southern German caves and documented by Conard and his colleagues in recent years. Another flute excavated in Austria is believed to be 19,000 years old, and a group of 22 flutes found in the French Pyrenees mountains has been dated at up to 30,000 years ago. Conard's team excavated the flute in September 2008, the same month they recovered six ivory fragments from the Hohle Fels cave that form a female figurine they believe is the oldest known sculpture of the human form. Together, the flute and the figure — found in the same layer of sediment — suggest that modern humans had established an advanced culture in Europe 35,000 years ago, said Wil Roebroeks, an archaeologist at Leiden University in the Netherlands who didn't participate in Conard's study. [It could equally suggest that "Neanderthal" man, who also lived in the cave (but dates of occupation were not given in this article), was more creative than the experts give him credit for.] Roebroeks said it's difficult to say how cognitively and socially advanced these people were. But the physical trappings of their lives — including musical instruments, personal decorations and figurative art — match the objects we associate with modern human behavior, Roebroeks said. [Like those 80,000 to 100,000 year old shells with drilled holes found in an African cave many miles away from the seashore? According to conventional thinking and time line, those can't have been made by so-called "modern" man, so who made them then?] "It shows that from the moment that modern humans enter Europe ... it is as modern in terms of material culture as it can get," Roebroeks told The AP. He agreed with Conard's assertion that the flute appears to be the earliest known musical instrument in the world. [Emphasis on earliest known. We don't know what else is out there, waiting to be discovered.] Neanderthals also lived in Europe around the time the flute and sculpture were made, and frequented the Hohle Fels cave. Both Conard and Roebroeks believe, however, that layered deposits left by both species over thousands of years suggest the artifacts were crafted by early modern humans. [Did the evidence show "Neanderthal" and "modern" human lived in the cave at separate times? Overlapping times? If overlapping, how was "Neanderthal" occupation distinguished from "modern" human occupation?] "The material record is so completely different from what happened in these hundreds of thousands of years before with the Neanderthals," Roebroeks said. "I would put my money on modern humans having created and played these flutes." [Oh, really? Wanna go to Vegas, baby?] In 1995, archaeologist Ivan Turk excavated a bear bone artifact from a cave in Slovenia, known as the Divje Babe flute, that he has dated at around 43,000 years ago and suggested was made by Neanderthals. But other archaeologists, including Nowell, have challenged that theory, suggesting instead that the twin holes on the 4.3-inch-long (11-centimeter-long) bone were made by a carnivore's bite. [Hmmmm, interesting, April Nowell pooh-poohed Ivan Turk's discovery back in 1995. Do these two have a prior history???] Turk did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment. [One cannot assume that email ever reached him. I've sent lots of emails out and have never received a "bounce-back" that the email address was no longer a good one, but in fact, was not. And if the email did reach Turk, perhaps he had his own reasons not to respond, that have nothing to do with the Hohle Fels discovery.] Nowell said other researchers have hypothesized that early humans may have used spear points as wind chimes and that markings on some cave stalactites suggest they were used as percussive instruments. But there is no proof [how does one prove the use of wind chimes? And to which "other researchers" is she referring?], she said, and the Hohle Fels flute is much more credible because it's the oldest specimen from an established style of bone and ivory flutes in Europe. [What established style? Turk's flute was made out of bone and had two holes and an approximate length of 4 inches. Did Nowell do a comprehensive comparison of the two discoveries? Of Turk's discovery against all other bone flutes discovered thus far? No explanation is given for Nowell's extraordinary comment.] "There's a distinction between sporadic appearances and the true development of, in this case, a musical culture," Nowell said. "The importance of something like this flute is it shows a well-established technique and tradition." [This statement is ridiculous! First, what are the "sporadic appearances" to which she is referring? Second, what does she mean by "the true development of ... a musical culture? Is she distinguishing between someone "accidentally creating" a bone flute, and someone deliberately creating a bone flute? But how did the invention of the bone flute come about if not at first by accident? It was Nowell who dismissed the idea that a 43,000 year old flute discovered in a Slovenian cave by archaeologist Ivan Turk could have been created by so-called "Neanderthal." Why? Did Nowell already have a vested interested in her "modern" human theory in 1995? Is there something else going on here?] Conard said it's likely that early modern humans — and perhaps Neanderthals, too — were making music longer than 35,000 years ago. But he added the Hohle Fels flute and the others found across Europe strengthen evidence that modern humans in Europe were establishing cultural behavior similar to our own. [Again, assumes a distinction between so-called "Neanderthal" behavior and so-called "modern" human behavior, but does the available evidence really support this - or is it just being interpreted according to still existing 19th century prejudices and assumptions? Does someone have a book deal pending? I've no idea, but sometimes in this type of dispute money is involved, one way or another.] Egyptologists are starting to go back and re-examining records of excavations and artifacts recovered from the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries and, with new methods of analysis, are gaining new insights (and correcting erroneous assumptions that were made years ago). Perhaps the specialists who focus on prehistoric man could benefit from doing the same. Just saying...

Ancient Egypt: Potentially Really Important Findings

Here's the article from the Egypt State Information Service: Wednesday, June 24, 2009 Archaeological discovery in Saqqara Culture Minister Farouk Hosni said on 23/6/2009 that a group of Egyptian archaeologists have unearthed a number of ushabtis - an ushabti is a funerary figurine placed in a tomb as a substitute for the deceased, should he/she be called upon to do manual labor in the afterlife - and remains of animal bones and birds inside a hole near the Pyramid of Djoser in Saqqara. The Supreme Council of Antiquities team was originally rehabilitating the southern front of the step pyramid when they came upon this crevice, said SCA Secretary General Zahi Hawwas in a statement issued Tuesday. They also found a layer of cement inside the hole, Hawwas added. Golden shells were discovered in the southern tomb, the SCA official said, believing ancient Egyptians could have used them to decorate wooden caskets or to place on top of car tonnages (material composing Egyptian funerary masks). Hawwas said that the SCA group unearthed 30 granite blocs that, put together, [rest of sentence was not online at the time I copied this article]. Samir Abdel-Raouf, the head of the team, said they found adobe bricks bearing the names of Djoser's daughters and his different titles along the corridor, noting that all pieces are now being renovated to form a coffin in which the wooden casket is placed with the mummy of King Djoser inside. ************************************ This is not the clearest article. First it mentions a "hole," then a "crevice," and then a "corridor." There are major differences in what each means! My primary interest is in the bird remains. Are they as old as the Step Pyramid itself? From what dynasty might they be dated? Were there remains of FIVE birds discovered? Inquiring minds want to know. If anyone out there can provide more information on this discovery, please post info! Thanks.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Goddesschess Has a Makeover - Redux!

dondelion is continuing his fevered work on updating the look, feel and organization at He has improved site navigation and updated many features (seen and unseen) in our quest to maintain now 10-years old (but who's counting) Goddesschess as a go-to website. Public Square (newly added, featuring announcements of interest and our ongoing sponsorships), Access Mundae (a summary of recently added articles and features with direct links), and Showcase (special focus) have found a new home in the right-hand column. Our popular Goddesschess search feature is now easier to find, located at the top of the right-hand column. Random Round-up, featuring weekly news about Chess, the Goddess, and Everything (and sometimes laying clues as to our ongoing research), is now featured in the center column, just beneath easy-to-use-navigation buttons to the Goddesschess blog, Chess Femme News, and a not-yet functioning Site Map (memo to self: email Mr. Don about that...) We hope you'll find this new and improved version of Goddesschess to your liking. Ten years online with plans for the next fifty...

Intact Thracian Setlement Discovered

Well - it was intact. Now that this article has hit the news (if it hasn't already been looted through leaks of confidential information from the digging team), after all the "hints" given in this article about the dig's location, it sure won't be "intact" for long. How stupid! Story at Bulgarian Archaeologists Uncover Intact Thracian Settlement Culture June 23, 2009, Tuesday A team of Bulgarian archaeologists has uncovered a Thracian settlement close to the southeast town of Nova Zagora. The team of Konstantin Gospodinov and Veselin Ignatov from the city of Burgas hope that their finding would be the first Thracian settlement to be uncovered in its entirety. The settlement is located along the Blatnitsa River. It had a moat around it, and include large buildings rising above the ground, reported. So far the archaeologists have discovered remains of stored grain, weaving looms, pottery including imported ceramics made by the ancient Greeks. They have also found parts of decorations made of bronze, glass, and bones, as well as alloys of gold, silver, and copper. Among their most precious findings is a silver coin from the nearby Greek coastal town of Apolonia (today's Sozopol) dating back to 5th century BC. The coin is cited an example showing the trade relations between the Thracian-populated interior and the Greek towns along the Black Sea coast. The Thracian settlement in question existed in the 6th-5th century BC.

Southwest Chess Club: Upcoming Events

Hola darlings! My adopted chess club, the Southwest Chess Club - is a great place to spend a Thursday evening, so rumor has it. I've never actually been there, but then, I wouldn't wish to cause a riot by appearing before my adoring fans (cough cough) :) This Thursday, June 25, 2009, sees the final round of the Sizzling Summer Cook-off Swiss, a two section, three round tournament that began on June 11. Round 2 was held on June 18th. The third and final round starts promptly at 7:00 PM start time each night. Here are some upcoming events: SWCC Simul Kickoff: July 2 Lecture and a simul. This is a free event. Southwest Chess Club Championship: July 9, 16, 23, 30 & August 6 & 13 6-Round Swiss in One Section. Game/100. USCF Rated. EF: $7 (must be a member to participate). SWCC Membership $10 (can join prior to first round). (Two ½ point byes available in rounds 1 through 5 if requested at least 2-days in advance; no byes available for round 6.) TD is Becker; ATD is Grochowski. Location: 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. Parking in rear, enter through south door.

Southwest Chess Club: Popular Lecture Series!

This Thursday night: This week's lecture (6:00-7:00 pm) will be given by Expert Ray Hayes. His topic is:
"Lipnitsky and Development of the Soviet School of Chess"
Last week's lecture by John Veech was excellent, and Ray Hayes' lectures last summer were popular. Come on out and enjoy some chess instruction, and stay to play some casual chess! Location: 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. Parking in rear, enter through south door.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Tamil Nadu Dig Reveals Iron Age Finds

From The Monday, June 22, 2009 : 1905 Hrs Iron Age graveyard unearthed in Tamil Nadu Dindigul (PTI): A glass bead-making unit and an Iron Age graveyard, both about 2,500 years old, have been unearthed during the ongoing excavation in and around Porunthal, 12-km from here, an archaeology expert said. The excavation made at Paasi Medu (bead mound) venue, a site spread over 5.5 hectares on the ancient East-West Trade route linking Tamil Nadu and Kerala, revealed presence of a glass bead manufacturing unit, Prof K Rajan, Archaeology Department, University of Pondicherry, told reporters at Palani near here on Sunday. They also recovered thousands of beads in various colours including red, white, black, yellow, maroon and green from the site along with 30 identical redware bowls, triangular terracotta pieces and two furnaces. This could have been the place where glass beads had been manufactured in ancient Tamil Nadu, he said. "We feel that this place might have been a glass bead manufacturing factory. It should be around 2,500 years old," said former archaeology professor Shanmugam. The 'Indo-Pacific' beads could have been exported through Musiripattinam in Thrissur district of Kerala. The glass unit was the first such found in India, Mr. Rajan said. "We recovered only slightly damaged beads," he said. The study of the site revealed Porunthal had been a trade centre. A statue of a bull was yet another finding. A first Century AD Terracotta figurine of a male had also been unearthed besides ivory dice, earrings and copper coin. [Parts from a board game, perhaps? Photos - we need photos!] The team doing research at the site included students and professors from Puducherry University, Tamil University, Mangalore University and Srivenkateswara University. They found several iron age burials at the foothills of the Westerghats near Chinna Gandhipuram. The graves found at the site had been fenced by boulders. Archaeology officials said these cist burials were of simple nature. A burial with 12.5-metre-diametre revealed the rich culture of the people of the area. There were two decks and two port holes in the bicameral cist. About 3,000 beads of semi-precious stones were also recovered around the skeletal remains. The findings suggest that people could have performed some ritual for the dead, they said. From near the burials, mud pots of red, black and shining black were also found.

Chinese Bronze Horse Repaired

(Image: from the original excavation in 2008) An interesting article, with a very good video in English, about how this extraordinary 1,700 year old bronze cast horse is being repaired after its excavation in 2008. Excavated bronze horse statue repaired in Hubei 2009-06-21 20:25:42 BEIJING, June 21 -- The back part of China's largest bronze horse, excavated at the end of 2008 from a tomb of Wei or Jin Dynasties, dating back 1,700 years, was destroyed. But now, through half a year's efforts of archaeologists, the horse statue has been successfully repaired as a whole. The 162-cm-tall and 161-cm-high relic weighed a ton before being repaired. With a unique style and realistic shape, it is about the same size of a real horse. Archaeologists speculated that the bronze horse might be cast in term of the favorite horse of the tomb's host. As the biggest bronze horse statue ever found in China, it is of great value on archaeological and historical research. When unearthed, the bronze horse was just consisted of its front part, two hind legs, half a tail and some remnants. With reference to outline features, historical materials and remnants of horses from East Han to Wei and Jin dynasties, archaeologists finally reshaped it successfully. The bronze horse has characteristics of early Mongolian horses, such as thick neck, round buttock and short legs, said Yi Zelin, archaeologist of Xiangfan. Experts say it is so amazing that the lifelike statue is still a semi-finished article shaped with mud. Only mud and some remnants could be used for the repair. The workers built a steel frame in the horse's belly and shaped the horse with wet mud step by step, which was the most crucial part of the repair. We plan to get its shape exactly with plaster cast outside and next is to cast it with polymeric and alloy material. The final step is to make it as the ancient one through relevant techniques, said Yi. To make it seem like an antique, the back part also needs to be cast with bronze. Archaeologists may have more and more technical difficulties in the future. Xinhua news agency correspondents reporting from Xiangfan. Editor: Mo Hong'e

Sunday, June 21, 2009

It Was In Persia that Chess Was First Perfected

From Press TV - I understand it's a semi-official adjunct of the Iranian government. I couldn't make this kind of stuff up! Guardian Council: Over 100% voted in 50 cities Sun, 21 Jun 2009 21:38:30 GMT Iran's Guardian Council has admitted that the number of votes collected in 50 cities surpass the number of those eligible to cast ballot in those areas. The council's Spokesman Abbas-Ali Kadkhodaei, who was speaking on the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) Channel 2 on Sunday, made the remarks in response to complaints filed by Mohsen Rezaei -- a defeated candidate in the June 12 Presidential election. "Statistics provided by Mohsen Rezaei in which he claims more than 100% of those eligible have cast their ballot in 170 cities are not accurate -- the incident has happened in only 50 cities," Kadkhodaei said. The spokesman, however, said that although the vote tally affected by such an irregularity is over 3 million, "it has yet to be determined whether the amount is decisive in the election results," reported Khabaronline. Three of the four candidates contesting in last Friday's presidential election cried foul, once the Interior Ministry announced the results - according to which incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the winner with almost two-thirds of the vote. Rezaei, along with Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, reported more than 646 'irregularities' in the electoral process and submitted their complaints to the body responsible for overseeing the election -- the Guardian Council. Mousavi and Karroubi have called on the council to nullify Friday's vote and hold the election anew. This is while President Ahmadinejad and his Interior Minister Sadeq Mahsouli have rejected any possibility of fraud, saying that the election was free and fair. MMN/SME/MMN
Ohmygoddess, are you kidding me? Over 3,000,000 fraudulent votes in 50 cities but the ministry in charge of free and fair elections isn't concerned because it has yet to be determined that this cheating affected the ultimate outcome.
And here is a very interesting post from the Lede Blog (New York Times): 167. June 21, 2009 5:52 pm Neil, No. 25: NO, these are quite obviously NOT the same people who “chant ‘Death to the USA’ at soccer stadiums… [etc.]…” So many people with little direct experience of totalitarian regimes retain the most superficial of impressions based on glimpses of carefully stage-managed events organized by totalitarian partocracies, in which trained, disciplined masses of supernumeraries perform on cue… as in North Korea. The ‘Death to the USA’ people would be the enforcers sent out by Ahmadinejad & Khamenei to SLAUGHTER AND MAIM these protesters we are watching turn out by the millions all across Iran to reclaim their country. Get your head around the numbers, Neil, and ‘Friends of Neil’: it only takes about 1000-5000 faces to create an impressive staged event to fill up a TV screen with hordes… But in a city of 12 million or so, i.e. about the size of Tehran, we do not often see a crowd of 500,000 to 2 Million –– reassembling day after day even in the face of threats to life & limb & Family & livelihood –– unless there is something far more serious afoot than a propagandist photo op such as the regular Friday ideological marches denouncing America that the Ayatollahs decreed are to take place, without fail, which are run and manned by their own most privileged details of followers… The good old Communist Party of the Soviet Union was really good at this kind of thing, too, only their mass events all had to do with “how much we love Lenin” (just as the ones in North Korea all have to do with “how much we adore our Radiant Glorious Life-giving Leader.” No one could ever take these kinds of required totalitarian rituals seriously –– and you mustn’t. The ongoing mass protests in Iran are the Real Thing, though: as their relentless popularity reveals. No staged event ever draws the kind of attention a real upswell of popular unity commands. Which leads me to this: *HOW KHAMENEI LOST IRAN:* If you think about it, at last Friday’s sermon, Khamenei had only two courses of action open to him: 1 - Accede to the calls for a new election, or 2 - Certify the declared election results as Correct and Truthful. He knew that if he were to follow the first path — announce a retaking of the vote — his candidate, Ahmadinejad, would lose, and his own power would inevitably shrink as the new leadership would have less reason to rely on his own “Supreme Powers” given the popular support the new President and his supporters (Khatami, Rafsanjani et al.) already had. How did Khamenei know this? Because HE HAD THE ACTUAL VOTE COUNT; he knew the actual result. As the protesting masses argue, and demonstrate, the majority vote, by a very healthy margin, was with Moussavi. Indeed, the Interior Ministry had already confirmed this to the winner, even before Khamenei decided — personally decided, upon receiving the news — to simply discard the vote results. Khamenei’s very refusal to go along with a relative moderate request, for a rerun of the vote, betrays his complicity in the falsification. Because it was obviously much simpler, and safer, to order a revote — if Khamenei was honestly convinced that his own preferred candidate had just scored “AN OVERWHELMING LANDSLIDE.” If there was a landslide for Ahmadinejad, why fear a revote? The only reason to refuse a second vote was because Khamenei KNEW that Ahmadinejad had lost… Not merely lost, but been soundly trounced, coming in Third, with a measly five to six million votes… And because Khamenei had put his imprimatur on an outrageous lie, a huge and shameful fraud, he cold not possible follow the first — most reasonable — option available to him, without exposing himself as a fraud, cheat, lie and traitor to the very ideals he pretends to exemplify… This left him with only the second option as a recourse: to insist on the “correctness and complete unassailability” of the false vote count that had been promulgated in such haste, and to hope that a brutal crackdown would quickly stifle resistance as those “little people of no actual consequence” caved in to their “Supreme Leader.” It was a mad hope, and of course, as we can now see, a crazy gamble. Or, as one of history’s wisest sages once so beautifully put it in the original English: “Oh, what a wicked web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!” By following his basest instincts not once, but twice: first, by decreeing the falsification of the vote, and then by insisting this was “the correct result”, Khamenei not only revealed the horrible stuff of which he is made, but sealed his own doom, and the doom of the system that had raised such a one as he was to the dizzying pinnacles of Absolute Power. And so he fell, foolishly, into a very clever trap laid for him by far wiser men, former colleagues who had probably grown weary of his peremptory, absolutist, ridiculously rigid and ultimately unintelligent ways — Rafsanjani, Khatami, Moussavi, Karroubi… It was in Iran, after all, that chess was first perfected. — Maria Ashot

2009 Montreal Open Chess Championship

Here is a profile of one of the players who will playing in the 2009 Montreal Open Chess Championship: CENDRINA BILODEAU-SAVARIA One of the players is Cendrina Bilodeau-Savaria (born 2000). She doesn’t have a FIDE rating (yet), but she is an up and coming young player in Canada. Her current Canadian Chess Federation rating is 1149. In the 2008 Canadian Youth Chess Championships, Cendrina finished in second place: [1. Kelly Wang (QC) 7.0 points; 2. Cendrina Bilodeau-Savaria (QC) 6.0 points; 3. Janet Peng (ON) 3.5 points]. (Readers of this blog and Goddesschess will remember that Kelly Wang won the "Promoted Pawn" prize sponsored by Goddeschess at the 2008 Canadian Open.) Cendrina qualified for the Canadian Girls U-8 Team for the 2008 World Youth Chess Championships held in Vietnam [Team: Under 8 Girls: Kelly Wang, Cendrina Bilodeau-Savaria, Janet Peng, Christine Gao]. She finished in 32nd place in her category, with 5.5/11 out of 55 players. The Girls U-8 Canadian Team finished in 5th place overall Cendrina also played in the E Group in the 2008 Canadian Open Championships, starting as player 67 (Canadian rating 976) out of 87 players. How’d she do? She finished in 65th place with 3.5/9.

Chessplayer Makes Good Playing Poker

News from Jordan Smith (scarface_79) Wins $2,000 No Limit Holdem Event at 2009 WSOP By Brett Collson for POKER NEWS DAILY Posted on June 21, 2009 For the first time in the year’s WSOP, two women made the final table of an open event. Laurence Grondin, from Montreal, and Almira Skripchenko, from Paris, were each members of the final table of Event #36. Only one female (Annie Duke) had made a final table in the first 35 events this year. Skripchenko exited in seventh place and it was Smith who did the dirty work. Grondin raised from late position and Smith made the call. Skripchenko then moved all-in from the small blind, Grondin got rid of her hand, and Smith called. Skripchenko’s pocket kings were well in front of the pocket fives of Smith, but a five on the flop spelled disaster for Skripchenko, who failed to catch a king on the turn or river to seal her elimination. The former European chess champion earned $78,664. (Photo credit: Almira en las WSOP 2006 - Fotografía Chess Base)

Arianne Caoili Back in the News (in a good way)

Background articles at Goddesschess on WIM Caoili: Chess Prodigy Caoli Threatens to Relinquish Citizenship Inquirer News Service, April 14, 2001, Dennis U. Eroa (Posted at Goddesschess in 2002) The Tussle in Turin! June 10, 2006 By Jan Newton More: Queens to marketing pawns - sex sells everything Rachel Wells June 11, 2006 (Photo from this article) WIM Caoili is back in the news, this time in a positive feature article. She currently plays chess under the Australian flag, having switched her home base and her federation from the Philippines (I don't know when, but it was some time after I posted the Eroa article - see above - in 2002). Born in 1986, she is now 22-23 years old, and her current FIDE ELO is 2172. Her most recent event was in April, the Doeberl Cup Premier, where she finished with 4.5/7 (about the middle of the pack of a large group of players, including several chess femmes) and did well enough to gain 26 ELO points. However, she stated at the end of the article (following) that her focus in now on her studies and travelling, not chess. Chess Queen Arianne Caoili's Next Move By Greg Stolz June 22, 2009 12:00am AFTER something of a chequered past, Gold Coast chess queen Arianne Caoili is now making all the right moves, according to her old coach.

Discover Channel Special On Egypt

Upcoming special on the Discovery Channel (too bad I don't subscribe to cable or satellite, but maybe I'll be able to watch it online). (Photo: Archaeologist Kara Cooney): Discovery digs 'Egypt' series Network gives show a six-episode run Thurs. June 11, 2009 By JON WEISMAN Discovery Channel is giving world civilization series "Out of Egypt" a six-episode run over three Mondays beginning Aug. 17 and airing back-to-back episodes at 9 and 10 p.m. "Egypt" was co-created by archeologist and UCLA professor Kara Cooney with her husband, Neil Crawford. Cooney hosts and serves as lead researcher and writer for the show, which compares and contrasts patterns of far-flung cultures. Cooney told Daily Variety that the concept for the show sprang from a desire to essentially desensationalize the typical "mysteries of the Pharaohs" approach to ancient Egypt. Among the peoples and archeological sites profiled are the Mayans of Central America, Incas of Peru and Singhalese of Sri Lanka. "We didn't want it to be too much of a setpiece show," Discovery prexy-g.m. John Ford said. "We wanted it to be clambering around things and moving in and around the structures wherever (Cooney) was, so the style is to be more immersive and less traditional a documentary." Cooney said her first experience in television was giving an interview to "Today" about the 2005 King Tut exhibition in Los Angeles, and "Out of Egypt" represents her formal debut on a TV production.Ford said the demographic target for "Out of Egypt" is adults 25-54. L.A.-based Digital Ranch is the production company for the series.

I'm Just in It for the Cookies

(Image: ancient Egyptian gaming piece with image of dog. Notice the collar, pointed ears and long tail. It is possible that several different breeds of dogs arose in ancient Egypt, including basenji, saluki, greyhounds, mastiffs, and others. See Egypt: The Dogs of Ancient Egypt). A look at dogs and "speech" (as in the kind of sounds that humans make). Maybe dogs can't talk in proper English, but they manage to communicate quite effectively with their human "masters" nonetheless! I know, I owned three doggies for a long time, until the last one passed to the Happy Hunting Ground in 2004. For sure the same goes on with dogs in different languages, all around the world. Story from Scientific American Online Fact or Fiction: Dogs Can Talk Are human speech-like vocalizations made by some mammals equivalent to conversation--or just a rough estimation of it? By Tina Adler Maya, a noisy, seven-year-old pooch, looks straight at me. And with just a little prompting from her owner says, "I love you." Actually, she says "Ahh rooo uuu!" Maya is working hard to produce what sounds like real speech. "She makes these sounds that really, really sound like words to everyone who hears her, but I think you have to believe," says her owner, Judy Brookes. You've probably seen this sort of scene on YouTube and David Letterman. These dog owners may be onto something: Psychologist and dog expert Stanley Coren of the University of British Columbia tells the story of a colleague who always greeted her dog, Brandy, with a cheerful, two-syllable "Hel-lo!" It wasn't long until Brandy returned the greeting, which sounded very much like her owner's salutation, says Coren, author of How to Speak Dog: Mastering the Art of Dog–Human Communication. But do dogs really talk? Back in 1912 Harry Miles Johnson of Johns Hopkins University said, emphatically, "no." In a paper in Science, he generally agreed with the findings of Oskar Pfungst of the Institute of Psychology at the University of Berlin who studied a dog famous for its large vocabulary. The dog's speech is "the production of vocal sounds which produce illusion in the hearer," Johnson wrote. He went on to warn that we should not be surprised if "scientists of a certain class…proclaim that they have completely demonstrated the presence in lower animals of 'intelligent imitation'." [Scientist of a "certain class? - what the hell does that mean?] Nothing in the last century has really changed that scientific opinion. (No one has ever questioned whether dogs communicate with each other, but calling it "talking" is something else.) So what are Maya and her cousins doing? It's more appropriate to call it imitating than talking, says Gary Lucas, a visiting scholar in psychology at Indiana University Bloomington. Dogs vocalize with each other to convey emotions—and they express their emotions by varying their tones, he says. So it pays for dogs to be sensitive to different tones. Dogs are able to imitate humans as well as they do because they pick up on the differences in our tonal patterns. Lucas likens this behavior to that of bonobos, primates that can imitate some tonal patterns, including vowel sounds, pitch changes, and rhythms, studies show. "The vocal skills of some of the dogs and cats on YouTube suggest that they might also have some selective tonal imitation skills," he says. What's happening between dog and owner-turned-voice-coach is fairly straightforward, Coren says: Owner hears the dog making a sound that resembles a phrase, says the phrase back to the dog, who then repeats the sound and is rewarded with a treat. Eventually the dog learns a modified version of her original sound. As Lucas puts it, "dogs have limited vocal imitation skills, so these sounds usually need to be shaped by selective attention and social reward." In the Letterman video "a pug says, 'I love you' and it's very cute, but the pug has no idea what it means," Coren says. "If dogs could talk, they would tell you, 'I'm just in it for the cookies.'" Scientists have made some progress in their study of this important subject: They've learned why dogs, and other animals, have rather poor pronunciation and, for example, completely botch consonants. They "don't use their tongues and lips very well, and that makes it difficult for them to match many of the sounds that their human partners make," Lucas says. "Try saying 'puppy' without using your lips and tongue." Rest of article.
************************************************************************** Note the resemblance between the word "basenji" (a breed of dog that may have arisen in ancient Egypt) and "basij/basiji" - the name for the government-backed but unofficial thugs who are evidently responsible for all terror, property damage, home invasions and killings of innocent protesters in Iran at this moment. Geez, those basiji are giving dogs a bad name!

Medieval English Cooking Recipes

Now available online! LOL! I saw a headline "Forme of Cury" and wondered - what does that mean? Now I know (sort of):

From the BBC Online
Richard II porpoise recipe online
Page last updated at 18:02 GMT, Thursday, 18 June 2009 19:02 UK

Chefs searching for an authentic medieval way to cook a porpoise can now look up the recipe online.

The Forme of Cury, compiled by master cooks to Richard II, is part of a collection of medieval texts held by the John Rylands Library, Manchester.

Now an edition of the cookbook dating from the early 15th Century, compiled in about 1420, has been digitalised and uploaded to the library's website.

John Hodgson, keeper of manuscripts, said it contained hundreds of recipes.
Among them are exotic dishes featuring porpoise and more recognisable names like blancmange.

Mr Hodgson said the latter was different to the modern interpretation - a rice dish, highly spiced and sugared. Such ingredients were extremely expensive and beyond the income of most ordinary people during Richard II's reign.

The recipe begins "For to make blanc mange" and goes on to say "put rice in water all night and in the morrow, wash it clean".

"It's not a like a modern cookery book so it doesn't give you exact quantities and times," said Mr Hodgson.

"It's very much suck it and see, but great for experimenting.

"The complete book - all 100 pages - is now available online so that anybody who is interested in cookery, well, you could actually make some of the recipes now."

The original manuscripts which make up the Forme of Cury are thought to date back to 1390.
Well, that only goes to show, you can learn something new every day. I thought blancmange was a custard-like pudding (that maybe used tapioca as a thickener), and had nothing to do with rice. Somehow I cannot reconcile blancmange and rice pudding!

I wonder if "cury" means "curry? -- pointing to the Indian spice? The dish called "curry?" (Just what is a "curry" anyway?) Did "cury" mean something else in 14th century England?

Oh - I just watched the embedded video at the BCC article and the way the dude say "cury" sounded rather like "cookery" so perhaps the word has nothing to do with "curry" at all but means "cookery" in 14th century English lingo.

The Limits of Etymological Dictionaries

For those of you who do not find the subject absolutely fascinating (like I do), you can skip this post. Can You Trust Your (Etymological) Dictionary? The Oxford Etymologist June 10, 2009 By Anatoly Liberman Liberman discusses the difficulty often encountered in tracing origins of words, and explores two examples, the English words "boy" and "girl."

A Nude Mona Lisa?

Well, judge for yourself... From the Naked Mona Lisa goes on show A naked portrayal of the Mona Lisa, which was once attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, forms one of the highlights of the biggest exhibition ever held on the Renaissance genius. By Nick Squires in Rome Published: 7:04PM BST 15 Jun 2009 The mysterious portrait of a semi-nude woman, looking straight at the viewer with an enigmatic smile and with her hands crossed, bears a remarkable resemblance to Leonardo's world famous painting. Hidden for almost a century within the panelled walls of a library, the portrait appears to have been inspired by the Mona Lisa, which hangs in the Louvre Museum in Paris and was painted by the Italian master in the early 1500s. It will form one of the centrepieces of a new exhibition at the Museo Ideale in the Tuscan town of Vinci, near Florence, where Leonardo was born in 1452. "The frontal look, the position of the hands, the spatial conception of the landscape, with columns at the sides, show a clear link with the Mona Lisa's iconographic theme," Alessandro Vezzosi, director of the museum, told Discovery News. The naked portrait once belonged to Napoleon's ambassador to the Vatican, Cardinal Joseph Fesch, and was rediscovered after being hidden inside the walls of his private library for nearly a century. Art experts believe the portrait of the topless woman was probably not painted by da Vinci, but that the artist may have painted a similar picture, now lost, which then inspired one of his imitators to create this work. "I think it is very likely that Leonardo da Vinci conceived a naked Mona Lisa," said Carlo Pedretti, a world authority on da Vinci. The exhibition, which opened at the weekend and lasts until Sept 30, consists of more than 5,000 works spanning 500 years which were inspired by the Mona Lisa, including paintings, sculptures and new media images. The exhibition will look at why the painting, known in Italy as La Gioconda, became such a famous icon. It will explore the history of the painting, including the possible identity of the woman who posed for Leonardo, and the latest scientific research into the portrait. See also Nude Mona-Lisa Like Painting Found at the Huffington Post, which has a little bit more information not so sensationalized. Interestingly, among the comments it was pointed out that this painting could be worth twice as much as the actual Mona Lisa! It's amazing to me that this inferior painting could potentially be worth more than the Mona Lisa. Geez.

Special Killke Culture Tomb Discovered

From Andina: (Image from site) Ancient tomb found in Machu Picchu archaeological park Lima, Jun. 17 (ANDINA).- Archaeologists at the National Institute of Culture (INC) have found a pre-Inca tomb in the Salapunku archaeological site, located inside the Machu Picchu Archaeological Park in Cusco, southeastern Peru. Archeologists said the unearthed remains were most likely of an adult female dating back to the ancient Killke culture. The group inhabited the region from 900 to 1200 A.D., prior to the Incas. Francisco Quispe is leading excavations in the ruins. He says the funerary ceramics and bird skeletons also discovered in the tomb are strong indications that the grave belonged to the Killke. Francisco Quispe said, "The most important discovery regarding this tomb was that it was closed, meaning it corresponds very likely to a female." The tomb was discovered in a rocky area alongside a mountain called Wakaywillka considered by pre-Hispanic populations as the guardian of the Vilacanota valley. Archeologists have unearthed nine other graves in the same area. Quispe says the tomb was positioned differently from regular ones. Francisco Quispe, archeologist, said, "The location of this tomb is also very important. In an archeological monument, the tombs are always facing the extremes because when they die, their remains serve as guardians of the monument. In this case, the monument is beneath it." The Inca empire is based in the city of Cuzco -- Peru's top tourist destination. The area is also the launching point for the ruins of Machu Picchu considered one of the new seven wonders of the world. The archaeological site of Salapunku is at 2,631 meters above sea level in the foothills of the La Veronica mount and it occupies an area of 229.420 square meters. (END) FZC/JOT/AVC

Goddess Tlaltecuhtli

From Art Daily: (Image: Tlaltecuhtli Monolith. Photo: Hector Montaño/INAH.) MEXICO CITY.- Cult to dual deity Tlaltecuhtli (lord/lady) among Mexica people was restricted to priesthood, as pointed out by archaeologist Eduardo Matos Moctezuma, who remarked that despite the great impact it had in Aztec worldview, as birth and life giver, there is no temple known to present devoted exclusively to Tlaltecuhtli. During his participation in the conference series “Gods in Codices” organized by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), Matos Moctezuma remarked that according to sources, there is no register of Tlaltecuhtli festivities in Aztec calendar, although it is considered one of the most important deities of Mexica pantheon. For what is known through codices, the cult to this deity was reserved to priests who were in charge of presenting the offerings. The INAH emeritus professor commented that at present there are more than 40 Tlaltecuhtli representations, outstanding the zoomorphic, feminine one, with her mouth open, showing her fangs; the joints present a skull mask, she has claws, and her legs are open. Her main function was to devour corpses. “Tlaltecuhtli devoured and then gave birth to them through her womb, wherever their destiny pointed out. The deity had the dual function of consuming and giving birth to earthly beings. She had a great impact in Mexica society, awakening fear and respect as Kali in India” declared Matos Moctezuma. “Tlaltecuhtli is also represented as part of other Aztec deities; for instance, she appears on the inferior side of Coatlicue monumental sculpture exhibited at the National Museum of Anthropology, as well as on the bottom of the Chac Mool found in 1947 in Guatemala Street, Mexico City”, he pointed out. In other feminine representation, the most abundant, the dual deity shows her back, because she is essentially with her chest on the ground. In the masculine representations, the same iconographic elements appear but showing the front, mentioned the archaeologist. At the conference series developed by the National Library of Anthropology and History (BNAH) the archaeology doctor pointed out that according to recent investigations, we now know that Tlaltecuhtli sculptures were deposited face up or upside down, when carved on great blocks; if represented on vessels, it occupied the inferior side, because it had to be facing the ground. The Tlaltecuhtli monolithic sculpture found in front of Templo Mayor in October 2nd, 2006 is 4 meters high by 3.5, approximately 40 centimeters thick, and weights 12 tons. Its size allows perceiving the magnificent carving, outstanding the huge mouth from where a blood torrent exits, and a skin covering, concluded Matos Moctezuma.
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