Saturday, May 18, 2013

Hot Fun in the (Ancient Egyptian) Summertime...

Hola darlings!

Been working up my own version of hot fun in the (not quite yet) summertime around Maison Newton today cutting grass and raking my butt off in the backyard that is an absolute Rocky Horror Picture Show hot mess.  And so tonight, trying to catch up on stuff, I came across the article below that struck me as gloriously hilarious and profound at the same time, and reminded me of this grand old song by Sly and the Family Stone (do any of you remember them?) from way back in 1969 - yep, the same year I graduated from high school at the ripe old age of 17, darlings.  So here's the song, listen and enjoy, and then read the article below, and you'll totally understand why I so much wanted to post this youtube song, heh heh:

Cemetery Reveals Baby-Making Season in Ancient Egypt

The peak period for baby-making sex in ancient Egypt was in July and August, when the weather was at its hottest.
Researchers made this discovery at a cemetery in the Dakhleh Oasis in Egypt whose burials date back around 1,800 years. The oasis is located about 450 miles (720 kilometers) southwest of Cairo. The people buried in the cemetery lived in the ancient town of Kellis, with a population of at least several thousand. These people lived at a time when the Roman Empire controlled Egypt, when Christianity was spreading but also when traditional Egyptian religious beliefs were still strong.

So far, researchers have uncovered 765 graves, including the remains of 124 individuals that date to between 18 weeks and 45 weeks after conception. The excellent preservation let researchers date the age of the remains at death. The researchers could also pinpoint month of death, as the graves were oriented toward the rising sun, something that changes predictably throughout the year. [See Images of the Ancient Egypt Cemetery]

The results, combined with other information, suggested the peak period for births at the site was in March and April, and the peak period for conceptions was in July and August, when temperatures at the Dakhleh Oasis can easily reach more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius).
The peak period for the death of women of childbearing age was also in March and April (exactly mirroring the births), indicating that a substantial number of women died in childbirth.
Although attempts have been made in the past to piece together ancient Egyptian birth patterns using census records, researchers say this is the first time that these patterns have been determined by looking at burials.
"No one has ever looked at it using the actual individuals themselves, the biological aspects of it," said lead researcher Lana Williams, a professor at the University of Central Florida, in an interview with LiveScience.

The team presented their research recently at the annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology in Honolulu.

Sex in the summer
Conception didn't peak in summer months for other ancient Mediterranean cultures, Williams noted; the hot weather is thought to have lowered sexual libido and possibly sperm count.

In ancient Egypt, however, the new findings indicate that at Kellis conceptions increased by more than 20 percent above the site's annual average.

A summer baby-making boon in ancient Egypt may have been due to traditional beliefs regarding fertility and the Nile flood. The people who lived at the Dakhleh Oasis in ancient times believed that the Nile River was the source of their water and that the flooding of the Nile, which takes place in the summer, was key to the fertility of their land.

"Even though this was a Christian community, we know that they were still practicing, or having these social beliefs of, fertility being at its highest in the months of July and August," Williams said. "We have local temple reliefs that show this, the annual inundation of the Nile being celebrated at Dakhleh."

She added that the annual flood of the Nile River was a pivotal event throughout Egyptian history.

"This was a very strong aspect of social beliefs of fertility," she said. "The Nile is the gift to Egypt — without it, there's really no way that this civilization could have survived through 3,000 years of history."

These patterns of conceptions and births would have likely continued back further into ancient times and occurred at other Egyptian sites as well, said Williams. In fact, they appear to have also continued into relatively modern times.

"Interestingly, all the way up into the 1920s and 1930s, we still see this maxima in birth taking place at the same season [around March and April]," Williams said in regards to birth records from the World Health Organization that looked at rural Egypt.

Sexual prohibitions
While the summer was prime time for ancient Egyptian baby-making, the period around January seems to have been a low point, when conception fell to 20 percent below the site's annual average. The baby dip was likely due to the new religion, Christianity, which in ancient times called for prohibitions on sex during certain periods, such as during Advent and Lent.

Ancient texts indicate that early Egyptian Christians were, ideally, supposed to avoid intercourse "on Saturday, on Sunday, on Wednesday, and on Friday, in the 40 days of Lent and before the other feasts at which they might take the Eucharist," writes Peter Brown, a professor of classics at Princeton University, in his book "The Body and Society: Men, Women and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity" (Columbia University Press, 2008 edition).

The people of Kellis may not have been as strict as these texts recommend, but conception did fall to a low point around January, a time close to both Advent and Lent, Williams pointed out.

Ancient contraceptives
The patterns also suggest some form of ancient contraceptives were in use.

"If you have this much of a tightly patterned conception, there has to be some form of contraception that was taking place," Williams said, noting that ancient Egyptian medical texts tell of several methods that they believed acted to prevent pregnancy.

For instance, contraceptive recipes from the Kahun Medical Papyrus, dating back about 3,800 years, included crocodile dung and honey in their ingredients. It isn’t clear from the surviving papyrus exactly how they were to be inserted into the body. One fragment reads that for honey one was to "sprinkle [it] over her womb, this to be done on natron bed," (translation by Stephen Quirke).

Williams said that the prospect of having to take dung filled medicine, and having sex with it in you, probably discouraged intercourse. "By aversion alone, it would probably work for contraception," Williams said.

"The interesting thing is when you start to look at the ingredients, the high acid content that would be in crocodile dung, the anti-bacterial qualities of honey, it probably would take down the possibility of pregnancy by acting as a spermicide," said Williams, adding that it would not have been as effective as modern-day contraceptives.

Avoiding the taxman
When the team compared their research results with Roman census records, they found that the records were a bit off, indicating May and June as the time of maximum births.
As the census records were tied to taxation, the people living in Roman-controlled Egypt seem to have put off recording them.

"We don't want to pay our taxes until the last moment, so let's not do it, let's put off filing that document until we have to," said Williams, speculating on why they would have put off recording births. For the ancient Egyptians living under Roman rule, it seems sex, birth, death and taxes were all linked together.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Did "Neanderthal" Man Make Art After All?


Neanderthal culture: Old masters

The earliest known cave paintings fuel arguments about whether Neanderthals were the mental equals of modern humans.
Spots and stencils in El Castillo cave, Spain — one at least 40,800 years old — might be the handiwork of Neanderthals.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

14th European Individual Chess Championship

The party's over, it's over, my friends....

Closing ceremonies today for the 14th European Individual Chess Championship.  From the official website, I learned that the following chess femmes earned IM norms:

CHEREDNICHENKO Svetlana (UKR)       

Congratulations, ladies!

And then, there is this article (short) at the official website:  Without Women, Chess Would Be Much Less Interesting...

Top score was 8.0/11 and on tie breaks the Championship was won by

GMMOISEENKO AlexanderUKR26988.0264371.572.0627141013.4

and the chess femmes' final ranking (out of 281 players):

IMMUZYCHUK MariyaUKR24836.0248255.059.052490101.1
GMDANIELIAN ElinaARM24785.5247454.558.54245410-3.3
WGMBULMAGA IrinaROU23935.0251458.060.5424321510.1
WGMZAWADZKA JolantaPOL23835.0250655.559.532439108.3
WIMWOREK JoannaPOL22995.0250155.059.0324561532.8
WIMIWANOW AnnaPOL21955.0239649.553.5423501532.4
WGMCHEREDNICHENKO SvetlanaUKR22744.0253354.058.0224201526.5
WGMPRZEZDZIECKA MartaPOL23024.0243450.553.53229815-2.4
WIMPAVLIDOU EkateriniGRE22093.5240947.548.022193151.4
WFMCHEREDNICHENKO ElenaUKR21683.5240048.552.012231158.9
WGMYILDIZ Betul CemreTUR23253.5231046.549.52213515-39.9

2nd Annual Online National Chess Championship

My name is Amanda, co-scholastic coordinator for, and I'm excited to announce that ChessKid will be hosting the 2nd Annual Online National Chess Championship, June 14th-17th 2013!
The nation's best scholastic chess players will come together online in each respective age group to battle over the web for a national title. Rachel Ulrich, 12, from Appleton, WI, will be competing in the Girls U13 division.
All games will be broadcast live at!! is the "scholastic extension" of the world's largest chess website - is a great opportunity for the chess community to support Rachel!
Below is the link for the press release, and I have attached a flyer with the main details of the event. Please feel free to distribute the flyer to chess players in your area.
Don't hesitate to contact me with any questions you may have about the event!
Thank you,
Amanda Mateer
Co-Scholastic Coordinator for
(480) 580-9113

Hola darlings! I play chess online at  I'm also a big fan of Rachel Ulrich, who has played in several Hales Corners Chess Challenges to which Goddesschess has provided separate prizes since October, 2008.  Wow, how time flies!

Good luck, Rachel! 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

From Boys to Dogs...

If I were the Goddess, I would be VERY pissed off at whoever ritually killed one of my faithful companions!  However that may be, this article confirms prior research by others that I've written about in this blog that dogs were seen as symbols of death and the underworld, and were closely associated with the Great Mother Goddess who performed a myriad of roles in various cultures across the globe, including the role of the Death Goddess/Goddess of Rebirth.  Remember the ancient triad of goddesses: Virgin, Mother, Crone (or Old Woman).  An eternal cycle of birth, life, and death, and then again, rebirth, life, and death, and again and again.  So, if one believes in the "rebirth" part of this incredibly old belief system, any faithful canine companion killed could or would eventually be resurrected again -- maybe.  Where these ancient myths and beliefs get nebulous is in explaining the precise method for getting the hell out of Hell (okay, couldn't resist the pun) once you were there! 

As you know, some ancient board games' playing pieces included dogs or other canines, and in some ancient board games pieces were called "dogs."  Check out this exquisite surviving example of a dog gamine piece from ancient Abydos, Egypt (c. 2850 BCE), below.  Given it's age, I assume it was a gaming piece from a Mehen game.  Mehen was played on a circular board formed out of a coiled serpent, one of the ancient protectoress goddesses of Egypt.

Gives a whole new twist to "The Dogs of War."

See enlarged description below.
(From The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, Maryland, USA)  This piece is an ivory dog which was probably intended as a gaming piece. It is prone, looking straight ahead and it's tail is curled over its right haunch. It has pendant ears and is depicted wearing a collar around its neck. This piece is well carved, and because of the precious material, was likely made for a noble person.

Period:  ca. 2850 BCE (Archaic)
Medium:  hippopotamus ivory    
Accesion Number: 71.622
Measurements:  1 3/16 x 2 9/16 x 13/16 in. (3 x 6.5 x 2.1 cm)
Place of Origin:  Abydos (present day El Balyana, Egypt)
The ancient Egyptians didn't believe in reincarnation; they believed, instead, in an entirely different existence after death that took place in the Land of the Dead, traditionally placed in the western Desert in the very early times and then later up in the sky somewhere.  So, a sort of parallel existence in this other realm, where the worthy souls who made it there (remember the weighing of the heart ceremony against the Feather of Justice of the Goddess Ma'at) also ate, slept, made love, hunted, fished, and generally lived a fantastic life.  I figure it had to be up in the "heavens" because how else could Horus be pooped out of Goddess Mut's body every morning to begin his journey across the sky all over again? 

Whatever the ancient Egyptians believed (and are we really sure we've got it right -- I have my doubts), other cultures were pretty darn blunt about believing in this cycle of life/death and - I think it is implied - actual physical reincarnation.  Just exactly how the process of being reincarnated worked, though, I've no idea, and I don't think they did either. 

This underlying belief in some kind of reincarnation, however, and however nebulous it was, may be a key to understanding what to most civilized people's way of thinking today was an inordinately cruel and vicious ritual!  Killing one's faithful and loving companion?  I'd as soon turn my knife on the killer of his own dog than kill my own!  Or kill myself instead.  But, I will try to keep this archaic belief system in mind while recording this research here:

The National Geographic

Boys Killed Pets to Become Warriors in Early Russia

In Russia, dismembered dogs point to ancient initiation rite.

Heather Pringle
Published May 14, 2013
At first, archaeologists Dorcas Brown and David Anthony were deeply puzzled. While excavating the Bronze Age site of Krasnosamarkskoe in Russia's Volga region, they unearthed the bones of at least 51 dogs and 7 wolves. All the animals had died during the winter months, judging from the telltale banding pattern on their teeth, and all were subsequently skinned, dismembered, burned, and chopped with an ax.

Moreover, the butcher had worked in a precise, standardized way, chopping the dogs' snouts into three pieces and their skulls into geometrically shaped fragments just an inch or so in size. "It was very strange," says Anthony.

To him and Brown, both of whom teach at Hartwick College in Oneonta, New York, the skilled and standardized method of butchering the dogs pointed to some sort of ritual. Pam Crabtree, an archaeozoologist at New York University, who was not a member of the team, agrees. She notes that the butchery pattern was entirely different from those used in prehistoric Europe and other parts of the world for slicing off dog meat to eat.

"The bone was chopped into small bits, and it was not the way you would do it if you were looking at getting the major muscle groups," Crabtree says.

So how to account for the mysterious remains at Krasnosamarskoe? Why did someone apparently sacrifice these animals?

Ancient Rite of Passage

In search of clues, Anthony and Brown combed the mythology, songs, and scriptures in Eurasia's early and closely related Indo-European languages. Many ancient Indo-European speakers associated dogs with death and the underworld. Reading through prayers composed by tribes in India possibly as early as 1400 B.C., the researchers found a description of secret initiation rites for boys destined to become roving warriors.

At the age of eight, the boys were sent to ritualists, who bathed them, shaved their heads, and gave them animal skins to wear. Eight years later, the initiates underwent a midwinter ceremony in which they ritually died and journeyed to the underworld. After this, the boys left their homes and families, painted their bodies black, donned a dog-skin cloak, and joined a band of warriors.

Brown and Anthony think that similar rites may have taken place at Krasnosamarskoe at the onset of the raiding season, which ran from the winter solstice to the summer solstice. And they speculate that part of the ceremony required the boys to kill their own dogs. The dead canines ranged in age from 7 to 12 years, suggesting that they were longtime companionspossibly even hounds raised with the boys from birth.

"That makes a lot of sense," concludes Brown. To take on the mantle of a warrior, an innocent boy had to become a killer.

Recent research conducted by military psychologists, moreover, suggests that the transition from civilian to soldier can be very difficult. In other words, "you have to train people to kill," says Brown.
For the Bronze Age boys at Krasnosamarskoe, this training may have included killing one of their childhood companionstheir faithful dog.


Not all cultures taught their children to be so monstrous, however.  There are many examples of surviving dog burials where it was apparent, given the care with which the canine was entombed, that the dog was treated with great respect, dignity, and love - yeah, love. 

One can only wonder how many boys ran away with their dogs before their "numbers came up" for the ceremony/test?  How many of them died in the wilderness trying to escape?  Were they allowed to just leave and never be seen again?  How many boys balked when it came to killing their dogs, and what were the consequences for doing so?  Besides this "butchering" process that took place - which the researchers assume the boy had to do (OHMYGODDES!) was there a ritual cooking and eating of the sacrificed dog's flesh?  What happened to the heart of any boy who "chose" to kill his dog because of cultural pressure to do so?  What would that boy feel, and think, about his elders, and the "rules" that made him do such a thing? 

2013 FIDE Women's Grand Prix: Geneva

Hola darlings!

The final round was held today.  Here are the results, courtesy of The Week in Chess:

Round 11 (May 15, 2013)
Muzychuk, Anna- Kosteniuk, Alexandra½-½29B11Caro Kann Two Knights
Ushenina, Anna- Khotenashvili, Bela½-½40D31Semi-Slav Defence
Ju, Wenjun- Kosintseva, Tatiana1-062A00Irregular Openings
Lagno, Kateryna- Batchimeg, Tuvshintugs½-½50A14Reti Opening
Hou, Yifan- Dzagnidze, Nana0-158B43Sicilian Paulsen
Girya, Olga- Cmilyte, Viktorija0-138A61Benoni

And the final standings cross-table (from Chess-Results):

Final Ranking crosstable after 11 Rounds

Rk.NameRtgFED123456789101112Pts.TB1 TB2 TB3
IMBela Khotenashvili2505GEO*½011½1011118.00.0739.75
GMAnna Muzychuk2585SLO½*1½½½½1½½117.50.0437.75
GMTatiana Kosintseva2517RUS10*½0½1½½1½16.50.5433.00
GMNana Dzagnidze2545GEO0½½*1½01½½116.50.5431.25
WGMWenjun Ju2544CHN0½10*1½½0½116.01.0429.25
GMAnna Ushenina2491UKR½½½½0*½11½½½6.00.0232.00
GMKateryna Lagno2548UKR0½01½½*01½½15.50.0327.25
GMYifan HOU2617CHN10½0½01*½10½5.00.5327.75
GMAlexandra Kosteniuk2491RUS0½½½100½*½1½5.00.5225.50
GMViktorija Cmilyte2522LTU0½0½½½½0½*½14.50.0122.00
WGMTuvshintugs Batchimeg2298MGL00½00½½10½*½3.50.0117.25
WGMOlga Girya2463RUS00000½0½½0½*

Tie Break1: Direct Encounter (The results of the players in the same point group)
Tie Break2: The greater number of victories
Tie Break3: Sonneborn-Berger-Tie-Break variable
And this table from The Week in Chess shows the performance ratings:
Geneva WGP 2013 Geneva SUI (SUI), 3-15 v 2013cat. XI (2511)
1.Khotenashvili, BelamGEO2505*½01½110111182686
2.Muzychuk, AnnagSLO2585½*1½½½½1½½112636
3.Kosintseva, TatianagRUS251710*½½01½½1½12574
4.Dzagnidze, NanagGEO25450½½*½101½½112572
5.Ushenina, AnnagUKR2491½½½½*0½11½½½62548
6.Ju, WenjunwgCHN25440½101*½½0½1162543
7.Lagno, KaterynagUKR25480½01½½*01½½12507
8.Hou, YifangCHN261710½00½1*½10½52464
9.Kosteniuk, AlexandragRUS24910½½½010½*½1½52476
10.Cmilyte, ViktorijagLTU25220½0½½½½0½*½12444
11.Batchimeg, TuvshintugswgMGL229800½0½0½10½*½2396
12.Girya, OlgawgRUS24630000½00½½0½*22252

Once again, the Georgian players show that their country's herstory of producing great female chessplayers is no fluke.  Holy Hathor, what performances by Khotenashvili (I confess I did not recognize her name prior to this tournament, or maybe I just wasn't paying sufficient attention!) and Dzagnidze. 

I was rooting for my favorites (Kosteniuk, Lahno/Lagno), but the Chess Goddess wasn't paying any attention to me this time around, alas.

Some commentary from the official website:

In the last round Georgian player Bela Khotenashvili managed to make a draw against Anna Ushenina and won the tournament. Her nearest rival Anna Muzychuk had to win the game in order to catch the leader but Slovenian player didn’t get anything out of the opening and drew against Alexandra Kosteniuk. “I’m very happy to win this tournament and consider this result as the best one in my career so far. I would like to thank Georgian chess federation, President of GCF Giya Giorgadze and our coach Davit Jojua for their help”, said Bela Khotenashvili at the final press conference.

It became clear today how tired all players are as they were making such mistakes which don’t appear in their games normally. Ukrainian player Katerina Lagno overlooked the piece blunder of her opponent Batchimeg Tuvshintugs, Hou Yifan missed winning chances in the endgame and lost the game against Nana Dzagnidze. Tatiana Kosintseva had a very good position after the opening but was spending a lot of time and lost against Ju Wenjun. Viktorija Cmilyte outplay Olga Girya. As a result, Nana Dzagnidze tied for the third place with Tatiana Kosintseva.

Muzychuk-Kosteniuk 1/2-1/2

Photo by Anastasiya Karlovich

It was an important game for Anna Muzychuk, as in case of victory she had a chance to catch Bela Khotenashvili. “If I could manage to get better position I would definitely play for win”, said Anna Muzychuk but I seems White didn’t get this opportunity during the game. Slovenian player didn’t expect Alexandra Kosteniuk to play Caro-Kann and Russian player managed to equalize the position quite easily. There was no way to improve the position for both sides and the game finished in a draw after 29 moves. Anna Muzychuk finished the tournament without losing any game.

Lagno–Batchimeg 1/2-1/2

Photo by Anastasiya Karlovich

Once again Mongolian player showed good opening preparation and didn’t get any problems with Black. Both players started to play unpredictably after 25 moves and for some time we had doubts in the press-center if there were problems with transmission or not. As it was proved at the press conference, Mongolian player simply blundered a piece by playing Ba4 but surprisingly Katerina Lagno didn’t take the bishop. As both players pointed out, they simply missed Na4! Katerina Lagno simply followed her plan Nc1-Ne2 and could not imagine that Black blundered a bishop. Black had advantage in the endgame but Katerina Lagno managed to transfer the position into the endgame with the opposite color bishops.

And how about this commentary about the Hou-Dzagnidze game!

 Hou-Dzagnidze 0-1

Nana Dzagnidze used to play 9…0-0 but feeling sleepy she mixed moves in the opening. White had slightly better position after the opening and Nana decided to sacrifice the exchange to complicate the game. “I think Black is just worse if I don’t do anything”, said Georgian player at the press conference. However, Hou Yifan managed to get absolutely winning position but had to play precisely as Nana was creating threats all the time. Black used his last chance - brought the king to the center and tried to advance e-pawn. Under the time pressure former world champion started to play inaccurately and even lost the game.


According to the FIDE calendar for FIDE events, the next Women's Grand Prix is:

Women's FIDE Grand Prix SeriesDilijan, Armenia15-Jun-201329-Jun-2013
But there is not yet an official website.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

2013 FIDE Women's Grand Prix: Geneva

Round 10 on 2013/05/14 at 14:00
GMAlexandra Kosteniuk½ - ½GMYifan HOU
GMNana Dzagnidze1 - 0WGMWenjun Ju
GMTatiana Kosintseva½ - ½GMAnna Ushenina
IMBela Khotenashvili1 - 0GMKateryna Lagno
WGMTuvshintugs Batchimeg½ - ½WGMOlga Girya
GMViktorija Cmilyte½ - ½GMAnna Muzychuk

Ranking crosstable after Round 10

Rk. NameRtgFED123456789101112Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3
IMBela Khotenashvili2505GEO*½0101111117.50.0732.00
GMAnna Muzychuk2585SLO½*1½½1½½½117.00.0432.50
GMTatiana Kosintseva2517RUS10*½½½1½1½16.50.0429.75
GMNana Dzagnidze2545GEO0½½*½10½½115.50.5323.50
GMAnna Ushenina2491UKR½½½*10½1½½½5.50.5225.75
GMYifan HOU2617CHN10½0*½1½10½5.01.5325.00
WGMWenjun Ju2544CHN0½01½*½0½115.01.0320.75
GMKateryna Lagno2548UKR0½01½0½*1½15.00.5322.50
GMAlexandra Kosteniuk2491RUS0½½0½10*½1½4.50.0219.25
GMViktorija Cmilyte2522LTU0½0½½0½½½*½3.50.0017.75
WGMTuvshintugs Batchimeg2298MGL00½0½100½*½3.00.0113.75
WGMOlga Girya2463RUS0000½½00½½*

From the official website:

In the tenth round of Neva Fondation Women Grand Prix Georgian player Bela Khotenashvili confidently won against Katerina Lagno and is half a point above of Anna Muzychuk, who made a draw against Viktorija Cmilyte. Tatiana Kosintseva drew against Anna Ushenina and remains on the third place before the last round. Nana Dzagnidze defeated Ju Wenjun and shares the fourth place with Anna Ushenina one point behind of Tatiana Kosintseva. Olga Girya and Tuvshintugs Batchimeg made a relatively quick draw while Alexandra Kosteniuk and Hou Yifan played 6 hours to finish their game in a draw too.

Wow!  An epic battle between Kosteniuk and Hou Yifan!

Kosteniuk-Hou 1/2-1/2
A very complicated and the longest game of the round between two former world champions. After the opening Alexandra could not find the right plan and “was choosing strange moves”, as she pointed out during the press-conference. White lost a pawn but was hoping to get some counter chances due to the pair of bishops. Black missed some opportunities to get huge advantage and later on the players ended up in a very complicated endgame with unbalanced material (2 bishops, knight and 4 pawns against rook, bishop and 6 pawns). After 95 moves players signed a peace.

Ancient Chinese Diviners Used Trickery...

Gee - ya think!  Duh! 2013-05-13 16:54:20

ZHENGZHOU, May 13 (Xinhua) -- Archaeologists revealed Monday that the divination rituals used by ancient Chinese thousands of years ago may have featured some behind-the-scenes trickery.

During the Shang Dynasty (1600 BC -- 1046 BC), emperors relied heavily on prophecy and divination to help them make decisions on matters ranging from domestic policy to the meanings of their dreams.

Zhou Era tortoise shell used for divinination.  From my
stash of images - source not recorded in my description.
One divination technique involved burning turtle shells or cattle bones, with the diviner predicting the future based on the patterns of cracks left in the materials after burning them.

"We have learned from our experiments that the appearance of certain crack patterns is basically controllable," said Hou Yanfeng, a researcher at an archaeology laboratory under the Henan Provincial Administration of Cultural Heritage.

"During the Shang Dynasty, the emperor was the leader of the diviners. Thus, it is possible that he controlled public opinion via oracle bone divination," he said. [Of course!  They who controlled the "media" of the day controlled the message... No different today.]

Ma Xiaolin, deputy director of the administration, said researchers made replicas of oracle bones excavated from central Henan and carried out a month's worth of experiments to figure out precisely how they were created and how they were used in divination.

"Based on saw, cut and burn marks on 185 fragments of oracle bones and shells, our researchers gained insight into the manufacturing techniques that were used to make oracle bones during the late Shang period," Ma said.

The experiments have been recognized by experts from the U.S., France and Spain, Ma said.
The lab went into operation in 2005 and has participated in major archaeological research projects.

Editor: Fu Peng

Elephant Kills Poacher

Good.  Fricking jerks need to be castrated, their balls shoved down their throats to slowly choke on, strung up on a high pole in the village square until the vultures pick out their eyeballs and livers, and then drawn, quartered, and their carcases dragged through every village within 25 miles.  Ha!  Guess you can tell I'm somewhat passionate on the subject of the slaughter of these magnificent animals for profit -- just to provide powdered ivory for some fat cat Chinese asshole who thinks it will increase his erection.  Send the schmucks Viagra, geez! 

Elephant Tramples Poacher in Zimbabwe

Date: 13 May 2013 Time: 02:30 PM ET

In a grim karmic twist, a suspected poacher illegally hunting African elephants was trampled to death by his prey, according to news reports.

The bloodied remains of Solomon Manjoro were found by rangers in Charara National Park near Lake Kariba in northwestern Zimbabwe, the country's Sunday Mail reported. Authorities say Manjoro and his accomplice, Noluck Tafuruka, 29, went into the park with two rifles looking for elephants when one of the animals apparently attacked. Tafuruka and another man, Godfrey Shonge, 52, were reportedly arrested in connection with the incident.

An international ban on the ivory trade was established in 1989, but poachers still strip elephants of their ivory tusks to sell on lucrative global markets, with a high demand coming from East Asia. The Wildlife Conservation Society estimates that some 25,000 African elephants are killed each year. Last week, a group of armed poachers raided a protected sanctuary in the Central African Republic and killed at least 26 elephants.
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