Sunday, July 20, 2014

Ancient Mammoth Bone Used in Apparent Olmec Construction Ritual

This is absolutely fascinating!  Why did the builders use this ancient fossil (a few other examples have also been discovered)?  Did they understand how old it was?  Was there a legend that related to an ancient behemoth that they knew but was never recorded in a form that survived so that we of today could learn of it?  So many questions!

Posted at Art Daily -- sometime in July, 2014
Archaeologists find mammoth's tusks used during pre-Hispanic times as an offering

MEXICO CITY.- A mammoth’s tusks —whose approximate antiquity is 10 thousand years before our time—, used in pre-Hispanic times as an offering to consecrate the beginning of a construction, was discovered by specialists of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) in Cerro de los Magueyes, municipality of Metepec, Estado de Mexico.

Investigators from the INAH Center of Estado de Mexico, found the remains of the extinct animal, as part of their archaeological salvage. Photo: Centro INAH Estado de Mexico.

Investigators from the INAH Center of Estado de Mexico, found the remains of the extinct animal, as part of their archaeological salvage. The tusks were placed in a tepetate (limestone) stratum, covered by ceramic fragments, ashes, carbon and some carbonized seeds, which is why archaeologists conclude that it was an offering placed there by ancient inhabitants of Olmec influence during the Middle Preclassic era (1000 – 400 BC).

“Over this offering, the inhabitants placed floors and walls in order to edify. In the Valle de Toluca archaeologists have found mammoth remains, as well as in the municipality of Metepec, but never an offering such as this, which is the first of its type in the region”, said Maria del Carmen Carbajal Correa, who was responsible for the salvage.

To archaeologist Paz Granados Reyes, who also participated in the salvage labors, the offering discovered in the hill is extremely important because it is a very early “building” tribute, since it was made in the Middle Preclassic era.

“Being almost three meters (9.84 feet) long, the remains were carried to the hill from the marshlands. The appropriation of this element must have had ritualistic meaning, since it was given great symbolic value from nature and used as an offering”, explained archaeologist Maria del Carmen Carbajal.

Another finding registered in Cerro de los Magueyes (to the east), are the walls that date back to the Middle Preclassic era. “This is meaningful because the elements are the first vestiges of architecture in the whole Valle de Toluca”, added the investigator Paz Granados.

El Cerro de los Magueyes, a sacred place
• This region, which belonged to Valle de Toluca from the Preclassic era (1000 BC) to the Late Postclassic period (1521 AD), groups with Olmec influence were present; in the Classic period some groups from Teotihuacan arrived, and during the Postclassic they hosted groups of Malatzincas and Mexicas.

• In 1993, at the top of the hill (north), archaeologist Maria del Carmen Carbajal Correa found a cemetery with the remains of Matlatzincas and Mexicas, which leads investigators to conclude there was cohabitation among these groups during the Late Postclassic.    

Was It Race, Or Climate Change, That Triggered A War?

I do wish writers and editors would stop using such misleading lead-ins to articles. 

Saharan remains may be evidence of first race war, 13,000 years ago

This is a very interesting article, once one gets past the crap about it possibly (later in the article it is essentially stated as fact) being a race-based war instead of what a current look at the evidence actually suggests -- it was a war triggered between different population groups competing for the same scarce resources (fresh water and animals going to that water source for food) ... something that is coming to a country near you in the next 50 years or so thanks to global climate changes.

Article by
Scientists are investigating what may be the oldest identified race war 13,000 years after it raged on the fringes of the Sahara.

French scientists working in collaboration with the British Museum have been examining dozens of skeletons, a majority of whom appear to have been killed by archers using flint-tipped arrows.
The bones – from Jebel Sahaba on the east bank of the Nile in northern Sudan – are from victims of the world’s oldest known relatively large-scale human armed conflict.

Over the past two years anthropologists from Bordeaux University have discovered literally dozens of previously undetected arrow impact marks and flint arrow head fragments on and around the bones of the victims.

This is in addition to many arrow heads and impact marks already found embedded in some of the bones during an earlier examination of the skeletons back in the 1960s. The remains – the contents of an entire early cemetery – were found in 1964 by the prominent American archaeologist, Fred Wendorf, but, until the current investigations, had never been examined using more modern, 21 century, technology.

Some of the skeletal material has just gone on permanent display as part of the British Museum’s new Early Egypt gallery which opens officially today. The bones – from Jebel Sahaba on the east bank of the River Nile in northern Sudan – are from victims of the world’s oldest known relatively large-scale human armed conflict.

Now British Museum scientists are planning to learn more about the victims themselves – everything from gender to disease and from diet to age at death. The discovery of dozens of previously undetected arrow impact marks and flint arrow fragments suggests that the majority of the individuals – men, women and children – in the Jebel Sahaba cemetery were killed by enemy archers, and then buried by their own people. What’s more, the new research demonstrates that the attacks – in effect a prolonged low-level war – took place over many months or years.

Parallel research over recent years has also been shedding new light as to who, in ethnic and racial terms, these victims were.

Work carried out at Liverpool John Moores University, the University of Alaska and New Orleans’ Tulane University indicates that they were part of the general sub-Saharan originating population – the ancestors of modern Black Africans.

The identity of their killers is however less easy to determine. But it is conceivable that they were people from a totally different racial and ethnic group – part of a North African/ Levantine/European people who lived around much of the Mediterranean Basin.

The two groups – although both part of our species, Homo sapiens – would have looked quite different from each other and were also almost certainly different culturally and linguistically. The sub-Saharan originating group had long limbs, relatively short torsos and projecting upper and lower jaws along with rounded foreheads and broad noses, while the North African/Levantine/European originating group had shorter limbs, longer torsos and flatter faces. Both groups were very muscular and strongly built. [So we're going Hitleresque here -- making the "enemy" the "other" -- somehow inferior to YOU; but the bottom line is that it was not what the people looked like, it was the fact that they were taking water and animals that the "other" wanted and needed to survive.  Thus - war.  The rest is just gloss.]

Certainly the northern Sudan area was a major ethnic interface between these two different groups at around this period. Indeed the remains of the North African/Levantine/European originating population group has even been found 200 miles south of Jebel Sahaba, thus suggesting that the arrow victims were slaughtered in an area where both populations operated.

What’s more, the period in which they perished so violently was one of huge competition for resources – for they appear to have been killed during a severe climatic downturn in which many water sources dried up, especially in summer time.

The climatic downturn – known as the Younger Dryas period – had been preceded by much lusher, wetter and warmer conditions which had allowed populations to expand. But when climatic conditions temporarily worsened during the Younger Dryas, water holes dried up, vegetation wilted and animals died or moved to the only major year-round source of water still available – the Nile.

Humans of all ethnic groups in the area were forced to follow suit – and migrated to the banks (especially the eastern bank) of the great river. Competing for finite resources, human groups would have inevitably clashed – and the current investigation is demonstrating the apparent scale of this earliest known substantial human conflict .

[Note:  So, the information in bold is the crux of the matter.  Race war?  Oh please!  War over scarce resources, yes.  Isn't it interesting how in the 21st century, when we are supposedly so advanced, we still insist upon applying 18th century lenses to our perceptions of what may have happened in the past!]

The skeletons were originally found during UNESCO-funded excavations carried out to investigate archaeological sites that were about to be inundated by the Aswan High Dam. All the Jebel Sahaba material was taken by the excavator Fred Wendorf to his laboratory in Texas, and some 30 years later was transferred to the care of the British Museum which is now working with other scientists to carry out a major new analysis of them.

“The skeletal material is of great importance – not only because of the evidence for conflict, but also because the Jebel Sahaba cemetery is the oldest discovered in the Nile Valley so far,” said Dr. Daniel Antoine, a curator in the British Museum’s Ancient Egypt and Sudan Department.

Of the 59 Jebel Sahaba victims, skeletal material from two has been included in the new Early Egypt gallery. The display includes flint arrowhead fragments and a healed forearm fracture, almost certainly sustained by a victim seeking to defend himself by raising his arm during an episode of conflict.

Nanjing Man is a Woman

Interesting facial reconstruction.  I wonder, if the people doing the reconstruction had chosen a "masculine" jawbone instead of a "feminine" one, would Nanjing Man still be a dude?  I was also much struck that this face is remarkably human, given the age of the fossil bones upon which it was reconstructed.  Nanjing woman is not depicted as an "ape-woman."  Only goes to shows how perceptions of human "evolution" have changed over time, as we get more enlightened on the subject.  Some day they'll get it right!  Posted at Women of China:

Experts Reconstruct Face of Ancient Woman

July 19, 2014
Editor: Amanda Wu

Experts have succeeded in giving a face to the ancient Nanjing Man from 300,000 years ago, but it's no man.

Based on the appearance of the reconstructed face, it has been identified as a woman about 30 years old, according to Zhao Chengwen, criminalist and archaeologist at the National Police University of China, which led the reconstruction work.

Zhao said the reconstruction was based on the No 1 skull of Nanjing Man, which lacked a lower jaw and right cheekbone.

Experts repaired the skull's defective parts on a computer, selected a lower jaw from skull banks to match it, and made up the base of the ancient Nanjing woman's face, Zhao added.

The reconstructed face is scheduled to be on exhibit in August in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, when the Youth Olympic Games are held in the city, according to an earlier report from Xinhua net.

Nanjing Man is a subspecies of Homo erectus found in China. Fossils of it were discovered in 1993 in Tangshan cave near Nanjing.

(Source: ECNS)

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Moved Into New Digs At Last! And - Mini-Treasure Trove Discovered!

Hola darlings!

Bear with me, please.  It has been a chaotic and traumatic three months, but about 95% of my possessions are here at the new, smaller, house and I am in the process of unpacking dozens of boxes and trying to figure out where the hell to put everything!

I just wanted to let you all know that yes, I am still alive and feeling quite well, actually, despite all the stress and horrors of packing up and moving from a big house to a small house.  Right now I must put on my shoes and gas-up the lawn mower and mow my much smaller front and back yards :)  The grass here grows half a foot tall in one week, I swear! 

I promise to be back tomorrow and do some posting.  There is no way I can catch up with all the news, of course, but I will be posting on a more regular basis now that I have a space cleared in the midst of the chaos that is presently my new household, to hold my trusty old Toshiba laptop. 

The mini-treasure trove discovered was not, alas, any buried and forgotten money or gold of mine (neither of which I own in abundance, alas).  It's a story I emailed myself the link to on July 14th, so I present it here, because I just love stories like this one.  They serve as continuing proof that we certainly do NOT know everything there is to know about the world around us or even what is buried a few feet underneath our feet :)  Enjoy and I'll be back tomorrow:

Ancient Coins Found Buried in British Cave

Digging through a cave in central Britain, archaeologists uncovered 26 ancient gold and silver coins belonging to the Corieltauvi tribe, a group of people that lived in Britain before the Roman conquest.
Archaeologists previously found collections of coins like these in other parts of Britain, but this is the first time they have ever been discovered buried in a cave. The discovery of the coins was a surprise, because they were found at a site called Reynard's Kitchen Cave, which is located outside the Corieltauvi's usual turf.

"It might be that we have a member of the tribe living beyond the boundary that is more usually associated with the territory," Rachael Hall, an archaeologist at the National Trust who led the excavation, told Live Science in an email.

Back in 2000, a group of almost 5,000 Corieltauvi coins were discovered in Leicestershire. This more recent find at Reynard's Kitchen Cave might be additional evidence that members of the tribe once hoarded coins. Hall and the team speculate that the coins were hidden to ensure they weren't stolen, and whoever buried them may have planned on returning to the site to dig the coins up again.

The discovery included 20 Iron Age coins, three Roman coins and three coins from much later eras, according to a treasury report prepared by Ian Leins, curator of Iron Age and Roman coins at the British Museum. While the coins are not all from the same time period, Hall and the team of archaeologists said it's common to find collections of coins from different times, in the same way that, for example, U.S. coins from earlier decades are still circulating among newer coins.

Archaeologists are still unsure how Iron Age coins were used, but it is unlikely they were used as money to purchase items. They were more likely used as a means for storing wealth, given as gifts or offered as sacrifice. The three Roman coins discovered predate the Roman invasion, so archaeologists believe the coins may have been given as gifts.

A climber seeking shelter in the cave first discovered four of the coins, which prompted a full-scale excavation by the National Trust and Operation Nightingale, a group that helps injured military members recuperate by having them perform field archaeology.

The monetary value today of the coins discovered is around two thousand pounds (about $3,400 USD). The collection of coins officially qualifies as "treasure" under the United Kingdom's 1996 Treasure Act, which means it is valuable enough that it needs to be reported to authorities and offered up to museums.

Earlier excavation of Reynard's Kitchen Cave revealed animal bones and pieces of pottery. The coins will be put on display later this year at the Buxton Museum in Derbyshire.


Were the Corieltauvi followers of the ancient goddess Kore (Car, Cor, Car, Kar, Kali, etc.)?  Don't know, would certainly be interesting to find out.  Meanwhile, here is what Wikipedia has to say about this ancient tribe that lived in the English Midlands well before the Roman conquest. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

What Happens to a Kumari When She Stops Being a Kumari?

From BBC News Online
18 June 2014 Last updated at 15:35 ET

Nepal's living goddess who still has to do homework

2014 Milwaukee Summer Challenge

My adopted chess club, Southwest Chess Club, is holding its third Milwaukee Summer Challenge, a two-day event, this First Day of Summer weekend, woo woo!

Milwaukee Summer Challenge III, June 21-22, 2014
June 21-22 Milwaukee Summer Challenge III
Chess Magnet School Junior Grand Prix!
Trophies Plus Grand Prix Points: 10

5SS, G/120 d5. 4 Sections: Master/Expert (closed), U2000, U1500, U1000. Olympia Resort Hotel, 1350 Royale Mile Rd., Oconomowoc, WI; 1-800-558-9573; (Mention Southwest Chess Club for $99 room rate). EF: $40 All Sections (except U1000), U1000 Entry Fee: $25, all $5 more after 6/18. $$GTD: Master/Expert (closed section) =1st-$300, 2nd-$200, 3rd-$100. U2000=1st-$150, U1500=1st-$80, U1000=1st-$50. Reg.: 8:30-9:30. Rds.: Saturday, June 21: 10:00 am, 2:30 pm, 7:00 pm, Sunday June 22: 10:00 am-3:00 pm. ENT: Allen Becker, 2130 N. 85th St., Wauwatosa, WI 53226 or Questions: TD Tom Fogec 414-405-4207 (cell).
This year, unfortunately, because of the strain on my finances due to this house downsizing thing -- which had been meant to DOWNSIZE my expenses as well as the time/energy spent in keeping up the yard, etc., thus freeing up more funds and time for my chessly activities -- HA! -- I was not able to fund prizes for female chessplayers for this year's MSC. I hope the ladies will turn out for it, nonetheless.  Goddesschess prizes will return for the next MSC.

As of June 19th, 48 pre-registered entries.  You can follow the action at the Southwest Chess Club blog here.  I see several ladies have, indeed, pre-registered, hooray!  I will be checking in on the action and cheering for you all as I continue to scrape off wallpaper and layers of old wallpaper paste, whilst pulling out my hair (see post below...)

Ta, darlings!  Good luck to all!

Staying Alive, Staying Alive...

Hola darlings!

I have not dropped off the face of the Earth.  I am still wrestling in the throes of this damn selling current house/buying "new" house thing and it's driving me mad, I tell you, mad!  But I believe I am still alive; I do not think I am blogging from "H" "E" double hockey sticks ("L" "L").  Well, maybe I am.  I actually went to You Tube to dig out this little gem from the 1983 sequel to Saturday Night Fever, the (not) big hit Staying Alive:

I have to say John Travolta had a really really nice butt back then...but then, so did I.  LOL!

So, today I am removing the never-ending wallpaper in the family room because I promised my buyers I would do so.  I should just go shoot myself now and be done with it.  But just like John Travolta's character, Tony Manera, I do not know the meaning of the word QUIT ALREADY.  All right, that's two words.  So shoot me.  Please!

It has been raining for the past five days.  My backyard smells like a rotting jungle.  The grass is half a foot tall but I can't get out to cut it because of (1) incessant pouring buckets of rain, accompanied by much thunder and lightning, (2) mud, mud and more mud, the earth is saturated to the point of flooding, and (3) I am out of gasoline for the lawn mower and because of said incessant rain, I have not been able to walk the half mile to the gas station to fill up my gas can, which is not a can at all but a heavy-duty red plastic container with screw-on cap. 

I hope that some time in July I will actually be packed up and moved into the new small home which I have grown to hate Hate HATE over the past sixty days.  This entire process has been a nightmare and, even worse, people all around are telling me "oh, you are having an easy time of it."  Totally insane!

So, there you have it.  Retirement is 895 days away...

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The World's Oldest Pants [Thus Far] Discovered

Call it a hunch, but my bet is that females were the first pants-wearing horseback riders. 

Here's why.  Women are credited with taming wolves (dogs), boars (pigs), bovines (cows) -- and eqquines (horses), too.  The dudes were too busy hunting to worry about "taming" animals; it was the women who came into close contact with these animals on a day-in and day-out basis as they went about gathering eggs (but always being careful to leave some behind), wild rice, fish, berries, grains, roots, tender stalks and other assorted shoots, herbs and greens, the origins of which lay the ancient artcraft of medicine. I cannot imagine that most women would be able to resist trying to tend to infant animals found alone in a nest or a den.

Let us hoe that because the trousers (pants) were recovered from two ancient male burials in the Tarim Basin, it is NOT automatically assumed that all pants-wears MUST have been male.  Such a gender biased assumption makes for bad science.


First pants worn by horse riders 3,000 years ago

Oldest known trousers originated in Central Asia

"Secret Codes" Embedded in Anglo-Saxon Art

Interesting.  I wonder what linguists of the future will make of our use of words such as "sick" to express awesomeness, approval and acclaim -- you know, the old "cool" that I and millions of others still use (it surely dates us, but I don't give a hoot).  Will the break the "code?"

At Slate Online

British Museum Curator Reveals the Secret Codes Embedded in Ancient Artifacts

By Rosie Weetch

The recently reopened Sir Paul and Lady Ruddock Gallery in room 41 of the British Museum covers Europe A.D. 300-1100, and includes many artifacts excavated at an Anglo-Saxon burial mound in Sutton Hoo, England. To mark the new display, curator Rosie Weetch offers an illuminating primer on how to decode the symbols and stories in a piece of Anglo-Saxon metalwork that might otherwise look like mere decoration. Here at The Eye, she shares a recent post from the British Museum blog.

One of the most enjoyable things about working with the British Museum’s Anglo-Saxon collection is having the opportunity to study the intricate designs of the many brooches, buckles, and other pieces of decorative metalwork. This is because in Anglo-Saxon art there is always more than meets the eye.

The objects invite careful contemplation, and you can find yourself spending hours puzzling over their designs, finding new beasts and images. The dense animal patterns that cover many Anglo-Saxon objects are not just pretty decoration; they have multilayered symbolic meanings and tell stories. Anglo-Saxons, who had a love of riddles and puzzles of all kinds, would have been able to "read" the stories embedded in the decoration. But for us it is trickier as we are not fluent in the language of Anglo-Saxon art.

Illustration by Craig Williams, courtesy of the British Museum.
Anglo-Saxon art went through many changes between the 5th and 11th centuries, but puzzles and storytelling remained central. The early art style of the Anglo-Saxon period is known as Style I and was popular in the late 5th and 6th centuries. It is characterised by what seems to be a dizzying jumble of animal limbs and face masks, which has led some scholars to describe the style as an "animal salad." Close scrutiny shows that Style I is not as abstract as first appears, and through carefully following the decoration in stages we can unpick the details and begin to get a sense for what the design might mean.

One of the most exquisite examples of Style I animal art is a silver-gilt square-headed brooch from a female grave on the Isle of Wight. Its surface is covered with at least 24 different beasts: a mix of birds’ heads, human masks, animals, and hybrids. Some of them are quite clear, like the faces in the circular lobes projecting from the bottom of the brooch. Others are harder to spot, such as the faces in profile that only emerge when the brooch is turned upside down. Some of the images can be read in multiple ways, and this ambiguity is central to Style I art.

Top part of brooch (above) turned upside down.  Image from British Museum. 
Once we have identified the creatures on the brooch, we can begin to decode its meaning. In the lozenge-shaped field at the foot of the brooch is a bearded face with a helmet underneath two birds that may represent the Germanic god Woden/Odin with his two companion ravens (see the first image in this post). The image of a god alongside other powerful animals may have offered symbolic protection to the wearer like a talisman or amulet.

Illustration by Craig Williams, courtesy of the British Museum.
The great gold buckle from Sutton Hoo is decorated in this style. From the thicket of interlace that fills the buckle’s surface 13 different animals emerge. These animals are easier to spot: The ring-and-dot eyes, the birds’ hooked beaks, and the four-toed feet of the animals are good starting points. At the tip of the buckle, two animals grip a small doglike creature in their jaws and on the circular plate, two snakes intertwine and bite their own bodies. Such designs reveal the importance of the natural world, and it is likely that different animals were thought to hold different properties and characteristics that could be transferred to the objects they decorated. The fearsome snakes, with their shape-shifting qualities, demand respect and confer authority, and were suitable symbols for a buckle that adorned a high-status man, or even an Anglo-Saxon king.

Animal art continued to be popular on Anglo-Saxon metalwork throughout the later period, when it went through further transformations into the Mercian Style (defined by sinuous animal interlace) in the 8th century and then into the lively Trewhiddle Style in the 9th century. Trewhiddle-style animals feature in the roundels of the Fuller Brooch, but all other aspects of its decoration are unique within Anglo-Saxon art. Again, through a careful unpicking of its complex imagery we can understand its visual messages. At the center is a man with staring eyes holding two plants. Around him are four other men striking poses: one, with his hands behind his back, sniffs a leaf; another rubs his two hands together; the third holds his hand up to his ear; and the final one has his whole hand inserted into his mouth. Together these strange poses form the earliest personification of the five senses: Sight, Smell, Touch, Hearing, and Taste. Surrounding these central motifs are roundels depicting animals, humans, and plants that perhaps represent God’s Creation.

Fuller brooch.  Illustration by Craig Williams, courtesy of the British Museum.
This iconography can best be understood in the context of the scholarly writings of King Alfred the Great (died 899), which emphasized sight and the “mind’s eye” as the principal way in which wisdom was acquired along with the other senses. Given this connection, perhaps it was made at Alfred the Great’s court workshop and designed to be worn by one of his courtiers?

Throughout the period, the Anglo-Saxons expressed a love of riddles and puzzles in their metalwork. Behind the nonreflective glass in the newly opened Sir Paul and Lady Ruddock Gallery of Sutton Hoo and Europe A.D. 300-1100, you can do like the Anglo-Saxons and get up close to these and many other objects to decode the messages yourself.

Viking Era Amulet Found at Revninge, Denmark by Metal Detectorist

An interesting find, and the experts are quite excited about it because of the exquisite detailing of the costume dressing the figurine.  Is it Freya?  To keep this in perspective, 4.6 cm (the size of the figurine) is 1.81102362 inches!  She is very tiny, not even two inches long -- and so finely wrought and detailed. 

At Past Horizons

Viking Age Revninge woman: an exceptional find

5000 Year Old Water System Discovered in Iran

Archaeological teams in Iran have been racing against the clock to excavate and rescue (or prepare for submersion and rescue at some later time) at least 100 ancient sites discovered around the site of the Seimareh Dam reservoir area in western Iran.  Several pictures of the intriguing water system piping are at the Payvand Iran News website:

Photos: 5000-year-old water system discovered in western Iran
Source: Tehran Times; photos by CHN
A 5000-year-old water system has been unearthed during the second season of a rescue excavation project at the Farash ancient historical site at the Seimareh Dam reservoir area in western Iran.

An archaeological team led by Leili Niakan has been carrying out a second season of rescue excavation since March after the Seimareh Dam came on stream, the Persian service of CHN reported on Monday.

The team plans to save ancients artifacts and gather information about the ancient sites, which are being submerged by the dam that became operational in early March.

This system, which comprises a small pool and an earthenware pipeline, was discovered on the eastern beach of the dam on the border between Ilam Province and Lorestan Province, Niakan said.
Part of the water system has been submerged as the water level has risen. However, the team covered that part of the system beforehand to save it for more archaeological excavations while the dam is out of commission.

Each earthenware conduit measures about one meter in length and it is likely that they were made and baked in this region, Niakan stated.  The team is still working on the site to unearth the rest of pipeline, which may lead the archaeologists to the source of pipeline, she added.

Over 100 sites dating back to the Neolithic, Bronze Age, Copper Age, Stone Age, Parthian, Sassanid, and early Islamic periods were identified at the dam's reservoir in 2007. Afterwards, 40 archaeological teams from the Iranian Center for Archaeological Research (ICAR) were assigned to carry out Iran's largest rescue excavation operation on the 40 ancient sites at the reservoirs of the dam in the first season.

Signs of the Mesopotamians' influence in the region were also identified by studies carried out on the ancient strata at the reservoir.

Most of the sites have been flooded by the dam and the rest will go under water after the filling of the dam is completed.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

2014 U.S. Women's Chess Championship

Totally missed it, darlings, so busy involved in this house thing!  I'm going into this news fresh -- don't even know who won.  So, without further ado, here are the final standings:

ch-USA w 2014 Saint Louis USA (USA), 7-21 v 2014cat. I (2270)
1.Krush, IrinagUSA2489*1½1½½½½112411
2.Zatonskih, AnnamUSA24690*1½½11½112413
3.Abrahamyan, TatevwgUSA2366½0*1½11½112424
4.Nemcova, KaterinawgUSA22820½0*½½1½1152311
5.Zenyuk, IrynaUSA2249½½½½*0½10½42228
6.Melekhina, AlisafUSA2151½00½1*01½½42239
7.Foisor, Sabina-FrancescawgUSA2238½000½1*01142230
8.Ni, ViktorijawmUSA2206½½½½001*0½2196
9.Eswaran, AshrithaUSA197900001½01*12221
10.Baginskaite, CamillawgUSA22670000½½0½0*1996
Round 1 (May 8, 2014)
Abrahamyan, Tatev- Melekhina, Alisa1-046C50Giuoco Piano
Nemcova, Katerina- Krush, Irina0-157B89Sicilian Sozin Attack
Zenyuk, Iryna- Zatonskih, Anna½-½50E12Queens Indian Petrosian
Foisor, Sabina-Francesca- Baginskaite, Camilla1-034E32Nimzo Indian 4.Qc2
Ni, Viktorija- Eswaran, Ashritha0-183A46Queen's Pawn Opening
Round 2 (May 9, 2014)
Krush, Irina- Eswaran, Ashritha1-039A30English Symmetrical
Zatonskih, Anna- Abrahamyan, Tatev1-048C02French Advance
Nemcova, Katerina- Zenyuk, Iryna½-½38B35Sicilian Defence
Melekhina, Alisa- Foisor, Sabina-Francesca0-153C02French Advance
Baginskaite, Camilla- Ni, Viktorija½-½61A56Old Indian Defence
Round 3 (May 10, 2014)
Abrahamyan, Tatev- Nemcova, Katerina1-047C53Giuoco Piano
Zenyuk, Iryna- Krush, Irina½-½30D38QGD Ragozin
Foisor, Sabina-Francesca- Zatonskih, Anna0-145E34Nimzo Indian 4.Qc2
Ni, Viktorija- Melekhina, Alisa0-134A04Dutch System
Eswaran, Ashritha- Baginskaite, Camilla1-062B92Sicilian Najdorf with 6.Be2
Round 4 (May 12, 2014)
Krush, Irina- Baginskaite, Camilla1-023E56Nimzo Indian
Zatonskih, Anna- Ni, Viktorija½-½63E60King's Indian without Nc3
Nemcova, Katerina- Foisor, Sabina-Francesca1-029B06Modern Defence
Zenyuk, Iryna- Abrahamyan, Tatev½-½55A33English Symmetrical
Melekhina, Alisa- Eswaran, Ashritha½-½60B23Sicilian Closed
Round 5 (May 13, 2014)
Abrahamyan, Tatev- Krush, Irina½-½41B32Sicilian Labourdonnais
Foisor, Sabina-Francesca- Zenyuk, Iryna½-½47E38Nimzo Indian 4.Qc2
Ni, Viktorija- Nemcova, Katerina½-½50E17Queens Indian
Eswaran, Ashritha- Zatonskih, Anna0-143C11French Defence
Baginskaite, Camilla- Melekhina, Alisa½-½111A59Volga Gambit
Round 6 (May 14, 2014)
Krush, Irina- Melekhina, Alisa½-½49E10Blumenfeld Counter Gambit
Zatonskih, Anna- Baginskaite, Camilla1-0103D40Semi-Tarrasch Defence
Abrahamyan, Tatev- Foisor, Sabina-Francesca1-038C54Giuoco Piano
Nemcova, Katerina- Eswaran, Ashritha1-054A22English Opening
Zenyuk, Iryna- Ni, Viktorija1-042A41Modern Defence
Round 7 (May 16, 2014)
Melekhina, Alisa- Zatonskih, Anna0-172C02French Advance
Foisor, Sabina-Francesca- Krush, Irina½-½78E32Nimzo Indian 4.Qc2
Ni, Viktorija- Abrahamyan, Tatev½-½47A46Queen's Pawn Opening
Eswaran, Ashritha- Zenyuk, Iryna1-063E66King's Indian Fianchetto
Baginskaite, Camilla- Nemcova, Katerina0-114E47Nimzo Indian
Round 8 (May 17, 2014)
Krush, Irina- Zatonskih, Anna1-075A13Reti Opening
Abrahamyan, Tatev- Eswaran, Ashritha1-071B32Sicilian Labourdonnais
Nemcova, Katerina- Melekhina, Alisa½-½52C50Giuoco Piano
Zenyuk, Iryna- Baginskaite, Camilla½-½45E11Bogo Indian Defence
Foisor, Sabina-Francesca- Ni, Viktorija0-152A53Old Indian Defence
Round 9 (May 19, 2014)
Zatonskih, Anna- Nemcova, Katerina½-½81E32Nimzo Indian 4.Qc2
Melekhina, Alisa- Zenyuk, Iryna1-047B31Sicilian Rossolimo
Ni, Viktorija- Krush, Irina½-½66B23Sicilian Closed
Eswaran, Ashritha- Foisor, Sabina-Francesca0-140A04Dutch System
Baginskaite, Camilla- Abrahamyan, Tatev0-146E46Nimzo Indian Rubinstein

ch-USA Armageddon w 2014 Saint Louis USA Wed 7th May 2014 - Wed 21st May 2014
Leading Final Round 1 Standings:
1Abrahamyan, TatevWGMUSA2366=0.5
2Zatonskih, AnnaIMUSA2469=0.5
2 players

ch-USA TB w 2014 Saint Louis USA Wed 7th May 2014 - Wed 21st May 2014
Leading Final Round 2 Standings:
1Krush, IrinaGMUSA24891=1.5
2Abrahamyan, TatevWGMUSA23660=0.5
2 players

GM Irina Krush won her 6th U.S. title and successfully defended her 2013 title.  Again, the top three female players in the country -- Anna Zatonskih, Tatev Abrahamyan, and Krush, battled it out to an exciting climax.  Tatev -- continues to be a bridesmaid, not a bride!  But I have faith in her.  She WILL win the title within the next few years, unless she quits chess altogether.  I just can't imagine that happening, not until she's won her title! 

Article at website of St. Louis Chess Club.  Oh yeah.  GM Gata Kamsky won the men's title.

Women's Prize Structure ($72,000 total; men's prizes were $172,000 total.  Yeah, it's bullshit):

$20, 000
$4, 500
$13, 000
$4, 000
$9, 000
$3, 500
$7, 000
$3, 000
$5, 000
$2, 000
Best Game Prize: $1,000
Total Prize Fund: $72, 000

I was sorry not to see Anjelina Belakovskaia play again this year. 

Two Teenaged Girls Raped and Murdered in Uttar Pradesh, India

May 29, 2014

Indian teen girls gang-raped and hanged from a tree: police


NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Indian police have arrested one man and are looking for four other suspects after two teenage girls were gang-raped and then hanged from a tree in a village in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, police said on Thursday.

The two cousins, who were from a low-caste Dalit community and aged 14 and 15, went missing from their village home in Uttar Pradesh's Budaun district when they went out to go to the toilet on Tuesday evening.

The following morning, villagers found the bodies of the two teenagers hanging from a mango tree in a nearby orchard.

"We have registered a case under various sections, including that of rape, and one of the accused has been taken into custody. There were five people involved, one has been arrested and we are looking for the others," Budaun's Superintendent of Police Man Singh Chouhan told reporters.

Chouhan said a post-mortem confirmed the two minors were raped and died from the hanging. DNA samples have been also been taken to help identity the perpetrators, he added.

The victim's families say the girls were gang-raped and then hanged by five men from the village. They allege that local police were shielding the attackers as they refused to take action when the girls were first reported missing.

It was only after angry villagers found the hanging corpses and took the bodies to a nearby highway and blocked it in protest, say the families, that police registered a case of rape and murder.

A case of conspiracy has also been registered against two constables, said Chouhan, adding that they had also been suspended.

Sex crimes against young girls and women are widespread in India, say activists, adding that females from poor, marginalized, low-caste communities are often the victims.  A report by the Asian Centre for Human Rights in April last year said 48,338 child rape cases were recorded in India from 2001 to 2011, and the annual number of reported cases had risen more than fourfold - 336 percent - over that period.

Women's rights experts and lawyers say rape victims also have to endure harsh treatment from an archaic, poorly funded and insensitive criminal justice system.  Police often try to dissuade victims from complaining and suggest a "compromise" between the victim and the perpetrator, largely because of their insensitivity to sex crimes, but also because police officials are rarely held accountable.

Public outrage over the fatal gang rape of a woman in New Delhi in December 2012 pushed the government into passing a tougher new law to punish sex crimes. This includes sentences of up to two years’ jail for police and hospital authorities if they fail to register a complaint or treat a victim.

(Editing by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Ron Popeski)

Monday, May 26, 2014

Made in China: Museum Shut Down After Fake "Relics" Uncovered

LOL!  Maybe they imported the fakes from Vietnam...  They're producing such things cheaper than China, now. 

Reported at The Telegraph (UK) online:

Chinese museum shut over fakes

A museum in China has been told to close after almost a third of its exhibits were found to be fake

By Oliver Smith, and agencies
11:52AM BST 22 May 2014
According to the Global Times newspaper, Lucheng Museum, in the province of Liaoning, was investigated by police who found thousands of counterfeits among its collection of 8,000 items.
The counterfeits included a sword supposedly from the Qing Dynasty, and claimed to be worth 120 million yuan (£11m).
Around 300 new museums have been built in the last year, according to Chinese state media, but the closure is likely to raise further doubts about the authenticity of their exhibits. Experts have already warned that China’s antiques market is rife with fakes.
Last year the 60 million yuan (£6.4 million) Jibaozhai Museum, located in Jizhou, a city in the northern province of Hebei, shut its doors amid claims that many of its cultural treasures were in fact forgeries.

Ancient Coin Mold Points to Counterfeiting in 100 CE

Here's another old saying from the Bible, courtesy of King Solomon (allegedly):  There is nothing new under the Sun... Forgery and counterfeiting, as old as man.

Story at The Deccan Herald
Tuesday 27 May 2014
News updated at 1:35 AM IST

Mould for minting Roman coins found in Talkad

Akram Mohammed, Mysore, May 19, 2014, DHNS:
For those who think financial fraud or circulating fake currencies is a modern day phenomenon, an ancient Roman coin mould on display at the Department of Archaeology, Museums and Heritage in the city is a startling revelation.
The Roman coin mould, which is being displayed for the first time since its excavation in 1993, indicates that fake coins were in circulation around 19 to 20 centuries ago. The terracotta mould is among the most important objects displayed at the exhibition, apart from terracotta figurines, iron objects, bronze dies, stone beads.

The mold is gold, har :)

M S Krishnamurthy, a retired professor of Archaeology who led the team that unearthed the mould, told Deccan Herald that it was a mould for Roman coins in circulation during the first century AD. “The coins probably were minted either during the period of Augustus or his son Tiberius,” he said.
“In the area where we spotted the mould, a foundry with a crucible was also found. Considering this, it is possible that a person living in Talkad was minting duplicate coins of Romans,” he said. He added that it was one of the rare and unique moulds excavated in the State.

Archaelogist Gowda N L said that the mould contained an inscription of Greek goddess Livia with words, ‘Maxim Pontis’.

“The coins with the same inscriptions were in circulation around the country. Roman coins belonging to the first century AD have been found in various excavation sites around the country. However, such a terracotta mould has never been found elsewhere.”
He added that the coins might have been minted at Talkad and circulated around the country. “It is possible that the value of Roman currency was more in India during the period, which might have led a few individuals at Talkad to indulge in minting fake coins,” he added.

Villagers Protect Archeological Site as Civil War Rages

Oh my!

From the UCLA News Room online:

Archaeologist, villagers protect ancient Syrian city as civil war rages


The discovery received international media attention and acclaim for Buccellati and his wife, Marilyn Kelly-Buccellati, a visiting professor with UCLA’s Cotsen Institute of Archaeology.
Buccellati, a professor emeritus of Near Eastern Languages and Culture and history as well as the director of the Cotsen's Mesopotamia Area Lab and International Institute for Mesopotamian Area Studies, had hoped that the next 20 years would lead to even more discoveries at Urkesh as well as the development of an archaeological park to welcome and educate visitors to the site and preserve a national treasure.
But civil war, now three years old, has put those plans on hold. Because of the eruption of violence in Syria, the Buccellatis haven’t been able to visit the site since December 2011. They became among the last foreign archaeologists to visit Syria.
"The reason we cannot go back is tragic," said Buccellati about the violence between the Assad government and opposition groups that has taken the lives of at least 120,000 and displaced more than 6 million people from their homes. "It is devastating to see what is happening in Syria."
So far, the violence hasn’t reached the site, which is located in a rural area that just recently received potable water and a sewer system.
"Our particular area is more protected, but there have still been battles within 60 kilometers (37 miles) in either direction so the area is potentially at risk," said Buccellati.
His efforts to win the cooperation of the local people who now serve as gardians of the site are documented in a recent report, "In the Eye of the Storm," that details how a plan to protect Urkesh from crumbling unfolded there.
Six Syrian villagers, whom Buccellati is constantly in touch with via cell phones, e-mail and Skype, work at the site. One of their main duties is protecting the site’s centuries-old mud brick walls from rain and snow. So far, the damage to the mud brick has been minimal because the workers have covered the site with metal trellises and tarps.

Villagers covering Urkesh archaeological site.
UCLA and Gulfsands, a London-based oil company that operates in Syria, help fund the villagers’ employment.

New House Found!

Hola darlings!  I've been neglecting both of my blogs while engaged in an intense search for a new home. I will spare you the details :)  I am happy to report that, at last, I found a lovely home and may be moving by the end of June - more quickly than I'd anticipated.

I am frantically running around trying to get projects done around here.  The spirit is willing but the body is weak, as the biblical saying famously notes.  Now that the weather has finally improved here, I've been several weekends out in the yards doing winter clean up, and now the grass is growing leaps and bounds.  It takes several hours to cut the front and back lawns each weekend.  I love working outdoors, but it sure does cut into my weekends, which are the only time to get those projects around here finished!  I'm too tired at night when I get home from the office to do much of anything these days.  Retirement is 920 days away and counting down...

Yesterday I filled the staple holes and some gouges I made digging them out in the staircase.  The holes, and about a gajillion staples, were left behind when I removed the ratty old carpeting a year ago June!  That project sat for a long time, until I sold the house!  Today I sanded down the stairs to leave a (hopefully) smooth surface for refinishing.  I will be putting on a wood conditioner shortly, but right now I'm set up outside enjoying the warm weather.  A storm is coming, I can see it off to the northwest.  It's hot and muggy right now, and overcast.  I had planned on also finishing the stripping of the wallpaper in the family room over this Memorial Day three-day weekend, but that's going to have to wait. I've no intention of turning on the central air to coll down and dry out the house, so hard physical labor will have to wait for another day :)  Today is the warmest of the three -- I actually got quite a bit accomplished Saturday and yesterday (Sunday).

Here she is, so cute!  Just wait until I get a lovely new garden going in the front and add planter boxes
underneath the windows.  And a beautiful trellis between the two ranch-windows.  The architecture is
calling for some vertical accents and circles -- maybe a circular flag-stone area in the middle of the yard centered
on the picture window, with a bird bath in the middle.  A pergola stretching across the front stoop to the end of
the house nearest the driveway, to provide much needed shade in the living room with this western exposure!
Many more improvements planned.  Yes -- it's true!  I'm going to turn into one of those little old ladies
with fake red hair puttering around in her garden...but I will NEVAH wear a house dress, darlings.

So, the new house -- it is some 500 square feet smaller than my current home, which I had built in 1990.  It's a 60 year old one story ranch with beautiful hardwood floors and much smaller front and backyards.  Nearly everything is new in or on the house: new siding; new exterior doors; new concrete patio in the backyard; new steps leading down to said patio from new patio door installed in the dinette area of the kitchen with new laminate floors; new air conditioning unit; new high-efficiency furnace; new privacy fence/gate along the south lot line (borders the driveway.  I will have some painting to do on the inside, and the landscaping -- well, let's just say my gardener's fingers are already itching to get at it!  The kitchen was remodeled in about 2010 and has lovely new appliances.  I will be doing some remodelling of that space, though, to make it exactly as I want it.

A lot of my furniture is being left behind for the young couple who bought my house.  It's a small house!  There is a lower level (basement) rec room that will provide additional living space, but it needs some updating (okay, a lot of updating).  The furniture I am taking with me is too big for the little ranch house!  But I'll make it work.  After all, there is a nice bar in the rec room:

And what self-respecting gal born and raised in Beer City USA doesn't like her own personal bar...

So, I'm going to be consumed with projects and packing, all the logistics of moving to a new home, getting the financing in order and the closing done so I get the keys to the new place.  Oy!  I must be crazy.  Downsizing is a lot of work!  I'll be neglecting the blogs for awhile, alas, but a version of sanity will eventually return to my house and the blog will (eventually) resume it's former pace of posts.  Have patience with me, darlings!

Sarcophagi of Ancient Singer Found In Tomb of Princess

This is an interesting discovery in an 18th Dynasty tomb at Saqqara, at ahramonline:

Funeral relics of pharaonic singer unearthed at Saqqara necropolis
Three painted sarcophagi belonging to an Ancient Egyptian singer have been unearthed at Saqqara
Nevine El-Aref , Saturday 17 May 2014
During excavation works carried out in Bastet cemetery at the Saqqara necropolis just outside Cairo, French archaeologists stumbled upon three wooden sarcophagi belonging to Ta-Ekht, a singer in a sacred choir in the 18th dynasty period (1543–1292 BC).
Presumably Ta-Ekht.  She looks rather like Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra...

Mohamed Ibrahim, the antiquities minister, said that the sarcophagi were found inside each other. The outer sarcophagus is a little deteriorated while the middle and inner ones are well-preserved.

Ibrahim told Ahram Online on Saturday that the sarcophagi were unearthed during excavation works at the tomb of the daughter of 18th dynasty pharaoh Akhenaten, Maya, who was known as Meritee Atun.

Ali El-Asfar, head of the ancient Egyptian antiquities department at the ministry told Ahram Online that the sarcophagi depict the facial features of Ta-Ekht and are decorated with paintings of foliage.
Some elements of Ta-Ekht's funerary collection were also found inside the middle sarcophagus, including two wooden headrests and a rectangular wooden box inlaid with ivory.

The box contained a collection of beauty tools were found, including a spoon with a gazelle-shaped handle, two eye liner containers, a collection of faience beads, and a faience amulet in the famous “eye of Horus” shape.

El-Asfar said that studies are now being conducted to find out why the singer’s sarcophagi were located inside Maya tomb.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Iraqi Law Proposes Nine Year Old Girls Can Be Married Off

Story from The Week. com

foreign affairs 9:58pm ET

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images
Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

A controversial law in Iraq, proposed by former Justice Minister Hassan al-Shammari and passed by the Cabinet, would have girls considered adults at the age of 9 and able to marry, NPR reports.

Known as the Jaafari law (after a school of Islam by the same name), it still has to make its way to the Parliament. Action likely won't be taken until after Iraq forms its new government, following last month's elections. If passed, following the law will be voluntary, and will only apply to the country's Shiite Muslim majority.

Those who oppose the law say that although the people of Iraq have more opportunities to travel and internet access, women's rights are not moving forward, and conservative religious politics are becoming more mainstream. "We know the state of women in Iraq is getting worse, despite the intellectual openness that women had benefited from following the American occupation and the removal of the regime," Fawzia al-Babakhan, a lawyer, told NPR.

While the law is unlikely to be passed and was likely an overture to conservative Shiites, it is still unsettling to radio host Ahlam al-Obeidi. "We are a society plagued by patriarchal attitudes and outdated tribal laws, which are all conducive to violence against women," she said to NPR. "This is not marriage, but rather the selling and buying of young women." --Catherine Garcia
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