Saturday, August 23, 2014

Oldest Metal Object To Date In Middle East Found in Woman's Tomb

The Oldest Metal Object Found to Date in the Middle East

According to Dr. Danny Rosenberg of the University of Haifa’s Zinman Institute of Archeology, the copper awl is a unique and very rare artifact, whose discovery, along with other items during the excavations at Tel Tsaf in the Jordan Valley, indicates that the site was an ancient international commercial center

Released:21-Aug-2014 4:00 AM EDT
Source Newsroom:University of Haifa
Newswise — A copper awl, the oldest metal object found to date in the Middle East, was discovered during the excavations at Tel Tsaf, according to a recent study published by researchers from the Zinman Institute of Archaeology and the Department of archaeology at the University of Haifa , in conjunction with researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the German Archaeological Institute of Berlin. According to the study, which appeared in the prestigious journal PLOS One, the awl dates back to the late 6th millennium or the early 5th millennium BCE, moving back by several hundred years the date it was previously thought that the peoples of the region began to use metals.

Only 4 centimeters long, and originally set in a wooden handle.

Hello...Has No Chinese Archaeologist Ever Heard of the Tocharians???

From Xinhua 2014-08-17 15:06:04

YINCHUAN, Aug. 17 (Xinhua) -- The remains of a human skull found in a 1,400-year-old tomb in China possibly belonged to a man of European origin, an initial investigation by scientists revealed on Sunday.

The skull was found in the M1401 tomb in Guyuan City in northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.

"The man had a protruding nasal bone and a sunk nasion, which are typical features of Europeans," said Zhang Quanchao, professor with the Research Center for Chinese Frontier Archaeology of Jilin University.

Zhang believes the skull belonged to a 40-year-old man of European origin.  Further excavation is needed for a firm conclusion, he said.

"If we can find his teeth and more bones, we will have a more precise judgement about his age," he said.

The tomb was first discovered in the 1980s. Illegal excavation was reported this year, and archaeologists began to unearth the tomb in June for protection.  More than 40 clay figures, copper coins and a number of murals were found in the tomb, according to Zhu Cunshi, head of the archaeological team.

Zhu said the tomb was built in the early Tang Dynasty (618-907).  Ningxia is along the ancient Silk Road that connected China with Europe through commerce.

Editor: Xiang Bo

Wall painting of "Tocharian Princes" from Cave of the Sixteen Sword-Bearers (no. 8), Qizil, Tarim Basin, Xinjiang, China. Carbon 14 date: 432–538 AD. Original in Museum für Indische Kunst, Berlin.
You can't really see the faces in this image, but you can see the color of three of the four men's hair -- two redheads and one blonde. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Teams USA Final Results at Tromso Chess Olympiad

Is Rex S. pulling his hair out of his head?  Geez, it was bad, people, BAD!

The Open (a/k/a Men's) Team finished in 14th place overall.  Really?  The Netherlands, France, Cuba and Israel finished ahead of us (US).  Holding my nose as I look at the final results.  HOLY HATHOR.  Will the USCF now try to pass this off as some kind of great victory?  I sure the hell hope not.

Final Ranking after 11 Rounds - Open

Rk.SNoTeamTeamGames+ = - TB1 TB2 TB3 TB4
United States of AmericaUSA1163215348.028.0143.00

HUNGARY'S OPEN TEAM with GM Judit Polgar playing Board 5 (WHAT?), takes the silver medal.  Go figure! A fine way for the fabulous Judit to go out on, heh? 

Let's look at the USA men's individual performances -- were they worth the money laid out?

14. United States of America (USA / RtgAvg:2701, Captain: Donaldson John W / TB1: 15 / TB2: 348)
1GMNakamura Hikaru2787USA½1½½1½½105.5927325.56.02-0.5210-5.2
2GMKamsky Gata2706USA1½00½½½0½3.5924903.55.97-2.4710-24.7
3GMOnischuk Alexander2659USA1111½10½½6.5926916.55.930.57105.7
4GMAkobian Varuzhan2653USA1½001103.5724943.54.84-1.3410-13.4
5GMShankland Samuel L2624USA1111111½1½9.010283196.822.181021.8

Clearly Sam (I'm quitting, quitting, quitting, do you hear me?  QUITTING...) Shankland was the star of the team.  What does that tell you, heh?

And then, there are the women.  They showed some verve, finishing overall in 8th place, one spot below their starting rank:

Final Ranking after 11 Rounds - Women

Rk.SNoTeamTeamGames+ = - TB1 TB2 TB3 TB4
United States of AmericaUSA1172216339.529.5139.00

 The Russian women's team was on fire - totally (and rightfully so) pissed off about the political BULLSHIT that went on to try and keep the team out of the Olympiad.  Ha!  Up yours, FIDE, a collective message from Russia's female chess players, with Love, darlings.  Too bad, though, about Lahno jumping federations.  That was poorly done, poorly done, Kateryna.

Individual Russian women performances:

1. Russia (RUS / RtgAvg:2520, Captain: RUBLEVSKY Sergei / TB1: 20 / TB2: 420.5)
1GMLagno Kateryna2540RUS11½½11½0½06.010252466.03-0.0310-0.3
2GMGunina Valentina2524RUS1½11½½11½18.010265186.441.561015.6
3GMKosteniuk Alexandra2531RUS111½1½1½17.5926397.56.321.181011.8
4WGMGirya Olga2484RUS11½011½05.08238555.82-0.8210-8.2
5WGMPogonina Natalija2479RUS11½½11½5.5724965.55.250.25102.5

One of my favorite players, Alexandra Kosteniuk (12th Women's World Chess Champion), played well on Board 3.  I would love to see her hit 2600 ELO.  It won't be easy, but this is one tough competitor.  Don't be fooled by her lovely exterior and gentle manner; she's got the heart of a warrior, no question.  Valentina Gunina was also outstanding, gaining 15.6 ELO ratings points!

USA Women's Team individual performances:

8. United States of America (USA / RtgAvg:2405, Captain: SHULMAN Jury / TB1: 16 / TB2: 339.5)
1GMKrush Irina2474USA11010½00½15.010229057.15-2.1510-21.5
2IMZatonskih Anna2466USA101½1½½1117.51024587.57.240.26102.6
3WGMAbrahamyan Tatev2366USA1½11½½10117.51023847.57.030.47209.4
4WGMNemcova Katerina2315USA10½10114.5722594.54.65-0.1520-3.0
5WGMFoisor Sabina-Francesca2252USA11111005.07226654.520.48209.6

None of the women had break-out performances, but Tatev Abrahamyan and Sabina-Francesca Foisor performed above their ELO ratings.  A respectful nod, too, to Anna Zatonskih, who helped prevent Team USA Woman from sinking further in the standings by her steady play on Board 2.  She as the only American player who also finished in the Top 10 for her individual performance on Board 2.

Here's a question:  Do the big pay-offs bankrolled by Rex S. for becoming USA chess champions make the winners fat and lazy?  Gata Kamsky on the "Open" (a/k/a Men's) Team and Irina Krush on the Women's Team - sucked. 'Nuf said.

Outstanding individual performances by women -- kudos to:


Board 1
GMDzagnidze, Nana2550Georgia271998.088.92353
GMHou, Yifan2661China267197.077.82447
GMCramling, Pia2500Sweden26591110.090.92233

Board 2
GMGunina, Valentina2524Russia2651108.080.02411
GMKhotenashvili, Bela2494Georgia2589108.080.02325
WGMJu, Wenjun2559China2564118.072.72389

Board 3
Rk. NameRtgTeamRpGamesPts.%RtgAvg
GMKosteniuk, Alexandra2531Russia263997.583.32352
IMMatnadze, Ana2385Spain2445107.575.02252
WFMFrisk, Ellinor2257Sweden2432119.586.42110

Board 4
Rk. NameRtgTeamRpGamesPts.%RtgAvg
GMZhukova, Natalia2468Ukraine2512107.575.02294
WGMBartel, Marta2359Poland243996.572.22273
IMBulmaga, Irina2354Romania2433108.080.02176

Board 5
Rk. NameRtgTeamRpGamesPts.%RtgAvg
WGMPadmini, Rout2318India258487.593.82124
WGMGuo, Qi2453China252086.581.32243
WIMDauletova, Gulmira2252Kazakhstan248687.087.52024


The best players sorted according Rp,Pts,games,%,board (Final Ranking after 11 Rounds) - Women

No. NameRtgTeamRpPts.Games%Bo.
GMDzagnidze Nana2550Georgia27198.0988.91
GMHou Yifan2661China26717.0977.81
GMCramling Pia2500Sweden265910.01190.91
GMGunina Valentina2524Russia26518.01080.02
GMKosteniuk Alexandra2531Russia26397.5983.33
IMMunguntuul Batkhuyag2410Mongolia26389.01090.01
GMStefanova Antoaneta2505Bulgaria25998.51085.01
GMKhotenashvili Bela2494Georgia25898.01080.02
WGMPadmini Rout2318India25847.5893.85
IMZiaziulkina Nastassia2407Belarus25809.01181.81

I take my hat off to GM Pia Cramling, who continues to show her true grit.  Do you know -- she was the second female player EVER, after GM Susan Polgar, to earn her GM title the traditional way (no concessions for being a female player, in other words).  She is one of the people I would most like to meet before I croak, let me tell you!  I would love to just take a nice long walk with her through a lovely wilderness preserve, and ask her questions, and see where the conversation goes.

WIM, IM, WGM and GM FIDE-Norms (unofficial)

No.FideIDNameTeamFEDAfter Rd.Pts.GamesNew Title
112512230WFMAsgarizadeh, MinooIranIRI116.59WIM
214202182WFMBaymuradova, SevaraUzbekistanUZB1169WIM
31708481WFMFrisk, EllinorSwedenSWE119.511WIM
45204585Fronda, Jan JodilynPhilippinesPHI106.59WIM
514201437WFMGevorgyan, IrinaUzbekistanUZB1169WIM
61017292WIMHaast, AnneNetherlandsNED116.510WGM
78603006WGMJu, WenjunChinaCHN11811IM
812512214WGMKhademalsharieh, SarasadatIranIRI1179IM
914607093WFMKolaric, SpelaSloveniaSLO1079WIM
1012401013Luong, Phuong HanhVietnamVIE11710WIM
11933988WFMMilovic, AleksandraMontenegroMNE11811WIM
124500512WCMNarva, MaiEstoniaEST116.511WIM
131800183WFMRichmond, JaneWalesWLS10610WIM
1413700090WGMSaduakassova, DinaraKazakhstanKAZ118.511IM
151308521WIMSeps, MonikaSwitzerlandSUI1169WGM
1613505300FMStetsko, LanitaBelarusBLR1079IM
17931411WFMStojanovic, Marija RMontenegroMNE11810WIM
187101937WGMSukandar, Irine KharismaIndonesiaINA10610IM
194264312WFMTsolakidou, StavroulaGreeceGRE1159WIM
2014609215WFMUnuk, LauraSloveniaSLO117.510WIM
211122320WGMZawadzka, JolantaPolandPOL1169IM

Boo!  None of the female players earned a GM norm.

Kudos to GM Sam Shankland of the "Open" (Men's) Team USA for winning a Gold Medal on Board 5.  Will he become a certain someone's next Golden Boy? Maybe.  Those results speak for themselves.  Will Naka find himself tossed to the gutter?  Well, hasn't he always wanted to go back to New York...

Board-prizes (Final Ranking after 11 Rounds) - Open

Important: Minimum 8 games

Board 5
Rk. NameRtgTeamRpGamesPts.%RtgAvg
GMShankland, Samuel L2624United States of America2831109.090.02457
GMMoiseenko, Alexander2707Ukraine271497.077.82487
GMNepomniachtchi, Ian2714Russia265096.572.22469

That's it from Milwaukee, folks.  I'm going back to cooking up some Polish-style drumsticks (don't ask) and unpacking yet more boxes from the never-ending move of Maison Newton.  Smooches.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Judit Polgar Retiring from Professional Chess

Um, I thought she did this years ago, except for the occasional urge to make some appearance fees at special events or serve the call of her homeland (as in an Olympiad).  It's been clear for some time that Judit P.'s heart was no longer solely dedicated to the game. One reaches the point in one's life where too many other things are calling out to one...  And, as we know, Chess is a very jealous lover. 

Here's a link to the report at The Week in Chess

Will there ever be another female player of Judit Polgar's calibre?  Not in what's left of my lifetime, unless there is an undiscovered "prodigy" out there who will stun the world during the next 5-10-15-20 years or so.  I can always hope that will happen; otherwise, female chessplayers will continue in their chess ghetto, earning half (or much less) than mediocre male chessplayers. 

Personally, I won't ever forget actually seeing JP play in person at the FIDE World Chess Championship held at Caesar's Palace Resort Complex in Las Vegas, Nevada, in August, 1999.  I saw her in only one game -- a quarter-finals game, on Friday, August 13th.  She should have won, that's an auspicious number for chess goddesses.  However, she was knocked out of play by GM Alexander Khalifman, a long-shot who went on to win the title.  I was close enough to nearly reach out and touch both of them, I'd only have to have gone a little bit over the red rope separating the row of seats I was in to where the players' table were, but of course that would have been a horrible breach of ettiquette!  I should have done it...

JP's legacy, and that of the three Polgar sisters, will always be part of chess lore.  For that, I am grateful.  They stand as beacons of enlightenment to other aspiring female chessplayers, if they work hard enough (as hard as the best male players, who get utterly obsessed with the game).  Remember - 10,000 dedicated focused, hours of practice and study...that is what research has shown is necessary for most anyone to become an expert at any endeavor.

LIttle Girl Lost and Her Pet Dog...

An absolutely amazing story out of Siberia.  A three year old girl lost in the wilderness for 11 days survived!  Read how.

Little girl survives 11 days in Siberian forest

All hope is lost when her dog returns home without her; then the dog leads rescuers to the missing 3-year-old, who was called the miracle girl

Friday, August 1, 2014

The 2014 Chess Olympiad

Hola!  It's here, at last. 

I remember when Susan Polgar was pushing for Tromso to be chosen as the situs for the next chess Olympiad, seems like a scant few years ago. 

The next two weeks in the teeny world of chess will be filled with our equivalent of blood, sweat and tears, after what was, no doubt, the payment of a considerable amount of "compensation" [bribes] both to allow Tromso the right to host this Olympiad and to allow the admittedly illegal registration of the Russian Women's chess team on July 21st, far after the June 1st deadline for submitting full team rosters.  You can read Mark Crowther's remarkably sanitized version report of what happened here.  Perhaps it is the most reliable -- I don't know.  Personally, I smell filthy gutter sewer rot coming through the ventilation fan on my trusty Toshiba laptop, and that's saying something!  Someday, I may look up this stuff at Chessbase and see what its take is.  Sadly, I am left shaking my head believing that we will never know the full truth of the matter. I used to be a fan of Lahno -- emphasis on the past tense. Stupid, stupid girl.

As you know, I've been up to my eyebrows in this moving/downsizing thing and let me tell you, it is an absolute pain in the ass/arse/butt/bum/buttocks.  I've scant use for chess right now; I'm far more worried about where the hell to put the books that survived multiple purging processes in this house that is two-thirds the size of my former home.  Where DOES one park hundreds of books -- with no room for bookshelves?

Well, let's get back to chess and I'll stop feeling sorry for myself temporarily.  Who are the women on the American team, that's what I want to know!  And do we stand a snowball's chance in hell of medalling this year? (HA!)

Let me put it this way:

7. USA (RtgAvg:2405, Captain:KHACHIYAN Melikset)
1GMKrush Irina2474USA
2IMZatonskih Anna2466USA
3WGMAbrahamyan Tatev2366USA
4WGMNemcova Katerina2315USA
5WGMFoisor Sabina-Francesca2252USA

Good luck, chess femmes, you're going to need every ounce of luck you can get just to maintain that number 7 initial team ranking.

USA's chess dudes team -- wonder how much they had to pay Nakamura to show up?

6. USA (RtgAvg:2701, Captain:Donaldson John W)
1GMNakamura Hikaru2787USA
2GMKamsky Gata2706USA
3GMOnischuk Alexander2659USA
4GMAkobian Varuzhan2653USA
5GMShankland Samuel L2624USA

Sam Shankland?  He who so famously quit chess a few years back after he didn't like his whaa whaaa finish at the U.S. Chess Championships?  Did I wake up in Neverland?  Well, perhaps some of his chessboard derring-do ala Morozevich will come to the fore and he'll be a Grand Star on Board 5.  Fingers crossed.

Stay tuned.

Tunisian Lake Appears Out of Nowhere?

Don't know about this one -- it may be the Tunisian equivalent of an April Fools' joke!

Lake mysteriously shows in drought-torn Tunisia

Hundreds enjoy new lake despite warnings that the water might be radioactive

Only Immoral, Unmodest Women Laugh in Public in Turkey

This politician should run for office as a Republinazi in Alabama or Mississippi.

BRAVA! to these Turkish women who laugh in his face and in the face of ANY person who stupidly believes this kind of garbage.

Turkish women laugh online to protest deputy PM's remarks
ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Hundreds of Turkish women posted pictures of themselves laughing on Twitter on Wednesday to protest comments by Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc, who had urged women not to laugh in public to "protect moral values".
Melda Onur, a lawmaker from the main opposition party CHP, said on Twitter that Arinc's comments portrayed laughing as a dishonourable act and left women exposed to violence.

Arinc criticised the media on Wednesday for taking his comments out of context and focusing on a small part of his speech, in which he said he advised both men and women to adopt "ethical behaviours".

"Some people criticise me by picking up only a part of an 1 1/2-hour speech. What a baseless and disgusting claim. People who have listened to all of my comments have realised this," Arinc was quoted as saying by Hurriyet newspaper.

"I believe I have made a useful speech," he said. "If I had only said women should not laugh then I have done something irrational. But my speech was about manners and moral rules." [Yeah, right.  As if some decadent female NOT wearing hijab forced his mouth open and shoved those stupid thoughts and words down his throat!  The bottom line:  HE SAID WOMEN SHOULD NOT LAUGH IN PUBLIC AS A MATTER OF 'PUBLIC MORALS.']

Opponents accuse Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's government of ruling in an increasingly authoritarian manner and meddling in people's private lives, which has long been a source of conflict between the country's secularists and Erdogan's conservative supporters.

Erdogan is running to become the first directly elected president of predominantly Muslim Turkey.
Arinc, one of the co-founders of Erdogan's AK Party, said this week at a celebration of Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of Ramadan: "The woman should have chastity ... She should not laugh in front of everyone and not be inviting in her behaviour. She should protect her honour."

One women's organisation said it would file a criminal complaint against the deputy PM.
His comments, in which he also criticised television soap operas for promoting decadence, drew criticism from opposition presidential candidate Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu as well. He tweeted: "Our country needs our women to laugh and to hear everyone's joyful laughter more than ever."

(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Larry King)

Darlings, if you have not yet read "The Handmaid's Tale," by Margaret Atwood, I suggest you do so.  Very prescient, was Atwood...

Monday, July 28, 2014

"Bubble Magic" Sent by Isis...Do Dolphins, Porpoises and Whales Read?


Sent to me by Isis.  As Mr. Spock says - "Fascinating..."

I'll be back as I can find time.  Right now I'm just trying to shoe-horn myself into this down-sized house and TONS of unpacking and organizing and trying to make sense of it all yet to do!  The worst of all horrors, darlings -- I have NO ROOM FOR ALL MY BOOKS!

And no bookcases, either, as I left behind the three really junky ones K-Mart lovelies purchaed in 1987 in the upstairs den at Maison Newton, and also the two extremely large bookshelves that were purchased at Sears in 1990 that I somehow managed to put together and actually raise all by myself (that was when I was still relatively young and STRONG LIKE BULL) that would never fit into this house, the very same much loved 16 inches deep and 6 feet tall bookshelves that I did my "leopard print" sponge painting on eons ago...

I've still got my ginormous Oriental-inspired china hutch (no way am I evah parting with this piece of furniture) which will be loaded with books in the glass-sided and back-mirror hutch and covered storage for lots of crap in the cabinets below.  The rest - the best of my books - the most precious to me - that I saved after countless rounds of donating (sure do hope those beautiful donated books of mine find a good home eventually, because each and every one of them is very special) - will be shoe-horned into the "China" hutch (pun pun pun!) and I've got a room I will set up as a den/library, but I need to get new bookcases.  Except there is no space for bookcases. But I will have to make space, one way or another, as I am not going to put my precious books down in the wreck room in the basement.  Even with the best humidity controls that I can afford.  If the power goes out, my books would be ruined below stairs.  Can't do it.  Won't do it.

Couldn't help but think that those ancient and wise sea mammals would be able to give me some good advice, if only I could speak their language.  I almost get it, almost - well, that's how they make me feel whenever I watch videos of them, but we're too fricking stupid to get it -- like they have something so important to let me know, but there's just a part of my brain closed off, or something.  Sooooo frustrating. And here I am, so frightened of water I'd pee my panties at the first mention of dipping more than a toe into an ocean.  And, seriously, I live right on top of Lake Michigan.  The last time I was even on one of its beaches was when I was 14 and wearing my first semi-bikini, and wanted to show off to the young, cute life guards (who were all male back then).  Geez.

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. 
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