Friday, May 21, 2010

Brahmi-Inscribd Stone Discovered in Guwahati State

Please take this article with a large grain of salt.  After reading a few paragraphs it was clear to me that this discovery is being used to advance the Brahmin (Hindu) side of the ongoing cultural wars taking place in India.  I do not know how that war will eventually resolve itself - or perhaps it never will.  But readers should be aware of the ongoing tensions in Indian culture and how, unfortunately, this has carried itself over into archaeological discoveries.  Rather like the United States today.  Sad.  Very sad.

From The Assam Tribune
Rare stone inscription unearthed

Staff reporter

GUWAHATI, May 21 – The Archaeology Directorate here has acquired a Brahmi stone inscription that is described to be the largest of the stone inscriptions in Brahmi script found so far in the State. This has established beyond doubt expansion of the Brahmanical culture to far eastern areas of North Bank part of the State.

The piece of this stone inscription was discovered on April 23 last at the Tipling Sarbajanin Sankar Ashram Siva Mandir, Bhogpur, Narayanpur under Bihpuria Police Station in Lakhimpur district. Mahendra Hazarika of Tipling Kachuwa village under Narayanpur Revenue Circle stumbled upon this precious piece of stone at the Siva Mandir complex.

Archaeology Director Dr HN Dutta told this newspaper that the piece of the stone measures 85 cm in length, 34 cm in width and 15 cm in thickness. It has 19 lines of writing engraved in Brahmi script, of which 16 lines are in its edge and all lines are executed horizontally in the smooth surface of the stone. The inscription is datable to 900 AD, said Dr Dutta.

This is the only Brahmi inscription found in Lakhimpur district so far. After the Harzarbarman Rock Inscription of the 8 th Century AD, this is the only Brahmi inscription found so far in the North Bank of the State, Dr Dutta said.

The evidence of the expansion of Brahmanical culture, beyond Da-Parbatia archaeological site in Tezpur, on the North Bank of the State, is found only recently at Gardaul archaeological site, Tezpur and Bamgaon archaeological site at Biswanath Chariali. The Da-Parbatia archaeological site was discovered in 1936.

The discovery of this stone inscription in Pathalipahar has proved the expansion of Brahmanical culture to far eastern region of the North Bank. Earlier, the discovery of stone temple relics at Lonpani Devalaya, Gosaipukhuri, now known as Yuba Nagar in Laluk area of Lakhimpur district, had threw some lights on the expansion of the Brahmanical culture to this part of the State.

However, archaeological evidences of the mediaeval period are found in this part of the State.

The piece of stone was preserved by the Tipling Siva Mandir committee with much care after it came to its knowledge that the stone contains the valuable inscription. It was handed over to the Archaeology Directorate by the temple committee at the instance of the police and civil administration of the district.

The origin of the piece of stone has been traced to Pathalipahar campus of the Sankaradeva Mahavidyalaya. It came to the Siva Mandir with the earth removed from the Pathalipahar area by the college authorities for construction activities. The dug out earth of the area was taken to the site of the under-construction railway over bridge on the NH-52 for earth work.

Following this discovery, Dr Dutta has asked the Sankaradeva Mahavidyalaya authorities to abandon further digging activities in the Pathalipahar area without the prior permission of the Archaeology Directorate.

The Rape of Meroe

Excerpted from The New York Times:

Full Review
The Mysteries of Meroe
Published: May 21, 2010

In 1772, the Scotsman James Bruce caught sight of broken obelisks and barely discernible traces of pyramids as he traveled back from the source of the Blue Nile. These, he reckoned, had to be the remains of Meroe, known to Ancient Greek historians.

It was the Frenchman Frédéric Caillaud who, on the morning of April 25, 1822, first saw “a host of pyramids.” He accurately drew and described these in his book “A Trip to Meroe on the White River,” published in 1826. The consequences were disastrous. Antique hunters rushed to loot the site.

In 1834, Giuseppe Ferlini destroyed several pyramids. As he blew up one of these, the Italian dealer laid hands on a fantastic treasure that turned out to have belonged to Kandake (Queen) Amanishakheto. The priceless historical documentation that a proper archaeological investigation would have yielded was pulverized by the explosion and the objects were sold to museums in Munich in 1839, and Berlin in 1844.

Eventually, archaeologists stepped in. The Prussian Karl Richard Lepsius, who conducted a three-year-long campaign, produced an exemplary study of the standing monuments.

In the 20th century, a mission funded by Harvard University and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts worked out the chronological succession of the Kushite rulers of Meroe. Bronzes and ivories came to light, as well as gold jewels inlaid with mother-of-pearl and semi-precious stones that had been overlooked by looters in damaged tombs, and others preserved in funerary caches that had escaped destruction.

More important, the American expedition led by George Reisner opened up a new chapter of cultural history. No one had expected Greek and Roman objects to be found deep in black Africa. The northern necropolis of Meroe yielded a wine vessel in the form of an Amazon figure riding a rearing horse and holding a pouring vessel of the type called rhyton. This is a fifth-century B.C. piece, signed by Sotades, a potter from Athens. Stylistically reminiscent of the Parthenon marble riders, the artefact, fit for kings, was found in a royal tomb. A Roman silver wine cup of the first century A.D. from Italy turned up in the landfill of another pyramid.

And more - much, much more... [Image: © Jürgen Liepe, from National Museum of Sudan at Khartoum, "royal archer."]

Imagine another Egypt, with a marked black African component. This is Meroe, in present-day Sudan. In art, ancient Egyptian deities appear alongside others, unknown elsewhere. The Meroitic cursive script has been deciphered, revealing that it transcribes an African language. It is related to others spoken today, like Taman in parts of Darfur and Chad, Nyima in the Sudanese Nuba mounts, or Nubian in upper Egypt and Sudan. For the moment though, it is only beginning to be partially understood.

The day a bilingual text sufficiently long to give at last a key to the Meroitic language turns up surprises are to be expected. The latest discoveries displayed at the Louvre suggest that it might not be too far off.

Méroé, un empire sur le Nil. Musée du Louvre, Paris. Through Sept. 6.

From the Lourve Museum website:  Meroe, Empire on the Nile

New Pyramid Discovered in Peru

On the 19th I posted about a new pyramid discovered in a southern state of Mexico.  Now this article on a new pyramid discovered in Peru.  Are they in a contest or something?

New pyramid discovered in Peru linked to ancient copper industry
By Owen Jarus
Friday, 21 May 2010

A team of archaeologists who uncovered a 1,400 year old pyramid in Peru say that the finding is particularly unusual. The flat-topped pyramid, which was built by the Moche culture, was used for the living rather than just for the dead, and contains a wealth of artefacts, murals and human remains.

The pyramid was discovered at Huaca Colorada, which translates as ‘coloured hill’. Excavation leader Professor Edward Swenson, of the University of Toronto, describes how he suspected that the area may be archaeologically significant. “I knew it was more than a natural hill – this was modified.”

Swenson’s hunch paid off. With the pyramid so far only partially uncovered, archaeologists have already made remarkable discoveries. “Our biggest surprise was that at the top of this pyramid construction we found elite residences”, said Prof Swenson, who added that it is very unusual to find pyramids used in this way. The Moche are known to have used pyramids for burials and ritual activity rather than everyday living.

The living complex would have housed no more than 25 people, and was complete with patios, a kitchen, and stands for ‘paica’ – large vessels for storing water and corn beer. The team also identified a bin used to hold guinea pigs: “The preservation was so good that we actually came across guinea pig coprolites (faeces).”

Several murals covered the corridors at the pyramid's summit. The best-preserved of these depicts a Moche warrior - who Swenson describes as looking “like a Smurf” - carrying a club. Other murals include a depiction of what appears to be a cactus with two mountain peaks and a rainbow, and a representation of two litter-bearers carrying a person.

Evidence of ritual sacrifice was also discovered at the site. The skeletons of three adolescent girls, and body parts belonging to four other individuals, were found on a platform at the top of the pyramid. The girls were buried with beads around their neck and their feet were close together, suggesting that they had been bound. Charring on the girls' knees indicate that their bodies were subject to “ritualistic burning.”

This evidence raises the possibility that the girls were sacrificed as part of a ritual, something not uncommon among the Moche. However physical anthropologists examining the skeletons could find no evidence of trauma. This means the girls either died naturally or were killed in such a way that no evidence was left on their bones. “It’s possible they were sacrificed but we don’t know,” adds Prof Swenson. [Oh for goddesssake, haven't these people ever heard of poison?]

To the south of the pyramid the team found a large number of copper artefacts including spatulas, knives, smelting receptacles and ornaments. “I’ve never found such a high quantity of copper,” says Swenson. “The power of these elites could very much have been grounded in control of copper production.”

Huaca Colorada is near the coast of Peru where copper is scarce, so the site’s rulers would have had to trade with people living in the mountains, at least 200km to the east. Swenson speculates that the rulers “may have been considered lords – but lords of a particular kind – in transforming ore into finished products”. Alternatively, says Swenson, there could have been a “corporation of co-operating but high status practitioners.”

Huaca Colorada appears to be undefended. Swenson said the team found “no walls, no sling-stones... unlike many of the sites built on the coastal hills.” The area surrounding the settlement was mostly flat, and would have offered little resistance from invaders. There was certainly warfare in the Moche world, but perhaps, for some unknown reason, Huaca Colorada and its pyramid were off-limits to invaders. “It’s kind of like (the) open city of Rome in World War II,” says Swenson. “I don’t know exactly what’s going on.”

Excavation work continues at the site, and researchers will conduct a GPR survey on the pyramid this summer to determine its size.

2010 U.S. Chess Championship

It couldn't be clearer from this Round 7 video recap from the offical website for the 2010 U.S. Chess Championship - only the top 4 count.  The only other player who was mentioned in the recap was GM Larry Christiansen, who had a chance to make a break-through into the "quad."  A sound bite from Christiansen after the game was telling.  To paraphrase, he said that the tournament was over for everyone else except the top 4. He's right.  Everyone else is second thought, including Christiansen.  For a national championship set-up, that is pathetic.  And an insult to the players who didn't make the "quad."  They didn't come to St. Louis to pick their noses, but they may as well have.

Here is the video recap. 

A few other players, including IM Irina Krush and her quest for her second GM norm, were mentioned in today's article at Chess Life Online by FM Mike Klein, who has been providing excellent reports throughout the tournament.  According to Klein, Krush needs to score 1 point in her final 2 games - so they're only playing 9 games, not 10?  Whatever.  As Christiansen said, "the real tournament is over."  Personally, it doesn't much matter to me what dude wins the Men's Championship since Krush doesn't have a chance at the title, but I am rooting for her to get that second GM norm.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

U.S. Women's Champ Anna Zatonskih to Give Fund-Raising Simul

This is from current Women's World Chess Champion GM Alexandra Kosteniuk's chess blog.  For the full post, please visit the linked report - there is an application form and further information about the entire program and the simul!  This photo of IM Zatonskih is from the 2009 U.S. Women's Chess Championship.

June 8th, 2010
6:00 – 10:00 PM
Saguaro Auditorium
Rosati Education Center, Banner Desert Medical Center
1400 S. Dobson Rd., Mesa, AZ 85202, USA

Come Meet the Reigning and Three Time U.S. Women’s Chess Champion Woman Grandmaster and International Master Anna Zatonskih and support Pediatric Rehab at Cardon Children’s Medical Center!

Don’t miss this exciting opportunity to meet one of the best chess players in the world! All proceeds will go directly toward the purchase of much needed rehabilitation equipment. For example, a state of the art rehabilitation bicycle costs $5,000.00! Many other items are on the wish list for this unit that does so much to help children who have been disabled from injury or disease. WGM Zatonskih will speak about what it takes to balance motherhood with being a world class chess champion. She will also perform some feats of mental gymnastics as she dazzles you with her chess brilliance in her effort to raise money for a very special cause.
So please mark your calendars now and plan to be a part of chess history at Cardon Children’s!

Please RSVP by June 4th to Medical Staff Office at 480-412-3221 or

6:00 – 6:30: Reception
6:30 – 7:00 Dinner
7:00 – 7:15 Introductions – Norm Saba, M.D.; Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman
7:15 – 8:00 – WGM Anna Zatonskih
8:00 – Chess Exhibition
9:45 – Closing Remarks
Cost: $50.00 per couple or $30 per single

Please make your tax deductible donations to:
Banner Health Foundation (include “Pediatric Rehabilitation Unit” on your check) and mail them to Norm Saba, M.D.; Medical Staff Office; Banner Desert Medical Center; 1400 S. Dobson Rd.; Mesa, AZ 85202 by June 4th. If you have questions feel free to call Norm at 602-228-2379.

2010 U.S. Chess Championship

Round 7 Krush v. Lenderman:

Event "2010 US Championship"]

[Site "St Louis"]
[Date "2010.05.20"]
[Round "7"]
[White "Krush, Irina"]
[Black "Lenderman, Alex"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteELO "2494"]
[WhiteTitle "IM"]
[BlackELO "2649"]
[BlackTitle "GM"]
[Source "MonRoi"]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.Bd2 Bg7 6.e4 Nb6 7.Be3 O-O 8.Bb5 Bd7 9.Bxd7 Qxd7 10.Nf3 Nc4 11.Qe2 Nxe3 12.Qxe3 Nc6 13.Rd1 e6 14.O-O Rfd8 15.e5 Nb4 16.Ng5 h6 17.Nf3 Nd5 18.Qc1 Nxc3 19.Qxc3 Qd5 20.a3 Bf8 21.Rc1 c6 22.Rc2 a5 23.Rfc1 Rd7 24.Qc4 Qxc4 25.Rxc4 Rd5 26.Kf1 Ra6 27.Ne1 Rb6 28.Nd3 Rb3 29.Ke2 Be7 30.R1c2 h5 31.f4 Rd7 32.Nc1 Rb5 33.Ke3 f5 34.a4 Rb6 35.Nd3 Kf7 36.g3 Rd8 37.h4 Ra6 38.R4c3 Rd5 39.Rb3 b5 40.axb5 cxb5 41.Rbc3 Ra7 42.Rc7 Rd7 43.Rxa7 Rxa7 44.Rc6 Rd7 45.Rb6 Rd5 46.Nc1 b4 47.Nd3 Bf8 48.b3 Be7 49.Nb2 Rc5 50.Nc4 Rc7 51.Ra6 Bd8 52.Kd3 Ke7 53.Ra8 Rc6 54.Kd2 Kd7 55.Ra7 Bc7 56.Kd3 Ke8 57.Rb7 Bd8 58.Nd6 Kf8 59.Nc4 Ke8 60.Rg7 Ra6 61.Nd6 Kf8 62.Rf7 Kg8 63.Rd7 Ra8 64.Nb7 Bb6 65.Rd6 Bc7 66.Rc6 a4 67.bxa4 Ba5 68.Rxe6 b3 69.Nxa5 Rb8 70.Nxb3 Rxb3 71.Kc4 1-0

Good for Irina!  She is still in the hunt for her second GM norm.  Not sure - I thought I read somewhere (in Ben's blog?) that she needs to score 2 points in her last 3 games to get it.

Now the bifurcated championship stuff happens.  The following top four dudes go into some kind of quad thingy: Nakamura, Onischuk, Kamsky, Shulman, all with 5.0/7.  Everyone else is now fighting for 5th place over 3 final games.  Whoop de doo.

R7 Standings:

Rank Name Score M/F Rating TPR W-We 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

1 GM Nakamura, Hikaru 5.0 M 2733 2764 +0.33 1 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½
2 GM Kamsky, Gata 5.0 M 2702 2773 +0.67 1 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½
3 GM Onischuk, Alexander 5.0 M 2699 2781 +0.78 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ ½
4 GM Shulman, Yuri 5.0 M 2613 2755 +1.35 ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 1 ½
5 GM Christiansen, Larry 4.5 M 2578 2710 +1.28 1 ½ ½ 1 0 1 ½
6 GM Stripunsky, Alexander 4.5 M 2570 2659 +0.87 0 1 1 1 ½ 0 1
7 GM Hess, Robert L 4.0 M 2590 2607 +0.19 1 0 1 0 0 1 1
8 GM Shabalov, Alexander 4.0 M 2585 2627 +0.43 ½ 1 0 0 1 1 ½
9 GM Finegold, Benjamin 4.0 M 2539 2608 +0.67 ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 1 ½
10 GM Yermolinsky, Alex 4.0 M 2528 2627 +0.99 0 1 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½
11 IM Krush, Irina 4.0 F 2455 2636 +1.74 1 ½ 0 ½ 1 0 1
12 GM Akobian, Varuzhan 3.5 M 2599 2572 -0.25 ½ 1 1 ½ 0 ½ 0
13 GM Ehlvest, Jaan 3.5 M 2591 2534 -0.55 1 ½ ½ 0 0 ½ 1
14 GM Kraai, Jesse 3.5 M 2492 2599 +1.01 ½ 0 1 1 1 0 0
15 GM Kaidanov, Gregory 3.0 M 2577 2496 -0.80 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 0 ½
16 GM Robson, Ray 3.0 M 2569 2500 -0.70 0 0 1 ½ ½ ½ ½
17 GM Khachiyan, Melikset 3.0 M 2539 2536 -0.05 1 0 0 ½ 0 ½ 1
18 GM Lenderman, Alex 2.5 M 2598 2427 -1.66 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 1 0
19 GM Benjamin, Joel 2.5 M 2565 2462 -1.01 0 ½ 1 0 1 0 0
20 GM Bhat, Vinay S 2.5 M 2547 2429 -1.17 ½ 0 0 ½ ½ 1 0
21 IM Altounian, Levon 2.5 M 2454 2460 +0.03 ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 0 1
22 GM Kudrin, Sergey 2.0 M 2571 2398 -1.64 ½ 1 0 0 0 0 ½
23 GM Gurevich, Dmitry 2.0 M 2488 2396 -0.87 0 0 0 ½ ½ ½ ½
24 IM Shankland, Samuel 1.5 M 2507 2314 -1.64 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 0

9 Queens - Free Chess Academy this Saturday!

Saturday May 23, 2010 free Chess Academy by 9 Queens!  Learn the basics of how to play chess or, for more advanced players, receive free lessons on "chess decoys" from a Master!

The Academy will be held at Bookmans Low Lounge in the Sahuaro Girl Scout Resource Center, 4300 East Broadway Boulevard!!! This month National Master Leo Martinez will be teaching advanced players how to create deadly decoys to distract their opponents. Beginners will learn the king and queen dance while going over how all the pieces move. This free workshop is generously sponsored by Bookmans.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Enterprising Egyptian Women

From ABC Science
Synchrotron probes Egyptian beads
Tuesday, 18 May 2010 Dani Cooper

Not content with managing the household it appears women in Ancient Egypt were also keeping the budget in the black with some home-based manufacturing.

That is the conclusion an Australian team has drawn by using synchrotrons to analyse the synthetic turquoise that was popular during the reign of Pharaoh Akhenaten around 1300BC.  (Photo: Women could have made synthetic turquoise beads like these in home bread ovens, say researchers (Source: Australian Institute of Archaeology/Mark Eccleston)

Archaeologist Dr Mark Eccleston will outline his findings at the Melbourne Museum in a lecture tomorrow as part of National Archaeology Week.

Eccleston says Egyptian 'faience', a fine-glazed quartz ceramic of distinct turquoise colour, was a common material used in items ranging from simple beads to religious artefacts.

He says while it was known that larger factories were used to produce the faience, his research has shown less prestigious pieces could also have been produced in ovens in household courtyards.

"There is an increasing amount of evidence that work was done in the home to provide extra income for the household," says Eccleston, from La Trobe University in Melbourne.

"Large state industries were effectively sub-contracting labour and the household would get something in return, for example more food."

Women's work
Eccleston says that because women did work in the home, he believes these cottage-type industries were undertaken by women, and possibly even children.

Among the evidence he points to is artefacts made from faience that have been found in household courtyards. Eccleston has also shown that faience can be 'cooked' at home by demonstrating this in a replica 1300BC bread oven.

"People said you couldn't make a bread oven that hot, but we showed you could," he says.

Enigmatic material
Eccleston says faience remains "an enigmatic" material to archaeologists as little is known about how and by whom it was made and exactly what materials it was created from.

In his project with La Trobe University physicist Dr Peter Kappen, Eccleston has placed small faience beads in a synchrotron beam to determine the raw materials, and from where those materials were sourced.
He says the synchrotron can reveal levels of detail never before possible about the structure of raw materials used to make ancient glazes and the minerals used to colour them.

"By being able to tell where these raw materials were sourced, we'll be able to answer other questions about the economy of trade in bronze and metals, how industries were set up and how materials were distributed throughout society for different purposes," says Eccleston.

He says the work has shown the copper is barely present in the glaze, which raises questions about the method of its extraction.

"It may be they were leaching copper out of bits of metal in some solution," says Eccleston.

Urine test
The collaborators will now test a number of solutions, including urine, to see if a similar result can be achieved.

"We know copper was used, but it is like trying to replicate a chocolate cake," says Eccleston. "You know it is chocolate, but what type of chocolate? Is it 85% Lindt or Cadbury dairy milk?"

Eccleston says they aim to replicate the creation of faience in the laboratory using a mineralised solution. He says they will then compare this with ancient faience, to see if they have found the right recipe.

Eccleston says the aim of their study is to demonstrate the success of the technique in the hope of accessing artefacts in the Berlin museum from Akhenaten's capital Amarna, excavated by German archaeologists about a 100 years ago.

Two Harappan sites unearthed in Surendranagar

Posted: Wed May 19 2010, 01:49 hrs

Pottery fragments found from the sites in Kundla village are nearly 2,000 years old

Two fresh sites belonging to the Late Harappan Period have been found along the two ends of the Vasal River in Chuda taluka of Surendranagar district, a state archaeology department team from Rajkot has claimed. The sites are located at Kundla village.

Pottery fragments found here are believed to be nearly 2,000 years old. Although no structure has been found at any of the sites, there are indications that an old Harappan settlement existed in the area, which is now an agricultural land.

“Pottery fragments with designs have been found in large numbers from the two mounds. These include pieces of clay jar, bowl and plates. Although no structure has been found, there are indications that a settlement did exist in the area. We have prepared a report on this and submitted it to the state government,” said D K Rathod, Assistant Superintendent, Archaeology Department, Rajkot.

Egypt's ‘avenue of colossi’ may be found

Story forwarded by Isis from MSNBC.  More to that "statue of Thoth" story I posted a day or two ago...

More than 80 statues already unearthed at funeral site
By Rossella Lorenzi
updated 11:27 a.m. CT, Mon., May 17, 2010

An avenue of colossal granite statues representing an ancient deity could lie by the funerary temple of Tutankhamun's grandfather Amenhotep III, according to Egyptian archaeologists who have unearthed one of these statues at Kom el-Hettan on Luxor's west bank.

Led by Dr. Zahi Hawass, head of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, the team has unearthed some massive evidence to support the hypothesis of such an imposing avenue.

Indeed, an 11.5-foot-tall and 4.5-foot-wide granite statue of Thoth, the ancient Egyptian god of wisdom, has been dug out at the site.

Since a similar statue was discovered at Kom el-Hettan last year, more colossi could yet be unearthed, Dr. Hawass said in a statement.

“The site could contain an avenue of Thoth statues that once outlined the original path leading to the temple,” Afifi Rohayem, the assistant of the mission’s director, said.

Considered one of the richest men in human history, Amenhotep III (1390-1352 B.C.) ruled for 38 years during a time when Egypt was at the height of prosperity and cultural development. Some of ancient Egypt's biggest monuments were constructed during his reign.

Amenhotep III’s mummy was found in 1898 in a tomb dubbed KV35 by French Egyptologist Victor Loret. Recent DNA tests have revealed that the Eighteenth Dynasty pharaoh was King Tutankhamun's grandfather.

Unearthed at the northwestern side of the temple, the red granite colossus of Thoth is just one of the several artifacts and statues discovered in the buried ruins of the temple.

More than 80 statues have been already unearthed at the site, including the colossal head of Amenhotep III and a statue of the god Thoth in the shape of a baboon, both discovered a few months ago.

The largest religious complex in ancient Egypt, guarded by two (still standing) gigantic statues of the Pharaoh, known as the famous Colossi of Memnon, the temple stood very close to the Nile river.

Most likely, it was destroyed by floods. Many of its crumbled stones were removed and reused in other building projects.

Traces of the Thoth colossi were first uncovered during the execution of a development project aimed at controlling the subterranean water level on Luxor’s west bank.

Oldest Mesoamerican pyramid tomb found in Mexico

Sent to me by Isis from Yahoo News:

By MARK STEVENSON, Associated Press Writer Mark Stevenson, Associated Press Writer – Mon May 17, 9:33 pm ET

MEXICO CITY – Archaeologists in southern Mexico announced Monday they have discovered a 2,700-year-old tomb of a dignitary inside a pyramid that may be the oldest such burial documented in Mesoamerica.

The tomb held a man aged around 50, who was buried with jade collars, pyrite and obsidian artifacts and ceramic vessels. Archaeologist Emiliano Gallaga said the tomb dates to between 500 and 700 B.C.

Based on the layers in which it was found and the tomb's unusual wooden construction, "we think this is one of the earliest discoveries of the use of a pyramid as a tomb, not only as a religious site or temple," Gallaga said.

Pre-Hispanic cultures built pyramids mainly as representations of the levels leading from the underworld to the sky; the highest point usually held a temple.

The tomb was found at a site built by Zoque Indians in Chiapa de Corzo, in southern Chiapas state. It may be almost 1,000 years older than the better-known pyramid tomb of the Mayan ruler Pakal at the Palenque archaeological site, also in Chiapas.

The man — probably a high priest or ruler of Chiapa de Corzo, a prominent settlement at the time — was buried in a stone chamber. Marks in the wall indicate wooden roof supports were used to create the tomb, but the wood long ago collapsed under the weight of the pyramid built above.

Archeologists began digging into the pyramid mound in April to study the internal structure — pyramids were often built in layers, one atop another — when they happened on a wall whose finished stones appeared to face inward. In digging last week, they uncovered the 4- by 3-meter tomb chamber about 6 or 7 meters beneath what had been the pyramid's peak.

The body of a 1-year-old child was laid carefully over the man's body inside the tomb, while that of a 20-year-old male was tossed into the chamber with less care, perhaps sacrificed at the time of the burial.

The older man was buried with jade and amber collars and bracelets and pearl ornaments. His face was covered with what may have been a funeral mask with obsidian eyes.

Nearby, the tomb of a woman, also about 50, contained similar ornaments.

The ornaments — some imported from as far away as Guatemala and central Mexico — and some of the 15 ceramic vessels found in the tomb show influences from the Olmec culture, long considered the "mother culture" of the region.

The find raised the possibility that Olmec pyramids might contain similar tombs of dignitaries, especially at well-known sites like La Venta.

Olmec pyramids, while well-known, have not been excavated, in part because the high water table and humidity of their Gulf coast sites are not as conducive to preserving buried human remains.

"The Olmec sites have not been explored with the depth they deserve," said Lynneth Lowe, an archaeologist at Mexico's National Autonomous University who participated in the dig. "It is possible that thus type of tomb exists at La Venta."

Despite the Chiapa de Corzo tomb's location, experts said it is not clear the later Maya culture learned or inherited the practice of pyramid burials from the Zoques, or Olmecs.

"While I have no doubt it relates to Olmec, there is no tie to Maya at this time per se," said archaeologist Lisa Lucero of the University of Illinois, who was not involved in the Chiapa de Corzo project. "There are scholars who would like to see Olmec-Maya connections so they can show direct ties from Olmec to Maya, but this would be difficult to show with evidence at hand."
They assume the man was the dignitary - interesting.

2010 U.S. Chess Championship

Krush lost R6 game to Christiansen:

Event "2010 US Championship"]

[Site "St Louis"]
[Date "2010.05.19"]
[Round "6"]
[White "Christiansen, Larry"]
[Black "Krush, Irina"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteELO "2556"]
[WhiteTitle "GM"]
[BlackELO "2494"]
[BlackTitle "IM"]
[Source "MonRoi"]

1.e4 c5 2.b3 d6 3.Bb2 Nf6 4.Bb5 Nbd7 5.Qe2 e6 6.f4 a6 7.Bxd7 Bxd7 8.Nc3 Bc6 9.Nf3 Be7 10.O-O O-O 11.Rae1 b5 12.d3 Qc7 13.e5 Nd5 14.Nxd5 Bxd5 15.c4 Bb7 16.exd6 Bxd6 17.Ne5 f6 18.Ng4 Rae8 19.Qf2 Kh8 20.Re3 Qf7 21.Qe2 Re7 22.Rf2 Ree8 23.Rh3 Qg6 24.Rg3 Qh5 25.h3 Qf7 26.Qd2 Qc7 27.Qe3 Re7 28.h4 h5 29.Ne5 Bxe5 30.fxe5 f5 31.Qg5 Kg8 32.Rf4 Rd7 33.Qxh5 Rfd8 34.Qg6 Rxd3 35.Qxe6 Qf7 36.Qxf7 Kxf7 37.e6 Kxe6 38.Rg6 Kd7 39.Rxg7 Kc8 40.Rxf5 1-0

Standings After R6:
Rank Name Score M/F Rating TPR W-We 1 2 3 4 5 6

1 GM Nakamura, Hikaru 4.5 M 2733 2804 +0.54 1 1 ½ ½ ½ 1
2 GM Kamsky, Gata 4.5 M 2702 2813 +0.83 1 1 ½ ½ 1 ½
3 GM Onischuk, Alexander 4.5 M 2699 2818 +0.90 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 ½
4 GM Shulman, Yuri 4.5 M 2613 2773 +1.23 ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 1
5 GM Christiansen, Larry 4.0 M 2578 2712 +1.07 1 ½ ½ 1 0 1
6 GM Akobian, Varuzhan 3.5 M 2599 2626 +0.26 ½ 1 1 ½ 0 ½
7 GM Shabalov, Alexander 3.5 M 2585 2613 +0.27 ½ 1 0 0 1 1
8 GM Stripunsky, Alexander 3.5 M 2570 2625 +0.48 0 1 1 1 ½ 0
9 GM Finegold, Benjamin 3.5 M 2539 2620 +0.69 ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 1
10 GM Yermolinsky, Alex 3.5 M 2528 2640 +0.97 0 1 ½ 1 ½ ½
11 GM Kraai, Jesse 3.5 M 2492 2660 +1.40 ½ 0 1 1 1 0
12 GM Hess, Robert L 3.0 M 2590 2550 -0.32 1 0 1 0 0 1
13 IM Krush, Irina 3.0 F 2455 2584 +1.05 1 ½ 0 ½ 1 0
14 GM Lenderman, Alex 2.5 M 2598 2485 -0.97 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 1
15 GM Ehlvest, Jaan 2.5 M 2591 2475 -0.99 1 ½ ½ 0 0 ½
16 GM Kaidanov, Gregory 2.5 M 2577 2485 -0.79 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 0
17 GM Robson, Ray 2.5 M 2569 2488 -0.71 0 0 1 ½ ½ ½
18 GM Benjamin, Joel 2.5 M 2565 2512 -0.47 0 ½ 1 0 1 0
19 GM Bhat, Vinay S 2.5 M 2547 2464 -0.73 ½ 0 0 ½ ½ 1
20 GM Khachiyan, Melikset 2.0 M 2539 2465 -0.59 1 0 0 ½ 0 ½
21 GM Kudrin, Sergey 1.5 M 2571 2374 -1.53 ½ 1 0 0 0 0
22 IM Shankland, Samuel 1.5 M 2507 2367 -1.07 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ 0
23 GM Gurevich, Dmitry 1.5 M 2488 2359 -0.98 0 0 0 ½ ½ ½
24 IM Altounian, Levon 1.5 M 2454 2379 -0.54 ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 0

One more game and the top four go into some kind of  "quad" championship - what?  This format sucks.  What's the point of having a "championship" if all of the invited players don't have a chance to play everyone else?  If you want to shorten the championship, invite less players, but give them a chance to play.  Geez!  If you don't want to do that, why not just divy up the money right now among Onischuk, Kamsky and Nakamura, give Shulman a pat on the head and 4th place $$$, and send everyone home.  Next year, just invite the top 3, have them shoot some craps because I don't care to see these guys play chess with each other, give them the prize money and send them home.  Boring.  I sure hope they don't screw up the Women's Championship like this.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Obsessed with Andrew Forsyth!

An ancestor - drat!  Can't get the dude out of my head.  The back-story -- I want to KNOW what the frigging back story is.  WHY did he marry a woman almost 15 years older than he was, when he was 21, in 1816, somewhere in Belgium, after the end of the Napoleonic Wars? Susan was 36 at the time of their marriage. That's a big difference, even today.  Older men marrying younger women, yes, still the norm, but younger men marrying older women - except for Ashton Kutchner and Demi Moore - not common at all!

What was Susan's story?  Why would she marry a man who was young enough to be her son? Was she a widow?  Was she a camp follower who tricked a much younger man into marriage?  Did she nurse him through a wound and out of a sense of obligation he married her?  Was she a wife or spinster sister of a friend or a fallen comrade whom he promised to look after on a dying oath? 

After further examining accessible records at this evening, I was able to discern from the birth record of Andrew's and Susan's first-born child, born in Montreal and baptised at the Anglican Garrison Church in the autumn of 1818, that he was a "Col- something --"  I know I wrote about this before.  Tonight I looked closely at that hand-written birth/baptismal record and saw that Col-something--- was attached to the 37th Regiment, which further research tells me was the North Hampshire (England) Regiment of Foot Soldiers. 

The "Col- something--" looks like the letters L o y 't.  What could that possibly be?  What is a Col-Loy't? [Added on April 8, 2011: Andrew was actually a "color sargeant" - he bore the colors - flag - of the regiment.  This task was often assigned to young boys! Later, in the United States, Andrew enlisted his two sons, Andrew, Jr. and Jerome, in the United States Calvary when Andrew, Jr. was about 13 and Jerome was about 10!]'s records include U.S. Army enlistment rolls dating back a lot ways.  As far as I can tell, "my" Andrew Forsyth first enlisted with the U.S. Army on May 27, 1830 in New York (city) when he was 34 years old.  He was 5'7" tall, blue eyes, brown hair, light complexion.  He was born in Longford County, Ireland in 1795. 

Andrew the Soldier subsequently re-enlisted with the U.S. Army on the following dates:
  • Age 39, May 21, 1835, at Fort Howard
  • Age 43, October 9, 1838, at Fort Howard
  • Age 48, August 9, 1843, at Detroit
I know that his first-born son, Andrew, was born in Montreal in September, 1818.  I didn't write down the exact date in my notes but I saved the record to the family tree at Ancestry. com.  Too tired to dig it out and look again tonight.  Andrew the son was born in September, 1818 and baptized the next month by an Anglican Chaplain for the Regiment. 

I found two U.S. Military Pension records for Andrew the Soldier.  He received a pension of $8.00 a month for his military service.  I do not know if he received a pension for his service in the British Military.  On the first pension record I found, it appears that his pension started on July 5, 1847, and his rank was listed as something like "Quar M--- Loyt."

On the second pension record I found, his pension continued until his death on June 2, 1861, and his pension was "pd in full 4 qr 1861" which I take to mean that his family/beneficiaries received the balance of his pension payments for the year, as Susan, his wife, had died in 1860 according to other family histories I have found (but no official death record).  In that pension record, Andrew the Soldier's rank was listed as something like "Qr Mrs Sargi."

Quarter Master Sargeant? 

I've no idea.  I know less than nothing about military ranks in either the British Army or the U.S. Army of the periods involved (1795-1861). 

I found some information about the 37th Regiment North Hampshire Foot Soldiers.  It appears they left from Pouliac, France (not certain that Pouliac was/is located in France) sometime in 1814 for Canada.  But Andrew the Soldier could NOT have been with them then, since he married Susan Augarnel in Belgium in 1816.  The next time I find Andrew is in September, 1818 in Montreal where he is listed with the 37th Regiment as "Col-Loy't???"  So - what happened?  If Andrew the Soldier was part of the 37th Regiment, why did he not ship out with his Regiment from Pouliac in 1814?  Was he wounded and left behind?  Or was he initially attached to another Regiment and then transferred to the 37th after his marriage?

Another mystery - who gave Andrew permission to marry while he was in the British Army?  I haven't done a lot of research on this, but I did find information that stated that a soldier needed permission from the head of his command in order to marry, and that was not very often given back in the day!  Out of several hundred men, perhaps to 5 or 6 a year.  What does this mean in Andrew's case?  Was he a favored soldier for some reason, to earn such coveted permission to marry? 

Another mystery - after the conclusion of the Napoleonic Wars, Great Britain started decommissioning their armed forces and entered into a Great Recession on the home turf, which led to all sorts of problems and even popular uprisings of starving, unemployed former soldiers.  No doubt in hopes of forestalling more unemployable soldiers returning home to Ireland and England from Canada as the Regiments there were disbanded, the Canadian authorities offered the troops and officers free land in western Quebec and in Ontario, with certain conditions.  Did Andrew the Soldier take the government up on its offer, try it out, and decided it wasn't for him?

I do not know.  There is a gap between the birth of Andrew the Soldier's and Susan's son's birth in Montreal in 1818 and Andrew Soldier's enlistment in the U.S. Army in 1830 in New York.

Help!  And way past my bed-time.  Enough for tonight!

2010 U.S. Chess Championship

Ah HA!  Krush comes back with a vengence and kicks butt in her Round 5 game against Robert Hess.  The lady is tired.  She wants to get to bed and get a good night's sleep tonight after two in a row head-banger games with Akobian and the USA's youngest GM Ray Robson on May 16th and May 17th. 

[Event "2010 US Championship"]

[Site "St Louis"]
[Date "2010.05.18"]
[Round "5"]
[White "Krush, Irina"]
[Black "Hess, Robert"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteELO "2494"]
[WhiteTitle "IM"]
[BlackELO "2641"]
[BlackTitle "GM"]
[Source "MonRoi"]
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 O-O 5.e4 d6 6.a3 Bxc3 7.bxc3 e5 8.Bd3 Nc6 9.Ne2 b6 10.O-O Ba6 11.f4 Nd7 12.f5 f6 13.Rf3 Na5 14.g4 Qe7 15.Rg3 Bxc4 16.g5 Bxd3 17.Qxd3 fxg5 18.Bxg5 Nf6 19.Kh1 Kh8 20.Rag1 Rae8 21.d5 Nb7 22.Qf3 Qf7 23.Be3 Rg8 24.Rg5 Nc5 25.Bxc5 bxc5 26.Ng3 c6 27.dxc6 d5 28.exd5 e4 29.Qg2 h6 30.Rg6 Qxd5 31.Ne2 Re7 32.c4 Qe5 33.Nf4 Qxf5 34.Nd5 Qe5 35.Nxf6 1-0
Game from Monroi

Standings after Round 5:

Rank Name Score M/F Rating TPR W-We 1 2 3 4 5

1 GM Kamsky, Gata 4.0 M 2702 2844 +0.83 1 1 ½ ½ 1
2 GM Onischuk, Alexander 4.0 M 2699 2849 +0.90 1 ½ 1 ½ 1
3 GM Nakamura, Hikaru 3.5 M 2733 2784 +0.34 1 1 ½ ½ ½
4 GM Shulman, Yuri 3.5 M 2613 2731 +0.79 ½ ½ 1 1 ½
5 GM Stripunsky, Alexander 3.5 M 2570 2708 +0.92 0 1 1 1 ½
6 GM Kraai, Jesse 3.5 M 2492 2726 +1.60 ½ 0 1 1 1
7 GM Akobian, Varuzhan 3.0 M 2599 2649 +0.36 ½ 1 1 ½ 0
8 GM Christiansen, Larry 3.0 M 2578 2685 +0.74 1 ½ ½ 1 0
9 GM Yermolinsky, Alex 3.0 M 2528 2652 +0.87 0 1 ½ 1 ½
10 IM Krush, Irina 3.0 F 2455 2657 +1.38 1 ½ 0 ½ 1
11 GM Shabalov, Alexander 2.5 M 2585 2552 -0.22 ½ 1 0 0 1
12 GM Kaidanov, Gregory 2.5 M 2577 2534 -0.30 0 ½ ½ ½ 1
13 GM Benjamin, Joel 2.5 M 2565 2575 +0.07 0 ½ 1 0 1
14 GM Finegold, Benjamin 2.5 M 2539 2563 +0.15 ½ 0 ½ ½ 1
15 GM Ehlvest, Jaan 2.0 M 2591 2453 -0.96 1 ½ ½ 0 0
16 GM Hess, Robert L 2.0 M 2590 2497 -0.64 1 0 1 0 0
17 GM Robson, Ray 2.0 M 2569 2464 -0.74 0 0 1 ½ ½
18 GM Lenderman, Alex 1.5 M 2598 2387 -1.43 0 ½ ½ ½ 0
19 GM Kudrin, Sergey 1.5 M 2571 2412 -1.07 ½ 1 0 0 0
20 GM Bhat, Vinay S 1.5 M 2547 2375 -1.17 ½ 0 0 ½ ½
21 GM Khachiyan, Melikset 1.5 M 2539 2461 -0.52 1 0 0 ½ 0
22 IM Shankland, Samuel 1.5 M 2507 2413 -0.63 0 ½ 0 ½ ½
23 IM Altounian, Levon 1.5 M 2454 2419 -0.22 ½ ½ 0 ½ 0
24 GM Gurevich, Dmitry 1.0 M 2488 2314 -1.05 0 0 0 ½ ½  

Krush has black against Christiansen in Round 6.

Monday, May 17, 2010

2010 U.S. Chess Championship

I am so ticked off!  Last night I cut off listening to the Round 3 live coverage of IM Irina Krush's game against GM Varuzhan Akobian at the last possible moment I could because a particular favorite t.v. show was coming on that was not going to be repeated.  At that point, Krush had a promising position.  And yet - several GMs in the audience where Jen Shahade and Maurice Ashley were giving commentary declined to pick Krush at the winner. 

White: Krush, Irina

Black: Akobian, Varuzhan

1.d4 d6 2.e4 Nf6 3.Nc3 c6 4.f4 Qa5 5.e5 Ne4 6.Qf3 d5 7.Bd3 Nxc3 8.Bd2 Qb6 9.bxc3 e6 10.Ne2 c5 11.f5 Nc6 12.O-O Nxe5 13.dxe5 c4+ 14.Be3 Bc5 15.Nd4 cxd3 16.Rab1 Qc7 17.Nb5 Qc6 18.cxd3 a6 19.f6 g6 20.Bxc5 axb5 21.Qf2 Bd7 22.Rb2 Rc8 23.Bd4 Qc7 24.Qe3 h5 25.h4 Ra8 26.Rfb1 Ra4 27.Qd2 Bc6 28.Rb4 Ra6 29.R1b2 Kd7 30.Qe3 Kc8 31.Bc5 Rd8 32.Bd6 Rxd6 33.exd6 Qxd6 34.d4 Ra3 35.R4b3 Ra4 36.Re2 Qd8 37.Qf4 Qc7 38.Qxc7+ Kxc7 39.Kf2 Kd6 40.Kg3 Rc4 41.a3 Ra4 42.Kf4 Ra8 43.Kg5 Rh8 44.Rb1 Rh7 45.Re5 Rh8 46.g4 Bd7 47.Rbe1 hxg4 48.Kxg4 Ra8 49.Ra1 Rc8 50.Rc1 Ra8 51.Kg5 Rh8 52.Rh1 Rh5+ 53.Kf4 Rh6 54.Rg5 Bc8 55.Kg3 Bd7 56.Rf1 Rh8 57.h5 gxh5 58.Kh4 e5 59.Rxe5 Be6 60.Rb1 Rh6 61.Rxb5 Rxf6 62.Rxb7 Rf3 63.a4 Rxc3 64.Rb4 Ke7 65.Re1 Kf6 66.Rf1+ Kg6 67.Rg1+ Kh6 68.Rg3 Rc1 69.Rg2 Rh1+ 70.Kg3 h4+ 71.Kf2 h3 72.Rg3 Ra1 73.Rb8 Kh7 74.Rbb3 Ra2+ 75.Kg1 Rxa4 76.Rbd3 Ra1+ 77.Kh2 Ra2+ 78.Kh1 Bf5 79.Rdf3 Be4 80.Rxh3+ Kg7 81.Rhg3+ Kf8 82.Kg1 Bxf3 83.Rxf3 Ke7 84.Rf5 Ke6 85.Re5+ Kd6 86.Rf5 Ra7 87.Kf2 Rd7 88.Ke3 Ke6 89.Re5+ Kd6 90.Rf5 Re7+ 91.Kd3 Ra7 92.Rf6+ Ke7 93.Rf5 Ra3+ 94.Kd2 Ra5 95.Re5+ Kf6 96.Ke3 Kg6 97.Kf4 f6 98.Re1 Ra2 99.Re7 Ra4 100.Ke3 Kf5 101.Re8 Ra3+ 102.Ke2 Kf4 103.Re6 Ra2+ 104.Kd3 f5 105.Re5 Ra5 106.Re1 Ra3+ 107.Kd2 Kg4 108.Rb1 Kf3 109.Re1 Ra2+ 110.Kd3 f4 111.Re5 Ra5 112.Rf5 Ra3+ 113.Kd2 Ke4 0-1

Turns out, they were right, but I'll bet for all the wrong reasons, the jerks!  Hope they choke on their Spaghettios next meal. 

Krush lost Game 3 and went down in the standings, but she was still at 50%.  So, what happened in Round 4?

She played the black pieces against GM Ray Robson, who is not having a good event thus far.  They battled and battled and battled, and probably exhausted, finally agreed to a draw:

Event "2010 US Championship"]

[Site "St Louis"]
[Date "2010.05.17"]
[Round "4"]
[White "Robson, Ray"]
[Black "Krush, Irina"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[WhiteELO "2623"]
[WhiteTitle "GM"]
[BlackELO "2494"]
[BlackTitle "IM"]
[Source "MonRoi"]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 Qc7 6.Be3 a6 7.Qd2 Nf6 8.O-O-O Bb4 9.f3 Ne5 10.Nb3 b5 11.Kb1 Nc4 12.Bxc4 bxc4 13.Nc1 Rb8 14.Bf4 e5 15.Bg5 Qb6 16.N1e2 O-O 17.Bxf6 Ba3 18.b3 Qxf6 19.Nd5 Qd8 20.f4 exf4 21.Qxf4 Bb7 22.Rhf1 a5 23.Nec3 Bc6 24.Rd4 cxb3 25.axb3 Bb4 26.e5 Bxc3 27.Nxc3 Qe7 28.Kb2 Rbe8 29.Re1 f6 30.Nd5 Qc5 31.Red1 fxe5 32.Qg5 Rf2 33.Rc4 Qf8 34.Rg4 Kh8 35.Ne3 Qf6 36.Rd6 Qxg5 37.Rxg5 g6 38.h4 Kg7 39.Ng4 Rf5 40.Ne3 Rxg5 41.hxg5 h6 42.gxh6 Kxh6 43.Kc3 Kg5 44.Kd2 Rf8 45.Ke2 Rf4 46.c3 Rf8 47.Ke1 Rb8 48.Nc4 Rxb3 49.Nxe5 Rxc3 50.Nxd7 Bxg2 51.Nf8 Be4 52.Nxg6 Bxg6 53.Rd5 Kf4 54.Rxa5 Ke3 55.Kf1 Kf3 56.Ke1 Rc1 57.Kd2 Rc2 58.Kd1 Bd3 59.Ra8 Rg2 60.Rh8 Ke3 61.Rh3 Kd4 62.Rh8 Kc3 63.Rc8 Bc4 64.Ke1 Re2 65.Kd1 Re7 66.Rc5 Rf7 67.Re5 Kd3 68.Kc1 Ra7 69.Kb2 Ra2 70.Kb1 Rf2 71.Kc1 Kc3 72.Kd1 Bd3 73.Rc5 Kd4 74.Rc8 Rb2 75.Kc1 Ra2 76.Kd1 Bc4 77.Re8 Kd3 78.Ke1 Bd5 79.Rd8 Ke4 80.Kd1 Ra5 81.Kd2 Rc5 82.Rd7 Kd4 83.Rd8 Ra5 84.Ke2 Ra2 85.Ke1 Ke4 86.Kd1 Bc4 87.Rd2 Ra3 88.Ke1 Bd3 89.Kf2 Kf4 90.Ke1 Kg3 91.Rb2 Kf3 92.Rf2 Ke3 93.Re2 Bxe2 1/2-1/2

Krush currently stands in 12th place (exactly at the half-way point of the 24 players) with 2.0 after Round 4.  In Round 5 she will have white against GM Robert Hess, also at 2.0 and currently in 11th place.

Giant Thoth Statue Uncovered

I can't quite wrap my head around this photograph - just what part of the gigantic Thoth is this supposed to be?  It doesn't look like much of anything to me, to tell you the truth.  Blame it on my bad eyesight :)

From The
Colossal statue of Thoth discovered at temple of Amenhotep III in Luxor
By Ann Wuyts
Monday, 17 May 2010

A colossal statue of the ancient Egyptian god Thoth, the deity of wisdom, is the latest artefact to be discovered near the mortuary temple of Amenhotep III during archaeological works aimed at controlling the subterranean water level on Luxor's west bank.

The 3.5 metre tall red granite statue is one of several artefacts discovered in the area since excavations began. The head of a 2.5 metre high statue depicting Pharaoh Amenhotep III in a standing position – possibly the best preserved depiction of the pharaoh’s face found to date - was unearthed at the King's funeral temple at Kom El-Hettan only months ago. A statue of the god Thoth in the shape of a baboon was also discovered. Last year two black granite statues of Amenhotep III were found at the temple, as well as a 5 metre high statue similar to the Thoth statue just found.

Amenhotep III ruled Egypt between 1390 BC and 1352 BC, and recent DNA and forensic research suggests that he was probably the grandfather of Tutankhamun. His temple was built closer to the river than any other temple at Thebes - right on the edge of the floodplain – and within 200 years it had collapsed. Many of its stones were subsequently removed for the building projects of later pharaohs.

The famous Colossi of Memnon, two 18-metre-high stone statues of Amenhotep III, are all that remains of the pharaoh's mortuary temple, once the largest religious complex in ancient Egypt.

In a statement, Secretary General of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) Dr Zahi Hawass said that evidence found during the excavation suggests that more colossi could yet be found at the site. Afifi Rohayem, assistant director of the excavations, suggests that an avenue of Thoth statues could be found on the original path leading to Amenhotep III's funerary temple.

Since 1998, the mortuary temple of Amenhotep III has been on the World Monument Fund's list of the planet's 100 most endangered monuments. Extensive excavation and restoration works at the temple site are taking place.

“I believe that in less than 20 years we will have achieved our objectives here,” Dr Hourig Sourouzian, head of the conservation project, said in a video interview with Heritage Key. The final stage of the works at Amenhotep III's mortuary temple will be the creation of an open-air museum.

2010 Moonwalk for Breast Cancer

The Playtex Moonwalk for Breast Cancer was held in London on May 15, 2010 and was a smashing success!

An incredible 15,000 places were filled in the 2010 London Playtex Moonwalk for Breast Cancer which raised about 1.6 million English Pounds for research and support of breast cancer patients and survivors - with three more events to come!  Official "Walk the Walk" website.

This year Goddesschess was pleased to outfit a team of four lovely ladies with "show girl" costumes (it seems the fame of those fabulous Las Vegas Show Girls reached even into the wilds of Wales), who walked the entire 26.2 mile marathon!  They all trained very hard, doing training "walks" of increasing length and difficulty as the weeks ticked by from February, our first contact, to May 15th.  As the weeks counted down, the ladies obtained pledges and when they let it be known that Goddesschess' very own Las Vegas Show Girls were providing outfits for them, interest in their quest grew.  Bambi and Candi, those fabulous Show Girls, were pleased to help and I was drafted to 'coordinate' everything.

I confess I had a few nervous moments when I finally mailed off the package to England -- I got it out much later than I'd originally planned and fears that the erupting Icelandic volcano might put a nix on all flights to England and the package of costumes, long black gloves and black feather boas would not arrive in time!  Fortunately, the package arrived ahead of schedule and best of all, the costumes fit!

Here is a report from Tracy, one of the walkers.  We are so proud of them!  Well done, ladies!

Have attached a few photos, us sitting down is in the 'Pink City' an enormous pink tent where 15000 women and a few men warm up and wait for their start time. We started at 11.30 it was a clear but very cold night (i wouldn't advise anyone be out all night in london without a lot of clothes usually!) but we were all kept warm with the fantastic reception we got with every turn we were asked to stop for photos and just generally pose as to quote 'your costumes are the best we've seen' how amazing is that?
We had to walk quite a way to queue to get into the big pink tent along a line of waiting walkers, we were met with many envious glances, many people commenting on how great we looked an a lot of rounds of applause as words were not enough!
We had a fantastic night the 26.2 miles were made a lot easier with your very generous donations of the costumes you are obliviously 2 amazing women THANK YOU.
We have raised so far over £500 and its still coming in probably about 700 when we finish double last year. (the costumes helped with that too!!)
Will send more photos later
I cant say it enough THANK YOU
Tracy, Hailey, Lynn and Amanda (last minute stand in for Emily as her horse is ill!, but costume fitted like a glove and she wore it with pride)
Not to mention the fellow walkers who enjoyed seeing our costumes the millions of people who benefit from the walk the walk breast cancer charity who have raised 80 million to date. THANK YOU

More photos to follow.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

500 Year Old Korean Mummy Found

From Joong Ang Daily
Joseon-era mummy found at construction site

임진왜란 이전 여성 미라 발굴
May 14, 2010

A mummy estimated to be about 500 years old was recently unearthed at a construction site on the outskirts of Seoul, a research institute said yesterday.

The 154-centimeter (5-foot) tall female mummy was discovered early last month at an industrial complex being built in Osan, some 55 kilometers south of Seoul, by a group of scholars and researchers from the Seokyeong Cultural Properties Research Institute.

Another mummy, presumed to be that of her husband, is also expected to be uncovered, as his tomb was found next to hers, they said.

The figure was found in a wooden coffin with a nameplate which indicates her husband’s position in the government. She is presumed to be a 16th century noblewoman who lived during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), based on her garments and hairstyle, the researchers said.

She was wrapped in shrouds and buried with dresses and accessories, including a ceramic pot, a comb and hair pins.

“It’s very hard to discover a mummy dressed in perfect clothes and preserved in perfect condition like this,” said Kim Woo-rim, who led the excavation. “This mummy will help us study life during the early days of the Joseon Dynasty.”

Researchers said the noblewoman appears to have died of a chronic disease given her gaunt face and body, and “twisted lungs.”

In the early days of Joseon, it was customary to bury a nobleperson in an airtight coffin covered with plaster. As a result, the bodies are naturally mummified in a vacuum.

“In Korea, (a fair number of) mummies estimated to be from the Joseon era have been discovered. This is attributable to Joseon burial rituals,” said Jeon Sung-ho, a senior researcher at the institute.

Korean mummmies differ from Egyptian ones in that the internal organs remain inside the bodies, giving researchers an opportunity to conduct tests.


Interesting - but why did they choose to strip the mummy of her shrouds and photograph her naked?  Rather disrespectful, considering she was discovered fully covered in well-preserved shrouds according to the article.  Why not instead show a picture of her as she was originally found rather than stripped bare?  There is no scientific reason for presenting the mummy photographed in such a way to the general public.

Making Do During the Great Depression

The Gen X, Y and Z generations - who have no touch with anyone who has memories of the Great Depression - are now living through the Great Recession, and may they remember it for the rest of their lives.  My grandparents were vividly marked by the Great Depression, as were my mom and dad and their siblings, who grew up during its long stranglehold on the country (indeed, the entire world) in the 1930's .  Their experiences provided a framework in which my brothers and sisters and I were born and raised.  That framework of frugality, doing without and hard work impacted us in remarkably different ways that reverberates yet today, particularly during these new hard times.  Yeah, the "experts" (ha!) say the recession is over.  Right.

Check out this article from The Australian on a new exhibit at the Museum of Sydney:

The hungry mile
Christopher Allen
From: The Australian May 15, 2010 12:00AM

Skint! Making Do in the Great Depression
Museum of Sydney.
Until July 25

ANYONE who has wondered why a grandmother saves old bits of soap or hates to see food wasted should see Skint! Making Do in the Great Depression, at the Museum of Sydney.

Set up in the gallery that recently housed the Martin Sharp extravaganza, this could hardly be more different; less a collection of art, in fact, than of images and artefacts that together convey a vivid sense of the ordeal our grandparents lived through, and that marked them forever.

The show is particularly timely considering the recent and apparently still unresolved global financial crisis.

If markets and even governments were seized with panic as the crisis reached its climax, it was because they saw the spectre of depression looming, the nightmare of an economy slowing to a halt, of markets shutting down, of unemployment exploding and of asset values collapsing.

Although these are economic phenomena that in theory should be purely mechanical in nature and therefore susceptible to technical intervention, in reality there is little that is rational about such reactions. It is a crisis of confidence and you can never be sure that any given measure will restore confidence.

At any event, the Depression was a collapse that ran out of control for several years, probably because it was a worldwide event; unlike the situation today, there was no foreign market with an insatiable appetite for our products to keep us working. After the stockmarket crash of October 1929, the market kept falling for three more years, and unemployment eventually reached 30 per cent of the workforce.

There was none of the welfare infrastructure we have today: the loss of jobs meant acute poverty and -- something that today we associate with developing countries -- hunger. Families survived on bread and dripping, rationing luxuries such as sugar, condensed milk and golden syrup. Butter and eggs were scarce and meat was poor. Children were fed first but, even so, were sometimes undernourished.

Government payments were instituted, officially called the sustenance dole, but popularly shortened to "the susso", reflecting people's reluctance to use the shameful word itself and their preference for a slangy, semi-humorous euphemism.

Recipients of government aid in Sydney, as we learn from the exhibition, had to queue to collect their coupons from Circular Quay, then walk to Central railway station and queue again for their rations before walking home with them. This was once a week.

Soon intermediaries started to swap the coupons for supplies, then, as we see in contemporary photographs, corner stores competed with these traders, discounting their products and warily extending credit in an effort to hold their customers.

It is the picture of an economy shrinking, like a drought-stricken river dwindling to a creek. People could not pay their rent and were evicted on to the street; there is a picture of a returned serviceman and his wife and children standing on a footpath beside their few belongings piled up under a tarpaulin.

Another photograph shows a man in ragged clothes, camping in the Domain. He sits in the entrance of his makeshift tent, reading a pamphlet titled How to End Capitalism and Inaugurate Socialism.

There is a particular pathos in such images when we consider that these men, born in the last years of the 19th century, were the first generation of Federation, growing up in the early days of the new Commonwealth, as did both my grandfathers, with a sense of opportunity and of responsibility; this same sense had taken them to World War I, and their hopes and sacrifices must have seemed bitterly rewarded.

Conditions began to improve during the 1930s, but as the decade wore on the threat of fascism and Nazism became ever harder to ignore, as did the increasing likelihood of another terrible war.

The irony is that for the generation that grew up in the Depression, World War II would at last provide full employment; it was a stimulus package with a vengeance.

Even for those who still had work, conditions were often precarious, and many lived in dread of being laid off, while others survived from one casual job to the next or suffered the indignity of putting up their labour for hire every day on the docks, waiting at the Hungry Mile at Darling Harbour while foremen picked the strongest and most reliable labourers.

Above them rose one of the few symbols of hope: the Sydney Harbour Bridge, a massive technological and industrial feat, with its promise that the energy and spirit of the nation were not extinguished. The exhibition includes a linocut by Adelaide Perry of the bridge in October 1929, the month of the Great Crash on Wall Street.

From that time, as we know from photographs, from the paintings of Grace Cossington Smith and the etchings of Jessie Traill, the span kept rising until its completion in 1931 and official inauguration in 1932; it was known as the Iron Lung because of the direct and indirect employment the project provided in Sydney and NSW.

Apart from the misery of hunger and homelessness, unemployment and shortage of money meant idleness and boredom. Inexpensive distractions were sought out, from dancing to playing draughts, as we see in a photograph of a group of men watching two players in a park.

Sex has always been a free source of pleasure for the poor, although what is free at the time can have burdensome consequences if another pregnancy ensues, and the exhibition includes a little display of contraceptive devices and products, most of which are mysterious to us today.

Children, despite all the shortages, seem to have suffered the least. Their parents tried to keep life as normal as possible and to conceal the extent of their own anxiety or distress. And children, as we know and can see in several photographs, are much better than adults at amusing themselves with almost nothing except their imaginations.

Among the most evocative displays are toys made from recycled materials: a billycart made of old palings and pram wheels, or a bicycle similarly cobbled together from two different wheels, bits of wood, and cow's horns for handlebars.

Furniture, too, was improvised, from fruit crates and other ready-made elements, rustic parallels of modernist modular design. Clothes, especially for children, were made from hessian sacking or cut-up sugar bags, ingeniously dyed, sewn and patched with decorative bits of printed fabric.

At the end of the exhibition there is a section where visitors can write brief remarks and reflections on cards and slot them into racks for others to look at. The responses make interesting reading and seem to be divided between old people who recall the period and schoolchildren moved by their glimpse into a world so far removed from their own experience.

One man relates how his father was advised by a factory manager, on the eve of his 19th birthday, that he would be laid off when he reached 19 and had to be paid a higher wage; "Think about it," the manager counselled. The boy did, remained officially 18 for three years and kept his job.

Many comment on the solidarity of the time, the spirit of mutual aid in a period of universal need.

The other general lesson drawn by old and young alike is how little we need to survive and even to be happy; the contrast makes the bulimic consumerism all around us look absurd as well as indecent. The trouble is that it is not only individuals but whole societies that end up addicted to this voracious appetite for the superfluous.

Economically speaking, it is certainly disturbing that so much of the contemporary global economy depends on the American working class buying consumer goods they don't need with money they don't have from the Chinese, who ultimately fund the process by purchasing American bonds.

But morally, too, there is something distasteful about excessive consumption and about the way people are induced to take on debt in the process. Advertisements urge us to borrow the money we are told we need to enjoy ourselves; freedom and spontaneity are the promise, but the reality is the servitude of indebtedness.

This is a good example of the way systems generate a self-serving ideology; it isn't a conspiracy, just something that is the logical consequence of the way a consumer economy works. That ideology is, however, articulated particularly by one sector of society and that is the advertising industry.

The implicit axiom of this ideology is that our level of consumption is an index of our level of wealth, success and happiness. It is a version of the almost instinctive drive to eat as much as we can, with the dim sense that if we eat more we are more, an instinct that may promote survival in the age of cavemen but leads to self-destruction in a world of iced doughnuts.

Consumerism, in the same way, gives the illusion of wealth, since people feel prosperous when they are purchasing and consuming goods. In reality it destroys wealth, which consists in accumulating assets and reducing debts. Contrary to the advertising mantras, it is not spending money but having money that equates to freedom in our economic environment.

The spread of consumer ideology to art is particularly ugly. Because contemporary art is so contaminated with fashion, many theorists are instinctive collaborators. Twenty years ago they enthusiastically began to speak of the art industry; today we often hear about art being consumed.

There are two distinct points to be made about this unpleasant turn of phrase. The first is that art is indeed like food at least in this respect: there is too much junk and fast art, and not enough good and slow art.

The art market celebrates abundant production and consumption when the vast majority of what is made is really without any value.

But ultimately the model of consumption itself is antithetical to the aesthetic experience.

Consumption implies using up and discarding. What we do in the presence of good art, or literature, or music, is on the contrary to attend to it; not to consume it but to yield to it, to open ourselves to its suggestions, to give of our experience and receive understanding in return.

Petroglyphs in the News


Scientists document painted portals to a vanished past
Victoria Laurie From: The Australian May 12, 2010 12:00AM

LAST year, archeologist Mike Morwood and rock art specialist June Ross took the ride of their lifetime across the northwest Kimberley. They hired a helicopter and flew across largely trackless territory, their pilot landing periodically in spots where he felt he could get his helicopter down safely and where they believed a good rock art site might lie.

Their journey took them from Bigge Island, one of the Kimberley's largest offshore landmasses, east to inland pastoral stations, and north as far as the rugged Drysdale River National Park, the Kimberley's largest park that lacks an airstrip, ranger station or even a single road.

The pair's aerial reconnoitre recorded 27 locations in which they documented a total of 54 rock art sites. "It was an absolute revelation," Ross recalls. "What struck us was how many rock art sites there are, and we developed a great admiration for the artists who made them."

Across the Kimberley, hundreds of thousands of paintings lie in rock overhangs and caves, often behind curtains of tropical vines. Dappled light plays over the surface of hauntingly beautiful images that have made the region famous: Gwion Gwion or Bradshaw paintings depicting slender dancing figures in mulberry coloured ochre or younger images of Wandjina spirits, wide-eyed and startlingly white despite the passage of years.

But who were these prodigious artists, when did they come and what other traces did they leave of their presence? Such questions are among the most crucial in Australian archeology, according to Morwood and Ross. Like Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, they say, the Kimberley may hold vital clues to understanding the origins of the first Australians.

"In fact, given the proximity of island southeast Asia and the relatively short water crossing required at times of lowered sea level, the Kimberley was a likely beach-head for the initial peopling of Australia," Morwood says.

In a bid to give substance to such speculation, Morwood, Ross and a team of multidisciplinary scientists will spend next month in the Kimberley, in the first of three expeditions to be conducted in successive years. It marks a new era in archeological exploration in the region, where previous work on only a few sites dates back nearly 20 years.

Morwood's hope is that intensive study of selected sites will build up a picture of human occupancy and the sequence of rock painting styles, which "may prove one of the longest and most complex anywhere in the world".

He says the area has a long history of human occupation, dating back 43,000 years or more. "There are caves and open sites around swamps, graves, dreaming tracks, rain forests, so who knows what rich areas there are."

Morwood has a track record for unearthing contentious finds. His previous work on excavations in rural Indonesia led to the discovery of the Flores hobbit or Homo floresiensis, the near-complete skeleton of a previously unknown species of human.

Ross is an expert in the rock art of central Australia, research that has required her to drive for hours across sand dunes to reach desert sites; she once punctured eight tyres on one stretch alone.

Both scientists say the logistics of working in the Kimberley will be as challenging as anything they've experienced. Individuals can reach the expedition area only by helicopter and they must camp in tiny tents among heat-radiating rock escarpments.

In three years, the team will excavate sites around the Lawley River, Mitchell Plateau and lower Mitchell River. This year's sites lie a short helicopter trip from the picturesque Mitchell Falls, a location known to tourists travelling the Gibb River Road in the dry season. Many of them take a detour into Mitchell River National Park to see its waterfalls and rock art sites.

The geology of the Kimberley is a factor that acts in the researchers' favour. In many parts of Australia, friable rock surfaces cause art to erode or flake from the surface and disappear, Ross explains. "But in the Kimberley, the paint remains in the rock as a stain. And the rock surfaces are dense quartzite and sandstone, which are hard, very resistant to weathering and break down very, very slowly."

While geology helps, a hostile climate acts against them. In most parts of the world, cave floors are covered with telltale debris, including layers of paint and charcoal from eons of human activity.

"But out of the 54 sites we've seen, few have any significant deposits at all," Ross says. "Think of the [ferocity of] cyclonic wet season rain, when a lot of the shelters would have been scoured out by floods. A huge amount of material is simply washed away."

To overcome this, the team will adopt a multidisciplinary approach. Kira Westaway from Macquarie University will use cutting-edge rock art dating techniques. Using pollen samples, Australian National University scientist Simon Haberle will determine the vegetation that grew near the caves and the influence of climatic changes on its growth. Geographer Murray Scown will map ancient river systems, pinpointing permanent water sources that may have led humans to make their home there.

Ross says: "We have to attack the problem with every possible tool. It's the direction that we have to go in archeology in Australia because we've got very few clues.

"We've had tantalising pieces of evidence in the last 20 years in archeological digs - from ground ochre to a smear of pigment on a rock - that indicate that the first Australians had the ability to produce art."

But the lack of accurate dating of much of the art remains an obstacle to understanding. Grahame Walsh, who died in 2007, made comprehensive surveys of rock art in the region and published books in 1994 and 2000. In them, Walsh aired contentious and speculative views that the art was created by a pre-Aboriginal civilisation, not the antecedents of today's indigenous people.

In the mid-1990s, Walsh accompanied Morwood and Ross to the northwest Kimberley to attempt the first scientific dating of rock art. At one site, they huddled around a fire waiting until it was pitch dark. "We'd then go out in the middle of the night and take samples from the rock art surface using a torch covered with a red filter," Ross says. "We were scraping a lump of mud from a wasp's nest off the wall, and taking rock grains from the bottom of it to analyse. It was all quite dramatic. The actual samples cannot be exposed to light because what we were measuring was the last time they had been exposed to light."

Luminescence dating by the University of Wollongong's Richard Roberts indicated the art was at least 17,000 years old.

This time, to avoid damaging the art, researchers will use a portable X-ray machine to measure the surfaces in situ.

Morwood and Ross will work alongside traditional owners from the Kandiwal community at Mitchell Falls. "We never forget that we are researching a living culture, albeit a changing one," Ross says.

Community members are keen to co-operate because they are concerned about the effect of growing tourist numbers and the threat of mining in the bauxite-rich Mitchell Plateau, Morwood adds. "If there is development coming, it's worth showing the art's significance now and not as an emergency response."

An $800,000 Australian Research Council grant will fund the surveys, which are also supported by the Kimberley Rock Art Foundation, a philanthropic group headed by Maria Myers, Walsh's former patron.

Room has been made for three PhD students to join the team and the positions have been advertised.

Morwood thinks their research may turn up some of the earliest evidence for human presence in Australia, dating back 50,000 years. Ross is more cautious: "I don't want to predict what we'll find . . . But I think the Kimberley will be hugely important in answering significant questions [in] Australian archeology."


Blogged about this early, but worthy of a repeat

1,000 ancient rock paintings found in east-central China
16:13, May 06, 2010

...a large cambered stone which is 8 meters long and 3.7 meters wide. There are more than 500 small craters of different sizes on the surface of the stone and several relatively larger craters that are 13 to 20 centimeters in diameter and three to seven centimeters in depth. These craters are connected by various lines, forming a very large ancient diagram (as shown in the above picture).

"It is quite incredible that a large stone goat carries 'Hetu and Luoshu' (map of the Yellow River and the book of the Luo River) on its back," Ma said.

The neck and back of the stone goat are carved with many craters. This is the first time that a Juci Mountain-style rock painting has been found on a stone animal, which is extremely rare and valuable.

Greenville, South Carolina, USA

Effort to preserve Pickens petroglyphs gets help from Natural Resources
Agency will help chisel away at fundraising goal for center
By Terry Cregar • Staff Writer • May 15, 2010

PICKENS — The state Department of Natural Resources is hoping to raise around $300,000 to build a structure designed to help preserve 1,000-year-old rock carvings near Pickens.

The agency is expected to announce the fundraising effort next week, with the money used to build the South Carolina Rock Art Center on the grounds of Hagood Mill Historic Site and Folklife Center.
The center is located off U.S. 178 north of Pickens.

Last fall, the Pickens County Cultural Commission launched a capital campaign toward raising money for the rock art center called “Preserving a Place of Ancient Voices.” So far that effort has brought in around $90,000, according to Allen Coleman, executive director of the Pickens County Museum and the Pickens County Cultural Commission.

A successful DNR campaign, which is part of that local effort, would give the center the money needed to complete the project, Coleman said.

The more than 40 carvings, including 17 rare human figures, were discovered in 2003 in a large rock outcropping toward the rear of the Hagood Mill property.  According to DNR, petroglyphs carved by prehistoric American Indians are found at more that 300 sites in the state, most of them located in Pickens, Greenville and Oconee counties. Many are at high elevations and difficult to reach for the general public.
Some of the high-elevation petroglyphs are on the Jim Timmerman Natural Resources Area at Jocassee Gorges in northern Pickens County.

Coleman said the commission is revising the original plan for the rock art center to make the structure “blend” with the rest of the buildings at the Hagood Mill property.  “We want to make it look more like the site, make it less slick-looking,” he said.

The structure's design will remain unchanged, he said.


Also a repeat of an earlier blog entry

Engraved menhir found in India
Mon, 10 May 2010 17:41:24 GMT

A freelance Indian archeologist has discovered an engraved megalith menhir on an open field about 100 kilometers from the southeastern city of Guntur.

K. Venkateshwara Rao found the menhir on the left bank of Nagaleuru, a tributary of the Krishna at Karampudi, The Hindu reported.

The Menhir, which dates back to the time between 1,000 and 300 BCE, stands alone facing the north-east and bears rock engravings at 8 to 9 feet off the ground.

Menhirs are remnants of the prehistoric megalithic civilization, when people used signs to communicate. Archaeological evidence also shows that they were used as places of worship.

Chinese People Blame Officials for Loss of Historic Sites

Unbelievable!  They are making exactly the same stupid mistakes that officials in the United States did in the 1950-60's and earlier by destroying irreplaceable buildings, forest preserves, waterways and burial mounds, etc. in the name of "progress."  Guess the Red Chinese bureaucrats and officials don't read their history, either.  Or perhaps they think they're so frigging superior to us wide-eyes they don't give a flying fig - all the fuss about preserving the past is just a lot of crap. 

This is one more reason NOT to visit China.  The air is filthy, the water is poison (where you can find any to drink, that is), and I just read in a travel review in today's Journal Sentinel that there are 'squat and dump' wide open "toilets" in Bejing.  Toilet paper and sinks NOT provided, you just pull your pants down and deliver your load in front of thousands of people walking by.  Yep - in Bejing, the premiere city of the People's Republic. Very sanitary, I'm sure.  So much for 'superiority.'  Gag me!

From Peoples Daily Online
Most blame officials for loss of relics, survey finds
08:39, May 14, 2010

More than 70 percent of respondents in a recent survey accused government officials of destroying the country's relics for their own political benefit.

The survey polled 2,284 Internet users and was released by the social survey center of the China Youth Daily on Tuesday.

Ninety-three percent of those polled supported preserving old buildings and 72 percent said ancient buildings were demolished because of government officials' push for high local GDP growth.

Of those polled, 50.8 percent were in their 20s and 31.7 percent in their 30s.

The poll came amid recent scandals in which historical sites were pulled down to make way for skyscrapers in the country.  In the past 20 years, about one-third of the former residences of celebrities in Beijing alone have been demolished, including those listed as cultural relics, the China Youth Daily reported.  Nationwide statistics on the destruction of ancient sites in similar cases are unavailable, but many believe the cases are numerous.

In April, an ancient city wall was reportedly destroyed because the transport bureau of Dali in Yunnan province wanted to broaden the road. Also in April, developers filled a scenic lake in Dali's Erhai Park to build a luxury villa.

Two weeks ago, an old blockhouse was removed to make way for railway construction in Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu province.

"The fate of ancient buildings is in the hands of government officials who prefer GDP growth to values of antiquity," said Wang Jilan, a 51 year-old Beijinger whose siheyuan - a traditional courtyard surrounded by four buildings - was dismantled last month.

Wang said thousands of siheyuan had been buried under tall buildings in the past decade. "I do not feel Beijing is my hometown anymore," she said.

In the survey, 93.4 percent of the respondents said it is necessary to protect ancient buildings, with 56.3 percent saying it was "of great importance".

Similarly, 72.2 percent of those polled said government officials should be responsible for vanishing culture relics and 67.4 percent said the officials are undermining the sustainable development of the city.

Only 20.3 percent of the respondents said dismantling ancient buildings can "elevate people's living standard in the short term".

"Government at all levels, relic protection authorities, urban planning departments and local residents are all responsible for the fate of the relics," said Zhang Zhanlu, an associate professor with Renmin University of China.

About 57 percent of those polled said that local residents should be entitled to decide the preservation of an ancient building.

Twenty percent of those polled said it should be decided by the central government, 14.4 percent said local governments should decide and 5.8 percent said government officials should fill that role.

"Preserving the old architecture is equivalent to preserving a source of the city's spirit and its future development," Zhang said.

Source: China Daily

Book Reviews: Two Powerful Women

Empress of Rome
Review by Elizabeth Speller

Published: May 10 2010 06:15 | Last updated: May 10 2010 06:15

Empress of Rome: The Life of Livia, by Matthew Dennison, Quercus Books £20, 320 pages, FT Bookshop price: £16

As the credits rolled at the start of the televised version of Robert Graves’ I, Claudius, largely based on Suetonius’s Twelve Caesars, a snake glided across mosaic imperial portraits. That the snake represented Livia, wife of the emperor Augustus, was made apparent by her central role in all that followed: seduction, plots, infanticide, matricide, and simple non-familial slaughter. Now Matthew Dennison’s rich and compelling account challenges the accepted version of Augustus’s wife as the viper in the nest.

Read review.

Book Review: Cleopatra: A Biography by Duane W. Roller
by Elinor Teele
May 10th, 2010 at 11:01 am

Demythifying Cleopatra

Pity Duane W. Roller, author of Cleopatra: A Biography. I can just imagine the initial conversation at the Oxford University Press:

“We want you to write a biography of Cleopatra, sensuous queen of the Egyptians, famed figure of ancient history.”

“Excellent, as Professor Emeritus of Greek and Latin at The Ohio State University, I’d be thrilled to delve into a world of intrigue and shifting political sands.”

“Good. But no sex, please, we’re British.”

Read review.

The Fox in Dogon Divination Ritual

I didn't blog about it but last week Saturday (a week ago yesterday) I once again saw the young red fox that I saw a few weeks prior on my deck one evening munching on peanuts I'd put out earlier for the squirrels but which they hadn't fetched away!

This new fox sighting was in broad daylight; it was about 2:30 or so in the afternoon and I was on my way back from the supermarket (mile there and mile back, a stretch of the legs for an often otherwise computer-bound femme).  I was walking west on Leroy Avenue and about 2 blocks from my house, just coming up on 81st Street (I live on 83rd) and there trotting across my view from left to right was the fox.  Not running but not dawdling either.  Someone in the cul de sac that is 81st Street at that point was cutting their grass and perhaps that disturbed the fox.  The fox trotted from the cul de sac across Leroy Avenue and disappeared behind one of the houses on my right, toward the north.

I was amazed to see it under such circumstances.  It sure was pretty - looks healthy, young and sleek, full-furred.  I love the colors of its fur.

So now that the fox sighting on my deck awhile back has been confirmed to not be a one-off occurrence, I got to wondering about why I'm seeing the fox.  I'm not normally a superstitious sort, but I did take seeing that fox as an omen of sorts, just not one I can fathom.  Seeing the fox again last week did remind me, though, about something I had tucked away in my research archives some years ago from a National Geographic - about the Dogon and fox divination.  So - I'm wondering if the fox is trying to tell me something and, if so, what the hell it's trying to tell me! Ach!  Here's some info on the Dogon and fox divination:

First - check out this great photograph by John Fletcher of a Dogon Diviner examining fox tracks made on a divination "board" drawn into the sand the night before.

From the National Geographic article:
Fox Divination

One evening, as the sun began to set, a Dogon priest called a "diviner" traced an intricate drawing in the ochre sands that lie at the foot of Bandiagara Cliffs. A series of six connected squares and an elaborate set of symbols were drawn in a pattern that represent the potential futures of the family, the village, regional peace and harmony, life and death, and the wishes of God.

The diviner next placed tiny sticks in the sand panels, representing God and the family. Several "I"-shaped tracings symbolized peace and death. Small heaps of sand with minute holes represented other concerns: harmony within the village, illness, next season's harvest, even one's own mortality.

As the diviner priest drew the patterns into the sand, he chanted to invoke the sacred fox to come weave a path of prophecy for his village across his creation:

"Fox, tell me please
is there something?
Will there be shame next year?
Fox, speak clearly.
Let the people coming to the field
stand eye to eye.
Throw your traces.
Give me your nails to mark the sand.
Be clear. Whatever you see, tell me
Give me your footprints."

The Dogon priest finished his chant as the last light of the day lingered in the western sky and then disappeared. The priest returned to his village. Nightfall invited the fox to visit the sacred Dogon markings.

At dawn the following day, sunlight traced the shadows of the fox path across the sand drawing. Indeed, the fox had visited in the night during our trip and with its tracings had foretold the future of the village of Yougou Piri. With these fortuitous markings, the fox had symbolically acted out the ritual of an oracle, a Dogon tradition that keeps life in balance for yet another year.

Photo from the blog Saharan Vibe - Dogon People of Bandiangara

A description of the fox divination ceremony from

Mali divination ceremony is an ethnic ritual practiced by the Dogon tribe in the country. The Dogons inhabiting the Bandiagara Cliffs in southern Mali claim themselves to be the channel between earth and heaven. There are about 300,000 Dogons spread across 700 villages in the Bandiagara region.

The Dogons practice many mysterious and intriguing rituals, which attract anthropologists, historians, scholars, and social scientists to their villages. Fox divination is one such ceremony. Fox divination ceremony is undertaken to foresee the future of the Dogon tribesmen and Dogon villages. This divination ceremony of Mali is performed by the ‘diviner’ or Dogon priest.

The Dogon divination ceremony begins just before sundown in the evening. The ‘diviner’ begins the ritual by drawing six interconnected squares in the sands at the foothills of the Bandiagara Cliffs. Together with the squares an intricate pattern of symbol is drawn that represent God's wishes, life and death, regional harmony and peace, and future of the families and the village.

Subsequently, ‘l’ shaped drawings representing peace and death are traced. Then, the Dogan priest places tiny sticks representing God and family in the sand panels. Thereafter minutely holed small sand mounds representing next harvest, village harmony, sickness, individual mortality are made.

All along while drawing sand patterns, the priest chants prayers appealing to the fox to come and foretell the future. The prayers finish just before darkness and everybody returns to the village.

The following morning all villagers gather at the site of the ceremony to discover footprints of the fox across the sand drawings made by the 'diviner'. The path of the fox foretells the future of the village for the forthcoming year.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...