Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Who Are the Women Carved Into Angkor Wat?

This is a fascinating article about how one man, not a professional archaeologist or historian, started asking questions and kept asking them and seeking answers - eventually assembling a team of various scholars dedicated to solving the same mystery.

From The Independent
The 12th-century facebook of Angkor Wat
Monday, 6 September 2010

Identities of the mysterious women carved into the Cambodian temple could finally be revealed. Andrew Buncombe reports

ALAMY.  Exquisitely stone-carved Asparas dancers at the
Cambodian temple of Angkor Wat.  A closer examination of the
dancers in this image revealsdifferent body types, a  range
of ages (from young to mature) and the headdresses are
not identical.   Also note that the body positions of each of
the dancers is slightly different.  
Amid the splendour of the 12th-century temple at Angkor Wat, they stand and stare like silent sentinels, sensuous rather than erotic, carved with elegance and care. But exactly who are these 1,786 mysterious women and why, more than a century after Cambodia's famed Hindu temple was rediscovered byWestern archaeologists, did it take the efforts of an amateur researcher from Florida to push experts into trying to resolve the puzzle?

Though Kent Davis had lived in South-east Asia during the 1990s, he did not have an opportunity to see Angkor Wat until 2005. Like most visitors to the huge complex in the centre of the Cambodia, for many years cut off from the outside world because of the presence of theKhmer Rouge, he was mesmerised by the experience.

But he was also left with a flurry of questions. "I went to Angkor as a tourist and I was startled when I got there to notice these women," said Mr Davis, 54, a publisher and writer who now lives near Tampa, Florida. "I was not prepared for it. The human element of them struck me and I wanted to know who they were. I asked one of the guides and he said they were there to serve the king after he went to heaven."

Mr Davis's interest was tweaked, so he wanted to know more. He vowed he would return to the US and investigate. Yet when he got home he found there was essentially nothing written about these women, who appear throughout the temple complex in full body carvings.

Indeed, the only study of the female carvings he could find had been made in the early 20th century by the daughter of Frenchman Henri Marchal, then the curator of the temple site. Frustrated but intrigued, he decided he would find out for himself. Five years and several trips to Angkor later, Mr Davis has slowly begun to get some answers.

Rest of article.

17th Graz International Chess Festival - WGM Tournament

As part of the larger international chess festival, a WGM Tournament was held at Graz, Austria, August 28th - September 5th, 2010. Here are the final standings from that tournament:

17th WGM Graz (AUT), 21 viii-5 ix 2010
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0
1. Lujan, Carolina m ARG 2296 * ½ 1 1 1 1 ½ 1 1 1 8 2577
2. Moser, Eva m AUT 2440 ½ * 1 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 1 1 7½ 2483
3. Schneider, Veronika wm HUN 2292 0 0 * ½ 1 1 1 0 ½ 1 5 2270
4. Limontaite, Simona wm LTU 2230 0 0 ½ * 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 4½ 2234
5. Daulyte, Deimante wm LTU 2333 0 ½ 0 0 * 0 1 1 1 1 4½ 2222
6. Pertlova, Sona wm CZE 2206 0 0 0 ½ 1 * ½ ½ 1 1 4½ 2236
7. Kopinits, Anna-Christina wm AUT 2187 ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ * ½ 1 ½ 4 2195
8. Exler, Veronika AUT 2143 0 0 1 0 0 ½ ½ * 0 ½ 2½ 2077
9. Schink, Barbara AUT 2052 0 0 ½ ½ 0 0 0 1 * ½ 2½ 2087
10. Novkovic, Julia wf AUT 2157 0 0 0 ½ 0 0 ½ ½ ½ * 2 2022

Russian Women's Higher League 2010

The Russian Women's Higher League took place in St Petersburg, Russia August 26th - September 3rd, 2010. Top 10 final standings (9 rounds):

Nazi Paikidze at the 2010 Polonia Wroclaw
International Chess Tournament.
July 1, 2010.  Wikipedia.
Rank Name Ti Fed. Elo Pts TPR W-We 1
1 Paikidze, Nazi WGM GEO 2346 7.0 2534 +2.16 1
2 Girya, Olga WGM RUS 2376 6.5 2479 +1.25 1
3 Shadrina, Tatiana WGM RUS 2374 6.5 2413 +0.54 1
4 Zaiatz, Elena IM RUS 2398 6.0 2447 +0.57 0
5 Matveeva, Svetlana IM RUS 2379 6.0 2462 +0.99 ½
6 Nebolsina, Vera WGM RUS 2349 6.0 2440 +1.16 ½
7 Romanko, Marina IM RUS 2411 5.5 2422 +0.15 1
8 Savina, Anastasia WGM RUS 2392 5.5 2359 -0.35 ½
9 Manakova, Maria WGM SRB 2306 5.5 2456 +1.87 1
10 Ivakhinova, Inna WIM RUS 2279 5.5 2373 +1.17 ½

Baku Open

August 23 - 31, 210
2010 Baku Open International Chess Tournament

USA's GM Gata Kamsky took clear first with 7.5/9. The 150 player event had several chess femmes playing. The highest finish was 18th place by Georgian IM Leyla Javakhishvili (2469) wih 6.5. Other chess femmes who participated and their final standings:

26 WGM Mamedjarova Zeinab AZE 2231 6,0
38 WFM Hejazipour Mitra IRI 2233 5,5
45 WFM Khademalsharieh Sarasadat IRI 2097 5,5
48 WIM Umudova Nargiz AZE 2239 5,5
52 WGM Mamedjarova Turkan AZE 2280 5,0
55 WFM Mammadova Gulnar Marfat qizi AZE 2260 5,0
57 GM Zhukova Natalia UKR 2499 5,0
58 WCM Fataliyeva Ulviyya Hasil qizi AZE 1942 5,0
61 WIM Isgandarova Khayala Ilqar Qizi AZE 2172 5,0
62 WIM Kazimova Narmin Nizami Qizi AZE 2255 5,0
64 Mammadbayova Farida Tofiq qizi AZE 2036 5,0
69 WFM Hakimifard Ghazal IRI 2173 5,0
72 Khalafova Narmin Ilqar Qizi AZE 2063 4,5
73 Hasanova Turkan Zakir Qizi AZE 2038 4,5
74 WIM Abdulla Khayala Mardan Qizi AZE 2193 4,5
94 Ibrahimova Sabina Oqtay Qizi AZE 2054 4,0
99 Bakhtiyarly Aysel Anvar qizi AZE 2040 4,0
100 WFM Aghasiyeva Fidan Aydin qizi AZE 2075 4,0
102 Mammadova Aysel Alishiraz qizi AZE 1965 4,0
103 Aghayeva Gulshan Qabil Qizi AZE 1893 4,0
107 Babazade Zhala Sharafaddin Qizi AZE 1898 4,0
108 Soyunlu Narmin Asat qizi AZE 1775 4,0
110 Amrayeva Aytan Arzuman qizi AZE 1811 3,5
111 Eyyubzada Maryam AZE 0 3,5
112 Aghayeva Aytan Qabil qizi AZE 2003 3,5
118 Asgarova Turan Nizami Qizi AZE 1961 3,5
124 Novruzova Nigar Farman qizi AZE 1778 3,5
125 Khalilova Khadija Gyunduz Qizi AZE 1704 3,5
126 Guliyeva Sabina Ilqar Qizi AZE 2010 3,5
137 Mammadzada Aysel Sahib qizi AZE 0 3,0
143 Zamanova Bikakhanim Rufat qizi AZE 1790 2,5
149 Nasirova Gunay Imran Qizi AZE 0 2,0

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Monstrous Crime of Honor Killings - Growing and Spreading

Honor crime victim Fakhra Khar,
drenched in acid by her husband in
Karachi in 2001.  She lived.

Where are the voices of Islam crying out against this practice, these horrible crimes?  Read just a few examples of "honor" killings that I included in this excerpted article below and you tell me - why are the leaders of Islam not speaking out forcefully against this practice?  Why are they not screaming against it and issuing fatwas outlawing the practice and authorizing the killing of its practitioners from their mosques?  Don't read this article if you don't have a strong stomach.
From the Independent.com

The honour killing files:

The crimewave that shames the world

It's one of the last great taboos: the murder of at least 20,000 women a year in the name of 'honour'. Nor is the problem confined to the Middle East: the contagion is spreading rapidly

By Robert Fisk
Tuesday, 7 September 2010

It is a tragedy, a horror, a crime against humanity. The details of the murders – of the women beheaded, burned to death, stoned to death, stabbed, electrocuted, strangled and buried alive for the "honour" of their families – are as barbaric as they are shameful. Many women's groups in the Middle East and South-west Asia suspect the victims are at least four times the United Nations' latest world figure of around 5,000 deaths a year. Most of the victims are young, many are teenagers, slaughtered under a vile tradition that goes back hundreds of years but which now spans half the globe.

A 10-month investigation by The Independent in Jordan, Pakistan, Egypt, Gaza and the West Bank has unearthed terrifying details of murder most foul. Men are also killed for "honour" and, despite its identification by journalists as a largely Muslim practice, Christian and Hindu communities have stooped to the same crimes. Indeed, the "honour" (or ird) of families, communities and tribes transcends religion and human mercy. But voluntary women's groups, human rights organisations, Amnesty International and news archives suggest that the slaughter of the innocent for "dishonouring" their families is increasing by the year.

Iraqi Kurds, Palestinians in Jordan, Pakistan and Turkey appear to be the worst offenders but media freedoms in these countries may over-compensate for the secrecy which surrounds "honour" killings in Egypt – which untruthfully claims there are none – and other Middle East nations in the Gulf and the Levant. But honour crimes long ago spread to Britain, Belgium, Russia and Canada and many other nations. Security authorities and courts across much of the Middle East have connived in reducing or abrogating prison sentences for the family murder of women, often classifying them as suicides to prevent prosecutions.

It is difficult to remain unemotional at the vast and detailed catalogue of these crimes. How should one react to a man – this has happened in both Jordan and Egypt – who rapes his own daughter and then, when she becomes pregnant, kills her to save the "honour" of his family? Or the Turkish father and grandfather of a 16-year-old girl, Medine Mehmi, in the province of Adiyaman, who was buried alive beneath a chicken coop in February for "befriending boys"? Her body was found 40 days later, in a sitting position and with her hands tied.

Or Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow, 13, who in Somalia in 2008, in front of a thousand people, was dragged to a hole in the ground – all the while screaming, "I'm not going – don't kill me" – then buried up to her neck and stoned by 50 men for adultery? After 10 minutes, she was dug up, found to be still alive and put back in the hole for further stoning. Her crime? She had been raped by three men and, fatally, her family decided to report the facts to the Al-Shabab militia that runs Kismayo. Or the Al-Shabab Islamic "judge" in the same country who announced the 2009 stoning to death of a woman – the second of its kind the same year – for having an affair? Her boyfriend received a mere 100 lashes.

Or the young woman found in a drainage ditch near Daharki in Pakistan, "honour" killed by her family as she gave birth to her second child, her nose, ears and lips chopped off before being axed to death, her first infant lying dead among her clothes, her newborn's torso still in her womb, its head already emerging from her body? She was badly decomposed; the local police were asked to bury her. Women carried the three to a grave, but a Muslim cleric refused to say prayers for her because it was "irreligious" to participate in the namaz-e-janaza prayers for "a cursed woman and her illegitimate children".

Rest of article.

Egyptian Papyrus In the Lining of 1,200 Year Old Irish Psalter

From Physorg.com
Egyptian papyrus found in ancient Irish bog
September 6, 2010
Irish scientists have found fragments of Egyptian papyrus in the leather cover of an ancient book of psalms that was unearthed from a peat bog, Ireland's National Museum said on Monday.

From the original 2006 AP report, found at
Knight Science Journalism Tracker.
The papyrus in the lining of the Egyptian-style leather cover of the 1,200-year-old manuscript, "potentially represents the first tangible connection between early Irish Christianity and the Middle Eastern Coptic Church", the Museum said.

"It is a finding that asks many questions and has confounded some of the accepted theories about the history of early Christianity in Ireland."

Raghnall O Floinn, head of collections at the Museum, said the manuscript, now known as the "Faddan More Psalter", was one of the top ten archaeological discoveries in Ireland.

It was uncovered four years ago by a man using a mechanical digger to harvest peat near Birr in County Tipperary, but analysis has only just been completed.

O Floinn told AFP the illuminated vellum manuscript encased in the leather binding dated from the eighth century but it was not known when or why it ended up in the bog where it was preserved by the chemicals in the peat.

"It appears the manuscript's leather binding came from Egypt. The question is whether the papyrus came with the cover or if it was added.

"It is possible that the imperfections in the hide may allow us to confirm the leather is Egyptian.

"We are trying to track down if there somebody who can tell us if this is possible. That is the next step."

O Floinn said the psalter is about the size of a tabloid newspaper and about 15 percent of the pages of the psalms, which are written in Latin, had survived.

The experts believe the manuscript of the psalms was produced in an Irish monastery and it was later put in the leather cover.

"The cover could have had several lives before it ended up basically as a folder for the manuscript in the bog," O Floinn said.

"It could have travelled from a library somewhere in Egypt to the Holy Land or to Constantinople or Rome and then to Ireland."

The National Museum in Dublin plans to put the psalter on public display for the first time next year.

(c) 2010 AFP
More information provided in this article:
Manuscript dug from bog rates among our top 10 biggest finds
Sunday September 05 2010

Background information from Wikipedia.

July 26, 2006 article on the initial discovery from BBC News (with photo).

March 10, 2010 article from The Irish Times (with photo).

The Psalter has its own Facebook page.

Were Chess Relics Uncovered During a Moscow Construction Project?

This "oh by the way" throw-away segment in the following article from The Moscow News online in English caught my eye:

Moscow’s chess lovers ready to practice
by Lidia Okorokova at 06/09/2010 22:15

Chess on display

Chess also has its own museum in Moscow, established in 1980, but it is currently closed for refitting and renovation.

“The chess museum may be re-opened soon with a new collection of chess that were discovered recently at a construction site in Moscow during an archaeological excavation,” chief Moscow archaeologist Alexander Veksler recently said at a press-conference at Interfax.

The museum’s collection has unique sets of chess pieces from 18th – 20th centuries, including chess boards made from jade and gems from the Urals, so one can only hope that it will be open to the public again soon.

Address: Moscow, Gogolevsky
Bulvar 14, Kropotkinskaya metro.
Phone: (495) 291-4429
Hmmmm, seems I missed the announcement.  Just what is this "new collection of chess" that were discovered recently at a construction site in Moscow?

I mean, if someone tossed away a 19th century Staunton set in Moscow in 1910 and it was buried under the rubble of a building blown up during the Revolution or one or both world wars, who cares?  That is hardly earth-shattering news and although such a set might merit interest in a local museum - really - it's hardly worth a news report on the Interfax. I was not able to find anything else online on the discovery and I'm not a subscriber to Interfax so, that's it, folks.  Unless someone else out there has further information.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Dog Graves Uncovered in Colonial Virginia

From UPI.com
Colonial-era dog graves found in Virginia
Published: Sept. 4, 2010 at 6:21 PM

WILLIAMSBURG, Va., Sept. 4 (UPI) -- Dog remains were discovered in two Colonial-era graves on the campus of the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va.

When two "small, rectangular shafts" dating to the late 1600s to mid-1700s were discovered July 13, archaeologists initially thought they contained the remains of children, Joe Jones, director of William & Mary's Center for Archaeological Research, told The (Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot Friday.

But the bone fragments, most of which were smaller than a fingernail, turned out to be from small to medium-sized dogs, Jones said, calling the discovery "unprecedented."

"During this period of early Colonial history in Virginia, there's no good evidence for people keeping dogs for household pets. And if not the English colonists, what else might be going on?" Jones asked, leaving open the possibility that the graves were the work of American Indians, who would have been on campus during the early years of the college, which was established in 1693.
Hmmmm, how about perhaps the dogs were sacrificed when a building or buildings were being built or dedicated on the fledgling campus? Some Eastern Europeans practiced dog sacrifice well into the 20th century under just such circumstances, and I believe the English practiced dog sacrifice too, into the 19th century I think.  While I'm certain that most of the significance and true meaning orginally behind such sacrifices had been lost over time, it is interesting to think that ultimately, the people who engaged in such rituals were asking for the protection of the Great Mother Goddess in a rather bass-ackwards way, by sacrificing the very creatures who were her talismen and faithful companions.

The goddess Gula with her dog.
Detail from a boundary stone
dated to the reign of Babylonian
king Nabu-mukin-apli, 978-943 BCE.

Drawing © Stephane Beaulieu,
after Black and Green 2003: 101.
Some information about various goddesses (and a few gods) associated with dogs through the ages:

Cailleach: Celtic (Irish & Scottish) Goddess of disease and plague. A Destroyer, or Crone, Goddess, she was also called "Veiled One". As the Crone, she ruled with the Maiden and the Mother. Monsterous Dogs guarded the gates of her afterworld realm where she received the dead. Celtic myth has her gatekeeper dog named Dormarth "Death's Door". Irish bards who could curse with satire were often called cainte "dog".

Xolotl: In Aztec and Toltec mythology, Xolotl ("The Animal", Lord of the Evening Star, Lord of the Underworld) was the god of lightning and a psychopomp, which is to say that he was the one who aided the dead on their journey to Mictlan, the afterlife.

Xolotl was also the god of fire and of bad luck. He was the twin of Quetzalcoatl, the pair being sons of the virgin Coatlicue, and was the evil personification of Venus, the evening star. He guarded the sun when it went through the underworld at night. He also brought forth humankind and fire from the underworld.

In art, Xolotl was depicted as a skeleton, a dog-headed man - "xolotl" can also mean "dog" in Nahuatl, the Aztec language - or a monster animal with reversed feet. He was also the patron of the Ulama game. He is identified with Xocotl as being the Aztec god of fire.

The axolotl, a type of salamander native to Mexico, is not directly named after the god. Instead, its name derives from the Nahuatl words for water ("atl") and dog (also "xolotl").Xoloitzcuintle is the official name of the Mexican Hairless Dog (also known as Perro Pelón Mexicano in Spanish), a canine species endemic to Central America dating back to Pre-Colombian times. This is one of many native dogs species in the Americas and it is often confused with the Peruvian Hairless Dog. The name Xoloitcuintle makes reference to Xolotl because, historically, one of this dog's missions was to accompany the dead in their journey into eternity. In spite of this prominent place in the mythology, the meat of the Xoloitcuintle was very much part of the diet of some of the ancient peoples of the region.

Anubis, perhaps the best known of the "dog" gods - jackal headed, associated with post-death rituals of embalming and the crucial "Weighing of the Heart" ceremony; also functioned as a protector of the deceased's remains which were crucial to be preserved as a dwelling place for the deceased's spirit to return to nightly. More info at Wikipedia, a good start for info on this extremely ancient wild dog-god.

Among the more familiar goddesses closely associated with dogs (often as harbingers of death and protectors of the deads' spirits):  Artemis, Athena, Sarama, Roman Diana, Lupa.

Gula:  The "Great One" whose name is not known, lost in the mists of time but held the title.  She was a healing goddess and her alter-ego was a dog.  Check out "Going to the Dogs" by Johanna Stuckey. 

Isis Sends News: King Tut DNA Story in National Geographic

King Tut bust. National Geographic.
Looks like Michael Jackson in later years.
Good timing guys, in conjunction with the popular "King Tut" exhibition currently at the Denver Art Museum and an expected $100 million poured into the local economy as a result of people visiting to see the exhibition and spending while in the city.

Master promoter of Egyptian antiquities (not that they need any promotion, ancient Egypt has always been a favorite with people everywhere) Zahi Hawass, Extreme High Mucky Muck of Egyptian Antiquities (he will probably have himself cloned so he never has to give up his position) wrote the National Geographic article.

Here is a nice cover article from the Summit Daily News
King Tut DNA findings
National Geographic reveals the mystery behind the boy-king
By Kimberly Nicoletti
September 5, 2010

And from the National Geographic website
Tut's Family Secrets
September 10, 2010 issue
Includes a neat graphic of Tut's family tree through his great-grandparents.

Turkish Environmental Minister to Archaeologists: The City You've Been Excavating Doesn't Exist

Yep, you read that right, in a case of doublespeak that would make even Karl Rove and the backers of the clueless teaparty constituents proud, the Environmental Minister told reporters that the ancient cit of Allianoi does not, in fact, that that it was created during the term of a former governor to promote a hot spring in the region.

This is, of course, to excuse the fact that despite losing 16 different court cases on various challenges to the government, it is going ahead with final phases of a damn construction which will flood the entire region, including the ancient city.

This guy makes Rove, Beck and Limbaugh look like truth-telling lambs by comparison. And we all know they are just pond scum who sold out to the highest bidders, telling outright filth and lies to their eager constitencies to advance the agenda of the corporate elite in this country. Such is life that such people now are considered "patriots." The founding fathers are rolling in their graves!

From the Hurriyet Daily News & Economic Review
Ancient city does not actually exist, says Turkish minister
Wednesday, September 1, 2010

INSTANBUL - Controversy over plans to bury an ancient city in western Turkey with sand ahead of a new dam project was overshadowed Wednesday by revelations from Turkey’s environment minister that the site did not, in fact, exist.

“There is no such place as Allianoi. It is just a hot spring that was recently restored called ‘Paşa Ilıcası,’” said Minister Veysel Eroğlu in response to a reporter’s question about the controversial plans to bury the ancient city, which is located near Bergama in the Aegean province of İzmir.

Eroğlu’s belief in the site’s non-existence, however, has been challenged by archaeologists and the Culture and Tourism Ministry, which describes Allianoi on its website as an ancient site that was noted for its health center.

“Veysel Eroğlu is not an archaeologist. What he said is really ridiculous,” Assistant Professor Ahmet Yaraş, head of the excavations, said Wednesday.

“Allianoi is the most protected hot spring in the world. Some 11,000 coins, around 400 metal artifacts, 400 bone artifacts, 800 ceramic artifacts and around 400 glass artifacts have been found during excavations,” said Yaraş, adding that only 20 percent of the city had been successfully excavated so far.

“We have found a sculpture of Asklepios, who was known as the god of health. Alliaoni has 400 surgical instruments, the highest number ever found, proving that the place was a hospital at the time,” he said.

Allianoi is just a fictional name, the minister said, adding that it had been restored by a former governor and constituted no more than an ordinary hot spring little different from other hot springs that can be observed throughout the country.

Rest of article.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Last Gasp of Summer

I'm taking a short hiatus for the Labor Day Weekend.  Will be back - hmmm, sometime.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Seminar: Medicine, Health and Disease in Ancient Egypt

One of those oh-so-synchronicitous (is that a word?) events.  While I was blogging here earlier today about the brewing of beer in Nubia and the ancient Middle East that contained the antibiotic tretracycline and how ancient cultures probably used this specially brewed beer to treat various infective conditons, an email was parked in my inbox that I saw just now - about an upcoming seminar on Medicine, Health and Disease in Ancient Egypt.

Mr. Don and I attended a walking tour and lecture on the subject of medicine in ancient Egypt at the Met during our vacation to New York in May, 2009 and it was absolutely fascinating, and astounding too, the extent of their practical medical knowledge.  The ancient Egyptian nurses and doctors may not have understood the "science" behind their remedies but they knew what often worked.

Did you know that the kohl ancient Egyptians used to line their eyes contained a chemical not harmful to humans but that acted as a repellant to the flies that carried the microbe that caused Nile River blindness?

Unfortunately, I was not able to figure out how to copy the PDF accompanying the email notifying me of this event here.  So, here is a summary of the pertinent information.  Too bad, some of the graphics in the flyer are pretty cool. 

Medicine, Health and Disease in Ancient Egypt
A study day presented by Joyce Filer BA; Dip.Arch; M.Sc; M.Sc
formerly Curator of Human and Animal Remains, Dept. of Ancient Egypt and Sudan, British Museum, London

Saturday, 6 November, 2010
11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
University of London, Bloomsbury, London WC1

Please note: As places are limited, bookings must be received no later than 22 October 2010.
Cost  30 Pounds, to include afternoon refreshments.

Application Form:

Hughes-Parry Hall (The Garden Halls), 19-26 Cartwright Gardens, Bloomsbury, London, WC1H 9EF
On: Saturday: 6 November 2010 : 11am - 5pm

Please send me ______ ticket/s for this event. I enclose a cheque/postal order for (total)
£ _______ made payable to Joyce Filer Cost £30

All personal details specified below, and a stamped addressed envelope are required when applying.

Send (with an SAE) to:

Joyce Filer
4 Lowndes Court
London W1F 7HE


Name: .........................................................
Address: .....................................................
Tel/email: ..................................................

Please note: Cheque payments must be received no later than: 22 October 2010
The Study Day is aimed at Adults. Children of secondary age need to request permission from the Organizer.

For further information please contact Richard email: rikki_promo@yahoo.co.uk Tel: 07973 695 168

FIDE Top 100 Women Chessplayers and Growing Ranks of Female GMs

The Top 100 FIDE Ratings Lists are out for September, 2010.
GM Judit Polgar
GM Judit Polgar is #56 on the list at ELO 2682.  How many times now is this in a row she has been in the top 100?

On the Women's List, Judit is again #1.  Other GMs are in bold - the GM title is not the same as the WGM title, which is Woman Grandmaster and a worthy goal in its own right.  In the hierarchy of chess titles, GM is the highest:

Name Title Country Rating Games B-Year
1 Polgar, Judit g HUN 2682 0 1976
2 Koneru, Humpy g IND 2593 11 1987
3 Hou, Yifan g CHN 2578 25 1994
4 Kosintseva, Tatiana g RUS 2573 22 1986
5 Kosintseva, Nadezhda m RUS 2565 16 1985
6 Stefanova, Antoaneta g BUL 2551 28 1979
7 Lahno, Kateryna g UKR 2539 9 1989
8 Muzychuk, Anna m SLO 2535 15 1990
9 Dzagnidze, Nana g GEO 2534 11 1987
10 Kosteniuk, Alexandra g RUS 2524 9 1984
11 Ju, Wenjun wg CHN 2516 8 1991
12 Harika, Dronavalli m IND 2515 18 1991
13 Cmilyte, Viktorija g LTU 2513 16 1983
14 Cramling, Pia g SWE 2509 11 1963
15 Chiburdanidze, Maia g GEO 2500 22 1961
16 Sebag, Marie g FRA 2499 11 1986
17 Zhukova, Natalia g UKR 2499 0 1979
18 Pogonina, Natalija wg RUS 2491 14 1985
19 Krush, Irina m USA 2490 9 1983
20 Socko, Monika g POL 2486 27 1978
21 Mkrtchian, Lilit m ARM 2484 18 1982
22 Hoang Thanh Trang g HUN 2482 11 1980
23 Galliamova, Alisa m RUS 2482 0 1972
24 Zhu, Chen g QAT 2480 20 1976
25 Zatonskih, Anna m USA 2480 9 1978
26 Ruan, Lufei wg CHN 2480 0 1987
27 Xu, Yuhua g CHN 2475 23 1976
28 Gaponenko, Inna m UKR 2469 31 1976
29 Zhao, Xue g CHN 2469 14 1985
30 Paehtz, Elisabeth m GER 2467 3 1985
31 Danielian, Elina m ARM 2466 29 1978
32 Ushenina, Anna m UKR 2466 13 1985
33 Vijayalakshmi, Subbaraman m IND 2466 0 1979
34 Gunina, Valentina wg RUS 2465 5 1989
35 Khotenashvili, Bela m GEO 2464 23 1988
36 Skripchenko, Almira m FRA 2464 10 1976
37 Muzychuk, Mariya m UKR 2464 8 1992
38 Tan, Zhongyi wg CHN 2461 16 1991
39 Hunt, Harriet V m ENG 2454 0 1978
40 Dembo, Yelena m GRE 2452 9 1983
41 Javakhishvili, Lela m GEO 2451 9 1984
42 Arakhamia-Grant, Ketevan g SCO 2451 0 1968
43 Polgar, Sofia m HUN 2450 0 1974
44 Atalik, Ekaterina m TUR 2447 31 1982
45 Repkova, Eva m SVK 2447 9 1975
46 Kovalevskaya, Ekaterina m RUS 2447 0 1974
47 Rajlich, Iweta m POL 2446 0 1981
48 Shen, Yang wg CHN 2443 33 1989
49 Melia, Salome m GEO 2439 29 1987
50 Moser, Eva m AUT 2436 18 1982
51 Huang, Qian wg CHN 2436 16 1986
52 Khurtsidze, Nino m GEO 2435 18 1975
53 Turova, Irina m RUS 2433 43 1979
54 Matnadze, Ana m GEO 2428 18 1983
55 Houska, Jovanka m ENG 2426 11 1980
56 Khukhashvili, Sopiko m GEO 2422 9 1985
57 Girya, Olga wg RUS 2414 22 1991
58 Munguntuul, Batkhuyag m MGL 2412 11 1987
59 Peptan, Corina-Isabela m ROU 2412 11 1978
60 Romanko, Marina m RUS 2411 0 1986
61 Zawadzka, Jolanta wg POL 2410 18 1987
62 Zaiatz, Elena m RUS 2407 9 1969
63 Savina, Anastasia wg RUS 2404 9 1992
64 Jackova, Jana m CZE 2402 0 1982
65 Ovod, Evgenija m RUS 2401 0 1982
66 Peng, Zhaoqin g NED 2400 8 1968
67 Stockova, Zuzana m SVK 2400 0 1977
68 Michna, Marta wg GER 2399 16 1978
69 Bodnaruk, Anastasia m RUS 2399 5 1992
70 Vasilevich, Tatjana m UKR 2399 0 1977
71 Madl, Ildiko m HUN 2397 10 1969
72 Foisor, Cristina-Adela m ROU 2395 16 1967
73 Wang, Yu A. m CHN 2394 14 1982
74 Batsiashvili, Nino wg GEO 2390 26 1987
75 Milliet, Sophie m FRA 2388 29 1983
76 Maric, Alisa m SRB 2387 0 1970
77 Kononenko, Tatiana m UKR 2384 10 1978
78 Tsereteli, Tamar wg GEO 2384 0 1985
79 Tania, Sachdev m IND 2382 18 1986
80 Gara, Anita m HUN 2382 0 1983
81 Alexandrova, Olga m ESP 2381 0 1978
82 Shadrina, Tatiana wg RUS 2379 9 1974
83 Ding, Yixin wf CHN 2379 8 1991
84 Matveeva, Svetlana m RUS 2379 0 1969
85 Molchanova, Tatjana wg RUS 2378 9 1980
86 Paikidze, Nazi wg GEO 2376 20 1993
87 Mikadze, Miranda wm GEO 2375 9 1989
88 Charkhalashvili, Inga wg GEO 2375 8 1983
89 Stepovaia, Tatiana wg RUS 2375 0 1965
90 Galojan, Lilit m ARM 2373 10 1983
91 Sukandar, Irine Kharisma wg INA 2372 18
92 Gu, Xiaobing wg CHN 2371 6 1985
93 Kovanova, Baira wg RUS 2370 11 1987
94 Pokorna, Regina wg SVK 2370 6 1982
95 Cori T., Deysi wg PER 2368 46 1993
96 Fierro Baquero, Martha L. m ECU 2368 29 1977
97 Vega Gutierrez, Sabrina wg ESP 2368 18 1987
98 Bojkovic, Natasa m SRB 2368 0 1971
99 Djingarova, Emilia wg BUL 2368 0 1978
100 Rudolf, Anna wg HUN 2366 18 1987
101 Goletiani, Rusudan m USA 2366 0 1980

GM Koneru Humpy, Second
Ranked Female Chessplayer
in the World
I count 20 GMs on the list of active players. The list does not include GM Susan Polgar or GM Xie Jun, who are retired from active play.  I may have missed some other retired players - . 

Susan Polgar was the first female chessplayer to earn the GM title in the traditional way.  A few months later her sister, Judit, also earned the GM title in the traditional way and at the time was the youngest player EVER to do so, beating American Bobby Fischer by a few months.  Shortly therafter, Pia Cramling of Norway earned a GM title also in the traditional way.  They were the groundbreakers, but we must not forget the great female players who came before them, who were awarded GM titles for their outstanding play over several years  in chess events. 

Less than five years ago, there were only 11 female GMs on the world list of GMs.  Now there are at least 22.  Check out this list from 2006 - so we can see that great progress has been made by female chessplayers as more of them have entered into the competitive ranks of pro chess and play on a sustained basis, earning the title in the tradition way or by winning tough championship events that qualify them for a GM title. 
Grandmaster/Country/Birth Date/Date of Title/How Earned/WWC/Highest Rating (as of Nov. 2006)/Notes
1. Nona Gaprindashvili Georgia 1941 1978 Won WWC 1962-78 2381
1st woman to get Grandmaster title
2. Maia Chiburdanidze Georgia 17 Jan 1961 ? Won WWC 1978-91 2560

3. Susan Polgar Hungary 19 Apr 1969 Jan. 1991 Traditional way 1996-99 2577?
First woman to earn Grandmaster title the same way as men
4. Judit Polgar Hungary 23 Jul 1976 Dec. 1991 Traditional way - 2735
At age 15, youngest person of either gender to become a GM at the time, beating Bobby Fischer's record by just over a month, held for over 30 years

5. Pia Cramling Sweden 23 Apr 1963 1992 Traditional way - 2528?

6. Xie Jun China 30 Oct 1970 1995 Traditional way 91-96, 99-01 2557

7. Zhu Chen China 16 Mar 1976 2001 Traditional way 2001-04 2538

8. Humpy Koneru India 31 Mar 1987 2002 Traditional way 2539
Became the youngest GM in history, beating J. Polgar's record by 3 mos.

9. Antoaneta Stefanova Bulgaria 19 Apr 1979 2003 Traditional way 2004-06 2520

10. Alexandra Kosteniuk Russia 23 Apr 1984 2004 Won EWC 2004-06 2540

11. Zhaoqin Peng Holland 8 May 1968 Oct. 2004 Won EWC 2004 2460
WWC=Women's World Champion(ship) • EWC = European Women's Championship • Most birthdates from rec.games.chess
These are exciting times for female chessplayers.  As you can see from the above information, the number of GM titled females has doubled between 2006 and now.  That is just an incredible statistic, if you think about it, particularly since the ranks of female players has not doubled during the same time. 

Chess Femme News

Starting off the round-up of news, this from Dylan Loeb McClain at The New York Times - not dealing with chess femmes but interesting, nonetheless, talking about chessplayers who were also musicians and/or mathematicians:

September 2, 2010, 5:12 am
Mathematicians, Musicians and Chess Masters

McClain's blog article mentions mathematician and chessplayers Adolf Anderssen, who was one-half of the game David Shenk used as a framework for his masterpiece on chess history "The Immortal Game: A History of Chess."

A nice idea - bringing together Armenian players from all around the world. Several chess femmes participated in this team event and two from the USA did quite well:

First Pan-Armenian Chess Olympiad brings together 40 ranked players
Published: Wednesday September 01, 2010
Pan-Armenian Chess Olympiad, Yerevan, August 14 - 23, 2010
Individual winners included Grikor Sevak Mekhitarian (Brazil, 3rd place), Katerina Rohonian (USA, 3rd place), Siranoush Andreasian (Armenia, 3rd place), Tigran Petrossian (Armenia, 2nd place), Tatev Abrahamian (USA, 2nd place), Poghos Nahapetyan (Russia, 1st place), and Diana Arutyunova (Ukraine, 1st place).

64th Moscow Blitz Championship
August 29, 2010
Report from Chessbase.com
Despite incredibly bad hair (what was she thinking, ohmygoddess!), WGM Valentina Gunina scored an incredible 100% - she won all 17 of her blitz games - to take the women's title. 

Here's a blog entry from GM Alexandra Kosteniuk's blog on the movie "Queen to Play" with video and links.
6th Prospero "A" Pichay Cup Open
August 21 - 26, 2010
Nine rounds, 47 players and, as far as I can tell, one lone chess femme, who did all right:
18 WGM POURKASHIYAN Atousa IRI 2308 5,0

1st Campomanes Memorial Cup Women
August 28 - September 3, 2010
Organizer(s) NCFP
Tournament director IA Wilfredo A. Abalos
Chief-Arbiter IA Casto Abundo
Site Ninoy Aquino Stadium, Manila
Date 2010/08/28 to 2010/09/03
Rating-Ø 1945
Standings after R 8 - 1 more round to go

Rk. Name FED Rtg Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3
1 WGM SHEN Yang CHN 2435 6,5 2287 2318 2344
2 WGM POURKASHIYAN Atousa IRI 2308 6,0 2313 2348 2380
3 GM ZHAO Xue CHN 2462 6,0 2282 2322 2349
4 WIM HOANG Thi Nhu Y VIE 2187 5,5 2272 2339 2387
5 WGM HOANG Thi Bao Tram VIE 2338 5,0 2218 2251 2293
6 WGM GU Xiaobing CHN 2349 4,5 2319 2366 2387
7 WFM PERENA Catherine PHI 2103 4,5 2062 2206 2273
8 WGM ZHANG Xiaowen CHN 2390 4,0 2253 2291 2329
9 PALOMO Jenny Rose PHI 1870 4,0 1922 2043 2211
10 WFM CUA Shercila PHI 2099 4,0 1770 1865 1998
11 WGM ZHANG Jilin CHN 2264 3,5 2244 2281 2331
12 DOCENA Jedara PHI 2033 3,5 2054 2196 2234
13 WIM MARIANO Cristine Rose PHI 2025 3,5 1984 2115 2297
14 NAHUDAN Eibtizam PHI 0 3,5 1906 2023 2054
15 ACEDO Rowelyn PHI 0 3,5 1848 1957 2108
16 FRAYNA Janelle Mae PHI 0 3,5 1824 1928 2073
17 JOSE Rulp Ylem PHI 2039 2,5 1753 1846 1975
18 TAMBASEN Mary Grace Phi 0 2,5 1659 1735 1842
19 MORTOS Angelina PHI 0 2,0 1919 2039 2072
20 BERNALES Christy Lamiel PHI 2004 2,0 1603 1670 1764

Tie Break1: rating average of the opponents (variabel with parameters)
Tie Break2: rating average of the opponents (variabel with parameters)
Tie Break3: rating average of the opponents (variabel with parameters)

From GM Susan Polgar's chess blog, about a family of chessplaying siblings - the Brunellos - two sisters and a brother:
Italian Chess News
September 1, 2010

Dry English Summer Reveals Stunning Array of Sub-Surface Ruins

From Reuters
Parched English fields reveal ancient sites
LONDON | Tue Aug 31, 2010 3:59pm BST

Prehistoric circular enclosure discovered in the Holderness
area of the East Riding of Yorkshire. Archaeologists say
the site has no local parallel. Some 60 similar sites were
mapped in the area using a light aircraft in just one day.

Credit: REUTERS/Dave MacLeod/English Heritage

LONDON (Reuters) - The exceptionally dry early summer months in Britain have revealed the ghostly outlines of several hundred previously unknown ancient sites buried in fields across the English countryside.

From Roman forts to Neolithic settlements and military remains dating to World War Two, English Heritage has been busily photographing the exciting discoveries from the air.

Known as crop marks, the faint outlines of unseen buried structures emerged because of the length of the dry spell, leading the national conservator to label 2010 a vintage year for archaeology.

The outlines show up when crops grow at different rates over buried structures. Shallower soils tend to produce a stunted crop and are more prone to parching, bringing to light the new features.

"It's hard to remember a better year," said Dave MacLeod, a senior investigator with English Heritage.
"Crop marks are always at their best in dry weather, but the last few summers have been a disappointment," he said.

"This year we have taken full advantage of the conditions. We try to concentrate on areas that in an average year don't produce much archaeology."

One of this year's most important finds is a Roman camp in Dorset, southwest England. Experts say it is a relatively rare structure in that part of the country with only three others known of in the region.

The lightly built defensive enclosure, which emerged from parched barley fields, provided basic protection for Roman soldiers on manoeuvres in the first century AD.

In the Holderness area of the East Riding of Yorkshire, an area rich in agricultural land on the east coast, 60 new, mainly prehistoric sites, were found in just one day.

Archaeologists say at least 200 new historic sites have been discovered with detail on many more existing structures revealed for the first time.

At another Roman site for example, a fort at Newton Kyme in North Yorkshire, the crop marks showed stronger defensive walls built of stone three metres thick, together with a massive enclosing ditch.

English Heritage says some important structures have not been seen in their entirety since the scorching conditions of the 1976 drought.

(Writing by Stefano Ambrogi; Editing by Steve Addison)
The article is interesting, to be sure.  But the one comment after it I found equally fascinating.  Is there anything to the "king portraits" the poster mentioned?

I am an amateur historian, not an academic, non degreed, simply a tourist with a hobby of satellite imagery.

The English and UK countrysides are saturated with layers and layers of antiquities, many revealed using satellite imagery.

For example, Google Earth which is a free software package not only is picking up entire underwater ancient human habitats on the bottom of the oceans (try 586 miles at 300 degrees from London), but also thousands of sub-surface images beneath the English countryside.

I am speculating that this is possible because of what I call “wet shadowing”, wherein a wet field of soil will show “black or dark” in satellite imagery, while submerged stone walls will wick away the water density and show as gray lines or somewhat different colored lines.

I have found images neighboring Stonehenge and the White Horse of Uffington. England’s history goes back to before the Atlantean era(for lack of a better time epoch description)giving its surrounding areas incredible time depths.

What makes it MOST valuable is that so much of the countryside has not been destroyed by soil churning wars and bulldozers.

The most common historical element noticable is the “King and/or Queen” portrait, when the royalty or tribal chief would die, it seems a rock wall would be built in the shape of the persons facial profile, facing West, the setting sun of that time epoch. [Emphasis added].  I have found these identical King portraits EVERYWHERE!

By the way, I do add the extra step of taking the Google Earth image and color manipulating the imagein Adobe Photoshop, with each color frequency giving me different results for some strange reason.

Note, I can’t say that many people believe these theories, these images which I find. I do believe the position of the facial posture also can be used as a time and date stamp, with every 1 degree of shift from true North being 72 years of duration. In my area of Connecticut, we have many King portraits at about 30 degrees North Northwest, to me indicating probably 2160 years ago, approx. 60 BC.

Wherever bulldozers have not been used, I am finding amazing shapes in all English countrysides… give me a location, and I think I will prove my point.

Stamford, Connecticut

My article on the Uffington Horse King Portraits is located at
“False Coloring in Photoshop shows Subsurface Details”
Ancient, ancient, treasures are in every backyard, every golf course, every open field, in the UK…


Stumbling Bulgarian Archaeolgist Scores Again

Not sure about this story - something seems not quite right about it.  Isn't this one of the archaeologists who is involved in the St. John the Baptist brou-ha-ha?
At Novinite.com
Top Bulgarian Archaeologist Stumbles Upon 2 Ancient Thrace Tombs
Archaeology | September 1, 2010, Wednesday

Top Bulgarian archaeologist Nikolay Ovcharov is pictured close
to the entrance of one of the two newly found tombs at the holy
 rock city of the Thracians Perperikon. Photo by Darik Kardzhali
Bulgarian archaeologist Nikolay Ovcharov has discovered two tombs of Ancient Thracian rulers near the famous rock city and sanctuary of Perperikon.

The tombs are dated to 1100-1000 BC judging by the pottery and ceramics found in them, which are characteristic of the later Bronze Age and the early Iron Age.

One of the most interesting finds in the tombs is a bronze coin with the face of Emperor Alexander the Great, dated to the 4th century BC. Prof. Ovcharov believes this is a clear evidence that the tomb was venerated as a shrine by the Thracians in the Antiquity for a long time after its original creation.

The archaeological team stumbled across the two tombs as they were working on diverting a tourist path away from a spot of excavations at Perperikon, the holy city of the Thracians.

The tombs are situation in an east-west direction, with the buried notable facing the rising sun, a clear sign of a sun cult.

The excavations have revealed ritual hearths and others signs of sacrifices that were connected with the traditions of venerating the dead as godly creatures.
Where are photos of the dig and the artifacts? Were the tombs, in fact, undisturbed for 3000 years? Wouldn't that make this discovery much more sensational and worthy of greater news coverage?  What happened to the bodies?

Ancient Use of Antibiotics

People in ancient times were just as "smart" (or not) as we are today.  They had the ability to observe, experiment, and reach conclusions the same way we do.  They were keen observers of nature and their environments. What people wrote down in "recipe" books hundreds of years ago - all those botannicals and herbals just packed with information - that knowledge didn't just pop into being overnight - it was based on thousands of years of oral tradition, passed down generation after generation.  For all we know, some of the traditions may have come from Ice Age shamans.

The art of making antibiotics is nearly 2000 years old
Washington, Sept 2 (ANI): Scientists have discovered green fluorescence in Nubian skeletons indicating a tetracycline-labelled bone, a finding that shows that antibiotics were already in use nearly 2,000 years ago.

A chemical analysis of the bones of ancient Nubians showed they were regularly consuming tetracycline, most likely in their beer.

"It's becoming increasingly clear that this prehistoric population was using empirical evidence to develop therapeutic agents. I have no doubt that they knew what they were doing," said Emory anthropologist George Armelagos.

In 1980, he discovered what appeared to be traces of tetracycline in human bones from Nubia dated between A.D. 350 and 550. Armelagos and his fellow researchers later tied the source of the antibiotic to the Nubian beer. The grain used to make the fermented gruel contained the soil bacteria streptomyces, which produces tetracycline.

Mark Nelson of Paratek Pharmaceuticals, Inc found that the bones of these ancient people were saturated with tetracycline, showing that they had been taking it for a long time.

The ancient Egyptians and Jordanians used beer to treat gum disease and other ailments, Armelagos said, adding that the complex art of fermenting antibiotics was probably widespread in ancient times, and handed down through generations.

"Now we're going to compare the amount of tetracycline in the bones, and bone formation over time, to determine the dosage that the ancient Nubians were getting," he concluded.

The research is published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology. (ANI)

Further coverage.
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