Monday, December 6, 2010

Chinese Expedition to Kenya Hopes to Recover the Past - Suitably Edited

From The Wall Street Journal online:

DECEMBER 4, 2010
Recovering China's Past on Kenya's Coast
By Virginia Postrel

A team of Chinese archeologists arrived in Kenya last week, headed for waters surrounding the Lamu archipelago on the country's northern coast. They hadn't made the trip to study local history. They came to recover a lost Chinese past.

In the early 1400s, nearly a century before Vasco da Gama reached eastern Africa, Chinese records say that the great admiral Zheng He took his vast fleet of treasure ships as far as Kenya's northern Swahili coast. Zheng visited the Sultan of Malindi, the most powerful local ruler, and brought back exotic gifts, including a giraffe. "Africa was China's El Dorado—the land of rare and precious things, mysterious and unfathomable," writes Louise Levathes in her 1994 history of Zheng's voyages, "When China Ruled the Seas."

Now the Chinese government is funding a three-year, $3 million project, in cooperation with the National Museums of Kenya, to find and analyze evidence of Zheng's visits. The underwater search for shipwrecks follows a dig last summer in the village of Mambrui that unearthed a rare coin carried only by emissaries of the Chinese emperor, as well as a large fragment of a green-glazed porcelain bowl whose fine workmanship befits an imperial envoy. Although Ming-era porcelains are nothing new in Mambrui—Chinese porcelains fill the local museum and decorate a centuries-old tomb—the latest finds suggest that the wares came not through Arab merchants but directly from China.

For a resurgent China with often-controversial business ventures in Africa, Zheng's voyages epitomize what the 20th-century literary critic Van Wyck Brooks called a "usable past"—a historical tradition that serves present needs. Falling somewhere between history and myth, a usable past selects and emphasizes what is relevant and resonant for the present and omits the contradictory or distracting. It both shapes and communicates identity, whether national, ethnic, artistic, religious, institutional or personal.

—Virginia Postrel is the author of "The Future and Its Enemies" and "The Substance of Style." She is writing a book on glamour.
Printed in The Wall Street Journal, page C12
Copyright 2010 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved
This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. Distribution and use of this material are governed by our Subscriber Agreement and by copyright law. For non-personal use or to order multiple copies, please contact Dow Jones Reprints at 1-800-843-0008 or visit

2010 Women's World Chess Championship - Items of Interest

All of the following from Europe Echecs coverage translated into English using Google.

Prize Structure (better than nothing, but not a smidge of what Anand and Topolov got for playing in "their" World Championship):

A brief snippet of interview with Ukraine's Anna Ushenina, who was, unfortunately, eliminated during the play-offs at the end of Round 1:

Why Iweta Rajlich finally didn't make it to the 2010 WWCC (mentioned in a previous blog post):

2010 Women's World Chess Championship R1 Play-off Results

Round 1 Match 16
Baginskaite, CamillaUSAWGM2336010½
Ruan, LufeiCHNWGM2480101½
Round 1 Match 17
Mkrtchian, LilitARMIM2479½½01
Zhang, XiaowenCHNWGM2339½½113
Round 1 Match 21
Paehtz, ElisabethGERIM2474½½113
Zawadzka, JolantaPOLWGM2368½½01
Round 1 Match 22
Ding, YixinCHNWGM237010½
Hoang Thanh TrangHUNGM247301½1
Round 1 Match 27
Ushenina, AnnaUKRIM2460½½0½
Huang, QianCHNWGM2402½½1½
Round 1 Match 28
Foisor, Cristina-AdelaROUIM2403½½01½
Skripchenko, AlmiraFRAIM2460½½1½1
Round 1 Match 29
Dembo, YelenaGREIM2454½½½1
Munguntuul, BatkhuyagMGLIM2409½½½

Through to Round 2:

WGM Luan Rufei
WGM Zhang Xiaowen
IM Elisabeth Paehtz
GM Hoang Thanh Trang
WGM Huang Qian
IM Almira Skripchenko
IM Yelena Dembo

Check out Euro Echecs' coverage and videos.  The site is in French but if you click on the British Flag you will get a Google entire page translation into English that is actually mostly coherent :)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Mummies of the World Exhibit Coming to Milwaukee!

I don't know how I missed this - it was announced back in July, for Goddess' sake!  Today I saw an advertisement for the exhibit in the Sunday Journal-Sentinel and nearly fell off my chair.  MPM will be the second museum to host this exhibit. I never thought in a million years MPM would bid for such an exhibit.  Wow!  I wrote about this in March, 2009 and wished then I could see it someday.  So, ta da!  Here it is!

Here is one of the articles from July announcing the exhibit:
Mummies exhibit coming to Milwaukee Public Museum
Area museum is only the second venue to feature traveling collection
By Jackie Loohauis-Bennett of the Journal Sentinel
July 27, 2010

It begins December 17, 2010.  The museum website doesn't say how long the "limited engagement" will run for, though.  Drat! 

A Dictionary of English Slang, circa 1699

This is great!  Fortunately, the book is available for free online, which I learned by reading through the comments on the article down at the bottom of the page.  Sometimes the comments are the best part :)

From The Chronicle of Higher Education
How to Survive a 17th-Century Mugging
November 18, 2010, 7:00 pm

Say you’re out one day on an English country road, and a roguish ruffian accosts you.

He has somehow managed to teleport from the rat-infested alleys, stinking public houses, and diseased fleshpots of 17th-century London. And, brandishing a glinting sword, he proclaims: “Fat culls like you, I whiddle the whole scrap. I’m ’ere to nim yer crap. Play the meer chub ’n’ I may whip yer through the lungs with me porker as quick as I’ll click the nab off yer ’ead.”

A better PDA instant-translation app than may ever reach the market would tip you off to his meaning: “You rich bums, I’m onto you. I’m here to rob you blind. Push your dumb luck and I may stick you with my shiv as quick as I’ll knock your hat off your head.”

Lacking adequate interpretation, however, you pause, perplexed. The blackguard persists: “I ’ave pist upon a nettle and I’ll tip yer a stoter, a rum- snitch, ’though I be romboyl’d, nab’d, thrown in clinkers, and carted off to the chates.” (I’m really cheesed off, and I’ll punch you on the schnozz, even if I’m pursued with a warrant, apprehended, clapped in irons, and carted off to the gallows.)

Perhaps your only hope of surviving the ordeal is that you’ll have boned up on The First English Dictionary of Slang, 1699, originally issued in London, and now reissued by the Bodleian Library of the University of Oxford and distributed in North America by the University of Chicago Press.

The volume’s original title vouches for its utility; in the haphazard typography of the day, it was: “A New Dictionary of the Terms Ancient and Modern of the Canting Crew, In its several Tribes of Gypsies, Beggers, Thieves, Cheats, &c. with An Addition of some Proverbs, Phrases, Figurative Speeches, &c. Useful for all sorts of People, (especially Foreigners) to secure their Money and preserve their Lives; besides very Diverting and Entertaining, being wholly New.”

The “canting” of its title referred to the secret language of semi-organized gangs of such ne’er-do-wells. The compiler’s stated purpose was to clue in polite Londoners to language they might encounter upon erring into the underbelly of the pestilent city.

The dictionary has been out of print for 300 years. The new volume’s text is based on a copy that the Bodleian Library unearthed in its collections. But it has been known among dictionary compilers and slang specialists, says its editor, John Simpson, an expert on slang and chief editor of the Oxford English Dictionary. Simpson, with John Ayno, edited the Oxford Dictionary of Modern Slang, published in 2005.

The canting dictionary has long been known to dictionary makers, says Simpson by phone from his Oxford office: “We have a facsimile copy in our library at the OED and it’s on the list of books we’ve checked religiously when we’re writing new entries for the OED.”

The dictionary collates lists that had been tucked away for up to 200 years in longer texts such as Robert Green’s Black Bookes’ Messenger of 1591.

Compiling from the disparate sources was the innovation of a certain “B.E.” Who he was will probably never be known, says Simpson: “You can’t really squeeze the information out, unfortunately, although you can just get hints of what he was like. He seems to be reasonably well read. He seems probably to have fought either in the army or to have been in the navy, at some point, to particularly like soldiers’ and sailors’ words.”

He laid claim, on the original publication’s cover, to the title of “Gent.”—gentleman—which is rather belied by the material of his volume, by his expressions of distaste for the Dutch and the Swiss, and by his admiration for the (admirable) bawdy bard and libertine John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester (1647-80).

“In the late 17th century the underworld was a thriving literary theme,” notes Simpson. In B.E.’s day, the dictionary might have served as a glossary of Restoration theater, he says: “It’s a picaresque, slightly voyeuristic view, and probably a reasonably incorrect view of lower-class life in town” yet still one that should prove useful to scholars and devotees of colorful-city-life fiction of the 18th and 19th centuries: the likes of Laurence Sterne, Tobias Smollett, Charles Dickens, and Henry Mayhew.

Just thank Mr. E. if you do find yourself bailed up by some shag-bag (shabby fellow). Act accordingly: Just tip ’im your farting-crackers, ’e’ll ’ave ’em with your loure (pull off your britches, ’cause he’ll have them and your dough)!

And be glad he’s come alone without his whole mob of strowlers (itinerants), buffenappers (dog-stealers who sell the animals at high rates, then steal them again), mutton-mongers (sheep stealers), priggers of cacklers (poultry stealers), priggers of prancers (horse stealers), and worst of all the bloodthirsty Dimber-damber (Mr. Big).—Peter Monaghan

Christopher Columbus - Polish?

Hmmmm, I am automatically suspicious.  The person who wrote the book is an academic.  Okay, they "publish or perish" - for academic journals, that's a well known fact of life for an academic.  So why is this book being touted to the popular press, and why a book instead of a scholastic treatise?  Something seems not right.  But here's the article, anyway.

From the Daily
Christopher Colombowicz: America's discoverer Polish not Portuguese, claim historians
Last updated at 9:43 AM on 29th November 2010

He is celebrated as the humble Italian weaver who ended up discovering the Americas.

But the conventional wisdom relating to Christopher Columbus is under threat after academics concluded the explorer was actually a Polish immigrant.

An international team of distinguished professors [who?] have completed 20 years of painstaking research into his beginnings.

The fresh evidence about Columbus’ background is revealed in a new book by Manuel Rosa, an academic at Duke University in the United States. He says the voyager was not from a family of humble Italian craftsmen as previously thought - but the son of Vladislav III, an exiled King of Poland. (Conventionally, Vladislav III is reported to have died in 1444, so either conventional history is wrong or Christopher was fathered by his father's holy spirit, ahem).

‘The sheer weight of the evidence presented makes the old tale of a Genoese wool-weaver so obviously unbelievable that only a fool would continue to insist on it,’ Rosa said.

The academic argues that the only way Columbus persuaded the King of Spain to fund his journey across the Atlantic Ocean was because he was royalty himself. For some reason he hid the true identity of his Polish biological father from most people during his lifetime, and history books have been none the wiser.

‘Another nutty conspiracy theory! That’s what I first supposed as I started to read... I now believe that Columbus is guilty of huge fraud carried out over two decades against his patrons,’ said US historian Prof. James T. McDonough.

Other historians first doubted Columbus’ Polish roots, but Rosa’s findings have been steadily gaining followers as the evidence comes to light.

‘This book will forever change the way we view our history,’ said Portuguese historian Prof. Jose Carlos Calazans. National Geographic is reportedly interested in making a documentary.

Until now, it was believed that Columbus, who was born in the Italian city of Genoa in 1451, was the son of Domenico Columbo, who was a weaver and had a cheese stall in a market in the city. At the age of 22 Columbus started working for Genoese merchants trading throughout the Mediterranean, and three years later took part in a special trading expedition to northern Europe, docking at Bristol before continuing to Ireland and Iceland. Throughout the 1480s, when Columbus was in his 30s, he traded along the African coast.

Historians say it is a myth that navigators thought the world was flat before Columbus sailed west – they had been using the stars at night as a primitive navigation system that assumed the earth was a sphere.
What sailors including Columbus didn’t know is how big the earth was, and how long it would take to sail round it.

When he persuaded financiers to back his voyage west in 1492, he had completely miscalculated the distances and thought that Asia would be where America is: he arrived in the Bahamas, thinking he was somewhere off the coast of China.

Columbus undertook three more return journeys across the Atlantic Ocean, each time hoping that he had found another part of Asia.

He set up Spanish colonies and became governor of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, but was later put on trial in Spain for alleged abuse of power.
After Columbus’ death in 1506, European explorers continued to set up colonies and eventually empires in north and south America.

Incredible Find In Peruvian Highlands

I had not heard of these "ancestor stones" before this article.  An absolutely incredible and priceless find!

From the
Peru: 'sensational' Inca find for British team in AndesDiscovery of sacred ancestor stones has archaeologists 'dancing a jig'
Dalya Alberge
The Observer, Sunday 5 December 2010

A British team of archaeologists on expedition in the Peruvian Andes has hailed as "sensational" the discovery of some of the most sacred objects in the Inca civilisation – three "ancestor stones", which were once believed to form a precious link between the heavens and the underworld.

The find, which was made on an isolated Andean mountainside, provoked joy among local specialists and the experts present from, among others, the British Museum, Reading University and Royal Holloway, University of London. No examples of the stones were thought to have survived until now.

"It was a very moving moment," said Dr Colin McEwan, the British Museum's head of the Americas, as he recalled seeing the stones for the first time.

Dr Frank Meddens, research associate of Royal Holloway, who was also on the expedition, said they had "danced a little jig on top of the mountain" after discovering the objects that they had only read about in 16th-century Spanish documents.

The Incas would have been just as overawed. The conical-shaped stones were among the most significant items in Inca society and religion. Key elements in ritual events, they were thought to facilitate a connection between different realms of the world – the celestial and the underworld of the ancestors – with the Inca king, as the divine ruler, acting as intermediary. And they were considered more precious than gold.

"This is a whole new category of object. It is nothing short of sensational," said McEwan of the three stones in red and white Andesite, a hard, granite-like rock, which were excavated some 2.5 metres beneath an Inca stone platform. The platform too was recently excavated and is a structure of distinctive stonework that once symbolised the imperial control of conquered territories.

The site – at Incapirca Waminan – is one of 20 undocumented high-altitude Inca ceremonial platforms explored by the archaeologists around the Ayacucho basin. Such sites were potent imperial symbols of religious and political authority as the Incas expanded outwards from Cuzco, a sacred city of temples and palaces in the central Peruvian Andes.

Ancestor stones represented deities, ancestors and the sun, and were imbued with supreme symbolic significance. They were greeted with incomprehension by Spanish chroniclers of the early 16th century, who sacrilegiously likened their shape to sugar loaves, pineapples and bowling pins. The insult, however, was returned: when the 16th-century Inca ruler Atahualpa was shown a copy of the Bible by the Conquistadors, he reacted with similar contempt.

According to Spanish sources, the stones were used in public solar rituals, sometimes draped in gold cloth and paraded. One witness wrote: "The stones… were held to be blessed and sacred."

Symbols of the ancestral essence of the Inca king, the objects were placed on display when the supreme leader was absent from Cuzco, the capital of the Inca people, in an attempt to demonstrate the perpetual presence and his power. The Incas believed their king to be a living god who ruled by divine right.

I believe this is the cocha from the British Museum which depicts the ancestor stone - look underneath the sun figure,
you wil see two kneeling people facing a conical shaped object that looks like it has a face carved into it -
this may be the piece the article refers to.  I could not locate any other representations online.
 As the Incas had no system of writing, the significance of the archaeologists' unprecedented find is reinforced by the identification of ancestor stones in the decoration of a unique 16th-century Inca vessel (cocha) in the British Museum. Spanning 50cm in diameter, it bears a carved scene showing a central solar disc and two kneeling figures with their hands clasped as they honour an ancestor stone. They are flanked on either side by an Inca king and queen and high-ranking lords.

The Incas created a huge empire that stretched more than 2,400 miles along the length of the Andes and whose economy was based on taxed labour, with its people farming and herding animals, working in mines and producing goods such as clothing and pottery.

The sites for ceremonial platforms were chosen for their vistas of the snow-capped peaks, which were worshipped as mountain deities. It was at such sites that the Incas sacrificed children – the ceremony of capacocha – at moments of potential instability.

These structures also had sacred central spaces known as the ushnu, with a vertical opening into "the body of the earth" into which libations such as maize beer were poured. The ushnu platforms served as a stage from which the Inca king and his lords could preside over seasonal festivals and ceremonies.

Ancient Iceland Ship Burial Reconstructed at National Museum

Very interesting - note the presence of the faithful dog and horse.

From Iceland Review Online
02.12.2010 | 17:30

Heathen Buried in Iceland, 1,100 Years Post-Mortem
A burial took place in Reykjanesbaer municipality in southwest Iceland yesterday. The news wouldn’t have had any special significance if not for the fact that the person buried, an ancient heathen, passed away 1,100 years ago and the ceremony took place inside the Viking World museum.

The heathen in question is on loan from the National Museum of Iceland. The skeleton was unearthed from a pagan grave at the farm site Hafurbjarnarstadir in 1868 along with the bones of a dog and a horse, a sword and various other objects, Morgunbladid reports.

The burial ceremony is part of an exhibition at Viking World, which will continue for the next two years.

According to museum director Elisabeth Ward, research has shown that most Icelandic settlers were pagan and that paganism was practiced among the first generations of Icelanders.

“We are reconstructing the pagan grave from Hafurbjarnarstadir,” Ward explained. “The skeletons are placed in a wooden boat, which is a replica of a Viking boat, and sand from Hafurbjarnarstadir has been put inside. Some people believe the man was buried inside a boat but it is not quite clear.”

Ward said chieftains were often buried inside their boats and the size of the boat depended on the material wealth of the deceased. Such burial practices are also known among other pagan cultures. “Maybe it has to do with the person having a means of transport to another world.”

Among objects on display at Viking World is the ship Íslendingur, which is a replica of the Gokstad ship, a Viking ship excavated in Norway. It was found inside a grave containing bones from a human, dog and horse.

The timing of yesterday’s ceremony, December 1, was considered particularly suitable because that is when Ásatrúarfélagid, the pagan society in Iceland, holds a ceremony in honor of the four land wights of Iceland.

The archeological discovery at Hafurbjarnarstadir is among the first in the country. A local farmer found bones in the sand in 1868. He called for a priest who contacted the National Museum, which had just been founded.
They were advised to begin the excavation before the area was damaged and they found bones of a man, dog and horse and one of the most decorated swords from the Viking Era which has ever been found in Iceland. The point of a spear, an ax, a sharpener and various other objects were also uncovered in the excavation.

When the farmer and priest had removed all the objects they found iron nails and noticed that the grave had the shape of a ship. Few of these nails reached the National Museum and therefore doubt has been cast upon the grave having been a boat grave.

However, a few other such graves have been found in Iceland.

What Ancient Egyptian Dogs May Tell Us

From Spiegel Online
The Pharoahs' Pups
Egyptian Bones Could Help Solve Canine Conundrum
This ancient Egyptian tomb painting was also used in The Spiegel article.
 Scientists are still trying to explain how the gray wolf could evolve into over 400 breeds of dogs, ranging from the pug to the pinscher. One aid in solving this riddle has been found in an unlikely place: a giant animal shrine from ancient Egypt.

At first, he panned for gold in the East Indies. Then he poked around in Stonehenge. And then, during his forays into the Orient, he discovered mankind's oldest legal codes.

Later, in 1897, French adventurer Jacques de Morgan found himself standing in a dark crypt in Egypt, knee-deep in bones that crackled and snapped with every step he took: He had discovered the world's largest dog cemetery.

De Morgan's pioneering discovery was soon forgotten in professional circles. But now, more than a century later, researchers from Cardiff University, in Wales, have turned their attention to the dog mausoleum once again and are conducting excavations at the site. Paul Nicholson, a lecturer in archaeology from the university who is leading the dig, says that thousands of mummified dogs were once placed into niches in the cavern.

Bizarre Animal Cults

Most of the canine corpses date back to the period after 748 B.C., when black pharaohs ruled along the Nile and animal cults took on bizarre forms. Indeed, some 130 cemeteries for bulls, snakes, baboons, fish and mice have already been discovered. And more than 180,000 cats have been found buried in a single mass grave near the village of Istabl Antar.

In Saqqara, a village just south of Cairo, there were two ritual sites for dogs. The one currently being investigated lies directly beneath the Temple of Anubis, the jackal-headed Egyptian god of the underworld. Priests would descend a staircase to the stone-lined cellar, where they would made sacrifices to Anubis with victims taken from a kennel in the temple district.

Private individuals would also come to Saqqara to have their deceased dogs embalmed. And when dog owners died, their beloved pets were often constrained to join them in the afterlife -- by being either strangled or bludgeoned to death. Countless ribs and leg and ankle bones lie in the passages around the cavern.

The Canine Conundrum

Researchers are now trying to determine the breeds, ages and genders of the animals sacrificed at this site. But their efforts aren't aimed at solving any Egyptian riddle, per say, but to helping elucidate the mysterious family tree of the dog.

Famous Austrian zoologist and animal behaviorist Konrad Lorenz was wrong when he posited that dogs descended from the golden jackal. Indeed, scientists now have genetic proof that dogs derive from wolves, fellow members of the canis genus.

Scholars believe that wolves first started to have peaceful interactions with Stone Age humans about 30,000 years ago. A canine jawbone recently discovered in Switzerland and estimated to be 14,000 years old already bears clear signs of domestication: smaller fangs and a shorter snout than the wolf's.

Egyptians as Dog Breeders

In the history of mammalian evolution, no other animal has been as flexible as Canis lupus, the gray wolf. Indeed, it is now credited with being the ancestor of the roughly 400 officially recognized breeds of dogs. Believe it or not, that whimpering asthmatic pug derived from the savage snarling wolf. But the question that researchers face is: How did all of these various breeds develop?

Reliefs, grave paintings and statues indicate that the ancient Egyptians played a major role in this development. The first known depictions of dogs come from rock carvings along the Nile River dating back almost 5,000 years ago. Not long thereafter, the pharaohs were already hunting with slender greyhounds. A leashed dog with black-and-white spots that vaguely resembles a dalmation is painted on a sarcophagus from the 6th dynasty, or roughly 4,000 years back.

Around 1500 B.C., small, bowlegged mutts and lapdogs were already scurrying around the palaces of the pharaohs. Brawny hunting dogs were bred for the battlefield, and mastiffs imported from Assyria were crossed with the domestic breed. A bronze figure from the grave of King Tut strongly resembles a dachshund.

So-called pariah dogs lived near Egyptian settlements eating garbage and periodically retreating into the desert, where they bred and multiplied at random.

Mountains of Bones

The underground cult temple at Saqqara is now revealing the kinds of dogs created in the process of uncontrolled mating as well as how many different breeds the Egyptians already had. The archaeologists are facing a daunting task: They have mountains of brownish bones to sort through, including the ones of jackals, foxes and hyenas found in initial analyses. And they will use CT scanning devices to examine the dogs that were found mummified.

Again and again, the scientists are finding evidence of just how bloody the ceremonies in the Temple of Anubis were: Many of the bones come from mere puppies that met a violent end. [Was this evidence of violence the result of the foreign (Nubian) influence?  I find it difficult to believe that Egyptian priests would have treated sacred sacrifices in such a manner.  I also wonder how they identified these canine bones as sacrifices.  Would not a more logical sacrifice to a "dog" god such as Anubis be MEAT from prey, and not a fellow canine?]

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan

CAIS Reports More Destruction of Iranian Historic Sites

The News Section
of the Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies (CAIS)
Destruction of Parthian Roudno reliefs and serious damages to the Achaemenid rock tomb by explosives
Thursday, 02 December 2010 15:02
By: T. Ebrahimi from Khuzestan for CAIS

One of the damaged reliefs at Roudno, Iran
LONDON, (CAIS) -- The only known reliefs and rock tombs in Baghmalek district known as Roudno (rūdnō) have been totally destroyed with explosives. The reason for destruction remains unknown.

Roudno is located 2km from Sarhāni and 45km from the town of Baghmalek in Khuzetan province, southwest of Iran.

The news of destruction was initially reported to Khuzestan's Friends of the Cultural Heritage Association (TARIANA) by Bakhtiāri nomads living in the area.

Despite the importance and uniqueness of the site, it had never been registered on Iran’s national heritage list – although registration of a site has no significance in the Islamic Republic, since so far the regime has not shown any care for the pre-Islamic Iranian heritage.

The media has blamed smugglers for the destruction who were allegedly searching for treasures, however, the evidence suggests otherwise.

“The explosives were placed over the two lower reliefs which have both consequently been completely destroyed and we no longer have any evidence of their existence as they had never been recorded” said an archaeologist with ICHTO who wished to remain anonymous for her safety.

“The actual rock tombs are located approximately three meters above the ground level, and in order to search for treasures, explosives are expected to be placed within the chambers which are easily accessible and not outside over the reliefs – therefore suggesting the destruction was intentional”, said the archaeologists.

She continued: “In addition, one of the explosives was placed adjacent to the opening of the chamber at the bottom of the upper relief, causing part of it to be destroyed. There is no reason to place an explosive there. It seems the guilty party intended to destroy the third relief and did not succeed since they either ran out of explosives or were disturbed.”

In the recent years the pre-Islamic heritage sites of the province, in particular the Achaemenid dynastic sites were subjected to a series of organised vandalisms and destructions, and it seems this one is in line with the previous destructions”, concluded the archaeologist.

The nomads blame the Arab immigrants living in the province for the destruction of the ancient site, and accuse the al-Ahwazi terrorist group allegedly financed by the UK.

Since the rise of the Islamic republic to power with the backings of West [What? That's bullshit], particularly Britain, the regime has given residency to 750,000 immigrants from Iraq, majority of which are housed and given key jobs in Khuzestan province. The numbers are so high and pronounced that the Persian language in many places is no longer spoken, especially in banks and government buildings, to the extent that Khuzestanis see themselves as a minority in their own mother land.

“The Arab immigrants escaped to Iran from Saddam Hussain’s prosecution – now there is no threat to Shia population and therefore there is no reason for them not to return to Iraq – our Persian hospitality is overdone, especially when the guests hate the hosts and lay claims over our homes. The Islamic Republic is another Qajar dynasty who gave away our territories in the Caucuses and Central Asia. We Iranians should do something ourselves about this danger today as tomorrow it will be too late and the province after 2500 years of being Persian will turn to “Arabistan” and the dream of the enemies of Iran who wish to control oil-rich Khuzestan will become a reality”, said a worried Khuzestani cultural heritage figure who also wished to remain anonymous for his safety.

Roudno (also Roud-e No meaning 'the new river') is among many of the rock tombs in Baghmalek known to locals as Bard Gūrī (Pers. Gūr Dakhma). However, what separates Roudno from other rock tombs in the area, is its reliefs. In the area the rock tombs have usually been dated to the Parthian dynasty (248 BCE-224 CE).

Although this type of rock tombs dates to the Parthian dynasty, the 63cm tall relief carved adjacent to the entrance is puzzling, as it has an Achaemenid style hairdo, wearing a Parthian outfit and boots in an unfamiliar posture holding an object. It is also claimed to be a figure of a woman due to the feminine posture and hairdo, possibly was depicted a Parthian priestess.

Yunes Sharifee, spokesman for Baghmalek Friends of the Cultural Heritage Association after speaking with the Persian service of ISNA regarding the rock tombs said: “rock tombs are important in Zoroastrian religion as the bodies of the deceased were placed within the rocky chambers in order to prevent pollution of the sacred elements of air, wind and earth.”

The area is attractive to Bakhtiari nomads since it is covered with oak, lotus and turpentine trees. The area is also considered as a permanent base for the elderly who are no longer able to endure the nomadic life and annual winter and summer pasture migrations.

The cultural enthusiasts have called ICHTO to pay attention and protect Iran’s heritage sites in the province.

Chess Femme News

The Times of India
Easy outing for Humpy in Women's World Chess Championship
Hari Hara Nandanan, TNN, Dec 6, 2010, 12.57am IST

CHENNAI: India had a mixed bag in the first game in the first round of the Women's World Chess Championship at Hatay ( Turkey) on Saturday. While favourite Koneru Humpy whipped Melissa Greeff, a South African rated 518 points below her on the Elo scale, Dronavalli Harika conceded a draw to compatriot Kruttika Nadig with white pieces, a result that puts the India No 2 in a must-win situation in the return game with black if she has to avoid tiebreaks in the first round.

In fact, Harika's draw was one of the two surprises in the first game of the first round as she is expected to pull off some surprises by virtue of her healthy 2525 rating.

The second surprise of the first day was credited to local girl Yildiz Betul Cemre, who held Grandmaster Pia Cramling of Sweden (2526) to a draw.

Not chess femme news, but interesting nonetheless.  From Chessbase:
Rethinking top level chess – a mandatory move
05.12.2010 – Who is the strongest player in the world? Does the World Champion win his title in the most effective way? How much should we depend on the Elo rating system, and are there better alternatives for determining world rankings? After three years spent writing a PhD thesis on games and sports at the Paris-Sorbonne Manouk Borzakian turns his attention to chess in this thought-provoking paper.

Not mentioned is what I call, in women's chess, the "women's rating ghetto" effect of bunched - and low - ELOs.  The same effect happens when the same elite male players face the same elite male players over and over again, blocking out those below from having a chance to compete and earn those valuable ELO points on the same level.  Plus, it's damn borning.

From Chessbase
Report on First Game of R1, Women's World Chess Championship
2010 Women's World Chess Championship - Round one
Lots of nice photos - the guys (and gals) at Chessbase are famous for taking lots of photos of the prettiest female players, like former Women's World Chess Champion  GM Antoaneta Stefanova of Bulgaria (and her second, GM Cheparinov, ain't bad looking either, yum)

Glad to see Dylan Loeb McClain at The New York Times chess blog Gambit is featuring lots of articles about the chess femmes:

November 22, 2010, 1:08 am For Some Women, Russian Championship Is a Warm-up for World Championship

For 2nd Year, Younger Women Beat Older Men at Czech Event
Published: December 4, 2010

Manager Blames Marriage for His Star’s Slump
Published: November 27, 2010
Marriage seems to have hurt Veselin Topalov’s career, for now.

Topalov, 35, a former world champion who was ranked No. 1 in the world as recently as 14 months ago, has seen his ranking slide to No. 5.

His manager, Silvio Danailov, said in a recent interview with the Web site that Topalov married a few months ago and was “enjoying life a little bit,” adding, “He is not motivated to play tournaments right now.”

His latest setback occurred at the Ajedrez UNAM Quadrangular tournament in Mexico City, which ended a week ago. It was a four-player rapid chess event.

Topalov easily won his semifinal match against Manuel Leon Hoyos of Mexico, 3.5 to 0.5. But in the final against Judit Polgar of Hungary, an opponent he was favored to beat, he was trounced, 3.5 to 0.5. In the last two games, he barely put up any resistance.

LOL! (That's my comment). Blame it on the new wife, heh? OHMYGODDESS!

2010 Women's World Chess Championship

Hola - quick coverage today, here are the results of both games for R1:

Round 1
Round 1 Match 01
Kosteniuk, AlexandraRUSGM2507112
Mezioud, AminaALGWIM2029000
Round 1 Match 02
Greeff, MelissaRSAWGM2082000
Koneru, HumpyINDGM2600112
Round 1 Match 03
Hou, YifanCHNGM2591112
Heredia Serrano, CarlaECUWIM2087000
Round 1 Match 04
Mona, KhaledEGYWGM2093000
Kosintseva, TatianaRUSGM2581112
Round 1 Match 05
Dzagnidze, NanaGEOGM2551112
Kagramanov, DinaCANWIM2101000
Round 1 Match 06
Aliaga Fernandez, Ingrid YPERWFM2154000
Stefanova, AntoanetaBULGM2548112
Round 1 Match 07
Muzychuk, AnnaSLOIM2530112
Zuriel, MarisaARGWIM2208000
Round 1 Match 08
Yildiz, Betul CemreTURWIM2225½1
Cramling, PiaSWEGM2526½0½
Round 1 Match 09
Harika, DronavalliINDIM2525½1
Nadig, KruttikaINDWGM2230½0½
Round 1 Match 10
Caoili, ArianneAUSWIM2242--0
Ju, WenjunCHNWGM2524++2
Round 1 Match 11
Lahno, KaterynaUKRGM25221½
Ozturk, KubraTURWIM22640½½
Round 1 Match 12
Demina, JuliaRUSWGM2323000
Cmilyte, ViktorijaLTUGM2514112
Round 1 Match 13
Chiburdanidze, MaiaGEOGM2502112
Meenakshi SubbaramanINDWGM2328000
Round 1 Match 14
Soumya, SwaminathanINDWGM23320½½
Socko, MonikaPOLGM24951½
Round 1 Match 15
Sebag, MarieFRAGM2494112
Vasilevich, IrinaRUSIM2333000
Round 1 Match 16
Baginskaite, CamillaUSAWGM2336011
Ruan, LufeiCHNWGM2480101
Round 1 Match 17
Mkrtchian, LilitARMIM2479½½1
Zhang, XiaowenCHNWGM2339½½1
Round 1 Match 18
Lomineishvili, MaiaGEOIM2347000
Zatonskih, AnnaUSAIM2478112
Round 1 Match 19
Zhu, ChenQATGM2477112
Muminova, NafisaUZBWIM2360000
Round 1 Match 20
Fierro Baquero, Martha L.ECUIM23630½½
Zhao, XueCHNGM24741½
Round 1 Match 21
Paehtz, ElisabethGERIM2474½½1
Zawadzka, JolantaPOLWGM2368½½1
Round 1 Match 22
Ding, YixinCHNWGM2370101
Hoang Thanh TrangHUNGM2473011
Round 1 Match 23
Pogonina, NatalijaRUSWGM2472000
Kovanova, BairaRUSWGM2380112
Round 1 Match 24
Shadrina, TatianaRUSWGM2384112
Danielian, ElinaARMGM2466000
Round 1 Match 25
Muzychuk, MariyaUKRIM2462112
Cori T., DeysiPERWGM2384000
Round 1 Match 26
Ovod, EvgenijaRUSIM23871½
Shen, YangCHNWGM24610½½
Round 1 Match 27
Ushenina, AnnaUKRIM2460½½1
Huang, QianCHNWGM2402½½1
Round 1 Match 28
Foisor, Cristina-AdelaROUIM2403½½1
Skripchenko, AlmiraFRAIM2460½½1
Round 1 Match 29
Dembo, YelenaGREIM2454½½1
Munguntuul, BatkhuyagMGLIM2409½½1
Round 1 Match 30
Romanko, MarinaRUSIM2414½1
Zhukova, NataliaUKRGM2447½0½
Round 1 Match 31
Rajlich, IwetaPOLIM2446--0
Houska, JovankaENGIM2421++2
Round 1 Match 32
Khukhashvili, SopikoGEOIM2430½1
Turova, IrinaRUSIM2439½0½
Turkish Chess Federation © 2010 
Players going through to Round 2:
Alexandra Kosteniuk (current Champion)
Koneru Humpy
Hou Yifan
Tatiana Kosintseva
Nana Dzagnidze
Antoaneta Stefanova
Anna Muzychuk
Betul Cemre Yildiz (over GM Pia Cramling, a big upset)
Harika Dronavalli
Ju Wenjun (by default - Arianne Caoli did not make it to the event on time)
Kateryna Lahno
Viktorija Cmilyte
Maia Chiburdanidze
Monika Socko
Marie Sebag
Anna Zatonskih (USA) GO ANNA!
Zhu Chen
Zhao Xue
Baira Kovanova (over WGM Natalia Pogonina, who played so well in the Russian Women's Super Final)
Tatiana Shadrina (over Elina Danielian, an upset)
Mariya Muzychuk (Anna Muzychuk's sister)
Evgenija Ovod
Marina Romanko
Jovanka Houska (by default, after Iweta Rajlich had transportation problems while travelling with an infant and decided after various delays and problems to just go back home with her baby and husband)
Sopiko Khukhashvili

Players who face play-offs:

USA's Camilla Baginskaite and Ruan Lufei
Lilit Mkrtchian and Zhang Xiaowen
Elisabeth Paehtz and Jolanta Zawadzka
Ding Yixin and Hoang Thanh Trang
Anna Ushenina and Huang Qian
Cristina-Adela Foisor and Almira Skripchenko
Yelena Dembo and Munguntuul Batkhuyag
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...