Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Thieves of Goddess Idol Busted!

From The Times of India:

4 held with antique idol
TNN | Jul 7, 2011, 01.31am IST

HYDERABAD: A Task Force team laid a trap and arrested four persons while they were trying to dispose of an antique bronze idol of goddess Lakshmi at SBI Officers' Colony in Moosrambagh on Tuesday night. However, their associate is absconding.

M Kamalanath Reddy, 39, S Peddi Raju, 36, B Jaganmohan Rao, 26, and M Bhaskar, 21 are friends. Last week, Madhu Chary, a native of Bhadrachalam, gave them an idol, claiming it to be an antique. They took it to Peddi Raju's brother's hotel. The Task Force caught them while trying to dispose of it for Rs10 lakh. The four and the idol were handed over to the Malakpet police. tnn

World Open 2011

The final two rounds were played on July 4th in Philadelphia - how fitting!  Without further ado:

Open Final Standings - first 16 money winners:

# Name Rtng St Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Rd 6 Rd 7 Rd 8 Rd 9 Tot Prize
1 GM Gata Kamsky 2741 NY W37 W22 W11 L3 W18 D2 W13 W10 D4 7.0 $14575.00
2 GM Michael Adams 2726 ENG W36 W14 W13 W10 D3 D1 W9 D5 D6 7.0 $14267.00
3 GM Loek Van Wely 2683 NED W53 W32 W8 W1 D2 W4 L5 L6 W11 6.5 $1735.00
4 GM Ilya Smirin 2676 ISR W54 D23 W64 W31 D7 L3 W41 W20 D1 6.5 $1735.00
5 GM P Harikrishna 2666 IND W34 W39 D30 D9 D8 W21 W3 D2 D7 6.5 $1735.00
6 GM Timur Gareyev 2613 UZB W55 D51 D16 W23 D30 D20 W32 W3 D2 6.5 $1735.00
7 GM Ray Robson 2545 FL D57 W45 W40 W21 D4 D10 D11 W12 D5 6.5 $1735.00
8 GM Mesgen Amanov 2517 TKM W60 W52 L3 W25 D5 W40 L10 W23 W17 6.5 $1735.00
9 GM Vitali Golod 2592 ISR W44 L30 W34 D5 W33 W22 L2 W21 D13 6.0 $424.50
10 GM Jaan Ehlvest 2583 NY W38 W43 W41 L2 W31 D7 W8 L1 D16 6.0 $424.50
11 GM Giorgi Kacheishvili 2582 GEO W26 W25 L1 W66 D20 W30 D7 W14 L3 6.0 $424.50
12 GM Victor Mikhalevski 2577 ISR D65 W68 W42 D30 W51 D41 D14 L7 W32 6.0 $424.50
13 GM Aleksander Lenderman 2548 NY W58 W87 L2 W50 W32 D14 L1 W41 D9 6.0 $424.50
14 GM Mikheil Kekelidze 2452 GEO W61 L2 W67 W52 W29 D13 D12 L11 W31 6.0 $771.00
15 IM Yury Lapshun 2442 NY L69 D47 D80 W57 W67 W52 D17 D18 W28 6.0 $771.00
16 IM Puchen Wang 2437 NZL D62 W59 D6 D64 D65 W35 D18 W39 D10 6.0 $771.00

Top finishing females:

19 IM Irina Krush 2487 NY D73 W76 L29 D83 D54 W45 W51 L17 W42 5.5
37 FM Kassa Korley 2292 NY L1 W84 L85 W69 L17 W47 L42 W68 W58 5.0
43 WGM Anna Sharevich 2344 BLR W72 L10 D83 L33 D47 W68 L26 D55 W60 4.5
46 WIM Viktorija Ni 2178 LAT L41 D33 L45 W76 W80 W81 L39 L25 W65 4.5

Amber Beads in a "Farmer's" Burial?

I found the tone of this article confusing -- it seems to be totally blowing off the discovery of the amber beads in close conjunction with a 4,000 year old Bronze age burial of a woman labeled a "farmer."  I mean - HELLO!  Amber was rare and expensive - it wasn't something that an ordinary farmer - or his wife - just had laying around.  Norfolk was a loooonnnnnggggg way from the Baltic regions where amber came from 4,000 years ago.  There's a bigger story here.  Come on! 

And what about the bone shoulder-blade "digging tool?"  I would like to have read more explanation of this tool -- was it like others that have been uncovered in same period burials?  In the region?  Was it a "typical" tool for neolithic farmers? 

The 4,000-year-old woman's skeleton found
by the Sedgeford Historical and Archaeological
 Research Project (SHARP) last year.
And the woman -- which way was she facing?  Was anything else found in the grave with her?  In this photo, is that a stone pot, or a skull (?), close by her hip? 

Woman’s skeleton found at Sedgeford dig sheds light on Norfolk 4,000 years ago
Chris Bishop Monday, July 4, 2011
8:15 AM

Curled up in her burial pit with her amber beads, an ancient woman’s remains show our ancestors farmed a lush Norfolk valley thousands of years earlier than previously believed.

Archaeologists confirmed the significance of the discovery yesterday as work got under way for the summer season at Sedgeford, near Heacham.

Martin Hatton, curator of human remains at the site, was staking out an area of chalk down close to where the find was made last summer, ready for this year’s eagerly-awaited dig to begin.

“It was a total surprise to us,” he said. “You don’t bury people anywhere other than near where they live, so what we can say is that people were farming the land here 4,000 years ago.”

Fifteen years ago, a community dig began to uncover the secrets of the village’s Saxon graveyard. Since then, each summer has shed more light on the past.

"You don’t bury people anywhere other than near where they live, so what we can say is that people were farming the land here 4,000 years ago."

Project director Gary Rossin said the aim of this summer’s dig was to explore a D-shaped ditched enclosure on the side of the chalk down overlooking modern-day Sedgeford.

“We’ve been trying to understand the Anglo-Saxon settlement side of things but over the last two years we’ve had these curve balls thrown at us - burials where we didn’t expect to find burials.

“They’re late-Neolithic, although you’ll find some archaeologists disagree about that.”

As if to prove the point, a man looks up further down the field and shouts: “Bronze Age.”

Mr Rossin went on: “We had radio carbon dating done on the one we found in 2009, which said 2450 - 2200BC. That’s 4,500 years old.

“We haven’t dated the second one but there’s no reason to doubt it’s the same period.”

A body found crouched in a burial pit in 2009 was that of a tall young man. The woman uncovered during last year is believed to be aged from 35 to 45.

Amber beads and a primitive digging tool fashioned from a cow’s shoulder blade were found nearby, a few feet under the surface.

Archaeologists wore forensic suits as they painstakingly recovered her remains - to avoid contaminating the skeleton’s DNA.

“It’s to protect the skeleton from them - not them from the skeleton,” said Mr Hatton.

SHARP - the Sedgeford Historical and Archaeological Research Project, which runs the dig - hopes to obtain grants to cover the £1,500 needed to carry out carbion dating and tests with radioactive isotopes needed to date the skeleton and reveal the woman’s origins.

The 2009 skeleton pre-dates the building of Seahenge, at nearby Holme-next-the-Sea, by several generations.

Southampton University student Cath Walker, who is researching flints found at Sedgeford for her PhD, said the primitive tools revealed yet more about the human history of the site.

“We’ve got hunter-gatherer communities moving through the landscape following their food sources,” she said. “This is a new chapter, pushing the history of the site back further.”


Remember that plaintive cry of Cast Away star Tom Hanks as his "Wilson" icon -- a Wilson brand basketball he gradually decked out into a sort of alter-ego and companion -- drifted away from Hanks' raft after his - oops! - it's lashings came loose while Hanks slept.  This is an image of Wilson when he (it) was newly-created.  Four years later, when Hanks decides to leave the island and either make it to safety or die on his jerry-rigged raft in the attempt, Wilson is much the worse for wear, including sporting a tuft of "hair" out of the top of the ball above the face, and the ball was discolored and partially collapsed.  In fact, at that point in the narrative Wilson looked rather like...

this!  OHMYGODDESS!  It's Wilson - reincarnated!  "Junior" is suitably smaller than Dad, being only 1.5 by 1.1 inches (37 by 27 mm), with eyes made out of shell. Archaeologists placed modern feathers into the holes around the face to reveal what they would've looked like in antiquity. CREDIT: Photo courtesy Ronald Powell/Chapter 27 Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology.

The image below shows Wilson's hair" sprouted out of the top of his head and Hanks' character is having a vehement discussion with Wilson as he rests on the stump of a coconut palm. 

Tiny Clay Head May Have Been Used As Ancient Effigy
Owen Jarus, LiveScience Contributor
Date: 06 July 2011 Time: 09:55 AM ET

A recently discovered miniature clay head with eerie eyes may have been an effigy used by a shaman more than 1,000 years ago, researchers say.

The head, which was discovered near Ebbert Spring in Franklin Country, Penn., has shells for eyes and tiny holes across its top and sides that may have been used for feathers or hair. A cavity at the base of the neck indicates that it was likely mounted on a stick or wand.

"It might have been used in a ceremony by a shaman of some sort," said lead archaeologist Ronald Powell, of the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology. Shell is a symbolically important object among Native American cultures and Powell believes that the use of it for eyes, combined with feathers, add weight to the idea that the artifact had a shamanistic use.

He pointed out that viewing the eyes in the outdoor light leaves quite an impression.

"It does give kind of an eerie glow from the incised shell eyes — you have sort of a dusty evening light," Powell told LiveScience. "It would be kind of awestruck for whoever was being subjected to it."

Finding a precise date for the head is difficult, but based on pottery found nearby, Powell estimates it was created around A.D. 900.

Ebbert Spring has been occupied by humans for about 11,000 years, Powell said. The availability of water at the site attracted deer and they, in turn, attracted human hunters, suggesting the site was used during winter.

"It would be sort of a wintering type campsite, at least through the months of August and March probably," said Powell, who detailed his finding in the latest issue of the journal Pennsylvanian Archaeologist.

Enigmatic effigy?

Two researchers not affiliated with the dig told Live Science that it is an interesting artifact but one that is difficult to interpret.  "It's a significant object , but it's a very rare object," said Kurt Carr, senior curator of archaeology at the State Museum of Pennsylvania, who pointed out that the iconography is similar to that used by Iroquois people who settled in northeast North America.

"Heads and faces are a characteristic of Iroquoian peoples — it seems to be part of their art motif if you will," he said. However "this doesn't seem to be Iroquoian; it's awfully far south."

Michael Stewart, an anthropology professor at Temple University in Philadelphia, said that the head may date to more recent times.

Across the Northeast, "you tend to see them [effigy heads] most frequently after A.D. 1300 and much more as you get into late prehistoric times and when European colonists are encountering Native peoples."

Stewart cautions that more peer-reviewed information about the soil and artifacts at Ebbert Spring are needed before any conclusions can be made about the date and purpose of the head.

"Whether it was the personal property of a religious specialist like a shaman or whether it was the ornament or an object used by an individual within that community is something that (based on the evidence so far) I don't think we can say," Stewart noted.

Shell eyes

The key to answering questions about the head may be in the white shell eyes.

"If you look at what is being recorded historically amongst living native people during early historic times, shell plays a very special symbolic role," Stewart said. "You have shell beads being made by different peoples. You have an acknowledgment that the color white is symbolically important — it's the color of life ."

He said that it is interesting that whoever made the eyes used shell.

"It certainly drives home the point that whoever made or used this face, that it meant something very special, that it was symbolically loaded, that had meaning." [Yes, like Wilson in Cast Away].

Monday, July 4, 2011

Skadi - "Destroyer" Goddess

From Barbara G. Walker's The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets


The Celto-Teutonic Goddess in her "Destroyer" aspect. Like the Greek Persephone, "Destroyer," she was Queen of the Shades, Mother Death. Her name was the root of Gothic skadus, Old English sceadu, "shadow, shade." She was the Shadow into which all the gods went at doomsday, called Gotterdammerung, or Going-Into-the-Shadow-of-the-Gods.(1) As Scotia, she was the Dark Goddess - like Black Kali, the Caillech - after whom Scotland was named.(2)

Like Kali, Skadi had to be propitiated each year with an outpouring of male blood in primitive sacrificial rites. Her annual victim was assimilated to the god Loki, who became a "savior" by fertilizing Skadi with his blood. Loki's genitals were attached by a rope to a goat, and a tug-of-war ensued, until Loki's flesh gave way and he fell into Skadi's lap, thus bathing her loins in his blood. The gods watched anxiously to see if Skadi smiled; and when she did, it means spring could return once more to the land.(3)

Similar blood-rites were practiced all over the ancient world, when men sought godhood by giving their blood to the Goddess, before animal sacrifices replaced human ones, and even afterward. It was not uncommon for priestesses representing the Goddess to bathe in sacrificial blood, like the women who sacrificed Apis the bull-god in Egypt, hoisting their skirts as they dismembered him so his spurting blood would quicken their wombs.(4)   Like many death-goddess figures, Skadi collected the penises of her castrated heroes, and in this character she was named Mornir, "troll-woman."(5)

Remnants of the bloody sacrifice of Loki and the goat could still be found in Norway and Sweden in the late 17th century. Churchmen vainly denounced the masquerades, sexual promiscuity, and "goat games" associated with Easter and other religious festivals.(6)

Skadi was a dark twin of Freya, therefore virtually identical with the underground Goddess Hel. She was once all the Earth, birth-giver and devourer of her children. The entire land mass of Scandinavia was named after her. Originally, it was Scadin-auja, the land of Skadi.(7)

A variation of her name, Skuld, was given to the third of the three Fates, or Norns, in the role of destroying Crone. Naturally she became the patroness of witches, whose activities came to be called "skulduggery."

To the Celts, she was Scatha or Scath. Her underground realm of the dead was "the Land of Scath." Like Persephone's underworld within seven loops of the Styx, the Land of Scath was a city of seven walls.(8)   It was variously located under the earth, or in heaven, or far away over the sea on a western island, the land of "Sky." Cu Chulainn and other Celtic heroes learned magic skill in martial arts from a visit to Queen Scatha's island of Skye. She kept the hero for a "year and a day," the usual mythic image of the old 13-month lunar year with its intercalary day. When she had taught a man all she knew, she sent him back to earth a fey man, set apart and sacer, fated to do great deeds and die a sacrificial death.(9)   The legend suggests that the real island of Skye was a cult center of the Goddess, and warriors went there to be initiated into their heroic profession.

Skadi is still invoked by place named in Sweden, such as Skadave (Skadi's temple) and Skadalungr (Skadi's grove).(10)


1.  Turville-Petre, 164.
2.  Graves, G.M. 1, 72.
3.  Oxenstierna, 213.
4.  Graves, G.M. 1, 255.
5.  Turville-Petre, 257.
6.  Oxenstierna, 216.
7.  Branston, 164.
8.  Lethuly, 163.
9.  Goodrich, 187.
10.  Turville-Petre, 165.

See also Walker's entries on Scotia and Caillech:

Latin form of the "Dark Aphrodite" after whom Scotland was named; in her native land she was the Death-goddess Scatha, or Skadi.(1)  She was the mother of Caledonia; some said she was identical with the Caillech, or Crone, who created the world.


1.  Graves, G.M. 1, 72.

Old Celtic name for Kali-the-Crone, the Great Goddess in her Destroyer aspect.  Like Kali, the Caillech was a black Mother who founded many races of people and outlived many husbands.  She was also a creatress.  She made the world, building mountain ranges of stones that dropped from her apron.(1)

Scotland was once called Caledonia: the land given by Kali, or Cale, or the Caillech.  "Scotland" came from Scotia, the same Goddess, known to Romans as a "dark Aphrodite"; to Celts as Scatha or Scyth; and to Scandinavians as Skadi.(2)

Like the Hindus' destroying Kalika, the Caillech was known as a spirit of disease.  One manifestation of her was a famous idol of carved and painted wood, kept by an old family in County Cork, and described as the Goddess of Smallpox.  As diseased persons in India sacrificed to the appropriate incarnation of the Kalika, so in Ireland those afflicted by smallpox sacrified sheep to this image.(3)  It can hardly be doubted that Kalika and Caillech were the same word.

According to various interpretations, caillech meant either an old woman, or a hag, or a nun, or a "veiled one."(4)  This last apparently referred to the Goddess's most mysterious manifestation as the future, Fate, and Death - ever veiled from the sight of men, since no man could know the manner of his own death.

In medieval legend the Caillech became the Black Queen who ruled a western paradise in the Indies, where men were used in Amazonian fashion for breeding purposes only, then slain.  Spaniards called her Califa, whose territory was rich in gold, silver, and gems.  Spanish explorers later gave her name to their newly discovered paradise on the Pacific shore of North America, which is how the state of California came to be named after Kali.

In the present century, Irish and Scottish descendants of the Celtic "creatress" still use the word caillech as a synonym for "old woman." (5)


1.  Rees, 41.
2.  Graves, W.G., 131.
3.  Squire, 413.
4.  Joyce 1, 316.
5.  Frazer, G.B., 467.

I am pretty sure I read some time ago that Scatha/Scotia was closely associated with the practice of finger divination by the Celts.  I will see if I can find my notes - I know they're on one of my three computers (geez!) 

Albena International Chess Open 2011

Just concluded.  269 players and $40,000 USD in prizes!  First place won $8,000.  43 female players equals a little over 15% participation rate - excellent!

Rk.NameFEDRtgPts. TB1 TB2 TB3
1GMCheparinov IvanBUL26697.542.554.06
2GMKolev AtanasBUL25907.540.552.06
30WGMPaikidze NaziGEO24086.535.544.06
43WFMKulon KlaudiaPOL22276.034.544.05
52WGMVoiska MargaritaBUL23005.540.051.04
54Aseeva MarinaRUS21995.539.049.05
58WGMJaracz BarbaraPOL22755.537.047.04
61WGMVoicu-Jagodzinsky CarmenROU23035.535.045.05
65WIMGasik AnnaPOL22235.534.544.05
68WIMYordanova SvetlaBUL21375.534.043.55
76Atanasov MargaritBUL17775.531.039.04
91WGMOlarasu GabrielaROU22665.035.545.54
95WFMBaciu DianaMDA21735.035.044.53
96WFMUta Adeline-RamonaROU20995.035.044.04
117Dragieva DenitzaBUL18825.027.036.04
118Petkova NadezhdaBUL15095.027.034.05
130Stavila IrinaMDA19184.533.542.54
136Stojkovska MonikaMKD19004.532.542.04
149Tsekova ViktoriaBUL18454.530.539.53
153Galunova TsvetaBUL19434.528.037.54
159Bratimirova DimitrinkaBUL20284.033.542.03
167Hincu OlgaMDA18164.031.039.53
169Vasilescu MariaROU18224.030.037.54
171Todorova KalinaBUL18154.029.538.04
176Cazacu GabrielaMDA17324.029.037.03
183Pencheva IvaBUL17104.027.036.04
189Balimezova MargaritaBUL16684.025.533.04
191Nancheva DoroteyaBUL17884.024.532.04
196Nikolovska DraganaMKD17553.531.539.53
201Atanasova ElitsaBUL17323.529.538.53
209Crigan GalinaMDA19453.527.036.03
210Gospodinova NikoletaBUL14213.526.534.03
226WFMAntova GabrielaBUL17703.026.033.53
227Chidi Lovinia SylviaGER18223.025.534.02
233Grabcheva NataliaBUL03.025.031.53
235Valeva AnaBUL15733.023.531.53
239Hadarau IoanaROU03.021.527.53
242Golubeva MariaRUS03.020.528.52
244Sonfalean Maria-LauraROU16172.527.034.52
247Kalbanova MariaBUL02.522.529.52
249Shtukovskaya KseniaRUS02.522.528.02
258Petrovskaya ElenaRUS02.023.029.52
264Hadarau ElenaROU01.518.024.00
265Lavrenova AnnaRUS01.518.023.51
268Proshina DariyaRUS01.017.022.50

Commonwealth and South African Open 2011 (Open Section)

Total of 389 players, of which 54 were females, for a percentage participation rate of just under 14%.  Very good - roughly double the world average of female chess players.  The 11 round Open was won by GM Gawain Jones (ENG 2596) with 9.5, a close second was GM Nigel Short (ENG 2682) also with 9.5.

Chess femmes and their final standings:

11INDIMKaravade EeshaWIND23438.548.558.251992
14INDIMHarika DronovaliWIND25208.053.557.002164
16INDWGMGhate SwatiWIND23178.052.055.752099
19INDWGMSubbaraman MeenakshiWIND23178.049.054.501980
29INDIMSachdev TaniaWIND24167.550.050.751953
53INDWFMIvana Maria FurtadoU14WIND19997.049.540.001979
61RSAWFMIrving LauraWRSA17337.045.540.751817
77INDGochhikar AparajitaU18WIND19157.040.537.501716
81RSAWIMTlale TshepangU14WRSA17397.038.532.501649
105RSASelkirk Rebecca JU18WRSA16096.539.533.501623
106INDBhuvaneshwari RU20WIND16756.539.531.751788
123RSAHoek Adriana JWRSA17516.044.029.001787
152INDWCMSavant RiyaU14WIND17086.038.528.001643
154RSAWCMJansen van Rensburg MonicaU14WRSA16996.038.031.001572
164RSAJoubert (Braille) LucelleWRSA15066.034.526.251624
169RSATlale SeadimoU18WRSA15586.033.524.001522
170RSAWFMdu Toit SuneU14WRSA17376.033.027.251579
174RSAvan de Venter SandraWRSA16665.544.027.751678
176MOZVilhette VaniaWMOZ05.541.527.501699
181RSAde Waal IngridWRSA18895.540.027.501699
194BOTWFMMudongo BoikutsoWBOT18645.536.027.001598
195RSASutil YolandiWRSA15915.536.026.001700
201RSADevnarrian AshviraU20WRSA12375.535.025.251581
208RSAMarais SibylieWRSA14685.531.021.001545
234RSAvan Zyl CharlizeU14WRSA14735.037.521.001482
238INDAparna RajaU20WIND18935.035.523.001533
247RSAWCMBreedt Shade DU14WRSA15575.033.520.501400
249RSAGrobbelaar JacquiU18WRSA14675.033.516.501511
262BOTWCMBotlhole KgalaleloU20WBOT15154.539.520.751628
265BOTWCMFrancis ThapeloU18WBOT04.538.020.251614
273BOTFrancis OnkemetseU20WBOT04.535.022.751619
274RSAVoges Rachelle MariU16WRSA15974.535.020.251435
276RSABernstein OliviaU14WRSA13914.534.517.501501
278RSAWilke Eljeanie GU16WRSA15294.534.018.251566
281RSAKolver MichelleU14WRSA12734.531.516.501475
296RSAAgulhas TiffanyU16WRSA14884.035.514.501414
304RSAQanqa Noxolo SWRSA14764.033.014.251443
307PAKSiddiqui NidaWPAK17384.032.018.251489
309INDKankanala SrishtiU20WIND14204.031.512.251468
315RSASurujhlal KyalaU14WRSA13244.025.57.501331
321RSAFisher Michelle MU14WRSA14833.534.515.001573
322RSACalitz HanankeU14WRSA13993.534.512.001452
324RSAManganye Mihloti FWRSA13633.533.012.751564
352RSABester YvonneU16WRSA02.525.58.001291
358RSAManthata Salphy MWRSA10802.024.51.501337
360RSAMashabela BuhleWRSA02.024.04.001328
368INDSatpathy SunyaWIND19250.024.50.001917
372RSAWitbooi Elisma VU16WRSA12270.024.50.001674
374RSAMabunda GiyaniU20WRSA10000.024.50.001646
375RSAAucamp CindyWRSA00.024.50.001637
377INDMohanty SamrakiWIND00.024.50.001584
379INDBodda PratyushaWIND21170.024.50.001565
387BOTWCMLopang TshepisoWBOT18610.024.50.001347
388BOTWCMMokgacha KeitumetseWBOT18860.024.50.001336

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