Saturday, January 5, 2008

Mystery of Holy Grail Solved? NOT!

From the Evening Times online

I’ve cracked mystery of the Holy Grail
by Wendy Miller
Publication date 26/12/07

A GLASGOW historian believes he may have solved the world's most ancient mystery - and found the Holy Grail.

Mark Oxbrow is preparing to export his amazing discovery to the US leaving fans of book and movie blockbuster the Da Vinci Code with a new theory to consider.

During a trip to Paris, Mark, 36, from the West End, stumbled across what he believes is the real Holy Grail - and it's not a bloodline between Jesus and Mary Magdalene as claimed in the book and film.

While exploring medieval treasures in the Louvre, Mark found a green gem-encrusted serving dish which he thinks could have been used at the Last Supper.

Amazingly the French national treasure dates back to the time of Christ, matching descriptions of the Grail.

Mark's discovery is documented in a new book which has already sold thousands of copies - and is due to hit US and French bookstores in the New Year.

Mark's curiosity was aroused when he and wife Jill spotted the Patene de Serpentine tucked away in the medieval section of the Louvre Museum.

Back home Mark, a former Glasgow University lecturer, started to research the dish's origins, a trail that lead him closer and closer to the Holy Grail, the mystery which has confounded historians for centuries.

For hundreds of years now scholars and theologians have been unable to agree, even on the meaning of the Grail.

It used to be thought of as either the cup used to catch Christ's blood during his crucifixion or a dish used at the Last Supper.

Another theory is that the Grail is merely a Christian symbol while the Da Vinci Code controversially depicts it as the bloodline between Jesus and Mary Magdalene.

French poet Chretien de Troyes wrote numerous stories about the Grail which Mark's research links to the Patene, used to serve mass wafers in the sacred ceremonies of the French royal court from the 12th century onwards.

Mark, a historian and folklorist, said: "It's impossible to prove 100% that the Patene de Serpentine is the real Holy Grail.

"But the Patene is a sacred medieval treasure that perfectly matches every detail of the earliest descriptions of the Grail.

"It was in the right place at the right time.

"There is certainly a lot of interest in the theory."

Dating back to 100BC and 100AD, the dish is also engraved with tiny golden fish, an early symbol of Christianity.

An A to Z of King Arthur and the Holy Grail by Simon Cox and Mark Oxbrow is out now on Mainstream Publishing priced £12.99.
"Christian" fish symbols engraved on a dish used at the pre-Christian Jewish ceremony of Passover? Yeah, right.

Anything attributed to Jesus (and/or martyrs) coming out of the so-called Christian medieval period is automatically suspect in my book. I was, however, intrigued by the name of this dish because of the "serpetine," and did some further research on it.

After reading more about the piece, it appears that the name "serpentine" is the name of the green stone used in the center of the dish. It could also, on an outside shot, possibly apply to the pattern of the stone inset in the gold "trim" around the green stone base of the dish, which rather resembles the "scales" on a serpent. I'm still not quite clear on all of this, even after reading this entry at the Louvre Museum:

Original website (in French). Babelfish translation to English (as best I can figure out):

Patène serpentine

The patène consists of a saucer serpentine encrusted with gold fish, probably dating from the first century and a mount of gold adorned with stones, which are developing between the grounds of silverware compartmentalized, an association that we found until the beginning of the eleventh century.

She [it] accompanied at Saint-Denis' cut of the Ptolemies, "kantharos agate which was adapted mount goldsmith similar to patène (Paris, National Library, Cabinet Medal).

The treasure of Saint-Denis

The Patene serpentine from the treasure of Saint-Denis. In sandyonisienne history, it was always associated with the antique vase-cameo of Sardonyx (white and orange agate), sculptured reliefs bachiques nicknamed Cup Ptolemies. Both served at religious ceremonies queens of France at Saint-Denis, from the fifteenth century, the abbey acting as the coronation place of queens. Both remained famous works together in the treasury until 1791. At that time, the chalice was tabled to the Cabinet of Antiques. Stolen in 1804, but he [it] was found without his mount, which had been fondue: it is always kept at Cabinet today Medal of the National Library. However, the integration patène collections of the Museum since 1793.

The serpentine patène

It consists of two distinct and different epochs. The quality of the size of the apparent patène best works of the ancient glyptique before the first century and the first century AD, marbled dark green of the serpentine is inlaid with eight small gold fish (including Both [two?] are missing), probably added at the time of the Roman Empire for the liturgical use of the object.

The patronage of Charles the Bald in Saint-Denis

At the Carolingian period, the kantharos of sardonyx was transformed into a chalice from adding a foot decorated with a circular node decorated with precious stones. The elegant dish stone lasts lived also set with a set of silverware compartmentalized where gemstones embedded around pearls, garnets, colored glasses. The border compartmentalized illustrates the art of goldsmiths of the court of Charles the Bald, whose art reflected other objects prestigious offered by the king in Saint-Denis as the cross and the altar of gold disappeared today.

Phillipines Chess

Tournament announcement at Sun Star Davao online: Sunday, January 06, 2008 Chess events set in Malita CASH prizes are up for grabs in the 2008 1st Benjamin Bautista Sr. Memorial Chess Open Tournament and 1st Quentin Tan Blitz Chess Open Tournament set on January 19 and 20 at the Malita Gymnasium, Poblacion Malita, Davao del Sur. National Master (NM) Elwin Retanal said the champion will pocket P10,000 while the runner-up will receive P5,000. The third and fourth placers will go home with P3,000 and P2,000, respectively. The fifth to 10th placers will get P1,000 each while the 11th to 15th placers will settle for P500 each. The 16th to 20th chessers will not go home empty-handed with P250 apiece. The chessfest is sponsored by former Rep. Claude P. Bautista, Mayor Benjamin Bautista, Rep. Franklin Bautista and NM Jonathan Tan. Interested players may contact Malita Chess Association president Jorge Alcoy at mobile number 0910-3725658 or NM Retanal (0919-6283436) or NM Tan (0918-8880086). (MLSA)

Friday, January 4, 2008

Looted Greek Statues

From The Charlottesville Daily

UVa to return looted Greek statues
By Brian McNeill
January 4, 2008

The University of Virginia announced Thursday that it will return to Italy two ancient Greek sculptures of the goddesses Demeter and Persephone - nearly three decades after they were looted from Sicily by tomb raiders.

The extremely rare and valuable acroliths - created around 525 B.C. out of cloth, wood and Greek island marble - were donated to UVa in 2002 and have been on display at the university’s art museum for the past five years.

“We’re honored that we had them,” said UVa art history professor Malcolm Bell III. “We took good care of them. A lot of students saw them and learned from them. Now we’re happy to return them to Italy.”

The life-size acrolith statues were originally displayed inside a temple in Morgantina, an ancient Greek settlement near what is now the Italian city of Aidone. They are believed to represent Demeter, the Greek goddess of agriculture and grain, and her daughter Persephone, or Kore, the queen of the underworld.

UVa has kept mum about who donated the statues to its museum.

However, the New York Times reported in September that New York diamond merchant and philanthropist Maurice Tempelsman previously owned the acroliths.

Upon receiving the statues in 2002, UVa negotiated a deal to keep them for five years, with the understanding that they would be returned to Italy afterward. The Italian government endorsed the deal.

To mark the return of the sculptures, UVa will host a symposium Feb. 2 titled “The Goddesses Return.” Following the event - which will feature discussions on museum ethics, the antiquities market and archaeological preservation - members of the Italian police, called carabinieri, will escort the acroliths back to Italy.

“We’re very pleased and grateful and happy to be getting these magnificent statues back,” said Silvia Limoncini, a cultural counselor of the Italian Embassy in Washington. “It’s an example of the excellent relationship between Italy and the United States.”

Since their discovery in 1978, the two acroliths have traveled the world via the black market of looted antiquities. According to the New York Times, they were smuggled through Switzerland and surfaced in a London showroom in 1980. Tempelsman bought the acroliths from the London dealer for $1 million, the newspaper reported, adding that there is no indication that Tempelsman knew they had a potentially shady origin.

In the late 1980s, the statues were on display at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. But after an Italian prosecutor notified the museum that they were possibly illegally excavated, the acroliths were returned to Tempelsman.

According to a report in Forbes magazine, the Italian government began negotiating with Tempelsman in the 1990s for the return of the acroliths. Under the deal, the statues would be given to an institution, which would hold them for a time before turning them over to Italy.

The fact that UVa is returning the sculptures next month is a rare educational opportunity, said Elizabeth Hutton Turner, UVa’s vice provost for the arts and interim director of the art museum.

“This is a great moment for the university and a great moment for the museum,” she said. “It’s a lesson to our students that we can do the right thing and that we can be good stewards of antiquities.”

Upon the acroliths’ return to Italy, they will be displayed at a museum in Aidone. In the coming years, the sculptures will be joined by other priceless works of repatriated art from American museums. For example, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is returning 16 pieces of silver that were snatched from Morgantina. Also, the J. Paul Getty Trust is sending the museum a looted sculpture of Aphrodite.

The return of the acroliths is especially appropriate, Bell said, because the myths of Demeter and Persephone both involved themes of traveling and returning. After Persephone is kidnapped and taken to the underworld, her mother searches for her across the Earth. Meanwhile, Persephone returns to Earth once a year, heralding spring and rebirth.

“The idea of traveling is important in their cult, it’s important in their myth and now it’s important to the sculptures,” he said.
More coverage at BBC News online.

Oh for Goddess' Sake!

01/04/2008 13:34 MALAYSIA Taoist statue deemed “offensive” to Islam raises new controversy over religious freedom. Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The construction of the world’s tallest Taoist Goddess of the Sea statue has set off the latest row over religious freedom in Malaysia. The 36-metre (108-foot) statue of Mazu, known as Tin Hau in Hong Kong, should be erected in the fishing village of Kudat on Borneo Island. So far only the platform has been set; the statue itself is waiting some 200 km away in the port town of Kota Kinabalu. Local authorities had approved construction in December 2005 but Sabah state authorities stopped construction saying that the statue was “offensive to Muslim sensitivities.” Opposition leader Lim Kit Siang, who heads the Chinese-based Democratic Action Party, warned that if the row was not resolved it could hurt multiracial and inter-faith harmony in the hitherto tolerant Malaysia. “The insensitive controversy objecting to the building of the Mazu statue is created by a small group of Muslims with ulterior political objectives, which sets a dangerous precedent in undermining inter-religious goodwill in Malaysia,” he said. “All we want is for Mazu Goddess to protect us when we are at sea and our Muslim countrymen have nothing against,” said a local fisherman. After the state government halted construction Sabah’s mufti issued a fatwa saying the statue was “offensive to Islam” because it was too close to a mosque. Sabah’s deputy chief minister Chong Kah Kiat, an ethnic Chinese, resigned in protest and in early December took legal action challenging the order to stop construction. About 60 percent of Malaysia’s 27 million people are ethnic Malay Muslims; 25 per cent are Chinese and 10 per cent, Indians, mostly Hindu or Christian. Malaysian commentators and minority leaders have sounded the alarm over the growing ‘Islamisation’ of the country and the increasing polarisation of the three main ethnic communities, which mix much less than in the past. In recent weeks there have been other controversies, including a ban issued by the Ministry of Internal Security on the use of the word ‘Allah’ for God by the Herald, a Catholic weekly. Catholics and Protestants have also had their right to build places of worship severely restricted. ******************************************************************************* Does anyone else see a parallel to what's described in this article to what happened in the 1930's in Nazi Germany?

Friday Night Miscellany

Hola darlings! Tomorrow the "heat wave" is supposed to hit. Already today, when the temperature downtown showed "36" at noon, I could see the difference in the size and spacing of the icicles clinging to my gutters when I got home tonight. I am hopeful that by tomorrow night all the rest of the snow- as well as the ice dams clogging my gutters - will be gone after a warm sunny day. It's supposed to get up to 40 degrees F! From the - "what were they thinking department?": Why would ANYONE name a place MAGOG (as in the biblical Magog, a symbol for everything that is foul and evil on the face of the earth). Well, it's in Canada; even better, it's in QUEBEC. There's a lesson in there somewhere... From the "do I care?" department: (1) The Iowa caucus results (2) The North Dakota (or is it South Dakota? Wyoming?) caucus results - that haven't been compiled yet because the caucuses aren't until Saturday night. Now honestly, can't these people think of something better to do with their time on a Saturday night? Guess not... (3) President Bush is contemplating "doing something" about the economy. BWWWAAAAHAAAAAHAAAAAHAAAAAAA! (4) B. Obama is a BLACK man. (5) H. Clinton is a WHITE WOMAN. (6) The economists and Wall Street are first now recognizing that the U.S. economy is in bad shape. As Homer (Simpson, not the Greek guy) says, "doh!" (7) It's a monsoon in California - raining like the dickens along the coastal areas with high winds and snowing like the dickens in the mountains - and all those silly people out there who built their houses on stilts on cliffs are worried that their houses may fall down in mud slides. And all those silly people out there who built their houses in the snow-covered peaks and the valleys below them are worried about avalanches. Repeat Homer comment from (6) above. (8) Anything Brittny/Brittany/Britnay/whatever spelling variation you can think of. (9) Anything writers guild strike. (10) Anything that might qualify as #10 on this list. Wish I were in Wijk aan Zee.

"Ancient Civilization" Found?

Personally, I think it's - okay, I won't say it's baloney, I'll just say it's suspicious and leave it at that (for now). I wasn't going to report on this "find" of a supposedly heretofore unknown civilization near Lake Issyk (Tien Shan Mountains), but dondelion published a little blurb about it in our Random Round-up at Goddesschess last week. So, for what it is worth, here is a link to a story about it. What troubles me about this story is the lack of facts - this doesn't even qualify as a "tourist" or "amateur" slanted story - you know the type of story - basically entertaining "fluff." First, there are no dates given. Second, these expeditions and excavations(?) supposedly have taken place over eight years. After eight years on the job one would assume that there would be some BASIC information available about the discoveries. Why, then, such a lack of the most basic information in this story? Third, how come the ruins "next store" to the lake cannot be dated? The Scythians were a well known, distinctive group of people; if the Scythians were in the area, surely there are surviving artifacts that can be dated - even approximately would be better than leaving the reader dangling in mid-air! Why publish something like this in English without providing further information to back it up? Eight years of discoveries at this site - and we're first hearing about it now? I can - just barely in this day and age - accept that, because archaeologists are notoriously slow and paranoid about publishing their findings. But publishing this kind of story is - baloney.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Goddess Dances

Business Daily from THE HINDU group of publications Friday, Jan 04, 2008 Batool Aliakbar Lehry It was Sandhya Raman’s chance finding of a wealth of paintings at The Rasaja Foundation thatsparked off her interest in discovering the role of feminine energy in Indian mythology. The artworks, nearly 1,500 of them that were in a dilapidated condition, had been collected by the late artist, historian and critic Jaya Appasamy. The trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva (creator, preserver and destroyer) dominate Hindu discourse. But where are the women, wonders Sandhya. “It is almost as if the power of creation, which is so quintessentially female, has been subsumed by a male culture,” says this 40-year-old Delhi-based costume and apparel designer. “It is Ammavara, the goddess who gave birth to the three, who is central to the evolution story.” Her questions led her and research partner Ratna Raman to revisit the Upanishads, Vedas and other texts to discover the latent feminine forces present in them. For instance, says Sandhya, “Everyone only eulogises Agni as the god of fire. But it is only after chanting ‘Swaha’, the name of Agni’s wife, that the offerings will be accepted.” She draws parallels with the subjugation of women in contemporary times and says her effort has been to rediscover the origin and power of feminine forces in the mythologies. The result: ‘Mythologies Retold’ — a 60-minute dance-drama conceptualised, produced and designed by Sandhya and featuring Bharatnatyam dancer Geeta Chandran. Having designed costumes for famous dancers such as Anita Ratnam and Sonal Mansingh, Sandhya was completely familiar with the art form of dance. “Dance is a very communicative art and inspires me. You can say so many things so effectively,” she says. Sandhya also runs a Rs 2.5-crore design company called Desmania, which she jointly set up with her husband. Mythologies Retold, her first such venture, also includes theatrical aspects, influences of Kuchipudi, slide shows and improvisations in costumes, sets, and lights. The paintings, currently in the custody of National Gallery of Modern Art in Delhi, also form the backdrop for several scenes. Produced at a cost of Rs 10 lakh, the show celebrates the goddesses of earth, air, fire, space and water as the manifestations of feminine energies. The binding intellect, Buddhi, that guides the five senses is represented as a female. The production then questions what happens when women are removed from society and the feminine energy is alienated through acts like female foeticide, infanticide etc. The one-hour show opened in Delhi in September and is currently touring other parts of the country including Jaipur, Chennai, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Kolkata.

Keeping the Goddess in New Year's Eve

New Year's biggest bash January 01 2008 at 08:55AM Rio De Janeiro - More than 4 million people celebrated the start of 2008 in Rio de Janeiro with marathon parties on the beach. Half of them assembled on Copacabana beach, media reports said early on Tuesday, citing police estimates. A 23-minute fireworks display lit up the coast after midnight in a metropolis known as the Cidade Maravilhosa (or Marvelous City). Masses of people turned out despite nighttime temperatures up to 35 degrees, dancing on the sand before stages and filling promenades that had been blocked to traffic. By 3am (05.00 GMT), tens of thousands of revellers remained on the 2-kilometre-long Avenida Atlantica on the famous Copacabana beach and in the adjacent neighbourhood of Ipanema. Many slept off the festivities on the beach as well. More than 10 000 police officers were deployed to provide security, but the evening proceeded with no remarkable incidents except for a ricocheting bullet that injured a 63-year-old woman, media reports said. In honour of the goddess Yemanja, most people were clothed all in white and threw flowers into the sea so that the ocean goddess of the African-Brazilian Umbanda cult would fulfil their New Year's wishes. Others presented her with offerings of jewels, sparkling wine and expensive clothing on tiny wooden boats. Rio celebrated the New Year with a record number of visitors. More than 600 000 foreign and domestic tourists filled up 98 percent of the city's hotel rooms, the tourism office said. City leaders call Rio's celebration, which cost 10 million reals ($5,7-million), "the biggest party in the world", but millions of Brazilians also celebrate in their country's financial capital, Sao Paulo, where more than 2 million congregated alone at the music shows on the Avenida Paulista. - Sapa-dpa

2008 Asian Team Championships

The Asian Team Chess Championships are set to begin (January 2 - 10, 2008) As per usual, an Indian newspaper reported the event. Indian newspapers in general give excellent coverage to both domestic and international chess events in which Indian players are participating. From (January 1, 2008): VISAKHAPATNAM: Sasikiran and Neelotpal Das will head the India-A and India-B men’s teams respectively for the 15th Asian Team Chess Championship-2007 to be held at Swarnabharati Indoor Stadium from Jan 2 to 10. Dronavalli Harika and Swati Ghate will lead the Indian-A and India-B women’s teams respectively. While 15 teams from seven countries are taking part in the event, Wang Yue from China holds the highest rating with 2,703. The winners of the men’s championship will qualify for the the World Team Chess Championship conducted by the World Chess Federation. The event will be organised by East Coast Chess Association, All Vizag District Chess Association and Andhra Pradesh Chess Association. State Bank of India, Visakhapatnam Steel Plant and Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation are the sponsors. The video footage and images of these tournaments can be watched over the websites: or

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

News from the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Some news from the January-February, 2008 Exhibitions & Programs Calendar. Of interest to Goddesschess, the museum has opened two new galleries: one for Oceanic Art (opened November 14, 2007) , and one for the Art of Native North America (also opened November 14, 2007). Despite spending nearly two full days at the Met during our Goddesschess anniversary trip in September, 2005, we did not have the time to devote to the art collections in the Africa, Oceania, and the Americas "Michael C. Rockefeller Wing." Perhaps next trip! The Met always has outstanding special exhibits. Through March 2, 2008: "Eternal Ancestors: The Art of the Central African Reliquary." dondelion is fascinated by African art, finding many motifs in common with those in ancient Egypt and Libya, including some votive iconography and the ever-present checkerboard pattern, that is nearly as old as man himself. And through February 18, 2008: "Gifts for the Gods: Images from Egyptian Temples." dondelion and I spent most of one full day just exploring the Egyptian Galleries at the Met - glorious, fabulous! I wish we could see this special exhibition. We believe that the most ancient art can teach us much today about the origins of board games, if only we take the time to study the cultural and religious beliefs underlying the art. Explore the Met online.

Oh, Those Fashionable Steppe Ladies

More fashion from the past.

Amy Eckhardt, director of the International Program at the University of Pittsburgh, models hemp dresses decorated with designs found on 5,000-year-old horse-bone figurines. (Courtesy Sandra Olsen/Carnegie Museum of Natural History)

This Old Thing?
Volume 61 Number 1, January/February 2008
by Sandra Olsen

And here we have a lovely daytime frock in handwoven hemp, featuring geometric details in vogue on the Eurasian steppe 5,000 years ago. This design is comfortable and practical to wear at work while milking the horses, sweeping out the pit house, or collecting dung for fuel.

As an archaeologist, I'd never before addressed the question of how prehistoric people made and decorated their clothing. But after a series of unexpected discoveries in northern Kazakhstan, my colleagues and I found ourselves particularly interested in the wardrobes of the ancient Botai people.

These early horse-pastoralists lived during the Copper Age, between 3700 and 3100 B.C., on the steppe of present-day Kazakhstan. They occupied a few permanent villages, the largest of which we now know as Botai, and lived in small, square semisubterranean houses.

Although the Botai people lacked innovations such as agriculture and the wheel, they were one of the earliest groups to domesticate the horse--and they had a sense of style too.

These ancient nomads left behind a clue to their fashion sense in the unlikely form of figurines made from horse toe bones. At the site, archaeologists from Petropavlovsk University in northern Kazakhstan recovered 45 of these figurines, mostly from houses. The Botai may have kept them in their homes to ensure protection by a hearth spirit. The shape of the nearly four-inch-long toe bones resembles a woman's torso, so it provides a natural framework for the figurines. We interpreted the incised lines on the bones as representations of dress or tunic designs.

Some of the fine carved lines on the figurines suggest the Botai decorated their clothing with embroidery, applique, or weaving; it's possible they even painted patterns on the garments. We found that geometric ornamentation was usually featured on the front of the piece, while rows of horizontal dashes running down both sides probably represented the seams. Necklines varied, but 10 of the figurines are depicted wearing V-necks.

At the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Deborah Harding, our anthropology collection manager, took handwoven hemp cloth from Hungary and made it into a dress with side seams and other features shown on the figurines. She chose hemp because it is native to Kazakhstan; it was also one of the most common fibers used in ancient times on the Eurasian steppe.

Our experimental garment raised more questions than it answered. For example, the length of our dress made the A-line (or flared bottom) skirt restrictive for bending, so perhaps a slit in back or on the sides would have been advantageous if one really did want to wear it while sweeping out a Copper Age pit house. Of course, it's possible they also wore these garments for special occasions. At the very least we think they probably regarded these dresses as fine enough to adorn their domestic goddesses.

Sandra Olsen is a curator of anthropology at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.
© 2008 by the Archaeological Institute of America

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

2008 is here with a roaring north wind, darlings! May the new year bring all of you many blessings, love, peace, and prosperity - and NO ice dams! It's not fit outside for man nor beast right now. The wind is howling, several inches of already fallen snow has landed in the corners of my porch and driveway, and the icicles I knocked down this morning are growing again. ICE DAMS! Fortunately, I stocked up on my supplies yesterday early evening, so I didn't have venture out today any further than the deck - to feed my critters. The office actually closed down early (3 p.m.) - I was in shock! I decided about 3:30 p.m. to make my exit. After jumping on the 3:51 bus and running my errands, I was home at 5:15 p.m. - and snuggled under my nice, warm sheets about 9:15 p.m., drifting off to dreamland. LOL! So much for my resolution to stay up until midnight and email everyone in my address book with new year greetings. This being winter in Wisconsin, change is constant and inevitable - the January thaw is coming early this year - as soon as this weekend, in fact, when RAIN is forecast and temperatures near 50 degrees F. Eek! Of course, darlings, you know what that means. ICE. Lots of ice. The ground is frozen, the more than foot of snow ground cover will have nowhere to go when the rains come. More ICE DAMS too. Sigh. My house hasn't sprung any leaks (that I know of) - yet. But the warmer air won't be here until Saturday. So, for the trek back to the office tomorrow and the rest of the work week, I will wear my heavy duty ankle-length down coat with hood and the super-sized mouton mittens under which I can comfortably fit gloved hands. This year, instead of the extra wool scarf, which I love for its beautiful blue and red plaid, but which is itchy, I have a four-in-one-fleece hoodie or, as they called them in the old days, a balaclava. With my 50 pound Sorel boots, I shall be toasty warm, although I won't be able to move faster than half a mile an hour... The Badgers lost the Outback Bowl - boo, hiss - the game was rigged, the referees were bribed, I just know it! Usually I take down the Christmas tree this day, but I just couldn't bring myself to do that this year. I am not yet ready to remove my beautiful tree for another year. Perhaps this weekend, when the January thaw rain is beating against the house from the southwest, I will feel motivated to pack everything away. Right now, I'm going to head downstairs, get a fire going in the fireplace, and spend the rest of my holiday watching television, eating good food, drinking Christian Brothers egg nog, and relaxing. I already feel incredibly decadent - I had a nice 3 hour nap earlier :) A final note - does anyone REALLY care about the Iowa caucuses other than the national television networks?

2007 Russian Championship Superfinals

Here are the women's final standings. Kovalevskaya had a dismal tournament, a real surprise to me as she is usually near the top of the standings. The final scores indicate the event was hard-fought - no easy draws granted by the ladies in their chess! 1. Kosintseva, Tatiana m RUS 2492 7/11 2. Tairova, Elena m RUS 2391 7 3. Ovod, Evgenija m RUS 2386 7 4. Korbut, Ekaterina m RUS 2443 7 5. Pogonina, Natalija wg RUS 2462 6 6. Kosintseva, Nadezhda m RUS 2469 6 7. Matveeva, Svetlana m RUS 2433 5½ 8. Shadrina, Tatiana wg RUS 2379 5½ 9. Stepovaia, Tatiana wg RUS 2375 5 10. Girya, Olga wf RUS 2338 4 11. Kovalevskaya, Ekaterina m RUS 2448 3½ 12. Gunina, Valentina wf RUS 2359 2½

I Almost Ate a Purple Pearl

Diners find rare pearl in plate of clams

Mon Dec 31, 6:48 PM ET

LAKE WORTH, Fla. - A Florida man was about halfway through a plate of steamed clams when he chomped down on something hard — a rare, iridescent purple pearl. George Brock and his wife, Leslie, had been spending a day at the beach Friday in South Florida and stopped at Dave's Last Resort & Raw Bar for a bite. Their find could be worth thousands.

"Few are round and few are a lovely color, so this is rare," said gemologist Antoinette Matlins. "I think they have found something precious and lovely and valuable."

The gems occur most frequently in large New England quahogs, clams known for violet coloring on the inside of their shells. The clams in the $10 plate came from Apalachicola in the Florida Panhandle, said restaurant manager Tom Gerry.

The Brocks, of Royal Palm Beach, plan to have the pearl appraised and said they may sell it if it is valuable.
I expect that because of the lustre, color and roundness of this pearl, it will fetch a very nice price on the auction market! The American Museum of Natural History hosted an exhibit on pearls, you can read about their history here.

Inlaid mother of pearl has been use since ancient times to decorate everything from furniture to game boards. The famous twenty squares gameboards excavated by Woolley at Ur had delicate mother of pearl decoration.

The artisans of the Middle East and Egypt in particular have continued the tradition of using mother of pearl as a decorative inlay in gameboards. You can find examples of such work here.

Athena in Her Serpent-Trimmed Cloak

Archaeology magazine online has an interesting article about how the ancients painted their sculptures and statues in vibrant color. In the modern world, we are used to the washed-out whitness of the underlying marble or stone used to create the work of art, and so seeing replicas of the originals in full color is breathtaking.

Here's an image of the colorized Athena from the west pediment of the Temple of Aphaia on Aegina; Greek, ca. 490-480 B.C.; marble, overall height ca. 340 cm; Staatliche Antikensammlungen und Glyptothek, Munich. Notice how much the serpent heads now stand out from her goatskin cloak with serpent-head fringe. Whoever dismisses Athena as an ancient serpent goddess has not seen this particular sculpture of her!

Read more.

Sican Exhibit in Canada

The Canadian Museum of Civilization is sponsoring an important exhibit of Sican artifacts. Image: Sican bird deity.

Secret Riches: Ancient Peru Unearthed
Special Exhibitions Gallery C
December 14, 2007 - April 27, 2008

A thousand years ago in Peru, the Sicán forged a complex civilization. This exhibition features 120 spectacular gold and ceramic objects recently excavated from an undisturbed tomb. Discover the story of the Sicán — an ingenious culture often eclipsed by its better-known successors, the Inca.

Organized and circulated by The Nickle Arts Museum, in cooperation with the Sicán National Museum, Peru, and the National Institute of Culture of Peru.

This exhibition is made possible with the support of Willow Park Wines and Spirits, Government of Alberta Community Development, AMJ Van Lines.

The Sicán were mainly farmers, fishers, metalworkers and artisans who lived in the fertile valleys and coastal plains that lie between the Pacific Ocean and the foothills of the Andes, near the equator in northern Peru. Sicán culture started about 1,250 years ago and flourished for at least 500 years, before collapsing in the fourteenth century.

The Sicán are renowned today for the scale and sophistication of their metalworking, said to be unequalled in pre-Columbian America. They were the first people in northern Peru to produce bronze on a large scale, and their production and shaping of gold foil and gold sheets required extraordinary skill.

The Looting of Sican Treasures
The Sicán buried some of the finest objects of their material culture deep underground, in the treasure-laden burial chambers of the rich and powerful. Since at least the 1930s those tombs have been raided on a massive scale. One 50 square-kilometre area of former Sicán land has been described as perhaps the most heavily plundered site in the world. Using aerial photographs of the area, an archaeologist has counted about 100,000 holes dug by looters and about 100 trenches carved by bulldozer to uncover shaft-tomb entrances.

Although tomb raiding in Peru goes back to at least the Spanish Conquest in the sixteenth century, it reached a fever pitch in the heartland of the Sicán in 1937 when a local landowner retrieved 15 potato sacks of gold artifacts from a single tomb. Looting soon became an organized commercial activity. Treasure hunters would dig vertical shafts deep into the ground and then tunnel horizontally. The full measure of their success will never be known, but it is likely that tons of precious artifacts were taken. Much of the looted treasure — especially the most spectacular of the gold objects — ended up in museums and private collections around the world, usually misidentified as Incan. Removed from any physical or cultural context, their value to archaeologists was vastly diminished. Did the object come from a royal palace or a commoner’s grave? Was it found in Sicán territory or in a far-off land? Was it decorative or utilitarian? Was it a single piece or part of a set? Was it worn by a man or a woman, an adult or a child? Was the object modified or damaged, even through the simple act of cleaning? Were original parts discarded or replaced?

All that vital information is lost forever when objects are looted and dispersed.
Read more.

More Information on Mexico City Pyramid

More information from on that discovery of an Aztec Pyramid in the heart of Mexico city. Prior post.

Ancient pyramid found in central Mexico City
By Miguel Angel Gutierrez
Dec 27, 2007

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Archeologists have discovered the ruins of an 800-year-old Aztec pyramid in the heart of the Mexican capital that could show the ancient city is at least a century older than previously thought.

Mexican archeologists found the ruins, which are about 36 feet high, in the central Tlatelolco area, once a major religious and political centre for the Aztec elite.

Since the discovery of another pyramid at the site 15 years ago, historians have thought Tlatelolco was founded by the Aztecs in 1325, the same year as the twin city of Tenochtitlan nearby, the capital of the Aztec empire, which the Spanish razed in 1521 to found Mexico City, conquering the Aztecs.

Photo: A general view shows the "Plaza de las Tres Culturas", or the plaza of the three cultures, in the central Tlatelolco area of Mexico City December 27, 2007. Archeologists have discovered the ruins of the 800-year-old Aztec pyramid in the heart of the Mexican capital that could show the ancient city is at least a century older than previously thought. The pyramid, found last month as part of an investigation begun in August, could have been built in 1100 or 1200, signaling the Aztecs began to develop their civilization in the mountains of central Mexico earlier than believed. (Henry Romero/Reuters)

The pyramid, found last month as part of an investigation begun in August, could have been built in 1100 or 1200, signaling the Aztecs began to develop their civilization in the mountains of central Mexico earlier than believed.

"We have found the stairs of this, much older pyramid. The (Aztec) timeline is going to need to be revised," archaeologist Patricia Ledesma said at the site on Thursday.

Tlatelolco, visited by thousands of tourists for its pre-Hispanic ruins and colonial-era Spanish church and convent, is also infamous for the 1968 massacre of leftist students by state security forces there, days before Mexico hosted the Olympic Games.

Ledesma and the archaeological group's coordinator, Salvador Guilliem, said they will continue to dig and study the area next year to get a better idea of the pyramid's size and age.

The archeologists also have detected a sculpture that could be of the Aztec rain god Tlaloc, or of the god of the sky and earth Tezcatlipoca.

In addition, the dig has turned up five skulls and a series of rooms near the pyramid that could date from 1431. "What we hope to find soon should tell us much more about the society of Tlatelolco," said Ledesma.

Mexico City is littered with pre-Hispanic ruins. In August, archeologists in the city's crime-ridden Iztapalapa district unearthed what they believe may be the main pyramid of Tenochtitlan.

The Aztecs, a warlike and religious people who built monumental works and are credited with inventing chocolate, ruled an empire stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean and encompassing much of modern-day central Mexico.

(Editing by Xavier Briand)
Copyright 2008 Reuters News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Significant Site Uncovered in Puerto Rico

There have been several earlier news reports about this discovery in Puerto Rico, of a rather hysterical tone; some accused the U.S. Corps of Engineers of pilfering and removing excavated items without proper permission, etc. etc. It's good to see that a balanced news report has now been published. Oops - seems those engineers weren't so guilty of stealing artifacts after all. Of course, this kind of report doesn't make headlines. Nonetheless, I'm glad the nonsense and hoopla have now subsided! This is a significant discovery that will be studied for years to come. To put the discovery in historical perspective, about the time the Taino were enjoying their lives in their administrative and ceremonial center near Ponce, Puerto Rico (c. 600 CE), the pre-Islamic Persians of the Sassanian (Sassinian) empire were a beacon of civilization, at the height of their artistic and literary endeavors, who played a central role in moving goods along the Silk Road from the far east to the west. Archaeologists find "premium" site in Puerto Rico By MIKE WILLIAMS Cox News Service Published on: 12/26/07 nearly a thousand years before Columbus arrived in the Americas. Those voices were lost after Europeans settled the Caribbean, however, as the Taino Indians were nearly wiped out by disease and enslavement. Now, as a result of plans to build a flood control dam nearby, archaeologists have stumbled onto a major discovery that may help reconstruct the rhythms of life of those early Caribbean inhabitants. Corps of Engineers has uncovered the outlines of a very large Taino ball court and ceremonial site, complete with human graves, trash mounds, building imprints and a few carved petroglyphs that are among the most intricate and detailed ever discovered in the region. "Suddenly it went from a very good site to an extraordinary site," said Chris Espenshade, who led a team of local archaeologists and workers from New South Associates of Stone Mountain, Ga. at the dig this past summer and fall. "Part of what makes it extraordinary is that we have everything here, the midden (refuse) mound, the batey (ceremonial site), the house patterns, the burials and the rock art." Puerto Rican archaeologists are excited by the find, which will be turned over to the island's government for preservation and future research. "This is a premium site," said Aida Belen Rivera, an archaeologist with the Puerto Rican Office of Historical Conservation. "It's a piece of flat land next to the river, a lovely site. In my opinion it's too large and too important to have served just the immediate area. It could've been regional in scope. It's an intriguing site." The Taino Indians were part of the Arawak people who settled the Caribbean, most likely venturing from the northern coast of South America, their canoes carried by ocean currents onto the string of islands that curve like an arc through the tropical sea. Several indigenous villages have been uncovered on Puerto Rico and other islands, but the recent find by the banks of the Portugues River appears to be one of the most extensive ever unearthed. The discovery came about because of the river's eons-old pattern of flooding. First, after the site's Taino originators died out, the river covered over the remains of their lives, protecting the artifacts from looters and farmers who might have dug out the stones to clear the area for cultivation. Then, 30 years ago, the Army Corps of Engineers proposed a dam on the river to control the floods which periodically wreaked havoc on the string of small villages leading down the river to nearby Ponce, a large city on Puerto Rico's south coast. Archaeologists first found a few artifacts in the 1970s, but the size and importance of the site wasn't known until this fall, when the flood control project finally near construction. Espenshade's team worked through the summer, but only in the past few months unearthed enough to determine the major scope of the site. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime find," said David McCullough, a Corps archaeologist from the agency's Jacksonville office, who said preliminary estimates show the site dates to around 600 A.D. "The petroglyph carvings are outstanding, with various human-looking faces and bodies. Another remarkable thing is the site is so well preserved. It was covered by the river's flooding and wasn't looted or cleared for farming." The project has not been without controversy. After its importance became known, some Puerto Rican archaeologists complained that the early excavation work was done too hastily and without enough care, and that local experts were not kept informed. "Our concerns were that we didn't know what was going on and that they were sending things to the States without our knowledge," said Miguel Rodriguez, a member of the Puerto Rican Archaeological Council. "Puerto Rico isn't a state, it's a commonwealth. We have our local laws and feel that sometimes the Corps doesn't respect these." Responding to the concerns, Corps officials re-designed their flood control project, moving a disposal area originally planned for the site to another location. They also agreed to turn the land over to the Puerto Rican government, and have committed to return all artifacts to the island after the completion of a report on the archaeological significance of what's been found so far. Meanwhile, the site will be reburied to protect what is there, and armed guards have been posted to protect the artifacts from looters. "This will be a site for future archaeologists and the government of Puerto Rico to decide what to do with," said Elsa Jimenez, the Corps spokeswoman in Puerto Rico. "It's a great challenge and opportunity."

Monday, December 31, 2007

Is Hawass Joking?

This item showed up in some news briefs at Artform International News Digest: COPYRIGHT FOR PYRAMIDS? Egypt may soon seek to protect its pyramids from fakes and copies. As the APA reports, the Egyptian government hopes to introduce a special form of copyright for the pyramids as well as other ancient sites. According to the new legislation, which may soon become law, the Egyptian government would have the right to collect a tax for all copies of the pyramids, the Sphinx, and other sites. The new law, which is intended to have international jurisdiction, would allow the Egyptian state to collect funds for the upkeep of these sites. "Egypt alone has the right to reproduce its monuments from antiquity," said Zahi Hawass, the director of the antiquities administration. Hawass added that artists—both Egyptian and foreign—would continue to enjoy the privilege of "being inspired" by the country's cultural treasures for their own works. The only clause is that these artistic inspirations cannot result in "exact copies." A cultural war seems to be on the horizon. After the announcement was made, the Egyptian newspaper El Wafd made a public request to Las Vegas's Luxor Hotel and Casino complex, which features duplicates of the Valley of the Kings, to give part of its profits back to the Egyptian city Luxor, where the original valley is located. "Thirty-five million tourists come every year to Las Vegas to see the reproduction of Luxor," the newspaper stated, according to the APA. "Only six million visit the real Luxor." According to Hawass, the Vegas Hotel will not be required to pay royalties under the new law, despite the fact that its website advertises "the only pyramid shaped building in the world." Hawass claims that the hotel is neither "an exact copy of the pyramids," nor does its interior share any similarities with those of the pharaohs' burial sites.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Royal Goddesses/Queens of Ebla

From Archaeology Magazine online

From the trenches
Royal Goddesses of a Bronze Age State
Volume 61 Number 1, January/February 2008
by Marco Merola

It's been more than 30 years since Italian archaeologists found a vast archive of 17,000 cuneiform tablets at the Bronze Age site of Ebla in northern Syria. But the ancient city is still surprising those who work there. Last year archaeologist Paolo Matthiae's team discovered two almost perfectly preserved figurines that confirm textual evidence for a royal cult of the dead focused on the city's queens. They also found an unusual tablet that allowed scholars to reconstruct the political climate that led to Ebla's destruction in 2300 B.C., when it was sacked by Sargon of Akkad.

"We made the finds in two peripheral rooms of the great Royal Palace, where we discovered the cuneiform archive in the 1970s," explains Matthiae. "They were part of the zone behind the Court of the Audience Hall, a sort of storage area which must have held the treasures of the king of Ebla."

Initially the team avoided the rooms, assuming they had been emptied when Sargon ransacked the city. "But we were wrong!" says Matthiae. "Evidently the two statues were crushed into the ground and miraculously escaped the pillage."

Both figurines are intricate representations of women, which are rare in Near Eastern Bronze Age art. One, made of steatite and wood, is depicted with her arms arranged in a gesture indicating prayer. The second figurine holds a goblet and wears an ornate gold dress. Both seem to have been used in a ritual mentioned in a tablet from Ebla that describes how the city's dead queens became female deities who were then worshiped privately by their successors. Matthiae suspects the steatite figure depicts a living queen who would have prayed to the gold-covered figurine, itself a representation of a dead queen who had become a goddess.

© 2008 by the Archaeological Institute of America

Little Green Man

It seems particularly during the Roman period of the Egyptian Empire that "little green man" gaming pieces came into vogue. Here's one for sale at BC Galleries in Australia:

Item Code: a5755
A fragmentary glazed faience figurine of Harpocrates, the infant Horus. A fully three-dimensional figure with flat, circular base; possibly a large game piece.
Roman period, circa 1st-2nd century A.D. Egypt
Height: 62 mm
Price: AUD$650 USD$542 (approx.)

A Legend About the Goddess Lakshmi

From The Times of India Goddess of East, wealth for all 30 Dec 2007, 0201 hrs IST, Prashant Dayal,TNN AHMEDABAD: Saumyak Shah started a saree store in Ratanpol area of the Walled city in 1953 and called it "Deepak Stores". As the city grew westward, Shah opened another shop on Ashram Road in 1983, now known as 'Deepkala'. Today Shah has his third showroom on the Shivranjani crossroads, in new Ahmedabad, but has not closed the Ratanpol shop. These are the traders of old Ahmedabad who had small beginnings and believe that the Walled city brought them prosperity, because the Goddess of wealth, Lakshmi, resided there. Folklore has it that nearly 600 years ago, a guard of the ancient city of Ahmedabad, Khwaja Siddiqui, posted at Teen Darwaza had stopped the Goddess from leaving the city without the permission of Sultan Ahmed Shah. The Goddess promised that she would stand right there till the guard returned after seeking permission from the Sultan. When the guard met the Sultan, he was so enraged at the idea of the Goddess leaving, he beheaded the guard. The Goddess stayed. In memory of the guard's sacrifice and honour of the Goddess, a lamp burns 24x7 to this day at Teen Darwaza, one of Ahmedabad's most beautiful gates. It is said that the Mahalakshmi temple at Dhana Suthar ni pol in Kalupur is dedicated to this Goddess. The priest of this temple, Bhupendra Bhatt, is the tenth descendant. The local mujawar has been lighting this lamp for the last 50 years and says this place is revered by both Hindus and Muslims. The traders who launched businesses here owe their prosperity to this belief that Lakshmi (wealth) is more stable here than outside the fort wall. Many businessmen retailed to West Ahmedabad but still have their original shops in the Walled city. West Ahmedabad still hears of several cases of fraud, and businesses winding up, but nothing of this sort for ancient family businesses. Shah of Deepkala says, "There is also a section of people on that side of the river who never cross the river to the western bank and these are our dedicated clientele". Dilip Rochwani of Azad Sweetmart, who set up his first shop in 1958 in the Revdi bazaar area of Kalupur, does not want to leave this area. He has other shops in West Ahmedabad but he says, "we had started on a very small scale for the middle class and they are our dedicated customers whom we don't want to leave".

Struck on the Head with a Chessboard

[24.12.2007 13:40] Yanukovych`s friends told him he was struck with chess board on his head The Party of Regions will act toughly, should the power’s activities be destructive. Party of Regions leader Victor Yanukovych said this in an interview to Inter television. According to him, the Party of Regions will undertake actions, “stipulated by the law.” At the same time, he stressed “we are law-abiding people”. At the same time, Victor Yanukovych said he recently heard from his friends that is he trying to play chess with his opponents, while his opponent take the chess board and strike him on his head. He noted: “We will pay attention to that”. Victor Yanukovych also stressed that any radical actions never benefited to the country. “We have always been opposed to radical actions”, he said. The Party of Regions leader added he does not envy either the government or the coalition, because “this coalition is non-viable”. At the same time, he noted: “We will not put any obstacles on the way of this coalition, if it proposes a real way for the country’s development, and there will be no populist slogans but real steps”. Victor Yanukovych refused to forecast the period of tenure of the current government, and just recalled that the experience indicates that governments in Ukraine are shifted annually. ctnstant URL of article: ************************************************************************************* Ah, yes. The old "strike your enemy on the head with your chessboard" ploy. There are many historical precedents, including this one reported on at Goddesschess: King Canute and the Murder of the Danish Earl over a Chess Game

Rematch Between GMs Torre and Antonio to Promote Chess

Philippines Grandmasters Eugene Torre and Rogelio “Joey” Antonio are set for a 12-game rematch during the summer of 2008 to promote chess in the Philippines, leading up to the next chess Olympiad. Torre, Antonio ready for rematch Baguio, Mindoro eyed as host of GMs’ battle Philippine Daily Inquirer First Posted 03:49:00 12/30/2007 MANILA, Philippines -- Grandmasters Eugene Torre and Rogelio “Joey” Antonio Jr. are ready for a rematch. The country’s top woodpushers will try to outwit each other in a 12-match marathon in the summer of 2008 for two reasons: Promote chess in the countryside and prepare themselves for the Chess Olympiad slated late next year. Antonio became the first local player to beat Torre with a one-game victory in their 1998 match. “Hindi na rin naman kami bumabata (We’re not getting any younger),” said Torre. “We need to develop more young chess talents. We’re hoping to get the interest of potential talents from the grassroots level by going to their places.” Organizers are planning to hold the matches in Baguio City and in Puerto Galera in Mindoro to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the World Chess Championships match between Anatoly Karpov and Victor Korchnoi, also held in Baguio City, in 1978. Torre is an adopted son of Baguio while Antonio hails from Oriental Mindoro. Torre and Antonio are expected to lead the country’s campaign in the Chess Olympiad set in Dresden, Germany on November 12 to 25. It will be the fifth time that Germany is hosting a chess Olympiad. “Hindi natin alam baka yun na ang aming (We don’t know if it will be our) last Olympiad next year,” said Antonio. “Anuman ang mangyari, maganda na ’yung preparado kami (Whatever happens, it’s better that we are prepared).” Quezon City majority floor leader and fourth district Councilor Ariel Inton is also open to his city’s hosting of the Torre and Antonio rematch. “Both players are based in Quezon City,” said Inton. “It would be great for our city and our people if they will play here. If it’s not possible for us to host all 12 matches, even just the first three and the last three.” Marlon Bernardino, contributor Copyright 2007 Philippine Daily Inquirer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

The Transformational Power of Chess

Can a long-term nation-wide effort to promote chess among its citizens spur economic development? An interesting hypothesis... Chess The transformational power of chess With Errol Tiwari Sunday, December 30th 2007 It was on Sunday, March 18, that two chess players took a daring step and announced a chess tournament; the first for well over a decade. Four persons arrived for the tournament, including the two organisers. On Tuesday, December 18, by coincidence, a glorious cocktail reception was held at the King's Plaza Hotel for a number of distinguished guests, including my own Director-General, Ambassador Elisabeth Harper, to celebrate nine months of uninterrupted activity in chess and specifically, to distribute the prizes for the National Chess Championships. It was nine months of magic. Each month there was a tournament. An Interim Steering Committee for the Development of Chess was established. A senior FIDE (the governing body of world chess) official visited us. We took the game to some schools with the intention of carrying the game to all of the schools, and held a chess clinic for school teachers and students. Dr Frank Anthony, the Minister of Youth Sport and Culture, imported 200 chess sets for distribution to schools. Kei-Shar's began reselling tournament-sized chess sets, thereby making chess equipment available to the masses. It was magic. But it was our sponsors who were the true magicians for chess. They crafted the framework paper for us to develop the game. They were the David Copperfields of chess. Our sponsors listened to what we were saying, and they believed in what we were saying. Their response was quick, tangible and mighty. And our best talent came rushing out from little corners of obscurity where they had resided for years. In one moment there was hope again, and a candle was lit to brighten the darkness of chess in Guyana. Significantly, our sponsors supported the renewal of a game and a cause. When chess is integrated fully into the schools, we would have made a great step forward for the game, but more importantly, it a giant leap for Guyana. I believe there is an interconnection between chess and the economic development of one's country. Ever since Viswanathan Anand became a grandmaster in the late 1980s, India has been transformed into an economic giant. Business people think smarter. They make smarter choices. Russia, or the former USSR, prospered rapidly after the 1917 Bolshevik revolution as chess was being developed and promoted among the masses. Lenin was a passionate chess player, and he created the platform for chess to be spread to the four corners of the great land mass of his country. And take a look at China. Quite suddenly, as China began to produce both male and female grandmasters, the economy gathered momentum and began ballooning. China is an economic giant today. Our sponsors did more than sponsor chess this year. They sponsored the development of a nation. They sponsored a platform from which a new discipline will be shared among those who play the game. They sponsored a new beginning, and who knows, perhaps a new culture of intelligent and structured thinking among ourselves. During the year also, the media were lavish in their coverage of chess, especially for the National Championships. The newspapers and television stations worked in a vigorous national effort to promote the ancient game and reached people in some very remote locations in Guyana. If our sponsors and the media can continue to help us reach people, and spread the gospel of the rewards to be gained from playing chess, we would owe them an immeasurable debt of thanks. For next year, our minds are set on attending the 2008 Chess Olympiad in Germany. We will be channelling our energies in that direction. We will also be concentrating on the Inter-Guiana Games. Simultaneously, we will be moving forward with activities to promote the game in schools, and training vigorously for the inevitable foreign competition. In time, we would produce a grandmaster, and then we shall determine for sure whether having a grandmaster has anything to do with economic development. In time we will know. Happy New Year!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...