Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Disagreement Behind the Scenes

The people of Goddesschess are generally a pretty unified group because of our shared vision, but with strong personalities disagreements occasionally do happen and when they do well, watch out. dondelion and I are in the middle of one right now, stemming from this week's Random Round-up that he put up at Goddesschess on Sunday night. He thought it might be - well, I don't know what - to publish our email exchanges on the subject. To show that we're human and we disagree? Oh, I've got it - to show that he's a numbnut and I'm a bitch, and that the road to putting together a website (for 10 years in May, 2009) isn't always a piece of cake... So, here are our email exchanges - he's an hour eastward of my location, so keep that in mind with the time stamps: 10/5/08 11:52 p.m. HOLA! RR is up a bit late - and so was I. Getting this week's edition done was a marathon 12 hour event. My head hurts!!! Maybe my hat is on too tight? must hit the sack!Cheers to all and congratulations on the new homestead Georgia! a bientot Don I didn't see this email until I got home from work last night. 10/6/08 6:01 p.m. Hi Don, I'm sorry you put so much effort into this week's RR. I have many complaints about it. The horns depicted in the photo from the Persian dig, those ARE horns, NOT a goddess. That's the reason I did not publish the photograph at the Goddesschess blog when the story first showed up, because it's perfectly clear they are antelope or deer horns, NOT a carved goddess. I looked for the other references including any published photographs from the other dig mentioned and could not find a photograph of any goddess recovered at either Persian dig. This makes me extremely suspicious. Next, the link to "Ishtar" is to a general message board and it's impossible to determine under which subject "Ishtar" may have posted - what about a link directly to her post? But why go that way at all? Using an unknown poster as authority for anything??? None of those photographs are provenanced! They could be total fakes or totally misrepresent what she says they are representing. Frankly, that one goddess does not looked "horned" to me at all - the ancients certainly knew how to depict horns, Don. If those "globs" on either side of her head are anything, it's coiled up hair, rather like Princess Leia's style. I do NOT believe the "Sorcerer" painting is an authentic representation. Why the big difference in clarity between the image you published at Goddesschess RR and the image published at the link you gave, which is fuzzy and faded? Did you check to see if there are any other photographs of this image on the internet from better sources? Also, I think there are decent authorities out there to cite with respect to the well-known belief of shamans being able to "transform" into animals, why cite to a blog? Thank you Ishtar? Who IS this person? For all you know, you could be thanking someone we would NOT want to give any credibility to whatsoever. Please Don! And then you jumped to Anahita? Sorry to be so picky and critical. I don't think it's a good job, not up to the caliber of other RRs you've done. It looks and feels strained and uncertain and does not hang together for me. I'd much prefer you just stick to reporting archaeological news then trying to do "themed" presentations that take a hell of a lot more explanation and material to hang together than what's available for you at RR. (rest of email on another subject) Jan 6:01 p.m. P.S. "Ishtar" is wrong about the date of the Venus of Willendorf - she is at least 25,000 years old, not 13,000 years old. Don's reply: 10/6/08 7:54 p.m. Hi Jan Well - I knew what I was doing had some risk involved. I took it on faith that the published article (as per your C/P of the description - which i verified by checking the actual press release) was indeed a "goddess" - and it could well be, given the prevalence of horned goddesses in general and the pics Ishtar included in her post at Archaeologica drew a number of solid comparisons that Noury's PHd research confirmed. For some reason I couldn't pick up the page url from the actual section she posted on and just gave the generic url. There would have been problems with the exact page anyway, since a reader at g-chess would have had to scroll down the Archaeolgica site to find the exact reference to her post on their message board. If anything, I should return there, log in and let her know that her info impressed me enough to rearrange it on our R&R page with few edits. I did find one canard - but the rest was solid enough. BTW, there is no mention of the Wallendorf [sic] Venus made in any section of of Ishtar's entry. She is referring to a similar Indian icon which I recognized is dffferent from the much older one you are referring to. Combined, they propose a 19,000 year carry over of one singularly important tradition. Pretty amazing - but no less so than the use of antelope horns as a pan-global signature for shamans in general. I closed in on some Siberian and Tlingit info, found several shaman's antlers and thought it would be redundant to include more of the same at R&R. The date, provenance and so forth of the Indian goddess icon I could not verify independently. I merely took it on faith that she was being truthful since the rest of her synopsis was - to the best of my knowledge - accurate and displayed understanding of iconic sharing and evolution among primordial Egyptian, Persian and Indian cultures. I was skeptical about the "horns" of this Indian gal as well. Nonetheless, this is a good example of how iconic form can morph into approximation. Details of the self same "cleft" are almost of secondary importance since I could have explained that two headed or forked icons represent the two genders responsible for all creation - the demiurgic yin-yang/ linga-yoni aspect of the whole chain of earthly procreation and that the image therefore implied hermaphroditic characteristics as well - a common theme in ancient ritual art. It is also of specific interest to goddeschess because the entwining serpent aspect contracts around Ganesha (al pil) and is part of his personal myth. How he acquires this ancient property is explained in Indian religious lore - and it is actually a humorous tale. Now we have specific evidence that Genesha recalls pre-neolithic iconography and so, this indian icon is therefore very important to the background of chess and chaturanja. Will other readers "get" this? Maybe yes maybe no. Also the "mala" beads representing the entwining snakes fall into the same category of iconic license. Aside from the Indian "devi" we already know Hathor's menat necklace, menat offerings and the expository ritual framework of senet are conjoined in a way that suggest "chess". How many people know this? Probably very few. It was frustrating trying to find any further info on the Kermanshah "horns". I dug deep and just got clones of the same article. Ishtar's commentary was the only one to venture anything pertinent or interesting. Better than nothing - and a fair appraisal of how the iconic Mary is sanitized and shorn of earlier shamanic traits via latter day athropomorphism. Some people will get this and some wont. At least we have not offended anyone with that inclusion. Besides, it states a fact. I chose the artistic re-rendering of the Trois Freres pic for clarity - but could have selected the original I suppose. I was handling lots of data and his page provided a shortcut with good visual content. Click the thumbnail pic on the source page and it opens up into a much larger one. I took the large one and scaled it down. It might not be the original, but the info about it was accurate. Anahita was not a blind leap onto nowhere. Noury's article clearly states that her icon is found at Kermanshah where these ancient "horns" appear. Is it coincidence that Anihita's earliest representations appear in the same location? In any case, this reference draws the entire gist of this week's RR full circle and makes a statement about Avestan incorporation of Anahita's myth as being, like Ganesha, a syncretic compoound of earlier orientations - which is of course, very apropos to the idea of a Persian origin of chess. Is she, like other goddess, a possible representation of the actual chess board itself? Her titulary aspects do not conflict with that assumption and I was deeply gratified to find a PhD who could include significant details Wikipedia missed. Now I think we should post this e-mail up at the blog and include a reciprocal url at g-chess. At least that give g-chess readers a means of grappling with the same problems you faced.... I think it's cool that we have internal controversy and show how we can deal with it in a constructive way. I suggest you post something to the effect that "Jan Xena Calls Wallace to the Carpet and Wallace Respectfully Replies". It's OK to do that you know. You ARE entitled to shout "Off with his head!!!" - (lol!) and it might actually be a good thing to show that we actually do question one another from time to time... genuine human behavior at the very least... What say you? a bientot Don Are you getting bored yet? No? Here's my reply: 10/6/08 8:11 p.m. Yes, I will publish my email and your response at the blog. Here is a direct QUOTE from Goddesschess that specifically refers to the VENUS OF WILLENDORF with a date of 13000 BC. You cannot trust a person who cannot get his or her dates correct about such an iconic and well known goddess symbol, Don. It's 25000 BCE, NOT 13000 BCE. So don't tell me that I'm imagining things that aren't there. Learn to read your own work, mister. But it doesn't make sense that we have preserved images of goddesses going back to the 13000 BC (Venus of Willendorf) but none for the most famous of all until more than three centuries after the Christian era began. 8:18 p.m. P.S. Precisely because you could NOT find any confirmation that the deer horns were, in fact, a goddess, SHOULD mean that you do not assume they were! We could get away with that bullshit in the early days when we didn't know any better, but we do know better now, don't we, after 9 years on the internet, and it's a cop out to use that photo and call it a goddess just because you wanted to - without stating up front that this is your opinion that these horns ARE the goddess carving referred to in the article. Bad form, Don. Don's reply, 10/6/08 8:35 p.m. Right - c.23,000 BCE. ?i just spotted it - and made a correction. It could have been a typo -? To verify the other figure - I dialed "Mehrgarh horned goddess" into a search and?found this... which is not a decisive match for Ishtar's Indus pic - - but - important nonetheless - the boobies my dear - they are consistent with the bishop and the canopic Egyptian piece and the Minoan art I have in tow... ? http://www.razarumi.com/documents-archive/mother-goddess-indus-valley/ THe Indian figure ?found - ?Archeological evidence from related cultures suggests that Indus Valley mythology was centered in the idea of female power and Goddess cults. There is direct evidence of Goddess dominance on Indus seals, which, like the seals of ancient Sumer, bring together goddesses, sacred snakes, and such symbols of male power and virility as horned bulls and rams and mythical animals such as unicorns. There is also ample indication on the seals of rituals involving sacrifice to what appears to be a horned goddess. At the ruins at the ancient settlement of Mehrgarh, dating back to as early as 6000 BCE, goddess figurines have been discovered that would seem to confirm the importance of the female power during the 600–2500 BCE period.? (source) [remainder of email on another topic] My reply: 10/6/08 8:53 p.m. That goddess figurine has more in common with the "bird" goddesses I've posted images at This and That that you continue to ignore. 23000 BCE is not the date of the "Venus" of Willendorf. How soon you forget - in July you published at Random Round-up a link to the - I believe - 100th anniversary of her discovery. Don't try to excuse shoddy posting with a typo. 13,000 BCE is wrong, and you know it. If that is wrong, what else did that person post that is also wrong. Our job these days is to not only tweak interest - it is also to verify. We aren't virgins in the woods anymore, and can't get away with bullshit - and shouldn't try and foist that off on our readers. [remainder of email on another topic] Jan Don's reply: 10/6/08 8:38 p.m. Jan - the article explicity stated the horns were a 'goddess". If I had included nothing else but the info from the article you provided that assumption would have been published at g-chess nonetheless... and Ishtar is also wondering about how antlers could be a goddess... My reply: 10/6/08 8:56 p.m. No, Don, it did not. Read it again. Don's reply: 10/6/08 8:53 p.m. More context of the "two headed - two horned" goddess here...http://www.crystalinks.com/induscivilization.html Crystallinks - but generally OK for general info... Harappa - in teracotta - srcoll [remainder of email on unrelated topics] Me: 10/6/08 9:00 p.m. Here is the text of the article: The first phase of archeological excavations at Sheikhi Abad mound in Iran's Kermanshah Province has yielded the statue of a goddess.The statute, which resembles a figurine previously found in Kermanshah's Sarab-Mort, is believed by experts to be a valuable source of information. Iranian and British archeologists, who studied the site for the first time in the past fifty years, also discovered nearly 50 botanical samples that can shed light on some of the mysteries of the Neolithic Age. Skeletal remains of red deer, goat, ram and fish were also found at the site, which archeologists hope will elucidate how animals were domesticated in those days. Previous studies had dated Sheikhi Abad mound to nine to ten thousand years ago. Archeologists believe the site was home to the earliest human settlers. Show me, exactly, where it says the goddess statue, was in the form of deer horns? IT DOES NOT. It DOES say that "skeletal remains of red deer...were also found at the site". Nothing to link the goddess statue to the remains of red deer. Jan Don: 10/6/08 9:47 p.m. "Show me, exactly, where it says the goddess statue, was in the form of deer horns? IT DOES NOT. It DOES say that "skeletal remains of red deer...were also found at the site". Nothing to link the goddess statue to the remains of red deer." I'm not sure what you mean by this. First off, I began with the press release. I didn't make that "horned" assumption, but the article leads directly towards it by publishing the pic in concert with the claim - however disputable. As I mentioned, and as is clear from the iconography of surrounding cultures - albeit much later - there is ample credence to that "horned" assumption as well - and granted, it could be many things but there is plenty of leeway and really lots of ways to interpret the symbolic aspect of a "Y" figure - like the Dogon "ladder" or the indigenous Egyptian "Y" which was her national symbol. It has obvious celestial connotations vis a vis "the descent of matter" from cosmic sources and it could even be related to the Ka upraised arms or the Minoan snake goddess... [portions of email deleted that were not on topic] I'm snarly - yeah - but I have a budding cold and reserve the right to be a stubborn old prick sometimes... If we want to rejoin the issue at RR there is always next week and endless opportunity to question the things the press feeds us... Me - things are getting quite testy now - can you tell: 10/6/08 9:01 p.m. Why not stop trying to justify copying and pasting shoddy work and fix the damn column. Write an article about your findings regarding horns and the goddess and publish it at Goddesschess, and put the energy you've spent trying to prove me wrong (which you did not) to good use. Jan And for good measure: 10/6/08 10:09 p.m. Jan - the article explicity stated the horns were a 'goddess". Those are your words, not mine. As far as the photograph goes, it does not show a goddess figurine - it shows a set of horns and a lot of dirt. Read the article again. Don't tell me that I don't know how to read, Don. The evidence tonight indicates that I read quite accurately, and you can't read your way out of paper sack. Jan The final word on the matter, from Don: 10/6/08 10:15 p.m. end ai kent spelz two gud neder... LOL! I haven't replied. This will be one of those disagreements that is never resolved.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

LOL! I for one am never bored - but as to whether I am boring or not? Let the reader decide!!

Resolution of this issue? Well, we COULD resolve it - but... I am going to hold the original press release responsible for having introduced a canard and possibly deceiving the entire world just by simple juxtaposition of a few paragraph's worth of information with a tiny photograph of "whatever" - antelope horns? - a wood carving of upraised bird's wings? - who really knows? And in fact, "Ishtar" was no less skeptical - as her final paragraph indicates.

I do appreciate that she unravelled a few important trans-national connections to the iconography in short order. What I find really irksome is that neither the original Iranian goddess discovery nor this new find are posted anywhere public. If these finds are so important why are they so unavailable? One can only suspect the possible motivations behind all this secrecy and there are several to choose from.

Either way, there are ancient religious texts that do acknowledge symbolic unitary connections linking the coiled serpent, tree of life (dual armed like the two headed goddess, the two antlers or a forked stick for that matter) and the surmounting eagle BTW. I cannot recall the exact source offhand, (Sumer I think) but compound imagery was the mode of explaining cosmogenesis and theogony in pre-literate and pari-literate times and we find the residue of similar explicatory "myths" in subsequent sets of icons such as Anahita, whose personification of a complete cornucopia is evident in her titulary associations with "water" and all living things.

Looking at the Anahita I posted at Random Round Up (a 200 BCE representation if I recall correctly) and comparing her to some earlier modalities, one might not pick up on the "corporate" embodiment of prior votive traits until several comparable objects and corresponding texts are laid out side by side.

It follows that iconic modifications and dislocations hidden in different ethnocentric forms of chess - al pil in particular - mirror this process while serving up impediments to scholarship. Of course, it doesn't help matters that press releases sometimes add to the confusion by issuing misleading montages, declaring "new discoveries" that later turn out to be forgeries and the like. After nine years working with the good, the bad and the downright ugly, our Partnership knows what a minefield we are walking through and sometimes a complete line of inquiry does blow up in one's face due to flawed or partial information we may only uncover well after the fact. I think we nipped some of the nastier consequences of the latest twist in the bud though...

It may not be much compensation, but at least we consistently refrain from pulling a Sarah Palin - the none too bright V.P. incumbent who somehow imagines "Afghanistan neighbours the USA". In fact, RR of October 5th was still well inside the ballpark even if we did not touch all the available bases - err... "hats"!

Overall, if anything was indeed mucked over or left out, I think we recouped nicely with these Blog posts. Even so, to my mind at least, whatever damage might have been done (or not) at RR appears minimal since the issues of conjecture and long throw connections are fairly clearly stated in the accompanying commentaries. However, if you think it s necessary I will publish an "erratum" at G-chess citing this blog as a corrective.

a bientot

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