Saturday, March 7, 2009

Dogs in War: Soochow

Ohmygoddess! Earlier today while I was watching "History Detectives" on PBS I saw a doggy mentioned in connection with a story of a U.S. Marine stationed in Shanghai just before the U.S. declared war on Japan on December 7, 1941. From what I recall from the "History Detectives" episode, Soochow was a stray boxer or bulldog mix who started showing up at the Marines' camp around dinner time every day, to chow down on scraps handed out by soft-hearted Marines. Soon, he was adopted as a sort of unofficial mascot of this particular group of "China Marines." When the Marines left Shangai, Soochow left with them. Later, Soochow was captured, along with this group of U.S. Marines, when Corregidor fell to the Japanese during WWII. Soochow went to prison camp along with his Marines. It is amazing to me that the Japanese did not kill him and eat him - not because of any innate cruelty (which I do not discount), but because by all accounts both Japanese personnel and Allied prisoners of war were nearly starving to death during most of WWII. I recall the number of "42 months" mentioned in the "History Detectives" show as the time Soochow and his Marines spent in prinson camp, which would be 3 1/2 years, although the article below mentions "nearly 3 years" in prison camp. Eventually the Marines and Soochow were liberated. Soochow was honorably discharged and given a home for the rest of his life at a Marine barracks in California. The following story mentions Soochow, and other faithful canine companions who took part in WWII, whether in deliberate service or otherwise. Here is a photo I found online of Soochow. He sure was ugly! Why am I crying? From the San Diego Union Tribune, Corps' canines carry on Marine dogs' first service came during World War II By Lillian Cox February 2, 2005 CAMP PENDLETON – Combat canines, the embodiment of the Marine Corps slogan, Semper Fi, or "Always Faithful," are the lesser-known heroes of the war in Iraq. Camp Pendleton is the largest base for Marine dogs in the United States. It is home to all West Coast dogs in the service and those working overseas. Camp Lejeune, N.C., is home base for all East Coast dogs in the Corps. The dogs are part of the Military Police, and are trained to perform patrol and bomb-and drug-detection duties. Each dog is assigned to one handler for a two-year rotation. In Iraq, the dog and handler work and live together. For security reasons, Marine Corps officials declined to say how many dogs are based at Camp Pendleton, but Rex, Jari, Nero, Dingo, Brik and Ama are among those currently in the kennels there. They are scheduled to return to Iraq in March, but could be called up for duty earlier. The official Marine Corps dog originally was the Doberman pinscher, but today the Marines use only German shepherds and a variety of Belgian shepherd called the Belgian Malinois. "The Marine Corps began having problems with Dobermans and Rottweilers," said Sgt. Greg Massey, the kennel master at Camp Pendleton. "They are good attack dogs, but not good at detection." Although Marine dogs are required to be aggressive and protective, that doesn't mean they have to be large, Massey said. The Belgian Malinois is a medium-size dog, weighing 40 to 80 pounds. "Size doesn't mean much. You can have 50 pounds that can leap and grab your chest, arm, back, leg, anything," he said. "If it grabs your hamstring, I don't care if you're (former Miami Dolphins running back) Ricky Williams – you're going down." Massey said he prefers female dogs because they tend to be more loyal than males. [Emphasis added.] Dogs working in all branches of the U.S. military are recruited and trained at the Military Working Dog Center at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. Most are bred in Europe, but some come from local breeders. Lackland also has started its own breeding program. Dogs are selected based on endurance, intelligence, obedience and willingness to work. All dogs receive their names at Lackland and spend two years in training before being transferred to Camp Pendleton. "When the new dogs arrive at (the) fleet, we polish them and get rid of areas of weakness," said Sgt. Vincent Amato, chief trainer at the base. "If they are timid, we make them more aggressive. Like any human, it takes practice and training. "If a dog doesn't want to work, we encourage him with toys and praise. A handler plays a big part if a dog is going to work or not." Marines interested in working as handlers go through a competitive process conducted by the Military Police. "As a trainer, you are critiqued just like a dog," Amato said. "If you are thin-skinned, you will have a hard time." Amato said the Marine Corps goes to great lengths to match the dog's personality with that of the handler. "Dogs learn just like we do," he said. "If the dog's not learning, it's because the handler isn't training the right way. It takes time, practice and patience." Massey said choke chains and pinch collars are only used to give a dog a correction. "If the handler abuses a dog, he's out of here," he said. Army veterinarians care for dogs in all branches of the military, assigning their working weight and establishing their diet. "Working dogs are known to get bloated, probably from playing too soon and too hard after eating," Massey said. "For this reason, they are fed twice a day." The Marine Corps began using dogs as messengers and scouts during World War II, recognizing that they could reduce casualties and find the enemy in hiding places. Dogs were donated by civilians eager to contribute to the war effort. Two organizations, Dogs for Defense and the Doberman Pinscher Club of America, provided many animals. "Some dogs also were obtained from Army training centers, but as soon as they became Marines all the recruits were called 'Devil Dogs,' " James A. Cox wrote in Marine Corps League Magazine in 1989. The Marine War Dog Training Company was based at Marine Barracks New River, N.C., which later became Camp Lejeune. Clyde Henderson, a high school chemistry teacher from Ohio and chairman of the Doberman Pinscher Club's training committee, was recruited to lead the 1st Marine Dog Platoon into combat. "After a five-day cross-country train trip, the 1st Marine Dog Platoon led by Henderson went into temporary quarters at Camp Pendleton," Cox wrote. "With the help of Carl Spitz, owner of a famous Hollywood dog training school, Henderson trained the platoon intensely for a few weeks while awaiting a convoy, making up the rules as he went along, since he had no precedents to guide him." The dog platoon joined up with the 2nd and 3rd Marine Raider Battalions for an assault on Bougainville, an island in the South Pacific, that began Nov. 1, 1943. Six dogs were recognized for heroism on Bougainville. Among them was Caesar, a 3-year-old German shepherd who was donated by his owner in New York City. A messenger dog, Caesar received a promotion to sergeant in recognition of his bravery. On Jan. 23, 1944, The Plain Dealer of Cleveland published this account of his record: "Caesar was wounded on the third day and had to be carried back on a stretcher. While with his company, Caesar made nine official runs between the company and the command post, and on at least two of these runs he was under fire." Caesar also forced a Japanese soldier to drop a hand grenade he was about to hurl at the dog and his handler, the newspaper reported. Other dog platoons saw action on Guam, Saipan, Peleliu, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. A retired Marine, Sgt. Major "Iron" Mike Mervosh, worked with animals from the 1st Marine Dog Platoon on Iwo Jima. "The dogs could smell the enemy out," Mervosh said. "If a dog stood still, you were in trouble because you knew the enemy was right there." Soochow was a veteran war dog beloved by many San Diegans. After World War II, he retired at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot. On Oct. 29, 1946, a parade was held to honor his ninth birthday. "Soochow started out as the mascot of B Company, 1st Battalion, 4th Regiment, stationed in Shanghai in 1937," said Ellen Guillemette, archivist at the depot's Command Museum. "Soochow hit the foxholes with the other Marines during the siege of Corregidor, and fought alongside his buddies. He was captured when the island surrendered on May 6, 1942. "Soochow spent nearly three years in various prisoner-of-war camps. He and 17 Marines were liberated by American Rangers in February 1945. He held the Philippine Campaign, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign, Good Conduct, World War II Victory and American Defense medals." After a career that typically lasts about 10 years, today's military dogs are rewarded with a variety of retirement options. Many are available for adoption by previous handlers, veterinary technicians and the public. Some are used by law enforcement agencies or returned to Lackland, where they are used to train new handlers. Demonstrations by Marine working dogs are offered at Camp Pendleton. For more information, contact the community relations office at (760) 725-5569. Lillian Cox is a freelance writer who lives in Encinitas.
Soochow is mentioned at this website dedicated to the China Marines: Then in early February (1945), Bilibid Prison was liberated by an advance patrol of the Army's 37th Infantry. The Japanese had left only hours before leaving the prison unguarded and quickly the relief of being liberated began to overwhelm the four hundred POWs as well as a couple hundred civilian prisoners. In this group of liberated prisons was the mascot of the 4th Marines, Soochow. That small mongrel dog from Shanghai made it through the shelling of Corregidor, the disease and starvation of prison camp and now was free with his fellow China Marines. Here is a personal account of Clarence Clough's experiences in WWII that mentions Soochow in passing - and the name of the Marine who allegedly smuggled Soochow out of Shanghai when the China Marines were shipped out: In Shanghai there is a river or creek they call SooChow Creek. Much of our guard duty was at bridges across SooChow Creek. One day a stray dog wandered into our barracks. It was a bull-dog type. We fed him and he stayed and we made him our mascot. We named him SooChow. Somehow when we left Shanghai at the start of World War II, a fellow in our company named Bob Snyder smuggled SooChow onto the ship and he went with us to the Philippines. By some miracle SooChow survived the war and the prison camp and was brought back to America at the end of the war. In Shanghai, as our mascot, he wore a vest with sergeant's stripes. When he got to the United States, the Marine commander promoted him to major, retired him and assigned a man to take care of him until he eventually died.

Lots of Chess News to Catch Up

Hola! Today it's wet and dreary outside; it started raining about 4 a.m. and has been raining since; right now it's slowing down just a bit so I may venture out to the supermarket and get some fresh air. This time of year I just can't stand being cooped up indoors for too long - cabin fever is in full force! I spent the past couple of hours updating the investment club's records and getting ready to do our taxes. We've been buying selected companies and while the value of our portfolio continues to go south (we're down 21.46% overall) we are confident that once the economy starts turning around our bargain-basement purchases will blossom like the lush roses they are and we'll be laughing all the way to the bank :)) The Ataturk Women Masters has started - the first of the Women's Grand Prix events (we'll see how far the Women's Grand Prix goes); the 2009 European Individual Women's Chess Championship has also started. I'm behind reporting at Chess Femme News a good 2 months, so today I will concentrate on recording past events at CFN and won't be blogging too much. The bathroom remains unpainted, and it's bare walls are crying out to me - but I discovered, much to my horror, that all of my painting equipment is gone! I was totally baffled until I deduced that I must have taken all of it over to Ann's house when we painted her bedroom, shortly after she moved in. And I never got it back. So - I need to venture out to the dollar store to see if they have a paint pan and rollers and if they do not, then I'll go next store to the Ace Hardware store. Well, it was time I replaced some of that ancient stuff anyway. But this is the type of day where I just want to snuggle under a down throw and take a nice long nap, and not do much of anything. So - I shall valiantly struggle against my nature for as long as possible, and then settle underneath that down throw. Maybe light a fire - yeah, that sounds good.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Women's Grand Prix: Ataturk Tournament

Sigh. The New York Times is behind the times on the chess news. By now, everyone who cares under the sun knows that the first leg of the new FIDE Women's Grand Prix is the Ataturk Women Masters, which was such a spectacular success last year in showcasing some of the top women chessplayers in the world, is going up against the 2009 European Individual Women's Chess Championship. What's new? FIDE screwed up big time - but the Mighty Kirsan does not care. Hell, he screwed over the male players in the 2008-2009 Grand Prix cycle, he certainly has no qualms screwing over the best female players in the world. After all, so the reasoning goes, nobody pays attention to them.

A Squirrel's Life

"Sneaky squirrel" - heck - he's just trying to get a meal like everyone else! Times are tough! People aren't putting out nuts and sunflower seeds like they used to - prices keep increasing and incomes keep decreasing. This darned Depression we're in has done in more than one squirrel over the long, hard winter 0f 2008-2009.

Amenhotep III Statues Found

Hawass is like the Scarlet Pimpernel - he's here, he's there, he's everywhere... From Archaeologists find statues of ancient Egypt king Thu Mar 5, 2009 1:29pm GMT CAIRO (Reuters) - A team of Egyptian and European archaeologists have discovered two statues of King Amenhotep III, who ruled Egypt roughly 3,400 years ago, the Supreme Council for Antiquities said Thursday. Chief Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawaas said in a statement the first statute was made of black granite, while the second depicts the king in the shape of a Sphinx, a figure with the head of a man and the body of a lion. Amenhotep III presided over an era which saw a renaissance in Egyptian art. He was succeeded by his son Akhenaten, the sun-worshipping pharaoh credited by some for starting the world's first known monotheistic religion. (Writing by Alaa Shahine; Editing by Phakamisa Ndzamela) © Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved.

Urban Legends

I read this article in this morning's Journal/Sentinel and found it so funny and so pathetic at the same time, I want to share it with you! How can people believe some of this stuff? On Monday one of my sisters forwarded an email to sign an online petition to Congress to STOP passage of a bill that would allow illegal aliens to collect social security, blah blah blah. Well, that would be a real trick, wouldn't it, since most illegals don't pay into the system and even U.S. citizens can't collect when they don't pay into the system the requisite number of "quarters"! Helloooooo! Do you really think your Senators and Congressmen would be stoopid enough to do that - worse than signing their own death warrants, hah! I get this junk in my email all the time, it's unbelievable what people read, believe, and pass on. Thank Goddess for I've got to say though, that beer pong game sounds intriguing... Oh baby, urban legends can be really coo coo Posted: Mar. 5, 2009 by Jim Stingl Life would be so dull without urban legends that rile us up and refuse to go away. A woman in Menomonie, Wis., is the latest to complain that a talking doll selling at Wal-Mart is trying to recruit children to become little Muslims. Lois Debee told her hometown Dunn County News last week that she thinks the doll says, "Islam is the light." To me it sounds more like, "Is mom in the lake," which probably proves I'm not nearly paranoid enough. Debee marched right down to her local Wal-Mart to raise a ruckus over the doll with the ridiculously long name, Little Mommy Real Loving Baby Cuddle & Coo. She found out they had pulled the dolls off the shelves late last year when this controversy erupted, but they found their way back., my favorite myth-busting site, says this is all nonsense. It cites an experiment by the not-well-known Gaston Gazette in which people unfamiliar with the hubbub were asked to listen to the doll. None heard a call to Islam. Mattel, which owns Fisher-Price, the doll's maker, issued a statement saying "Mama" is the only word the doll means to say. The rest is infantile babbling and cooing that Mattel says will be eliminated in future production. "Because the original soundtrack is compressed into a file that can be played through an inexpensive toy speaker, actual sounds may be imprecise or distorted," the company said. Don't tell the kids, but it sounds like their defense is essentially that the doll is badly flawed. Nonetheless, Dunn County News got an exciting headline out of the story: "Menomonie Wal-Mart pulls alleged pro-Islam doll from shelf." Once a story starts circulating on the Internet, it's hard to stop. No, it's not true that if you're feeling threatened at an ATM and you enter your pin number backward that it causes police to be dispatched, Snopes found. And, no, the owner of a Dunkin' Donuts in New York did not refuse to place a memorial flier for a U.S. serviceman in his shop or say it should be placed in a trash can "where the rest of our soldiers belong." And don't believe the video circulating on YouTube that says a camera and microphone are hidden in digital TV converter boxes, giving our nosy government access to the exciting events in our living rooms. Last week my wife passed along an e-mail from a friend about a family - unnamed, as was the location - that is losing its home and seeking a loving home for two pet Labradors, Cookie and Coco. A Milwaukee phone number was included below. A quick check with Snopes told me the plea, from a Los Angeles woman, originally was sent to a few close friends but went viral when it was forwarded by someone to a pet Web site. Don't worry, the dogs found a home. But the well-meaning Milwaukee woman who included her number on a Craigslist posting about the dogs told me she was inundated with calls. She was surprised to find it wasn't a local family in need of help. Fuzzy details help any Internet story gain strength. Finally, news reports recently cited a warning from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that playing the drinking game, beer pong, can give you herpes. Fox News even demonstrated how the game is played. Beer pong, at most, can cause members of the opposite sex to appear more attractive. But the story about herpes, the CDC scolds, did not come from them and is not true.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

How Christians Poached "Pagan" Images

Overview article at BAR Online: Borrowing from the Neighbors: Pagan Imagery in Christian Art by Sarah K. Yeomans: The use by the Christians of pagan sacred imagery is not necessarily confined solely to the Greco-Roman world. The cultural and religious syncretism that took place in Greek and Roman society with other, even older civilizations meant that many early Christians had a wealth of artistic examples that may have originated outside of their immediate cultural landscape. One example is an Egyptian artistic motif: Scholars have long hypothesized that the image of Mary nursing or holding the Christ child close to her breast is an iconographic image borrowed from the ancient Egyptian motif of the goddess Isis nursing the infant Horus.

Woman's Recipe Predated Accepted Cure for Scurvy

Scurvy is relatively rare today, but in the bad old days it killed thousands every year, and no one understood what was happening or why. Story from the Mail Online, Amazing notebook shows how woman found a cure for scurvy half a century before the doctors By Daily Mail Reporter Last updated at 1:20 PM on 05th March 2009 She could have gone down in history as the woman who developed a cure for scurvy, the scourge of sailors the world over. Ebbot Michell seems to have concocted a remedy decades before physician James Lind published his revolutionary Treatise Of The Scurvy in 1753 - but her name is forgotten and appears in no medical text book. Her recipe, in a newly discovered handwritten book dated 1707, recommends mixing the extracts of various plants with a plentiful supply of orange juice, white wine and beer. If the Navy and merchant companies had followed Ebbot Michell's advice, the vitamin C in the concoction would have saved thousands of sailors' lives - even though the efficacy of adding alcohol may be questionable. Lind's later work on the cure and prevention of scurvy was prompted by the extraordinary round-the-world voyage of Commander George Anson in the early 1740s, in which only 145 men out of 1,300 arrived back home, the majority of them dying of scurvy. Even so, it was not until 1795 that the Admiralty followed his recommendations. Ebbot Michell's 'Recp.t for the Scurvy' involved pounding '3 handfulls of watter Cresses, the like quantity of scurvy Grass [rich in vitamin C], & Like quantity of brooklime [a water plant], one handfull of bettony [a woodland plant used as a nerve tonic] (and) half a handfull of wormwood' [an aromatic leaf long used in natural cures]. The mix should be added to a quart of white wine, covered and allowed to stand for 12 hours before the liquid is strained into a bottle. Then the 'juce of Eight oranges' should be added and the patient should 'every morning take eight spoonfulls with a draught of ale'. Michell adds: 'This is a present remedy,' meaning a new cure for scurvy. The well-thumbed, 100-page household book, entitled simply 'Ebbot Michell Her Book 1707' and containing largely medicinal and herbal recipes, was found in a house in Hasfield, Glos, and is expected to fetch about £600 at Bonhams in London on March 24. Manuscripts specialist Simon Roberts said: 'It's a fascinating read. With the exception of the alcohol, the writer appears to be spot on with her recipe for scurvy.' Ebbot Michell, believed to have been a Cornishwoman, also included a prototype absinthe, the highly alcoholic drink nicknamed the 'green fairy' in the decadent late 19th century - also containing wormwood. She writes: 'Steep a branch or 2 of Comon woormwood in half a pint of good white wine, Close Covered, on some pot all night and in the morning strain it through a Clear Linen Cloth & put in a little sugar and warm it and so drink it. It is marvellous good for it gives a good stomack and free from the worms.' She also recommends the herb sage for headaches and prescribes 'Flower de Luce for the dropsie' as well as providing recipes for 'The King's Evil' (scrofula) and 'For a horse that is swoln'. ******************************************************************************** I find it amazing that the story does not mention how rare it was for a woman to be able to write down her own recipes in 1704! Even among the nobility and gentry education of girls in reading and writing was by no means an accepted course, in an age when many men of the upper classes were illiterate! Who was Ebbot Mitchell? What was her story? We shall probably never know.

Who Domesticated the Horse?

From the St. Paul-Minneapolis Horses domesticated (milked and bridled) earlier than thought Last update: March 5, 2009 - 7:26 PM It's a long way from Kazakhstan to Kentucky, but the journey to the Derby may have started among a pastoral people on the Kazakh steppes who appear to have been the first to domesticate, bridle and perhaps ride horses -- around 3500 B.C., a millennium earlier than previously thought. Evidence indicates the Botai culture used horses as beasts of burden -- and as a source of meat and milk as early as 5,500 years ago, said a team led by Alan Outram of England's University of Exeter. "This is significant because it changes our understanding of how these early societies developed," said Outram, whose discovery is described in today's journal Science. Domestication of the horse was an immense breakthrough -- bringing advancements in communications, transportation, farming and warfare. Compared with dogs, domesticated as much as 15,000 years ago, horses are relatively late arrivals in the human relationship. "It is not so much the domestication of the horse that is important, but the invention of horseback riding," said anthropologist David Anthony of Hartwick College in Oneonta, N.Y. "When people began to ride, it revolutionized human transport." Outram's team developed a collection of evidence for horses being domesticated by the Botai, including studies that showed horses from the site had tooth wear similar to that caused by bits in modern horses and evidence that ancient ceramic pots once contained mare's milk. Said Outram: "This is, apart from being fascinating, something of a smoking gun for domestication -- would you milk a wild horse?" More from The Mail Online, The original cowboys: Discovery shows Kazakhstanis were the first to domesticate horses By David Derbyshire Last updated at 7:14 PM on 05th March 2009 It is best known as the home of the fictional, and inept, television presenter Borat. But Kazakhstan now has a new claim to fame as the place where mankind first domesticated the horse. British scientists have unearthed a prehistoric 'farm' where horses were tamed on the Kazakhstan steppes more than 5,500 years ago - around 1,000 years earlier than was previously thought. Rest of article.

Diplomat Arrested in Attempted Antiquities Theft

Story from CAIS: Latest Archaeological and Cultural News of Iran and the Iranian World South Korean Diplomat Arrested with a Stolen Stone Relief from Persepolis while Leaving Iran 04 March 2009 LONDON, (CAIS) -- The 3rd Secretary of the South Korean Embassy in Iran has reportedly tried to smuggle a priceless relic dating to the Achaemenid dynastic era out of Iran. Customs officials in Shiraz Airport found the relic in the South Korean diplomat's luggage during check-in, before the diplomat succeeded in transporting the priceless relic of Persepolis, Persian daily Tabnak reported on Tuesday. Iranian Police, however, had to release the diplomat due to his diplomatic immunity, the report added. “Customs officials in Shiraz Airport found an Achaemenid relief depicting the top section of head of an Achaemenid soldier, weigh 2kg from Persepolis in the luggage of the 3rd Secretary of the South Korean Embassy in Iran,” Shiraz public and revolutionary prosecutor, Jaber Banshi told IRNA. “The relic has been delivered to the provincial cultural heritage office, but no cultural official has filed a complaint so far,” he added. The S. Korean embassy declined to comment on the issue when contacted by Press TV. The customs officials sent the stolen piece back to the ruins of Persepolis. It is not clear how the diplomat obtained the relic, despite the claim by IRNA that the he picked it up while visiting the Persepolis.

More Egypt Photos from Carmen

Alexandria Biblioteca, el exterior
Edificio auxliar al lado de la Biblioteca

More Egypt Pictures from Carmen

More photos from Carmen during her Christmas, 2008 holiday in Egypt. Kom-Ombo in daylight.
Com Ombo at night.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Gobekli Tepi: Eden?

Hola darlings! At first I thought this was one of those "Don't eat that, Elmer" stories - but when I got down to the veerrrrryyyyyy end, I realized it was a book review - only it didn't say it was a book review! Regardless, the images are great, and the recap of the events surrounding the discovery of Gobekli Tepi by a Kurdish shepherd in 1994 is engrossing. Do I think that the 13,000 year old ruins at Gobekli Tepi are the "Garden of Eden"? I have no idea and, frankly, it's not a question I'm particularly interested in. What I do find intriguing is this image of a lone fox. In a flight of imagination - could this stone form be a prototype for a pawn, just squared off, not rounded as much later versions of game pieces? And could this lone ancient fox running across the stone with his or her tail flowing out behind be the prototype for the "dog" game pieces that were used in the Middle East and in Greece thousands of years later? The use of canines in many ancient games and references to ancient games suggests the standard hypothesis of chess derived from "hunt" games, as dogs were most probably used for hunting from the time they were first domesticated. Suggestive...

More on Discovery of Harappan Burials

From The Times of India Harappan-era cemetery found 4 Mar 2009, 0239 hrs IST, Deepender Deswal, TNN FARMANA(Rohtak): In an extraordinary archaeological finding, a big housing complex that matured during the Harappan era has been discovered in this little known village about 40 km from Rohtak. A cemetery belonging to the same civilization which existed about 3500-3000 BC has also been found at an adjacent site, where nearly 70 skeletons have been unearthed so far. The team of archaeologists from Research Institute for Humanity and Nature, Kyoto Japan, Deccan College, Pune and Maharshi Dayanand University, Rohtak, discovered the habitation site spread over 18.5 hectare. It has four big complexes and a cemetery spread over about three hectare. "This is easily among the largest habitation locality of the Harappan era. We have so far excavated one complex which has 26 rooms, 3 to 4 kitchens, an equal number of bathrooms and a courtyard in the centre. The size of the rooms vary from 6x6 to 16x20," said Prof Manmohan Singh of MD University. The excavations indicate that this region was part of the 5,000 years old Indus Valley culture, considered one of the most advanced urban civilizations in ancient times. The digging of the burial ground has revealed many facts which would help in studying the lives of the Harappan people. Vivek Dangi, a research scholar associated with graveyard excavation, categorized the burials into three types. In the Indus Valley tradition, people used to bury the dead with things that belonged to them. In secondary burial, they were interred with a few bones and other articles. In the third type of burials, only stuff like pots, goblets, bakers, studs, miniature pots, plates, bowls were found that indicates they used to perform symbolic burial of the missing people. He says the skeleton of a middle-aged woman had three shell bangles, two copper bangles, copper earrings, beads and ornaments on the feet, indicating her wealthy status. Nilesh, a research scholar from Deccan College, Pune, says they had been working on the site for last three years. "We work for about three months in a year and our present phase is likely to end next month."

Armenian "Team" to play in 2009 EIWCC

Armenian chess players to participate in 2009 European Individual Women’s Chess Championship 04.03.2009 13:09 GMT+04:00 /PanARMENIAN.Net/ Armenian chess players will participate in 2009 European Individual Women’s Chess Championship. It is an 11-round Swiss beginning March 7 and completing March 21, 2009. The playing time will be 90 minutes for 40 moves plus 30 minutes for the rest of the game with an increment of 30 seconds per move, starting from move one. The Individual European Women’s Championship 2009 is a qualification event for the next World Championship for Women. According to FIDE regulations and the decision of the ECU Board, 14 players will qualify. The top 20 players of the EIWCC will divide a prize fund of 70 000 euro.The Armenian team includes Lilit Mkrtchyan, Nelly Aghinyan, Lilit Galoyan and Siranush Andreasyan.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

2009 Isbanc Ataturk Women's Masters Tournament

Great publicity for the second edition of the Isbanc Ataturk Women's Masters - first (and hopefully not the last) in the Women's Grand Prix series put together by FIDE: From Top female chess players to converge in Turkey The top-rated female chess players will converge to Istanbul to participate in the 2nd Turkey Is Bankasi Ataturk FIDE Female Masters' Chess Tournament. Tuesday, 03 March 2009 15:20 The tournament will take place at the Is Bankasi's Kibele Gallery in Istanbul from March 6 to 19. World Chess Federation (FIDE) President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov will attend the tournament which is regarded as the first event of the FIDE Woman Grand Prix series 2009/2010. In a statement posted in its web-site, FIDE said, "the Turkish Chess Federation is one of the most active national federations and has already organized in 2009 the Mediterranean Championships and the Turkish Youth Championships with 996 players. Turkey has also hosted some other prestigious FIDE tournaments this year including the World Men's Team Championship, the World Youth Championships and the world U-16 Olympiad. TCF is granted to host the 2012 World Chess Olympiad Istanbul, during the 79th FIDE Congress in Dresden on 24th November 2008." The FIDE Women Grand Prix is a new series of elite tournaments which will be organized by FIDE and Global Chess. There will be 6 legs over two years in various countries around the world with three tournaments every year. The next tournament is planned in Nanjing, China at the end of September. The winner of each tournament will win 6,500 euros out of a prize fund of 40,000 euros and the overall winner of the series will win a further 15,000 euros at the end of the series. Participants of the Istanbul Tournament are Humpy Koneru (India), Hou Yifan (China), Antoaneta Stefanova (Bulgaria), Pia Cramling (Sweden), Marie Sebag (France), Xue Zhao (China), Maia Chiburdanidze (Georgia), Zhu Chen (Qatar), Elina Danielian (Armenia), Shen Yang (China), Zeinab Mamedyarova (Azerbaijan) and Betul Cemre Yildiz (Turkey) AA

CSI Techniques Disprove Legend

This is an absolutely fascinating story proving, once again, that truth is stranger than fiction! From Northern News Services Online Science rewrites Northern legend Andrew Livingstone Northern News Services Published Monday, March 2, 2009 AKLAVIK - A soon to be released documentary will prove Canadians hoping they inherited some rebel blood from the infamous Mad Trapper dead wrong. Airing in May, the Hunt for the Mad Trapper will prove the outlaw, otherwise known as Albert Johnson, is either American or Scandinavian, not Canadian as originally thought. Carrie Gour, Myth Merchant Films producer, said the film will rewrite history. "The oral histories and written history all fits," she said. "It tells us that people who spoke with him, when he did speak, said he had a Scandinavian accent. Others said he was Johnny Johnson from the Midwest U.S. It was interesting the science matched what information was there." Albert Johnson shot and killed an RCMP officer in 1932 and led the Mounties on a six week chase through the Arctic before he was finally shot dead. RCMP hired Wop May, a First World War aviator and one of the first bush pilots in the North to track Johnson. May found Johnson's trail along Eagle River and the RCMP were able to intercept him. Johnson was shot nine times before he died. A book written by Dick North called "Trackdown" identified Johnson not as Albert, but as John Johnson, a fugitive from the U.S. Midwest while other theories pointed to Sigvald from Volda, a Norwegian man. No one knows for certain who he was or why he was in the North. "The oxygen isotope science is primarily used to build history for unidentified human remains," Gour said. "It helps to geographically locate where someone inhabited." The testing looks at two different oxygen isotopes found in our water systems - Oxygen-16 and Oxygen-18. Dr. Lynne Bell, a forensic anthropologist from Simon Fraser University who performed the testing for the film said the ratio between these two isotopes is different depending on geographic location. The Atomic Energy Commission has been monitoring these oxygen values around the world and have been able to establish a map system as to where ratios are geographically situated. The mapping was originally done for global warming studies. "Archeologists took it on because they were interested in migration," Bell said. "It was only recently picked up by forensics because it has a huge potential to help with missing persons. "I can't give an exact address, but I can point to a broad band of where this person would have come from, but if the values didn't fit with a certain region or country you could exclude it from the possibility." "We get most of our drinking water from rain and snow that stores up in waterways and reservoirs," she said. The chemical identity of water changes as a weather system moves along. " Bell said depending on where you live and the water you drink you inherit the water's signature, which is imprinted on tooth enamel. She added that information can provide insight into where a person lived during their childhood while their teeth developed. "In the case of the Mad Trapper, this geographical work is dependent on which tissue is looked at and when it is formed," Bell said. "It gives access to windows of time in their history." Based on the isotope testing the film's scientists were able to determine the Mad Trapper was not Canadian. Comparative analysis was also done on samples of DNA - donated by Canadians who believe they are related to the renegade - to verify the data. "We needed people's stories to match what we knew about the Mad Trapper," Gour said, adding it narrowed down the field of how many people they needed to do DNA testing on. "If they were born and raised in Canada, we knew it wasn't them. "For them, history has been rewritten because they've been living with this idea, for generations, that Albert Johnson was their long-lost relative. We know it's not the case now." Another isotope test, using carbon and nitrogen this time, found some surprises in the Mad Trapper's diet. Carbon provides information to what a person's overall diet was, while nitrogen provides insight into the individual's protein intake. "The more protein in your diet, the higher your nitrogen values are," Bell said. "Carbon can tell you about the plants a person has been eating." There are two major types of plants in the world, C3 and C4. Grasses make up most of the C3 category, like wheat and rye, while C4 contains plants like mais. "From an archeological point of view if you're in an area where it's predominately C3 plants and you suddenly get a C4 signature in human remains, it needs some explaining," she said. "You can see if his diet changes. There was some stuff that came out of the dietary stuff that was quite a surprise." The Hunt for the Mad Trapper, a perfect hybrid as Gour calls it, looks at the history and science surrounding the largest and longest man hunt in the history of Canada and the RCMP. Science will change the way we know the story of the Mad Trapper, but Gour said they not only wanted to uncover the truth about the Mad Trapper's identity, but wanted to tell the tale of the many other people involved in this Northern saga. "To this day, the unsung heroes of this chase were the aboriginal guides and trackers who led the RCMP posse. Without them, the RCMP would probably wouldn't have found Albert. "They're not given their due," the Edmonton-based producer and former Inuvik residresident said. "We wanted to give them faces and give them names and the credit they deserved."

Important Harappan Discoveries

From 65 graves point to largest Harappan burial site next door to capital Sweta Dutta Posted: Mar 03, 2009 at 0250 hrs IST New Delhi: Archaeologists from three universities have been at work since the beginning of this year in Haryana’s Sonepat district, digging for what may turn out to be one of the most significant breakthroughs in the study of South Asian protohistory. Evidence of 65 burials has been unearthed over the past month at the site in Farmana, 60-odd km from Delhi, making it the largest Harappan burial site found in India so far. The digging is in its third season now. Evidence of seven burials was discovered last year, and should the work continue into another season, experts say Farmana may throw up evidence of a larger number of burials than even Harappa, the Pakistani Punjab town from which the civilisation of the Indus valley (c. 3300 BC-1300 BC) takes its name. The discovery holds enormous potential, said Prof Vasant Shinde of the Department of Archaeology, Deccan College Post-Graduate and Research Institute, Pune, the director of the excavation project. “With a larger sample size it will be easier for scholars to determine the composition of the population, the prevalent customs, whether they were indigenous or migrated from outside,” Prof Shinde said. A century-and-a-half after the great civilization was discovered, historians still have no definite answers to a number of questions, including where the Harappans came from, and why their highly sophisticated culture suddenly died out. “For the first time, we will conduct scientific tests on skeletal remains, pottery and botanical evidence found at the site, to try to understand multiple aspects of Harappan life,” Prof Shinde said. “DNA tests on bones might conclusively end the debate on whether the Harappans were an indigenous population or migrants. Trace element analyses will help us chart their diet ¿ a higher percentage of zinc will prove they were non-vegetarians; larger traces of magnesium will suggest a vegetarian diet.” Most chemical, botanical and physical anthropology tests will be done at Deccan College. But the more sophisticated and expensive DNA and dating tests will be conducted in Japan. The Research Institute for Humanity and Nature, Kyoto and Maharshi Dayanand University, Rohtak, are collaborating with Deccan College under the aegis of the Archaeological Survey of India for the project. The team also plans to carry out coring tests in lakes around the Farmana site to ascertain climatic conditions prevalent at the time of the Harappan civilization, and investigate whether the decline of the culture followed catastrophic climate change. The burials found so far are expected to be from around 4509 BP (before present), or 2600-2200 BC. “There are three different levels of burials and at some places skeletal remains have been found one above the other. All the graves are rectangular ¿ different from other Harappan burials sites, which usually have oblong graves,” Prof Shinde said. The site shows evidence of primary (full skeleton), secondary (only some bones) and symbolic burials, with most graves oriented northwest-southeast, though there are some with north-south and northeast-southwest orientations as well. The variations in burial orientation suggests different groups in the same community, Prof Shinde said. The differences in the numbers of pots as offerings suggest social and economic differences within the community. Also in evidence are significant signs of regional variations that contest the idea of a homogenous Harappan culture. Prof Upinder Singh of the Department of History, Delhi University, expressed enthusiasm about the project. “If such a large Harappan cemetery has been discovered, I am sure it is going to be of significant help in historical research,” she said. “The entire fraternity of research scholars and academics would be looking forward to knowing about the findings at the site.”

3,000 Year Old Tomb Discovered in Egypt

Egyptian noblewoman's 3,000 year-old tomb revealed Tue Mar 3, 8:23 am ET (Image: A handout photo released by the Egyptian Supreme Council for Antiquities (SCA) shows the broken remains of a fine limestone sarcophagus inside an ancient Egyptian burial chamber in Saqqara. Japanese archaeologists have unearthed an Egyptian noblewoman's 3,000 year-old tomb in the necropolis of Saqqara south of Cairo.(AFP/SCA/File/null) CAIRO (AFP) – Japanese archaeologists have unearthed an Egyptian noblewoman's 3,000 year-old tomb in the necropolis of Saqqara south of Cairo, the antiquities department said on Tuesday. The Japanese team believes the tomb belongs to Isisnofret, a granddaughter of Ramses II, the famed 19th Dynasty pharaoh who reigned over Egypt for about 68 years from 1304 to 1237 BC, and who is said to have lived to the age of 90. The tomb contained a broken limestone sarcophagus bearing the name of Isisnofret and the title "noble woman", three mummies and fragments of funerary objects, the department said in a statement. Isisnofret's last resting place is in an area of Saqqara where a team from Waseda University were excavating the tomb of Prince Khaemwaset, a son of Ramses II, it quoted Japanese team leader Sakuji Yoshimura as saying. "Prince Khaemwaset had a daughter named Isisnofret (and) because of the proximity of the newly discovered tomb to that of the prince, it is possible that the owner of the sarcophagus is the daughter of Khaemwaset," he said. However, Egyptian antiquities chief Zahi Hawass told AFP he believes the tomb dates from the 18th dynasty instead of the 19th, because of the style of construction. Hawass also dismissed the "similarities in the names" saying that there were many women called Isisnofret in ancient Egypt. ******************************************************************** Hawass neglects to mention that there have been several well-known discoveries of mummies in tombs that were not originally their own. That cuts both ways, of course. The mummies in this tomb could be totally unrelated to Isisnofret, whose mummy is long gone who knows where? Perhaps ground up as miracle powder sometime during the 19th century. There was so much destruction done, by the ancient peoples themselves and by so-called "civilized" mankind. Every discovery in Egypt deserves headline news as far as I am concerned (ditto China, India, South America, Europe, North America, etc. etc.) and Hawass should be lending support to every new discovery, not sour grapes for political reasons and his own particular agenda.

Southwest Chess Club Lion-In Lamb-Out Tournament

My adopted chess club has a brand new event!!!! This Thursday, March 5, a new tournament starts at the Southwest Chess Club. The Lion-In Lamb-Out Swiss is a two section, four round tournament with games on March 5, 12 and 26 and April 2 (7 PM start time each night). Time Control is Game in 100 minutes. See details below. Note there is one week off on March 19, the night of the Southwest Chess Club Annual Meeting. We plan to start promptly at 7:00 p.m. this Thursday. Registration is 6:30-6:55 p.m. I will close the registration at 6:55, and if you arrive after first-round pairings are prepared you will have to take a 1/2-point bye in the first round. However, if you want to play but anticipate being a few minutes late, please e-mail me at:, or call me (414-425-6742) prior to 5:00 p.m. on March 5, so I can include you in the pairings. If you need a first round, half point bye please let me, know as soon as possible and you can have one. Due to the large number of young players from our club that we anticipate will enter the SuperNationals in Nashville the day after this tournament ends, only for this tournament, a player may request a 1/2-point bye in the fourth round. The fourth round bye must be requested prior to the first round, and is irrevocable. All players are still limited to one, half point bye for the whole tournament. I hope to see everybody on Thursday for the Lion-In Lamb-Out Swiss Remember we continue to play at our new location: St. James Catholic Church, 7219 S. 27th Street , Franklin , WI 53132 . Tom Fogec Tournament Director 414-425-6742 Lion-In and Lamb-Out Swiss: March 5, 12, 26 & April 2 4-Round Swiss in Two Sections (Open and U1600). Game/100 minutes. USCF Rated. EF: $5 members, $7 others. TD is Tom Fogec, ATD is Robin Grochowski. NOTE: This tournament takes a 1-week break in the middle, for the March 19th Annual Club Meeting.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Bronze Age Seal Found in Abu Dhabi

I wonder what the symbols on the seal mean? Story from Ancient seal dating back to Bronze Age discovered in Abu Dhabi Staff Report Published: March 01, 2009, 11:58 Abu Dhabi: A team working for the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) has found an ancient stone cylinder seal dating back to the beginning of the local Bronze Age, around 5,000 years ago. It is the first of its type found in Arabia and was found in the deserts of the Al Gharbia area (Western Region) of Abu Dhabi. The discovery was made by a team from GRM International that is currently undertaking the Abu Dhabi Emirate soil survey, which is managed by EAD. The seal was lying in an area where samples were being collected. The seal is in the Jemdat Nasr style, from Mesopotamia (Iraq), and was imported from Mesopotamia, according to a leading expert in Arabian archaeology, Professor Dan Potts of Australia's University of Sydney. Decorated with tiny carvings of women with their hair tied back in a plait, a stylised couch and a spider, the seal is dated to between 3,100 BC to 2,900 BC, according to Professor Potts. Similar seals have been found at Susa, in Iran, and at Khafajah and Uruk in Mesopotamia. While other cylinder seals from the Early Bronze Age have been found in the UAE, at Hili, near Al Ain, and at Al Sufouh, in Dubai, for example, these are from the slightly later Umm Al Nar period, which lasted from around 2,500 BC to 2,000 BC, making the Medinat Zayed find of special importance as the first of its kind. Pottery from the Jemdat Nasr period has been found in tombs of the Hafit type, proving the existence of early contact between Mesopotamia and the UAE and Oman.

Statue of Amenhotep Rises Again

Glad to see this. From the Times March 2, 2009 Amenhotep III statue rises again Norman Hammond, Archaeology Correspondent One of Egypt’s most noted Pharaohs is once more standing tall and looking out across the Nile Valley, by the efforts of an international team and a little help from the British Museum. A colossal statue of Amenhotep III, grandfather of Tutankhamun and ruler of Egypt for more than 36 years, has been raised and given back his head. The red quartzite statue, one of a set that stood around the courtyard of his funerary temple at Kom el-Hettan, near Luxor, fell centuries ago. In the early 19th century the British collector Henry Salt acquired its head, together with a second head from the same site, and both finished up in the British Museum; the museum published Salt’s manuscript on some of his work in the recent book The Sphinx Revealed. The statue was one of a set that stood on the north side of the peristyle court of the temple, and shows Amenhotep III (reigned 1386-49BC) wearing the red crown of Lower Egypt. The south side of the court had similar statues, but wearing the white crown of Upper Egypt. The raw material for the northern statues came from Gebel el-Akmar in northern Egypt, that for the southern ones from the red granite quarries of Aswan in the far south. Both types showed Amenhotep III with arms crossed and holding the insignia of rulership. “Since the start of our work at the temple we have collected and grouped large parts of the torsos with thousands of smaller fragments,” Dr Hourig Sourouzian, of the Armenian Academy of Sciences, reports in Egyptian Archaeology. “In 2008 we added parts of the chest and completed the statue with an exact replica of one of the two heads now in the British Museum.” Michael Nielson, of the British Museum, made the replica head, which was then transported to Egypt and repositioned on top of the restored torso with the permission of the Egyptian authorities. The project, which has already assembled large portions of other statues, of which there were probably a dozen, involved a team of 30 from a dozen nationalities, and continues its work this year. Egyptian Archaeology 33: 33-35.

Ancient Egyptian Tomb Rediscovered

Ancient tomb rediscovered under sands of Egypt Mon Mar 2, 3:33 pm ET CAIRO – Belgian archaeologists have unearthed a 3,500-year-old pharaonic official's tomb that had disappeared under sand in southern Egypt after it was first discovered about 130 years ago. Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities said in a statement Sunday that the Belgian team in Luxor uncovered the tomb of Amenhotep, the deputy seal-bearer for King Thutmose III who ruled Egypt in the 18th Dynasty. The tomb was first discovered in 1880 by Swedish Egyptologist Karl Piehl, but it was later buried under sand until the Belgian team found it again this year. The statement quoted the head of the Belgian team, Laurent Bavay, as saying most of the inscriptions on the cemetery's walls were heavily damaged, but the ceiling inscriptions were in good condition.

Body of "Witch" to be Given "Christian Burial"

Oh gag me. The church whose teachings probably led to her death is now going to give her a decent burial. Fricking hypocrites! Story from Kent On Skeleton of village 'witch' to be re-buried March 3, 2009 by Keyan Milanian The medieval remains of a teenage girl who may have been suspected of witchcraft are to be given a Christian burial and funeral. The skeleton, found by Faversham-based archaeologist Dr Paul Wilkinson, is thought to be from the 14th or 15th century. It was found in unconsecrated ground under a holly tree, next to Hoo St Werburgh parish church, near Rochester. The remains would normally be left in archives for future archaeological reference, but the vicar of Hoo, the Rev Andy Harding, has asked for the body to be returned so she can be re-buried in the church grounds. Dr Wilkinson found the remains about six years ago after a dig requested by Simon Wright Homes, which they were obliged to perform before starting their development. When they found the remains, the girl’s skull had been removed from the body and placed carefully beside it, meaning she may have either committed suicide or was suspected of being a witch or a criminal. He said he had taken part in one other excavation, in Thanet, where discovered skeletons were "different". He said: "The male and female there had been buried and their heads had been switched. She was buried facing east with her head very carefully placed beside her body." Pottery found in the area dates back to medieval times and so it is suspected the body, which is currently being held at the University of Kent, was from the same period. The bone structure of the skeleton indicates the remains are probably that of a female. Mr Harding said: "We believe she was an executed criminal and so was not given the rights everyone else is. One of the things she could have been executed for is being a witch. "We just want to give her a funeral that was denied to her at the time. At the end of the day, God will be our judge. She obviously came from Hoo so she will probably be buried close to the rest of her family." Dr Wilkinson added: "It’s interesting that she will be rescued from a cardboard box and her journey will be finished in a manner that was not allowed her when she was first buried. "I actually think it is rather wonderful." The public funeral will be held at noon on Saturday, March 14.

Ancient Cemetery Turned Into Iranian Garbage Dump

Report from CAIS: Partho-Sasanian Dynastic Cemetery Turned Into Garbage Dump in Susa March 2, 2009 LONDON, (CAIS) -- A Partho-Sasanian (248 BCE – 651 CE) dynastic cemetery, located on the perimeter of the ancient city of Susa in Khuzestan Province, has recently been turned into a garbage dump. Since May 2007, some locals and the Shush Municipality dump their rubbish and the building wastes into a 100x100 meter excavation six meters deep intended for a hotel construction project at the site reported the Persian service of CHN on Monday. The hotel construction project, named Laleh, was cancelled following objections raised by the Iranian and international communities, cultural heritage enthusiasts and a number of world renowned archaeologists, including French archaeologist Rémy Boucharlat. The excavation was to be filled in after an expert study. However so far, no report has been published about the study or when the dig will be filled. In October 2008, another hotel construction project, named Amir Zargar, also infringed upon the Susa perimeter with the digging of some holes near the ancient city. The Amir Zargar project was also halted after the Shush Cultural Heritage Centre filled a lawsuit against the project’s owner. This is not first time Susa has been damaged by the Islamic republic’s organizations. The Sasanian dynastic era palace site of Eyvan-e Karkheh located near Susa had at one point in 2005 been used as a garbage dump. Eyvan-e Karkheh is currently being threatened by agricultural activities of the Islamic Azad University. Susa has also sustained damage from vandals. The column bases of Susa’s Apadana Palace were destroyed by vandals in January 2008. The palace perimeter was also demolished by construction of a preparatory school. The building, which is to be four stories tall, will spoil the view of the profile of the palace ruins. In addition, the historical metropolis of Susa is being obliterated by construction of a passenger bus terminal in the city’s southern section, and three football fields that host many young teams and fans every day. As well as being an archaeological site, Susa is also mentioned in the Old Testament as one of the places where the Daniel lived. His tomb is located in the heart of the city.Susa is one of the oldest known settlements in the region, probably founded around 4000 BCE, though the first traces of an inhabited village date back to 7000 BCE. Susa was destroyed at least four times in its’ long history. The first was in 647 BCE, by the Assyrian king Assurbanipal; the second destruction took place in 331 BCE by Alexander of Macedon; the third destruction was done by the Moslem’s invading armies when they sacked it in 638 CE, and finally the city was completely destroyed by Mongols in 1218.

Indian National Open Chess Championship for the Blind

Final standings as reported at The Ashwin emerges champion Tuesday, Mar 03, 2009 BANGALORE: Ashwin K. Makwana of Gujarat emerged champion the in the first ever National open chess championship for the visually challenged which concluded here on Monday. Ashwin topped the board with eight points in nine rounds. In the final game in Nimzo Indian defence, the 25-year-old champion (black) was held to a draw by the 12-year old Sai Krishna of Tamil Nadu in 44 moves. Sai Krishna, who finished with 7.5 points, had the consolation being adjudged the most promising young player of the tournament. Krishna Udupa, Madan Bagyatkar and Sai Krishna tied for the second spot with 7.5 points. But the top seed, Krisna Udupa of Karnataka, finished the runner-up with a better progressive score after being held to a draw by Atul Kakkade of Maharashtra. Madan Bagyatkar of Maharashtra, who overcame overcame a mid-game crisis, to prevail over Saibu of Kerala and was placed third and Sai Krishna took the fourth spot. S. Susheela of Karnataka (four points) received the special award for best woman player. More than 150 players from all over the country, including a few FIDE-rated players participated in the tournament.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

2009 European Individual Women's Chess Championship reports on the upcoming 2009 European Individual Women's Chess Championship. It is an 11-round Swiss beginning March 7 and completing March 21, 2009. The playing time will be 90 minutes for 40 moves plus 30 minutes for the rest of the game with an increment of 30 seconds per move, starting from move one. The Individual European Women's Championship 2009 is a qualification event for the next World Championship for Women. According to FIDE regulations and the decision of the ECU Board, 14 players will qualify. The top 20 players of the EIWCC will divide a prize fund of 70 000 euro. 2008's top finishers/money winners: 1 GM Lahno Kateryna 2479 UKR 8.5 (6,000 E) 2 IM Ushenina Anna 2474 UKR 8.0 (5,000 E) 3 WGM Zhukova Natalia 2450 UKR 8.0 (4,000 E) 4 IM Cmilyte Viktorija 2466 LTU 8.0 (3,000 E) 5 IM Mkrtchian Lilit 2413 ARM 8.0 (2,000 E) 6 IM Skripchenko Almira 2443 FRA 8.0 (1,900 E) 7 IM Dembo Yelena 2429 GRE 8.0 (1,800 E) 8 GM Cramling Pia 2539 SWE 7.5 (1,700 E) 9 WGM Pogonina Natalija 2470 RUS 7.5 (1,600 E) 10 IM Muzychuk Anna 2486 SLO 7.5 (1,500 E) 11 GM Stefanova Antoaneta 2538 BUL 7.5 (1,400 E) 12 IM Dzagnidze Nana 2443 GEO 7.5 (1,300 E) 13 IM Danielian Elina 2479 ARM 7.5 (1,200 E) 14 IM Lomineishvili Maia 2400 GEO 7.5 (1,100 E) 15 WGM Demina Julia 2337 RUS 7.5 (1,000 E) As noted in previous posts, the first leg of the FIDE Women's Grand Prix is the Is Banc Ataturk Masters - which will take place at the same time as the Individual European Women's Chess Championship. Oops. Some of the Grand Prix Ataturk players would not be able to participate in the IEWCC because of their country of residence. Some players would qualify, but they've evidently opted to play in the Ataturk - perhaps a chance for more money? GM Humpy Koneru 2621 GM Yifan Hou 2571 GM Antoaneta Stefanova 2557 (11th place, 1400 E) GM Pia Cramling 2548 (8th place, 1700 E) GM Marie Sebag 2529 (Sebag played in the Men's Individual European CC last year and won her 3rd and final GM norm) GM Maia Chiburdanidze 2516 GM Zhao Xue 2508 GM Zhu Chen 2496 IM Elina Danielian 2496 (13th place, 1200 E) WGM Shen Yang 2448 WGM Zeinab Mamedjarova 2362 WIM Betül Cemre Yıldız 2214

She Wants Everyone to Play Chess

From the Local chess star wants everyone to be able to play 3/1/2009 12:56 AM By RACHEL JOHNSON Staff writer A local youth has reached out to schools in hopes of encouraging new chess players. Hannah Tori Whatley, a 13-year-old Merriwether Middle School student, recently represented the South Carolina Chess Association at the Susan Polgar National Invitational, a chess tournament for girls held in Lubbock, Texas. Whatley was provided money for expenses incurred for representing the state and has decided to donate the money to local schools. It is her desire to increase interest among her peers in the game of chess in hopes of ramping up competition. She has set her goal at donating three chess sets to each of five schools, including Mossy Creek Elementary, Hammond Hills Elementary, North Augusta Elementary, Paul Knox Middle School and North Augusta Middle School, to help start chess programs. Whatley earned her spot in the national invitational by being the highest-finishing female in the South Carolina Scholastic Chess Championships in March of 2008. In April, she flew to Dallas to participate in the fifth annual All-Girl Nationals, where she played the U.S. Women's Champion, International Master Irina Krush, in an exhibition match. In July, she flew to Lubbock, Texas, to face the female state champions from all over the country. Competing against mostly high school aged girls, Whatley scored in three of her six matches to finish 38th in the competition. Whatley said even for schools not listed, free sets are available for starting chess clubs by visiting the state's scholastic website. Click on the link located on the right-hand side of the page, "Resources For School and Chess Club Organizers."

Christie's v. The People's Republic of China

Round 1: Christie's 1/China 0 Round 2 begins: China Slaps Controls on Christie’s After Bronzes Sale Image: Bronze head of Rat from Qing Dynasty Zodiac at the Summer Palace, Christie's) By Le-Min Lim Feb. 26 (Bloomberg) -- China said it will tighten control on Christie’s International’s activities in the nation, hours after the company auctioned a pair of Qing Dynasty bronzes in Paris, ignoring China’s calls to return the allegedly looted items. In a statement today, the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, or SACH, ordered officials to scrutinize artifacts the London-based auction house imports and exports from China. The company would need to detail the ownership and provenance of items. Antiques missing papers won’t be allowed to enter or leave. Christie’s, in an e-mailed statement, denied wrongdoing. “Christie’s regrets that the State Administration of Cultural Heritage has taken the unusual step of announcing reprisal measures as a consequence of Christie’s legal auction of the fountainheads in Paris this week,” the statement said. This decision, which implies added paperwork on antiques, may make it tougher for mainland Chinese to bring home artifacts they buy from Christie’s auctions. Hong Kong, where Christie’s and main rival Sotheby’s holds biannual art sales, is the company’s hub for the sale of Chinese antiquities, with sales of more than HK$1 billion ($129 million) last year. “It may mean more trouble buying from Christie’s than Sotheby’s,” said Lu Feifei, a China-based dealer who paid more than HK$70 million for Emperor Qianlong’s jade-hilted saber-and- scabbard and armor at Sotheby’s Hong Kong auction in October. “I’m a law-abiding businessman and we don’t want to be embroiled in unnecessary trouble, so we may buy our antiques elsewhere.” Severed Bronzes The circular was issued after Christie’s sold two Qing sculptures in Paris as part of the Yves Saint Laurent art auction. The bronzes, the heads of a rabbit and a rat, were severed from a water clock in China’s Summer Palace by foreign troops in 1860. At yesterday’s auction, they were sold for a combined 31.4 million euros ($40 million) to an unidentified telephone bidder. Christie’s had maintained before the auction, in response to China’s protests, that “the fountainheads have a clear and extensive history of ownership.” In today’s statement, Christie’s said “ the legal ownership of the fountainheads was clearly confirmed, and we have directly and honestly engaged with SACH in discussing the sale over the past months.” China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu, at a regular press conference on Feb. 13, called the relics “stolen and robbed,” and urged their return to China. Cultural Group On Feb. 23, a Paris administrative court ruled Christie’s could proceed with the sale of the two bronzes, ruling against a suit brought by Chinese cultural defense group, Apace. The same day, Chinese bloggers blasted the ruling, calling it a “second raiding.” China’s state-run Xinhua news agency featured these comments in bold headlines on its Web Site. The Administration said it will “continue to seek the return of the sculptures by all means in accord with related international conventions and Chinese laws.” Christie’s counts Hong Kong as its third-biggest auction market after New York and London. “We continue to believe that sale by public auction offers the best opportunity for items to be repatriated as a result of worldwide exposure,” the Christie’s statement said. To contact the writer on the story: Le-Min Lim in Hong Kong at Last Updated: February 26, 2009 03:52 EST ******************************************************************** Forty million dollars? Forty million dollars for what is essentially scrap bronze? Psssst - hey buddy - wanna buy a bronze rat's head? I got one real cheap, only twenty million dollars! Ohmygoddess! Obviously someone has not been adversely affected by the Second Coming of the Great Depression! Amazing, absolutely amazing. Having that thing anywhere near me would give me nightmares about a giant Ben - a HUNGRY giant Ben! You'd wake up in the middle of the night and have arms and legs missing...

Museums Affected by Crappy Economy

This is so depressing. If the Met is suffering from this financial depression, imagine what is happening to other museums that do not have as large an endowment and contribution base generating operating income. Oh Goddess. From The New York Times February 23, 2009, 3:08 pm — Updated: 3:08 pn Met Museum to Close Shops, Freeze Hiring By Carol Vogel In response to the global economic crisis, James R. Houghton, chairman of the board of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, posted a letter on the institution’s Web site on Friday announcing that the Met had decided to close 15 of its satellite shops around the country. A year ago the Met ran a total of 23 stores but over the last year it has quietly closed 8, including three in California and one at the South Street Seaport Museum in lower Manhattan. It now plans to close an additional seven, and will instead concentrate on its online shop and has recently redesigned its mail order catalog. Mr. Houghton also said that the museum had imposed a hiring freeze and is curtailing staff travel and entertainment as well as the use of temporary employees. It is also in the process of a museum-wide assessment of its expenses to see how it can further reduce costs. Emily Rafferty, the Met’s president, said Monday that “we cannot eliminate the possibility of a head-count reduction.” The museum’s endowment, which provides about 30 percent of its annual operating revenue, has decreased 25 percent since June 30, 2008 to $2.1 billion from $2.8 billion. Membership and attendance is down too, in large part because of falling tourism. More museums affected by current economic conditions: February 26, 2009: Walters Art Museum, Baltimore: The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore has become the latest art institution to announce cost-reducing measures that include job cuts. February 25, 2009: The New York Times reports that three museums have or will lay off museum staff:
  • The Detroit Institute of Arts said it would lay off about 20 percent of its staff, or 63 of its 301 employees, in an effort to cut $6 million from its $34 million annual budget, The Detroit Free Press reported. The layoffs would affect 56 full-time and 7 part-time employees from across the museum’s staff; the museum has already canceled planned exhibitions on the Baroque period and the artwork of Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns and Jim Dine
  • The Philadelphia Museum of Art said it would eliminate 30 positions through layoffs and attrition and cut the pay of its senior staff in an effort to reduce its operating budget by $1.7 million to $52 million, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The museum is also contemplating raising its admission fees, though that would ultimately require the approval of the city
  • The High Museum of Art in Atlanta announced a series of budget cuts on Wednesday, including a 7 percent reduction of its staff, the elimination of five full-time and three part-time positions, and pay cuts for its remaining employees. The museum said the reductions and other cost-cutting efforts would save $1.4 million and reduce its operating budget to $23.7 million

Saving Dying Languages

Lo and Behold! That old synchronicity at work again... An NPR report on "The Linguists" (see posts from earlier today and yesterday) from their February 22, 2009 show: Saving Dying Languages In 'The Linguists' February 21, 2009 · There are more than 7,000 languages in the world, and if statistics hold, two weeks from now, there will be one less. That's the rate at which languages disappear. And each time a language disappears, a part of history — a subtle way of thinking — vanishes too. A new documentary called The Linguists, airing Thursday on PBS, follows ethnographers David Harrison and Greg Anderson as they race to document endangered languages in some of the most remote corners of the world. From the plains of Siberia to the mountains of Bolivia to the tribal lands of India, Harrison and Anderson have hopscotched the globe, but they sat down for a moment with NPR's Scott Simon to discuss their race to capture the world's endangered languages. Harrison, a linguistics professor at Swarthmore College, specializes in sounds and words; Anderson, who directs Oregon's Living Tongues Institute, is the verb expert. Together, they speak 25 languages. Languages are rich in the history and taxonomy of a place, says Anderson, reflecting subtleties that can be lost in translation. When the last keepers of a language die off, so does the fluent understanding of that particular environment. "The people who live there are the experts on the environment they live in, whether it's Siberia or the Bolivian Andes," he says. "They know more about the ecosystem, the plants and animals, than scientists typically do. And it's not just a list of things they know; it's a hierarchy of knowledge, how things fit together." Harrison and Anderson say they have encountered some strange languages in their travels, including an East Indian dialect called Birhor — which, in English, sounds a lot like "beer whore." "But all languages are strange from a certain point of view," says Harrison. "English is pretty strange." The Linguists follows Harrison and Anderson on their "adventure science" expeditions — and finds them in some unexpected situations. "We do encounter inconveniences," says Harrison, laughing. "Getting to a very remote place, finding people and convincing them to talk to you on a camera. There are roadblocks, both literal and figurative." And surprises, like the wedding they were called to dance at in a remote village in India. The film also offers context on the question of why languages die out. "The big umbrella term is globalization, but you need to break that down. There are economic forces, ideology, social attitudes," says Harrison. "Many people have been presented with a false choice, that they have to give up their native language in order to succeed, and [speak] a global language like English or Spanish exclusively. But more people are realizing that you can be bilingual, that you have access to more knowledge by being bilingual. There are these pressures as we get increasingly urbanized, but people are successfully pushing back."

UN Says Cornish Language Extinct

Yesterday I watched "The Linguists" on PBS. Two young guys travelled to many obscure and difficult to reach places around the world in an attempt to record languages that are spoken by only a few people - some only spoken by quite elderly people, scrambling to phonetically write down the sounds of languages that have never been written, digitally preserving a part of our world for future study. It was a fascinating special - and sad, too. Only think of how much we do NOT know about the past because we cannot decipher the written languages left behind by many ancient peoples - including the Southwest Script I just blogged about and Linear A. We have no idea what the Indus symbols mean, and we cannot make any sense out of the Phaistos Disc. Without the discovery of the Rosetta Stone, we would have no idea what the history of the ancient Egyptians was. As it is, there is still so much we do not know about their history and culture. From 09:27 GMT, Friday, 20 February 2009 Cornish language extinct, says UN The Cornish language has been branded "extinct" by linguistic experts, sparking protests from speakers. Thirty linguists worked on Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger, compiled by United Nations group Unesco. They also said Manx Gaelic was extinct. Cornish is believed to have died out as a first language in 1777. But the Cornish Language Partnership says the number of speakers has risen in the past 20 years and there should be a section for revitalised languages. The Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger, published by Unesco, the cultural section of the United Nations, features about 2,500 dialects. There are thought to be about 300 fluent speakers of Cornish. But Jenefer Lowe, development manager of the Cornish Language Partnership, said there were thousands who had a "smattering" of the language. "Saying Cornish is extinct implies there are no speakers and the language is dead, which it isn't," she said. "Unesco's study doesn't take into account languages which have growing numbers of speakers and in the past 20 years the revival of Cornish has really gathered momentum." Last year the partnership agreed a single written form of Cornish which brought together several different forms of the language. "It is among a group of languages that turned out not to be extinct but merely sleeping" Christopher Moseley, editor-in-chief of the atlas UN declares Manx Gaelic 'extinct' Mrs Lowe said: "There's no category for a language that is revitalised and revived. "What they need to do is add a category. "It should be recognised that languages do revive and it's a fluid state." Christopher Moseley, an Australian linguist and editor-in-chief of the atlas, told BBC News he would consider a new classification. He said: "I have always been optimistic about Cornish and Manx. "There is a groundswell of interest in them, although the number of speakers is small. "Perhaps in the next edition we shall have a 'being revived' category. "[Cornish] is among a group of languages that turned out not to be extinct but merely sleeping."

"Southwest Script" Defies Decipherers

Experts trying to decipher ancient language (Image: A stone tablet engraved with symbols at least 2,500 years old is seen at the Southwest Script Museum on Feb. 5, 2009 in Almodovar, southern Portugal. The museum has on display 20 tablets engraved with symbols of the Iron Age extinct Iberian language called Southwest Script.(AP Photo/Armando Franca) By BARRY HATTON, Associated Press Writer Barry Hatton, Associated Press Writer – Sat Feb 28, 1:10 pm ET ALMODOVAR, Portugal – When archaeologists on a dig in southern Portugal last year flipped over a heavy chunk of slate and saw writing not used for more than 2,500 years, they were elated. The enigmatic pattern of inscribed symbols curled symmetrically around the upper part of the rough-edged, yellowish stone tablet and coiled into the middle in a decorative style typical of an extinct Iberian language called Southwest Script. "We didn't break into applause, but almost," says Amilcar Guerra, a University of Lisbon lecturer overseeing the excavation. "It's an extraordinary thing." For more than two centuries, scientists have tried to decipher Southwest Script, believed to be the peninsula's oldest written tongue and, along with Etruscan from modern-day Italy, one of Europe's first. The stone tablet features 86 characters and provides the longest-running text of the Iron Age language ever found. About 90 slate tablets bearing the ancient inscriptions have been recovered, most of them incomplete. Almost all were scattered across southern Portugal, though a handful turned up in the neighboring Spanish region of Andalucia. Some of the letters look like squiggles. Others are like crossed sticks. One resembles the number four and another recalls a bow-tie. They were carefully scored into the slate. The text is always a running script, with unseparated words which usually read from right to left. The first attempts to interpret this writing date from the 18th century. It aroused the curiosity of a bishop whose diocese encompassed this region where the earth keeps coughing up new fragments. Almodovar, a rural town of some 3,500 people amid a gentle landscape of meadows punctuated by whitewashed towns, sits at the heart of the Southwest Script region. It created a museum two years ago where 20 of the engraved tablets are on show. Though the evidence is gradually building as new tablets are found, researchers are handicapped because they are peering deep into a period of history about which they know little, says professor Pierre Swiggers, a Southwest Script specialist at the University of Leuven, Belgium. Scientists have few original documents and hardly any parallel texts from the same time and place in readable languages. "We hardly know anything about (the people's) daily habits or religious beliefs," he says. Southwest Script is one of just a handful of ancient languages about which little is known, according to Swiggers. The obscurity has provided fertile ground for competing theories about who wrote these words. It is generally agreed the texts date from between 2,500 and 2,800 years ago. Most experts have concluded they were authored by a people called Tartessians, a tribe of Mediterranean traders who mined for metal in these parts — one of Europe's largest copper mines is nearby — but disappeared after a few centuries. Some scientists have proposed that the composers were other pre-Roman tribes, such as the Conii or Cynetes, or maybe even Celts who roamed this far south. Another translation difficulty is that the writing is not standardized. It seems certain that it was adapted from the Phoenician and Greek alphabets because it copied some of their written conventions. However, it also tweaked some of those rules and invented new ones. Experts have identified characters that represent 15 syllables, seven consonants and five vowels. But eight characters, including a kind of vertical three-pronged fork, have confounded attempts at comprehension. There's also the problem of figuring out what messages the slate tablets are intended to convey. Even when they can read portions of text, scientists don't really understand what it is saying — like a child mouthing the words of a Shakespeare play. "We have a lot of doubts," says Guerra, who has written scholarly articles about Southwest Script. "We can read characters and see the phonetics in action ... but when we try to understand what they actually mean we have a lot of problems." There are clues, however. The symmetrical, twisting text gives the impression of a decorative flourish. Some stones also feature crudely rendered figures, such as a warrior carrying what appear to be spears. The lower part of the rectangular stones is left blank as if intended to be stuck in the ground. That has led experts to a supposition: The tablets were gravestones for elite members of local Iron Age society. Repeated sequences of words perhaps mean "Here lies..." or "Son of...," Guerra explains. Since most people probably couldn't read, the ornamental elements lent distinction. These are educated guesses, says Guerra, as he surveys the hilltop dig by a small river where the big stone was found last year. His team here has excavated through centuries of occupation: Islamic (Almodovar is a corruption of the Arabic word al-mudura, meaning encirclement or enclosure), Roman and pre-Roman. Nowadays, it is within view of a wind farm's turbines. Last year's find has helped, but it wasn't the breakthrough scientists had hoped for, Guerra says. If all the Southwest Script found so far were transcribed onto paper, it would still barely fill a single sheet. Without an equivalent of the Rosetta stone, which helped unlock the secrets of hieroglyphic writing, efforts to reconstruct the ancient language are doomed to slow progress. "We have to be patient — and hopeful," Guerra says.
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