Saturday, March 21, 2009

Women's World Chess Champion Kosteniuk Simul

Earlier today Women's World Chess Champion GM Alexandra Kosteniuk gave a 20-game simul in New York to raise funds for the U.S. Chess Trust, a non-profit corporation. (Image: GM Alexandra Kosteniuk in a traditional costume after winner 2008 Women's World Chess Championship held in Nalchik {where?}) Here is some up close and personal coverage from Liz Vicary's blog (the official name of the blog is USCFL News and Gossip but it's popularly known as Lizzie Knows All). Liz's blog has some photos of Kosteniuk and the people who paid (or kids who had sponsors who paid for them) to play in the event. Minimum buy-in was $500. Well, it was a fund raiser for a good cause. Unofficially, I understand that GM Kosteniuk won 19 games and drew one game. Information about the event at, very nicely put together. Monroi also provided coverage of the games. Here is an interview by Beatriz Marinello with GM Kosteniuk. Ms. Marinello is a past President of the U.S. Chess Federation and is currently employed by the U.S. Chess Trust. The interview contains several photos of GM Kosteniuk and GM Kosteniuk with her child.

Chess Princess: Katie Hales

From Chess queen Katie set for world championships Published Date: 19 March 2009 By Chris Harby (Image: Katie Hales, right, and her younger sister, also sporting a chess trophy) THURSDAY, 9.35am: A place at the top table of world junior chess awaits Melton teenager Katie Hales later this year. Determined Katie, of Ullswater Road, came through ultra competitive national qualifiers to earn the honour of representing England at the U18 World Youth Chess Championships in Turkey in November. The 17-year-old, who plays for Melton Mowbray Chess Club, had to battle against the odds to win the qualifiers having been without a chess coach since moving to the town three-and-a-half years ago. All of her rivals received regular coaching, but Katie's never-say-die approach and natural aptitude saw her through. Mum Sue said: "She was very pleased just to be taking part in the qualifiers and was the lowest seeded player to be invited, but against all the odds she won. "She has played at a very high level for a long time, but as she gets older the academic work takes up more time and she lost her coach." The five top chess girls fought for one place at the qualifiers, but despite her low seeding Katie built an early lead with wins from the first two games on day one. The first match of the final day Katie faced the top seed, who had already lost one match, but because of a slight error eventually lost out. But victory for Katie and a last-gasp draw for the top seed in the final round of matches put Katie through to the worlds. Mrs Hale added: "She went into it very determined, but wasn't expecting to win. "It was nailbiting, but absolutely great. Katie has got a reputation as a fearsome opponent and always plays better against the harder players." "She will get coaching while she is out in Turkey, but she is really going to need some before she goes. At that level, all the top players have regular coaching. It shows just how good Katie is that she can still beat them without it." Katie is a talented all-rounder and after her A-levels is hoping to study medicine at university. She is good at most sports and was expected to represent the region at the National Army Cadet Cross Country Championships had they not clashed with the chess quailifiers. She also plays in Melton Town Band and is an army cadet, while younger sister Stephanie is also among the elite chess players for her age group in the country.

The Goddess and the Palm Tree

From Barbara Walker's "The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets." (Image: 12th century CE, Byzantine representation of Inanna, the Tree of Life -- a date palm) Palm Tree In the Babylonian myth of the primal garden, the palm tree was the Tree of Life, a dwelling-place of the Goddess Astarte. The Hebrew version of her name was Tamar, "Palm Tree."(1) Her male counterpart was Baal-Peor, or Phoenix, the god of Phoenicia whose name meant "Land of the Palm." As a phallic deity, Baal-Peor was symbolized by a palm tree between two large stones. Sexual orgies in the temple celebrated his union with the Goddess in Phoenicia and in Israel until priests of Yahweh killed the celebrants in the midst of their rites (Numbers 25:8): [Here's the story in the Bible, from the "Living Bible" translation: Numbers 25:1: While Israel was camped at Acacia, some of the young men began going to wild parties with the local Moabite girls. (2) These girls also invited them to attend the sacrifices to their gods, and soon the men were not only attending the feasts, but also bowing down and worshipping the idols. (3) Before long, all Israel was joining freely in the worship of Baal, the god of Moab; and the anger of the Lord was hot against his people. (4) He issued the following command to Moses: "Execute all the tribal leaders of Israel. Hang them up before the Lord in braod daylight, so that his fierce anger will turn away from the people." {such a kind, loving god, ahem...} 5) So Moses ordered the judges to execute all who had worshipped Baal. {If ALL of Israel was joining freely in the worship of Baal, who would be left to continue the nation of Israel after Moses had them all killed??? - What is being talked about here is the MEN of Israel, that is, dudes old enough to copulate.} (6) But one of the Israeli men insolently brought a Midianite girl into the camp, right before the eyes of Moses and all of the people, as they were weeping before the door of the Tabernacle. (7) When Phineas (son of Eleazor and grandson of Aaron the priest) saw this, he jumped up, grabbed a spear, (8) and rushed after the man into his tent, where he had taken the girl. He thrust the spear all the way through the man's body and into her stomach. So the plague was stopped, (9) but only after 24,000 people had already died. {Okay, so after ordering Moses to have his priests kill the Israelites because they had ALL SINNED, Yahweh changes his mind - without telling Moses - and decides to kill the Israelites more slowly, with a plague, and they were gathered around the Tabernacle praying for their lives as Yahweh was no doubt sitting on his throne up on Jupiter or wherever laughing his butt off; and then one Israelite dude decides to bring a girl into camp to screw in his tent, right under the eyes of everyone??? Yeah, right. If they were that stupid, it was better their genes were killed than passed on to children!
What I want to know is why the priests did not carry out Yahweh's orders to kill ALL of Israel immediately after the order was issued? Did their arms get tired? And is Moabite the same as Midianite? Moses MARRIED a Midianite woman himself!} (10, 11) Then the Lord said to Moses, "Phineas (son of Eleazar and grandson of Aaron the priest) {I guess the Lord had to let Moses know just who the good guy was in case Moses didn't understand which Phineas killed the bad guy and his gal} has turned away my anger for he was angry with my anger, and would not tolerate the worship of any God but me. So I have stopped destroying all Israel as I had intended. (12, 13) Now because of what he has done - because of his zeal for his God, and because he has made atonement for the people of Israel for what he did - I promise that he and his priests shall be priests forever." (14) The name of the man who was killed with the Midianite girl was Zimri, son of Salu, a leader of the tribe of Simeon. (15) The girl's name was Corbi, daughter of Zur, a Midianite prince. (Emphasis added). [Summary: Yahweh got his BLOOD SACRIFICE of both an Israelite prince and a Midianite princess, and thus his blood lust was temporarily satisfied. This is classic substitute king sacrifice, in this case, the "king" being Moses, who was raised in the Egyptian rites. Being a relatively new Hebrew religion, the priests added the "bad girl" into the blood sacrifice because she represented a much older tradition of the Temptress Goddess, which was a great threat to the upstart god Yahweh's authority, and therefore she had to be diminished in some way. What better way than to kill her off with a "spear" (phallic symbol) through her "stomach" (a euphenism for her female parts) while she was copulating with the sacrificial male victim, who himself was a substitute for the very same god that ordered his death?] Still, the feminine connotations of the palm tree remained. The Goddess was often embodied in a Mother-palm, giving the food of life in the form of coconut milk or dates. A complicated biblical myth shows Tamar the Palm-tree as the mother of a slain "firstborn of Judah;" and as a veiled sacred harlot decorated with the signet, staff, and bracelets of the nation of Judah; and as a widow (Crone) to whom offerings of goats were made; and as an idol "by the wayside," whom priests of Yahweh wanted to burn (Genesis 38). She gave birth to the rival twins Pharez and Zarah, Hebrew counterparts of Osiris and Set. The spirit of the palm tree was still the Great Mother in the tradition of early Christians, who gave the title of Holy Palm (Ta-Mari) to the virgin Mary.(2) Yet Egyptians continued to call a man's penis his "palm tree."(3) Notes: (1) Graves, W.G., 197. (2) Hughes, 55. (3) Book of the Dead, 518. Compare Ta-Mari to this Walker entry on Ta-Mera: "Land of Waters," an old name of Egypt. Mera or Mara was an archaic name for the Goddess of the primordial sea [thus, for instance, all those "Mares" {"sea of"} names on the face of the Moon and Mars - named by male scientists, by the way, lol!] In Egypt she was even coupled with the sun god as an androgynous deity, Meri-Ra. Among the meanings of Mera were such female symbols as a water-course, ditch, pit, sea, and lovingness.(1) Notes: (1) Budge, E.I., 76. ********************************************************************** Just why is it that female horses are called MARES, and in xiang qi (Chinese chess) the horse is called "ma?" It couldn't have anything to do with "sea horses," could it? And I'm not talking about those cute little critters one keeps in an aquarium. Staunton's model for his knight was reputedly the horses of the Elgin Marbles stolen from the Greek Parthenon. But we all know where the Greeks got their inspiration from...

2009 U.S. Women's Chess Championship

All right - publicity in a regional newspaper! Now if The New York Times (hint hint Dylan) will pick it up from here, this event may get the respect it deserves (what's published in The New York Times gets syndicated across the country in most city newspapers). The St. Louis CCSC looks like a beautiful facility, ideally suited to host the U.S. "Open" and Women's U.S. Chess Championships. Monday, March 16, 2009, 12:44pm CDT St. Louis chess center to host women’s championship St. Louis Business Journal The 2009 U.S. Women's Chess Championship will be held Oct. 2-12 at the new Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis, which opened in July. Invitations will be sent to the top nine U.S. women players as well as the defending champion, Olympic gold medalist Anna Zatonskih, the chess center said. "We are delighted to have the opportunity to host this major event in the world of competitive chess," said Rex Sinquefield, a retired investment fund manager and chess club founder, in a statement. "We are honored and most fortunate to serve as the official site in 2009 of two of the premier chess championships." The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis will also host the 2009 U.S. Chess Championship, May 7-17. Sinquefield, a St. Louis native, did influential research on historical stock market returns and pioneered many of the nation's first index funds.
Hmmmm, will he be funding the 2010 championships???

Giant Chinese Chess

I found this beautiful photograph in an article about Nantou, Taiwan (central part of the country).

Chess as Metaphor for Politics

Story from The Independent (Ireland): (Image: Knight, Nishapur (Iran), 7th century CE, The Hermitage Museum) Obama makes all the right moves in Iranian chess game By Catherine Philp Saturday March 21 2009 Could this be Obama's 'Reagan' moment? Already comparisons are being drawn to that president's exhortation to Mr Gorbachev to "tear down that wall" as he stood before the Brandenberg Gate. Ronald Reagan had a real barrier of bricks, mortar and barbed wire on which to project his vision of East-West harmony. Mr Obama's plea is more abstract and more nuanced; less of a call to revolution than food to fuel the growing doubts of the Iranian people about their proud isolation. Contrast his words with George W Bush's bluster about an 'axis of evil'. That phrase did nothing to help Mohammed Khatami, then Iranian President, to sell his moderate agenda and hesitant attempts for rapprochement with the West. Nor did it blunt Iran's nuclear ambitions, which have taken on new momentum since the election of the firebrand demagogue, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, reaching breakout point this year with the accumulation of enough low-enriched uranium to develop into a bomb. This is the reality that Mr Obama faces: the prospect of a nuclear Iran. Even on a purely tactical level, the military option offers no guarantees of success. Of the different scenarios being game-tested in Washington, only the second least palatable is containment of a nuclear-armed Iran. Mr Obama's advisers have told him, with some authority, that there is no other option than a diplomatic one. Consider this as the second move in a game of chess -- an ancient Persian pastime. Or, to Persian speakers, ta'araf, the elegant conversational process of engaging an interlocutor, absorbing their language in a lengthy process of polite deference, before getting down to business. In his inauguration speech Mr Obama offered to extend a hand of friendship to those who first unclenched their fist. Mr Ahmadinejad responded with surprising positivity -- salted by a healthy dose of Persian chauvinism -- agreeing to talks but only in "an atmosphere of mutual respect". Then yesterday, after acknowledgements of Iran's cultural heritage and warm wishes on its national holiday, Mr Obama echoes Mr Ahmadinejad's own phrase back to him, telling him America seeks "engagement that is honest and grounded in mutual respect". Iran is not North Korea: people will hear this speech. The authorities attempted a crackdown last week on satellite television, aimed at Farsi channels beamed in by dissidents abroad, but news always get through. The BBC's Persian Service is a favourite on radio. The government's first official reaction is telling, harking back to past differences such as the 1953 US-engineered coup, or the 1988 shooting down of an Iranian passenger plane. Many Iranians are tired of the past, and hungry for a different future. Current economic woes have taken their toll on Mr Ahmadinejad's popularity as Iranians realise how little his world-stage grandstanding has done to benefit them. Mr Ahmadinejad asked for mutual respect. Mr Obama has offered it. The ball is in his court. It would be hard to explain to Iranians why he should now balk. Presidential elections are coming in June and Mr Ahmadinejad faces a tough challenge from a newly united opposition. In 2005 the reformists and moderates ran against each other, splitting the anti-Ahmadinejad vote. In 2009 the drive to remove Mr Ahmadinejad is strong enough to have made them join forces. Mohammed Khatami, by far the most popular, but controversial, candidate, dropped out of the race last week, throwing his support behind Mir Hosein Mousavi -- less popular but more acceptable to the ruling clergy, who hold ultimate power in Iran. Suddenly there is a real alternative to Mr Ahmadinejad, and a real chance of him winning. Mr Ahmadinejad ignores this new overture at his own peril, and that is what Mr Obama is banking on. - Catherine Philp
I found this article particularly interesting, because I believe that chess as westerners would recognize it was first played in ancient Persia - today's Iran. I'm no expert on etymology, but a study of Pahlavi (Middle Persian) words that are used to define and describe chess led me to believe that the game described in the great Persian national epic/history Shah Nameh as having been imported from Hind (a region in Pakistan/formerly considered part of northern India) was actually of Persian origin. Those ancient words for chess/about chess conveyed the sense of a face-to-face meeting; not so much a confrontation as a probing, a learing process, a testing of skills one-on-one, and had more to do with measuring the worthiness of an individual than warfare. It was a drawn-out process, with the players settling in over many days, slowly discovering each other's strengths and weaknesses on the board. Chatrang is, essentially, a game of discovery and growth, for no serious player can ever come away from a game without being changed in some small whit.

Chess for Walls

The idea of wall-hung chess boards has been around for decades, starting with felt and pocket boards where 2-dimensional pieces (out of cardboard, wood, or whatever) were tucked into the pockets of the squares, to felt and velcro that eliminated the need for pockets, to today's versions that are magnetized plastic with magnetized pieces. Short of an electronic board that can be projected on a wall that instantly transmits and shows the moves, chess for walls is what folks continue use to teach and demonstrate chess to groups. Straight Up Chess takes this idea many steps further, and turns a wall-hung chess board into a work of art. I came across this advertisement for "chess for walls" in an article for a home improvement show in The Denver Post! This is the time of year when home improvement shows are going on across the country. This weekend at our Wisconsin State Fair Grounds our own version of the Home Improvement Show is taking place. I've never seen anything like this at the Wisconsin home improvement show. What I really like about this concept is that it's not only art, you can actually use it to play a game! Checkmate "Playing with fine art" is the motto behind Straight Up Chess, an artful, wall-mounted chess set. This Colorado product alleviates the problem of having a chess board take up valuable table-top space, and provides a casual, ongoing game that's also easy on the eyes. Boards start at $200; pieces start at $20.

The Art of Chess

An exhibit at the Reykajavik Museum, January 24 - April 30, 2009 (Image: Alastair Mackie, Amorphous Organic, 2008) The Art of Chess 24. january – 13. april 2009 Kjarvalsstaðir. Fifteen unique chess sets and boards made by internationally renowned contemporary artists. Each chess set has its own concept reflecting the artists’ vivid imagination. Artists include Damien Hirst, Maurizio Cattelan, Rachel Whiteread and more. Curators: Mark Sanders, Julia Royse, and Larry List. Artists Article by Larry List EVENTS AND EDUCATION Saturday 24 January 4 pm Kjarvalsstadir – The Art of ChessOpening of the exhibition The Art of Chess and the familyworkshop Creative Move in the North Gallery. Guests can create their own chess sets throughout the exhibition's period. Sunday 25 January Kjarvalsstadir – The Art of Chess 2 pm Artists' Talk. Oliver Clegg, Paul Fryer and Alistair Mackie discuss their works on show. 3 pm Panel Discussion. Curators Mark Sanders and Larry List partake in panel discussions on chess and art along with the director of the Reykjavik Art Museum, Hafthór Yngvason. Sunday 8 February 3 pm Kjarvalsstadir – The Art of Chess Check Mate. Chess match with the chess sets on display Sunday 22 February 3 pm Kjarvalsstadir – The Art of Chess Scrutinizing Art. Discussions on the concept of aesthetics and what it has to do with chess. Sunday 29 March 3 pm Kjarvalsstadir – The Art of Chess Lecture of history of chess in collaboration with the Reykjavik Chess Academy and the Icelandic Chess Federation. Sunday 5 April 3 pm Kjarvalsstadir – The Art of Chess Check Mate. Chess match with the chess sets on display.

Friday, March 20, 2009

It's Officially Spring!

Hola darlings! I'm of the old school who was taught that Spring always occurs on March 21st. None of this astronomical stuff about equinoxes and vernals and equators and such for moi! So the news that spring officially occurred today at 7:something a.m. Eastern Standard Time means nothing to me. I will celebrate the First Day of Spring tomorrow by going shopping, yippee! In keeping with typical Wisconsin weather, it was below freezing for most of the day, but eeked up to about 35 degrees F when I left the office at 5:00 p.m. However, there was the wind blowing off the lake that took the temperature down into the teens with the windchill factor. Damn, it was fricking cold out there today, people! I am SO sick of this. One good little itty bit of news. Mr. Tipsy Squirrel, who had managed to survive the winter, suddenly disappeared about the end of February and I thought oh no, he (or she) must have died. This made me sad. To survive the brutal winter we had with his (or her) handicap only to succumb to death so close to better weather (well - maybe in May). I looked and looked every day, and when daylight savings time kicked in and I was able to put nuts out after 6:00 p.m. when getting home from work and it was still light outside, I looked some more. But alas, there was no Mr. Tipsy Squirrel. I did some research on the internet, but did not find a lot of information about this "falling over" disease. There are a lot of anecdotal reports about squirrels with symptoms similar to Mr. Tipsy Squirrel, with the "falling over," "can't keep balance," etc. descriptions. From what I gather, it is a neurological disease that is reported to be rare but it doesn't sound like it is so rare based upon what I read from eye-witness accounts. Lo and behold, tonight, I saw Mr. Tipsy Squirrel again! I was so surprised and so happy to see him I scared him away with my antics! Oh boo, Jan! However, he did eat two pecans right on the deck before I scared him away with my jumping up and down, so at least I know he (or she) got some nourishment after my not having seen him (or her) for 3 weeks! I could tell it was Mr. Tipsy Squirrel because of the markings around his (or her) nose, part of the tail missing, and of course, the tell-tale not being able to maintain his (or her) balance while at a standstill. I'm just glad he (or she) made it to this time of year. Hopefully the worst of the winter season is over and I will keep a sharp eye out this weekend for Mr. Tipsy Squirrel and funnel it extra pecans and almonds. I think it's eyesight has been affected by the disease it has. It does not track the flight path of nuts that I throw out for the other squirrels, for instance, and they zero in on like radar! Mr. Tipsy even has a hard time locating nuts on the deck, and sort of "bumps" into them and them fumbles around a bit until he (or she) gets the nut between its paws, and then makes short work of the shell and crunch crunch crunch, it's gone. So, I'm wondering if Mr. Tipsy has been in his (or her) nest for the past 3 weeks? He (or she) looked thinner tonight - much thinner - and old. Well, I figured he or she was older, there is just a "look" that older squirrels have that is missing in young squirrels - sort of wrinkled, almost like humans get. There is just no way of knowing, of course, short of attempting to follow Mr. Tipsy home to the nest and spying 24/7, which I cannot do. I was just glad to see Mr. Tipsy again, it cheered me up and made me feel there is some hope, after all. I cannot say the same thing for the day lilies that were so silly as to pop up along the west wall of the house, that have suffered extensive frost/freezing damage. Sigh. But the robins are very fat this year, and the cardinals are going into mating behavior (some of the squirrels are too, but then, I heard at least some squirrels making mating calls in January when it was 40 below zero F!) the blue jays have not been around much, I must put out more peanuts for them, they love peanuts! I found myself wondering this morning - why is it that my bed feels most comfortable right at the time I have to get up and get ready for work? Damn! Am looking forward to capturing that feeling tomorrow morning, when I will NOT be going into the office, even though I should... I do now understand what MARCH MADNESS is all about - without watching ANY college basketball.

2009 European Individual Chess Championship

Here are the final standings of the chess femmes who played in the "Open" (out of 306 players): 140 IM Dembo Yelena GRE 2456 5,5 2521 238 WIM Drljevic Ljilja MNE 2244 4,5 2231 243 Pantic Ivica SRB 2193 4,5 2226 249 WIM Solic Kristina CRO 2203 4,5 2217 251 WIM Vojinovic Jovana MNE 2331 4,0 2331 263 WIM Franciskovic Borka CRO 2261 4,0 2163 265 Kruljac Petra CRO 2052 4,0 2183 266 Papp Petra HUN 2134 4,0 2187 267 Andrejic Vladica SRB 2275 4,0 2166 281 Simic Vladica SRB 2064 3,5 2158 282 WFM Berke Ana CRO 2081 3,5 2164 301 Kanceljak Dalia CRO 1917 2,0 1823

2009 European Individual Women's Chess Championship

And the Bronze Medal Winner is: First Round (winner plays Monica Socko): 1 0 = 1 N. Pogonina (RUS) 0 1 = 0 E. Kovalevskaya (RUS) First Round (winner plays winner of Rajlich/Lomineishvili): 0 0 T. Shadrina (RUS) 1 1 E. Ovod (RUS) First Round (winner plays winner of Shadrina/Ovod): 0 1 0 1 0 I. Rajlich (POL) 1 0 1 0 1 M. Lomineishvili (GEO) Second Round: 1 0 0 0 M. Socko (POL) 0 1 1 1 N. Pogonina (RUS) 1 0 = 0 E. Ovod (RUS) 0 1 = 1 M. Lomineishvili (GEO) Final Round (Bronze Medal Winner): 1 0 1 1 N. Pogonina (RUS) 0 1 0 0 M. Lomineishvili (GEO) Whew! Got that? Interesting - when I looked this evening at the official website I could not find anything about the prizes awarded - other than the special prizes previously reported on here. What gives - is it a big secret???

2009 Isbank Ataturk Women Masters Tournament

Some after-tournament info. Well, I guess I shouldn't be calling this the Ataturk Women Masters anymore, it's now the FIDE Women's Grand Prix, woo woo. Search for this tournament five years from now - will the FIDE Women's Grand Prix still be around (cough cough)... For convention's sake, I will go back in my prior posts and put in an "also known as." If I remember to do that tomorrow, I'm too tired to do it tonight. LOL! The official website features a short interview with the winner, Koneru Humpy. She was a bit disappointed with her play, evidently, and I commend her for being honest about it. Yes, Hou Yifan is a hot player and is expected to be the next big thing - a sort of Magnus Carlsen except in a female shell - but she still is not as seasoned as Koneru and she has not played in nearly as many open and invitational events as Koneru against much stronger male opponents. To be blunt about it, you don't move up in the ELO ranks playing 2450 rated females, no matter how great their chess is and until more women break that 2600 barrier, female chessplayers will continue to be ignored by 95% of the population that pays attention to chess. It seems that Hou has some difficulty quickly rebounding from losses (or draws in games she feels she should have won); that may be a function of her age as much as lack of seasoning. I don't know if it's the Chinese government or her parents, or both, but methinks it's time to loosen the reins a little Oh well, just my thoughts on the matter. Wonderful news is that veteran player IM Elina Danielian has scored her second GM norm by her second-place finish in this event! HOORAY for ElIna, I'm pleased as punch for her. The official website also reports that Danielian will gain some 23 ratings points as a result of her performance in the Ataturk and go over 2500 (again). Check out the performance ratings of the chess femmes: No. Name FED IRtg Rp 1 GM CRAMLING, Pia SWE 2548 2475 2 WIM YILDIZ, Betul Cemre TUR 2214 2243 3 IM FIERRO Baquero, Martha L. ECU 2403 2488 4 GM HOU, Yifan CHN 2571 2648 5 GM ZHAO, Xue CHN 2508 2612 6 GM SEBAG, Marie FRA 2529 2513 7 IM DANIELIAN, Elina ARM 2496 2655 8 WGM SHEN, Yang CHN 2448 2273 9 GM CHIBURDANIDZE, Maia GEO 2516 2442 10 WGM MAMEDJAROVA, Zeinab AZE 2362 2281 11 GM STEFANOVA, Antoaneta BUL 2557 2438 12 GM KONERU, Humpy IND 2621 2679 Again, great photos at of the top three ladies: Humpy, Elina and Yifan. This was a fab event and I'm already looking forward to next year's Ataturk.

2009 European Individual Women's Chess Championship

Update after play-offs: Gold medal: IM Kosintseva, Tatiana RUS Silver medal: IM Mkrtchian, Lilit ARM Bronze Medal: still undetermined when I checked this morning (8.53 a.m.) Qualified for the World Championship: 1 IM Kosintseva, Tatiana RUS 2 GM Socko, Monika POL 3 WGM Shadrina, Tatiana RUS 4 IM Kovalevskaya, Ekaterina RUS 5 IM Rajlich, Iweta POL 6 IM Ovod, Evgenija RUS 7 GM Hoang Thanh Trang HUN 8 WGM Romanko, Marina RUS 9 WGM Kovanova, Baira RUS 10 IM Turova, Irina RUS 11 IM Paehtz, Elisabeth GER 12 WGM Zawadzka, Jolanta POL 13 IM Khukhashvili, Sopiko GEO 14 IM Muzychuk, Mariya UKR Mrktchian isn't on the list, but I assume she has already qualified for the next WWCC. by virtue of her stellar performance at the 2008 WWCC.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

More Bad News for the World from Global Warming

Hmmmm, perhaps it's because two days ago it was 75 degrees F at 5:00 p.m., and today it was 35 degrees F at 5:00 p.m. with a zero degree F windchill. I'm fascinating by weather news. When will this torment of a winter end????? From National Public Radio Antarctic Ice May Melt, But Not For Millennia [Hmmm, I don't believe that it will take millennia] by Richard Harris March 19, 2009 · A huge chunk of Antarctic ice can't withstand nonstop global warming, according to a new study published in the latest Nature magazine. And if it melts, the ice will raise the global sea level by 15 or 20 feet — or more. The only good news here is the catastrophe isn't likely to unfold quickly. The ice in question is called the West Antarctic ice sheet. In some ways, it's the planet's Achilles' heel. It holds a vast amount of water, locked up as ice, and it's sitting below sea level, so it's inherently unstable. Research On The West Antarctic Ice Sheet David Pollard at Penn State University says there has been intense research recently to figure out how the ice sheet has behaved over the past 5 million years. "Before there was only a vague idea of how the West Antarctic ice sheet grew and decayed over those time scales," he says. Now, a scientific drilling project has brought back sediment samples taken from underneath the ice sheet, allowing scientists to study the mud layers, like so many tree rings, to show what ice there has done over history. "It's really exciting," Pollard says. "They've shown it really has collapsed and re-grown, multiple times." [True - and that's why we cannot now stop it, no matter what we think we might be able to do]. Pollard and a colleague have taken that detailed information and asked what it portends for the future of the West Antarctic ice sheet. "The main reason that it collapsed in the past is the ocean has gotten warmer around the periphery of Antarctica, increasing the rate of melting of these floating ice shelves which fringe West Antarctica," Pollard says. These floating ice shelves act like buttresses to keep the much larger ice sheet pinned back. And whenever the shelves melt away, the ice behind them flows into the sea and sea levels rise. Warming ocean water around Antarctica, by a maybe 2 to 5 degrees Celsius, could trigger that chain of events, Pollard says. That degree of ocean warming is not forecast for this century, but at the rate the planet is heating up, it seems inevitable at some point. But Pollard's study indicates that the West Antarctic ice sheet won't melt away too rapidly. He figures that will take at least 1,000 years, and more likely 2,000 to 3,000 years. But instead of being reassured by this long time horizon, Pollard says, "I'd say I feel more nervous." That's because there's now a clear history showing this massive ice sheet has melted before, under conditions that the Earth may soon experience. And while the full effect may not unfold for thousands of years, it would transform the planet into a place we would not recognize today. Behavior Of Ice Still Unknown Stefan Rahmstorf at Postsdam University in Germany says there are still so many unknowns about how Antarctic ice behaves that Pollard's study is surely not the final word on this subject. Nor does it have to be. "We certainly don't need a collapse of the ice sheet to cause major problems with sea level rise," he says. Even if Antarctica contributes little or no water to the oceans this century, Rahmstorf says, there's a growing consensus that seas are likely to rise by at least two or three feet — and quite possibly more — before the end of this century "unless of course we stop the global warming fairly soon." Rahmstorf is not involved in the current Antarctica research, but he was at a scientific meeting last week in Copenhagen about rising seas and other aspects of global warming. Rahmstorf says Europe's global warming policy at the moment is built around a goal to limit global warming to about 4 degrees Fahrenheit. "Just like we have this temperature limit, we should also have a sea level limit," he says. He advocates setting that "sea level limit" at about three feet of sea level rise. Even if that can be accomplished, many vulnerable low-lying places on earth would be swamped, Rahmstorf acknowledges. But it's hard to imagine doing any better. And, as West Antarctica reminds us, we could easily do much, much worse.

Gee, More Good News (Not)

What will happen first? Will my water stocks and my fertilizer stocks rebound off their current lows since the Crash of 2008 or will I be killed by a mad, ravaging mob bent on destroying anything and everything just for the hell of it? If this is the future, I don't want to play anymore... Oy - talk about irony - this story is from the Irish Times . com: Thursday, March 19, 2009 Scarce food, water, energy will bring global mayhem by 2030, says scientist IAN SAMPLE A “PERFECT STORM” of food shortages, scarce water and insufficient energy resources threaten to unleash unrest, cross-border conflicts and mass migration as people flee the worst-affected regions, the British government’s chief scientist will warn at a conference today. World upheavals will come to a head in 2030, Prof John Beddington will tell environmental groups and politicians at the government’s Sustainable Development UK conference in Westminster. The growing population and success in alleviating poverty in developing countries will trigger a surge in demand for food, water and energy over the next two decades, at a time when governments must also make major progress in combating climate change. “We head into a perfect storm in 2030, because all of these things are operating on the same timeframe,” said Prof Beddington. “If we don’t address this, we can expect major destabilisation, an increase in rioting and potentially significant problems with international migration, as people move out to avoid food and water shortages.” [Not to mention mass migration as coastal areas slowly fall to salt-water poisoning and sink, inch by inch, below the encroaching oceans due to global warming which cannot now be reversed no matter what we do.] Food prices for staple crops such as wheat and maize have recently settled after a sharp rise last year, when production failed to keep up with demand. But, according to Prof Beddington, global food reserves are so low – at 14 per cent of annual consumption – a long drought or big flood could see prices rapidly escalate again. Most of the food reserve is grain in transit, he said. “Our food reserves are at a 50-year low but, by 2030, we need to be producing 50 per cent more food. At the same time, we will need 50 per cent more energy and 30 per cent more fresh water. There are dramatic problems out there, particularly with water and food, but energy also, and they are all intimately connected. You can’t think about dealing with one without considering the others.” Before taking over from Sir David King as chief scientist last year, Prof Beddington was professor of applied population biology at Imperial College London. He is an expert on the sustainable use of renewable resources. In Britain, a global food shortage would drive up import costs and make food more expensive. Some parts of the country are predicted to become less able to grow crops as higher temperatures become the norm. Most climate models suggest the south-east of England will be especially vulnerable to water shortages, particularly in the summer. Prof Beddington’s speech will add to pressure on governments after last week’s climate change conference in Copenhagen, where scientists warned that the impact of global warming has been substantially underestimated by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The latest research suggests that sea level rises, glacier melting and the risk of forest fires are at, or beyond, what was considered the worst-case scenario in 2007. Prof Beddington will say shifts in climate will see northern Europe and other high-latitude regions become key centres for food production. A technological push is needed to develop renewable energy supplies, boost crop yields and better utilise existing water supplies. Prof Beddington will use the speech to urge Europe to involve independent scientists more directly in its policymaking, using recent appointments by Barack Obama in the US as an example of how senior scientists have been brought into the political fold. Shortly after taking office, the president announced what many see as a “dream team” of scientists, including two Nobel laureates, to advise on science, energy and the environment. – (Guardian service) So - guess I won't be retiring to Las Vegas after all, I'll stick here next to Lake Michigan and farm my backyard -- after I install automated machine gun towers. By 2030 it may be a balmy 80 degrees just about year round here...

Oh No - Witch Hunt is on in Tanzania

Well, you can just imagine what's going to happen, with anonymous accusations being leveled...

Story from BBC News Online
Tanzania 'witch-naming' under way
Page last updated at 13:56 GMT, Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Thousands of people in Tanzania have been taking part in an exercise aimed at identifying those behind the killing of albinos for ritual purposes.

The process - in which people fill in forms anonymously, naming those they suspect of involvement - was ordered by President Jakaya Kikwete.

But some fear the nationwide exercise, which has begun in the Lake Zone area, could be used for personal vendettas.

Witchdoctors reportedly buy albino body parts to make "magic" potions.

Since late 2007, 45 albinos have been slaughtered in Tanzania.

Forty-four of the killings have taken place in the Lake Zone district. Police believe the killers are selling their victims' limbs, hair, skin and genitals to traditional medicine practitioners who make potions promising to make people wealthy.

Superstitious miners and fishermen in the region hoping to get rich quick have been accused of fuelling the demand.

President Kikwete has said the murders have brought shame on the country and urged the public not to fear retribution for naming the culprits. But correspondents say it is not clear how effective the exercise will be in a society which believes in witchcraft and where confidence in the legal system is wearing thin.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon last month decried the albino killings during his official visit to the country.

The government issued a ban on all traditional healers in January in an effort to stop the killings and several have been arrested since then on suspicion of flouting the order.

Koneru Wins!

WOW! Way to go, Humpy, yeah! From the official website: In the last round of İstanbul Women Grand Prix, Humpy Koneru won against Marie Sebag while Hou Yifan faltered against Shen Yang. Elina Danielian scored an important victory and outplayed Xue Zhao to take the second spot. Martha Fierro won against Maia Chiburdanidze while Pia Cramling closed the tournament with a win against Antoaneta Stefanova. Zeinab Mamedyarova and Betül Cemre Yıldız drew. The leader changed for the third time and Humpy Koneru won İş Bank Atatürk FIDE Women Grand Prix with 8.5 out of 11. Elina Danielian took the second place with better tie-break having 8 points while Hou Yifan took the third place. Here are the final standings: Rank SNo. Name Rtg FED Pts Res. SB. Koya 1 12 GM KONERU Humpy 2621 IND 8½ 0 43,50 4½ 2 7 IM DANIELIAN Elina 2496 ARM 8 ½ 40,25 4 3 4 GM HOU Yifan 2571 CHN 8 ½ 39,75 4 4 5 GM ZHAO Xue 2508 CHN 7½ 0 35,25 3½ 5 6 GM SEBAG Marie 2529 FRA 6 0 28,00 3 6 3 IM FIERRO Baquero Martha L. 2403 ECU 5½ 1 20,00 1 7 1 GM CRAMLING Pia 2548 SWE 5½ 0 22,75 1 8 11 GM STEFANOVA Antoaneta 2557 BUL 5 ½ 20,75 2 9 9 GM CHIBURDANIDZE Maia 2516 GEO 5 ½ 20,25 1½ 10 10 WGM MAMEDJAROVA Zeinab 2362 AZE 2½ 1 10,25 1 11 8 WGM SHEN Yang 2448 CHN 2½ 0 17,75 2 12 2 WIM YILDIZ Betul Cemre 2214 TUR 2 0 8,00 ½ See also the spare but insightful comments by GM Susan Polgar at her blog. Some interesting stories here - among them the failure of Stefanova, Cramling and Chiburdanidze. What happened? Stefanova can usually be counted upon to be among the front runners, but she lagged behind in this event from the start and never got any better. I can say pretty much the same for Pia Cramling, who earned her GM stripes around the same time that GM Susan Polgar earned hers! And what happened to Marie Sebag, who won her GM title playing in the 2008 European Individual Chess Championship ("Open")? She was lackluster in this event. Who lit that fire under Elina Danielian? GOOD to see her charging ahead in this tournament, wow. I've been covering women's chess for eight years and have seen her in tournament after tournament - sometimes the only woman playing. Always steady, usually out of the lime-light. Not this time! I'd be tempted to say this tournament represents the passing of the "old guard" (relatively speaking), but Danielian gives the lie to that theory! She has been playing very good chess but has been mostly under the radar. I consider Marie Sebag one of the "new guard" but she just didn't have it at this event. Who will be the top female player once Judit Polgar retires? The battle seems to be between Koneru Humpy and Hou Yifan - maybe. Who knows what new female chess star will jump to the fore in the next couple of years?

2009 European Individual Women's Chess Championship

Wow! Lots of excitment in the final round - and it's not over yet! First of all, here are the top 10 final standings, with the caveat below (and it's a big one): Rank Pno Title Name Elo Fed Score TPR 1 11 IM Mkrtchian, Lilit 2460 ARM 8,5 2598 2 5 IM Kosintseva, Tatiana 2497 RUS 8,5 2551 3 15 GM Socko, Monika 2449 POL 8 2565 4 24 WGM Shadrina, Tatiana 2416 RUS 8 2552 5 17 IM Lomineishvili, Maia 2437 GEO 8 2520 6 16 IM Kovalevskaya, Ekaterina 2442 RUS 8 2550 7 9 WGM Pogonina, Natalija 2467 RUS 8 2540 8 27 IM Rajlich, Iweta 2399 POL 8 2552 9 18 IM Ovod, Evgenija 2430 RUS 8 2504 10 8 GM Hoang Thanh Trang 2483 HUN After visiting Chessdom I learned that IM Lilit Mkrtchian and IM Tatiana Kosintseva will do a play-off to determine which chess femme wins the title. (By the way, beautiful photos of the chess femmes at Chessdom). Here are the Round 11 results for the top boards: IM Kosintseva, Tatiana 7.5 RUS 2497 - IM Kovalevskaya, Ekaterina 8.0 RUS 2442 1-0 IM Lomineishvili, Maia 7.5 GEO 2437 - WGM Pogonina, Natalija 7.5 RUS 2467 0.5-0.5 IM Mkrtchian, Lilit 7.5 ARM 2460 - WGM Romanko, Marina 7.5 RUS 2451 1-0 IM Rajlich, Iweta 7.5 POL 2399 - GM Socko, Monika 7.5 POL 2449 0.5-0.5 GM Hoang Thanh Trang 7.0 HUN 2483 - IM Khukhashvili, Sopiko 7.0 GEO 2416 0.5-0.5 IM Paehtz, Elisabeth 7.0 GER 2455 - WGM Kovanova, Baira 7.0 RUS 2386 0.5-0.5 IM Ovod, Evgenija 7.0 RUS 2430 - WFM Bodnaruk, Anastasia 7.0 RUS 2384 1-0 IM Turova, Irina 7.0 RUS 2379 - IM Muzychuk, Mariya 7.0 UKR 2427 0.5-0.5 WGM Shadrina, Tatiana 7.0 RUS 2416 - IM Melia, Salome 7.0 GEO 2422 1-0WGM Demina, Julia 6.5 RUS 2361 - IM Muzychuk, Anna 6.5 SLO 2540 0-1 IM Vasilevich, Irina 6.5 RUS 2340 - GM Lahno, Kateryna 6.5 UKR 2488 1-0 IM Dworakowska, Joanna 6.5 POL 2352 - IM Gaponenko, Inna 6.5 UKR 2450 0.5-0.5 IM Foisor, Cristina-Adela 6.5 ROU 2412 - WIM Paulet, Iozefina 6.5 ROU 2315 0.5-0.5 WGM Zawadzka, Jolanta 6.5 POL 2385 - WGM Botsari, Anna-Maria 6.5 GRE 2289 1-0 GM Dzagnidze, Nana 6.0 GEO 2518 - WFM Severiukhina, Zoja 6.0 RUS 2327 1-0 At the moment, these are the play-offs: For Championship Title: -- L. Mkrtchian (ARM) -- T. Kosintseva (RUS) For Bronze and Silver Medals: -- (1) IM Monica Socko (POL) -- (2) E. Kovalevskaya (RUS) -- (2) N. Pogonina (RUS) (winner of this play-off will meet Socko) -- (3) T. Shadrina (RUS) -- (3) E. Ovod (RUS) (winner of 3 will play-off against winner of 4) -- (4) M. Lomineishvili (GEO) -- (4) I. Rajlich (POL) Here are the special prizes awarded to the chess femmes thus far: Rank Name Fed Score TPR Elo TPR-Elo Prize (Eur) 1 Ziaziulkina, Nastassia BLR 5 2208 1950 258 1000 2 Khokhlova, Ekaterina RUS 4,5 2068 1822 246 900 3 Petrukhina, Irina RUS 4,5 2113 1905 208 800 4 Della-Rossa, Anastasia RUS 4 2074 1868 206 700 5 Balaian, Alina RUS 5 2229 2037 192 600 6 Brunello, Marina ITA 5 2282 2106 176 550 7 Kushka, Alena RUS 5,5 2295 2124 171 500 8 Sorokina, Anastasia RUS 4,5 2250 2087 163 450 9 Lezhepekova, Veronika RUS 3,5 2079 1917 162 400 10 Styazhkina, Anna RUS 4 2072 1926 146 350 11 Lupik, Marina RUS 5,5 2307 2163 144 300 12 Abdulla, Khayala AZE 5 2205 2070 135 260 13 Zizlova, Sofia RUS 4,5 2153 2020 133 220 14 Girya, Olga RUS 7 2441 2315 126 200 15 Lomakina, Galja RUS 5 2183 2058 125 170 Where did my girl Narmin Kazimova finish? 85 114 Kazimova, Narmin 2165 AZE 5,5 2223 Respectable, but not spectacular (85 out of 168, and higher than her start place at 114). There was no magic in this year's Championship for Narmin. Narmin, you keep going. I think you've got what it takes, but you need more training and a LOT more exposure to international competitions. Unfortunately, you are not in a position to obtain this - the sad but true story for too many chessplayers around the world today.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

2009 Isbanc Ataturk Women's Masters Tournament

This article is about yesterday's game: From the Press Trust of India Humpy held by Zhao, title hopes diminish By Our Chess Correspondent Istanbul, Mar 18 (PTI) Top seeded Grandmaster Koneru tried her best but could not breach Zhao Xue's defence and drew a tense game to remain joint third after the ninth round of the IS Bank Ataturk Women Grand Prix chess event here. Humpy raised visions of a victory against leader Zhao that would have brightened his title prospects but the Chinese kept herself in the game with some fine defence and in the end it was a drawn endgame that surfaced on the board. Consequentially, Zhao remained in sole lead inching up to 7.5 points out of a possible nine in the 12-players round robin tournament which is a part of the next world championship cycle.Compatriot Yifan Hao (7) remained in the second spot after she failed to capitalise on the extra pawn against Marie Sebag of France and settled for a draw.Humpy shares the third spot along with Elina Danielian of Armenia with 6.5 points apiece. In other games of the day Antoaneta Stefanova of Bulgaria won against Zeinab Mamedyarova of Azerbaijan as did Elina Danielian against Martha Baquero Fierro of Ecuador. Local hopeful Betul Cemre Yildiz scored her first win against Shen Yang of China, while Pia Cramling of Sweden won her second game in a row against Maia Chiburdanidze in the clash of the two most experienced names in the field. PTI
That was yesterday - today Koneru is in a three-way tie for first place with 7.5! She won her game today against Stefanova, Zhao lost her game to recently minted GM Marie Sebag, and Hou Yifan drew her game with IM Elina Danielian. Very interesting! Here are the current standings: 1 GM ZHAO Xue 2508 CHN 7½ 1½ 30,75 2½ 2 GM HOU Yifan 2571 CHN 7½ 1 34,00 3½ 3 GM KONERU Humpy 2621 IND 7½ ½ 33,50 3½ 4 IM DANIELIAN Elina 2496 ARM 7 0 30,00 3½ 5 GM SEBAG Marie 2529 FRA 6 0 25,00 2 6 GM STEFANOVA Antoaneta 2557 BUL 5 ½ 19,00 2 7 GM CHIBURDANIDZE Maia 2516 GEO 5 ½ 18,50 2 8 IM FIERRO Baquero Martha L. 2403 ECU 4½ 1 12,50 ½ 9 GM CRAMLING Pia 2548 SWE 4½ 0 16,00 2 10 WGM MAMEDJAROVA Zeinab 2362 AZE 2 1 7,75 ½ 11 WGM SHEN Yang 2448 CHN 2 0 12,75 2 12 WIM YILDIZ Betul Cemre 2214 TUR 1½ 0 5,75 ½ Here is some belated coverage of this great event at Chessbase. Tomorrow is the final game - the heat is on, Bad Girls! Official website.

First Female PhD in Computer Science Wins Award

From Stanford University's news service Stanford Report, March 18, 2009 First woman with computer science PhD wins top award The Turing Award, computing's highest honor, has gone to a researcher with a unique Stanford connection. When Barbara Liskov completed her doctorate at Stanford in 1968, she was the first woman in the United States to earn a PhD in computer science. Her dissertation was titled, "A Program to Play Chess Endgames." The award, announced by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), cites Liskov's work in making software more reliable and easier to maintain. Her achievements in programming language design are the basis of every important programming language since 1975, according to ACM. She is a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Police Ruin Bronze Age Tomb

Oh my - well, I just don't know what to say about this. Experts aghast as police disturb Bronze Age tomb From The Times Online March 17, 2009 Mike Wade Police officers in northern Scotland have been accused of vandalising a Bronze Age site through ignorance after they removed bones and textiles from the 4,000-year-old burial chamber, apparently because they thought they were investigating a crime scene. The burial chamber, or cist, was discovered intact, in a field near Oykel Bridge in Sutherland. The area is rich in Bronze Age remains, but this find was of huge importance to archaeologists. Unlike the vast chambered cairns of the earlier Neolithic period, burials from the metal-working people of the Bronze Age are modest affairs with artefacts such as pottery most commonly found. Inside the cist was a skeleton in the foetal position, an unusual “crouched burial”, and - rarer still - the chamber contained well-preserved items made of woven materials. Oblivious to the importance of the site - described as unique by one authority - police removed bones and other materials from the grave for forensic analysis, in actions which were described as “clumsy and “incompetent” by critics. Jonathan Hampton, the farmer and archaeology enthusiast who found the cist in January, had behaved impeccably on making his discovery. As soon as a mechanical digger pulled back a slab, he realised he was looking into a 4,000-year-old tomb. After punching the air in delight, he secured the site and covered it with a tarpaulin, before contacting National Museums of Scotland and Historic Scotland and, fatefully, notifying the police. The trouble, however, started late in the afternoon of 29 January, shortly after police officers arrived at the scene. A constable and a detective insisted on seeing the burial chamber, recalled Mr Hampton. “They hummed and hawed and made telephone calls and it all went on for some little time. It was getting dark and I was cold and tired. I eventually asked: ‘What are you going to do?' and they told me they were going to take a couple of photographs. I said that was fine, take them and cover the site up,” he said. Later, he spoke to the police as they left and was aghast to learn they had interfered with the grave. “It is a pity to lose our heritage like this, it was such an ignorant thing to do,” said Mr Hampton, who also has a 2,000-year-old vitrified fort on his land. Historic Scotland defended the police actions, and said the force had “an obligation to investigate an unexplained death”, adding that the site was not a scheduled monument, and so was not subject to the heritage organisation's protection. A spokesman for Northern Constabulary said that all materials had been handed over to Historic Scotland. “Following consultation with the Procurator Fiscal Service it was agreed the site would be photographed and the visible bones recovered for forensic analysis. Historic Scotland's later involvement in this matter identified further remains at the site as being from a historical burial site,” he said. The Procurator Fiscal said it was “not immediately obvious in the circumstances and poor lighting” that this was an archaeological site, a statement bitterly contested by Mr Hampton, who said police arrived in daylight. Though the bones have subsequently been handed over to Historic Scotland, the farmer remains adamant that some of the textiles, and basket-like materials have been lost. While police sources have confirmed that no foul play is suspected, many archaeologists were aghast at the force's behaviour. Jim Crow, Professor of Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh said that a find of textiles in a Bronze Age grave was unique in Scotland and extremely rare anywhere in Britain. The police behaviour seemed “a little incompetent”. “If they were dealing with a real crime, they shouldn't disturb the scene in any case. But in any circumstances, people take human remains very seriously and there are a whole range of concerns, not just among archaeologists but among society at large. There are very strict procedures, whether the remains are ancient or modern,” Professor Crow said. One archaeologist who has visited the site condemned the police actions: “From a professional perspective, it is astonishing. Everyone who hears about this incident says, ‘They did what?' They cannot believe the police have been so stupid,” he said.

Statue of Ancient Queen Found in Yemen

Archaeologists find statue of ancient Yemeni queen [18 March 2009] DHAMAR, March 18 (Saba) – A Yemeni archaeologist team has discovered a mosaic statue of a women sitting on a throne with here chest engraved with Musnad letters. The archaeologists also found other relics including a stone board with faith signs engraved on it. Two pulls [bulls?] separated by a tree were carved on the stone board, a symbol that was know as "Life's Tree" [Tree of Life] in ancient Yemeni civilization, director of the authority Ali al-Sanabani said. Other symbols like crescent were imprinted on found relics. The discoveries were revealed during excavations at a site in Dhamar province where the team found buildings that were used to give sacrifices. Al-Sanabani expected the site is a trace of the Yatrib city of the Sheba civilization. FRSaba
Er, is that the queen? If it is, she sure was ugly! Looks like she had a beard too. Did the ancient Yemeni people's female rulers wear "false beards" like the Egyptian pharaohs did?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

2009 European Individual Women's Chess Championship

Standings after Round 8 - only those chess femmes within a point of the leaders. It is still any woman's Championship at this point. IM Lilit Mkrtchian has bounced back from 5th place to 2nd place today with a win. Keep your eye on her: 1 GM Socko, Monika 7.0 POL F 2449 2604 2 IM Mkrtchian, Lilit 7.0 ARM F 2460 2599 3 GM Hoang Thanh Trang 7.0 HUN F 2483 2605 4 WGM Shadrina, Tatiana 7.0 RUS F 2416 2583 5 IM Lomineishvili, Maia 7.0 GEO F 2437 2539 6 IM Kovalevskaya, Ekaterina 7.0 RUS F 2442 2569 7 IM Rajlich, Iweta 7.0 POL F 2399 2580 8 IM Foisor, Cristina-Adela 6.5 ROU F 2412 2535 9 IM Melia, Salome 6.5 GEO F 2422 2532 10 WGM Pogonina, Natalija 6.5 RUS F 2467 2507 11 IM Kosintseva, Tatiana 6.5 RUS F 2497 2486 12 WGM Romanko, Marina 6.5 RUS F 2451 2495 13 IM Turova, Irina 6.5 RUS F 2379 2502 14 GM Dzagnidze, Nana 6.0 GEO F 2518 2498 15 GM Lahno, Kateryna 6.0 UKR F 2488 2478 16 WGM Kovanova, Baira 6.0 RUS F 2386 2476 17 WGM Zawadzka, Jolanta 6.0 POL F 2385 2469 18 IM Khukhashvili, Sopiko 6.0 GEO F 2416 2467 19 WFM Bodnaruk, Anastasia 6.0 RUS F 2384 2475 20 IM Ovod, Evgenija 6.0 RUS F 2430 2448 21 WGM Nebolsina, Vera 6.0 RUS F 2312 2418 22 IM Ushenina, Anna 6.0 UKR F 2499 2469 23 WFM Girya, Olga 6.0 RUS F 2315 2451 24 IM Muzychuk, Anna 6.0 SLO F 2540 2445 25 IM Paehtz, Elisabeth 6.0 GER F 2455 2440 26 IM Dworakowska, Joanna 6.0 POL F 2352 2413 27 IM Muzychuk, Mariya 6.0 UKR F 2427 2434 28 WIM Solovjova, Valentina 6.0 RUS F 2324 2384 29 WIM Majdan, Joanna 6.0 POL F 2351 2430 30 WFM Severiukhina, Zoja 6.0 RUS F 2327 2372

The Essenes Are Baloney! Claims Archaeologist

Nothing like Middle East archaeology to stir up a little controversy among the usually pretty laid-back realms of archaeology! The mental images of "scholars in uproar" makes me double over laughing! And that the archaeologist putting forth the new hypothesis causing all of the uproar is a female - well - PRICELESS! I can hardly wait to see how this all works out - but I'll probably be dead by then (50 to 100 years from now). Drat! I need a crash course in reincarnation... From The Times On Line (where else???) From The Times March 18, 2009 Scholars in uproar over challenge to Dead Sea Scrolls For more than 60 years scholars have believed that the Dead Sea Scrolls were the work of an ascetic Jewish sect called the Essenes, who lived in the 1st century in the mountains and recorded their religious observances on parchments. Now a new theory challenging the broadly accepted history is sending shockwaves through the archaeological community, even leading to the arrest of one prominent scrolls scholar’s son in the United States. Rachel Elior, a professor of Jewish philosophy at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, claims in a forthcoming study that not only were the 930 scrolls written by Jewish priests living in Jerusalem but that the Essenes as a sect did not exist. In her new book Memory and Oblivion, Professor Elior says that the scrolls were written by the Sadducees, a class of Jewish priests dating back to the time of King Solomon. The scrolls were found by a shepherd in a cave at Qumran, on the edge of the Dead Sea, in 1947. One of the most important archaeological finds of the century, their significance was enhanced by the discovery of an untouched version of the Hebrew Bible dating back to 300BC. Some scholars believe that the obscure sect may have had an impact on early Christianity, positing that John the Baptist or even Jesus may have spent time with them. Professor Elior argues, however, that an analysis of the scrolls shows that the authors were recording the routines and practises of the cohanim, or priests, descended from Zadok, the first high priest in Jerusalem after the conquest of the city by the Israelites hundreds of years before. She believes they were taken to Qumran some time during the 2nd century BC after the Sadducees turned their backs on the Temple of Jerusalem, which they said had been defiled by the conquest of the Seleucid Greeks, the descendants of one of the generals of Alexander the Great, in 175BC. “I believe any serious scholar truly can’t but admit that the law reflected in the scrolls is a Sadducee law,” she said, pointing out that there were no corroborating historical records, either in Jewish or early Christian literature, to indicate that a large sect of celibate men lived in the area over a long period of time. “The Essenes are only a literary invention of a Utopian society that lived a most benevolent and chaste life,” she told The Times. The confusion arose from scholars using other, later texts as their sources, she said, noting that the Jewish-Roman scholar Josephus mentioned them, but that he was writing hundreds of years later. The professor also noted that when the texts were unearthed in 1947, the area around Jerusalem was caught up in the war that created the Jewish state, and that early hurried assessment of their origin set scholars on the wrong track for decades. The theory has stirred controversy in academic circles, with established scrolls experts vehemently rejecting the new interpretation. “Almost seventy scholars accept the statement that one of the Essenes’ groups lived in Qumran, and some say we’re all morons and only they understand,” Hanan Eshel, a professor at Bar-Ilan University in Tel Aviv, told the Haaretz newspaper. The debate has even led to the arrest of the son of one proponent of the theory that the Essenes did not write the ancient scriptures. Raphael Golb, the son of Norman Golb, a professor at Chicago University, was arrested in New York this month for allegedly creating online aliases and conducting a campaign of harassment against academic opponents of his father’s theories. Father and son claimed that members of mainstream academia were trying to silence the professor. The younger Mr Golb reportedly accused his father’s critics of being anti-Semites trying to deny the link between the scrolls and established Jewish institutions. Monastic mystery — The Essenes are believed to have been a religious sect in Palestine from about the 2nd century BC to the end of the 1st century AD — The New Testament makes no mention of them, and accounts by Pliny the Elder, Philo of Alexandria and Josephus differ in significant details — Pliny, in his day, fixed their number at 4,000. They are thought to have moved to the desert in opposition to the powers in Jerusalem and lived in secluded monastic communities — It is believed that they considered themselves to be a chosen elect and that messianic figures would appear to them and usher in a new age, and that they spent their days engaged in manual work or study of Scripture — After a year’s probation, converts received emblems but were banned from common meals for two years — Those who qualified then swore piety to God, justice towards men, hatred of falsehood and faithful observance of the tenets Source: ****************************************************************************** I found this first comment on the story made online at the newspaper's website point on - and it happens to coincide with the philosophy of the researchers at Goddesschess who are exploring the origins of chess and other ancient board games: a lot of accepted antiquities "standards" eg chronology are based on surprisingly flimsy evidence, often just some 19th century German theorist's opinion, who had information second or third-hand. The Egyptian chronology is a good example and David Rohl has done a great job of demolishing it. Justin Toffmann, Cologne, Germany Jan says: Just because it's accepted as "truth" today does not mean it's correct; what is accepted as "truth" today is tomorrow's discarded hypothesis. We've seen this over and over again in the world of science (both hard and "soft" sciences) and chess historians should keep this in mind.

By Invitation Only

There are hundreds of thousands of blogs on the internet these days - pick a subject, you'll find a blog. How to narrow down what's worth reading? Frankly, I've no idea, darlings! What is one woman's garbage is another woman's treasure until the next rummage sale, as the saying goes... I happened across this blog by accident ("there is no such thing as coincidence...") The subject is one I find absolutely fascinating since, by inference, it touches on the subject of, as it is so often incorrectly framed - why can't women play chess as good as men? How the question is framed and thus, defining the focus of the research, is a topic that deserves it own blog! Change the perameters of the question and the focus of the research changes entirely - that takes me back to one of my favorite true stories about scientific research. But that's another topic :) After reading a blog entry at Twisted Physics, I framed the "topic" this way: how to define a paradigm (social, political, scientific, whatever) and just about anything else by using the power to exclude and omit. Think about it: when it comes right down to it, he who has the power to define the question controls what the ultimate answer will be. Please read By Invitation Only.

What Would You Do?

Story from The New York Times Image: A virtual rendering of the calesse excavated outside Rome, parts of which are in the Glyptotek (the harnesses) Danish Museum Resists Return of Disputed Artifacts By ELISABETTA POVOLEDO Published: March 16, 2009 ROME — The Italian government has successfully brokered deals with American museums and private collectors for the return of what it says are looted antiquities. But it is finding the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, an art museum in Copenhagen, harder to crack. Talks with the Glyptotek have dragged on for months, even though “the presuppositions for the negotiations are identical to those that were carried out with the Americans,” said Maurizio Fiorilli, a lawyer for the Italian state involved in the negotiations. The Glyptotek, however, has “adopted a very different attitude,” he said. At the core of the dispute are Etruscan and Greco-Roman objects that the Glyptotek bought from Robert Hecht, an American antiquities dealer now on trial in Rome, where he is accused of receiving and selling stolen artifacts and conspiracy in the antiquities trade. He denies any wrongdoing. The Italians have used evidence from Mr. Hecht’s trial, and from the trial of the antiquities dealer Giacomo Medici, who was convicted of receiving and smuggling archeological artifacts, to persuade several American institutions — including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles — to return objects to Italy on the suspicion that they were illicitly excavated. (Mr. Medici is appealing his conviction.) Italy’s campaign is founded on a 1970 Unesco convention that prohibited the illicit circulation of a nation’s cultural property. There is general agreement in the antiquities world that objects that surfaced after that date without established provenance should not be purchased. In addition a 1909 Italian law states that anything found underground in Italy belongs to the state. At Mr. Hecht’s most recent hearing last month, correspondence from the early 1970s between him and former Glyptotek officials regarding the sale of dozens of objects to the museum — including an Etruscan calesse, or two-wheeled horse-drawn carriage, excavated near Fara in Sabina, just north of Rome — was presented as evidence against him. The calesse, which dates from the early seventh century B.C., was part of the funerary accouterments of a Sabine prince whose tomb at a Colle del Forno necropolis was discovered by Italian archaeologists in 1970. When they began excavating soon after, they found that tomb robbers had already been there. “Fortunately the tomb raiders didn’t do a thorough job,” said Daniela Rizzo, an archaeologist and witness for the prosecution. In later digs — the most recent in the fall of 2008 — Italian archaeologists managed to recover material from the prince’s tomb and other parts of the necropolis. Today the tomb’s contents, including amphorae, weapons, gold and silver jewelry and decorations, as well as elements of the calesse, are mostly split between the Glyptotek and the archeological museum in Fara in Sabina. Despite the overwhelming evidence that the tomb objects were looted, Ms. Rizzo said on the stand, the Glyptotek “has always refused to collaborate” and return the artifacts. Ms. Rizzo said the museum should not have bought the objects in the first place. “They were visibly the result of a traumatic action,” she said. “It would have been impossible not to know that it had been illegally excavated. Archaeologists can read between the lines.” The Glyptotek has declined to speak about the case. In an e-mail message Jette Christiansen, of the museum’s department of ancient art, wrote, “As negotiations are currently still going on, we prefer to refrain from discussing the case in public until we have found a solution, satisfactory to all parties involved.” Mr. Hecht said in an interview that he first saw the artifacts he sold to the Glyptotek in Switzerland. “It’s only supposition that everything came from Etruria but” — and here he broke into song — “dimmi quando, quando, quando” (“tell me when, when, when”). Paolo Giorgio Ferri, the prosecutor at Mr. Hecht’s trial, said he hoped to build a separate case against former officials at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, though the statute of limitations has expired. Mr. Ferri also said he could ask that some of the objects be confiscated as material evidence should Mr. Hecht be convicted. “For now we have to evaluate the good or bad faith of the buyer,” said Mr. Ferri, who is still evaluating whether he will press charges against the Glyptotek. “The sin has almost been ascertained, let’s see if we will absolve them.” Italian authorities have also presented the Glyptotek with a longer list of objects, mostly bought from Mr. Hecht and Mr. Medici, whose provenance it is investigating. They include an acroterion, or pediment decoration, of a winged sphinx; an Etruscan terra cotta antefix, or roof ornament, similar to one returned by the Getty last year; and terra cotta reliefs of warriors on horseback. Italian officials have repeatedly said they did not intend to “empty the museum of its possessions,” only to point out the suspect provenance of many dozens of artifacts. Mario Torsello, the president of the Culture Ministry committee charged with recovering allegedly looted artifacts said in a telephone interview that negotiations with the museum were continuing, and that an Italian delegation would travel to Copenhagen to resume talks. “We’re confident that we will arrive at an accord that is mutually satisfying,” he said. But even if the Glyptotek should return the funerary artifacts from the tomb at Colle del Forno, the calesse would still not be complete. “There are other elements missing,” said Paolo Santoro, the archaeologist who has led the excavations at Colle del Forno since the 1970s. “Who knows who bought them?”

4,000 Year Old Cave Paintings in Peru

From the Andean Air Mail & Peruvian Times Thousands of 6,000-year old cave paintings found in Peru’s Amazon region Posted on March, 16 at 10:36 pm More than 10,000 cave paintings — dating back to more than 6,000 years — were discovered by Peruvian archaeologist Quirino Olivera in the Andean country’s jungle department of Amazonas, daily El Comercio reported. Hidden by the region’s lush vegetation for centuries, the paintings were discovered in caves located near the village of Tambolic, in the district of Jamalca, province of Utcubamba. “Over the past two years,” said Olivera, “we have found 6,000-year old cave paintings, especially in the Cuaco and Yamón mountains, located in the Lonya Grande district. These are in addition to those recently found in Shupcha, Tambolic, were many of these ancient images are concentrated.” According to Olivera, most of the Tambolic paintings depict hunting scenes and are similar to those found in Toquepala. The artists used mainly red, brown, yellow and black pigments. The Toquepala caves are located in the western Andes, at an altitude of 2,700 meters above sea level. They are noted for cave paintings depicting scenes of hunters corralling and killing a group of guanacos, a camelid animal native to South America. Known as “chaco” in the Peruvian Andes, this hunting technique consists of forming human circles, to corral the animals and either capture or kill them.

Cleopatra's Sister Found - Rebuttal by Mary Beard

My previous post on the subject. From The Times On Line A Don's Life Mary Beard March 16, 2009 The skeleton of Cleopatra's sister? Steady on. There were enthusiastic reports this weekend that archaeologists had found the skeleton of the younger sister of Queen Cleopatra -- and that the bones suggested that Cleopatra herself was not ethnically Greek or Macedonian (as most people have assumed), but of mixed race, at least part African. The woman's name was Arsinoe , and she was put to death as a potentially dangerous rival in Ephesus in 41 BC, on the orders of Cleopatra and Antony. The skeleton in question was found in a large tomb there, now known as the Octagon (on the right). The argument is that the shape of the skull shows that she had African blood. So Cleopatra too was part African. Does it all add up? Well, no, sorry -- it's not quite so simple. The facts are something like this. First, Arsinoe was indeed supposed to have been murdered on the steps of the temple of Diana in Ephesus, and the Octagon (which was found in the 1920s) is a rather grand tomb which can be dated stylistically to the first century BC. But there is nothing more than that to link the tomb and the princess. There is no surviving name on the tomb and the claims that the shape was meant to evoke the shape of the lighthouse of Alexandria (and so hint at an Egyptian occupant) don't add up for me. Second, the skeleton itself doesn't survive intact. The crucial skull, on which the ethnic arguments are based, was lost in the second world war. The new conclusions (including a mock up of Arsinoe's face) rely on the measurements of the skull left by the first excavators. The remaining bones are said to be those of a 15-18 year old; Arsinoe may well have been in her mid-20s when she died. Third, we don't actually know that Cleopatra and Arsinoe were full sisters. Their father was King Ptolemy, but they may well have had different mothers. In that case, the ethnic argument goes largely out of the window. The truth is that the BBC has a documentary coming up in a week's time, Cleopatra: portrait of a killer, and this 'scoop' is effectively a trailer for it. I don't blame the archaeologists -- after all, think of what was made of my 'discovery' of last week. For a similar line on this story, I now see that you should take a look at Rogue Classicism.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Game of Life

From the tomb of Sennedjem, a highly valued artisan during the 20th(?) or 21st (?) Dynasty in Egypt - some of the most spectacularly preserved and colord tomb paintings. This one reminds me of a game board - the Game of Life. I remember playing it as a youngster, at the time it was produced by Milton Bradley. I believe it is still produced today (I don't know by whom). As it is a tomb painting, perhaps some possible associations to the contents of the Book of the Dead have been overlooked because historians have been so caught up in the beauty of the imagery of Sennedjem and his wife going about their daily routine. If you take a closer look at the registers of this wall of art, it is separated into distinct areas, separated in a couple of areas (and surrounded) by a water feature, probably the Nile River. Notice also the series of black and white checked squares near the upper right corner of the painting. I believe this is a short-hand allusion to the battle between the forces of dark (black) and the forces of day (white) that takes place every 24 hours in classical Egyptian myth as the Sun God travels through the underground each night, facing untold horrors and challenges, only to emerge victorious the next morning (and, indeed, every morning), to once again bring light and life to the Earth.


Hola! Well - I thought I'd won six - yes SIX - tickets to a Brewer's Game at Miller Park, according to the receipt that was spit out earlier tonight at the Pick and Save (I'd stopped to pick up a few things on my way home from the office); at least, that's what the clerk told me. I DID win six tickets - to a Timber Rattlers game at Miler Park on April 24th. I thought - who the heck are the Timber Rattlers? Turns out, they're a minor league team. Darlings, am I going to go see a minor league team at the tail-end of winter in Milwaukee at Miller Park? Not on your life! Yes, it's true that Miller Park has a roof and has something resembling heat (it can get as warm as 60 degrees F inside). It's equally true that we can get blizzards on April 24th in Milwaukee, LOL! In fact, the year I built this house, we had a blizzard/ice storm on May 15, 1990 that caused a great deal of destruction of roofs, power lines and trees and made getting to and from work an absolute horror! Nope, the Timber Rattlers can play without me in attendance. Good luck, guys.

2009 SPICE Spring International Invitational

The 2009 SSII has begun at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. While there are no chess femmes playing in this new event, I am following the action because it gives an opportunity for promising young American players to earn GM norms against experienced international GMs. IM Ray Robson played back to back in the super-tough Moscow Open and Aeroflot Open events in February and is gunning for a GM norm. At 14, lots of folks are following Robson's career closely - could he be America's hope - the next Caruana or - Carlsen??? IM Robert Hess is the other U.S. hopeful. You can follow the action at Susan Polgar's blog with lots of photographs capturing the action, tension and mood by Paul Truong. Here are some Round 1 photos.

2009 European Individual Women's Chess Championship

IM Lilit Mkrtchyan (playing for the Armenian women's team) did very well in the 2008 Women's World Chess Championship at Nalchik (where?), and despite this defeat is proving that her showing at the WWCC was no fluke: Report from Pan Lilit Mkrtchyan suffers defeat from Hungarian chess player 16.03.2009 10:56 GMT+04:00 /PanARMENIAN.Net/ Armenian chess player Lilit Mkrtchyan is no more leader of the European Individual Chess Tournament for women after sustaining defeat from Hungary’s Hoang Thanh Trang in the 7th round. Nelly Aghinyan lost the game vs. Germany’s Elisabeth Pähtz. Lilit Galoyan defeated Russia’s Svetlana Mednikova while Anna Hayrapetyan scored a victory over Irina Petrukhina. Siranush Andreasyan and Galya Lomakina (Russia) played in a draw. After 7 tours, Lilit Mkrtchyan has 5.5 points; Nelly Aghinyan has 4 points; Lilit Galoyan, Siranush Andreasyan and Anna Hayrapetyan have 3.5 points each. *************************************************************************** After Round 8, you can see how tight things are at the top for the ladies - 14 players within 1/2 point of each other for the lead! 1 IM Melia, Salome 6.5 GEO 2422 2 GM Hoang Thanh Trang 6.5 UN 2483 3 IM Rajlich, Iweta 6.5 POL 2399 4 GM Socko, Monika 6.0 POL 2249 5 IM Mkrtchian, Lilit 6.0 ARM 2460 6 IM Kovalevskaya, Ekaterina 6.0 RUS 2442 7 IM Foisor, Cristina-Adela 6.0 ROU 2412 8 WGM Shadrina, Tatiana 6.0 RUS 2416 9 WGM Kovanova, Baira 6.0 RUS 2386 10 WGM Pogonina, Natalija 6.0 RUS 2467 11 IM Lomineishvili, Maia 6.0 GEO 2437 12 WFM Bodnaruk, Anastasia 6.0 RUS 2384 13 IM Dworakowska, Joanna 6.0 POL 2352 14 WFM Severiukhina, Zoja 6.0 RUS 2327

Sunday, March 15, 2009

2009 European Individual Women's Chess Championship

Standings of selected players after Round 8 (168 players): 1 GM Hoang Thanh Trang 6.0 HUN F 2483 2680 2 GM Socko, Monika 5.5 POL F 2449 2609 3 IM Mkrtchian, Lilit 5.5 ARM F 2460 2598 4 IM Kovalevskaya, Ekaterina 5.5 RUS F 2442 2574 5 IM Melia, Salome 5.5 GEO F 2422 2588 6 IM Foisor, Cristina-Adela 5.5 ROU F 2412 2572 7 IM Khurtsidze, Nino 5.5 GEO F 2421 2593 8 WGM Pogonina, Natalija 5.5 RUS F 2467 2540 9 IM Rajlich, Iweta 5.5 POL F 2399 2563 10 WGM Shadrina, Tatiana 5.5 RUS F 2416 2586 11 WGM Kovanova, Baira 5.5 RUS F 2386 2555 12 WFM Bodnaruk, Anastasia 5.5 RUS F 2384 2545 13 WGM Grabuzova, Tatiana 5.5 RUS F 2332 2508 14 IM Ovod, Evgenija 5.0 RUS F 2430 2484 15 IM Lomineishvili, Maia 5.0 GEO F 2437 2469 16 IM Ushenina, Anna 5.0 UKR F 2499 2498 17 IM Arakhamia-Grant, Ketevan 5.0 SCO F 2500 2495 18 IM Paehtz, Elisabeth 5.0 GER F 2455 2461 19 WGM Demina, Julia 5.0 RUS F 2361 2419 20 WGM Nebolsina, Vera 5.0 RUS F 2312 2425 21 WFM Severiukhina, Zoja 5.0 RUS F 2327 22 IM Dworakowska, Joanna 5.0 POL F 2352 2400 23 GM Lahno, Kateryna 4.5 UKR F 2488 2455 65 Kazimova, Narmin 4.0 AZE F 2165 2223 68 WGM Calzetta, Monica 4.0 ESP F 2371 2257

The Great Temple of Artemis - Cattle Feeding Grounds

Story from the Hurriyet Daily Monday, March 16, 2009 00:19 Temple of Artemis site suffers neglect ISTANBUL - The site of the historic Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, looks more like a zoo these days as ducks, geese, chickens and sheep wander around its unfenced grounds. Visited by approximately 1.5 million people a year, the temple lies within the boundaries of the Selçuk district in Aydın. Built by Croesus, the king of Lydia from around 560 to 550 B.C., it was burned down in 356 B.C. by a man called Herostratus who wanted to immortalize his name. Afterward, the temple was rebuilt on the same scale as the original, but three meters higher. The temple, the biggest of the Hellenistic age, was also famous for its great marble statues, measuring 55 to 115 meters tall. The reconstructed building was razed by the Goths in 262 A.D. and was not rebuilt again. The first excavations J.T. Wood initiated the first archaeological excavations at Ephesus in 1869 on behalf of the British Museum. After 1904, Wood’s quest to discover the ancient Temple of Artemis was carried on by D.G. Hogarth. The excavations continue today under the supervision of the Archaeological Institution of Austria. Many artifacts found at the temple were brought to the British Museum, while others are housed at the Vienna Museum. Antipater of Sidon, who listed the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, described the temple in this way: "I have gazed on the walls of impregnable Babylon along which chariots may race, and on the Zeus by the banks of the Alpheus. I have seen the hanging gardens and the Colossus of Helios, the great man-made mountains of the lofty pyramids and the gigantic tomb of Mausolus, but when I saw the sacred house of Artemis that towers to the clouds, the others were placed in the shade, for the sun itself has never looked upon its equal, outside Olympus." Protecting the site Though by its nature an important tourism spot, the Temple of Artemis retains little of its former glory. Only one column is still erect while remnants of others lie on the ground. Representatives of the tourism industry want to see this pitiful state improved. They are asking to have informational signs put up at the site to guide tourists and a mockup of the temple to be built there based on the building's known architectural structure. They also want to have a fence put around the area to keep animals and cattle from roaming around the ruins.

Confirmed: The Body of Cleopatra's Sister

Is this the face of Cleopatra's younger sister, Arsinoe? She looks neither Egyptian nor black African to me - she looks like the Latina down the street. From The Sunday Times March 15, 2009 Found: the sister Cleopatra killed Forensic experts believe they have identified the skeleton of the queen’s younger sister, murdered over 2,000 years ago Daniel Foggo ARCHEOLOGISTS and forensic experts believe they have identified the skeleton of Cleopatra’s younger sister, murdered more than 2,000 years ago on the orders of the Egyptian queen. The remains of Princess Arsinöe, put to death in 41BC on the orders of Cleopatra and her Roman lover Mark Antony to eliminate her as a rival, are the first relics of the Ptolemaic dynasty to be identified. The breakthrough, by an Austrian team, has provided pointers to Cleopatra’s true ethnicity. Scholars have long debated whether she was Greek or Macedonian like her ancestor the original Ptolemy, a Macedonian general who was made ruler of Egypt by Alexander the Great, or whether she was north African. Evidence obtained by studying the dimensions of Arsinöe’s skull shows she had some of the characteristics of white Europeans, ancient Egyptians and black Africans, indicating that Cleopatra was probably of mixed race, too. They were daughters of Ptolemy XII by different wives. [So the scientists deduce that Cleopatra was of "mixed race" whatever that means these days, ha! - based on her sister's skeleton? Oh please!] The results vindicate the theories of Hilke Thür of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, who has long claimed that the skeleton was Arsinöe. She described the discovery of Arsinöe’s ethnicity as “a real sensation which leads to a new insight on Cleopatra’s family”. [Why is Cleopatra's "ethnicity" a "real sensation"???] Fellow experts are now convinced [are they?]. Günther Hölbl, an authority on the Ptolemies, said the identification of the skeleton was “a great discovery”. The forensic evidence was obtained by a team working under the auspices of the Austrian Archeological Institute, which is set to detail its findings at an anthropological convention in the United States later this month. The story of the discovery will also be the subject of a tele-vision documentary, Cleopatra: Portrait of a Killer, to be shown on BBC1 at 9pm next Monday. [Ahhhh, now the real truth comes out about this sensationalist news story - it's all about publicity for this television "special." Geez!] The institute’s breakthrough came about after it set out to examine Thür’s belief that an octagonal tomb in the remains of the Roman city of Ephesus contained the body of Arsinöe. According to Roman texts the city, in what is now Turkey, is where Arsinöe was banished after being defeated in a power struggle against Cleopatra and her then lover, Julius Caesar. Arsinöe was said to have been murdered after Cleopatra, now with Mark Antony following Caesar’s death, ordered the Roman general to have her younger sibling killed to prevent any future attempts on the Egyptian throne. [So, we don't even know for sure if Cleopatra was guilty of ordering the murder of her sister? Easy enough to blame her instead of Antony - or someone else looking to implicate Cleopatra and ruin her reputation with a rumor campaign... And yet what is the name of the upcoming t.v. special: Cleopatra: Portrait of a Killer (of her own sister, tsk tsk). How low-life can the producers get? Must have studied out of the book of Stalin.] The distinctive tomb was first opened in 1926 by archeologists who found a sarcophagus inside containing a skeleton. They removed the skull, which was examined and measured; but it was lost in the upheaval of the second world war. [????] In the early 1990s Thür reentered the tomb and found the headless skeleton, which she believed to be of a young woman. Clues, such as the unusual octagonal shape of the tomb, which echoed that of the lighthouse of Alexandria with which Arsinöe was associated, convinced Thür the body was that of Cleopatra’s sister. Her theory was considered credible by many historians, and in an attempt to resolve the issue the Austrian Archeological Institute asked the Medical University of Vienna to appoint a specialist to examine the remains. Fabian Kanz, an anthropologist, was sceptical when he began this task two years ago. “We tried to exclude her from being Arsinöe,” he said. “We used all the methods we have to find anything that can say, ‘Okay, this can’t be Arsinöe because of this and this’.” After using carbon dating, which dated the skeleton from 200BC-20BC, Kanz, who had examined more than 500 other skeletons taken from the ruins of Ephesus, found Thür’s theory gained credibility. He said he was certain the bones were female and placed the age of the woman at 15-18. Although Arsinöe’s date of birth is not known, she was certainly younger than Cleopatra, who was about 27 at the time of her sister’s demise. The lack of any sign of illness or malnutrition also indicated a sudden death, said Kanz. Evidence of the skeleton’s north African ethnicity provided the final clue. Caroline Wilkinson, a forensic anthropologist, reconstructed the missing skull based on measurements taken in the 1920s. Using computer technology it was possible to create a facial impression of what Arsinöe might have looked like. [She reconstructs the skull based on measurements of a missing skull that we have no idea were actually accurate, and from there she "reconstructs" a face. Some people accuse Goddesschess of being "out there" with our theories about the origins of chess, but we haven't tried any stunts like this one!] “It has got this long head shape,” said Wilkinson. “That’s something you see quite frequently in ancient Egyptians and black Africans. It could suggest a mixture of ancestry.” Hmmmm, does this mean those recently discovered "elongated skulls" found in Siberia are a mixture of ancient Egyptians and black Africans, too???
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