Saturday, May 23, 2009

More on the "Nefertiti Bust Is a Fraud"

Nefertiti Bust May Be 100 Years Old, Not 3,000: Martin Gayford May 12, 2009 (Bloomberg News) (Gayford believes the bust may be a fake) Egypt’s Rubbishes Claims that Nefertiti Bust is ‘Fake’ By Christopher Szabo Published May 12, 2009 ( (Cites the official Egyptian stance through Zahi Hawas, Secretary General of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, that the bust of Nefertiti is genuine)

Modern Take on Joan of Arc/The Hind of Hinds

From the front page of The New York Times earlier this evening, a modern "battle queen" leading men into war: Civil Wars: The Fights That Do Not Want to End (Image: TO WAR At the outbreak of the three-year Spanish Civil War in 1936, a woman led men through Madrid. Rolls Press/Popperfoto — Getty Images)
My thought is that whenever wars were fiercely serious (that is, other than boys-will-be-boys raiding each other's cattle or stealing wives for exercise and amusement), women were intimately involved. From thus arose the myriad legends of the Amazons, for instance. When survival was on the line, women went to war beside their men or led men into war. We all have heard about Cleopatra, Zenobia, Bodiccea, Joan d'Arc and Elizabeth I.
Spain, with its unique historical blend of Christianity on the one hand, and several centuries under Islamic rule on the other hand, would have had several models to draw upon for women warriors. The Islamic tradition is the Battle Queen, the epitomy of which was the Hind of Hinds. The Christian tradition of warrior women in Spain reveals several strong females who either inherited their rulership upon the death of husbands, fathers, brothers; those who ruled as regents for minor sons; and those who, like Queen Isabella of Castile, inherited her own kingdom and ruled in her own right:
  • Toda Asnarez of Navarre (d. 970), widow of Sancho Garces, King of Pamplona (d. 925)
  • Ermessenda, countess of Barcelona (d. 1058), widow of Count Ramon Borrell (d. 1017)
  • Reign of Urraca, queen of Leon-Castile (d. 1126)
  • Reign of Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon (1474-1504)(Their marriage joined the two kingdoms and, together, they drove the last of the Moorish forces from Spain)
(Information from Birth of the Chess Queen by Marilyn Yalom)
The Chess Queen in Spain: Hebrew Evidence
During the twelfth century, the chess queen would make her first definite appearance in Spain. Her reception on the board was largely determined by local custom and religious belief. The Muslim world was uninviting: chess figures continued to be represented abstractly, and the vizier did not give way to the queen. European Christianity, in contrast, both allowed and actively encouraged the representation of humans, animals, and the divine, including easily identifiable queens. Jews found themselves somewhere in the middle. On the one hand they, too, were prohibited from making "graven images," but they were less rigid on the matter than Muslims. And while the queen never gained admittance to Muslim chess, she made her way into the hands of Jewish players, as evidenced by three Hebrew texts of Spanish origin.
First, in a poem written by the Spanish rabbi Abraham ibn Ezra (1092 - 1167), we see the Arab-style game played without a queen. Ibn Ezra was a renowned mathematician, astronomer, scriptural exegete, and poet, greatly respected by Jews, Muslims, and Christians alike. His "Verses on the Game of Chess" lovingly describe the moves of each piece, as summarized below.
The chariot (rook) moves across the board's whole length and breadth in a straight line. The horse (knight) moves three squares along a "crooked path" - two squares in a straight line and one at right angles. The elepahant (bishop) moves diagonally three squares at a time. The vizier, called paraz in Hebrew (ibn Ezra's equivalent for the Arabic firz), moves diagonally one square at a time. The king steps to any contiguous square. The foot soldier (pawn) advances in a straight line, but to take a piece, he moves diagonally. If he advances to the eighth row, then he can return in any direction (like a "queened" pawn today).(7)
Comparing the lowly foot soldier with his modern counterpart, one sees that he has not made any progress over the centuries. Similarly, the king, the rook, and the knight already had the moves they have today. But the ancestor of the bishop - the elephant - could move no more than three squres at a time, instead of the whole length of the board as he does in modern chess. The vizier, though, bears little resemblance to today's queen since he could move only to the adjacent diagonal square, except on his initial move when he could move three paces, including the square of departure.
A second Hebrew poem on chess that may also have been written by ibn Exzra, after he left his native Toledo, reveals the existence of the chess queen. Now the king has at his side the Shegal (Hebrew for "queen") instead of the vizier or general. Otherwise the pieces are the same.
The king and the Shegal at his side And the elephants and horses next to them And [you also have] two chariots And [warriors] in front of them. ... And the king [and likewise] the Shegal And their steps [are not very different].(8)
Presumably, in the course of his lifetime and travels, which took him to many parts of Spain, Western Europe, and the Near East as far as Persia, Rabbi ibn Ezra played with both Muslim and European-styled chess pieces. What did he think when he first saw a chess queen? I like to imagine that, after his initial surprise, he welcomed her to the game. In spite of the misogyny that permeated medieval Judaism, there were enough powerful women in the Old Testament, including the judge and war leader Deborah, to warrant the rabbi's respect. "What! A woman on the chessboard? Well, why not!"
A third Spanish Hebrew text, attributed to Bonsenior ibn Yehia, possibly twelfth century, possibly later, lines up the chess pieces like mighty armies with "the king in his glory" and the queen [Shegal] at his right hand":
She sits at the top of the high places above the city. She is restless
and determined. She girds her loins with strength. Her feet stay
not in her house. She moves in every direction and into every corner. Her evolutions are wonderful, her spirit untiring. How comely are her footsteps as she moves diagonally, one step after another, from square to square!
And the King, dressed in black robes, stands on the fourth square, which is white. His queen stands on the square next to him, which is black. He draws near to the pitch darkness; his eye is upon her, for he has taken an Ethiopian woman [as his consort]. There is no difference between them as they come towards you. They set out towards you along the same path, at the same pace and by the same route. When the one dies, so does the other.(9)
This passage, recalling Proverbs 31 and the Song of Songs in the Bible, is an amazing tribute to the chess queen and to women in general, bringing together the Jewish wifely virtues of beauty and energy with a warrior's strength. And it presents the king and queen as loving equals, who cannot live without each other.
(7) Keats, Chess in Jewish History, pp. 67-72. Professor Robert Alter of the University of California at Berkeley also provied help with this poen.
(8) Keats, Chess in Jewish History, p. 73.
(9) Ibid., pp. 77-78.

Friday, May 22, 2009

New York: Some Fav Photos

This photo was taken by Mr. Don at Battery Park on Friday May 15th - Michelle is holding her charcoal portrait taken earlier that day. From right to left: Isis, Michelle, me. Okay, Mr. Don, did you pose us on purpose in front of a phallic symbol? I love how our outfits just happened to be color-coordinated that day (it wasn't planned!): Isis in black hat, blue top and black jeans; Michelle in black tankini top and grey jeans; me in a black/grey/blue floral print top and black jeans. When did Michelle get so tall? Michelle snapped this obviously posed photo of me, Mr. Don and Isis at the base of the Statue of Liberty during our tour on Saturday May 16th. I wasn't really strangling Mr. Don. Notice how Mr. Don has his umbrella raised like Pharaoh with his war club in the classic ancient Egyptian pose. Isis, as always, looks beautiful and mysterious. Me, I just look manic. Oh well. Geez, I've got to buy some better-fitting jeans - fast! Hmmmm, was Mr. Don planning on beaning me with that war club, er, umbrella? A few days later Mr. Don had the absolute gall to tell me oh by the way, the Scorpion Goddess of ancient Egypt used to be called The Strangler because of the way her victims died... Gee, thanks for telling me that, Love of My Life. My response was suitably muted, as you can imagine. I love this photo of Isis and Michelle taken in Central Park on Sunday May 17th. The Albert ladies are lovely, as per usual. A great shot not only of the ladies, but also of mid-town Manhattan in the background, behind the "lake." Mr. Don and I headed toward Brooklyn that day - via subway (an adventure that I have yet to write about, ahem) - to visit the Brooklyn Museum, and Isis and Michelle toured the Museum of Natural History and then headed toward Central Park. We all got together much later that evening and had a festive late supper at Applejack Diner where I was served the largest half-roasted chicken I've ever seen in my life. It must have weighed five pounds! Michelle was a good sport the morning of Monday May 18th, the last day in town for Mr. Don and I. The China Institute was holding a special exhibit of some of the artifacts uncovered from the excavations of the tombs of the Marquis of Dai, his wife (Lady Dai) and their son. She humoured us (the old folks) who oohed and aahed our way through the two small rooms of exhibits and then snapped this photo of me and Mr. Don on the way out the door. It was also Michelle who pointed out the two free catalogs available on the bookshelf next to the front desk - one on 17th century export porcelain and one on ancient basket-weaving techniques. Fascinating stuff to yours truly! Thanks for the tip-offs, M.

Unique Chess Set Rescued from Rubbish Heap

Story from the BBC Online £5k hope for 'rubbish' chess set Friday, 8 May 2009 A chess set thrown out as rubbish by one of north Wales's biggest landowners could fetch £5,000 for relatives of the butler who saved it from the bonfire. The French carved ivory figures which once belonged to Lord Mostyn are due to be auctioned by Christie's in London. They are being sold by the great grandchildren of James Baxter, who served the third Baron Mostyn at Mostyn Hall, Flintshire, in the late 1800s. The auction house said chess sets from the era are "rarely" found complete. Through Mostyn Estates Ltd, the Mostyn family own large areas of Llandudno, Conwy, and their connection with the resort and its development dates back 500 years. The chess set, made in Dieppe in the late 18th to early 19th Century, is estimated to fetch between £3,000 to £5,000 when it is auctioned on Tuesday. According to Christie's, James Baxter was the butler at Mostyn Hall around the 1880s-1890s. During his time at Mostyn Hall, Lord Mostyn gave his butler a cardboard box and asked him to dispose of the contents. On closer examination he discovered amongst the debris that the box contained a chess set and being particularly taken with the game, asked his employer if he might keep it. Lord Mostyn agreed and so began the succession of this distinctive game set to its current owner James Baxter's great grandson, Christopher Baxter Jones, who is selling the heirloom with his brother Nicholas and sister Ann. The auction house said the "intricately carved" chess set was modelled to represent the French versus the Moors, showing "incredible attention to detail". The kings are depicted carrying sceptres, the bishops in wide brimmed hats, the knights as cavalry men, and the rooks as turrets. Sets carved to depict the battles between the French and their colonial possessions became a popular theme among the Dieppe carvers during the late 18th Century and 19th Century as the ivory carving industry thrived. A spokesman for Christie's said: "Chess sets from this period are rarely complete, and most surviving examples date from circa 1820, making it no wonder that this striking chess set caught the curious eye of James Baxter some 60 years later. "A curious eye which allows us to indulge in today what might have been lost forever."
Whoa! According to Christie's website, the set ultimately sold for £10,625 on May 12, 2009, Lot 146, Sale 5923.

Artist Aldo Marsili's Custom Made Chess Sets on Exhibit

From Market Watch press release May 5, 2009, 8:00 a.m. EST Galleria Florentia to Exhibit World-Renowned Artist Aldo Marsili's Custom Made Chess Sets in Boston Exhibit Will Launch with Chess Tournament May 22 BOSTON, May 05, 2009 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Galleria Florentia, 79 Newbury Street, will exhibit the world-renowned artist Aldo Marsili's custom made chess collection from May 22 to June 27 and launches with Galleria Florentia Chess Tournament, sponsored in conjunction with the Boylston Chess Foundation and the International Chess Institute. The exhibit will feature more than 50 hand-crafted chess sets made of gold, silver, bronze, wood, metal and plastic materials with marble, onyx, wood and leather chess boards and table tops. The 2009 Galleria Florentia Chess Tournament will be held May 22 at 10 a.m. Prize and contributions to the Warren-Prescott Foundation will total $5,000. "We are thrilled to present Aldo Marsili's breathtaking and unique work of art at our gallery," said Pamela Yassini, president of Galleria Florentia. "These magnificent and unique chess sets are true museum quality and we are confident that art collectors and especially chess enthusiasts will be captivated by this one of a kind exhibit in the area." The chess collection, which will be utilized for the final tournament, features various designs including table tops chess sets and chess tables with stools. The assortment of styles consists of Roman, Medieval, Louis XIV, Napoleno and Robinhood. The sets to be used for the chess tournament are furnished by Galleria Florentia's exclusive artist Aldo Marsili. Marsili's love of chess, the world's most popular game, and his desire for beautiful art led him to create exquisite hand-crafted chess sets where he quickly generated eager consumers. Marsili continues to create and specialize in the production of handmade chess pieces consisting of gold, silver and bronze hand painted, sculptured or handcarved collectibles and his company, Italfama Snc, is considered one of the most prestigious and appreciated chess manufacturers in the world. The Boylston Chess Foundation, The International Chess Institute and Galleria Florentia attracted 64 national participants over a four week tournament held between March 28, and April 25, 2009. The following four qualifiers are the finalists for the 2009 Galleria Florentia Chess Tournament. -- David Vigorito, Grand Master received international Master title in 2004. He has won NH, NV, MA State championships. BCC Champ 2007, co-champ 2008. He is a well known chess coach and author. David writes a regular column for New England's award winning Chess Horizons as well as several Internet publications and has authored three books. -- Paul MacIntyre is a Fide Master (FM) and a former Boylston Chess Club President. He was Captain of the World Amateur Team and has won Boylston Chess Club championships on more than one occasion. -- Charles Reardon has been playing chess for 20 years. He is a three-time Boylston Chess Club Champion achieved FIDE Master Title in 2008 and USCF Senior Master Title in 2009. -- Denys Shmelov is a member of the Boston Blitz team for the U.S. League. He is a Senior Master and New England's rising star, defeating Marc Esserman to qualify for the Spot. "The Boylston Chess Foundation is both thrilled and appreciative to have this opportunity to work with Galleria Florentia to bring this premier event to the local chess community. We look forward to a most successful tournament and hope this is the first of many endeavors together," said David Vigorito, president of The Boylston Chess Foundation. "In these tough economical times it is inspiring to see the type of commitment to the community and charity that the Galleria Florentia exemplifies through their generous $2,500 donation to the Warren-Prescott Foundation and $2,500 sponsorship of the Chess Madness Tournament. On behalf of the International Chess Institute I extend my sincerest thanks and appreciation to the Galleria Florentia," said Kent Leung, president of International Chess Institute. ABOUT GALLERIA FLORENTIA Galleria Florentia is the premier source of original, museum quality art, handcrafted by respected European artisans, working with centuries-old traditions. Galleria Florentia offers this elegant collection of fine art to exclusive clientele, both individual and corporate, with personalized service, bringing a classical European ambiance to any space. The two-story gallery at 79 Newbury Street in Boston's Back Bay features Murano Glass, Furnishings, Paintings, exquisite Stone and Bronze sculptures, Tuscan Leather, and Capodimonte porcelain and is open from 11 a.m.- 6 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday or by appointment. For more information, visit or call 617-585-9200. ABOUT BOYLSTON CHESS FOUNDATION Boylston Chess Foundation is the largest chess club in Boston and the third oldest chess organization in the United States. For more information, visit or call 617-629-3933. ABOUT INTERNATIONAL CHESS INSTITUTE The International Chess Institute was founded to promulgate the pleasure and developmental benefits of chess to children throughout the World. The Institute promotes structured chess classes in curricular and after-school programs in elementary, middle, and high schools in public and private sectors. For more information, visit EDITOR'S NOTE: Images of some of the works are available for publication. Please contact Pamela Yassini, or 617-585-9222 for more information. SOURCE: Galleria Florentia For Galleria Florentia Lisza Gulyas, 303-888-8516 Copyright Business Wire 2009

Chess, Art and Marcel Duchamp

From the St. Louis Examiner Hypermodern dadist in the livery of a trebuchet, even May 22, 7:56 PM Imagine for a moment that the “Bachelors” or “Nine Malic Molds” of Marcel Duchamp’s Large Glass, represent the eight pawns material to a chess player, that they connote the eight files or eight paths which a pawn is compelled to take toward the eighth and final rank, or what is for the pawn its long sought place and moment of gratification, union, and transition. Imagine that the Ninth Malic Mold, the Stationmaster of Duchamp’s notes, represents Duchamp, the artist as guide and gatekeeper, the viewer as witness, the protagonist of Duchamp’s anonymous allegory, the metaphorical player of chess himself and the King which functions as his medium and stand in. . . . There can be little doubt that Duchamp’s work can be difficult and its references obscure, however, in anticipation of the potential need for a digestive aid, there is also a book available through the SLUMA website and the Saint Louis Chess Club and Scholastic Center, with essays by Duchamp scholars Francis M. Naumann and Bradley Bailey, and analysis of several of Duchamp’s more significant games provided by two-time Women’s Chess Champion (2002, 2004) and author Jennifer Shahade. The book entitled, Marcel Duchamp: The Art of Chess, and prepared for concurrence with the exhibit should, for those seeking full effect, be considered as integral to it. . . . Rest of article.

WFM Richards takes Wheeler Chess Open

Story from Saturday, May 23, 2009 After a one-year hiatus to complete her university studies, seven-time national women's champion Woman FIDE Master (WFM) Deborah Richards marked her return to the Jamaican chess scene by winning the seventh staging of the Robert Wheeler Chess Open which took place at Jamaica College over the past weekend. Richards took the Open title after securing a hard-fought draw against National Master Brandon Wilson in the final round to end on 4.5 points from six games. Second place went to National Master Peter Myers, who also ended on 4.5 points, but was relegated to second place after two tiebreak systems were employed. Third went to National Master-elect Mikhail Solomon, who also ended on 4.5 points, but was relegated to third on tiebreak. The Intermediate Section for players with a Jamaica Chess Federation (JCF) rating below 1600, was won by Kingston College student Kamaal Warren, who scored five points from six games. Second place went to Alethia Edwards of Wolmer's Girls who ended on 4.5 points, while third went to Kadian McGlashan, who also ended on 4.5 points. The Amateur Section for players with a JCF rating below 1200, was won by Janique Lee, who was perfect after winning all five of her matches. A number of category prizes were awarded as follows: Best Expert - Mark Henry, Best in Class A - Melisha Smith, Best Class B - Shawn Wilkinson, Best Class C - Jonathan Pitterson, Best Class D - Twae-Jordan Rose and Best Class E - Justin Lowe. Age group prizes were also awarded: Best U-10 - Sheanel Gardner, Best U-12 - Sheanel Gardner and Best U-14 - Jonathan Pitterson.

How One Museum Pitches for Funds

I seem to be on a museum news kick at the moment (see posts from earlier today). This article made me go Whoa! I'm so naive! Here I thought that museums mostly acquired their art and artifacts from bequests by wealthy collectors and donations by equally wealth patrons. But at least in this case, it's all about Marketing, baby, marketing! (Methinks Mr. Don would appreciate these graphics of African textiles, from the article. The first looks like an abstract Tree of Life pattern to me, but also has something of a Celtic cross pattern look to it; the second has checkerboard-like patterns that appear to harken back to extremely ancient motifs. What looks like a "magic square" (3x3) checkerboard motif, for instance, appears in one of the caves as Lascaux in France, dated to circa 17,000 BCE.) From The New York Times: Art My Dream Is for Sale; Buy It for Me By JORI FINKEL Published: May 8, 2009 LOS ANGELES - AS any gallery owner knows, art does not exactly sell itself. Even in a bullish economy the way a work is displayed and discussed can make all the difference between igniting a collector’s abiding interest and letting the ember go cold. This is also true in the museum world, where curators must lobby for proposed acquisitions and exhibitions, both with museum directors who sign off on projects and trustees who sign the checks. And nowhere is the sales prowess of museum curators exhibited more theatrically than in the annual Collectors Committee weekend at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. While most curatorial sales pitches tend to take place in boardrooms behind closed doors, this event makes a rather public sport of it; this year one curator was spotted literally falling on his hands and knees before a trustee at a gala dinner, playfully yet seriously begging for acquisition funds. The concept is simple: after curators argue for their proposed acquisitions, collectors, who have ponied up money to participate in the event, vote on what to buy with the pooled funds. Rest of article.

Will the Rose Museum Go the Way of the Dinosaur?

Say it ain't so, Ma! Brandeis U is hard up for money? Are you kidding me? From The New York Times: Arts, Briefly Criticism of Interim Report on Brandeis Art Museum Compiled by DAVE ITZKOFF Published: May 4, 2009 In an interim report, the committee that is contemplating the future of Brandeis University’s Rose Art Museum made no recommendation to keep the museum’s director, Michael Rush, whose contract expires in June, The Boston Globe reported. The Future of the Rose Committee was formed in March after widespread condemnation of a decision by the university’s trustees in January to shut the museum with the goal of selling its art to raise money. In a six-page report, the committee offered praise for Brandeis administrators, but the head of the museum board was skeptical of the committee and its findings. “It reminds me of something like a Stalinesque show committee,” Jonathan Lee, the chairman of the Rose’s board, told The Globe. “These are all hand-picked people by the administration. We didn’t get to pick who represents us.”


Gag. Here's a story with the usual crapola about no women allowed for the past 1,000 years because it is alleged by Orthodox Christian male monks that the presence of females, including female animals (except for cats, who are good "ratters") "slows" the male along the path to spiritual enlightenment. Geez, guys, after 1,000 years you still haven't learned how to keep it in your pants? Your mothers are saying shame SHAME on you and making the shame-on-you sign of the cross at you with their fingers. Story at the After 1,000 years, women can see treasures of Mount Athos By Thomas Inprocter in Paris Wednesday, 6 May 2009 For the first time in almost 1,000 years, many of the legendary Byzantine treasures of Mount Athos in Greece are on view to women. Almost 200 works of art from the male-only Orthodox enclave in northern Greece are on show at the Petit Palais in Paris until July. Most of the works have never previously left the peninsula, from which women – and even most female animals – have been banned since 1045. The 20 monasteries of Mount Athos house one of the largest collections of Christian art in the world. Direct access to these treasures is notoriously difficult to obtain for men, and impossible for women. But Paris has been granted the privilege of hosting this "world premiere", largely as a result of France's presidency of the EU last year. The Greek Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dora Bakoyannis, described the exhibition as a "cultural event of the first order". "The treasures exhibited here are a part of European culture," Ms Bakoyannis said. "A large number of these relics are going 'beyond the walls' of Mount Athos for public viewing for the first time by men and women." Previously, only two very small exhibitions have been held of Mount Athos artefacts, both in Greece. The director of the Petit Palais, Gilles Chazal, said: "The monks of Mount Athos have been very enthusiastic in their support of this project." He added that the exhibition would be "hugely significant". The original decree banning women, and female animals (except cats, which help control the rat population), from the enclave was issued by the Byzantine emperor Constantine Monomachos in 1045. Under Greek law, a breach of the ban by a woman can still lead to a jail sentence. The ban on female animals is enforced as strictly as possible. The monks maintain that the presence of women slows their path towards spiritual enlightenment. Particularly spectacular are the displays of imperial gifts which include "one of the most remarkable objects of metalwork of the Byzantine world": a chalice belonging to Manuel Cantacuzène (1349-1380), the son of Emperor Jean VI Cantacuzène, made from a single piece of jasper and most likely of Venetian origin. The exhibition will remain at the Petit Palais until 5 July.
I think this comment from the newspaper website says it all: italori wrote: Thursday, 7 May 2009 at 09:41 am (UTC) -"The monks of Mount Athos have been very enthusiastic in their support of this project." - I am sure 100% that their "enthusiasm" depends on the money they are going to profit from this exhibition!!!-"the presence of women slows their path towards spiritual enlightenment"- ? Do I go to prison even if I take a BURKA with me? Just an example of how 51% of today's world population continues to be treated by the minority. It doesn't make any difference what religion it is - the patriarchal poison spewing froth remains the same. Such fear and loathing by males of the feminine. How sad.

"The Lost Chalice" - a Review

Meow! The claws are out in Susan Mazur's review of "The Lost Chalice" by Bloomberg News Rome correspondent Vernon Silver. It’s about Silver’s quest to find the Euphronios Sarpedon cup, the “twin” of the Euphronios bowl the Metropolitan Museum of Art denied for 33 years (or so) came from Italy but returned to Italy in 2008. I believe Mr. Don and I saw this piece when we visited the Met in September, 2005, but I wouldn't swear to it! We saw a lot of things during the two days we visited the Met, before either of us had digital cameras, so we have no photos to refresh our memories (unlike during our 2009 trip, when I downloaded 907 photos that all four of us took - not including whatever photos Isis and Michelle may have taken during their last day in New York, the day after Mr. Don and I came back to Milwaukee). If you want to be vastly entertained and get a glimpse into the convoluted and competitive world of antiquities looting and smuggling, and the nature of the journalists who write about such things, please read the article. In my humble opinion, Oscar Muscarella is the only one briefly mentioned in the review who shines. Muscarella had a lot to say about the Jiroft (Iran) finds that originally surfaced in 2001.

Etymology: Pasquinade

This is a very entertaining article on the historical roots of "pasquinade." Until I read it, I didn't know the word and when I read the word I had no idea what it meant. Now I know - and I love the concept! Only goes to show, no matter how harsh censorship may be, people will always find a way to express what they think and feel. From Rome’s ‘talking statues’ to get sanitized Restoration project, costing $93,600, expected to last until the end of 2010 By Rossella Lorenzi updated 8:57 a.m. CT, Wed., May 6, 2009 Rome's most irreverent statues are going to be blocked off in special fencing in an attempt to sanitize the satirical voice of the Roman people. Currently scattered around city's center, the sculptures have been lending a platform to the lower classes of Rome for more than 500 years. In Renaissance Rome, when strict laws punished those who spoke against the powers that controlled the city, citizens began hanging caustic comments on the statues in the dark of the night. The tradition has continued to this day. "These important symbols of Roman vox populi are now in terrible condition," said Viviana Di Capua, president of a resident's association for Rome's historic center. Begun to celebrate Rome's recent 2,762 birthday, the 70,000-euro ($93,600) restoration project is expected to last until the end of 2010 and is sponsored by Di Capua's group. The aim is to restore the sculptures and prohibit further postings on their facades. "We are going to restore four of Rome's six 'talking' statues. The sculptures will not be moved, and restoration yards will be built around them," Di Capua told Discovery News. Standing in a small square just south of Piazza Navona, the so-called statue of Pasquino is among the most damaged sculptures, but it is also the hero of the "talking statue" tradition. "It badly needs restoration. A car has almost destroyed its pedestal," Di Capua said. Pasquino was unearthed in 1501 during excavations in Rome's Orsini Palace. Although not much of the original sculpture remained, this eroded relic of ancient Rome, which is believed to depict the Greek warrior Menelaus supporting the slain Patroclus, was much admired by the 17th century Baroque artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini, who apparently considered it one of the finest antique sculptures in Rome. The humble statue was placed near Piazza Navona by Cardinal Carafa, who held a Latin poetry contest each year and used the statue to hang and display the poems for all to see and admire. Over the years, however, more than just poetry began appearing on the statue. The work became a platform for mocking notes from the public. Eventually, the statue became known as "Pasquino," taking its name from a neighborhood tailor with a biting wit. The tailor's and others' satirical poems and other such postings eventually became known as "pasquinate" and, in modern English, "pasquinade" now means a satirical piece of writing posted in a public place. Among Pasquino's earliest messages was "Quod non fecerunt Barbari fecerunt Barberini (What the Barbarians did not do, the Barberini did)." The message was addressed to the Barberini Pope, Urban VIII, who was accused of plundering Rome's artistic heritage for his own grandiose projects. By the mid-sixteenth century, the caustic messages on the statue carried such strong anti-papal tones that religious leaders suggested dropping the statue into the Tiber River. But the trend of pasting messages on statues had already taken root. Circulating like underground newspapers, the acerbic commentaries spread to other statues in Rome, including those depicting Marforio, Il Facchino ("the Porter"), the Abbot Luigi, Il Babuino ("the Baboon"), and Madame Lucrezia. Today dozen of messages are attached to Pasquino, with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi often a target. Di Capua explains the point of the cleanup project is to protect Rome's art and not necessarily to silence Rome's satirical voices. "We are going to remove all the satirical notes from the statues. Our goal is to make people respect Rome's huge artistic patrimony. As for the pasquinades, we are setting up a Web site where the Romans can freely make their feelings known," Di Capua said. But the aim to keep the statues clear of postings may be overly ambitious. At the house of Juliet in Verona, a similar attempt, aimed at replacing scribbled love notes with text messages, failed miserably. People continue to plaster love notes to the house. Frank Korn, professor of classical studies at Seton Hall University and the author of "Hidden Rome," told Discovery News the statue message posting "shows the wry wit of the Roman people." "The Romans have long had a penchant for satire, especially when its target is the government, the church hierarchy, the papal court, and the aristocracy. Even now in the 21st century pasquinading remains an immemorial Roman sport," Korn said.

To Be or Not to Be Essene - That is the Question

An old debate brought back into the spotlight by Rachel Elior's comments as described in this article in the Jerusalem Post. Don't ever be fooled by a "scholarly" exterior. Scholars and archaeologists are the most passionate of beings! May 7, 2009 10:26 A priestly library By ABRAHAM RABINOVICH Prof. Rachel Elior set scholarly nerves jangling on several continents last month when she not only denied that the Dead Sea Scrolls were authored by the ascetic Essene sect, as is widely believed, but suggested that the Essenes never existed. "The whole story of the Essenes is imaginary," she said. "It's clear that the library at Qumran is a priestly library." Elior makes a convincing case that many of the scrolls found at Qumran reflect in terminology and spirit the worldview of the "sons of Zadok," priests who seceded from Temple service in the Hasmonean period because the high priesthood had been usurped by non-Zadokites. (This "secessionist" group is distinct, she points out, from those members of the Sadducee (Zadokite) aristocracy who remained in Jerusalem and who were described by Josephus and in the New Testament.) Elior is not the first scholar to argue against the Qumran-Essene connection. Half a century ago, Prof. Moshe Gottstein of Hebrew University rejected the idea and other scholars ascribed some of the scrolls to Zadokites. A decade ago, Prof. Norman Golb of the University of Chicago roiled the scholarly waters by asserting that Qumran had not housed Essenes and that the scrolls had not been written there. They had been brought to Qumran from the libraries of Jerusalem, he said, to be hidden in the surrounding caves as the Romans approached. In a curious episode reflecting the passions that still surround the scrolls, Golb's son, Raphael, was detained by police in New York recently on suspicion of impersonating other scholars on the Internet in an attempt to influence the Essene debate in support of his father. Two archeologists who excavated at Qumran for 10 years concluded that there was no Essene settlement there, contrary to the broad consensus that still prevails among other relevant archaeologists and scholars. What provoked headlines in the international press was Elior's questioning of the very existence of the Essenes. "The Torah forbids celibacy except in rare cases," she said. "It's inconceivable that there are thousands of men living like that and that there is not a single Jewish source referring to such a group. The name Essene does not even appear in any Hebrew or Aramaic text." The Essenes were first mentioned by the Jewish philosopher Philo who lived in Alexandria in the mid-first century CE. A few years later they were also mentioned by the Roman historian Pliny and then by the Jewish historian Josephus. "I believe that Philo was describing an ideal society he imagined," said Elior, "and that Pliny did likewise." It is more difficult to dismiss testimony by Josephus, generally a reliable historian, who not only lived in the country, unlike Philo or Pliny, but claimed to have been educated by Essenes during his youth. Elior supports the notion originally suggested by Prof. Steve Mason of Canada that Josephus, writing in Rome years after the destruction, may have promoted an Essene myth to depict the Jews to the Romans in a favorable light as idealists and spartan. Elior will have difficulty persuading her colleagues on this point but it is a marginal issue, in fact a non-issue, in the broad sweep of her groundbreaking work describing the reshaping of the Jewish religion as it turned away from the dictates of angels and toward human reason.

Analyzing Herbs in Egyptian Medicine

An appropriate article, given the talk that dondelion and I attended at the Met on May 13th about ancient Egyptian medical practices! (Photo: Taken at the Met on May 13, 2009, this was one of the stops during the lecture on ancient Egyptian medicine. The green and yellow jars on the right are shaped after the poppy plant and would have held medicinal drafts using poppy). Story at Article published May 04, 2009 Scientists use chemistry to identify herbs in Egyptian medicines By TOM AVRILPHILADELPHIA INQUIRER PHILADELPHIA - Ancient Egypt was renowned for its prowess in the field of medicine, so much so that sick people went there from abroad in search of herbal remedies. Archaeologists know that the herbs were administered in a potent blend with wine. But the identity of many of those medicinal additives is a mystery - their names recorded in hieroglyphics that have resisted modern efforts at translation. Now, two University of Pennsylvania scientists have begun to crack the puzzle with chemistry. In research published in April, the pair reported some of the earliest evidence of just what those long-ago physicians were prescribing. One Egyptian clay jar, estimated to be more than 5,000 years old, yielded flaky residue that suggests a veritable apothecary of possible ingredients: coriander, senna, germander, balm, and savory, among others. Samples scraped from the inside of a newer jar, just 1,500 years old, yielded compounds that likely came from rosemary. The research, done in collaboration with a chemist from the U.S. Treasury Department, is more than a quest for history. Senior author Patrick McGovern, an "archaeochemist" at Penn's Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, wants to know if the ancient herbalists came up with anything that really works. Researchers at Penn's Abramson Cancer Center are similarly intrigued, and already are studying herbs identified in some of Mr. McGovern's previous experiments. A derivative of the wormwood plant, found in a 3,200-year-old fermented beverage from China, has shown some promise against tumor cells in preliminary lab studies. "I think people should be open-minded" about ancient remedies, said Wafik S. El-Deiry, a Penn professor of medicine, genetics, and pharmacology, "because there may be hidden treasures." The Egyptians and Chinese of old weren't trying to use their herbs against cancer, as far as Mr. McGovern knows. But some of their medicines are used today for the same purposes as long ago. One such example is fennel, to combat indigestion, said Lise Manniche, an assistant professor of Egyptology at the University of Copenhagen. The Penn study found no evidence of fennel, but it is among those plants whose names have been translated from the ancient texts. Ms. Manniche said the new evidence, published in the online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, represented an ideal marriage of chemistry and archaeology. "It's absolutely fascinating that such a small amount [of residue] can give us so much information," said Ms. Manniche, who was not involved with the study. Both clay jars came from Egyptian tombs. The 1,500-year-old vessel is owned by the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto; the one that dated back five millennia was excavated by German archaeologists from the tomb of ruler Scorpion I. In both cases, the wine residue was scraped from the jars and simply sent to Mr. McGovern by mail. The chemist can't say exactly which herbs were used in the wine. The analysis of the older jar revealed only that the residue contained certain "terpenoid compounds" - the presence of which could be explained by one or more herbs. It is also unclear which diseases they might have been used for. Egyptian physicians recorded diseases and their treatments in hieroglyphics on papyrus documents that have survived to this day. But with many of the remedies, modern scholars know only that they consisted of some sort of plant - signified by a picture of a leaf at the end of the name, Ms. Manniche said. Mr. McGovern's co-authors were Penn research associate Gretchen Hall and Armen Mirzoian, a senior chemist at the Treasury Department's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. Here is the link to the article at the PNAS website. For general information about ancient Egyptian medical practices, see Medicine in Ancient Egypt.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Here is a recent paper done by Michelle for one of her classes. She received a high grade for her effort. Kudos to Michelle! She gave us permission to post her paper here. No changes have been made. Michelle Albert English 231 / Section 801 Dr. Carabas Research Paper: Athena The Greeks warrior goddess is Athena and is known as Minerva to the Romans. She is the daughter of Zeus and she protector her favorite war heroes and city. Athena’s city, Athens, is where her biggest temple resides. Athena’s shrine is one of the most seen landmarks in the world and the temple still stands today. The goddess of war has appeared in many well known Greek writings; her most famous of all were Homer’s epics The Iliad and Odyssey. She fought in the war between the immortals and the giants. Athena has appeared in many other well known stories after her strong roles in Homer’s great epics. To the Greeks though Athena is the most well known and cherished goddesses of Greek literature. To start at any beginning I will start with the birth of the Athena. Athena was known to have one of the most peculiar births for Greek immortals. The reason for this is Athena was born from Zeus himself; the only other god to be born in this way was Dionysus. There are some alterations of her birth but the stories always follow the original. According to Apostolos N. Athanassakis in his translation of Hesiod’s Theogony, while Metis was pregnant with Athena Zeus ate her. Zeus did this because Metis was to give birth to a son that would rival Zeus (lines 886-900). According to Veronica Ions though, while Athena was inside of her father head he had a violent headache. Hephaestus came with an axe and split Zeus’s head open out sprang Athena fully armed (41). I believe this is how Athena is known as the goddess of wisdom, she gets her traits from Metis who was known to be intelligent; she also came from Zeus’s head. She may be associated with the owl because the owl is known to be a symbol of wisdom. Some early history of Athena’s was found in the Minoan’s culture. She didn’t have the same name but they also had a warrior goddess that protected their people. To the Greeks Athena was always pictured as a goddess of war and a virgin. According to Karl Kerenyi, some of Athena’s earliest worshippers were the Minoans that resided in Crete. They saw her as a serpent holding goddess and she has been seen in some ancient Minoan artwork. Athena has also been traced to the Mycenean times as an armed protector of their land. It wasn’t until she became a Greek goddess that Athena received her lance and shield (Kerenyi 7). Homer, a Greek poet, portrays her as a goddess of war and a protector of her favorite war heroes in his epics. In Theogony, Hesiod shows her as a great warrior: “Then from his head he himself bore grey-eyed Athena / weariless leader of armies / . . . / who stirs men to battle and is thrilled by the clash of arms” (Athanassakis lines 924-926). Athens is named after their goddess Athena and there are a few stories surrounding how she became the goddess of Athens. There is a fable of mythical king of Athens that made Athena their main goddess to worship. It was during his reign that the contest between Athena and Poseidon occurred. Marilena Carabatea explains that Kekrops is the mythical king of Athens who sprung from the soil of Attica. Kekropes is pictured in Athenian artwork as a creature from the waist up of a man and from the waist down of a snake (84). Carabetea continues to explain that some Athenians believe they are descendents of this mythical king. It was during the rule of Kekropes that it is said that Athena and Poseidon competed for the title of patron to the city of Athens (85). According to Roy Willis, Athena and Poseidon were also fighting for the area of Attica around Athens. To decide who should win, Athena and Poseidon brought one gift each to the Athenians. The immortal that gave the best gift will be awarded to protect their city (Wills 136). Willis continues to explain that Poseidon created a spring when he hit his trident on a rock at the Acropolis. Athena touched the same spot and an olive tree appeared. Athenians found the olive as a great resource and made her the goddess of their city. The olive became a valued substance to the Athenians because its oil provides a function for cooking, perfume and creating light (Willis 36). According to Thomas B. Allen, the Athenians would pay their taxes in olive oil. They would also give olive oil to the gods in rituals; they use it as butter for their bread and make soap from it (52). Athena was loved so much by the Athenians that they built her an elegant temple for her to be worshipped in. It took them many years to build it but the Parthenon is one of the most famous temples because of its architecture and artwork. The reason for the fabulous artwork was because a sculptor was hired for the job of an architect. According to Lionel Casson, during the time of 450 to 429 B.C.E. Pericles acted as an advisor of Athens. Pericles hired a sculptor, Phidias, to oversee the construction of Athena’s Parthenon; the Parthenon means “The Virgin Athena” (54-56). “The sculptures remained intact until the sixth century A.D. when the Parthenon was converted to a Christian church” (Casson 55). Casson continues to explain that when the Parthenon was converted to Christian church is when most of its destruction occurred (Casson 64-65). In Hesiod’s Theogony mortals were not created until Zeus’s reign. Zeus didn’t create the first mortals. He always hated the idea of them, so to spite Zeus Prometheus created the first mortals with the help of Athena. According to Athanassakis translation of Theogony, after Prometheus tricked Zeus with a fake offering Zeus desired to do evils to mortal man. Zeus withheld the power of fire for mortal man; so they would be unable to cook their food and eventually starve. Prometheus stole fire from the gods in a fennel stock and gave it to the mortals so they could survive (Lines 536-567). “This stung the depths of Zeus’s mind . . . so straight away because of the stolen fire he contrived an evil for men” (Athanassiakis, Lines 567-570). Athanassiakis says that Zeus had mortal women created by Hephaestus and Athena as a burden for mortal men (lines 571-593). According to Lee Hall though, Prometheus and Athena created the first mortal men. Prometheus wanted to create a civil type of beings so Prometheus went to Athena and asked her for her assistance (Hall 64-65). “Taking clay he found in Boetia, Prometheus modeled human figures . . . Then Athena breathed life into each of the first group of new beings . . . the first humans were exclusively male” (Hall 65). Hall explains that Zeus was unhappy with these flawed mortal men so he withheld fire from them so they would be unable to eat cooked food. Athena took Prometheus to Hephaestus’s workshop to steal the power of fire and bring it the mortals. Zeus found out what he had done and had Prometheus chained to a pillar and have his liver eaten by an eagle. After he sentenced Prometheus to his punishment Zeus created women (Hall 65-68). Athena fought beside her father in the war between the gods and the giants called Gigantomachia. In this war Athena was able to show her talent as a warrior goddess. It took place on Olympia and the outcome of the war would determine who would rule the universe. According to Hall, The immortals were only able to defeat the giants with the help of Heracles; because giants can only die by being killed by both a mortal hero and an immortal at the same time (Hall 54-61). Athena helped a great deal in the war by trapping a giant. According to Ions, Athena took Sicily and threw it on top of the giant Enceladus. Some native Sicilians believe that is what caused Mount Etna to erupt (Ions 80). A poem called Ceres and Proserpina in book five of Charles Martin’s translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses partly discusses a giant being trapped underneath Sicily. According to Martin, the muse, Calliope, sings of the war Gigantomachia and how the giant Typhoeus is trapped beneath the island: “Vigorous Sicily/ . . . /the island’s weight held Typhoeus firmly beneath it / Often exerting himself, he strives yet again to rise up / . . . while Mount Etna presses his head, as under it, raging Typhoeus coughs ashes and vomits up fire / Often he struggles, attempting to shake off the earth’s weight and roll its cities and mountains away from his body” (Ceres and Proserpina, Lines 512-521). According to Ions, it was during this battle that Athena killed the giant called Pallas; this may be how she gained the name Pallas Athena. Athena made her shield and her egis from the giant’s skin (Ions 81). This is one of the many kinds of stories of how she got her name Pallas Athena, a name she is called in Homer’s epics. I found that Athena has connections with Medusa, a monstrous woman with hair of snakes and the sight of her eyes turns anyone into stone. Medusa was once a regular woman but angered Athena. As a punishment Athena turned Medusa into a monster. According to Carabatea, Medusa was once a beautiful woman that lived in the far north. Medusa didn’t see sunlight that often and asked Athena if she could show it to her. Athena denied Medusa’s request and Medusa thought that Athena was jealous of her beauty and denied her (Carabatea 626). Carabatea explains that Athena became angry at that the insult and decided to punished her. Athena turned Medusa’s hair in to snakes and that her gaze would turn anyone into stone (Carabatea 626). The perfect revenge; a woman that was once desired is now a feared and dreaded monster that no one can look at. Tiresias is the blind seer of Thebes that makes some appearances in ancient writings. He has appeared in The Iliad, The Divine Comedy, and his most well known appearance is in Oedipus the King. Tiresias is the symbol of Greek seers and the poem The Bath of Pallas tells how Tiresias became blind and a prophet. According to Stanley Lombardo’s and Diana Rayor’s translation of Callimachus’s poem The Bath of Pallas, Athena and Khariklo, Tiresias’s mother, were bathing in The Horse Spring on the mountain of Helikon. Tiresias was hunting in the mountains and came down to the spring to get a drink of water. When he came to the stream he saw Athena bathing there naked. Athena became angry and took away Tiresias’s eyesight (Lombardo and Rayor, Lines 87- 102). Athena speaking to Khariklo: “It was not I that struck your son blind / Putting out young eyes is not sweet to Athena, but the laws of Kronos demand that whoever sees an immortal against the god’s will must pay for the sight and pay dearly (Lombardo and Rayor Lines 122-126). Lombardo and Rayor continue to explain that Athena gave Tiresias the gift of prophecy because she felt sorry for him and his mother (Lines 143-154). After her appearances in The Iliad and The Odyssey she became one of the most used goddesses in Greek and Roman literature. From 700 B.C.E into 1300 A.D. Athena has appeared in many writings. She played a strong part in the war against Troy: In Lombardo’s translation of The Iliad, Athena watched over the hero Achilles and was responsible for most of the events in the epic. Athena was responsible for getting Odysseus home and helping him take his revenge against the suitors in Robert Fagles’s translation of The Odyssey. In Fagles’s translation of The Oresteia written by Aeschylus, She sided with Agamemnon’s son, Orestes, after he killed his mother and her lover for killing his father. Even in the early fourteenth century she has been traced to the Christian religion; after the Parthenon was converted to a Christian church. In Mark Musa’s translation of The Divine Comedy written by Dante Alighieri, Beatrice, the guide of Paradiso, wears a crown of olive leaves. Athena has a huge influence in many different types of writings stretching thousands of years. Athena is one of the greatest gods of ancient writings and will continue to play a part in writings to come. Works Cited Primary sources- -Athanassakis, Apostolos N. Theogony, Works and Days, Sheild. Baltimore: John Hopkins UP, 1983. -Fagles, Robert. The Odyssey. United States: Viking Penguin, 1996 --The Oresteia. United States: Viking Penguin, 1975 -Martin, Charles. Metamorphoses. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2004 -Musa, Mark. The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri: Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradiso. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana UP, 1971. Secondary sources- -Allen, Thomas B., et al. Greece and Rome: Builders of the World. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Book Society, 1968. -Carabetea, Marilena. Greek Mythology. Athens: Adam, 1997 -Casson, Lionel. The Greek Conquerors. Chicago: Stonehenge, 1982 -Hall, Lee. Athena: A Biography. Canada: Addison-Wesley, 1997. -Ions, Veronica. The History of Mythology. United Kingdom: Octopus, 1997 -Kerenyl, Karl. Athene: Virgin and Mother. Zurich, Switzerland: Spring, 1978 -Lombardo, Stanley and Rayor, Diana. Hymns, Epigrams, Selected Fragments. Boston: John Hopkins UP, 1988. --Lombardo, Stanley. Iliad by Homer. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1997. -Willis, Roy. World Mythology: Greek Conquerors. Castel House, London: Duncan Bard, 1996.

2nd Dynasty Tomb Discovered at Lahun (Egypt)

Another catch-up story, this one appearing at Reuters news service: (Image: Egyptian archaeologist Abdul Rahman Ayedi opens a coffin in a newly discovered tomb dating to the Second Pharaonic Dynasty, near El-Lahun Pyramid in Faiyum, 130 km (80 miles) southwest of Cairo, May 5, 2009, The tomb was found inside a necropolis consisting of dozens of other rock-cut tombs dating to the Middle (ca. 2061-1786 BC) and New (ca. 1569-1081 BC) Kingdoms and the 22nd Dynasty (ca. 931-725 BC). REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh) Egypt finds 5,000-year-old tomb near Lahun pyramid Tue May 5, 2009 11:26am EDT By Cynthia Johnston LAHUN, Egypt (Reuters) - Archaeologists have found a nearly 5,000-year-old tomb near Egypt's mud brick Lahun pyramid, in a sign that the site held religious significance a millennium before previously thought, the site head said Tuesday. The find, down crumbling steps in sand covered desert rock, debunks a prior understanding by archaeologists that the site dates back only to 12th dynasty pharaoh Senusret II who ruled 4,000 years ago, archaeologist Abdul Rahman Al-Ayedi said. "The existence of this tomb is very significant because now we know that Senusret II, the builder of the pyramid, is not the founder of this site," Ayedi told Reuters in an interview. "It must have had religious significance in ancient Egypt, so that's why he chose it for his pyramid," he added. Egypt, whose economy relies heavily on tourism, has made several significant discoveries this year including a rare intact mummy found in February in a sealed sarcophagus near the world's oldest standing step pyramid at Saqqara, near Cairo. Ayedi said second dynasty tombs had never before been found at Lahun, site of Egypt's southernmost pyramid, or elsewhere around the nearby Fayoum oasis, 60 km (35 miles) south of Cairo. Inside the tiny tomb, too small for a person to stand, a box-like wood coffin contains what is left of the remains of a 40 to 49-year-old man who was likely a significant figure in the ancient Egyptian government of the time, Ayedi said. The body, buried in a bent position and wrapped in linens, was not well preserved because the tomb predates the era in which ancient Egyptians mummified their dead, Ayedi added. "This was a very early example of a coffin ... The body was buried flexed. The lid of the coffin was vaulted and the side of the coffin has a representation of the facade of a palace or a house," he said. LUCKY FIND The find comes shortly after Ayedi's team last month announced it had unearthed a cache of mummies dating to a later period in brightly painted coffins in a necropolis at the site -- the first to be found in the shadow of the Lahun pyramid. Ayedi said he had initially wanted to dig at little-known Lahun because he was not satisfied with the result of the first excavation there in the 19th century, saying it did not match the site's significance. His team found the second dynasty tomb by chance this season while excavating the recently unearthed necropolis after Ayedi stumbled across a pottery shard in the sand that he recognized as dating back to an older era. "I was just walking by and I found a (shard from a) pottery vessel like this one," Ayedi said as he held up a slender vessel inside the stone-cut tomb. "It was very characteristic." "I was very optimistic to find something second dynasty," he added. "We started to investigate this area. Suddenly we found this stairway tomb." Ayedi said the tomb's occupant was buried with his prized possessions, including an offering table, a headrest, two spears and a bed constructed of imported pine from Lebanon that could shed light on ancient Egyptian carpentry techniques. Archaeologists found the main entrance to the Lahun pyramid last year, and later found storage jars and other objects inside before finding mummies in nearby tombs in recent months, Ayedi said.

Is the Nefertiti Bust a Fake?

(Image: Mrs. Borchardt, I presume?)
I'm catching up with stories now that I'm back home from New York. Still on vacation, don't go back to the office until the 26th, yippee! This next story from the is, frankly, just so far out there - but the book will probably sell because the subject is controversial. Is this Nefertiti – or a 100-year-old fake? Kate Connolly in Berlin, Thursday 7 May 2009 19.24 BST Her elegant and chiselled features held proud and high on a swanlike neck, she has been smiling serenely for 3,400 years. At least that has long been the popular and scientific belief that draws half a million tourists to see her in Berlin every year. But now doubt has been thrown on the authenticity of the painted limestone and plaster bust of the 18th dynasty Egyptian queen Nefertiti by two authors who claim she is a fake. According to a Swiss art historian, the bust is less than 100 years old. Henri Stierlin has said the stunning work that will later this year be the showpiece of the city's reborn Neues Museum was created by an artist commissioned by Ludwig Borchardt, the German archaeologist credited with digging Nefertiti out of the sands of the ancient settlement of Amarna, 90 miles south of Cairo, in 1912. In his book, Le Buste de Nefertiti – une Imposture de l'Egyptologie? (The Bust of Nefertiti – an Egyptology Fraud?), Stierlin has claimed that the bust was created to test ancient pigments. But after it was admired by a Prussian prince, Johann Georg, who was beguiled by Nefertiti's beauty, Borchardt, said Stierlin, "didn't have the nerve to make his guest look stupid" and pretended it was genuine. Berlin author and historian Edrogan Ercivan has added his weight to the row with his book Missing Link in Archaeology, published last week, in which he has also called Nefertiti a fake, modelled by an artist on Borchardt's statuesque wife. Public and political enthusiasm about the find at the time gave the artefact its "own dynamic" and led to Borchardt ensuring it was kept out of the public gaze until 1924, the authors have argued. He kept it in his living room for the next 11 years before handing it over to a Berlin museum, since when it has been one of the city's main tourist attractions. The statue was famously admired by Adolf Hitler, who referred to it as "a unique masterpiece, an ornament, a true treasure". Recent radiological tests carried out on the statue by Berlin's Charite hospital supposedly proved that the bust is indeed more than 3,000 years old. The tests uncovered a hidden face carved into the statue's limestone core. But Stierlin has argued that while it is possible to carbon date the pigments, which appear to be ancient Egyptian, it is impossible to accurately date the bust because it is made of stone covered in plaster. Other aspects of the find, which he has claimed support his theory, are the facts that the bust has no left eye, which the ancient Egyptians would have considered a sign of disrespect towards their much-loved queen, and that the first scientific reports on the discovery were not written up for 11 years. Borchardt's diary entries remain the main written account of the find. He wrote: "Suddenly we had in our hands the most alive Egyptian artwork. You cannot describe it with words. You must see it." But Dietrich Wildung, the director of Berlin's Egyptian Museum, where Nefertiti is currently housed, has fiercely dismissed the allegations as an attempt to exploit the bust's popularity. "A beautiful woman and a putative scandal," he said. "That always sells." He said the claims could easily be dismissed because of the detailed computer tomography and material analyses that had been carried out on Nefertiti. In October, the bust is due to be moved back into the Neues Museum, which has been reconstructed from its war-torn remains by British architect David Chipperfield, and where Nefertiti was last on display 70 years ago. She is to hold court over a long gallery in the north cupola, where she will be set on a specially constructed pedestal. Over the decades Germany has rejected repeated requests from Egypt for her return. Sun queen The bust is said to portray the wife of the Sun King Akhenaten, with whom she is believed to have ruled Egypt between 1353 and 1336BC. It is thought to have been uncovered in the desert by the archaeologist Ludwig Borchardt in 1912. During the Nazi years, Luftwaffe chief Hermann Goering planned to give it back to Egypt, but Adolf Hitler said the bust would have pride of place in a museum for Germania, the expanded Berlin that was due to be the capital of his Thousand Year Reich. Nefertiti means "beautiful woman has arrived". *************************************************************************** Hmmm, can anyone explain to me why it would be necessary to create a bust out of rock covered with plaster and sculpt it to perfection just in order to test out a recipe for Egyptian pigments? Why not make it out of clay coated with plaster? Why add the crown? Indeed, why make a test model after the queen at all? Could not the pigments have been tested on a palette made out of plaster-covered stone? Did Borchardt's wife, after whom it is alleged the bust modelled, really look so much like Nefertiti? We know what Nefertiti looked like from carvings and paintings on monuments that survived the purge after Akhenaten's death; I'm no expert but to my untrained eye the bust generally resembles those representations of Nefertiti, albeit rather idealized. We don't know what Borchardt's wife looked like - no photo accompanied the article so a reader cannot do a comparison. Her name isn't given in the article, so she cannot be easily tracked down, even supposing a photograph of Mrs. Borchardt exists from the time in question. For more information about Queen Nefertiti, see Judith Weingarten's blog.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Botswana Chess

5/19/09 1:41 PM Cuca BGI Motswana chess player win Cuca-BGI tournament Luanda– The international Master from Botswana, Amom Simutowe, won on Sunday in Luanda, with 7,5 points, the trophy of the international Cuca BGI tournament, which was disputed from 10 to 17 May in the premises of the Angolan Chess Federation (FAX), in both sexes. The winner was awarded the prize of USD 5000, the Angolan national Master Eduardo Pascoal occupied the second position with 6,5 points and received USD 4000, while António Sousa (Angola) ended in the third place with 6 points and got USD 3000. In female category, the Motswana chess player Tsepiso Lopang won the competition with 6 points and she was awarded the prize of USD 2500, while the Angolan player Engrácia de Oliveira that occupied the second position received USD 2000. The South African player Mbalehle Cindi, who occupied the third place with 5,5 points, got USD 1000.

A Different Take on the Pueblo Indians

This author has a different take on the "abandonment" of the great stone cliff pueblos of Southwest USA. He has a book available for purchase at Here is the information: Climate Change Did Not Doom The Anasazi Morrisville, NC: th May 20, 2009 Eric Skopec demonstrates that global warming did not destroy the Ancestral Puebloan civilization. Although some authors bolster their warnings with historical references, many misrepresent the archeological record. According to Dr. Skopec, "much of what popular authors say about the Ancestral Puebloans is incomplete, misleading, and just plain wrong. ( - Morrisville, NC: – May 20, 2009 Eric Skopec demonstrates that global warming did not destroy the Ancestral Puebloan civilization. Although some authors bolster their warnings with historical references, many misrepresent the archeological record. According to Dr. Skopec, “much of what popular authors say about the Ancestral Puebloans is incomplete, misleading, and just plain wrong. They get away with it because the general public knows little more than the myth that the Ancestral Puebloans mysteriously disappeared.” In a compact book written for history buffs and vacationers, Dr. Skopec tackles two popular myths. First, he notes that the Ancestral Puebloans did not disappear. Their descendents are alive and well, and many welcome visitors to their villages and pueblos. Second, he argues that climate change had some effect on the Ancestral Puebloans but other factors were at least as important. The people had managed droughts much more severe than the early 12th century dry period and, Dr. Skopec adds, much of their land could have supported even larger populations. Their “abandonment” of Mesa Verde, Chaco Canyon, Canyon de Chelly and other sites was an extension of their normal pattern of migration. Dr. Skopec builds his case in the Ancestral Puebloan Primer written with his son, Christopher, and published by Lulu.Com. In eight readable chapters, the Skopecs explain who the Ancestral Puebloans were and trace their lineage to earlier Basketmaker and subsequent Pueblo peoples. They describe the origins of massive stone cities and well as survival strategies that allowed the people to prosper in the arid southwest. Important chapters summarize ways in which the Ancestral Puebloans defined communities as well as the stories told by pottery fragments, stone tools, and rock art. The final chapter explains why the Ancestral Puebloans abandoned the four corners region, how the move affected their society, and what the Spanish conquest did to newly established pueblos along the Rio Grande.The Ancestral Puebloan Primer is a conveniently sized book that fits in camera bags, back packs and purses. It is just over 75 pages long but conveys an extraordinary amount of information. To control size and price, the Skopecs adopted two innovative strategies. First, they summarize their research in a “Note on Sources” rather than endless strings of footnotes. Second, they have placed the Note along with Acknowledgements listing experts who assisted on a dedicated web page ( ) Together, these strategies result in an engaging volume at least 40% smaller than might be expected with a retail price under $10.Interested readers can order copies of The Ancestral Puebloan Primer and Dr. Skopec’s other writings at ### Eric Skopec is a retired professor now living in the Philippines. He has studied the Ancestral Puebloans for nearly 30 years and spent 2.5 years living and working at Ancestral Puebloan sites. He volunteered with the National Park Service and guided visitors at Pipe Spring National Monument, Aztec Ruins National Monument, and Chaco Culture National Historical Park. Online interviews can be arranged by emailing him at Christopher Skopec is a graphic artist, designer, and photographer living in San Diego, California. Other samples of his work can be seen at is the premier marketplace for digital content on the Internet, with over 300,000 recently published titles, and more than 4,000 new titles added each week, created by people in 80 different countries. Lulu is changing the world of publishing by enabling the creators of books, video, periodicals, multimedia and other content to publish their work themselves with complete editorial and copyright control. With Lulu offices in the US, Canada the UK and Europe, Lulu customers can reach the globe.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

New York: Back Home

Whew! It's nearly midnight (Milwaukee time) and we've been up since 6 a.m. and going non-stop. Today was a travel day, and you know how that is! Trip back from New York was on time and uneventful except for the fact that our boarding passes sent us to the wrong frigging gate! There I was sitting comfortably reading the New York Times at 11:10 a.m. telling Mr. Don he was nuts because he kept saying to me that our plane was boarding at Gate B1, not Gate B3 where we were sitting. I kept saying Mr. Don, our plane is not leaving until 11:35 from Gate 3, where we are sitting. Well, he was right, so fortunately we made the flight! Got home, changed into shorts and tee shirts and bare feet because it's HOT here! The yard is overgrown - we will pull out the lawnmower tomorrow and cut the grass. We sat out on the deck the rest of the afternoon just decompressing and communing with nature, savoring the quietness of suburban Milwaukee after the non-stop hub-bub of New York City. We both took 2 hour naps later in the afternoon. Then we walked to the supermarket - a real supermarket, not what passes for one in Midtown Manhattan - to pick up much-needed groceries. Tomorrow night I'm going to make a tasty pot roast for Mr. Don. When we got back home I made a large supper for us - a late supper - using handy-dandy frozen stuff mostly, and some fresh ingredients. Meat lasagna, a relish dish, mixed veggies. Mr. Don filled his hollow leg and was a happy man. Then we looked at our website stats and did an analysis. Now Mr. Don is upstairs shooting zzzzz's at the ceiling and I'm about to call it a night, too. Very sad - my squirrels did not come when I whistled. One of the first things I did after I fetched the mail and newspaper was run to the back of the house to open up the patio door to the deck and check the back yard. I refilled the birdbaths with fresh water, put out new food for the birds and whistled for the squirrels to come eat. A few squirrels did show up around 6 p.m. and they got the benefit of the almonds and peanuts I put out for them. I expect that once the word gets out on the Squirrel Hot Line, more will show up in the coming days. They have to get used to people being around here again, and food being available again. Will try and blog more tomorrow about the New York trip - much left to write about and of course we have TONS of photos which will eventually end up somewhere, probably in an album linked to Goddesschess. For now, it's time for me to shoot some of my own zzzzz's at the ceiling! The photo above was taken by Michelle at Ellis Island on May 16th. It's me, Isis and Mr. Don in a candid shot after Mr. Don had just said something either extremely ridiculous or extremely funny (take your pick).

Monday, May 18, 2009

New York: Arches and Arches

Photos from all around the town: (1) 05/17/09, by Jan, interior gallery shot, Brooklyn Museum (2) 05/12/09, by Mr. Don, part of the Ansonia building (3) 05/12/09, by Mr. Don, underground passage, Riverside neighborhood (4) 05/16/09, by Mr. Don, Ellis Island (5) 05/16/09, by Mr. Don, Ellis Island (6) 05/16/09, by Jan, Ellis Island

New York: More Game Pieces

(1) At the Brooklyn Museum, 05/17/09, small ivory lion game piece (next to the larger carved stone lion that is not a game piece). The game wasn't identified but I have seen similar pieces identified as being part of the ancient Egyptian game of Mehen (also called the serpent game, named for the gameboard that takes the form of a coiled serpent). (2) At the Brooklyn Museum, 05/17/09, fragment of Egyptian senet board and pieces (3) At the Brooklyn Museum, 05/17/09, several Egyptian game pieces in the form of lion heads (on raised platform) (4) At the Brooklyn Museum, 05/17/09, Egyptian 20-squares game and pieces. The tag identified this as a senet game, but senet has 30 squares. Sometimes Egyptian board games like this have a 20-squares game on one side and a senet game on the other. We don't know if that is the case with this board.

New York: In Search of Board Games

New York is the city of museums and Mr. Don and I spent our fair share of time snooping about hallowed halls of exhibits looking for evidence of ancient board games. Here are some photos of what we found. (1) At the Met, 05/12/09, fragment of senet (30 squares) board with several game pieces: 12 spool type pieces on the left; 1 "pawn" type piece positioned over the top edge of the identifying card; four "cone" type pieces to the left, with one square die (2) At the Met, 05/12/09, four Egyptian game pieces and two square dice (that's a reflection of me taking the photo). The two taller game pieces have carved faces. (3) At the Met, 05/12/09, three Egyptian game pieces. The piece on the right was identified as a lion. (4) At the Met, Islamic chess pieces

New York: Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Tour

The M1 bus ride down Fifth Avenue on Saturday went much more quickly than the one on Friday, the traffic being much less. But there were still lots of people out on the streets and from what I saw, the recession isn't a problem with shoppers in NYC! (Photo: line to purchase tickets for Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island tour) Isis had reserved tickets for noon; unfortunately, we were still on the bus headed toward Battery Park at noon; fortunately, tickets would be held for us for the next boat trip out to the island. When we arrived at the park Isis was able to go right into the reserved tickets line and get our tickets for the next boat. That was a good thing, as the line to buy tickets was VERY long! (Photo: On the boat - that's Michelle, Isis and me with my back to the camera) Between about 1 and 5:30 p.m. we were on the boat, on the island that houses the Statue of Liberty, on the boat, on Ellis Island, on the boat, back in Battery Park, and then back on the bus. Because of various events being held around the city, the M6 bus (which we caught to take us back up 6th Avenue to Midtown) was detoured to 8th Avenue. Earlier we had planned to go see "Angels and Demons" at a movie theatre on 8th Avenue and 42nd Street, so with the bus detour we decided to jump off at 42nd Street rather than going back to the hotel first and then coming back down to 42nd Street later in the evening to see the movie. First we stopped in the multiplex to get tickets for the show, and then we looked for a place to eat a leisurely supper. We settled on Appleby's just a few steps away.(Photo: One of my photos of the Statue of Liberty. I have to say, she certainly is very impressive close up!) Soon it was time for the movie. The movie theatre we were in was very large and the seats were roomy and comfortable. The place was packed. Several screens in the multiplex were also showing "Angels and Demons" and I wondered if they were as packed as our theatre was! It didnt look like there were many empty seats. I won't reveal the details of the movie. I enjoyed it, I thought it was very good. Mr. Don wasn't so thrilled with it as I was, but regardless, the movie is certainly filled with action from nearly the first moments and has some interesting twists and turns. It was a REALLY long day. The streets were packed with people at 10:30 p.m. It was a madhouse on Broadway and on 7th Avenue, wall to wall people. Mr. Don and I detoured down to 6th Avenue and managed to walk the mile or so back to the hotel in about 30 minutes. Then it was time to download the photos from our digital cards. These are photos from Saturday.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

New York: Wearing Ourselves Out!

Friday morning dawned sunny and warm, but not too warm. It was a beautiful day and Michelle and Isis were eager to do a boat tour of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. We had a late start, just one of those things. We walked down to Fifth Avenue and 55th Street and were eventually successful in getting on the correct bus, going in the correct direction, to get to Battery Park. (Photo by dondelion: the 911 construction site. The place is buzzing with activity. I got to the end of the small plaza across the road from the construction site and I just could not go any further. I started crying. The drawings for the future buildings are beautiful. I am glad to see the space will soon be re-dedicated to the pursuit of the American way.) There was lots to see along the long, winding route of the M1 bus that runs from the "top" of Fifth Avenue to the very bottom of Manhattan. We passed through Chelsea, Chinatown, Soho, Tribeca and other neighborhoods. Always there were crowds of people and never-ending store fronts filled with stores and goods not found anywhere else. So unique! Eventually we arrived at the turn-around for the bus. We got off and headed toward what we thought was the correct spot (the Manhattan Ferry Terminal); that wasn't right, but we got directions and ended up at the correct pier in the correct spot, only to learn that we had missed the last boat trip out to the Statue of Liberty for the day - by perhaps 10 minutes. Arggggh! But the day was lovely and Battery Park is beautiful, meticulously maintained. It was filled with people, all having a good time. (This lovely neoclassical building caught my eye in the heart of the financial district as we were walking back from Battery Park. It was the building housed the Chamber of Commerce for awhile at least, built in 1902). Several freelance artists have small booths set up along the winding paths that lead away from the area where the boat passengers disembark. Isis cut a deal with one of them to do a charcoal portrait of Michelle. It took a little while, but less than half an hour, and in the meantime Mr. Don, Isis and I kicked back and relaxed. The portrait was a big success. Michelle looks so beautiful on it. It's hard to realize she's all grown up - it seems like yesterday she was an 8 year old! (Here are Michelle, me and Isis - the three Goddesschess Goddesses, in front of a big deep orange sculpture that looks like a number 1 die). After we left the park area we explored a bit, marveling at the architecture and the mish-mash of buildings that create unending photo vignettes! Friday night saw us dining at Applejack Diner once again, but it was dondelion, Michelle and me; Isis was tired and stayed resting at the hotel. It was a lovely night and we got in a few more photo ops. The above are some photos we took on Friday.
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