Saturday, January 16, 2010

Gibtelecom (Gibraltar) 2010

Lots of chess femmes playing in this fab event (the Masters event). Here is the listing of current chess femmes, as far as I can determine. Unfortunately, former Women's World Chess Championship GM Zhu Chen had to withdraw (along with her GM husband Mohamad Al-Modiahki), due to a family illness, reported at the offical website. The undisputed star of the Masters is 7 year old Ana Cramling-Bellon, daughter of GM Pia Cramling and GM Juan Manuel Bellon Lopez, born in 2002. GM Koneru Humpy (IND 2614) GM Hou Yifan (CHN 2590) GM Antoaneta Stefanova (BUL 2545) GM Pia Cramling (SWE 2528) GM Alexandra Kosteniuk (RUS 2523) GM Nana Dzagnidze (GEO 2506) IM Lela Javakhishvili (GEO 2493) IM Viktorija Cmilyte (LTU 2489) IM Harika Dronavalli (IND 2471) GM Ketevan Arakhamia (SCO 2470) IM Anna Zatonskih (USA 2466) WGM Natalia Zhukova (UKR 2462) IM Almira Skripchenko (FRA 2456) IM Irina Krush (USA 2455) WGM Karavade Eesha (IND 2405) IM Tania Sachdev (IND 2398) WGM Deysi Estela Cori Tello (PER 2374) WGM Monica Calzetta Ruis (ESP 2359) WGM Dana Reizniece (LAT 2341) IM Elena Sedina (ITA 2335) IM Anna Zozulia (BEL 2321) WIM Maria Schoene (GER 2251) WGM Nadig Kruttika (IND 2240) WFM Katrine Tjolsen (NOR 2212) Marianne Wold Haug (NOR 2041) Szilvia Lochte (HUN 2032) Lovinia Sylvia Chidi (GER 1832) Nadja Reci (SUI 1544) Ingrid Carlsen (NOR 1508) (sister of the famous GM Magnus Carlsen #1 rated player in world) Caroline Beer Jacobsen (NOR 1300) Ana Cramling-Bellón (ESP/SWE 1000)

Corus 2010

I've been slacking off on chess news lately, but there just hasn't been much going on that I found of interest - I don't find the top 10 dude chess stuff interesting, but I should note that the USA won a silver medal the other day in the 2009 World Team Chess Championship. GM Hikaru Nakamura had a stellar performance and won an individual gold medal for his work on Board 1, and GM Onischuk won an individual gold as well for his performance on Board 2. Young Turks Hess and Robson each played two games as reserves and gained vital international experience against some of the world's top chess guns. Congratulations to Team USA for a great performance. The great Corus event has started. Of interest to me are the B and C groups as there are at least some chess femmes playing in them, unlike Group A which is - yawn - made up of the same old male names you see over and over again. It's early days, of course, only Round 1 has been played. IM Anna Muzychuk (SLO 2523) is playing in the B Group and drew her first game, as did several other participants. Muzychuk is the only female playing in the B Group. The C Group boasts a few more chess femmes: IM Mariya Muzychuk (UKR 2447)(she and Anna M. in the B Group are sisters, alas, now playing for different federations); GM Zhaoqin Peng NED 2402); and WGM Soumya Swaminathan (IND 2323). For further information on the Muzychuk sisters: Old interview (2004) with Anna at Chessbase Chessvibes video interview with the sisters at Corus 2010 Article translated from Spanish to English received from Club Ateneo Cacereno de Ajedrez via email, November 10, 2009 Young American GM Ray Robson (USA 2570) is also playing in the C Group, his first invite to this prestigious international invitational. In Round 1, Robson won his game (hurray!); Zhaoqin Peng drew her game; and both M. Muzychuk and S. Swaminathan lost their games.

Important Underwater Wreck Revealed Off Coast of Spain

Dates back to the 600s BCE and described as very important: TREASURE FOUND OFF LA MANGA Sally Bengtsson / 2010-01-15 14:50:42 Buried beneath shells, rocks and sand, for 2,600 years, while the construction boom has been completely changing the surrounding landscape, a treasure of incalculable value has lain just off La Manga. Now, 26 centuries later, archaeologists from eleven countries are bringing these antique objects to the light of day once again. The find appears to be the cargo of a commercial ship carrying ivory from African elephants, amber and lots of ceramic objects. The find has been kept secret for the past three years by the team of divers led by the Spaniard Juan Pinedo Reyes and the American Mark Edward Polzer. The recovery project is being financed by National Geographic, who have reached an agreement with the Spanish Minister of Culture, the Institute of Nautical Archaeology and the University A&M of Texas. The recovery is taking place around Grosa Island and El Farallon Island, just off La Manga. Over the last three years 1,400 objects have been collected. Even some of the wood from the bottom of the ship has survived since the 7th Century before Christ (620 BC), and has been recovered. It is believed the vessel measured approximately 15 metres long. The find has been described as one of the most important of all archaeological discoveries. The Ivory tusks measure between 70 and 150 centimetres, with Phoenician writing inscribed. They have come from a race of elephants which are now believed to be extinct. There are also copper ingots and stones containing silver and lead. Ceramic pots which were used for transporting fish and oil have been found too, as well as plates, bowls, combs, ivory knife handles, bronze needles and chandeliers. It is believed the ship crashed into rocks off the island, which are just a metre and a half below the surface. The ship would have set sail from Cadiz, and was probably heading towards Guardamar to a factory there, or to deliver items to a prince living in the area.
I'm curious about the ivory from an "extinct species of elephant" - am wondering if it was the species of elephant that lived between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers and were hunted to extinction sometime in the 600s BCE? - am checking National Geographic's website to see if there is more information on this -- Well, that was a bust, didn't find anything at the National Geographic website. I also checked Texas A&M's website and although I did not see any news there about this "dig", I did discover that the University hosts a graduate program in nautical archaeology. I'm interested in the elephant ivory because of elephants' close relationship to the early game of chess, which we at Goddesschess believe dates back much earlier than the 5th century CE. I will keep my eye out for further news on this story.

Image of Mayan 'Ruler' Uncovered in Lagartero

Story from Art Daily; image from European PressPhoto Agency. 1000-Year-Old Monument with Image of Mayan Ruler Found MEXICO CITY (EFE).- A 1000-year-old stele with the sculpted image of a Mayan ruler was found in the archaeological area of Lagartero in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, the National Anthropology and History Institute, or INAH, said. In the bas-relief sculpture the Mayan ruler rises above an individual who lies at his feet, "a scene representing the seizing of power by one Maya group from another," INAH said, adding that the archaeological area of Lagartero will be open to the public this year. INAH experts found the stone monument in late 2009 at the 10th section of Pyramid 4 in Lagartero, the source said. Archaeologist Sonia Rivero Torres, who heads the Lagartero archaeological project, said that the stele or commemorative monument - the first to be found complete on the site - measures 2 meters (6 1/2 feet) long, 55 centimeters (22 inches) wide and 6 centimeters (2 1/3 inches) thick. The stele was sculpted in metamorphic rock, known locally as "heart of stone." "In the pre-Colombian monument the profile image of a Mayan ruler is seen standing over a bench carrying a bag of incense in one hand and dressed in a loincloth bound with a sash and wearing sandals and a feather headdress. "At his feet, lying on his back on the bench, lies another, smaller person with his torso opened as a sign of sacrifice or of being overthrown," the archaeologist said. The expert added that the stele was discovered while exploring a rectangular stone casket, which had possibly been plundered in pre-Columbian times since no bones were found inside. The archaeologists also found, when they went down to a lower level of the pyramid, a pair of large earthenware pots, broken but complete, one of which contained an smaller, unbroken pot. Together with these ceramics was a polychrome plate and a black vase with a zoopmorphic lid that contained a rich offering of jade objects, notable among which were two earflaps, a jointed turtle and a beaded necklace. Another box was found in the fifth section of Pyramid 4, from which 40 vessels of different shapes, zoomorphic vases and a few human bones were recovered, INAH said. Lagartero's pre-Columbian ceremonial center extends the length and breadth of the 8 hectares (2 1/2 acres) that make up the islet of El Limonar, the biggest of the 11 dotting the lakes of Lagos de Colon, in the community of Cristobal Colon in the municipality of La Trinitaria, Chiapas. Lagartero is known to have been occupied from the Classical Period to the Early Post-Classical Period, which is to say from 300 A.D. to 1200 A.D. Given its strategic wetlands location, the habitat of fresh-water species like the alligator, the Maya settlement controlled the area's natural resources and could also restrict access by water. Lagartero was a key point for trading goods and products between the highlands of Guatemala and Mexico's central plateau. Archaeologists working at the site have uncovered an enclosed ball-playing court together with its five altars, along with a series of architectural structures, INAH said. EFE

Recap of Oldest Yet Evidence of Civilization in China

From (video available at site) Earliest Chinese civilization found in Jiangsu 2010-01-16 15:38 BJT Chinese Academy of Social Sciences has announced the country's top six archaeological discoveries of 2009. Among them are the Neolithic Ruins at Dongshan Village in eastern Jiangsu province. The site has evidence of the earliest Chinese civilization ever found. The Neolithic Ruins at Dongshan Village allows us to better understand prehistoric culture in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River. The size of the excavation covers more than 2,000 square meters. It's divided into two parts: the eastern area where eight tombs have been found with over 200 pieces of jade, stone vessels and pottery and the western part where a number of small tombs and house ruins have been discovered. All the tombs are strictly organized into social levels. It's the earliest proof of China's ancient hierarchy system. [I don't see how they can make this kind of determination at this point; they may be misinterpreting what they have thus far uncovered; it smacks to me of propaganda, but perhaps I am being too cynical.] The discovery of these tombs has pushed the research of the tribe in the era of the Songze culture forward. It offers hope that the origin of the culture and economic development of Taihu Lake and its surrounding area will be found.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday Night Miscellany

HOUSE WOES! Hola! I was so put out last night, I couldn't do a single post. There was scheduled a 7 p.m. showing of the house, for which I cleaned for 2 days beforehand and ran home from work last night to do last minute dusting and putting away of this and that, leaving the house before 6:45 p.m. just in case someone should show up early. I took a leisurely stroll to the Walgreens and then the Pick and Save supermarket a mile away, and took an equally leisurely stroll home, a mile back, and got within sight of home sweet home about 7:40 p.m. Guess what - there were STILL cars in the driveway. I couldn't frigging believe it! Mind you, not only was it cold and extremedly damp out, we are experiencing our first January "Thaw" in years and it's more "raw" than usual out there, with all the semi-melted snow constantly fogging into the air. I was tired and bitchy as hell and lugging two heavy bags of groceries. I had envisioned arriving home, finally kicking off my shoes and warming myself, having a large glass of wine, and eating something - anything. I was starved! (It's hard to believe that photo was taken about 2 months ago!) NOT! I was pissed! But I dutifully lugged my groceries a couple of blocks away from the house and then a couple of blocks back - and those damn cars were still there. So, I say to myself, "Self, that is your house. GO HOME!" And so I did. As I was putting my key into the door, it opens and there is an older man holding a flashlight. A FLASHLIGHT? There are several people behind him. They all seem intent on looking at something on the carpet by the heat register. What, I think - is there a bug that decided to appear through the grating? Or a dead mouse? I take off my glove, roll up my coat sleeve and look - POINTEDLY - at my watch. What happened to the 7 p.m. viewing? It is now 7:45 p.m. FINALLY, as I start to muscle my way into my own home, one, two, three, four, five - six people come out of my house, the last being a young attractivl lady who must be the broker, at least I hope she was because she has the key in her hand and puts it back into the lockbox hanging on the doorknob. I would have slammed the door on their butts, but with the weather-stripping in the frame there is no way it slams anymore. Damn! THEN it takes them another ten minutes to leave. What the hell are they doing out there, I wonder? Having a pow-wow? Smoking crack? This house ain't exactly Buckingham Palace. It would be a stretch to say it would take 30 minutes to THOROUGHLY view it from top to bottom - and that is only if one decided to go through the hatchway in the upper hallway into the attic and also crawled around the outside foundation with a FLASHLIGHT on hands and knees. So, I fire off an email to my less than useless brokers reminding them that they told me at the beginning of this incredibly stupid waste of my time and energy that a viewing takes TEN MINUTES - in and out, they both said. Yeah, so what happened to that TEN MINUTES STRETCHING INTO FORTY PLUS MINUTES? And I hear - nary a word. From either of them. So now I am doubly pissed off. The house is coming off the market. I'll do the letter and send it out certified from the office on Monday. Enough of this baloney. On a more pleasant note, Kevin the Wonder Handyman called me on Sunday morning about some work I wanted him to do - but I didn't have a list prepared and so he said he would call me on Wednesday. Well, he didn't call me. So if I don't hear from him this weekend I will give him a call on Monday because now I have my list! More things to be done around here - for me, ALL FOR ME. Bwwwwaaaaahhhaaaahhhaaahhhhaaa! I have decided that crown moulding will look wonderful in the family room, with it's classic Phi proportions :) And I am going to more seriously attempt to track down some painters who have the means to do this two story living room of mine and make any necessary mends to the drywall inner and outer corners, etc. That is, if it comes in less than $2,000. Otherwise, forget it! For that money I can go back to New York for a week. Darlings, do me a favor. I'm not sure if this will work, but please try it. Please click on this link and feign lots of interest in Maison Newton's listing, as if it were the mansion of someone like Pi Diddley or Rush Limbaugh or Mama Gaya - oops - I mean, Lady Ga Ga - rather than a mere Goddess like me. MOONWALK FOR BREAST CANCER I had not heard of this wonderful way to raise funds for this worthy research cause - I think it must be a Euro thing - they have a lot less hang-ups than us pseudo-prude Americans. We have the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure to raise funds for breast cancer, which is a worthy cause, indeed. But I have to tell you - the Moonwalk sounds like a lot more fun! All of the participants must wear bras. The kids, the women, the men (yes, men and boys too). All to make a point, er - no pun intended. Yeah, you know the kind of bras, like gals wore back in the not so old days - the real pointy ones, with seams and tips! Like Mae West worek, and Jane Russell wore! Like Madonna wore during her early Whore-Look Days. Yeah - THOSE BRAS! Playtex Pointies! The mechanics of which were patented by an engineer employed by Howard Hughes, no less. Remember THE OUTLAW? Banned in its day - yeah, baby! And, you've got to check this one out - I dreamed I was half-naked... Hey, sometimes I do. I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried! The theme of this year's Moonwalk (and I think, the Sunwalk too), is "SHOWTIME." The imagination runs wild :) What fun! STAY TUNED! A couple of Las Vegas Show Girls I happen to know have been asked to render assistance in designing some costumes for this very special walk... BUYING MOVIES AT BLOCKBUSTER It has recently been bandied about the financial pages of various newspapers and websites of late that the business model of Blockbuster cannot be sustained and DVDs have gone the way of the dinosaur. Well - tell that to Milwaukee! Five days a week, I happen to walk past a relatively new Blockbuster bricks-and-mortar location on my way to and from work - and sometimes I walk past it on Saturday and Sunday too. The parking lot always has cars in it, no matter what time of day. I have walked past in early morning, to late at night, doesn't make any difference. I had been thinking for the past few days about re-activiting my Blockbuster "membership" and renting a movie or two for the weekend since I recently discovered less than a week ago that Netflix bumped up its basic membership from $4.99 a month to $8.99 a month. RIP OFF! TOTAL ABSOLUTE RIP OFF! I freely admit it - I'm a cheapskate when it comes to stuff like this. I cancelled my Netflix membership a year or two ago when I decided I wasn't getting my money's worth at $4.99 a month. Ha! But with the new year, and with some movies out there that I wanted to see, and hearing that the coming season was going to have several more films that I thought I'd like to see when they are eventually released into DVD, I thought I might renew my membership. Only to be disappointed at the doubling of the cost to re-join. NO THANKS, NETFLIX. So - there was the Blockbusters building. i was walking up the hill past it on my right. On an impulse tonight, as I was nearly past the building, I decided to stop in. It was right around 6 p.m. A busy time! There were lots of people in the place and more cars pulling in the parking lot even as I was taking the sidewalk off a side-drive toward the entrance. At this particular Milwaukee-area location, they are doing okay business-wise. I go in. Lots to see - but my eyes zero in on tables where they are selling "used" DVDs. Some are 4 for $20. Some are 3 for $20. Bargain! I picked out three and gladly smacked down $20 for these DVDs: Harry Potter: Half Blood Prince; Angels and Demons (which I will watch and have fond thoughts of our 2009 May trip to New York, where I first saw this rip-roaring film in my first visit to a high-rise cinemaplex); and Julie and Julia! There are at least 3 more films I quickly spied that I will gladly purchase next pay-period :) and more after that - some not-so-recent releases that I would like to add to my film "library." I was in and out of the place in less than 10 minutes. I'LL BE BACK... So now I'm cutting this short, because I want to watch a movie tonight and forget all my relatively stupid and slight cares and woes.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Selling/Buying a House: Update

Lots of crap has gone on since the last report. Suffice to say that I no longer have a buyer for this place and I no longer have a pending offer on any other place. However, I now have a fully insulated basement and I have to say that I feel some difference in the ambient temperature in the house and it has definitely decreased the condensation on the windows during those 20 below zero windchill days. Or perhaps it is just my imagination once again running away with me, ohhhh, it is just my imagination running away with me.... Amazingly, after all of the bullcrap that the brokers have dished out to me, one of them dished out more on Monday - and I've got it in email. Heh heh heh. Fortunately, I did not run around frantically cleaning for all of the people who were sooooo eager to view this place, although I was sorely tempted to do so. Talk about conditioning, geez! As it turns out, this particular broker who stated that there were several interested people (including a cash buyer) who wanted to view my house, is a liar. Only one (or two - a couple), will view the house - tomorrow night. It fits my schedule, otherwise I would not have agreed. I don't get this lying to me stuff - why do they do it? Anyway, in the hope of moving this along, I decided to reorganize the family room. That is no easy task. I have two heavily laden bookcases in the family room. In order to move them, all of the books and the movable shelves must be moved, and then I huff and puff and heave and shove and eventually get the bookcases where I want them to be. Doing this is worse than a "Biggest Loser" work-out. I won't bore you with the gory details. Suffice to say that after spending nearly an entire day shoving the unloaded bookcases first here, and then there, and then back again, and then split, and then this way, and then that way, and then upside down hanging from the ceiling (kidding about that), I reached a point of such utter exhaustion that I settled for the arrangements shown in the photos. Does this look spacious enough to you??? Since I'm not going to burn my books and banish the bookcases, this is the best I can do to make the available space "roomy" and light-filled. Personally I give a hoot about "roomy" - I want convenient. I like having the bookcases closer to the kitchen table, where I spread out and do research. Alas, that looks too "cluttered" for the brokers. At this point you are asking me, why do I give a flying "f" about what the brokers say. Unfortunately, I would like to sell this place, if I can, to get that $6,500 current owner as seller credit, while downsizing and getting a house closer to my necessaries of supermarket and buslines in a new place - if I can. This mile walk to the Pick and Save supermarket, and then back again, every time I need a quart of milk or wine or 5 lbs. of birdseed really sucks. But the house has been on the market more than 2 months now, and frankly, I don't think this is going to happen. No one wants to pay me what Maison Newton is worth according to my calculations, and I'm not going to sell for less. But the place sure is looking spiffy, with all the rearranging of furniture, and scrubbing of walls and painting, finally completing the staining and painting of woodwork that was not done 19+ years ago, spackling up nail holes, sealing up settlement cracks, not to mention the work I had Kevin the Wonder Handyman do, etc. etc. I definitely have this place underpriced :) Above are two photos of the newly arranged family room. You really can't tell from these views, but yes, that really is Xena, Warrior Princess, riding high atop that black elephant on the top of the entertainment unit. A mother goddess with a spiral at her naval is also centered in front of the clock, right next to a photograph of some of the Newton family members, taken many moons ago, just to remind one how time flies :) The chessboard in front of the sofa is ready for a game.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Ancient Maps: The Ricci Map

On rare map, China is the centre of the world January 12 2010 at 01:17PM (Image: detail of Ricci map showing Florida, Gulf Coast, Central America and Cuba)A rarely seen 400-year-old map that identified Florida as "the Land of Flowers" and put China at the centre of the world went on display on Tuesday at the Library of Congress. The map created by Matteo Ricci was the first in Chinese to show the Americas. Ricci, a Jesuit missionary from Italy, was the first Westerner to visit what is now Beijing in the late 1500s. Known for introducing Western science to China, Ricci created the map in 1602 at the request of Emperor Wanli. The map includes pictures and annotations describing different regions of the world. Africa was noted to have the world's highest mountain and longest river. The description of North America is brief with mentions of "humped oxen" or bison, wild horses and a region named "Ka-na-ta." [Canada?] Several South American places are named, including "Wa-ti-ma-la" (Guatemala), "Yu-ho-t'ang" (Yucatan) and "Chih-Li" (Chile). Ricci gave a brief description of the discovery of the Americas. "In olden days, nobody had ever known that there were such places as North and South America or Magellanica. But a hundred years ago, Europeans came sailing in their ships to parts of the sea coast, and so discovered them." The Ricci map gained the nickname the "Impossible Black Tulip of Cartography" because it was so hard to find. This map - one of only two in good condition - was purchased by the James Ford Bell Trust in October for $1 million, making it the second most expensive rare map ever sold. It had been held for years by a private collector in Japan and will eventually be housed at the Bell Library at the University of Minnesota. "I don't want to take away from Ricci's other accomplishments, but we think this is pretty spectacular," said Ford W Bell, co-trustee of the fund started by his grandfather James Ford Bell, founder of General Mills. Bell, who's also president of the American Association of Museums, said the map symbolises the first connection between Eastern and Western thinking and commerce. The Bell Library's focus "is on the development of trade and how that drove civilisation - how that constant desire to find new markets to sell new products led to exchanges of knowledge, science, technology and really drove civilisation," Bell said. "So (the map) fits in beautifully." The map was being shown publicly for the first time in North America. It measures 12 feet by 5 feet (3.6 meters by 1.5 meters), printed on six rolls of rice paper. The Library of Congress rarely exhibits artifacts it does not own because its holdings are so vast, but curators made an exception for the Ricci map. It will be on view in Washington through April alongside another of the world's rarest maps, the Waldseemuller world map, which was the first to name "America." Later, it will be shown at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Associate Librarian Deanna Marcum said the Ricci was one of the most important maps ever produced. It's extraordinary, she said, "for us to now be able to look back and see what was going on in China at a time when different parts of the world really knew so little about each other." The library also will create a digital image of the map to be posted online for researchers and students to study later this year. The map also was the first to incorporate both Eastern and Western maps. In a statement, Ti Bin Zhang, first secretary for cultural affairs at the Chinese Embassy, said the map represents "the momentous first meeting of East and West" and was the "catalyst for commerce." No examples of the map are known to exist in China, where Ricci was revered and buried. Only a few original copies are known to exist, held by the Vatican's libraries and collectors in France and Japan. - Sapa-AP See also: Rare map, with China at the Center, Goes on Display

2009 Darwin Awards

Living proof that Darwin's theory of survival of the fittest is full of it! Some of my favorites this year. These were sent to me. #1 is the winner (but see the list at - not sure where these other ones came from but they sure are funny!) 1. When his 38 caliber revolver failed to fire at his intended victim during a hold-up in Long Beach, California would-be robber James Elliot did something that can only inspire wonder. . . . . He peered down the barrel and tried the trigger again. . . . . This time it worked. And now, the honorable mentions: 2. The chef at a hotel in Switzerland lost a finger in a meat cutting machine and after a little shopping around, submitted a claim to his insurance company. The company expecting negligence sent out one of its men to have a look for himself. He tried the machine and he also lost a finger. The chef's claim was approved. 5. An American teenager was in the hospital recovering from serious head wounds received from an oncoming train. When asked how he received the injuries, the lad told police that he was simply trying to see how close he could get his head to a moving train before he was hit. . . Duh!! 6. A man walked into a Louisiana Circle-K, put a $20 bill on the counter, and asked for change. When the clerk opened the cash drawer, the man pulled a gun and asked for all the cash in the register, which the clerk promptly provided. The man took the cash from the clerk and fled, leaving the $20 bill on the counter. The total amount of cash he got from the drawer... $15. [Question. . . . If someone points a gun at you and gives you money, is a crime committed? Short Answer: Yes.] 8. As a female shopper exited a New York convenience store, a man grabbed her purse and ran. The clerk called 911 immediately, and the woman was able to give them a detailed description of the snatcher. Within minutes, the police apprehended the snatcher. They put him in the car and drove back to the store. The thief was then taken out of the car and told to stand there for a positive ID. To which he replied, "Yes, officer, that's her. That's the lady I stole the purse from." Remember - they walk among us. . .

Ancient Navigators: Report on Wadi Gawasis Ship

NOVA hosts a special on "Pharaoh's Ship" (about Wadi Gawasis) tonight on PBS - hopefully it will run again. Sailing into antiquity BU archeologist unearths clues about ancient Egypt’s sea trade By Colin Nickerson Globe Correspondent / January 11, 2010 The archeological digs at Egypt’s Wadi Gawasis have yielded neither mummies nor grand monuments. But Boston University archeologist Kathryn Bard and her colleagues are uncovering the oldest remnants of seagoing ships and other relics linked to exotic trade with a mysterious Red Sea realm called Punt. “They were the space launches of their time,’’ Bard said of the epic missions to procure wondrous wares. Although Nile River craft are well-known, the ability of ancient Egyptian mariners to ply hundreds of miles of open seas in cargo craft was not so fully documented. Then the team led by Bard and an Italian archeologist, Rodolfo Fattovich, started uncovering maritime storerooms in 2004, putting hard timber and rugged rigging to the notion of pharaonic deepwater prowess. In the most recent discovery, on Dec. 29, they located the eighth in a series of lost chambers at Wadi Gawasis after shoveling through cubic meters of rock rubble and wind-blown sand. Only a few days earlier, Bard had been grading term papers in chilly Boston; now, with flashlight and trowel, she was probing a musty manmade cavern, one that might date back more than 4,000 years. “When the last layer of sand was removed, stale, fetid air rushed from a crack,’’ Bard said by mobile phone from the dig site, a dried-out water course beside the Red Sea. The reconnaissance of the room and its relics will take time and caution. The chamber’s most likely contents include ship parts, jugs, trenchers, and workaday linens, as well as hieroglyphic records. “It’s a storeroom, not a royal tomb,’’ Bard stressed. However prosaic they seem, the finds at Wadi Gawasis - including the ancestor of the modern package label - really speak of the glitter, gold, and glory of a long-ago civilization that bewitches us still. The remote desert site at the sea’s edge was established solely to satisfy the cravings of Egypt’s rulers for the luxury goods of faraway Punt: ebony, ivory, obsidian, frankincense, precious metals, slaves, and strange beasts, such as dog-faced baboons and giraffes. Starting in the middle of the last decade, the Bard-Fattovich team grabbed the attention of nautical archeologists with the unearthing of ship timbers, limestone anchors, steering oars, and hanks of marine rope. The precisely beveled deck beams, hull planks, and copper fittings belong to the oldest deep sea vessels ever found, dating back at least 3,800 years. The craft appear to have been up to 70 feet long, powered by rowers and sail and capable of navigating deep seas. “This is exciting stuff, important,’’ said Shelley Wachsmann, a top authority on Bronze Age ships at Texas A&M University’s Institute of Nautical Archaeology. He is not directly involved with Bard’s research. “She’s found the first fragments of an ancient Egyptian seagoing vessel - a ship that actually sailed in pharaonic times,’’ Wachsmann said. Now the privately funded work at Wadi Gawasis - and at the nearby port ruins, known as Mersa - is winning wider attention. This month, Cairo’s Egyptian Museum will open a special exhibition, “Mersa/Wadi Gawasis: A Pharaonic Harbor on the Red Sea,’’ featuring, among other things, cargo seals, voyage accounts, and a shipping crate marked in hieroglyphic text: “Wonderful Things of Punt.’’ Said Rosanna Pirelli, curator of the exhibition: “This is an important scientific event, since the [discoveries] show a more advanced maritime technology’’ in ancient Egypt. Meanwhile, the PBS science series NOVA tomorrow will broadcast “Building Pharaoh’s Ship,’’ a documentary detailing the reconstruction of a Wadi Gawasis vessel by archeologist Cheryl Ward of Coastal Carolina University. The film airs in Boston on WGBH (Channel 2) at 8 p.m. The journeys upon the “Great Green’’ - as one hieroglyph-inscribed tablet found at Wadi Gawasis refers to the sea - involved fantastical feats of organization, navigational skill, and daring. Overland trade between Egypt and Punt dates to the third millennium BC. But by 1950 BC, the rival Kingdom of Kush had cut off traditional desert routes, forcing Egypt to find a new passage. Egypt’s eastern coast - then as now - was too parched to sustain a full-time port and shipbuilding center. So, using timber hewn from the mountains of Lebanon, Egyptian shipwrights built big vessels on the banks of the Nile, near modern Qift, according to archaeology-based theory. “These were then disassembled and transported, with all other supplies, over the desert by donkey, a journey of 10 days’’ to reach Wadi Gawasis, Bard said. The site adjoined a lagoon, in which a port was built. The ship parts were marked and rebuilt by number or color code. The lagoon has long since been swallowed by sand, but satellite images hint at the remains of a slipway or dock. Sea voyages to Punt would have been so costly and required such a massive logistical effort - probably involving thousands of workers, scribes, quartermasters, sailors, and pack animals - that they probably were launched only a few times per century. Punt’s whereabouts remain a mystery. Scholars can’t even pin the realm to a continent. Bard places it on the Horn of Africa, in the region of present-day Eritrea and parts of Sudan and Somalia. Other researchers put it on the Red Sea’s Asian shore, in today’s Yemen. Voyages from the port appear to have been suspended for two or three centuries because of political instability. There is evidence that Queen Hatshepsut, the female pharaoh, dispatched a last sea mission to Punt around 1480 BC, partly to obtain “mortuary incense.’’ Wadi Gawasis held its secrets for millennia. Then, on Christmas Day 2004 - Bard’s second season of exploring the site - she thrust her hand into an odd hole in a cliff’s wall. She was thrilled to feel nothing: the indication of a larger space beyond. Removal of rock rubble revealed a room containing a mud brick, some beads, and a grinding stone. Antiquities, sure, but Egypt’s sands are littered with such millennia-old shards and scraps. Instinct, however, told the professor from Boston that the sun-scorched slopes concealed more than broken pots and earthenware adornments. “It just felt like we were on to something,’’ Bard said. Within days, the team had uncovered another human-hewn cavern - this one connecting to a series of underground storage rooms. Here were ships’ timbers. Here were sea anchors. Here were bundles of intact nautical rope. Here was a tantalizing tale of ancient seafaring. “The rope was neatly stored, coiled, and knotted, exactly as some sailor left it,’’ Bard said. “It was a moment perfectly frozen in time for 3,800 years.’’ © Copyright 2010 Globe Newspaper Company.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Boogey - Boogey Baby!

Not to be confused with "boogie" which, according to the venerable Merriam Webster's Dictionary (online edition), means 1 : to dance to rock music; also : revel, party 2 a : to move quickly b : to get going which is something you would certainly do, as in "boogie on out of here" (c.f. Earth, Wind and Fire, Boogie Wonderland) if you saw a boogeyman! I was raised with scary stories of the boogeyman. I never gave it a thought until tonight, upon reading the history of the word bogey in Barbara Walker's The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets. Suffice to say I was looking for something else entirely but got sidetracked. Since my mom is pure Polish descent (as far as I know), whose parents emigrated to the U.S. in the early 1900s, the concept of the boogeyman no doubt stemmed from tales she heard from her own mother, who heard them from her own mother as a child. It was a couple of my aunties (a couple of my mom's younger sisters) who babysat for us while mom and dad worked who first introduced us to the scary boogeyman! I believe our particular Polish-American version of the boogeyman has a parallel in Harry Potter (boggart). Without further ado, here is Walker's entry: Bogey The Bogey-man was a devil derived from Slavic bog, "god." English cognates were bugabow, bugaboo, bugbear, and boggle-bo, which used to signify a pagan image carried in procession to the games of May Day.(1) "Humbug" came from Norse hum, "night," plus bog or bogey, i.e., a night spirit.(2) [Rather interesting, as Mr. Ebenezar Scrooge of Charles Dickens' pen was apt to say "Bah, Humbug. Humbug I say!" when he was dismissive, or frightened out of his mind!] The word "bug," from Welsh bwg, "spirit," was applied to insects because of the old belief that insects were souls in search of rebirth.(3) A mantis was the soul of a seer or wizard. A butterfly was Psyche, the Female Soul. Other derivations of bog were Scottish bogle, Yorkshire boggart, English Pug, Pouke, and Puck; Icelandic Puki; the Puk of Friesland; the German Putz or Butz; Irish Pooka and Welsh Pwcca; Danish Spoge and Swedish Spoka with their English offshoot, "spook."(4) Old English puca, a fairy, was applied to the old gods of Beltain.(5) Thus Puck was the same as the witches' god, Robin. (Post on Robin). Notes: (1) Hazlitt, 80. (2) Leland, 161. (3) Spence, 96. (4) Keighley, 315-16. (5) Potter & Sargent, 295. Well, I have to tell you that this information has thrown me for a wallop! I have a fearsome fear of bugs (insects), but go out of my way not to kill them if at all possible - another childhood taboo that may be distantly related to the childhood taunt/chant "step on an ant, break your mother's back." If encountered outdoors I brush insects away or run away; inside the house, I usher them into jars for deposit outside or onto paper and a quick toss out the door. But it isn't always possible, alas. But I didn't know I was killing lost souls. Oh Goddess. Was the drunken butterfly episode a couple of summers ago an encounter with a lost soul? All I can tell you is that it totally freaked me out.

Caduceus: Ancient Serpent Symbol of Healing

From Barbara Walker's The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets: Caduceus Some Gnostic Christians worshipped the serpent hung on a cross, rod, or Tree of Life, calling it Christ the Savior, alto a title of Hermes the Wise Serpent represented by his own holy caduceus, the scepter of two serpents. This was one of the oldest and most revedred holy symbols. "The usual mhythological association of the serpent is not, as in the Bible, with corruption, but with physical and spiritual health, as in the Greek caduceus." To Sumerians it was an emblem of life, appearing on art works like the Libation Cup of Cudea, ca. 2000 B.C. In pre-Hellenic Gfreece the caduceus was displayed on healing temples like those of Asclepius, Hygeia, and Panacea, which is why it is still an international symbol of the medical profession. The caduceus is found also in Aztec sacred art, ehthroned like a serpent-deity on an altar. North American Indians knew it too. A Navaho medicine man said his people's sacred cave once featured "a stone carving of two snakes intertwined, the heads facing east and west."(1) [Image from] Hindu symbolism equated the caduceus with the central spirit of the human body, the spinal column, with two mystic serpents twined around it like the genetic double helix: ida-nadi to the left, pingala-nadi to the right.(2) Moses' brazen serpent on a pole, the mere sight of which cured the Israelites, was probably a prophylactic caduceus (Numbers 21:9). It was named Nehushtan, and worshipped in the tabernacle up to the reign of Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:4). Notes: (1) Campbell, M.I., 282-84, 286-88, 294-95. (2) Bardo Thodol, 215. Note: Difference between the Rod of Asclepius (a single serpent twined around a rod) and the Caduceus (two serpents intertwined around each other and a rod). See more at Wikipedia on the Rod of Asclepius (contains the entire account about what led to Moses constructing and mounting the copper serpent on a pole, starting at Numbers: 6).

Lots of Serpent-Like Carved Stones

The first stone is at Lund. It is suggestive of a serpent in its form, but doesn't seem to have a head or tail :) The second stone, which depicts a serpent (or "dragon"), is from an unknown location. The serpent stone I wrote about a few posts ago is a rune stone. Here is what All Experts says about them: Rune stones are stones with runic inscriptions dating from the early Middle Ages but are found to have been used most prominently during the Viking Age. Compared to western Europe, Scandinavia has poor written evidence for its early medieval history. It wasn't until the twelfth century that their earliest law codes and histories were compiled. The only existing texts dating to earlier periods (besides a few finds of inscriptions on coins) were found amongst the Runic inscriptions, some of which were scratched onto pieces of wood or metal spearheads, but for the most part they have been found on actual stones.Sawyer, Birgit. The Viking-Age Rune-Stones. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. Page 1There are approximately 6,000 known rune stones in Scandinavia. Out of those discovered runes, 3,000 of them date from the tenth and eleventh centuries and have been found in Sweden. Some of them are found on the exposed rock surfaces of the fjords or simply erected in the center of parks or schoolyards. Most of these inscriptions carved into the rune stones announce the deaths of local people who lived and died in their home country. Approximately ten percent of the known rune stones announce the travels and tragic deaths of men abroad. These runic inscriptions coincide with certain Latin sources, such as the Annals of St. Bertin and the writings of Liudprand of Cremona which contain valuable information on Scandinavians/Rus who visited Byzantium.Sawyer, Peter. The Oxford Illustrated History of the Vikings. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997. pg. 139
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...