Saturday, July 31, 2010

Afghan Women Fear Loss of Modest Gains

From The New York Times
A reminder that we really haven't come a long way, baby...

Taimoor Shah contributed reporting from Kandahar, Afghanistan
Published: July 30, 2010

MAHMUD-E RAQI, Afghanistan — Women’s precarious rights in Afghanistan have begun seeping away. Girls’ schools are closing; working women are threatened; advocates are attacked; and terrified families are increasingly confining their daughters to home.For women, instability, as much as the Taliban themselves, is the enemy. Women are casualties of the fighting, not only in the already conservative and embattled Pashtun south and east, but also in districts in the north and center of the country where other armed groups have sprung up.

As Afghan and Western governments explore reconciliation with the Taliban, women fear that the peace they long for may come at the price of rights that have improved since the Taliban government was overthrown in 2001.

“Women do not want war, but none of them want the Taliban of 1996 again; no one wants to be imprisoned in the yards of their houses,” said Rahima Zarifi, the Women’s Ministry representative from the northern Baghlan Province.

Interviews around the country with at least two dozen female members of Parliament, government officials, activists, teachers and young girls suggest a nuanced reality — fighting constricts women’s freedoms nearly as much as a Taliban government, and conservative traditions already limit women’s rights in many places.

Women, however, express a range of fears about a Taliban return, from political to domestic — that they will be shut out of negotiations about any deals with the insurgents and that the Taliban’s return would drive up bride prices, making it more profitable for a family to force girls into marriage earlier.

For many women, the prospect of a resurgence of the Taliban or other conservative groups is stark. “It will ruin our life,” said Shougoufa, 40, as she sorted through sequins and gold sparkles at the bazaar in the city of Pul-i-Khumri in Afghanistan’s north. “I am a tailor and I need to come to the bazaar to buy these things,” she said. “But if the Taliban come, I will not be able to come. Already we are hearing some girls cannot go to their work anymore.”

In teachers’ tea-break rooms, beauty shop training sessions, bazaars and the privacy of their homes, young women worry that their parents will marry them off early, so they will not be forced to marry Taliban.

In the Pashtun-dominated district of Taghob, east of Kabul, girls’ schools have been closed and any teaching is done at home, the provincial education director said.

That does not trouble some local officials.

“Look, our main priority is to feed our people, to provide rest and to protect their lives,” said Haji Farid, a local member of Parliament. “Why are people focusing on education and sending girls to school? Boys walk three, four, five kilometers to their school. How can a girl walk two, three, four kilometers? During a war you cannot send a girl beyond her door. No one can guarantee her honor. So it is hard to send your daughter to school.”

In Kandahar, Helmand and Zabul, all unstable southern provinces, there are girls’ schools open in the provincial capitals, but in outlying districts there are few, if any. In Zabul Province, there are just six schools for girls, four in the capital and two outside, but few families send their girls to school because of the fighting, said Muhammad Alam, the acting head of the provincial education department. (Photo: A student speaks during a class at the Jamal Agha Girls School in Kapisa Province.  By Adam Ferguson for The New York Times.)

In Baghlan Province, in northern Afghanistan, the situation for women has steadily worsened over the past year. Ms. Zarifi, the Women’s Ministry representative, has endured assassination attempts and demonstrations against her work. Three months ago, a female member of the provincial council was paralyzed in an attack, and a woman was stabbed to death in the daytime in the middle of the provincial capital earlier in July.

By contrast, most of Kapisa Province, which lies northeast of Kabul, is peaceful. There is a mediation program in the capital to help women and girls when they face domestic violence. In the predominantly ethnically Tajik north there are large, lively schools for girls, where families even allow those who are married to complete high school.

Women’s advocates are concerned that they are increasingly being shut out of political decisions. At an international conference in Kabul on July 20, which was meant to showcase the country’s plans for the future, President Hamid Karzai said nothing about how women’s rights might be protected in negotiations.  The very first meeting on negotiations, held by Mr. Karzai on July 22 with former leaders who had fought the Taliban, did not include a single woman, despite government pledges.

Part 2

Ten Memorial Stones Discovered in Tamil Nadu

From The
July 30, 2010
Saying it with stones
T. S. Subramanian

Ten memorial stones, six of them with Kannada inscriptions, have been discovered at near the hills close to Kondaharahalli village, six km west of Bommidi in Dharmapuri district, Tamil Nadu. All the stones have identical sculptural representations and belong to the 10th century C.E. (Common Era).

According to Dr. K. Rajan, head, Department of History, Pondicherry University, the memorial stones were erected in the Tamil country between the first millennium B.C. and the Vijayanagara period (16th century A.D.), in memory of men who were killed in cattle raids or when they were attacked by a tiger or an elephant. These stones are different from the hero stones: the latter were erected to honour valiant men killed in battle, or those who lost their lives while defending their villages or womenfolk. The hero stones are called ‘nadu kal' in Tamil. (Images: Memorial stone says that the stone was raised in memory of a man called Tiyan Antavan of Pedu village, who died during a cattle raid that took place in another village called 'Kudal Ur." Photo by K. Rajan.  Below, a transcription of the text on the memorial stone.)

The earliest memorial stones were the Iron Age burial monuments put up between 1,000 BCE (Before Common Era) and 3rd BCE. They were in the form of cairn circles, stone circles, cist burials, dolmens, menheirs and anthropomorphic figurines. Such memorials were found all over India.

Symbols galore

The Kondaharahalli stones were discovered a few months ago by R. Ramesh, assistant archaeologist, Archaeological Survey of India (Chennai Circle) following information he received from C. Chandrasekar, lecturer, Government Arts and Science College, Dharmapuri. The first stone has a carving of a man holding a bow and a sword. He is shown with arrows piercing his neck and abdomen. On his left, four animals are portrayed, which represent a cattle raid. Above the hero, there is a small sculptural representation that shows him in a seated position with two apsarason either side. There are three horse riders at the foot of the hero. One of them has an umbrella above his head, denoting that he is a chieftain or a leader, explained Dr. Rajan. An eight-line inscription is found engraved in Kannada characters and refers to a hero called Macayya, son of Hocayya, who (Macayya) had a title called Sarasatti-karakandarpa. He died in a cattle raid that took place when Sabhatukadeva, son of Byaliciradeva, who belonged to the Pallava line and bore titles such as ‘Pallava-kula-tilaka', ‘Sri Piruthuvi-vallabha', ‘Kanchipura-paramesvara', ‘Sri Manipathi-raja' and ‘Jagadeka-malla', was ruling the region.

No linguistic borders

The stones showed that linguistic borders did not exist at that time (10th century C.E.). People who spoke different languages moved about freely from one area to another, Dr. Rajan said.

Professor Rajaram Hegde of Kuvempu University, Shimoga, Nagarjuna, Deputy Superintending Archaeologist, ASI and Sathyabhama Badhreenath, Superintending Archaeologist, ASI, read the Kannada inscriptions.

The stones have undergone distinct changes in size and substance over a period of time. The earliest of them were big in size and were erected mainly for men who lost their lives during cattle raids, that is, while trying to steal cattle from other villages. The stones metamorphosed into hero-stones, which were installed to commemorate a heroic act – his dying in a battle or while trying to defend his village from intruders and so on.

Three hero stones with Tamil Brahmi inscriptions were discovered at Pulimaankombai village, 15 km from Andipatti in Theni district, in Tamil Nadu on March 23, 2006. They are rare because they are among the earliest Tamil Brahmi inscriptions discovered so far and all of them do not have carvings of the heroes in whose memory they were raised.

S. Suresh, who belonged to Pulimaankombai, found these hero stones. They were lying in his father's field for a long time and Suresh discovered to his delight that they had inscriptions too. When research scholars S. Selvakumar and V.P. Yatheeskumar, working under Dr. Rajan, who was then Head, Department of Epigraphy and Archaeology, Tamil University, Thanjavur, were on a field visit to Pulimaankombai, they learnt about the existence of these stones. While Dr. Rajan said the Brahmi inscriptions of Pulimaankombai could belong to a period prior to 3rd century B.C., other specialists said they belong to 2nd century B.C. The stones, about three feet in height and about one to 1.5 ft wide, were probably installed as part of the urn burials, which are found in the area. According to Dr. Rajan, the first of these hero stones has three lines in Tamil-Brahmi, reading ‘Kal pedu tiyan antavan kudal ur akol.' This meant that this stone was raised in memory of a man called Tiyan Antavan of Pedu village, who died during a cattle raid that took place in another village called Kudal Ur, which could be identified with the Gudalur area near Cumbum.

Tolkappiyam, the earliest known work on Tamil grammar, refers to cattle raid as ‘ur koli akol pucan marre.'

The second hero stone's inscription reads as: ‘(a)nur atan (n)an kal.' The stone was erected in memory of a person named Atan who belonged to a village. The third inscription reads: ‘Vel ur patavan avvan.' This stone was put up in memory of Patavan Avvan of Vel Ur. The characteristic feature of the early Tamil language tradition was the separate writing of the grammatical suffixes beginning with vowels without being enjoined to the main word. Thus ‘Vel Ur' and ‘Kudal Ur' were written separately. In modern Tamil, they are written together as Velur and Kudalur. This language tradition was followed in these three hero stones.

Dr. Rajan said, “Palaeographically, orthographically and linguistically, these hero stones are considered to be the earliest. They are, therefore, important in the study of the early historic period of Tamil Nadu.”

At Thathapatti, just a few km from Pulimaankomabi, was found another hero stone with a Tamil Brahmi inscription, reading ‘n ation pakal paliy kal.' More important, this was engraved on a menheir. This menheir, which was erected on a grave, entombed an urn. (Both Pulimaankombai and Thathapatti are situated on the banks of the Vaigai).

The Tamil Sangam literature (2nd century BCE to 2nd century CE) has clear references to sepulchral monuments raised in memory of heroes. Subsequently, ‘nadu kals' or hero stones were planted as part of the burial and this has been described by more than 25 Sangam poets.

“These references clearly suggest that hero stones were installed with inscriptions during the Sangam age. However, such inscribed stones were eluding archaeologists till the Pulimaankombai discovery. These four discoveries corroborate the literary descriptions,” said Dr. Rajan.

Channel Your Inner Archaeologist

Lots of doings in August all around Quebec for Archaeology Month.

July 31, 2010
Archaeology Month brings themed family activities
Contributing Writer

MONTREAL — Shovel? Check. Pail? Check. Map? Check. Curiosity? Double check.

Archeo Quebec presents its annual summertime big dig called Quebec Archaeology Month. In all, some 83 archaeologically-themed family activities — walking and boat tours, historical site visits and actual digs — are held at 48 locations throughout the province. Here are a few ways to channel the inner archaeologist in you.


Pointe-a-Calliere, the Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History, hosts the self-guided "Fleur-de-lis Tour," which points out historical sites of interest in Old Montreal. The tour is held throughout the month, and info is available at the Pointe-a-Calliere ticket counter.

Pointe-a-Calliere then hosts three free activities the last weekend in August, including the annual Public Market and "The City under the City," a free tour of Montreal's first "downtown" — actually the Old Port streets that border the museum. Stops explore an 18th-century fortified town, a re-created New France marketplace, the local business district and the governor's residence. (Photo: permanent exhibit at Pointe-a-Calliere digging down into the city's foundations, and below, showing it's layers!)

Another activity is "Fledgling Archaeologists," with a simulated dig for children led by an archaeologist. These free events are held Aug. 28 and 29 throughout the day at 350 place Royale in Old Montreal. Regular museum admission costs $15 for adults. Call (514) 872-9150, or visit

"Bon-Secours: a 2,400-year-old Site" highlights the findings from the Notre-Dame de Bonsecours Chapel, which is part New France church and part actual working dig in Old Montreal. The artifacts are displayed at the adjoining Marguerite Bourgeoys Museum. It's held Aug. 1 through 15 at 400 St. Paul St. E. Admission costs $8 for adults, $5 for students and seniors. Call (514) 282-8670, Ext. 242, or visit

Next, some archaeological sites are best explored by water. The Lachine Canal National Historic Site of Canada and the Lachine Museum offer "Lachine Archeo-Trek," a two-and-a-half hour bilingual expedition led by an archaeologist and historical guide aboard a rabaska canoe.

The trek begins at the museum and continues to the Fur Trade at Lachine National Historic Site. It's held today, Sunday and weekends throughout August. Morning and afternoon departures are at 9:45 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. Admission is $3.90, and the activity fee costs $7.80. For departure-point information and reservations call (514) 637-7433, or visit


A number of activities are planned in the Monteregie region located between the U.S. border and the south shore of Montreal.

The Fort Lennox National Historic Site of Canada hosts "Small Objects, Big Stories," which explores the everyday life of the soldier and his family at an authentic British fort located on Ile aux Noix, an island in the middle of the Richelieu River just 8 miles north of the U.S./Canadian border. Topics include food, hygiene and shipbuilding. The event takes place afternoons this Sunday through Aug. 6.

A six-and-a-half-hour riverbed discovery tour navigates its way along the Richelieu River (in French only). Stops include Ile aux Noix and the shipwrecks of the Richelieu River. It's held Aug. 25 and 26. Book through Les Croisieres Pierre Lemoyne d'Iberville at (450) 348-9744. The cruise costs $110.

Admission to Fort Lennox costs $7.80 for adults and $3.90 for children 6 to 16. At 1 61st Ave. in St. Paul de l'Ile aux Noix. Call (450) 291-5700, or visit

Droulers/Tsiionhiakwatha Archaeological Site offers an authentic reconstruction of a 15th-century Iroquoian settlement complete with re-created longhouses. The site offers public digs and tours Aug. 7, 14 and 21 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Admission costs $6. At 1800 Leahy Road in St. Anicet, Que. Call (450) 264-3030, or visit

Coteau-du-Lac National Historic Site of Canada presents "Archaeological Day" Aug. 22. Visitors can follow a guided tour held on the site of the first canals dug along the St. Lawrence in the 18th and 19th centuries. At 308 Chemin du Fleuve, Coteau-du-Lac, Que. Cost is $3.90 for adults and $1.90 for children 6 to 16. Call (450) 763-5631, or visit

Finally, Pointe du Buisson Archaeological Park hosts "5,000 Years Brought to Life." A costumed guide leads a tour of an archaeological-rich authentic Amerindian dig site along the St. Lawrence River. The two-hour tours are held Aug. 7, 18 and 29. Cost is $7 for adults and $3 for children 6 to 17.

A half-day activity is "Let's Dig," which lets visitors participate in an actual archaeological dig. Any finds get donated to the site's museum. While the activity is listed in French, most of the staff are bilingual. The three-hour digs are held Tuesday through Sunday throughout August. Admission costs $18 for adults, $10 for children 8 to 17 and $51 for a family of four. Reservations are required. At 333 Emond St. in Melocheville, Que. Call (450) 429-7857, or visit

For complete listings, visit

2010 5th Women's Grand Prix - Ulaanbaatar

Standings after R2 - a long way to go yet:

5th FIDE GP w Ulaanbaatar (MGL), 30 vii-5 viii 2010 cat. X (2487)
1. Koneru, Humpy g IND 2600  2
2. Chiburdanidze, Maia g GEO 2514  1½ 2683
3. Kosintseva, Tatiana m RUS 2562  1½ 2719
4. Zhao Xue g CHN 2462  1½ 2599
5. Xu Yuhua g CHN 2488  1½ 2570
6. Hou Yifan g CHN 2577  1 2512
7. Stefanova, Antoaneta g BUL 2560  1 2495
8. Munguntuul, Batkhuyag wg MGL 2421  1 2474
9. Sebag, Marie g FRA 2519   ½ 2351
10. Zhu Chen g QAT 2476   ½ 2368
11. Shen Yang wg CHN 2435  0
12. Yildiz, Betul Cemre wm TUR 2235  0

Round 1 (July 30, 2010)
Koneru, Humpy - Shen Yang 1-0 46 D10 Slav Defence
Chiburdanidze, Maia - Munguntuul, Batkhuyag 1-0 82 D43 Anti-Meran Gambit
Hou Yifan - Kosintseva, Tatiana ½-½ 87 C95 Ruy Lopez Breyer
Sebag, Marie - Xu Yuhua ½-½ 36 C07 French Tarrasch
Zhu Chen - Stefanova, Antoaneta ½-½ 60 D45 Anti-Meran Variations
Yildiz, Betul Cemre - Zhao Xue 0-1 51 B51 Sicilian Rossolimo

Round 2 (July 31, 2010)
Koneru, Humpy - Sebag, Marie 1-0 48 D45 Anti-Meran Variations
Kosintseva, Tatiana - Zhu Chen 1-0 60 C41 Philidor's Defence
Zhao Xue - Hou Yifan ½-½ 27 E10 Blumenfeld Counter Gambit
Xu Yuhua - Yildiz, Betul Cemre 1-0 47 C78 Ruy Lopez Moeller Defence
Stefanova, Antoaneta - Chiburdanidze, Maia ½-½ 47 E00 Catalan
Shen Yang - Munguntuul, Batkhuyag 0-1 45 D43 Anti-Meran Gambit

Friday, July 30, 2010

2010 Susan Polgar Girls' Invitational - Results In - Rachel Ulrich Yeah!

A several-time participant in the Hales Corners Challenge events hosted by my adopted chess club, Southwest Chess Club, Ms. Rachel Ulrich, did very well in the 2010 Susan Polgar Girls' Invitational held at Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas the past six days.  Way cool!  Rachel has been a winner of a Goddesschess prize in some of the Hales Corners Chess Challenges and Goddesschess is looking forward to her appearance at Challenge XII!

Congratulations to Rachel, and to all of the chess femmes who took part in this wonderful event, which included many hours of intensive chess training, fun activities, and chess events.  If I understand this correctly, here are the standings for overall events from Susan Polgar's chess blog:

# Name ID Rtng Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Rd 6 Tot TBrk[M] TBrk[S] TBrk[O] TBrk[C]
1 Rebecca Lelko 12851444 1855 D15 W11 W30 W26 W7 W3 5.5 19 21.5 80 18

2 Sayaka Foley 12918743 1731 W23 W4 W14 W6 L3 W8 5.0 21 24 88.5 19
3 Anu Bayar 14451038 2099 W34 W19 W27 W7 W2 L1 5.0 20 22 84 20

4 Annastasia Wyzywany 13984743 1474 W31 L2 W12 W9 D5 W16 4.5 21 23 75.5 15
5 Julia Jones 12811694 1749 W20 L14 W29 W19 D4 W6 4.5 18 20.5 76.5 15

6 Maggie Feng 14195448 1476 W38 W10 W8 L2 W13 L5 4.0 21.5 23 83 17
7 Agata Bykovtsev 13711887 1790 W22 W17 W21 L3 L1 W15 4.0 20 23 85.5 16
8 Brianna Conley 12821777 1583 W35 W18 L6 W22 W20 L2 4.0 18 20 75 16
9 Mandy Lu 13907446 1595 L32 W15 W24 L4 W18 W20 4.0 17 19 66 12
10 Katie Abderhalden 13405985 1729 W29 L6 W18 D14 D17 W19 4.0 16.5 19 72 13.5
11 Rebekah Liu 12933645 1724 L18 L1 W38 W32 W22 W17 4.0 16.5 18 63 10
12 Charity Carson 13436198 918 L14 W23 L4 W29 W30 W26 4.0 16 18.5 64.5 11
13 Clarisa Abella 13528222 1458 W39 W16 L26 W27 L6 W21 4.0 15.5 16.5 71 15

14 Shayna Provine 14137968 1502 W12 W5 L2 D10 L16 W27 3.5 21 23.5 84 13.5
15 Bethany Carson 13394502 1316 D1 L9 W25 W30 W26 L7 3.5 19 21.5 75.5 12
16 Taylor McCreary 13656773 1697 W24 L13 W32 D17 W14 L4 3.5 18 20 73 13.5

17 Emily Nguyen 13942431 1476 W37 L7 W28 D16 D10 L11 3.0 14 19.5 64 12.5
18 Alexandra Timofte 14255936 1151 W11 L8 L10 W41 L9 W35 3.0 14 18.5 62.5 10
19 Rachel Ulrich 13384485 1513 W33 L3 W35 L5 W34 L10 3.0 12.5 19.5 68.5 12
20 Rebecca Deland 13470414 1254 L5 W37 W40 W21 L8 L9 3.0 12.5 17.5 63 12
21 Devina Devagharan 13917532 1561 W28 W40 L7 L20 W24 L13 3.0 12.5 17 66 13
22 Amelia Wyzywany 13984737 1283 L7 W33 W41 L8 L11 W28 3.0 12.5 17 61 10
23 Helen Lou 13575032 1176 L2 L12 W39 L28 W31 W32 3.0 10.5 16.5 55 7
24 Aiya Cancio 13850035 1120 L16 W36 L9 W40 L21 W33 3.0 10 14.5 53.5 9
25 Minna Wang 13867591 1108 L26 D38 L15 W36 D33 W34 3.0 8 13 46 7.5

26 Alexandra Wiener 12567684 1629 W25 D30 W13 L1 L15 L12 2.5 17 22.5 73 12.5
27 Victoria Bian 13389571 1452 W36 W32 L3 L13 D28 L14 2.5 13.5 18.5 69.5 12
28 Crystal Qian 13469135 1016 L21 W34 L17 W23 D27 L22 2.5 13.5 16.5 61.5 9
29 Sydney Morris 13503567 1155 L10 W31 L5 L12 D39 W38 2.5 12.5 17 52 7
30 Kristen Sarna 13102097 1421 W41 D26 L1 L15 L12 W39 2.5 11.5 17 60.5 9.5
31 Emily Hasch 12972121 720 L4 L29 D33 W37 L23 B--- 2.5 9 13.5 37 5

32 Isabel James 13435414 1079 W9 L27 L16 L11 W36 L23 2.0 14.5 18.5 58.5 8
33 Tori Whatley 13269020 1004 L19 L22 D31 W38 D25 L24 2.0 12.5 15.5 48 6
34 Sadia Qureshi 14024572 1346 L3 L28 W37 W35 L19 L25 2.0 12 17 57.5 7
35 Bernadette Perez 13894481 1024 L8 W39 L19 L34 W41 L18 2.0 9.5 13.5 52 7
36 Jacinda Lee 14131555 485 L27 L24 B--- L25 L32 W40 2.0 8 11 41.5 4
37 Susie Ulrich 13498414 899 L17 L20 L34 L31 B--- W41 2.0 7.5 10.5 40.5 2

38 Selena Wong 13951716 890 L6 D25 L11 L33 W40 L29 1.5 12 16 52.5 4.5
39 Estella Wong 13951722 720 L13 L35 L23 B--- D29 L30 1.5 10 14 45.5 3

40 Hannah Cheng 14406493 234 B--- L21 L20 L24 L38 L36 1.0 9 12 42.5 5
41 Anna Lee 14133614 468 L30 B--- L22 L18 L35 L37 1.0 9 12 38.5 4

Ms. Susie Ulrich is Rachel's sister.  They have both played in past Hales Corners Challenges.  Unfortnately, I am not able to tell you if Wisconsin had a representative at this year's Polgar Girls Invitational or, if we did, who she is.

Stone Effigy of Na'pi Discovered in Alberta

Excerpted from Heritage Key
Ancient Stone Monument to Napi Discovered on Canadian Prairies
Submitted by owenjarus on Wed, 07/28/2010 - 22:41

A stone effigy monument, in the shape of a Blackfoot creator god named Napi, has been discovered in southern Alberta – south of the Red Deer River near the hamlet of Finnegan.

One day Old Man determined that he would make a woman and a child; so he formed them both – the woman and the child, her son – of clay. After he had moulded the clay in human shape, he said to the clay, "You must be people” ...

They walked down to the river with their Maker, and then he told them that his name was Na'pi, - Old Man.

-From Blackfoot Lodge Tales, George Grinnell, 1892

Blackfoot stories mention effigies like this. In 1892 anthropologist George Grinnell published a story about Napi, that he - Made the Milk River (the Teton) and crossed it, and, being tired, went up on a little hill and lay down to rest. As he lay on his back, stretched out on the ground, with arms extended, he marked himself out with stones,--the shape of his body, head, legs, arms, and everything. There you can see those rocks today.
Some great diagrams and photos of several Na'pi stone effigies from Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada, in a book by Liz Bryan, Stone by Stone: Exploring Ancient Sites on the Canadian Plains.  I understand there is a way to copy the images if I download certain software, but I haven't gotten around to doing that so if you would like to see some very interesting images, please click on the link. 

I'm not sure I "see" the figure of a man in the diagram provided in the Heritage Key article - can't find the head, for instance, but after comparing this figure to those provided in the Google excerpt from Liz Bryan's book, I can "see" the legs and the very large phallis between then, which has to be supposed is only fitting for a creator/father god.
What struck a chord with me was the name "Old Man."  I wonder if this is perhaps a similar figure to the "Kamak" (or Grandfather) in the following story -- you will see why I'm wondering when you read the story!

18. The Kamak and his Wife. 1
Some people lived in a certain place. One day a kamak and his wife looked down (through the entrance-hole). They said, "Halloo! have you not some blubber?"--"There is some in the cache." They entered the cache, and began to eat blubber. Then they sang, "It tastes well. We are eating blubber." 2 The next morning it was the same. "Halloo! have you not some blubber?"--"There is some in the porch."--"It tastes well. We are eating blubber; but when you have no more blubber, [to-morrow] we shall eat you."

They fled upwards in the night-time. They threw an arrow (upwards), and it became a road. They fled along this road.

Those came again. "Halloo! have you not some blubber?" But there was no answer. "Let us jump in! They are hidden somewhere." They entered, and searched in all the corners. There was nothing.

They said, "Let us try the divining-stone!" 3 (The kamak-woman) made (her husband) stand with his legs apart. She used his penis as a divining-stone. "If they have fled to the morning dawn, we shall follow them. If they have fled to the sunset, we shall follow them. To the seaside also we shall follow them. If they have fled upwards, what then? God would not treat us very pleasantly. How can we follow them?"

He began to sway his penis. "Shall we go out through the same opening without any fear. 4 Let us go out through the vent-hole in the roof of the porch!" The kamak-woman said, "Take me on your shoulders!" He took her on his back. "Oh, you are strangling me!" (His head) thrust itself into her anus. "Oh, you are playing mischief!"

Finally they both died, and lay there. His head slipped into her anus [again?]  After a while (the fugitives) said, "Let us visit the house!" They visited it, and dragged out his head with an iron hook, and his head had become (quite) hairless.

"Oh, oh?" They threw them into the direction of the sunset. Then they lived and were happy. They were not (molested) by spirits. That is all.


1. Compare Jochelson, The Koryak, l. c., No. 105, p. 293.

2. Compare p. 68, footnote 3.

3. Literally "let us act with the grandmother". The word "grandmother" is used also for "divining-stone" (Cf. W. Jochelson, The Koryak, l. c., p. 44). p. 81 The reason is probably that divination with stones is chiefly practised by women, and that the divining-stone, though usually a round pebble or a piece of bone ornamented with beads and tassels, represents a female guardian of the family.

4. Literally, "without shame". "Shame" for "fear" is used also in the Chukchee (Publications of the Jesup North Pacific Expedition, vol. viii, No. 10, p. 61 footnote 1.

[From KORYAK TEXTS, by Waldemar Bogoras, Publications of the American Ethnological Society, Volume V, edited by Frank Boaz, E. J. Brill, Limited, Publishers and Printers, Leyden, G. E. Stechert & Co., New York, Agents, 1917.]
 The reason I remember the story is because of the use of the "feathered stone" for divination.  In the story, the Kamak's penis substituted for the stone hung from a string.  That the word "grandmother" was also synonymous with "divining-stone" may perhaps hark back to the days before peoples of northwest Russia crossed over to the New World, when females were often shamans. 

Is Na'pi the same god as the trickster/spirit Kamak in the Koryak tale, or are they perhaps related?  Na'pi is "Old Man;" Kamak is "Grandfather" - and "Grandfather" can be another term for "Old Man." 

The use of objects suspended from a string to "divine" something is still used today, right here in Milwaukee, Wisconsin!  You can file this away under what are popularly called "Old Wive's Tales" - hmmm....

It is not at all unusual at a baby shower to suspend a short pencil hung from a string above the expectant mother's baby bump and watch it swing to and fro, back and forth, and sometimes round and round.  The person who holds the string must make sure she is perfectly still, and some people watch her intently to make sure she is not somehow manipulating the motion of the pencil on the string.  If the string moves in a certain way, the prediction is that the child will be a boy; if the string moves in a different way, the prediction is that the child will be a girl.  In our family, my immediate female relatives have about a 90% accuracy rate!  I'm often the one holding the pencil on the string.  But I can never remember if back and forth means boy and circular means girl - or if it is the opposite!  Shaman I am - NOT. 

We have another baby shower coming up - I'm going to be a great-aunty again - I've lost count, egoddess! So I may be called upon once again to try my hand (ahem) at divining the sex of my next great-niece or great-nephew. 

Maya Blue Back in the News

From Fox News
X-Rays Reveal Secret of Ancient Mayan Dye
By Devin Powell
Published July 27, 2010

WASHINGTON -- Physicists have created a dye that promises to last for a thousand years. The secret to this extraordinary durability? Its formula is based on a Mayan pigment, a brilliant blue color that survives to this day on the walls of their ancient temples. (Image Wikipedia)

"This pigment has been stable for centuries in the hostile conditions of the jungle," said Eric Dooryhee at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, N.Y. "We're trying to mimic it to make new materials."

Dooryhee and team of French physicists have spent years studying historical objects using X-rays. They shoot finely-tuned beams of X-rays from a synchrotron machine -- much stronger than a dental X-ray -- at these materials and look at the pattern of scattered X-rays coming out in order to determine the structure of the atoms inside.

The scientists have used this technology to examine Egyptian cosmetics, Roman pottery, and Renaissance paintings. They have recreated some of these ancient materials and are just beginning to learn how to borrow their strengths to make new modern "archeomimetic" materials that can stand the test of time.

Unlike most organic pigments, which tend to break down over time, the pigment Maya Blue is remarkably resistant -- not only to natural weathering, heat, and light, but also to strong acids and solvents in the laboratory.

Pre-Columbian Mesoamericans, who lived in Central America before the first Spaniards arrived, developed the pigment about 1700 years ago. Archaeologists rediscovered it in 1931 at the site of the ancient Mayan capitol Chichen Itza.

The Mayans used the pigment in art and in rituals to bring the rains. Recent evidence suggests they painted sacrificial objects and human victims blue and threw them down a deep natural well called the Sacred Cenote, thought to be the home of the rain god Chaak.

The pigment was made by burning incense made from tree resin and using the heat to cook a mixture of indigo plants and a type of clay called palygorskite. A bowl retrieved from the Sacred Cenote revealed traces of all of these materials, each of which was considered to be a healing substance by the Mayans.

"By offering incense to Chaak, they were combining two healing components," said Dean Arnold, an anthropologist at Wheaton College in Ill. who examined the bowl. "This was ritually significant because the rain healed their land."

Now the physicists' X-ray beams and other measurements have revealed the secrets behind this recipe's remarkable longevity and durability. As the mixture was heated, indigo molecules filled a network of tiny channels inside the clay. Some of these bits of indigo plugged the pores on the surface, preventing the color from escaping over time.

The clay, in turn, protects the indigo from the environment. Harsh chemicals can destroy a sensitive bond within indigo molecules -- changing the color from blue to yellow. Like the double-parked car that prevents you from opening the driver-side door to your own car, the clay channels take up the space around the bond, blocking these chemicals.

After looking for other kinds of clay-like materials with similar structures, Dooryhee and colleague successfully combined indigo with a porous substance called zeolite -- widely used in commercial products as diverse as cement, laundry detergents, nutritional supplements, and cat litter -- to make a new kind of long-lasting blue pigment.

The team hopes to use this new material to restore paintings and is considering other applications such as colored cement, said Dooryhee.

2nd Millennium BCE Graves Excavated in Pakistan

I'm not sure what to make of this.  To me, the tone of this report makes it sound as if the reporter (or the editor) is questioning whether, in fact, such discoveries have taken place!  There may be hidden agendas here - so I'm just not sure what is the truth of the matter.

17th century BC grave excavated in Chitral village
Thursday, June 03, 2010
Our correspondent

CHITRAL: Archaeologists claimed to have excavated ancient graves and artefacts made of clay dating back to 17th century BC in remote Parwak village of Chitral district.

Members of the excavation team of Directorate of Archaeology and Museums Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Zorawar Khan, Fawad Khan and Mir Hayat told The News that the fresh finding would add to new information about the Aryan civilisation as human skeletons and pottery objects found there belonged to that ancient era.

They said the Aryan people spread from Central Asia in the shape of nomads from 1700 to 1500 BC and some of them settled in Chitral district in the bygone age. They said the human remains, pottery, artefacts and the images carved on various excavated objects shed enough light the way Aryan people lived.

The excavators said the late noted archaeologist, Dr Hasan Dani, named the civilisation of that time as Gandhara grave culture. However, they added, the newly found skeletons were different from the ones excavated in Singoor and Chamarkun. Zorawar Khan said the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Archaeology Department was interested in building a museum in Chitral and work on the project would be started soon.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Watching Chess Over the Web

Article from The Oxford Times 6:50am Thursday 29th July 2010
By Matt Rose

[Excerpted] The 2008 champion, Stuart Conquest, has made a late entry to this year’s British Championships which take place at the University of Kent in Canterbury starting Sunday. Former Cowley star Adam Hunt and Oxford 4NCL player Lateefah Messam-Sparks are also playing.

You can follow the action live on the Internet – switching between games – and this can become very exciting as the tournament reaches its climax.

In the next two weeks the British will surely make great viewing for chess fans; but when it comes to Internet chess coverage, the Americans have set new standards.

At the recent 2010 Women’s and Junior Closed Championships, the video commentary ran for each round’s full duration [not quite, but close enough], and I thought analysis provided by Jennifer Shahade and grandmaster Ben Finegold — known as Bennifer — with assistance from super-grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura was engrossing.
I, too, found it very engrossing.  I find it extremely significant that a guy in Great Britain  enjoyed the live coverage commentary on the U.S. Women's and Junior's Championships as much as I did.  These events receive little attention in the traditional press in our own country -- but I'll bet the website stats at U.S. Chess Champs were very gratifying to the organizers. 

Since the first live broadcasts with commentary on the internet began in 2008 with the advent of the Scholastic Center and Chess Club of St. Louis taking over hosting the U.S. Chess Championship and the U.S. Women's Chess Championship, the level of presentation has grown extremely sophisticated and smooth  in a short few years.  Beginning with 2009 coverage, the combo of Jennifer Shahade and Ben Finegold was and continues to be a big hit.  I love their lively banter, Jen's sometimes ascerbic commentary, Ben's self-effacing humor and sly digs and the way both do the analysis in a way that makes me believe I can actually understand what is going on.  Me - a hopeless patzer.  Hell, not even a patzer!  That says a great deal about the level of skill of these two commentators and how engaging they are to their audience.  I also love having a female commentator, and Shahade, a two-time U.S. Women's Chess Champion, has excellent qualifications.  It's hard to pinpoint exactly why, but I feel she does bring a unique perspective to her commentary, having played at a level where she went head to head with the best male and female chessplayers in the country and was more than able to hold her own. 

The entire set-up where I could follow the games online as the moves were played, while listening to Jen and Ben do their commentary and also watch them do onboard analysis and discuss potential moves and lines of play while then clicking to the actual moves of the games taking place - that was really cool. 

Now, this is not to say that someone who has absolutely no interest in chess will ever find this kind of presentation even remotely interesting, but as a casual chessplayer who has no deep understanding of the theoretical underpinnings of the game (tell me, just what are the "good squares" again???) I find it all extremely fascinating and enlightening.  Having the visuals with live commentary just adds so much more to the drama of the competition itself. 

Yep, the future of promoting chess is definitely the internet.  Dylan Loeb McClain wrote a Gambit blog about this very subject yesterday:

Gambit Blog, The New York Times, July 28, 2010, 12:27 pm:  How to Make Chess Sizzle

Zheng He Back in the News

There's been a great deal of publicity generated about the discovery of that Chinese vessel that sank off the coast of Kenya in the 1400s.  The Chinese are milking every drop of propaganda they can out of the discovery and the launching of a "team" of archaeologists to study/examine and positively identify the wreck.  I certainly think Zheng He is a worthy subject of such an endeavor, regardless of my personal feelings about the regime currently running things in China.  I thought the 'coded' exchanges between the Chinese representatives and Professor Geoff Wade were extremely interesting!

I am trying to get a handle on just exactly how long 400 feet is -- okay -- whoa, I get it.  A football field (not including the end zones) is 100 yards long, 300 feet.  So Zheng He's flag ship would have been like 1.3 football fields!  Now that's pretty big as far as I'm concerned.  Way longer than Bret Favre could throw back in his prime, before he became a traitor, Cursed Be His Name...  I found this photo of a 400 foot long icebreaker ship - it looks pretty massive.  Guess there would be no problem stashing 1,000 men (I'm assuming there were also women and animals onboard) on a ship that size - with several stories above and below the main deck.  Wow!

I'm not sure about this image, although it is from the article about Zheng He and the ship off the cost of Kenya.  Is this an actual replica that was built [where and when?], or computer generated?

Here's the article from BBC:

28 July 2010 Last updated at 10:39 ET
Zheng He: Symbol of China's 'peaceful rise'
By Zoe Murphy, BBC News

Standing seven feet tall, China's maritime giant Admiral Zheng He led the world's mightiest fleet, with 300 ships and as many as 30,000 troops under his command.

Next month, archaeologists will begin work off the coast of Kenya to identify a wreck believed to have belonged to the man some historians believe inspired the adventures of Sinbad the Sailor.

Chinese archaeologists, who arrived in the African country this week, are hoping that the shipwreck could provide evidence of the first contact between China and east Africa.

Setting sail more than 600 years ago, Zheng's armada made seven epic voyages, reaching south-east Asia, the Middle East, and as far as Africa's east coast.  Some say he even made it to America - several decades before the celebrated European explorer Christopher Columbus - although this has been widely disputed by historians.

Zheng, known as the Three-Jewel Eunuch Admiral, carried gifts from the Chinese emperor aboard his "treasure ship", which groaned with valuable cargo including gold, porcelain and silks.  These were exchanged along the established Arab trade routes for ivory, myrrh and even China's first giraffe, promoting recognition of the new Ming dynasty.

But within years of his death, Zheng appeared to fade from public consciousness, and for centuries his legend was overlooked as China turned its back on the world and entered a long period of isolation.

Now Zheng is enjoying a resurgence - and there appears to be more than historical curiosity behind his revival.


The sunken ship is believed to have been part of Zheng's armada, which reached the coastal town of Malindi in 1418.  The Chinese seem confident they will find the wreck near the Lamu archipelago, where pieces of Ming-era ceramics have already surfaced.

Marine archaeologists are expected to arrive next month.  The Chinese government is investing £2m ($3m) in the three-year joint project, which Kenya says it hopes will throw up important findings about early relations between China and Africa.

Analysts say this ties in well with China's diplomatic overtures to African nations, as it goes about securing natural resources and political influence.

Zheng He - also known as Cheng Ho - is being hailed anew as a national hero; invoked by the Communist Party as a pioneer of China's "open-door" policies that have once again made China a world power.

"The rise of China has induced a lot of fear," says Geoff Wade of the Institute of South-east Asian Studies in Singapore."Zheng is being portrayed as a symbol of China's openness to the world, as an envoy of its peace and friendship - these two words keep cropping up in virtually every reference to Zheng He out of China," says Prof Wade.

In talks with the head of Asean, a grouping of South East Asean nations, earlier this year, Chinese state councillor Dai Bingguo, who is a leading figure in foreign policy, said: "I want to assure you that China is not to be feared."

The voyages of Zheng He, he said, had brought "porcelain, silk and tea rather than bloodshed, plundering or colonialism" - a reference to violent coercive measures used by Western colonisers.

"To this day, Zheng He is still remembered as an envoy of friendship and peace," Mr Dai said.

'Useful tool'

Zheng He was an admiral in the time of "empire", when there were no boundaries, no frontier limits, says China expert Edward Friedman.

"The expeditions were real events - Zheng's achievements were extraordinary and a marvel of the time," says Prof Friedman of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

But the detail of Zheng's story is open to interpretation, and the version being promoted by the Chinese government ignores history in order to serve foreign policy, he says.

Statesman Deng Xiaoping, regarded as the chief architect of China's "opening up" in the 1980s, said China would never seek hegemony. And President Hu Jintao has said many times that peaceful development is a strategic choice of the Chinese government.

Prof Geoff Wade, a historian who has translated Ming documents relating to Zheng's voyages, disputes the portrayal of a benign adventurer.

He says the historical records show the treasure fleets carried sophisticated weaponry and participated in at least three major military actions; in Java, Sumatra and Sri Lanka.

"Because there is virtually no critical analysis of these texts even now - history writing is still in the hands of the state - it's very difficult for Chinese people to conceive of the state as being dangerous, expansionist, or offensive in any way to its neighbours.

"Chinese nationalism is fed on ignorance of its past relations. The way Zheng He is being represented is part of this."

The International Zheng He Society in Singapore disputes this "Western thought", and says the battles that Zheng was embroiled in were either retaliatory or an effort to rid the high seas of pirates.

"These incidents were hardly the nature of true battle but, instead, vividly signify the peaceful diplomacy of Zheng He," said spokesman Chen Jian Chin.

Many layers of myth surround China's ancient mariner. According to Kenyan lore, some of his shipwrecked sailors survived and were allowed to stay and marry local women.  DNA tests have reportedly shown evidence of Chinese ancestry [whose DNA was tested and when?] and a young Kenyan woman, Mwamaka Shirafu, was given a scholarship to study Chinese medicine in China, where she now resides.

"She's as much a symbol of international peace and friendship as any historical legacy," says Prof Wade.
Yeah, right.

Cf. Dr. Martin Rundkvist's opinion at his popular archaeology blog, Aardvarkeology.

Large Exhibition of Taosi Site Objects in Beijing

"Gear-wheel shaped bronze wear
(01 M11:2)
Middle to late period Taosi culture (c. 2100 BC - 1900 BC)
Unearthed from Taosi site, Xiangfen, Shanxi province
This ware was found with a jade bi piling up on the small tomb owner's arm.  The 29 teeth of the ware drew experts' attention that some guessed it might be related to the cycle of dates of month.  Others also think that it may be a bracelet."

Some bracelet!  The translation to English leaves much to be desired.  Was the object actually found AROUND the wrist or arm of the tomb owner?  Was it laying ON TOP OF the arm of the tomb owner?  A bi, as I understand it, is meant to be worn around the neck, suspended from a silk or leather cord. Perhaps this piece was meant to be worn similarly?  Or perhaps it's not a piece of jewelry at all but is something else entirely -- a piece of something that was used to tell time in some way, perhaps?  The 29 "cogs" that appear to be evenly spaced around the outer rim of the circle are highly suggestive of a lunar month, for instance.

Or perhaps it was used for divination somehow, in conjunction with other pieces of equipment that disintegrated over the thousands of years of burial?  For that matter, would not a cord of silk or leather also have disintegrated away after 3000 plus years? 

This object is one of many currently on exhibit at the Capital Museum in Beijing:

China's biggest ever archaeological exhibition is held at the Capital Museum in Beijing on Thursday, July 29, 2010.
"The archaeological finds of the Taosi Site in Xiangfen County of Shanxi Province rewrite history and prove that the beginning of Chinese civilization should be at least 4200 years ago, not 3700 years ago as previously suggested." an expert said during the opening ceremony of China's biggest ever archaeological exhibition in Beijing on Thursday.

The exhibition of over 400 cultural relics, held in the Capital Museum from July 29 to October 10, includes more than one hundred of the earliest archeological finds in China, such as cultivated rice from 10,000 years ago, panicum from 8000 years ago and an ancestor of domestic pigs. Over 70% of the cultural relics are open to the public for the first time.
I'm not saying there is any relationship - but the number 29 reminded me of the very old game of Yut or Nyout, which also involves 29 "points" arranged either in a circle or in a square. Here is an example of a Yut or Nyout arrangement. (R.C. Bell, "Board and Table Games from Many Civilizations.")  It is still played in Korea although the origins of the game have been lost in the mists of time and it is supposed that most people no longer really understand the significance of the fact that, for instance, each "point" has its own name. Some people think that the outer rim in Yut/Nyout represents "Heaven" and the inner portion (the 'cross,' around which a square can be drawn) represents "Earth." In the very old old days, long before China was China, this concept of Heaven/Earth was represented by a circle ("Heaven") superimposed over a flat, square plane ("Earth").

I believe the tradition has evolved to Nyout mostly being played on Korean New Year's Day, when one's "fortune" can be told by playing the game -- I have yet to come across an article that explains just how this is done, though. According to Stewart Culin, Nyout was one of several games that embodied a method of divination in which several two faced staves are tossed and numerical counts attributed to their various falls. [T]he game of Nyout is a striking and typical example. In Nyout, as in many similar games of the same order, direction or place is determined by counting around a diagram which may be regarded as representing the world and its quarter.

I suppose, therefore, that in order to determine one's fortune, one would throw the sticks to get a count and move a piece onto the "board", and this process would be repeated several times, depending on how many pieces one had to "play." The final result would be "read," i.e., interpreted, based upon which "points" the playing pieces landed on the "board."

The interpretation might get a lot more complicated, though, if more than one person was placing pieces on the "board", perhaps taking turns tossing the sticks to get a count. For instance, if another person's piece landed on your same point - what would happen? Would you have to start over? Would you incur a penalty of some kind (go back five spaces, move to "x" space), perhaps even "death?"

An alternative explanation to divining one's fortune by playing Nyout (or perhaps any similar game, because the roots of all circle and cross games may stem from a single origin) as proposed by Culin is discussed at Board Game Geek:

"Regarding the game of Nyout, Culin writes about how the game can be related to the I Ching. During a special holiday time of the year in Korea, Nyout is played and a special book is used called the zhìchéngfǎ (掷成法-"Toss-win-way"). He also includes an exerpt from the book titled zhìsìzhān (掷柶占-"Toss-spoon-divine"). He makes a connection between this book and the I Ching in that there are 64 possible combinations that can result from the throw of the Nyout blocks and that there are 64 possible forturnes that may result."

While short blocks, pam-nyout, are used by children, and gamblers in cities, in the country, long blocks, called tiyang-tjak-nyout (Chinese, cheung cheuk sz' (長斫柶-cháng zhuó sì-"Long Chop Spoon")) or "long-cut nyout" are emplyed. . . . It is customary in Korea to use the long blocks at the 15th of the first month for the purpose of divination. Early in this month a small book is sold in the markets of Seoul to be used in connection with the blocks. The players throw the sticks three times, noting the number that is counted for the throw at each fall. The series of three numbers is then referred to the book, upon the several pages of which are printed in Chinese characters all the various permutations of the numbers, taken three at a time, Korean text explanatory of their significance. . . . The Chinese Book of Divination consists of 64 diagrams, Kwa (卦-guà-diviniatory trigrams), composed of combinations of unbroken ------- with broken lines --- ---, six being taken at a time, and the resulting diagrams being known as the Sixty-four Kwa (卦). Each of these 64 hexagrams is designated by a name and is accompanied by a short explanatory text. Now the Sixty-four Hexagrams are regarded as an expansion of the Eight Trigrams, called the Pat Kwa (八卦-bāguà-eight trigrams), or "Eight Kwa (卦)," formed by combining the same unbroken and broken lines three at a time. The unbroken lines in the diagrams are called yeung (陰-yīn), "masculine," and the broken lines, yam (陽-yáng), "feminine." It is apparent that if the two sides of the Korean blocks be regarded as representing the unbroken, or masculine, lines and the broken, or feminine, lines, the trigrams will form a record of the throws when three blocks are used, and the hexagrams when six blocks are taken. This I believe to have been their original purpose. I regard the diagrams as records of possible throws with two-faced staves, and the text that accompanies the hexagrams in the Yih King, (易经-yìjīng-The Book of Changes) to be explanatory . . . The Korean game of Nyout may be regarded as the antetype of a large number of games which exist throughout the world. Thus the diagram of the Hindu game known as Pachisi, or Chausar . . . will be seen to be an expansion of the Nyout circuit with its internal cross.

From "Games of the Orient" (AKA Korean Games) by Stewart Culin (pg 70-74)
So, this means that if there was no longer anyone who understood the 'rules' to enable the book to be published each year that interpreted the positions where one's pieces ended up on the Nyout board -- and here I am assuming that the book would be customized depending upon the position of the stars, for instance, or related to the greater zodiacal positions -- one would no longer be able to tell one's fortune using that particular method. 

But both the point-marked Nyout board shown above and the standardized trigrams of the I Ching (which have established meanings) could still be used to provide a fortune reading. In the former method, a marked board would be necessary and one's pieces would have to be placed on the board according to one's throws of the sticks; in the latter, all that would be necessary would be to record the way the sticks landed a certain number of times in order to construct the trigrams.  Interpretation would then flow from the trigrams. 

Of course, this supposes that the meanings of the points on the Nyout board and the meanings of the trigrams recorded in the I Ching will never be lost.  Unfortunately, we know from history that such knowledge can be and has been lost with respect to other board games and divinatory practices, and once lost, can often never be reconstructed.

Discoveries from Yet Another English Henge

This one is Marden Henge -- you can find a model here. It's located about halfway between Avebury and Stonehenge.  The diagram below is from The Modern Antiquarian

Feast of finds at Marden
12:14pm Thursday 29th July 2010
by Lewis Cowen

Archaeologists have unearthed a prehistoric henge at Marden, near Devizes, where worship, business and feasting would have gone on 5,000 years ago.

The discovery at Hatfield Farm, never before investigated, has excited the world of archaeology and is more impressive than the recent finds at Stonehenge.

The area under investigation comprises a circular bank and ditch, the distinctive indications of a henge, built by neolithic people between 2500BC and 2300BC, contemporary with Stonehenge, Avebury and Durrington Walls.

The team led by English Heritage archaelogist Jim Leary have been bowled over by their discoveries.

Mr Leary said: “All the literature on this area would lead you to believe it was ploughed out but in fact it has never been ploughed.”

The excavation on top of the bank has unearthed the foundations of a rectangular building with chalk walls.

Mr Leary said: “This would not have been a residence. It could have been a place of worship or a communal building.”

The team also discovered a midden, or rubbish tip, with evidence of great feasting. The 5,000-year-old bones of pigs, some still attached to each other, have been found in perfect condition.

TV archaeologist Phil Harding of Channel Four’s Time Team, who visited the site on Friday, said: “This is amazing. You can see it all there. It accentuates how valuable the work going on here really is.”

Artefacts discovered include a perfect flint arrow head, a stone hammer or pestle and a small red stone worn very smooth, thought to have been used to work leather or burnish pottery.

At the centre of the site, about 200 metres from the henge, the team are having slightly less success with the area where a mound claimed to have been 15 metres high, half the height of Silbury Hill, existed until the early 19th century.

Mr Leary said: “William Cunnington and Henry Colt-Hoare, who were among the first archaeologists in Wiltshire, drove a shaft straight down the centre of it in 1806.”

Two days later the shaft collapsed. An antiquarian writer passing a few years later was distressed to see the farmer had levelled the site.

But the English Heritage team are still finding valuable information from the trench they have dug.

Archaeologists believe the finds are far more significant than the wooden henge discovered at Stonehenge last week. They say that, far from Stonehenge existing in glorious isolation, it has long been known it was part of much larger complex of henges and burial sites.
More info in an article by Maeve Kennedy at The Guardian:
Was Marden Henge the builder's yard for Stonehenge?
July 28, 2010

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Fund Raiser Set to Aid Yucatan Champion Chessplayer

Story at The Daily Athenaeum (West Virginia University)

Friends organize ‘Salsa for Sussi’
Lizard hosts dance to benefit WVU grad’s surgery
By Mackenzie Mays

Published: Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A benefit will be held at De Lazy Lizard tonight at 8 to raise money for a West Virginia University grad’s necessary surgery in the form of her favorite hobby: a Latin dance party.

Susana Villanueva, known by her friends as Sussi, graduated from WVU last spring with a Master’s in Foreign Languages as an international student from Yucatan, Mexico, who dedicated her time to volunteering and served as vice president of Sigma Delta Pi, the Spanish honorary while holding a 4.0 GPA.

She is known most for her energetic personality and love for hosting dances and sharing a piece of her culture with the Morgantown area.

Last semester, Villanueva began having difficulties walking due to a problem in her spine and what appeared as a minor back problem developed into intense pain and impaired mobility, according to her friend Gary Laruta, a legal studies student at WVU and president of the International Students Organization.

"Because of her back problems, she struggled a lot to complete the master’s program and teach as a Spanish TA at the same time, but she successfully finished strong and graduated," Laruta said. "But of course it was very upsetting for her friends to not see her anymore at gatherings dancing."

Villanueva needs a $15,000 correctional spine operation called Spinal Normalisation, which uses new technology called a "Device for Intervertebral Assisted Motion (DIAM)" to treat back problems by allowing flexibility without the need for spinal fusion.

This perseverance is what has inspired friends of Villanueva’s like Jason Staples, a Training and Development Specialist with WVU’s Division of Human Resources who met her in 2008 during Diversity Week where she was volunteering to promote multi cultural awareness, to do their part in helping with her condition.

"Her desire to succeed and pursue her dream to graduate even when facing obstacles that would make most people give up is what has inspired me to take part," Staples said. "At the end of the Spring 2010 semester, even though she was in a lot of pain day and night and even though she was in a wheel chair and on crutches, she never quit smiling and she never gave up."

Villanueva graduated on time in May with the rest of her class and attended the graduation ceremony in her wheel chair and told Staples she didn’t want to miss out on the cultural experience of graduating as a Mountaineer.

Villanueva is modest about her accomplishments, like being named the national Mexican chess champion at the age of 13 and participating in the World Chess Championships in Linares, Spain, Bratislava, Slovakia and Brazil and is the first in her family to attain a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and learn a foreign language, and this humble attitude is what has attracted caring friends who want to help her to continue her success.

"She is truly very loving, friendly, helpful and bright. She has always worked hard for everything she’s accomplished even though she doesn’t talk much about her accomplishments," Staples said. "Sussi plans to continue to achieve her goals but this all depends on the surgery and her recovery."

Villanueva has received a scholarship to Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, to continue her education with a PhD in Modern Languages and Literature in the Fall.

"Morgantown is not a big city and that becomes a plus in terms of building a close community, a community that is there for each other and I guess that the message here," Laruta said. "Sussi has been responsible for many fun and happy memories for all of us, and even though she can’t currently do something that she loves to do like dance, we are going to salsa for Sussi."

The Salsa for Sussi benefit will take place in the VIP room of De Lazy Lizard at 8 p.m. All proceeds will be donated to the financial costs of her surgery.
At first I thought it might be a chess scholarship, but it doesn't seem so --

I found the following information about Ms. Villaneuva at chess femme Claudia Munoz's website (translated to English by Google) - thanks Claudia for publicizing Ms. Villaneuva's plight:


-- First female youth player to participate and excel in chess tournaments at the level of adults and youth in state history in the Yucatan 1989

-- 4 years consecutive gold medals brought Yucatan national chess champion. 1991-1994 1991-1994

-- Representative of Mexico's Olympic team in the world in Linares, Spain, 1992

-- Representative of Mexico at the world championships in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia, 1993

-- Representative of Mexico at the Pan American Games in Brazil two consecutive years, 1994 and 1995

-- First woman to win the state award of the sport in 1993 Yucatán

-- First Yucatan in serving as arbitrator interpreter translator bilingual teachers and international players in the International Chess Tournament "Carlos Torre Repetto" in Merida, 2003 and 2004

Assam, India to Host Large Women's Championship

From the Assam Tribune
Top players for nat’l chess
Sports reporter

GUWAHATI, July 28 – The All Assam Chess Association is bracing up to hold the 37th Women Challenger Chess Championship.

The championship will be organised at the Silpagram, near Srimanta Sankaradeva Kalakhetra here from August 20 to 28.

The organisers have informed that leading players of the country like Swati Ghate, Swati Mehta, Amruta Mukal, Vijay Lakshmi are likely to take part in the championship which has been counted as one of the most important women’s chess tournament in the country. About 150 players will vie for the title.

The players will be accommodated in and around the competition venue. MP Ranee Narah will be the chief guest in the inaugural function.

It is for the first time that the State chess body is organising such a important chess tournament of national circuit for women.

Illinois Kids Teach Rehab Patients How to Play Chess

A lovely story!

From the Daily Herald (suburban Chicago)
Youngsters teach patients chess at South Elgin rehab center
By Eileen O. Daday, staff writer
July 28, 2010

An articulate group of children mixed with adult patients last week at the South Elgin Rehabilitation and Health Care Center. Their medium: chess, and it turned out to be a heck of an icebreaker.

The children ranged in age from kindergartners to fifth-graders. They were coming off a week of Chess Without Borders summer camp at Barrington High School, led by the 2008 U.S. champion Yury Shulman.

A similar camp takes place next week at Quest Academy in Palatine, when Shulman presents his unique approach to learning chess, complete with four grand masters on the staff.

The camps are an outgrowth of after-school programs run by Shulman in Barrington, Palatine, Cary, Fox River Grove and Glendale Heights.

"I remember when I was young and playing in masters tournaments with players from around the world," Shulman said. "None of us spoke the same language, but after the games, we'd have no trouble communicating about chess."

That philosophy continues to drive his camps, where chess instruction is the hook, but a broader approach to serving others is incorporated.

Earlier this month, campers learned about the Citizens for Conservation Corps in Barrington before making a donation. Another camper, Joseph Jazwinski, 10, of Cary led his peers in a project that collected care packages for troops in Afghanistan.

On this particular day, however, they arrived to share their chess know-how with these unsuspecting adults.

Peter Abrahamson, 11, of Lake Barrington and Jack Bradley, 6, of Barrington both wanted to play Mike Trojanowicz at the center, who already knew how to play the game, and they had no hesitation in approaching him.

"I usually start by helping them open with better moves," Peter said. "Then, I try to get them to think ahead, to see where they are threatened."

Jack says he plays regularly with his grandfather, Paul Petraitis of Barrington Hills, both in person and online.

Petraitis was on hand for the rehab center visit, where he continued to marvel at the youngsters and their confidence in teaching the game.

"I hadn't played chess in 35 years," Paul Petraitis said. "Now, I'm hooked. For an older person, you learn concentration and thinking ahead. For the kids, I see how it develops their logic and strategy."

One of those on hand from the chess club was Fremd High School junior Sujit Johnston, 16, of Rolling Meadows, who is serving as an intern with the group.

He started playing chess in fifth grade before attending one of the Chess Without Borders camps and playing in its tournaments. Last winter, he placed fifth at the IHSA state chess finals.

"The camps had a lot of drills and we'd go through games of former grand masters," Sujit said. "But I liked how they brought in service, and helping people all around the world."

Lucy Abrahamson, 9, watched both her older brothers play chess and she wanted to learn herself. After attending one of the camps, she says, she now feels enough confidence to teach adults.

"I just try and explain all of the pieces and what moves it takes to capture someone," Lucy explained.

Her opponent at the rehab center, Glenda Parker, conceded she had minimal knowledge of the game and kept reverting back to her knowledge of checkers.

"She's teaching me where to place these pieces and how to jump," Parker said. "It's hard, but I'm getting it. I like the fact that I'm still learning."

For more details about Chess Without Borders, visit

Two New U.S. Chess Champions, Two Diverging Paths

From Gambit, The New York Time's chess blog by Dylan Loeb McClain
Published: July 24, 2010

The two newest United States champions have very different future plans.

On Monday [July 19], Irina Krush, 26, won the women’s championship for the third time, earning $16,000, her biggest payday. Krush said of her prospects of earning a living as a professional player, “I am actually at the stage where I am going to get into it more than ever.”

Samuel Shankland, 18, who won the junior championship in a playoff on Tuesday [July 20], plans to quit playing professionally for the time being, and perhaps for good. He is beginning studies at Brandeis University in Boston in the fall. “I’m going to go down the other road and see where it goes,” he said.

Krush, who also won in 1998 and 2007, finished a half-point ahead of Anna Zatonskih, the 2006, 2008 and 2009 champion, and Tatev Abrahamyan. The rivalry between Krush and Zatonskih has become quite intense, partly because of the playoff between the two that decided the 2008 title. Krush said of the rivalry, “There is nothing too friendly about it.” But she added that they were on speaking terms. “It is important to me that things are cordial,” she said.

Krush said that she had worked hard over the last 18 months with her coach, Giorgi Kacheishvili, and that the work was bearing fruit. “I am trying to play more dynamic chess,” she said. Krush, an international master, said her immediate goal was to become a grandmaster — she already has one of the three norms needed for the title.

For Shankland, who is also an international master, the obstacles to becoming a grandmaster are one reason he is quitting. He has two norms, but said he had two other tournament performances that would have been norms, except for technical issues. He said of becoming a grandmaster, “Everybody says it is not supposed to be easy, which is fine by me. But it is supposed to be fair.”

Not being a grandmaster has hurt him financially. Shankland estimated that he has earned one-third less than he would have if he had the higher title.

Though Shankland’s victory qualifies him for the world junior championship, which begins Aug. 2 in Poland, he said he was not going. “I’m not turning my life upside down on such short notice,” he said.

5,000 Year Old Artifact Uncovered in Sidon Dig

It's an intriguing little piece - unfortunately I could not find a better photo of it, and I do not know if it is a female or a male.

From the Lebanon Daily Star
Dig unearths 5,000-year-old artefact in Sidon
By Mohammed Zaatari
Daily Star staff
Wednesday, July 28, 2010

(excerpted) SIDON: The British Museum delegation announced on Tuesday that it has discovered significant archeological remains in Sidon, during the 12th year of excavation project.

The delegation has been working on the College excavation site in the southern coastal city of Sidon for 12 years, with the cooperation of the Department of Antiquities of Lebanon. It has recently uncovered new items that link various historic eras together.

“In this small site we have a chronological succession of various eras … Each year we discover new rooms,” said the head of the delegation Claude Serhal.

Work carried out since June 19 of this year has uncovered two new rooms in a 10-room building dating back to the third millennium BC. In one of these chambers the team found a small figurine and a small container with a broken handle.

The statuette of a human figure represented in prayer had special importance, according to Serhal, because it was “the first time we found a complete statue of a worshiper dating back to the third millennium BC.”

The figure was wearing a long dress, with hair indicated by incised lines. Its arms were bent in front of the body suggesting a respectful pose.

“This is a major discovery because we’re learning more about the third millennium BC,” Serhal said, adding that pictures of gods were also found.

4,000 Year Old Russian Tombs Discovered

Archeologists Discover 4000-Year-Old Tombs A sad story - unfortunately these tombs were looted.  No way of knowing what may have been removed.

Archeologists Discover 4000-Year-Old Tombs

Remnants of early people of the Neolith epoch have been discovered near Shagara Lake, Klepikov District of the Ryazan Region. The entombments are already 4 thousand years old.

Digging works go on there now. There could have been more archeological sensations there, but for the “black diggers”, researchers say.

Chisels, hatchets, scrapers, arrowheads, crocks of vessels – these things can be found nearby the graves.

Archeologists have found out big holes that adjoin the last year's archeological pits. They had been scooped mainly orthogonally, with the cultural layer spoilt and, most likely, plundered.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies Makes Strong Statement --

We all know what's going on in Iran with respect to the wholesale looting by the regime of pre-Islamic Iranian antiquities (and the destruction of sites that they cannot figure out a way to make quick money on).  This doesn't get much (if any) coverage in the mainstream press, but the systematic destruction of everything in Iran that is pre-Islamic is a fact of life.  The idiots who were in this country didn't know what they were destroying back in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries when they plowed over Indian mounds or blew them up to make "skyscrapers" (the same cannot be said for developers today, as I try to point out by publishing articles here) -- but the dudes who are running things in Iran right now - they DO know. Oh yeah. 

CAIS has the guts tell it like it is -- they did so once again in this article:

An Ancient Subterranean Secret Complex Discovered in Hamadan Province
Tuesday, 27 July 2010 04:14

LONDON, (CAIS) -- An ancient network of secret tunnels and dwellings has been discovered in Hamedan Province.  The Iranian province lies in an elevated region, with the 'Alvand' mountains, running from the north west to the south west.

The discovered complex is located near the village of Arzanfud, 25 kilometres southeast of the provincial capital-city of Hamedan, the Hamedan Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Department (HCHTHD) announced Saturday in a press release.

The complex is comprised of 25 rooms connected to each other by several tunnels, had been excavated beneath a stone mound extending deep into the earth at a depth of 4 to 6 meters.

The complex is believed to have been used by habitants as a shelter during wars.

The entrance to the subterranean complex which is hidden or disguised yet to be discovered, but at the moment it is accessible through an original ventilation shaft, widened by HCHTHD’s experts for access.

There are holes carved in the walls, which had been made to hold early light fixtures. A cot has also been identified in the structure.

A number of stone rings and clasps have also been among the discovered artefacts.

According to initial studies, the city likely dates back to the first Iranian dynasty, the Medes (728-550 BCE) or much later to the Parthian dynasty (248 BCE – 224 CE).

No more details were released by the government-controlled organisation about the discovery.

Since March 2009, Iranian archaeologists are banned giving interviews or reveal any information about the ICHTHO or the status of Iranian archaeology. By implementing such a ban the theocratic-totalitarian regime has closed the only reliable avenue for obtaining the accurate information about the status of the archaeological discoveries and the cultural treasures recovered from the sites. [Emphasis added by Jan]

By some reports, the number of priceless artefacts passed to the Iranian museums by ICHTHO, especially those made of precious metals recovered from the sites have been fallen drastically.

The illicit antiquities trade and selling Iranian historical relics to the European markets and private collectors worldwide has become one of the most lucrative revenues for the ruling clerics and their families.

Since the rise of the Islamic Regime to power in 1979, not only the smuggling and looting of Iranian art and antiquity, but a deliberate destruction, mainly Iran’s pre-Islamic heritage have been systematic and widespread. These destructions have been increased since the appointment of Mahmood Ahmadinajad as the president by the Ali Khamanei, the regime's Spiritual Leader.

Historical background:

Hamedan province is one of the most ancient parts of Iran and its civilisation. Today's it capital city of same name, is the remains of the ancient Ecbatana.

According to historical records, there was once a castle in this city by the name of Haft Hessar (Seven Walls) which had a thousand rooms and its grandeur equalled that of the Babylon Tower.

The foundation of city are related to Diya Aku, a the first Iranian historical King, who founded the first Iranian dynasty, the Medes.

During the third Iranian dynasty, the Parthians, Ctesiphon was chosen as the political and winter capital of the empire and Hamedan became the summer capital and residence of the Arasacid King of Kinds. After the the fall of Parthian dynasty, the Sasanian dynasty (224-651 CE) constructed their summer palaces in Hamedan as well.

After the battle of Nahavand in 642 CE, Hamedan fell to the hands of the invading Arabs; the city was pillaged, the most of the inhabitants were massacred and the survivors forced to accept Islam.

Avicenna (c. 980 - 1037 also Pur Sina, Ibn Sina), the foremost Persian physician, philosopher and one of the world's greatest polymath is buried in that city.

Fragment of Hammurabi-Like Code Found in Israel

Guess I'll file this under biblical archaeology :)  What absolutely amazes me is how they can tell so much from such a tiny little piece of piece! 

From Israel National News
Tablet Discovered by Hebrew U Matches Code of Hammurabi
Published: 07/26/10, 2:40 PM / Last Update: 07/26/10, 3:56 PM
by INN Staff courtesy of Hebrew University

For the first time in Israel, a document has been uncovered containing a law code that parallels portions of the famous Code of Hammurabi. The code is written on fragments of a cuneiform tablet, dating from the 18th-17th centuries B.C.E in the Middle Bronze Age, that were found in Hebrew University of Jerusalem archaeological excavations this summer at Hazor, south of Kiryat Shmonah, in northern Israel.

The Hazor excavations, known as the Selz Foundation Hazor Excavations in Memory of Yigael Yadin, are under the direction of Prof. Amnon Ben-Tor and Dr. Sharon Zuckerman of the Hebrew University Institute of Archaeology. Previous excavations were directed at the site by the late Prof. Yigael Yadin in the 1950s and 1960s.

The fragments that have now been discovered, written in Akkadian cuneiform script, refer to issues of personal injury law relating to slaves and masters, bring to mind similar laws in the famous Babylonian Hammurabi Code of the 18th century B.C.E. that were found in what is now Iran over 100 years ago. The laws also reflect, to a certain extent, Biblical laws of the type of “a tooth for a tooth,” say the researchers.

The Hazor law code fragments are being prepared for publication by a team headed by Prof. Wayne Horowitz of the Hebrew University Institute of Archaeology. Thus far, words that have been deciphered include “master,” “slave,” and a word referring to bodily parts, apparently the word for “tooth.” The style of the text is similar to that of the Hammurabi Code, said Prof. Horowitz.“At this stage, it is difficult to determine whether this document was actually written at Hazor, where a school for scribes was located, or brought from somewhere else,” said Prof. Horowitz. He said that this latest discovery opens an interesting avenue for possible further investigation of a connection between Biblical law and the Code of Hammurabi.

These two fragments are the 18th and 19th cuneiform finds from the Hazor excavations, which now form the largest corpus of documents of cuneiform texts found in Israel. Previous documents dealt with such subjects as the dispatch of people or goods, a legal dispute involving a local woman, and a text of multiplication tables. “These tablets point to Hazor’s importance as a major center for administration and scholarship in the Middle and Late Bronze Ages,” said Prof. Ben-Tor.

The Hazor excavations, sponsored by the Hebrew University and the Israel Exploration Society, take place within the Hazor National Park. The archaeological team is presently about to begin uncovering a monumental building dating to the Bronze Age, where they expect to recover additional tablets.

Rummage Sale Buy May Be Worth $200 Million

'Sis sent me the link to this very early this morning (or very late last night, Las Vegas time) -- Here's one of the stories:

From CNN News:
Experts: Ansel Adams photos found at garage sale worth $200 million
By Alan Duke, CNN
July 27, 2010 9:01 p.m. EDT

Los Angeles, California (CNN) -- Rick Norsigian kept two boxes he bought at a garage sale under his pool table for four years before realizing they may be too valuable to store at home.

The Fresno, California, commercial painter learned this week that what was in those boxes he paid $45 dollars for a decade ago could be worth more than $200 million.

"When I heard that $200 million, I got a little weak," Norsigian said at a Beverly Hills art gallery Tuesday.

Art, forensic, handwriting and weather experts teamed up to conclude the 65 glass plates in the boxes were photographic negatives created more than 80 years ago by Ansel Adams, the iconic American photographer whose images of the West inspired the country.

Arnold Peter, the lawyer who led the effort to authenticate that the negatives were made by the man known as the father of American photography, said their approach was "to put these negatives on trial."

Experts, including a former FBI agent and a U.S. attorney, "came to the conclusion that, based on the evidence which was overwhelming, that no reasonable person would have any doubt that these, in fact, were the long-lost images of Ansel Adams," Arnold said.

The photographs were from the early career of the famed nature photographer, a period that is not well documented since a 1937 darkroom fire destroyed 5,000 of his plates, Arnold said.

"It truly is a missing link of Ansel Adams and history and his career," said Beverly Hills appraiser and art dealer David W. Streets.

The photographs were taken between 1919 and the early 1930s at locations familiar to Adams, mostly around Yosemite, California, Streets said.

"This is going to show the world the evolution of his eye, of his talent, of his skill, his gift, but also his legacy," Streets said.

"And it's a portion that we thought had been destroyed in the studio fire."

Norsigian, who scours garage sales for antiques, was looking for a barber chair when he spotted to two deteriorated boxes in the spring of 2000.

"When I pulled on of those glass negatives out, I seen Yosemite," he said. "As a young man, I worked at Yosemite quite a bit. So, right away I recognized it as Yosemite."

He bickered with the seller, finally negotiating down from $70 to $45 for the boxes. The owner said he bought them in the 1940s at a warehouse salvage in Los Angeles. He bickered the price down from $70 to $45.

It would be two years before he realized they photos may be from Adams, he said. After four years, he had done enough research to realize the plates could be valuable. He moved them from under his pool table and placed them in a bank vault.

How these 6.5 x 8.5 inch glass plate negatives of famous Yosemite landscapes and San Francisco landmarks -- some of them with fire damage -- made their way from Adams collection 70 years ago to a Southern California garage sale in 2000 can only be guessed.

Photography expert Patrick Alt, who helped confirm the authenticity of the negatives, suspects Adams carried them to use in a photography class he was teaching in Pasadena, California, in the early 1940s.

"It is my belief that he brought these negatives with him for teaching purposes and to show students how to not let their negatives be engulfed in a fire," Alt said. "I think this clearly explains the range of work in these negatives, from very early pictorialist boat pictures, to images not as successful, to images of the highest level of his work during this time period."

Alt said it is impossible to know why Adams would store them in Pasadena and never reclaim them.

The plates were individually wrapped in newspaper inside deteriorating manila envelopes. Notations on each envelope appeared to have been made by Virginia Adams, the photographer's wife, according to handwriting experts Michael Nattenberg and Marcel Matley. They compared them to samples provided by the Adams' grandson.

While most of the negatives appear never to have been printed, several are nearly identical to well-known Adams prints, the experts said.

Meteorologist George Wright studied clouds and snow cover in a Norsigian negative to conclude that it was taken at about the same time as a known Adams photo of a Yosemite tree.

In addition to Yosemite -- the California wilderness that Adams helped conserve -- the negatives depict California's Carmel Mission, views of a rocky point in Carmel, San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf, a sailing yacht at sea and an image of sand dunes.

"The fact that these locations were well-known to Adams, and visited by him, further supports the proposition that all of the images in the collection were most probably created by Adams," said art expert Robert Moeller.

Moeller said that after six months of study, he concluded "with a high degree of probability, that the images under consideration were produced by Ansel Adams.

Silver tarnishing on the negatives also helped date the plates to around the 1920s, Alt said.

"I have sent people to prison for the rest of their lives for far less evidence than I have seen in this case," said evidence and burden of proof expert Manny Medrano, who was hired by Norsigian to help authenticate them. "In my view, those photographs were done by Ansel Adams."

Arnold, the lawyer, said they presented their evidence to descendants of Adams, but they've not heard back.

Norsigian, who is 64, still works for the Fresno school system, but he may retire this year.

It could be a while before he sees the profits from the sale of prints from the negatives, but Streets estimates over the next 25 years it could mean over $200 million for Norsigian.

For now, the photos will go on a tour of universities and museums, starting in October at Fresno State University, Norsigian said,

"I just hope everybody enjoys them," he said.

He's not spoken with the man who sold him the two boxes a decade ago.

"If he's still around, I'm afraid he may come looking for me," he said.
Great story!  But there is a BUT --

From AP at Yahoo News:
Adams heirs skeptical about lost negatives claim
By CHRISTINA HOAG, Associated Press Writer Christina Hoag, Associated Press Writer – 2 hrs 6 mins ago
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – A trove of old glass negatives bought at a garage sale for $45 has been authenticated as the lost work of Ansel Adams and worth at least $200 million, an attorney for the owner said Tuesday, but the iconic photographer's representatives dismissed the claim as a fraud and said they're worthless.

Arnold Peter, who represents Fresno painter and construction worker Rick Norsigian, said a team of experts who studied the 65 negatives over the past six months concluded "beyond a reasonable doubt" that the photos were Adams' early work, believed to have been destroyed in a 1937 fire at his Yosemite National Park studio.

Adams is renown for his timeless black-and-white photographs of the American West, which were produced with darkroom techniques that heightened shadows and contrasts to create mood-filled landscape portraits. He died in 1984 at 82.

His photographs today are widely reproduced on calendars, posters and in coffee-table books, while his prints are coveted by collectors. His print "Clearing Winter Storm, Yosemite National Park" fetched $722,500 at auction last month in New York, a record for 20th century photography.

Norsigian, who works for the Fresno Unified School District, is already planning to capitalize on his discovery. He's set up a website to sell prints made from 17 negatives from $45 for a poster to $7,500 for a darkroom print with a certificate of authenticity. A documentary on his quest to have the negatives authenticated is in the works, as well as a touring exhibition that will debut at Fresno State University in October.

Representatives of Adams, however, said they're not buying Norsigian's claims.

"It's an unfortunate fraud," said Bill Turnage, managing director of the Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust. "It's very distressing." Turnage said he's consulting lawyers about possibly suing Norsigian for using a copyrighted name for commercial purposes. He described Norsigian as on an "obsessive quest."

"We've been dealing with him for a decade," he said. "I can't tell you how many times he's called me."

Adams' grandson, Matthew Adams, who heads the Ansel Adams Gallery in San Francisco, said he reviewed Norsigian's authentications last fall and thinks they're stretches. Many photographers took pictures of the same places Adams did in that era, he said.

"There is no real hard evidence," he said. "I'm skeptical."

Norsigian bought the negatives from a man who said he had purchased the box from a Los Angeles salvage warehouse in the 1940s, bargaining the price down from $70 to $45. He saw they were views of Yosemite but never suspected they might be Adams' works until someone mentioned they resembled the famed photographer's shots.

"We got a laugh out of that," Norsigian said.

But the idea stuck with Norsigian, and he started researching the photographer, eventually concluding they were Adams' work.

The shots are of places Adams frequented and photographed. Several shots contain people identified as Adams associates. Adams taught at the Pasadena Art Center in the early 1940s, which would account for the negatives being in Los Angeles. The negatives are the size Adams used in the 1920s and '30s and several have charred edges, possibly indicating the 1937 fire.

"You keep adding bits and pieces," Norsigian said.

For years, he tried to get them officially verified, taking them to experts at the Smithsonian Institution, the Getty Center and others, but no one would venture to authenticate them.

Three years ago, he met Beverly Hills entertainment lawyer Peter, who assembled a team of experts to review the negatives.

Rest of article...

Well, darlings, looks like the fight is on!
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