Saturday, November 13, 2010

Ilkley Moor Stone Carvings to be Preserved in 3D

Story from BBC News
Prehistoric Ilkley Moor carvings to be preserved in 3D
Monday, 8 November 2010

Prehistoric carvings on Ilkley Moor are to be preserved with help from the latest technology so future generations will be able to enjoy and study them.

An Ilkley Moor rock carving.  Mancala, anyone?
Archaeologists hope to create digital 3D models of the carvings amid fears the originals could be eroded away.

Community archaeologist Gavin Edwards said this was an important development.

He said: "We have the opportunity to create three-dimensional models so they can be studied in the future as they exist in the landscape itself."

The carvings were made in what is known as the Mesolithic - or Middle Stone Age - era which started at the end of the last ice age in about 10,000 BC.

It is thought they were made by some of the first hunter-gatherers to reach what is now Ilkley Moor - an area which now has the highest concentration of Mesolithic sites in the world.

Human interaction

Gavin Edwards explained: "What we have is a dense concentration of evidence telling us about how the very first people who moved back into this area were exploiting the landscape and how they were surviving.

"They are part of the story of how human interaction with their surroundings started to change the very appearance of the landscape."

The Prehistoric Carved Rocks project has been launched by Pennine Prospects, an organisation dedicated to the regeneration of the South Pennines.

More carvings at Ilkley Moor
 The project's aim is to ensure that even if the original carvings erode away due to the effects of the weather they will still available for study in centuries to come.

Gavin Edwards said it was all down to the latest technology that the project could be launched.

He said: "Up until now the only way we have been able to represent them is in two dimensions.

"But a new technique has become available to us whereby we can photograph them with digital images.

"Then, then there is a very complicated piece of software which can combine the images to produce a three-dimensional model of the actual carvings."

Volunteers are now being urged to come forward to join in the Prehistoric Carved Rocks project in Ilkley.

They will be given the chance to find out more about the project and register their interest.

Training sessions

In the coming months, training sessions covering surveying, recording and photographic techniques will take place.

It it is hoped volunteers will then be able to put all these skills into action on Ilkley Moor over the next three years.

Volunteer Eddie Nash said he thought it was well worth getting involved for a number of reasons.

He explained: "It is an interest I have. I find it fascinating looking back and trying to understand how our ancestors lived and developed and gave us what we have today.

"It is the usual situation where people do not understand and use what they have on their own doorstep.

"Once you start to make them aware of things, they are very surprised about what is to be found."

Cohokia Mounds

A new article revisits Cohokia Mounds State Historic Park, a World Heritage site, located in southern Illinois at Collinsville (USA) a short distance across the mighty Mississippi  from St. Louis, Missouri.  At its height around 1200 CE, the city was populated by as many as 50,000 people (larger than London) and the great pyramid was 4 blocks square and 10 stories tall, including an expansive wooden temple on top dedicated to the Sun God - larger than the Great Pyramid at Giza, Egypt.

Cahokia Mounds and the remnants of a sprawling metropolis
November 12th, 2010 1:22 pm PT.
Brad Olsen, San Francisco Examiner Sacred Sites Travel Examiner

An artist's depiction of part of Cohokia Mounds.

Pythagoras' Math More Than 1,000 Years Before He Was Born

From Art Daily:

Saturday November 13, 2010
Ancient Tablets Reveal Mathematical Achievements of Ancient Babylonian Culture

Tablet Plimpton 322, a table of Pythagorean triangles
a(2) + b(2) = c(2) 1,000 years before the Theorem existed
NEW YORK, NY.- An illuminating exhibition of thirteen ancient Babylonian tablets, along with supplemental documentary material, opens at New York University’s Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (ISAW) on November 12, 2010. Before Pythagoras: The Culture of Old Babylonian Mathematics reveals the highly sophisticated mathematical practice and education that flourished in Babylonia—present-day Iraq—more than 1,000 years before the time of the Greek sages Thales and Pythagoras, with whom mathematics is traditionally said to have begun.

The tablets in the exhibition, at once beautiful and enlightening, date from the Old Babylonian Period (ca. 1900–1700 BCE). They have been assembled from three important collections: the Columbia Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University; the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology; and the Yale Babylonian Collection, Yale University.

Before Pythagoras has been curated by Alexander Jones, ISAW Professor of the History of the Exact Sciences in Antiquity, and ISAW visiting scholar Christine Proust, historian of mathematics and ancient sciences at the Institut Méditerranéen de Recherches Avancées, in Marseille. The exhibition remains on view at ISAW through December 17, 2010.

Jennifer Chi, ISAW director for exhibitions and public programs, states, “It has long been widely recognized that many of the critical achievements of Western Civilization, including writing and the code of law that is the basis for our present-day legal system, developed in ancient Mesopotamia. However, the stunningly advanced state of mathematics in this region has largely been known only to scholars. By demonstrating the richness and sophistication of ancient Mesopotamian mathematics, Before Pythagoras adds an important dimension to the public knowledge of the history of historic cultures and attainments of present-day Iraq.”

Babylonian mathematics is known to the modern world through the work of scribes, primarily young men who, coming from wealthy families in which literacy and professional expertise were handed down through generations, were formally trained in reading and writing. Destined to work in such fields as accounting, building-project planning, and other professions in which mathematics is essential, the scribes learned and practiced mathematics by copying symbols and solving problems—some practical, others theoretical—such as those seen in the tablets in the exhibition.

Alexander Jones notes, “The evidence we have for Old Babylonian mathematics is amazing not only in its abundance, but also in its range, from basic arithmetic to really challenging problems and investigations. And since the documents are the actual manuscripts of the scribes, not copies selected and edited by later generations, we feel as if we were looking over their shoulders as they work; we can even see them getting confused and making mistakes. Recent research has made this human dimension very vivid, using archeological evidence to re-imagine the schools and the process of teaching and learning. Moreover, the contents of the tablets are still recognizable, as they continue to be taught in contemporary mathematics.”

The tablets in Before Pythagoras, inscribed in cuneiform script, cover the full spectrum of mathematical activity, from arithmetical tables copied by scribes-in-training to sophisticated work on topics that today would be classified as number theory and algebra. In so doing, they illuminate three major themes: arithmetic exploiting a notation of numbers based entirely on two basic symbols; the scribal schools of Nippur, which was the most prestigious center of scribal education; and advanced mathematical training.

Many of the problems solved by scribes at the advanced level of training were in fact much more difficult than any they would have to deal with in their careers, and their solutions depended on principles that, before the rediscovery of the Babylonian tablets, were believed to have been discovered by the Greeks of the sixth century BCE and later. One of the tablets, for example, is an extremely unusual diagram showing a square with its two diagonals and three numbers that demonstrate that what we call the Pythagorean Theorem existed 1,000 years before Pythagoras lived. The content of other tablets ranges from mathematical tables for training, to practical calculations for professionals, to abstract algebraic problems.

The meaning of these and other tablets from the Old Babylonian Period were first elucidated by mathematician and historian of science Otto Neugebauer (1899–1990), who spent some two decades, beginning in the 1920s, transcribing and interpreting tablets that had come to light in ancient Mesopotamia since the nineteenth century. It is his pioneering research, as well as the work of his associates, rivals, and successors, that revealed to modern scholars the period’s rich culture of mathematics. Before Pythagoras includes a selection of manuscripts and correspondence, on loan from the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton, New Jersey), that offers a glimpse of Neugebauer’s methods and his central role in this “heroic age” of scientific discovery.

In order to enable visitors to appreciate the cuneiform tablets more fully, ISAW has developed an extended exhibition pamphlet that will guide viewers in reading cuneiform numbers. The exhibition features a content-rich website.

Karpov-Hou Match

Former World Chess Champion GM Anatoly Karpov won the match (November 6 - 11, 2010, Sanya, Hainan, China) against a Chinese chess star GM Hou Yifan:  3.5/2.5.  The following information is courtesy of Susan Polgar's chess blog:

Anatoly Karpov g RUS 2619 3½
Hou Yifan g CHN 2591 2½

Day 1 (6 November 2010): Game 1 Hou Yifan g CHN 2591 0-1 Anatoly Karpov g RUS 2619

Day 2 (7 November 2010): Game 2 Anatoly Karpov g RUS 2619 ½-½ Hou Yifan g CHN 2591

Day 3 (8 November 2010): Game 3 Hou Yifan g CHN 2591 ½-½ Anatoly Karpov g RUS 2619

Day 4 (9 November 2010): Rest Day

Day 5 (10 November 2010): Game 4 Anatoly Karpov g RUS 2619 ½-½ Hou Yifan g CHN 2591

Day 6 (11 November 2010): 2 Rapid games

Anatoly Karpov g RUS 2619 ½-½ Hou Yifan g CHN 2591
Hou Yifan g CHN 2591 ½-½ Anatoly Karpov g RUS 2619


9 Queens Action!

Sorry for the short notice - check out these great events, including one TOMORROW, EEK!

Wizards and muggles alike are welcome to join 9 Queens and Mrs. Tiggy Winkle's Toys for an afternoon of wizard chess, pick-up games and fun on Sunday, November 14 from 3-5 pm at Mrs. Tiggy Winkle's Toy Store (located at 4811 Grant Road in Crossroads Festival, Tucson, Arizona). Come as your favorite Harry Potter character or chess piece for a costume contest at 4 pm. Puzzles and prizes will be awarded throughout the day to anyone who can solve the same chess puzzle Harry, Hermione, and Ron faced in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. In addition there will be butterbeer to drink, lightning bolt tattoos, a Bertie Bots Bean tasting table, and raffles for all kinds of magical artifacts!

Hey ladies- Join 9 Queens and Bookmans for free chess lessons on November 21, 2010 from 2-4 pm at the Bookmans Low Lounge in the Sahuaro Girl Scout Resource Center. Women and girls of all ages are encouraged to attend. Beginners welcome!  Location:  4300 E. Broadway Blvd.,Tucson, Arizona (SE corner of Broadway and Columbus). 

This Thanksgiving weekend put down the turkey and join 9 Queens and the Pima County Public Library for a free chess tournament on Saturday, November 27 at the Bear Canyon Public Library (8959 E. Tanque Verde Road, Tucson, Arizona). Check-in will begin at 10 am and there will be 3 rounds held throughout the day. Free lunch will be provided to all participants. For more information email Jean Hoffman.

9 Queens Website

Contact Jean Hoffman with any questions.  Hoping for a great turn-out for all these fab events!

Cajun Chess Presents Late November Chess in Memphis, Tennessee

Presenting TWO Tournaments  . . . ONE Weekend   . . .
(a 2-Day Event - Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 20-21, 2010)
*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *
(a 1-Day Event - Sunday, Nov. 21, 2010)

at the
University Center of the University of Memphis
Memphis, TN 38111

2-Day Event
(a USCF-rated tournament)

1st round at 9 a.m. on Saturday!

5SS, G/120
(Rounds 1 and 2, G/75)

Saturday (Nov. 20): 9 - 12 - 3
Sunday (Nov. 21): 9:30 - 2:30

OPEN: $600-400-200
(Top U1800 Player: $100)
U1600/Unr: $400-200-100
(Top U1000 Player: $100)

BYES (1/2-point)
Available for any round. Limit one bye per player. Must commit before Round 2.

Defeat the top ranked player (OPEN Section only) and win free entry to our next tournament!

$40 if received by midnight Wednesday Nov. 17th; $50 thereafter and at site.
$30 for Juniors* (under 19 years old AND playing in the U1600 section) by midnight Wednesday, Nov. 17th; $35 thereafter and at site.
NOTE: Jr. Entry Fees count for 75% and Re-Entries count for 50% of a full-paid entry.

Re-entry fee is $20 and you may re-enter up to Round 3.

(Major credit cards accepted: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express)

You may register with a credit card on-line at
then click on Secure On-line Entry.

You may register with a credit card by phone (504) 208-9596 or (504) 905-2971.

If you wish to mail in your entry with a check (or with your credit card information), please be sure to include player's name, full address, phone, email, contact number, USCF I.D. number and section, and mail to:

Cajun Chess
7230 Chadbourne Drive
New Orleans, LA 70126

You may register on-site between 8:15 - 8:45 a.m. the first day of the tournament (Saturday, Nov. 20th). The first round will start at 9:00 a.m.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
1-Day Event
(Rated and Unrated Sections Available)

First round at 1 p.m. on Sunday!

4SS, G/30
(4 games will be played and each opponent has 30 minutes to complete his game)

USCF-rated Sections for Individuals and Teams:
(USCF membership required and may be purchased on site)
K-2 K-6 K-12
Non-rated Section for Individuals only:
(No membership required for this section)
K-12 Reserve*
NOTE: Reserve section is for individuals only (no teams) and is not rated; therefore, USCF membership is not required.

Each section must have at least 5 players or section will be combined. NO ELIMINATION . . . everyone will play all four rounds!

A team will consist of a minimum of two or more players from the same school or home school district. However, the top THREE scores will count for final team standings, so it would be to your advantage to find a third team member (no "maximum" limit of number of players on a team). Team and individual games are played simultaneously.

On-site registration will be held on Sunday (Nov. 21) from 12:15 p.m. - 12:45 p.m. First round will begin at promptly at 1 p.m. Other rounds will immediately follow.

Trophies awarded to the top 3 individual winners in each section (in both rated and non-rated sections) and to the top 2 teams in each rated section; commemorative medal to all non-trophy winners.
SPECIAL AWARD to the school with the most participants in the tournament!

BYES (1/2-point)
Available for any Round. Limit one bye per player (must commit before Round 2).

USCF-recommended computer tiebreaks will decide trophy and medal placements for all winners in scholastic sections.

Entry fee is $15 per player if received by midnight, Wednesday, November 17th; $20 per player thereafter and at site.

(Major credit cards accepted: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express)

You may register with a credit card on-line at
then on Secure On-line Entry.

You may register with a credit card by phone (504) 208-9596 or (504) 905-2971.

If you wish to mail in your entry with a check (or with your credit card information), please be sure to include player's name, full address, phone, email, contact number, grade, USCF I.D. number (if playing in a rated section) and section, and mail to:

Cajun Chess
7230 Chadbourne Drive
New Orleans, LA 70126

Please bring boards, sets & clocks, if possible--none will be provided - Chess Vendor (Cajun Chess) will be on site. Lunch and snacks will also be available for purchase on site.
Tournament rules (i.e., touch-move rule) will be enforced for all sections.

For additional information, please call (504) 208-9596 or (504) 905-2971, or email


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Biblical Archaeology: 'Secret Mark" Not a Fraud

Expert Handwriting Analysis Concludes “Secret Mark” Not a Forgery
Recent expert handwriting analysis has concluded that the document known as “Secret Mark” and found by Morton Smith over 50 years ago is indeed not a forgery!


PRLog (Press Release) – Nov 11, 2010 – Expert handwriting analysis has concluded that Morton Smith did not forge the document known as “Secret Mark.” More than fifty years ago in a Judean desert monastery, Columbia University professor Morton Smith discovered a previously unknown letter from Clement of Alexandria, a second-century church father, which contained passages of a lost “secret” gospel of Mark. A debate over the authenticity of this document continues to this day.

A number of scholars have concluded that Smith forged the document known as the Clement letter, or “Secret Mark.” In a four-part treatment in the November/December 2009 issue, including contributions by eminent New Testament scholars, Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR) concluded that Smith, now dead, was innocent. BAR also engaged a handwriting expert to compare the handwriting in which the Clement letter was written with Greek handwriting known to be Smith’s.

Greek handwriting expert Venetia Anastasopoulou returned a 36-page report, stating that there was significant disagreement between Smith’s handwriting and the handwriting of the Clement letter, thus Smith could not have forged it. Professor Peter Jeffery of the University of Notre Dame and Princeton University responded to the forgery debate and to Anastasopoulou’s report, looking for clarification on several items.

Ms. Anastasopoulou has now provided a secondary analysis of the document stating that, not only does it lack evidence that Morton Smith forged it, the document does not appear to be a forgery at all. She concludes that Secret Mark “is written in a natural and spontaneous way and in my opinion does not have such indications so as to make us think of a suspicious writing.”

The full BAR coverage of the Secret Mark controversy, including the English translation of the text, Venetia Anastasopoulou’s full handwriting report, Peter Jeffery’s response and Anastasopoulou’s follow-up, can be read for free in the Scholar’s Study section of the Biblical Archaeology Society’s Web site at

# # #

The Biblical Archaeology Society (BAS) was founded in 1974 as a nonprofit, nondenominational, educational organization dedicated to the dissemination of information about archaeology in the Bible lands.

--- end ---

"Double" Temple to Venus and Roma Reopen in Rome

Ancient Rome's biggest temple reopens
By Ella Ide (AFP) – 11 hours ago
November 11, 2010

ROME — The biggest temple of ancient Rome reopened to the public on Thursday after nearly 30 years amid heavy criticism of Italy's management of its artistic heritage after the collapse of a house in Pompeii.

"We're restoring to Rome one of the most important symbols of the power and greatness of the Roman Empire," Claudia Del Monte, the architect in charge of repairing the Temple of Venus and Roma, told AFP at the opening.

Designed by the Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century AD, the shrine occupies a large area in the Roman Forum -- one of Italy's most popular tourist sites.

The temple, measuring 106 metres by 48 metres (348 feet by 156 feet), once had dozens of columns flanking an enormous nave and a coffered vaulted ceiling.

Only 16 of the original white marble columns are left standing.

The temple site was used as a car park until the 1980s and has been undergoing intermittent restoration work since then.

Erected on the remnants of Emperor Nero's villa, the temple had two main chambers arranged back to back, each containing a giant statue -- one of Venus, the goddess of love, and the other of Roma, the goddess of Rome.

The cult of Venus played an important role in many Roman religious festivals and myths and Julius Caesar claimed the goddess as an ancestor.

Roma faced west to look out over the Forum, while Venus looked out over the Colosseum, with majestic staircases leading down to the ancient arena.

Historians say the orientation of the two statues represented the unity between Rome's past and present, between the Orient and the West.

"We've worked meticulously to restore every single stone of the temple that remains, cleaning away the smog and filth caused by years of urban misuse," said Del Monte, who began working at the site in the early 1980s.

"When we began restoring the stucco we found traces of gold leaf that would have adorned the apses above the statues. Though the sculptures have long been lost, we've done our best to return the temple to its former glory," she said.

Also visible to the public are the detailed carvings on the apses and some of the restored patterned floor, as well as parts of the temple preserved inside a Catholic church built over part of the site.

Del Monte said that elements of the restoration -- such as pinning together parts of the apse that were cracking -- would not have been necessary had the ancient site been better cared for.

"Italians need to be aware of their patrimony and stop abusing it," she said.

Italy is currently gripped by a tense debate over the future of heritage and cultural sites, as the sector faces severe funding cuts and critics blame the government for failing to protect historic monuments from ruin.

Hundreds of museums, libraries and historic parks are set to close across Italian cities on Friday in protest against the cuts -- a debate that has become inflamed after the House of Gladiators collapsed in Pompeii last week.

"This monument should be the envy of the world, but it was completely abandoned and left in the most degraded state," Francesco Maria Giro, Italy's junior culture minister, said at the temple opening.

The collapse of the ancient Roman house in Pompeii has provoked outrage and calls for Culture Minister Sandro Bondi to resign.

"Unfortunately these are very fragile archaeological areas, they're extremely old, in a chronically bad state in parts, so there is always risk problems will crop up," Giro said.

"The area that collapsed recently had been identified as an area at risk, but not an emergency," he said.

"The problem is not the collapse in itself, it's the degradation. We all need to examine our consciences," he added.

Though closed to the public until now, the temple has been used since John Paul II's papacy as a platform for Good Friday ceremonies when the pope leads pilgrims in meditations on the Stations of the Cross.

Tickets to the temple will cost 12 euros (16 dollars), granting access to the temple itself, as well as the Forum, the Palatine and the Colosseum.

Construction of the temple began in 121 AD, and it was officially inaugurated by Hadrian in 135.

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved

Girls at Ave Maria Convent in Negombo, Sri Lanka, Take Home Chess Medals

Well done!  Here is the article.  Unfortunately, it does not include the photograph alluded to in the article but it does list the players, their teachers, coaches, etc.

From the
Ave Maria Convent adjudged chess champions
Thursday, 11 November 2010 12:19

Ave Maria Convent Negombo were adjudged champions in the Western Province Flame Chess Championship 2010 held recently. The under 10 category they won a gold, 12 a bronze and 14 a silver at this event.

The chess champions Ave Maria Convent pose for a photo First row from left under 8 Rosheli Askey, (Silver), under 7 Sandali Fernando (Merit), Prasadani Fernando (Teacher-in-charge-chess), Rev. St. Francine Muthugala (Principal-Ave Maria Convent, Negombo), Asari Peramunugama (Chess coach), Ameesha Fernando (Under 7 Merit), Crishni Fernando (Merit under 8) Second row from left Shwedi Perera (Merit under 12), Nishara Appuhamy (Merit- under 14), Rebeca Fernando (Merit- under 10), Reshita (Gold -under 12), Relinka Nonis (Gold-under 10), Nihary Dalpadado (Bronze -under 10), Roshana Fernando (Merit- under 9), Ishara Fernando (Bronze- under 12). Third row from left Aruni Katunayake (Merit under- 14), Rukshani Askey (merit -under 14), Hansani Muthmala (Merit under 12), Ruhasha Dasanayake (Bronze- under 14), Rabeesha Dasanayake (Merit -under 14), Roshadi Perera (Silver- under 14).

(Text and photo by W.Hubert Fernado-Negombo Corr. )

Rare Souvenir Chess Piece to be Auctioned Off

Times are tough, perhaps even for wealthy chess collectors, or so it seems...  I just saw this story about an upcoming Christie's auction at Art Daily:

Legendary Souvenir Chess Piece from 1897 to be Offered at Christie's South Kensington
A leading highlight from the collection is a very rare souvenir chess piece. Estimate: £4,000-6,000.
Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2010.
LONDON.- Christie’s announced the sale of The Property of a Private Collector of Chess Sets and Game Boards, to be included in the Interiors sale at Christie’s South Kensington saleroom on 7 December 2010. The chess collection is to be sold by one of the founding members of Chess Collectors International, established in 1984, in Florida, USA. A leading highlight from the collection is a very rare souvenir chess piece. Thought to be one of only a few surviving examples, this gilt-bronze piece by Carlo and Arthur Giuliano was made to commemorate the historical chess match played between The House of Commons in London and The House of Representatives in Washington D.C, by cable in 1897 (estimate: £4,000-6,000). Lasting two days, the match resulted in a draw, with each winning 2 ½ games each, and a souvenir chess piece is believed to have been presented to each player as a memento for having taken part.

Arranged by John Henniker Heaton, a British Conservative MP, and U.S. Representative Richmond Pearson of North Carolina, this is believed to have been the only match played between the two governments of the UK and US. The matches were arranged as a fun pastime, but the players took them very seriously, with the Representatives documented as having received professional coaching beforehand. Cable matches were arranged soon after cable transmissions became available, the only drawback being the high cost for transmitting the messages.

The game of chess is documented to have been introduced to the ‘smoke-room’ at the House of Commons in the late 1880s, and was allegedly a very popular pastime for members. Several articles published at the time refer to a chess club, a petition for better chess boards and tables in the House, as well as lamenting the loss of the best chess players, due to members losing their seats during elections.

A number of the sets and boards on offer in the Collection featured in the famed exhibition catalogue “Schachpartie Durch Zeiten und Welten”, by Hans and Barbara Holländer. The catalogue documented the largest and most comprehensive exhibition dedicated to chess sets and related items ever staged, which was to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the Hamburger Schachklub – the oldest and largest chess club in Germany, established in 1830. For chess collectors around the world, the chance to acquire items which appeared in this book is a very rare and special opportunity, and one not to be missed.

Will Chess Be Deleted from 2014 Asian Games?

Well this sucks!

Chess, dance might get cut from 2014 Asian Games
2010-11-11 07:03 PM

South Korean organizers of the next Asian Games in Incheon have proposed cutting sports such as cricket and dance from the 2014 program.

The Olympic Council of Asia has decided to cap the number of sports at future Asian Games at 35 _ 28 from the Olympic program and seven more that reflect the region's culture.

The Guangzhou Games starting Friday includes 42 sports.

The OCA on Thursday said Incheon organizers submitted a list that includes the non-Olympic sports of baseball, bowling, kabaddi, sepak takraw, softball, squash and wushu.

Existing sports missing from that list include cricket, cue sports, dance sport, dragon boat racing, roller sports and chess.

The OCA will decide the 2014 sports program on the weekend.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

It would have been nice, certainly polite and definitely good business practice, to have been asked by the people who put together this year's Women's World Chess Championship for GODDESSCHESS' permission to use OUR logo (in use at the Goddesschess website for the past ten years) to promote their official website.  Oh well, darlings.  What goes around, comes around, as the old saying goes.  Remember where you saw it first.  Online since May, 1999, and counting...  Check the wayback machine for verification.

Goddesschess logo, copyrighted

Logo for 2010 Women's World
Chess Championship

Women's World Chess Championship 2010

Susan Polgar's chess news site and blog has a list of the R1 pairings.  This is a knock-out style tournament where the lowest rated players are matched against the respective highest rated players in R1, and at the end 32 players will be left standing to go into R2.  The greatest ratings discrepancies will be at the higest boards; players at the middle and lower boards will have the greatest ratings parity.  GM Alexandra Kosteniuk is the current Women's World Chess Champion and automatically holds Board 1.

32Turova, IrinaKhukhashvili, Sopiko
31Rajlich, IwetaHouska, Jovanka
30Zhukova, NataliaRomanko, Marina
29Dembo, YelenaMunguntuul, Batkhuyag
28Skripchenko, AlmiraFoisor, Cristina-Adela
27Ushenina, AnnaHuang, Qian
26Shen, YangOvod, Evgenija
25Muzychuk, MariyaCori T., Deysi
24Danielian, ElinaShadrina, Tatiana
23Pogonina, NatalijaKovanova, Baira
22Hoang Thanh TrangDing, Yixin
21Paehtz, ElisabethZawadzka, Jolanta
20Zhao, XueFierro Baquero, Martha
19Zhu, ChenMuminova, Nafisa
18Zatonskih, AnnaLomineishvili, Maia
17Mkrtchian, LilitZhang, Xiaowen
16Ruan, LufeiBaginskaite, Camilla
15Sebag, MarieVasilevich, Irina
14Socko, MonikaSoumya, Swaminathan
13Chiburdanidze, MaiaMeenakshi Subbaraman
12Cmilyte, ViktorijaDemina, Julia
11Lahno, KaterynaOzturk, Kubra
10Ju, WenjunCaoili, Arianne
9Harika, DronavalliNadig, Kruttika
8Cramling, PiaYildiz, Betul Cemre
7Muzychuk, AnnaZuriel, Marisa
6Stefanova, AntoanetaAliaga Fernandez, Ingrid
5Dzagnidze, NanaKagramanov, Dina
4Kosintseva, TatianaMona, Khaled
3Hou, YifanHeredia Serrano, Carla
2Koneru, HumpyGreeff, Melissa
1Kosteniuk, AlexandraMezioud, Amina

Official website:


I'm crazy for trying, and crazy for crying...
Patsy Kline

You may be right, I may be crazy...
Billy Joel

But we're never gonna survive unless, we get a little crazy.. crazy..
No we're never gonna to survive unless we are a little... crazy..
But we're never gonna survive unless, we get a little crazy.. crazy..
No we're never gonna to survive unless, we are a little.. crazy..

Gnarles Barkley (love the name :))
I remember when, I remember, I remember when I lost my mind
There was something so pleasant about that place.
Even your emotions had an echo
In so much space

And when you're out there
Without care,
Yeah, I was out of touch
But it wasn't because I didn't know enough
I just knew too much

Does that make me crazy?
Does that make me crazy?
Does that make me crazy?

And I hope that you are having the time of your life
But think twice, that's my only advice

Come on now, who do you, who do you, who do you, who do you think you are,
Ha ha ha bless your soul
You really think you're in control

Well, I think you're crazy
I think you're crazy
I think you're crazy
Just like me

My heroes had the heart to lose their lives out on a limb
And all I remember is thinking, I want to be like them
Ever since I was little, ever since I was little it looked like fun
And it's no coincidence I've come
And I can die when I'm done

Maybe I'm crazy
Maybe you're crazy
Maybe we're crazy

Uh, uh

Another Medal for Marie Antoinette San Diego

After gold medal win, Pinay bags silver in ASEAN Olympiad
Posted at 11/09/2010 10:20 AM | Updated as of 11/09/2010 10:20 AM

MANILA, Philippines – RP whiz kid Marie Antoinette San Diego bagged the silver medal in the individual girls rapid competition of the ASEAN Primary School Sports Olympiad 2010 (APSSO) Chess Championships in Jakarta, Indonesia.

San Diego, who is playing under the banner of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) headed by President/ Chairman Prospero “Butch” Pichay Jr., finished second behind eventual champion and gold medal winner Nguyen Thanh Thuy Tien of Vietnam after the tie-break points were.

In the final round, San Diego was held to a draw against Nur Najiha Bt.Azman Hisham of Malaysia while Thanh Thuy Tien outclassed Angela Natasya R. of Indonesia 1.

Thanh Thuy Tien and San Diego both tallied 3.5 points each while Najiha Bt.Azman Hisham of Malaysia took the bronze with a superior quotient in the huge group of 3 pointers.

Last weekend, San Diego gave the Philippines its first gold medal in the individual girls standard competition after she bested fellow 4 pointer Thanh Thuy Tien in the tie-break points.

San Diego’s gold and silver medal finishes are big boosts for the RP Youth team after the boys team spearheaded by Daryl Unix Samantila, Stephen Rome Pangilinan and Raul “Rhal” Sol Cruz had a hard time winning a medal.

Additional Pay-Off?

An interesting little news article cropped up today, from

Ilyumzhinov Brother Hired
10 November 2010
Vyacheslav Ilyumzhinov, the elder brother of former Kalmykia leader Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, has been appointed first deputy prime minister of the republic.

The decision was made by Kalmykia’s new leader, Alexei Orlov, and announced on his web site Monday. Orlov offered a government post to Kirsan Ilyumzhinov in October, but the former leader, who had ruled the republic from 1993 to last month and also heads the World Chess Federation, declined. [Yes, Kirsan gets to turn down Orlov's offer and thereby save face, while keeping a well-paying position in the family...]

Vyacheslav Ilyumzhinov worked as his brother’s aide on ideology in the 1990s, was deputy governor of the Nenets autonomous district in the early 2000s, and has headed the board of directors of a company called SAR since 2006, RIA-Novosti reported.

Is this an additional pay-off for Kirsan agreeing to step down from the governorship of Kalmykia in exchange for the Russians guaranteeing his re-election to head FIDE?  No doubt there is a wide range of opinions on the subject :)  In any event, the Man Who Talks To Aliens continues to run the world chess federation, which has a French name (Fédération Internationale des Échecs).  Two strikes already...  No wonder the best chessplayer in the world, Magnus Carlsen, decided to opt out of the FIDE championship cycle.  Har! 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

1st Metropolitan Chess FIDE Invitational

The Metropolitan Chess Club in downtown Los Angeles will be holding a 9-RR FIDE Invitational over November 12th – 14th and 20th – 21st. The tournament is being sponsored by, LawyerFy, and Fashion Business, Inc.

The tournament is being directed by Michael Belcher and Hal Bogner is acting as the international FIDE arbiter. The event will be category 4 FIDE with a respectable FIDE average of 2334 between the 10 players. The norm seekers need 6.0 out of 9.0 to get an International Master norm.

The venue will be the California Market Center, located at 110 East Ninth Street, Los Angeles CA 90079. The time control for the main event will be 40/90 + G/30 with 30 second increment. All games will be relayed live on

The first round is at 7:00 PM on the 12th of November. For the rest of the rounds, the round times are at 11:00 AM and 4:30 PM on the 13th, 14th, 20th, and 21st of November. Spectators are encouraged and welcome to come. Parking will be validated if you are leaving after 7:00 PM on weekend days. Upon arrival, ask for the chess tournament at the main desk in the lobby and you will be directed to the proper floor.

WFM Tatev Abrahamyan will be vying for an IM norm. She is the winner of two Goddesschess Fighting Chess Awards for her performances in U.S. Women's Chess Championship. Go Tatev!

More information about the tournament can be found at chess . com

Monday, November 8, 2010

Could This Happen Anywhere?

From the Saudi Gazette
Girl killed by electric shock in holy treatment
November 9, 2010

BURAIDAH: Al-Qassim Region Police have arrested a Raqi, a man who treats people by recitation of the Holy Qur’an, for causing the death of a girl by giving her electric shocks to treat her psychiatric illness, authorities said.

Lt. Col. Fahd Al-Habdan, spokesman of Al-Qassim Region Police, said, “The girl’s family requested the Raqi’s help to treat their daughter and he used electric shocks, alleging that this would help her, but she died during to this treatment.”

The 50-year-old man Raqi, whose name was not released, was taken into police custody for investigation.

Since last August the man had subjected the girl to electric shocks, in the presence of her parents, in the district’s mosque, a source said. The parents did not object to the ‘harsh’ treatment.

Saleh Al-Debaibi, a lawyer, said the Raqi must be punished for his crime and for claiming to have the ability to treat people by giving them electric shocks.

The Raqi was supposed to treat people by reciting verses of the Holy Qur’an only as instructed by the Prophet’s Sunnah, he said.

Al-Debaibi called for a law, to be supervised by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, to address the work of the Ruqaat so there is a clear distinction between a patient’s need for the Islamic Ruqya or psychiatric treatment. The law would prevent people treating others from resorting to methods not within their domain, which can kill people, he added.

Al-Debaibi stressed the importance of enlightening people about psychiatric matters and the institutions licensed to treat them.

Police also warned against unlicensed practitioners of Ruqya claiming to treat people. They would only start meddling with patient’s bodies without a Shariah, legal and health justification, the police spokesman added.

- Okaz/Saudi Gazette -

Another story, this one from The New York Times.  When the only way out is burning yourself to death...
For Afghan Wives, a Desperate, Fiery Way Out
Published: November 7, 2010

HERAT, Afghanistan — Even the poorest families in Afghanistan have matches and cooking fuel. The combination usually sustains life. But it also can be the makings of a horrifying escape: from poverty, from forced marriages, from the abuse and despondency that can be the fate of Afghan women.

The night before she burned herself, Gul Zada took her children to her sister’s for a family party. All seemed well. Later it emerged that she had not brought a present, and a relative had chided her for it, said her son Juma Gul.

This small thing apparently broke her. Ms. Zada, who was 45, the mother of six children and who earned pitiably little cleaning houses, ended up with burns on nearly 60 percent of her body at the Herat burn hospital. Survival is difficult even at 40 percent.

“She was burned from head to toe,” her son remembers.

The hospital here is the only medical center in Afghanistan that specifically treats victims of burning, a common form of suicide in this region, partly because the tools to do it are so readily available. Through early October, 75 women arrived with burns — most self-inflicted, others only made to look that way. That is up nearly 30 percent from last year.

But the numbers say less than the stories of the patients.

Saudi archeologists discover first-ever Pharaonic artifact

Tuesday, 09 November 2010 - 02 Thul-Hijjah 1431 H
RIYADH: The Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) announced Sunday the discovery of the first-ever Pharaonic antiquity within the Kingdom’s boundaries, dating back to the 12th century BC.
The announcement was made at a press conference held at the National Museum in King Abdul Aziz Historical Center in Riyadh.

Dr. Ali Ibrahim Al-Ghabban, Vice-President of Antiquities and Museums at the SCTA, told journalists the 3,100-year-old discovery was of hieroglyphic inscriptions on a fixed rock near the ancient Taima Oasis bearing a royal signature (a dual cartouche) for Ramses III, one of the kings of Pharaonic Egypt, who ruled Egypt between 1,192 and 1,160 BC.

Al-Ghabban said Saudi archeologists consider the Taima historical oasis, among the largest archeological sites in the Kingdom and the Arabian Peninsula, because it has remnants of ancient walls of almost 13 kilometers in length.

Rest of article.

Chess Femme News!

Chess is a big deal in Armenia.  The press regularly covers local and international events and the top Armenian players (who are very fine, I have to say), are stars in their homeland.  I thought this was particularly interesting, the mention of ex-pat Armenians who now play chess for other countries!

Report at
8 November 2010
Armenian chess players at World Women’s Championship
WGM Lilit Mkrtchian
The list of participants to World Women’s Championship due to start on December 2, host city Hatay, Turkey, is published by FIDE, “”.

Armenia will have two representatives to the championship. WGM Lilit Mkrtchian is going to play with WGM Zhang Xiaowen (China), GM Elina Danielian - with WGM Tatiana Shadrina (Russia) at the first round of the tournament which is going to be held by the knock-out system.

Two other Armenian chess players, GM Almira Skripchenko-Aghababian (France) and WIM Dina Kagramanova (Canada), are also going to play in Hatay. Their opponents will be WGM Christina-Adela Foisor (Romania) and GM Nana Dzagnidze (Georgia), respectively.

Pinay wins gold in ASEAN Olympiad
Posted at 11/08/2010 12:13 PM | Updated as of 11/08/2010 12:13 PM

MANILA, Philippines – Chess player Marie Antoinette San Diego gave the Philippines its first gold medal in the ASEAN Primary School Sports Olympiad 2010 (APSSO) Chess Championships in Jakarta, Indonesia.

San Diego bested Nguyen Thanh Thuy Tien of Vietnam in the tie-break points to clinch the gold of the individual girls standard competition.

San Diego and Thanh Thuy Tien tallied 4 points apiece in 5 outings. San Diego crushed Parahita Miliyana L of Indonesia 3 in the final round while Thanh Thuy Tien clobbered former solo leader Dita Karenza of Indonesia 2.

National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) President-Chairman Prospero “Butch” Pichay Jr. lauded San Diego's latest feat.

“This proves once again that the Filipino can be at par with the Asia’s best pawnpushers,” he said.

World Senior Chess Championships - Women
I found this report at GM Alexandra Kosteniuk's blog

Final standings:
1. WGM Khmiadashvili Tamar GEO 2162 7,0 7,0 1,0 37,5
2. GM Gaprindashvili Nona GEO 2363 7,0 7,0 1,0 34,0
3. WIM Fomina Tatyana EST 2256 7,0 7,0 1,0 34,0
4. WGM Fatalibekova Elena RUS 2270 6,5 6,5 0,0 31,0
5. WFM Miednikova Swietlana RUS 2146 5,0 5,0 0,0 27,0
6. WFM Khropova Larisa RUS 2037 5,0 5,0 0,0 27,0
7. WIM Borisova Borislava SWE 2096 5,0 5,0 0,0 27,0
8. WFM Komysheva Margarita RUS 2084 5,0 5,0 0,0 24,0
9. Tsygankova Enni UZB 0 5,0 5,0 0,0 23,0
10. Chireykina Natalia RUS 1799 5,0 5,0 0,0 21,5

From the website (in Italian):
1° € 600.- coppa e medaglia d’oro / trophy and Gold medal / Trophäe und Goldmedaille
2° € 500.- medaglia d’argento / Silver medal / Silbermedaille
3° € 400.- medaglia di bronzo / Bronze medal / Bronzemedaille
4° € 200.-

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Green Bay 28 - Dallas 0

Dallas coach Wade Phillips:  WTF?
Still with 2 + minutes to go in the first half, oy!  Two offensive touchdowns by QB Rodgers and one defensive touchtown by Collins. Sooooooo sweet!

Yummm...Cinnamon Glazed Carrots

Hola darlings!  I'll be signing off after this post - the Packers play tonight against the - whatever that team in Dallas is called - and they will be on Sunday Night Football.  I've got the t.v.s on upstairs and downstairs but the sound turned off; I prefer to listen to the Packers Radio Network commentary and description of the action.

Meanwhile, today was a beautiful day here, sunny and warmer than yesterday.  Tomorrow and Tuesday we may break temperature records - I'll see about that!  Temperatures in the 60's this time of year are not uncommon, but folks these days seem to think we zip right to below zero!  Sometimes, I confess, it feels like it, like Friday, brrrr.  It was damn cold walking to the bus, and I had on my winter wool beret, my medium weight winter jacket, and my medium weight winter gloves (I save mittens for the coldest weather). It was raw, what can I say?  Three-quarters of a mile hike to the bus stop doesn't get any easier at this time of year! 

It was still cold yesterday, sunny but cold, but the Badgers won.  Can an injury-depleted Pack do likewise tonight, before a national television audience?  Last t.v. appearance we crashed and burned, oy!

Anyway, this time of year I'm cooking my head off and stoking up on lots of calories.  Not good for the figure, but good for the psyche.  Last night I whipped up a feast of filet mignon (barely cooked), sauteed mushrooms, herb mashed potatoes, and cinnamon glazed carrots.  Here is my recipe for cinnamon glazed carrots, a real crowd pleaser:

Basic Recipe for One Person

Three medium to large carrots
Remove tops and bottoms of carrots to get rid of the icky parts.  Throw outside for the bunnies.  Cut trimmed carrots smaller at top, about 1/4 inch, to 1/2 inch toward bottom.  Toss into a small heavy duty aluminum sauce pan (I found this works the best for cooking).

Add about 1/2 teaspoon sugar, dash of salt (less than 1/4 teaspoon), and 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon.  Mix seasonings into carrots.  Add a generous portion (about 1-2 tablespoons) of unsalted butter, and one tablespoon water.  Cover.

Working on gas stove, turn heat on low, barely simmering flame.  I don't know what this equates to with an electric stove.

After 5 minutes, lift cover and check to see if there is any sign of bubbling.  If not, slightly increase temperature until bubbles appear after checking 5 minutes later.  This is give and take.  The goal is to bring the carrots and mixture to a simmer/bubble without going overboard and boiling away all of the moisture.

Keep covered as much as possible, that helps preserve the moisture.  Once a bubble is achieved, turn down the heat to a low simmer.  There is no art to this, you must check every ten minutes or so with a fork to see if the carrots are tender.  If they are not tender, continue to cook longer, until all carrots are fork tender.  Each time you lift the lid of the pan, make sure its drippings fall into the pan.  Stir after each check for doneness. 

As the carrots continue to cook you will notice that the "sauce" thickens - it is composed of the water and sugar plus the moisture from the butter you added plus the natural juices from the carrots.  The goal is to create a nice "glaze" of buttered cinnamon that coats the carrots without getting burnt, so keep the cooking temperature low, and give it as long as it takes.  If you are running out of time (for instance, potatoes are ready to mash and steak is resting), leave off the cover and slightly -- very slightly -- increase the heat and, while stirring regularly, evaporate away excess liquid.  Remove from heat and cover while you finish other dishes.  If necessary, after dishing into a nice serving bowl, warm-up in a microwave for 30 seconds on high.

The natural sweetness of the carrots works so well with the cinnamon and butter - it's a sinfully delicious dish and very low cal/low fat.  The bit of salt brings out the flavors and the small amount of sugar makes the glaze in combination with the other ingredients. 

It sounds like a lot of work, but when you're wrestling around other dishes on a stove top, it really isn't; the carrots cook themselves, you basically just have to monitor that they don't burn or carmelize too soon, and the recipe is very forgiving.  Just don't use too much sugar. 

The beauty of this recipe is that it can be adjusted for more people.  I like carrots so eating three large ones at a sitting is nothing to me.  Realistically, three large carrots probably serve two people, so you can plan accordingly.

And now, I'm going downstairs to cook another superb evening meal in honor of Daylight Savings Time, which kicked in today.

Women in Ancient Egypt

From BBC News.  View the full article including graphics at the link -- (while it lasts)
From Warrior Women to Female Pharaohs: Careers for Women in Ancient Egypt
By Dr Joann Fletcher
Last updated 2010-10-15

Whilst the concept of a career choice for women is a relatively modern phenomenon, the situation in ancient Egypt was rather different. For some three thousand years the women who lived on the banks of the Nile enjoyed a form of equality which has rarely been equalled.

Sexual equality
In order to understand their relatively enlightened attitudes toward sexual equality, it is important to realise that the Egyptians viewed their universe as a complete duality of male and female. Giving balance and order to all things was the female deity Maat, symbol of cosmic harmony by whose rules the pharaoh must govern.

The Egyptians recognised female violence in all its forms, their queens even portrayed crushing their enemies, executing prisoners or firing arrows at male opponents as well as the non-royal women who stab and overpower invading soldiers. Although such scenes are often disregarded as illustrating 'fictional' or ritual events, the literary and archaeological evidence is less easy to dismiss. Royal women undertake military campaigns whilst others are decorated for their active role in conflict. Women were regarded as sufficiently threatening to be listed as 'enemies of the state', and female graves containing weapons are found throughout the three millennia of Egyptian history.

Although by no means a race of Amazons, their ability to exercise varying degrees of power and self-determination was most unusual in the ancient world, which set such great store by male prowess, as if acknowledging the same in women would make them less able to fulfil their expected roles as wife and mother. Indeed, neighbouring countries were clearly shocked by the relative freedom of Egyptian women and, describing how they 'attended market and took part in trading whereas men sat and home and did the weaving', the Greek historian Herodotus believed the Egyptians 'have reversed the ordinary practices of mankind'.

And women are indeed portrayed in a very public way alongside men at every level of society, from co-ordinating ritual events to undertaking manual work. One woman steering a cargo ship even reprimands the man who brings her a meal with the words, 'Don't obstruct my face while I am putting to shore' (the ancient version of that familiar conversation 'get out of my way whilst I'm doing something important').

Egyptian women also enjoyed a surprising degree of financial independence, with surviving accounts and contracts showing that women received the same pay rations as men for undertaking the same job - something the UK has yet to achieve. As well as the royal women who controlled the treasury and owned their own estates and workshops, non-royal women as independent citizens could also own their own property, buy and sell it, make wills and even choose which of their children would inherit.

Ladies of leisure
The most common female title 'Lady of the House' involved running the home and bearing children, and indeed women of all social classes were defined as wives and mothers first and foremost. Yet freed from the necessity of producing large numbers of offspring as an extra source of labour, wealthier women also had alternative 'career choices'. [Notice "wealthier women" - sure doesn't apply to the average female then - or now.]

After being bathed, depilated and doused in sweet heavy perfumes, queens and commoners alike are portrayed sitting patiently before their hairdressers, although it is equally clear that wigmakers enjoyed a brisk trade. The wealthy also employed manicurists and even female make-up artists, whose title translates literally as 'painter of her mouth'. Yet the most familiar form of cosmetic, also worn by men, was the black eye paint which reduced the glare of the sun, repelled flies and looked rather good.

Dressing in whatever style of linen garment was fashionable, from the tight-fitting dresses of the Old Kingdom (c.2686 - 2181 BC) to the flowing finery of the New Kingdom (c.1550 - 1069 BC), status was indicated by the fine quality of the linen, whose generally plain appearance could be embellished with coloured panels, ornamental stitching or beadwork. Finishing touches were added with various items of jewellery, from headbands, wig ornaments, earrings, chokers and necklaces to armlets, bracelets, rings, belts and anklets made of gold, semi-precious stones and glazed beads.

With the wealthy 'lady of the house' swathed in fine linen, bedecked in all manner of jewellery, her face boldly painted and wearing hair which more than likely used to belong to someone else, both male and female servants tended to her daily needs. They also looked after her children, did the cleaning and prepared the food, although interestingly the laundry was generally done by men.

Freed from such mundane tasks herself, the woman could enjoy all manner of relaxation, listening to music, eating good food and drinking fine wine. One female party-goer even asked for 'eighteen cups of wine for my insides are as dry as straw'. Women are also portrayed with their pets, playing board games, strolling in carefully tended gardens or touring their estates. Often travelling by river, shorter journeys were also made by carrying-chair or, for greater speed, women are even shown driving their own chariots.

Women at the top
The status and privileges enjoyed by the wealthy were a direct result of their relationship with the king, and their own abilities helping to administer the country. Although the vast majority of such officials were men, women did sometimes hold high office. As 'Controller of the Affairs of the Kiltwearers', Queen Hetepheres II ran the civil service and, as well as overseers, governors and judges, two women even achieved the rank of vizier (prime minister). This was the highest administrative title below that of pharaoh, which they also managed on no fewer than six occasions.

Egypt's first female king was the shadowy Neithikret (c.2148-44 BC), remembered in later times as 'the bravest and most beautiful woman of her time'. The next woman to rule as king was Sobeknefru (c.1787-1783 BC) who was portrayed wearing the royal headcloth and kilt over her otherwise female dress. A similar pattern emerged some three centuries later when one of Egypt's most famous pharaohs, Hatshepsut, again assumes traditional kingly regalia. During her fifteen year reign (c.1473-1458 BC) she mounted at least one military campaign and initiated a number of impressive building projects, including her superb funerary temple at Deir el-Bahari.

But whilst Hatshepsut's credentials as the daughter of a king are well attested, the origins of the fourth female pharaoh remain highly controversial. Yet there is far more to the famous Nefertiti than her dewy-eyed portrait bust. Actively involved in her husband Akhenaten's restructuring policies, she is shown wearing kingly regalia, executing foreign prisoners and, as some Egyptologists believe, ruling independently as king following the death of her husband c.1336 BC. Following the death of her husband Seti II in 1194 BC, Tawosret took the throne for herself and, over a thousand years later, the last of Egypt's female pharaohs, the great Cleopatra VII, restored Egypt's fortunes until her eventual suicide in 30 BC marks the notional end of ancient Egypt.

Wives and mothers
But with the 'top job' far more commonly held by a man, the most influential women were his mother, sisters, wives and daughters. Yet, once again, many clearly achieved significant amounts of power as reflected by the scale of monuments set up in their name. Regarded as the fourth pyramid of Giza, the huge tomb complex of Queen Khentkawes (c.2500 BC) reflects her status as both the daughter and mother of kings. The royal women of the Middle Kingdom pharaohs were again given sumptuous burials within pyramid complexes, with the gorgeous jewellery of Queen Weret discovered as recently as 1995.

During Egypt's 'Golden Age', (the New Kingdom, c.1550-1069 BC), a whole series of such women are attested, beginning with Ahhotep whose bravery was rewarded with full military honours. Later, the incomparable Queen Tiy rose from her provincial beginnings as a commoner to become 'great royal wife' of Amenhotep III (1390-1352 BC), even conducting her own diplomatic correspondence with neighbouring states.

Pharaohs also had a host of 'minor wives' but, since succession did not automatically pass to the eldest son, such women are known to have plotted to assassinate their royal husbands and put their sons on the throne. Given their ability to directly affect the succession, the term 'minor wife' seems infinitely preferable to the archaic term 'concubine'.

Yet even the word 'wife' can be problematic, since there is no evidence for any kind of legal or religious marriage ceremony in ancient Egypt. As far as it is possible to tell, if a couple wanted to be together, the families would hold a big party, presents would be given and the couple would set up home, the woman becoming a 'lady of the house' and hopefully producing children.

Whilst most chose partners of a similar background and locality, some royal women came from as far afield as Babylon and were used to seal diplomatic relations. Amenhotep III described the arrival of a Syrian princess and her 317 female attendants as 'a marvel', and even wrote to his vassals - 'I am sending you my official to fetch beautiful women, to which I the king will say good. So send very beautiful women - but none with shrill voices'!

Such women were given the title 'ornament of the king', chosen for their grace and beauty to entertain with singing and dancing. But far from being closeted away for the king's private amusement, such women were important members of court and took an active part in royal functions, state events and religious ceremonies.

With the wives and daughters of officials also shown playing the harp and singing to their menfolk, women seem to have received musical training. In one tomb scene of c.2000 BC a priest is giving a kind of masterclass in how to play the sistrum (sacred rattle), as temples often employed their own female musical troupe to entertain the gods as part of the daily ritual.

In fact, other than housewife and mother, the most common 'career' for women was the priesthood, serving male and female deities. The title, 'God's Wife', held by royal women, also brought with it tremendous political power second only to the king, for whom they could even deputise. The royal cult also had its female priestesses, with women acting alongside men in jubilee ceremonies and, as well as earning their livings as professional mourners, they occasionally functioned as funerary priests.

Their ability to undertake certain tasks would be even further enhanced if they could read and write but, with less than 2% of ancient Egyptian society known to be literate, the percentage of women with these skills would be even smaller. Although it is often stated that there is no evidence for any women being able to read or write, some are shown reading documents. Literacy would also be necessary for them to undertake duties which at times included prime minister, overseer, steward and even doctor, with the lady Peseshet predating Elizabeth Garret Anderson by some 4,000 years.

By Graeco-Roman times women's literacy is relatively common, the mummy of the young woman Hermione inscribed with her profession 'teacher of Greek grammar'. A brilliant linguist herself, Cleopatra VII endowed the Great Library at Alexandria, the intellectual capital of the ancient world where female lecturers are known to have participated alongside their male colleagues. Yet an equality which had existed for millennia was ended by Christianity - the philosopher Hypatia was brutally murdered by monks in 415 AD as a graphic demonstration of their beliefs.

With the concept that 'a woman's place is in the home' remaining largely unquestioned for the next 1,500 years, the relative freedom of ancient Egyptian women was forgotten. Yet these active, independent individuals had enjoyed a legal equality with men that their sisters in the modern world did not manage until the 20th century, and a financial equality that many have yet to achieve.

About the author
Dr Joann Fletcher is an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of York and as part of the University’s Mummy Research Group has undertaken work on human remains in Egypt, Yemen, South America, Italy and Ireland. She is also consultant Egyptologist to Harrogate Museums and Arts and a number of museum collections in the north of England. Her publications include The Search for Nefertiti (Hodder & Stoughton, 2004), The Egyptian Book of Living and Dying (DBP, 2002), Egypt's Sun King: Amenhotep III (DBP, 2000) and the Lonely Planet Guide to Egypt, and as consultant to the media she makes regular appearances on television and radio.

"Stone Age" Humans Painted Their Caves

Bovine feet on 3x3 checkerboards, Lascaux, c. 17000 BCE.
Har!  Well, we know they did!  What is a little absurd in the tone of this article is the concept of the "Stone Age" itself -- as if people were humped over lumps with arms dragging on the ground, with no language, no minds, and no conception of immortality, and nothing occurred at all in human herstory until the invention of metallurgy -- but that happened as early as 9,000 years ago so I have a problem with calling anything that happened after that the "Stone Age." The "Chalcolithic" period, which is a made-up term to describe the interim period between the "Stone Age" and the "Bronze Age" is entirely unsatisfactory, as most people don't know what the hell it means [it's a combination of Greek chalcos (copper) and lithos (stone)] !  It certainly took a long time (according to current chronology) for the art of metal-making to spread from the Balkans where it may have begun to everywhere else, in light of the fact that it seems other inventions (agriculture, for instance, and the wheel) and even borrowed words seem to have spread much faster than the knowledge of metallurgy.  Hmmm....

Whatever.  Long before man gave up dwelling in caves in favor of man-made habitations, mankind was using "paints" to express their artistic urges on the walls of caves across France and Spain (Lascaux, for instance).  For all we know, such painting was common but because of particular conditions in climate inside former cave dwellings, no trace of such artwork remains today.  Or is yet to be discovered... 

This story is interesting because it shows (1) the urge of creativity in humans (which we know existed from earliest times), (2) the desire for beautiful surroundings in human habitation to mimic nature as closely as possible, (3) the inventiveness of humans, and (4) the use of extremely old goddess symbols (the chevron and the zig-zag) as decorative expressions - of faith????  Who is to say?

Ancient humans painted their homes
Mon Nov 1, 2010 4:7PM

A new study shows that ancient humans painted their homes with natural colors to brighten up their dwellings and enhance important buildings.

Excavations at a Stone Age settlement on the Orkney Island in northern Scotland revealed that man's ancestors made paint by using earthy colors like oranges, yellows and reddish-browns pigments from ground-up minerals and mixing them with animal fat and eggs.

Researchers found a number of painted and decorated stones which they say belonged to buildings constructed by locals in about 3,000 BCE.

Archeologists say the stones might have been used in entranceways or areas of the building, which had particular significance. They were also used to mark important buildings in the area.

“We have found seven stones in this ritual center,” The Daily Mail quoted Nick Card of the Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology as saying.

“Some of them were covered in paint and others appear to have had designs such as chevrons and zigzags painted on," he added.

"Paint pots have been found at various other sites before but we assumed this was for personal adornment. But we now know they used it to paint their walls."


The Top Secret "Rosies" of World War II

I just watched the most fascinating PBS special about women mathematicians who worked on top secret projects for the U.S. Army in during WWII.  In addition to the mind-blowing intelligence and skills these women brought to pre-computer computing (indeed, people who did the sorts of calculations these women performed were called "computers"), beginning pay was around $1,260 a year, great wages at the time, and top pay was around $2,000 a year - unheard of wages for a lot of people back then, not to mention a female! 

While these women were working on ballistics calculations and code-breaking, a team of engineers at the University of Pennsylvania was developing the first electronic "computer" - the ENIAC - not sure I've got the initials correct but that is what it sounded like in the television show.  Guess who the first programmers of the ENIAC were - the women!  But publicity photos from after the war and stories written about the development of the ENIAC at the time (by male reporters) left them totally out of the picture - literally! 

These women were from all walks of life, all religions, and all races.  Many of them are dead now, veterans of the WWII war effort.  Every single day more and more of these veterans pass on, soon, there will be none left.  I am so happy that this project was realized and this great story is available on DVD so that in the future people will be able to see what these women did, despite not receiving the recognition they deserved for their accomplishments.  That was then - people did what they had to do in order to win the war, and no bones were made about who got credit for what.  But now we are able to know the full story. 

PBS offers a DVD of the excellent program on the female mathematicians who blazed the way into the computer age, and I understand starting in 2011 you will be able to "rent" it by download at 

More at g fem. com.   

Ahhhh, I see Wikipedia has an entry for the ENIAC (I had it spelled with two Ns so I changed it above) that contains two photos showing women programmers at work. 

Cool photo published by the BBC from 15 November 2007, showing three women working on programming the ENIAC. 
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