Saturday, July 2, 2011

The "Prince" of Leubingen

Here is a fascinating article from Der Spiegel that further explores and examines a burial discovered in 1877 in the light of recent discoveries from further current excavation of the area surrounding the burial mound.

Here is a drawing/overview of the tomb structure, which was discovered to have been untouched since antiquity when first excavated:

Note the child laid across the man's pelvis, clothed in what appears to be a dress. Does this denote that the child (about aged 10 per the article, below) was a female?

The Pharaoh of Thuringia
Archaeologists Puzzle Over Opulent Prehistoric Burial Find
By Matthias Schulz

In 1877, when archeology was still in its infancy, art professor Friedrich Klopfleisch climbed an almost nine-meter (20-foot) mound of earth in Leubingen, a district in the eastern German state of Thuringia lying near a range of hills in eastern Germany known as the Kyffhäuser. He was there to "kettle" the hill, which entailed having workers dig a hole from the top of the burial mound into the burial chamber below.

When they finally arrived at the burial chamber, everything lay untouched: There were the remains of a man, shiny gold cloak pins, precious tools, a dagger, a pot for food or drink near the man's feet, and the skeleton of a child lying across his lap.

The "prince" of Leubingen was clearly a member of the elite. Farmers who had little to eat themselves had piled up at least 3,000 cubic meters (106,000 cubic feet) of earth to fashion the burial mound. They had also built a tent-shaped vault out of oak beams and covered it with a mound of stones, as if he had been a pharaoh.

For years, scholars have puzzled over the source of the prince's power. But Thuringia's state office of historical preservation has now come a step closer to solving the mystery. Agency archeologists used heavy machinery to excavate 25 hectares (62 acres) of ground in the mound's immediate surroundings, exposing a buried infrastructure. They discovered the remains of one of the largest buildings in prehistoric Germany, with 470 square meters (5,057 square feet) of floor space; a treasure trove of bronze objects; and a cemetery in which 44 farmers were buried in simple, unadorned graves.

A Mysterious Cache

With its unearthed remains of huts and palaces, of humble living next to ostentatious luxury, the Leubingen site provides an example of stark social differences. But the dig also sheds light on the moment in history when mankind lost its economic innocence.

In the Neolithic age, farming communities were still egalitarian because everyone was equally poor. But then came the Bronze Age, which saw the emergence of a privileged upper-class caste of chieftains. They lived relatively luxurious lives, were buried in even greater opulence, and adorned their wives with gold jewelry and amber necklaces.

Archeologists are particularly excited about the cache of weapons they publicly unveiled on Monday. The weapons are still packed in dirt within a ceramic pot. Tests conducted with a particle accelerator have already shown that the pot contains roughly 100 bronze hatchet blades.

This strange practice of burying valuable items is typical for the era. But the reason for doing so remains a mystery. "It's as if someone had buried 100 Mercedes sports cars," says project director Mario Küssner.

The cache was buried directly along the exterior of the recently discovered giant house. Trees as thick as telephone poles were felled to build the 44-meter-long (144-foot-long) house. The roof was covered with reeds or wood shingles and was about eight meters high. The structure apparently never contained livestock.

The Dawning of the Bronze Age

Some scholars have hypothesized that the building was a temple and have interpreted the hatchets as offerings to the gods of the underworld. But Küssner believes the building was the residence of the "prince," who lived there with a group of his minions and extorted duties and fees from long-distance traders.

It is known that merchants brought salt and amber through the region at the time. The trade in bronze, a new luxury material, also flourished. The technology of mixing copper with tin or arsenic to make bronze, which had been developed in the Orient, became widespread in Europe after about 2,200 B.C. For the first time, a hard material was available that could be poured into molds.

The blacksmiths stoked their furnaces with blowing irons and poured the molten metal into their crucibles. Meanwhile, miners searched for ore veins. The raw material was scarce. Caravans brought bars of unprocessed copper from as far away as the Carpathian Mountains and the Alps. Most of the tin came from Cornwall.

Blacksmiths gradually forged harder and harder weapons, better tools and more beautiful jewelry -- but only for those who could afford it. Thus, the world became divided into rich and poor.

A Valuable Location on a Trade Route

Küssner estimates that the "prince" and his guards kept watch over a "radius of 80 kilometers" and profited exorbitantly as a result. He believes that chieftain's gang of extortionists provided the hatchet blades in the valuable cache as a sign of their loyalty.

Another item found in his tomb, a small anvil, suggests that the man had something to do with metallurgy. It is possible that he was a blacksmith himself. But, either way, it is clear that he controlled others through the use of force.

In the end, a child followed him into the grave as a bloody sacrifice. The child was only about 10.

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan

Christiane Desroches Nobelcourt Saved Egyptian Antiquities from Aswan Flooding

Obituary from the
6:21PM BST 01 Jul 2011

Christiane Desroches Noblecourt

Christiane Desroches Noblecourt, who died on June 23 [2011] aged 97, was a French Egyptologist and played a critical role in one of archaeology's most breathtaking feats – the wholesale relocation of many spectacular ancient temples due to be flooded by the Aswan High Dam.

The project to rescue the Nubian sites got under way in 1959, after the governments of Egypt and Sudan appealed for international help in moving them away from the vast reservoir that was to be created by the dam. Despite the Cold War tensions of the day, 50 nations responded.

Christiane Desroches Noblecourt, a passionate Egyptologist who had overcome the sexual discrimination of the pre-war era to establish herself as a leading expert on the treasures of the pharaohs, had already identified 32 sites that were threatened by the rising waters.

Having alerted Nasser and his government to the crisis, she promised to liaise with Unesco, based in Paris, to coordinate the uniquely ambitious rescue operation. Working with the newly appointed Unesco director, René Maheu, and the Egyptian Minister for Culture, Sarwat Okacha, Christiane Desroches Noblecourt began a race against time to save as much as possible before the temples and their secrets were inundated for ever deep beneath the Aswan reservoir.

Their greatest concern was Abu Simbel, the monument erected by Rameses the Great around 1250BC to glorify himself and his queen, Nefertari. The complex, covered in magnificent carvings, was guarded by four 20-metre high statues of Rameses sculpted directly into a mountainside. Attempting to shift it seemed impossible.

There were other problems, too. The temple had been located specifically so that, twice a year, the rays of the sun would penetrate its depths and illuminate statues of the gods Amun-Ra and the falcon-headed Ra-Horakhty, while leaving the god of the underworld, Ptah, shrouded in darkness.

Some suggested building a barrage around the site, but this was abandoned when it became clear that, despite lying 180 miles south of Aswan, the temple would be submerged beneath 60 metres of water following the dam's construction.

The only option was to saw it into pieces, and rebuild it, like a vast Lego set. So, after assembling huge teams of workers in the sparsely populated region, an eight-year effort began to slice 1,042 blocks, some weighing 20 tonnes, from the mountainside and reassemble them 90 metres higher on an artificially created mound. Today, Abu Simbel remains one of Egypt's most celebrated sites, though the sun's rays now strike Amun-Ra a day later than they used to.

Other sites proved equally challenging. The temple of Kalabsha features several immaculate relief carvings and was the second-largest site to be relocated. The German team in charge of saving it dismantled it stone by stone, and moved them almost 30 miles, near to Aswan.

On the island of Philae, 104 metres above sea level and home to a vast archaeological complex, the new dam was having a different, if equally destructive, effect. The problem was that the island had been submerged, by and large safely, by an earlier dam. But the Aswan High dam was to lower the waters at Philae, partially revealing the island's marvels. It was forecast that fluctuations in the reservoir between 102 and 110 metres above sea level would create a tidal effect that would soon sweep the ancient buildings away.

To save them, a ring of steel was built around the island, with the remaining water pumped out. After cleaning, each structure was dismantled into tens of thousands of bricks, and relocated on higher ground.

Perhaps the trickiest rescue of all, however, was that overseen by the French themselves at Amada, where three pharaohs, including Amenhotep II, had created one of Egypt's most richly-decorated sites – a temple covered with brightly-coloured, painted reliefs. It was evident to Christiane Desroches Noblecourt that block-by-block dismantling that had been successful at other sites would destroy the reliefs at Amada.

Instead the temple was encased in a superstructure and hewn from the desert floor in its entirety. This vast relic was then placed on three railway lines, and rolled gently away to safety, two miles distant, over a period of six months. Such was the slowness of its progress that, as the temple inched forward, the rails left behind were lifted up and placed in front of it again.

Eventually, the principal treasures of the region were saved. For Christiane Desroches Noblecourt it was a personal triumph. For Egypt it was an archaeological necessity. For Unesco, however, the mammoth project had sown the idea that certain monuments were not the property of individual countries, but of humanity itself, as "world heritage" sites. Four years after the Nubian temples were saved, the UN introduced a convention protecting such sites. Today 187 countries have ratified it, with 35 campaigns currently under way to save monuments considered "endangered".

Christiane Desroches was born on November 17 1913 in Paris, to intellectual parents who encouraged her to learn and widen her horizons. Howard Carter discovered the tomb of Tutankhamen in 1922 and, as a child, Christiane was fascinated by the treasures of the pharaohs. Her grandfather often took her to the obelisk at Place de la Concorde to inspect the hieroglyphs inscribed upon it.

After she left the lycée, her father wanted Christiane to study 18th-century drawings but, she said, "that bored me stiff". So instead he took her to see the director of the Louvre, who recommended a course in hieroglyphics run by a Father Drioton. Signing up to the course, as well as for lessons in archaeology and philology, Christiane Desroches completed a thesis at the Ecole du Louvre, and was then appointed to the department of Egyptian antiquities at the museum.

From there she left for the French Institute of Oriental Archaeology in Cairo (IFAO) where, as a woman in her mid-20s, she was unwelcome. "I had encountered a certain amount of misogyny at the Louvre," she said later. "But nothing like at the IFAO. The men there didn't want to share the library or even the dining room with me; they said I would collapse and die in the field. The director of the school then dispatched me to a particularly tough site, at Edfou, south of Luxor." In 1938 she became the first Frenchwoman to lead a dig.

But war soon intervened, and Christiane Desroches returned to Paris. There she was approached by Jean Cassou, former director of the Museum of Modern Art, who asked her cryptically "if I listened to the radio". This she took to be a reference to the BBC, and soon she joined Cassou in the Resistance – performing mundane, but potentially fatal, courier missions, as well as hiding those on the run.

In December 1940 she was arrested, at which point she claimed to have shouted at her interrogators for putting their boots on the table while questioning her. She was released, and in 1942 married a childhood friend, with whom four years later she had a son.

After the war Christiane Desroches Noblecourt's settled family life disinclined her to return to the field, but following Nasser's coup in 1952 a great deal of Egypt's archaeological service was thrown into chaos. In 1954 she was asked to return by the French culture ministry and set up the Centre for Documentation of Scientific Research in Cairo, training a new generation of Egyptian archaeologists.

"We made them learn about and understand the monuments," she said. "We concentrated on the Nubian temples as I learned that they were about to be submerged under the waters of the Aswan dam that was still then at the planning stage."

But just as Christiane Desroches Noblecourt realised the gravity of the situation, Nasser privatised the Suez Canal, prompting the invasion by Israeli, French and British forces. She was forced to evacuate as relations between Egypt and France collapsed. Such was her stature, however, that soon she was sent a telegram inviting her to return – one of the few Westerners tolerated after the crisis.

By 1959 the dam project was well under way, and Sarwat Okacha approached Christiane Desroches Noblecourt, complaining that Egypt would be forced to sell the ancient temples to foreign buyers. Having proposed that they organise a rescue plan through Unesco, she promised help in the name of France.

On her return to Paris, however, she discovered that this promise was most unwelcome. At the Elysée palace, she was confronted by President Charles de Gaulle, famous for his quick temper. "How dare you engage France in this without the authorisation of my government?" he shouted at her.

After reflecting for a moment, she replied: "And you, did you demand the authorisation of Pétain's government on June 18 1940? No! You judged the circumstances required you to take a stand. Well, that's what I've done." Weeks later she had the funding she needed.

She was reunited with de Gaulle eight years later, when the Egyptian government, partly as a gesture of thanks for Christiane Desroches Noblecourt's efforts, allowed the treasures of Tutankhamen to be exhibited in Paris. It was the first time a substantial number of pieces of the treasure had been displayed in Europe. "The English weren't pleased," she recalled. "They had discovered the treasure in 1922, and then a French woman had the temerity to exhibit it in her country. But they had forgotten that England had refused to help save the Nubian temples."

Christiane Desroches Noblecourt was allotted 20 minutes to guide de Gaulle around the exhibition. But he peppered her with questions and after that time they were still only in the second room, at which point he instructed his principal secretary to allot another hour to the visit. Of particular interest, apparently, was the ancient symbolism of the scarab, or dung beetle.

In later life Christiane Desroches Noblecourt lived in a richly-decorated apartment in Paris. But she never added an Egyptian object to the furnishings: "Everybody would think I'd stolen it from some tomb." When not making field trips, she worked on one of the host of books that she wrote on ancient Egypt, publishing well into her 90s. The Fabulous Heritage of Egypt was a bestseller as recently as 2005.

A tiny, driven woman, Christiane Desroches Noblecourt received many awards, and was appointed Grand Officer of the Légion d'honneur in 2005. Her husband predeceased her.

AAI International Grandmaster Chess Tournament 2011

Final standings:
1GMCaruana Fabiano2714ITA* *1 ½½ 0½ ½1 11 17029.75
2GMSasikiran Krishnan2676IND0 ½* *1 10 ½1 ½1 ½6026.75
3GMLaznicka Viktor2681CZE½ 10 0* *1 01 ½1 ½025.25
4GMSo Wesley2667PHI½ ½1 ½0 1* *½ 0½ ½5026.25
5GMNegi Parimarjan2622IND0 00 ½0 ½½ 1* *1 0016.25
6GMHou Yifan2612CHN0 00 ½0 ½½ ½0 1* *3014.25
Hou Yifan had a tough tournament, scoring only 3.0/10. I think she needs to take a break before entering another mixed event.  No women only events, though!

Friday, July 1, 2011

More on Sacred Wells

A follow-up to yesterday's post:  Possible Sacred Well Discovered in Wales.

In addition to the information/links contained in Robur's comments about the Gihon spring and Hobbs Well:

here is a prior post on sacred wells from Barbara G. Walker's The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets that I made in 2009. 

Here's a post on (Saint) Dwyn or Dwynwen, who became a patron saint of the love lorn and also sick animals!  She is connected with a sacred well or spring in Wales.

Interestingly, "visiting sacred wells" used to be part of "pious practices" in the honoring of Saint Brigid of Ireland.  I posted about her in 2008 (emphasizing her connection to birds and as an aspect of the Mother Goddess who was often represented as a bird in various cultures and religions through the ages.)

Another interesting legend concerning a "witches' well" in Tuhala, Estonia, that I posted about in 2009.  In it, I wondered if there could be a connection to old Celtic legends of "water horses" that were often associated with springs, wells, rivers and - in the case of the "selkies" the ocean itself.

St. Winifrede's Well at Holywell, Flintshire, North Wales
Back to the post from yesterday about the discovery of a possible sacred well in Wales, three names were noted in the article in connection to an old Welsh legend about a sacred well:  St. Winefride, her suitor, Caradog and St. Winefride's uncle, said to be St. Beuno. 

Having refreshed my memory by reading over the prior posts, it seems there are similarities in at least some of the legends associated with sacred or holy wells in Ireland and Wales.

There is a lot of information online about the legend of St. Winefride (also Winefred, Winifred, Gwenfrewi) and Caradog (also Cardoc).  You can see representations of St. "Gwenfrewi" and St. Beuno in the stained glass window (last photo) at the website of  "St. Winifred's Well" by Jeffrey L. Thomas

Evidently Winefrede's holy "well" (a spring that was enclosed), has been a place of pilgrimage practically since the time of her death, allegedly in 660 CE.  Information at Wikipedia.  

I checked Walker's book and found no entry for St. Winefride but I found a very similar name to Gwenfrewi and Dwynwen - you may recognize it - Guinevere.  Guinevere, of course, was the famous lady of the triangle with King Arthur and his favorite young, handsome knight, Lancelot.  (Notice how "triangles" of people are also involved in many of the legends noted above: daughter/wife; father/uncle/saving or guardian angel/husband; and lover/rejected suitor.)

Here is what Walker has to say about Guinevere:

In Germany, Guinevere was Cunneware, "female wisdom"(1)  According to the Welsh Triads, she was the Triple Goddess, Gwenhwyfar, "the first lady of these islands," at times one queen, at times three queens, all named Gwenhwyfar, all of whom married King Arthur.(2) 

Arthur was born of the same Goddess when he was cast ashore on the ninth wave.  The Welsh called breaking waves the Sheep of the Mermaid, and the Mermaid was Gwenhidwy, or Gwenhwyfar.  The ninth wave represented the "god born of nine maidens," also known as The Ram.(3)  Nine maidens signified the triplicated Triple Goddess, like the nine Muses in Greek myth.

Guinevere embodied the sovereignty of Britain. No king could reign without her.  Thus, in story after story, she was abducted by would-be rulers.  Melwas, Melegant, Artur, Lancelot; and Mordred all took Guinevere away from the incumbent ruler when they wished to make themselves kings.  When a king lost Ginevere, he lost the kingship. [Emphasis added.]  Some myths suggest that she was a sacred statue, like the Fortuna Regia of Roman Caesars.(4)  Yet she was also a living woman, who impersonated the Destroyer when she gave the apple of death to Patrick, and was nearly burned at the stake when she was accused of witchcraft.  Early legends said she disappeared into the castle of Joyous Gard, the earthly paradise, where she reigned each spring as May Queen.


(1)  Campbell, C.M., 448.
(2)  Malory 1, xxiv.
(3)  Turville-Petrie, 152.
(4)  Encyc. Brit., "Guinevere."

Hmmmm, "when a king lost Guinevere, he lost the kingship" - a man might get very angry about such a turn of events, evoking the equivalent of the raging "IF I CAN'T HAVE YOU, NOBODY WILL."  We see this ethos at work in an unending epidemic of female spouses, ex-spouses and girlfriends being violently killed by former male intimates. 

Summer of China: Milwaukee Art Museum Special Exhibitions 2011

We really lucked out scoring this tremendous exhibition.  It seems that the Chinese contingent here to inspect the city and the museum absolutely fell in love with the museum/war memorial center's great architecture.  The Summer of China is actually five separate exhibitions but paid admission (or membership admission) allows you to roam at leisure and see as little or as much as you wish.  In addition, there will be a series of special lectures throughout the time of the exhibition.


Summer of CHINA
June 11September 11, 2011
Milwaukee Art Museum

This summer, enter a realm of majesty and mystery. Experience three thousand years of Chinese art and culture in five exhibitions at the Milwaukee Art Museum. This ambitious series, titled the Summer of CHINA, is part of a year-long celebration honoring the ten-year anniversary of the Museum’s Santiago Calatrava–designed Quadracci Pavilion.

A broad range of CHINA-related programs will accompany the exhibitions throughout the summer, including children’s activities, adult lectures on Chinese art and culture, and a Chinese-themed MAM After Dark. In July, the Museum partners with the Milwaukee Chinese Cultural Community Center to unveil the city’s first Chinese Cultural Fest. Everyone is invited to join the Museum in learning about and celebrating this very old—yet very modern—civilization.

Here's the deal - if you become an individual member for a mere $60 a year, you get free admission to ALL exhibitions and ALL lectures and special showings, as many times as you want.  In addition, if you have children and grandchildren under the age of 17, they get in free if accompanied by you. 

Museum membership

Milwaukee Art Museum membership not only provides you with exclusive Member-only benefits but access to countless opportunities that engage and delight. Our doors are open Tuesday–Sunday and holiday Mondays; please, come as often as you like. Membership makes it that much easier to pop in over lunch for an Express Talk or to explore the Collection galleries, or to bring the entire family for a day of fun-filled activities on the weekend. Be a part of the community that supports the Museum’s mission to inspire and educate.

Standard Member benefits:

  • Free admission, including Members' children and grandchildren 17 and under, when accompanied by an adult Member
  • Unlimited access to feature exhibitions
  • Free admission to Kohl’s Art Generation Family Sundays, gallery talks, and lectures
  • Invitations to Member-only preview days, exhibition openings, and special programs
  • Reduced rates on classes, screenings, and pre-purchased parking passes
  • The opportunity to join Museum support groups
  • A one-year subscription to our quarterly Member magazine
  • A 10% discount on Museum Store purchases plus seasonal double discounts
  • A 10% discount at Café Calatrava
  • Member extras
Memberships can be purchased at the Milwaukee Art Museum or by phone from our Membership Hotline 414-224-3284, or online.

If  you are tight on funds, first Thursdays every month are FREE, courtesy of Target!!!  Details:

Museum Hours

Museum Admission

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Possible Sacred Well Discovered in Wales

From BBC News

29 June 2011 Last updated at 08:25 ET
Possible holy well discovered in Cwmbran woods
Amateur archaeologists have uncovered what they say may be a holy well in woodland in Cwmbran, Torfaen.

They were working on a dig to discover more about a settlement that dates back to the 16th Century that they already knew about.
But they came across the well at Green Meadow Woods and believe it is much older.
Richard Davies from the Ancient Cwmbran Society said it may shed light on the area's religious history.
Mr Davies said between 15 and 20 volunteers had been working hard at the site for the last week.
He said the settlement they were originally investigating dated back to around 1520, but the well was older.
"We are relatively certain its purpose was not for watering animals," he said.
"We are not sure whether its a holy well, a baptism pool or something else."
Holy wells can date back to the second and third centuries and there are fewer than 20 across Wales. The water in holy wells was said to have healing qualities.
Field archaeologists Roger Burchill said: "It is comprised of packed stones that are all placed with the front forming a face to the well itself.
"Who would use it is the $64m question. All we can say about it at the moment is the structure is totally different to what we have on the bank.
"We have a wall, we have some paths, we have a possible building up on the bank and we have this well. Connecting them together is the trick."
The volunteers are taking a break on Thursday but will be returning to the excavation site on Friday and Saturday when members of the public are welcome to join them.
Sidebar information:

Holy wells in Wales
There are less than 20 holy wells in Wales with most in the north - including St Winefride's Well in Holywell which gives the town its name.
Legend has it a well sprung from the ground at the place where St Winefride, a noblewoman who lived during the 7th Century, was murdered by a local chieftain after she spurned his advances.
Her suitor, Caradog, is said to have cut off her head with a sword but she was restored to life by her uncle, St Beuno, and dedicated herself to holy works, becoming a nun and abbess.


The Indus Script Back in the News

At the - posted at Punctuated Equilibrium
A Rosetta Stone for the Indus script
Posted by Thursday 30 June 2011 09.43 BST

How would you solve the world's oldest and most difficult crossword puzzle? Watch this video to learn how one man is approaching this challenge (over 17 minutes in length, but very well put together and paced)

Do you love a good mystery and ancient texts? Rajesh Rao sure does. He is a computational neuroscientist at my alma mater, the University of Washington in Seattle. He has devoted much of his professional life to cracking "the mother of all crossword puzzles": How to decipher the 4000 year old Indus script (example pictured; public domain). To do this, Dr Rao uses computational modeling to understand the human mind in two ways: first, he develops computer models to describe how human minds think, and then second, he applies these models to the task of deciphering the 4,000-year-old script of the Indus valley civilization. This interesting video provides a glimpse into his methods and logic:

Some of the questions that motivate Dr Rao's research include: How does the brain learn efficient representations of novel objects and events occurring in the natural environment? What are the algorithms that allow useful sensorimotor routines and behaviors to be learned? What computational mechanisms allow the brain to adapt to changing circumstances and remain fault-tolerant and robust?

You can learn more about Dr Rao's work by visiting his official departmental website.

"Out of Africa" Theory Discredited by Redating Homo Erectus Fossils

Interesting, very interesting.  I'm sure this isn't the last bomb that will be thrown in this particular war!  The "out of Africa" contingent has far too much to lose to have this be the last word.
Press release at

Public release date: 29-Jun-2011
Contact: James Devitt
Finding showing human ancestor older than previously thought offers new insights into evolution

Modern humans never co-existed with Homo erectus—a finding counter to previous hypotheses of human evolution—new excavations in Indonesia and dating analyses show. The research, reported in the journal PLoS One, offers new insights into the nature of human evolution, suggesting a different role for Homo erectus than had been previously thought.

The work was conducted by the Solo River Terrace (SoRT) Project, an international group of scientists directed by anthropologists Etty Indriati of Gadjah Mada University in Indonesia and Susan Antón of New York University.

Homo erectus is widely considered a direct human ancestor—it resembles modern humans in many respects, except for its smaller brain and differently shaped skull—and was the first of our ancestors to migrate out of Africa, approximately 1.8 million years ago. Homo erectus went extinct in Africa and much of Asia by about 500,000 years ago, but appeared to have survived in Indonesia until about 35,000 to 50,000 years ago at the site of Ngandong on the Solo River. These late members of Homo erectus would have shared the environment with early members of our own species, Homo sapiens, who arrived in Indonesia by about 40,000 years ago.

The existence of the two species simultaneously has important implications for models about the origins of modern humans. One of the models, the Out of Africa or replacement model, predicts such overlap. However, another, the multiregional model, which posits that modern humans originated as a result of genetic contributions from hominin populations all around the Old World (Africa, Asia, Europe), does not. The late survival of Homo erectus in Indonesia has been used as one line of support for the Out of Africa model.

However, findings by the SoRT Project show that Homo erectus' time in the region ended before modern humans arrived there. The analyses suggest that Homo erectus was gone by at least 143,000 years ago—and likely by more than 550,000 years ago. This means the demise of Homo erectus occurred long before the arrival of Homo sapiens.

"Thus, Homo erectus probably did not share habitats with modern humans," said Indriati.

The SoRT Project's investigations occurred in Ngandong and Jigar, two sites in the "20-meter terrace" of the Solo River, Indonesia. The sediments in the terrace were formed by the flooding of the ancient river, but currently sit above the Solo River because the river has cut downward through time. The terrace has been a rich source for the discovery of Homo erectus and other animal fossils since the 1930s.

As recently as 1996, a research team dated these sites of hominin, or early human, fossils to as young as 35,000-50,000 years old. The analyses used a technique that dates teeth, and thus provided ages for several animals discovered at the sites. However, other scholars suggested the sites included a mixture of older hominins and younger animals, raising questions about the true age of the hominin remains.

The goal of the SoRT team, which included both members of the 1996 group and its critics, was to understand how the sites in the terrace formed, whether there was evidence for mixing of older and younger remains, and just how old the sites were.

Since 2004, team members have conducted analyses of animal remains, geological surveys, trenching, and archaeological excavations. The results from all of these provide no evidence for the mixing of older and younger remains. All the evidence suggests the sites represent just a short time period.

"The postmortem damage to the animal remains is consistent and suggests very little movement of the remains by water," explained Briana Pobiner, the project's archaeologist and a paleoanthropologist at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History. "This means that it is unlikely that very old remains were mixed into younger ones."

In addition, clues from the sediments exposed during excavation suggest to the projects' geoarchaeologists, Rhonda Quinn, Chris Lepre, and Craig Feibel, of Seton Hall, Columbia, and Rutgers universities, that the deposits occurred over a short time period. The teeth found in different excavation layers at Jigar are also all nearly identical in age, supporting the conclusion that mixing across geological periods did not occur.

"Whatever the geological age of the sites is, the hominins, animals, and sediments at Ngandong and Jigar are all the same age," said project co-leader Susan Antón.

The team applied two different dating techniques to the sites. Like earlier work, they used the techniques—U-series and Electron Spin Resonance, or ESR—that are applied to fossilized teeth. They also used a technique called argon-argon dating that is applied to volcanic minerals in the sediments. All three methods use radioactive decay in different ways to assess age and all yielded robust and methodologically valid results, but the ages were inconsistent with one another.

The argon-argon results yielded highly precise ages of about 550,000 years old on pumices—very light, porous volcanic products found at Ngandong and Jigar.

"Pumices are hard to rework without breaking them, and these ages are quite good, so this suggests that the hominins and fauna are this old as well," said project geochronologist Carl Swisher of Rutgers University.

By contrast, the oldest of the U-series and ESR ages, which were conducted at Australian National University by Rainer Grün, are just 143,000 years.

The difference in the ages means that one of the systems is providing an age for something other than the formation of the sites and fossils in them. One possibility is that the pumices are, in fact, reworked, or mixed in, from older rocks. The other possibility is that the ESR and U-series ages are dating an event that occurred after the sites were formed, perhaps a change in the way groundwater moved through the sites.

Either way, the ages provide a maximum and a minimum for the sites – and both of these ages are older than the earliest Homo sapiens fossils in Indonesia. Thus, the authors concluded that the idea of a population of Homo erectus surviving until late in time in Indonesia and potentially interacting with Homo sapiens seems to have been disproven.


The study's other co-authors included: Rusyad Suriyanto and Agus Hascaryo of Indonesia's Gadjah Mada University and Wendy Lees and Maxime Aubert of the Australian National University.

The National Science Foundation sponsored field and laboratory work by the Solo River Terrace Project.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Rare White Buffalo Born and Whope, The Lakota Goddess of Peace

Lightning Medicine: Rare white buffalo calf named
By LINDA STEWART BALL, Associated Press – 3 hours ago
GREENVILLE, Texas (AP) — Thousands of people came from miles around Wednesday to see and honor a legend in the flesh — the white buffalo born in a thunderstorm on a northeast Texas ranch.

The rare white buffalo calf, regarded as sacred by Lakota Sioux tradition, was honored with Native American prayers, religious songs and the solemn smoking of a pipe in a special naming and dedication ceremony at the Lakota Ranch in Greenville, about 50 miles northeast of Dallas.

Flag-flying patriotism, a steady Native American drum beat and scorching heat provided the backdrop for the spiritual event that drew about 2,000.

The calf was named Lightning Medicine Cloud — a reference to the thunderstorm that marked the arrival of his birth as well as a tribute to a white buffalo born in 1933 named Big Medicine.

According to Lakota Sioux tradition, Whope, the goddess of peace, once appeared in the form of a white buffalo calf. Some say the goddess will return once four such calves are born.

But whether the Greenville, Texas, calf was the third of its kind ever born or the first male in 150 years wasn't immediately clear.

But all agreed that the birth of such a calf was unusual and stressed that it was not an albino, given its dark nose, eyes and marking on the tip of its tail. Several who spoke at the ceremony said they considered it a blessing.

"He's the hope of all nations," said Arby Little Soldier, upon whose land the calf was born on May 12. "The red man, black man, white man and yellow man; we've all got to come together as one."

Unity and peace were major themes, as was respect for the environment and the notion that all living things are interdependent.

The white buffalo is an omen that signifies the arrival of hard times unless people learn to change their ways and live in a manner that benefits everyone, including Mother Earth, according to literature distributed at the entrance gate.

"It's the beginning of a new age, new times," said Samuel Joseph Lone Wolf, a Native American elder from Palestine, who played an important role in Wednesday's ceremony. "The birth of the white buffalo calf, it tells us we need to get right, not just with Mother Nature but with all nations and with the Creator, which is God."

Some tourists complained that it was difficult to see much of the ceremony unless one was on the front row. There were no bleachers or big screens upon which events were featured. One white woman, seemingly disappointed by the program's length beneath the hot sun: "I think they're going to keep going until all the pale faces faint."

But another said she was just grateful to be there.

Bonnie Greenwood said she and her husband live down the road and see the buffalo all the time as they drive by.

"We wanted to be sure to be here for this," said Greenwood, who sported a bright orange Buffalo bison T-shirt from her high school alma mater and brought their 9-year-old granddaughter from Oklahoma to also witness the ceremony.

After Little Soldier rode a horse around a corralled area and threw a lance into the ground, making the area as sacred, the crowds surged forward as the small herd of buffalo was let loose with the small white buffalo among them.

"He's beautiful," said Angela Hope, who drove up from San Antonio to pay homage. "He's a spiritual gift."

To commemorate the occasion, tourists could buy everything from Lightning Medicine Cloud T-shirts and caps, glossy photos of the white bison and even buffalo meat made from Lightning's darker relatives.

Arby Little Soldier and several other leaders are charged with caring for the calf. When Lightning Medicine Cloud turns 2, another ceremony will be held and other prophecies revealed, said Patricia Little Soldier, Arby's wife.

"When do you think you'll get another white buffalo?" 13-year-old Tristen Scott from Virginia asked Arby Little Soldier.

The calf's caretaker sighed as he patiently explained that the odds were against that happening any time soon. "What are your chances of winning the lottery?" Little Soldier said.

On the Net: Lightning Medicine Cloud

Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

AAI International Grandmasters Chess Tournament 2011

Hou Yifan, the sole female in this tough event, has moved out of last place and has scored some points.  Good for her!  There are three more rounds to go.

Standings after R7:

Rank after round 7
Rank NameRtgFED123456PtsRes.SB
1GMCaruana Fabiano2714ITA* *½1 ½½11 1015.00
2GMSo Wesley2667PHI½* *1 ½0 1½½414.50
3GMSasikiran Krishnan2676IND0 ½0 ½* *111412.25
4GMLaznicka Viktor2681CZE½1 00* *1 ½14111.25
5GMHou Yifan2612CHN0½00 ½* *0 1205.50
6GMNegi Parimarjan2622IND0 0½001 0* *04.00

St. Paul Fresco from c. 600 CE

What I absolutely love about this fresco is that the so-called "dead person" is taking center stage in comparison to St. Paul.  That "dead person" also appears to me to be a female.  LOL!

From The Telegraph Online
1,400-year-old St Paul fresco discovered in ancient Roman catacomb
A 1,400-year-old fresco of St Paul has been discovered in an ancient Roman catacomb.

By Nick Pisa in Rome
1:39PM BST 29 Jun 2011

The fresco was found during restoration work at the Catacombs of San Gennaro (Saint Januarius) in the southern port city of Naples by experts from the Pontifical Commission of Sacred Art.

The announcement was made on the feast day of St Peter and Paul which is traditionally a bank holiday in Rome and details of the discovery were disclosed in the Vatican's official newspaper L'Osservatore Romano.

A photograph released by the Vatican shows the apostle, famous for his conversion to Christianity from Judaism, with a long neck, a slightly pink complexion, thinning hair, a beard and big eyes that give his face a "spiritual air."

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, who is Pope Benedict's Culture Minister, wrote in L'Osservatore Romano:"The image of St Paul has an intense expression, philosophical and its discovery enriches our imager of one of the principal apostles."

The figure is dressed in white and beige robes and with the letter 'I' on the hem, which may stand for 'Iesus' (Latin for Jesus) and it shows him approaching a dead person.
Details on the right hand side of the fresco have crumbled away but nevertheless it still remains a striking image which Cardinal Ravasi described as "sensational."

Father Antonio Loffredo, director of the catacombs in Naples, said: "We hope that many locals and tourists will come and look at this fresco which has been wonderfully restored."

Last year another fresco of St Paul was found in another Catacomb in Rome and that was dated to the 4th century AD and is believed to be the oldest image of him in existence.

St Paul was a Roman Jew, born in Tarsus in modern-day Turkey, who started out persecuting Christians but later became one of the greatest influences in the Church.

He did not know Jesus in life but converted to Christianity after seeing a shining light on the road to Damascus and spent much of his life travelling and preaching.

He was executed for his beliefs around AD65 and is thought to have been beheaded, rather than crucified, because he was a Roman citizen.

A Lost Leonardo DaVinci Found Again

Okay - is it just me, or does this look like the Mona Lisa with a mustache?  Why is this Christ figure wearing what appears to be a woman's dress???

From The Wall Street Journal Online
Wednesday, June 29, 2011 As of 6:23 AM
A lost masterpiece by Leonardo da Vinci has been discovered in a private American collection and will be unveiled publicly for the first time by the National Gallery in London later this year, according to people close to the institution.
"Salvator Mundi"—a depiction of Christ with his right hand raised in blessing —has been authenticated by experts as the Leonardo painting that disappeared after being owned by Charles I and Charles II of England, according to these people. The last time an important Leonardo was discovered was a century ago.

The National Gallery, which plans a major exhibition on the Renaissance master this fall, declined to comment.

Salvator Mundi—an oil on wood panel measuring 26 inches by 18.5 inches—is a devotional work comparable in size and subject to Leonardo's St. John the Baptist in the Louvre in Paris.

According to a person familiar with the painting's history, restorers began work on Salvator Mundi in the hope that it might be by someone closely associated with Leonardo because of stylistic evidence. Leonardo's hand was confirmed after the removal of layers of discolored varnish and overpaint applied by earlier restoration attempts.

This person said that the idea of finding a lost Leonardo was "not something a rational person would really believe." The composition was known from a 1650s engraving by Wenceslaus Hollar.

The owner's identity could not be learned.

ARTnews magazine, which reported the discovery earlier this week, suggested a figure of $200 million for the value of the painting.

ARTnews reported that the National Gallery's director, Nicholas Penny, invited four Leonardo scholars—including Carmen C. Bambach, curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and Martin Kemp, professor emeritus of art history at Oxford University—to the institution's conservation studio. They came away convinced that they had seen an important Leonardo discovery, according to ARTNews.

According to ARTnews, after Charles II's ownership, the Salvator Mundi's whereabouts are unknown until it is recorded in the collection of Sir Francis Cook, a 19th-century British collector, though listed only as "Milanese School (c. 1500)". In 1958, Cook's trustees sold it as by Boltraffio, who worked in Leonardo's studio.

The National Gallery exhibition, which runs from Nov. 9 until Feb. 5, 2012, concentrates on paintings Leonardo produced for Duke Lodovico Sforza in Milan. Loans include "La Belle Ferronière" (Louvre, Paris) and the "Lady with an Ermine" (Czartoryski Museum, Krakow).

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

An Easier, Cheaper Way to do DNA Sequencing of Ancient DNA

Public release date: 27-Jun-2011

Contact: Brian M. Kemp
Washington State University

Undergraduate research fires salvo in simmering scientific controversy
Student publishes case for faster, less expensive DNA analysis

PULLMAN, Wash.—A Washington State University student's undergraduate research is challenging a widely held assumption on the best way to analyze old DNA in anthropological and forensic investigations.

Sarah "Misa" Runnells' claim is weighty enough to be published this week in the peer-reviewed, online journal PLoS ONE.

At issue is the best way to sequence "ancient" DNA, bits of genetic code pulled from remains up to 800,000 years old. Such remains tend to be chemically degraded, making it difficult to draw accurate connections between, say a wooly mammoth and modern animals, or Neanderthals and humans.

The techniques are also an issue in forensic investigations where remains, while relatively new, can still be severely compromised.

In 2000, researchers writing in the journal Science recommended a set of standards that emphasized cloning bits of ancient DNA to detect errors and contamination from modern DNA. [Why?]

"Those rules became gospel," says Brian Kemp, a WSU anthropologist and molecular biologist. In fact, they became so widely adopted that his preferred technique—direct sequencing—is often dismissed by journal reviewers.

"I've had papers outright rejected because they said, 'You did not clone,'" says Kemp.

Kemp wanted to demonstrate that direct sequencing worked just as well by directly comparing it to cloning, but he had a problem: He didn't have experience with cloning.

Then he met Runnells, who had learned to clone while majoring in biotechnology as a WSU undergraduate. The two used both methods to analyze 3,500-year-old northern fur seal bones.

"After five samples with both cloning and direct sequencing, we got the same answer from both methods," says Runnells, who has published under her soon-to-be married name of Winters.

Their findings even held up with one particularly degraded sample. Cloning gave conflicting DNA sequences in the sample, while direct sequencing showed gaps in the code.

"In no case did the results of one method conflict with another," says Kemp.

The PLoS ONE paper is the first published on a $595,000 grant Kemp received from the U.S. Department of Justice. One goal of the grant is to find more cost-effective ways of analyzing degraded DNA.

Direct sequencing can cost a fraction of cloning and be done in less time, says Kemp.

"That's really applicable to the justice system, where you want to save money and time," says Runnells, who is now a second-year Master's student in zoology.

"Everybody wants to save money and time," adds Kemp. "There are more forensic cases than they can work on. There's a backlog of forensic cases."

Direct sequencing can also be increasingly helpful to academic researchers in a time of shrinking budgets, says Kemp.

"If you have an infinite amount of resources and funding, you can do anything," he says. "You can clone everything a thousand times. It doesn't matter. But for the assistant professor at WSU who has a limited budget, we need to make smart choices."


"To clone or not to clone: Method analysis for retrieving consensus sequences in ancient DNA samples" will be available online after 2 p.m. Pacific Time (5 p.m. Eastern) on Monday, June 27, at
Here's a dumb question - why didn't the experts go with direct sequencing right from the get-go???  Are there any papers available online that aren't written in technical terms that I won't be able to understand to help me understand why the cloning "rules" were accepted as Gospel in 2000?

500 Year Old Pawn Discovered

From  (I was not able to find any photographs of the pawn, or the king found three years ago).

27.06.2011 | 18:16
A 500 Years Old Pawn Found in Iceland

An archeological group working in Gufuskálar in Snæfellsnes has found a piece from a chess set, thought to be more than 500 years old. The set was probably used by sailors when they were ashore. The piece found now was a pawn.

Three years ago a king from the same set was found when digging in another seamen’s dwelling in Gufuskálar.

The work is done by archeologists from the Icelandic Archeological Society and the City University of New York, CUNY. According to the work is done for the summer. In an interview Lilja Björk Pálsdóttir, who was in charge of the project mentioned a few interesting objects that were found, including a broken copper pin with a carved head, a pearl made of amber and a bottle cap made of haddock bone.

The most interesting find was the chess piece, possibly made out of whale bone. The group assumes it comes from the same set as a king that was found three years ago in a nearby ruin.

Monday, June 27, 2011

What are the stones inscribed in "ancient Hebrew" in the New World?

Ancient stones a mystery for archeologists, scientists
Posted: Monday, June 27, 2011 9:44 am
Author unknown

Years ago, I got to know an archeologist that worked with archeological digs in East Texas in the area now covered by Lake Sam Rayburn.

He and I discussed various subjects regarding archeology, not only regarding Texas, but some of the surrounding states and Egypt and the Holy Land.

One of the subjects that caught my attention was one about several tablets being found in some of the Mayan temples of the Yucatan. He said that archeologists and other scientists studying these old tablets noted what appeared to be ancient Hebrew.

Now in some areas I am a skeptic, but in others I am curious and like to research. This area is one of those.

In the past I did not have the means or time to go to some university library for research on this subject. But with Internet, many research sources are now at my fingertips.

As I have researched this idea of Ancient Hebrew or Israelite explorers or other countries to the Western Hemisphere long before Columbus, I have read about various artifacts that have been discovered over the years of research of Mayan temples and ruins as well as in other areas of the Americas.

There is no definitive information at present to support this theory but I look at it this way: if they had the means to explore various parts of Europe and Asia by boat, then they certainly had the means to cross the seas to the Americas.
Image: Wikipedia commons.
One such item of interest is a large stone that was found in a dry creek bed in New Mexico. This stone discovered by early explorers contains the entire Ten Commandments written in Ancient Hebrew script. Today, this large stone still lies where it was originally found in the early 1800's on the side of Hidden Mountain near Los Lunas, New Mexico, about thirty-five miles south of Albuquerque.

Scholars who have studied the stone say it pre-dates the arrival of Columbus to America.

How did this large stone with the Ten Commandments written in Ancient Hebrew come to be in North America? No one has an answer.

Another item that shows strong evidence of the possibility of Hebrews in America is noted in a custom celebrated by the Yuchi Indians in Oklahoma.

The Yuchis originally migrated from the Bahamas to Florida and Georgia and then later to the Oklahoma territory.

Every year in the fall, on the fifteenth day of the sacred month of harvest, the Yuchis make a pilgrimage and for eight days live in what are described as booths with open roofs. They celebrate a festival during this time.

The ancient Israelites had a custom very similar and also celebrated in the harvest season on the 15th day of the sacred month of harvest.

The unanswered question is “How can two totally separated peoples observe the identical question?

Another question that haunts scientists and Bible historians is: “Did Jesus in His early years visit the American continents?

After all, there was a period from about age 12 to age 30, years unaccounted for in the scriptures. So there is a possibility that Jesus did visit other continents during those years.

Several of the ancient tribes of the Americas have stories that tell of a white-skinned bearded man that came from heaven to earth.

The Aztecs and Toltecs worshiped a god named Quetzalcoatl who not only was a white bearded man, but also wore white. The legend tells that his mother was a virgin. Legend says he taught the Native Americans about agriculture and medicine and gave them a calendar.

The Mayans worshiped a god named Kukulcan and legend says he too was white-skinned and bearded and came from heaven to earth. This particular god also had the power to heal the sick as well as bring the dead back to life.

Similar legends are to be found with the Incas.
Is the author a Mormon? Isn't that what they teach - that some of the "lost tribes of Israel" ended up in North America and that Christ visited their descendants at some point?

What I want to know is - why is this big old stone inscribed in "ancient Hebrew" with the 10 commandments on it still sitting out in the middle of nowhere?  If it has, indeed, been examined by "scholars" and deemed "authentic", why isn't this stone sitting in a museum?  Something is not right here. 

You can find a photo of the "Decalogue Stone" at the web site of Steven M. Collins with further information.
Wikipedia also has information on the stone.  It answered one of my questions - the inscription is inscribed on an 80 ton boulder!  That's why it hasn't been moved to a museum or lab for further study.  Conveniently, unknown persons have, over the years, also "cleaned" the inscription, thereby most likely destroying most or even all of the patina that might otherwise have been used to date the inscription. 

Is it a fraud?  I don't know.  Most people today don't write using perfect grammar and punctuation, and most likely people 2000 years ago didn't either.  People well versed in ancient Hebrew idioms of the day need to look at this stone, and despite repeated "cleanings" over the years, some attempt should be made to date the inscriptions using modern methods.  Alas, that takes money to fund the studies, and no doubt a project like this, if it is on any university's or institute's "wish list" at all, is way down at the bottom! 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

An Unwelcome Discovery

So I'm outside doing yard work inbetween bouts of resting with my feet up, drinking wine, looking at stuff on the laptop rigged up outside on the deck in the cool, shady part of a perfect weather day.  I have the loppers out and I've been slowly tackling one area after another to clean out unwelcome volunteers and saplings.  I finished the area around the big double tree, which now looks bare compared to what it was before I cleaned out a small pile of burdock and saplings!  You wouldn't know it by looking at it, though.  Anyway, after resting up a bit I aimed for the area around the "arbor" and wandered down in that direction, loppers in hand.  As I bent over to cut down a volunteer sapling I see - a dead bunny.  Oh my.  It's a young one as far as I can tell and I think it may have been a victim of Lady Hawk who visited earlier this morning, but I scared her away when the bird were putting up such a ruckus!  Well, I didn't save poor bunny, who looks like he or she died of puncture wounds from Lady Hawk's claws. 

Now, unfortunately, I have the task of burying the bunny.  I can't leave it just laying out there in my garden and I refuse to put it in the garbage, besides which I don't have "garbage cans" like in the old days; these days nearly everyone in the area puts out large black plastic garbage bags and I'm not going to do that.  So, it's to the mini-cemetery I keep for animals who die in my backyard.  But I have to gird my loins to pull out the shovel and do it.

I would not have made a good pioneer woman, that's for sure.  I would never be able to kill a chicken to save my life, or kill and skin an animal, let alone butcher one!  I lost a favored boy friend in my mid-20's when he discovered one portage/hiking/fishing/camping-out weekend that I did not have the stomach to gut a fish, let alone bait a hook!  Nevermind I caught more fish than he did.  What a schmuck!  I hiked, I camped, I portaged our canoe with him through hill and dale and enjoyed it all.  Built a camp fire, ate beans, fried the fish, made flat bread from scratch and I made some'mores and banana boats for dessert.  Didn't make any difference, I lacked the necessary skills :)  Now I'm so glad I flunked that test!  That happened before I fell in love with chess.  He would never have "tolerated" chess. 

To make myself feel a little better, I took some photos of the squirrels who have been venturing by in the meantime.  The blue jays, cardinals and chipmunks are too fast for me to catch on the camera, even when I try to "set up" the shot by tossing out peanuts, whistling and then waiting, camera in hand! 

Happy squirrel, caught a nut I threw out for her.
This squirrel I managed to get a photo facing toward me.  They are very camera shy.  You can see how shady the
yard gets in the afteroon.  She (or he) was coming toward me for a tempting nut  I was holding up!  Oh my, the grass looks
so green, it's because of all the fertilizer I put down and all the rain we received over the last seven days!

Can you see the bunny?  He (or she) is just to the northwest of the small pile of stuff I cleaned out of another part of yard
with the loppers.  The body of the dead bunny is hidden behind the dwarf hydrangea bush left of center, next to the "horns of the Goddess" (the "Y" forked tree branch.  It was that area I was going to clean out when I found the bunny's body.  Although you can't tell from this photo, there are several "volunteers" growing in this bed that don't belong there.  I don't think I'll
be cleaning them out for a few days yet - but first, I've got to bury the dead bunny.  Sigh. 
Another squirrel, headed toward the other side of the retaining wall by the big double tree.  Yes, I have been working,
you can see the pile of cut discards there.  The grass sure looks tall though, even though I cut it yesterday!

Okay, it's now 5:32 p.m. Enough stalling, I've got to bury the dead bunny.  Here I go - girding my loins all the way...

Dogs and Chess

Me thinks this pooch is expressing his opinion on the calibre of the game being played in the background...


Phil Speaks True About Susan Polgar and Chess

Phil, you and I don't get along at all. Yeah yeah, I know, I'm a Bitch - with a Capital B.  Get over it, man.  Oh, I forgot, you never were able to. We've been arguing about it since 2001, that is, when we were talking.  We haven't talked for a few years now.  In any event, with respect to the article you wrote about GM Susan Polgar, you are right, even if you had to throw yourself into the article a few too many times, ahem.  Remember, darling, it's not about you...

So, I'm publishing your article that I happened to find at the Lubbock Avalanche Journal Online because it was well written (at least, in most parts) and it makes a point about chess in the USA on which you have always been correct. 

All I can hope is that with Susan Polgar and SPICE, the St. Louis Chess Club and its backing, Cajun Chess, America's Foundation for Chess, Chess in Schools, the North American Chess Association, and other local and state groups too numerous to mention by individual name that are dedicated to promoting chess on a local level (from an acorn a mighty oak grows...), we will continue to turn out newly minted USA GMs, support our super-level GMs and encourage girls and boys of all races and income levels to take up the greatest game in the world and stick with it, climb the ranks, and become some of the best players in the world.  May it come to pass.

Polgar: Never give up, the relentless pursuit of excellence
Posted: June 25, 2011 - 11:36pm

Hawk Sighting

It's a gorgeous day here today, better even than yesterday because it is not as humid.  I've been up since 6:30 a.m. and have finished my coffee/toast and newspaper routine, also swept out the curb areas and my driveway to remove the grass clippings from yesterday's yard work.  I was working on the computer in the front room when the birds out back started up with an awful ruckass, more than the usual bird noise to be sure.  I went to the patio door and there was the hawk sitting up on a branch.  This was one of "big" hawks that is about as large as the length from my elbow to my fingertips (18 to 20 inches, maybe).  The robins especially were going nutszoid with their chirping and beeping.  When I opened up the patio door the hawk flew away, with several birds in close pursuit! 

The hawk flew across Plainfield Avenue to the north and settled on a tall utility pole in the gas company/electric company right-of-way where the "power towers" march across the landscape.  I grabbed my camera and took some shots, but even with my zoom on to maximum, it's only 3 times zoom and you can barely make out Lady Hawk.

Unfortunately I was late to grab the camera and none of the photos show the pursuing birds dive-bombing Lady Hawk's head!  She, of course, acts like she's got a force field around her and didn't even flinch for all their efforts, as far as I could tell.

Can you see her, up on the top of the utility pole that is peeking up above the roof line of my neighbor's house to the north?  Those wires in the foreground are anchor wires for another utility pole that sits smack on my lot line to the north, adjoined by the corner lines of my two neighbors to the northwest and northeast.  One still has the remains of dead wild grapevines on it, up too high to reach to remove.

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