Saturday, April 21, 2012

I.S. 318 Winners!

That steak is finished (see post below), but I just saw this at Elizabeth Vicary Spiegel's Facebook page and had to post the link.  Fabulous story - please be sure to scroll all the way down!

Chess master James A. Black (in track suit) w:I.S. 318 team and trophy. Photo credit- Ozier Muhammad:
The New York Times.
These are your kids. These could be anybody's kids.  I saw kids like these today at the Hales Corners Chess Challenge XV in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and played against a couple of them and joshed around and talked to many more.  These are some great kids, let me tell you.  Please, please, please, find it in your hearts and in your pocketbooks to support scholastic chess endeavors and local chess tournaments with some prize money or funding.  Every dollar you contribute really counts in chess!

Hales Corners Chess Challenge XV!!!!

I came, I saw, I fought through my first three games and beat off an Excedrin Headache Number 4,320, which is specifically reserved for female chess players (432 is the number of the Goddess, just ask historian, writer and myth-teller Joseph Campbell).  I lost all three games.  But I, even I, who am nothing if not brutally honest with myself, knew that I was playing "better" than during my pitiful appearance at Hales Corners Chess Challenge XIV last October.  I was lasting more moves into the games, I was taking more time to make moves and not paying much attention to the clock, and I was trying to "see" the board -- not with so much success, unfortunately.

Ellen Wanek, everyone's favorite mom and chess coach, was there to prop me up and we cheered each other on.  I even managed to write down most of the moves more or less correctly this time.  I didn't have the guts to have Sheldon play through one of those games with me afterward in the Skittles Room, though.  LOL!  And so, even though I had not been even anywhere near a draw (leastwise, as far as I could tell), I felt not so bad about how I was playing.  Yeah, I was making idiot dumb mistakes and - par for the course - recognizing moves I should have made one move too late!  EEK!  Always, always, always my opponent would see the threat AFTER I did, and recover.  Damn damn damn!

I had McDonalds for lunch!  It's been so long since I've had a Big Mac and fries, I can't tell you, darlings, how good they tasted!  Yeah, 10,000 calories, I'm sure I gained five pounds just by sniffing the air while I was waiting in line to place my order. 

And - Ellen had cacao 70% chocolate bars in her stash of goodies.  We actually hid out in stairwells to eat it, it was that good and that forbidden...

Hmmmm, come to think of it, we shared a final cacao bar before our last game.  I wonder...

Here is the only photo that turned out that was taken with my camera -- two other shots (one I took shortly after I arrived and my hands were shaking so badly I don't even know why I bothered!) turned out blurred.  This one, taken by an obliging gentleman, turned out nicely - except I look absolutely GHASTLY, OHMYGODDESS - I look like I weigh 300 pounds and my eyes are so swollen and my face is so puff (and red) you can hardly even see that I actually have eyes!  What the Hell!  I'm amazed my looks didn't scare my opponents into giving me some wins, geez!  And those glasses up on my forehead - sort of look like pointy little devil ears, don't they...

Manisha Vootkur, Teja Karimikonda, Ellen Wanek, and Yours Truly,
Ms. "I dont even recognize myself, geez!"
I had asked my friends and even my enemies to pray to the Goddess of Chess for me to give me at least one draw for Challenge XV.  That's all I asked for - just one little draw.  Guess what darlings - I GOT A WIN!

WOOOOOO WOOOOOO!  Unfortunately, I got a win against a gentleman who looks like Kris Kringle.  Take a look at that photo above - do you see the head of a white-haired, white-bearded gent in the background between Manisha and Teja?  He was my final opponent for the day, in Round 4.

Round 4, when I was so tired and bleary-eyed I couldn't really even see straight and my brain felt so fried.  But I was determined, absolutely determined, to keep on fighting until the bitter end.  Just like the tag line in "We Are The Champions" by my most favorite band ever, Queen.

I knew things were going my way when I snaggged Mr. Kringle's Queen and he didn't have an adequate response.

Now really, who wants to beat up on a gentleman who resembles Santa Claus?  I did think about that, I truly did.  And then , well - I sort of beat him up anyway.  I'm happy that I won a game - FINALLY - but I'm sad, too.  Because winning means that someone else loses.  And that is never a good feeling.  At least, you know, unless your opponent is an absolute Schmuck whose heart you want to cut out and burn while still beating, it shouldn't be. 

Here is part of the game.  I was Black -- forgive the notation, it's not the best:

1.  e4  e5
2.  f3   Nc6
3.  Nc3  Ng6
4.  Ne2  d6
5.  d3  Be7
6.  Bg5  O-O
7.  g3  Nf6 to h5
8.  Qd2  Nc6 to d4
9.  Ng1  c6
10.  f4  Bg4
11.  f4 x e5  Nf3
12.  Kf2  NxQd2  Seeing/making this move was like - hearing the Heavenly Choir...
13.  Be2  Qb6
14.  Ke1  ??? for some reason I don't have a move written down - I may have fainted or something...

I'm not clear on the moves between 15 and the end of the game. I have moves written down, but I seem to have switched to moving the white pieces, at least, in my notation I did. Strange, very strange.  I must have forgot to write down another move.  Darlings, I WAS moving the black pieces on the board.  Honest!  I'm sure my opponent would have objected at some point if I'd started moving his pieces around in addition to my own...

What I can tell you is that the final three moves were Qx Nb1, Rx Bg5, px Rg5, white resigned, I have an "R" under Black at move 23 but I didn't resign, so it must have been Mr. Kringle resigning on White's move 24.  Oy, some Chess Goddess I am, duh!  But I still had my Queen, because I had taken Mr. Kringle's on move 12. 

Maybe some day I'll sit down at a board and see if I can get it straightened out. 


Before I sign off for the night, cuz I've got a steak sitting on the counter getting down to room temperature that is calling my name Jan....Jan..... here are the final round standings:


  No. Name St Rate Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Score

1. Santarius, Erik (1)........... WI 2387 W9 W16 W17 W4 4.0
2. Burgess, Jon L (3)............ IL 2206 W19 W6 W10 W11 4.0
10. Ulrich, Rachel J (36)......... WI 1763 W54 W18 L2 W19 3.0 (Wins $120 Goddesschess prize money)

50. Pahl, Sandra R (53)........... WI 1373 L14 L47 L49 -B- 1.0 (I think Sandra should win some Goddesschess $$, it's not her fault so many people dropped out after R3 that she didn't have an opponent for R4)
56. Karimikonda, Teja (51)........ WI 1439 L41 L39 L27 L43 0.0  (We were rooting for Teja; she won Goddesschess prize money in Challege XIV playing in the Open Section)


  No. Name St Rate 1 2 3 4 Score
1. Loomer, Xavier Mar (19)....... WI 1209 W7 W5 W4 W12 4.0
2. Ran, Eric M (26).............. WI 1109 W41 W10 W19 W9 4.0

15. Vootkur, Manisha (31)......... WI 856 W44 W14 L12 D18 2.5 (Manisha wins $50 Goddesschess prize money)

27. Ulrich, Susanna G (23)........ WI 1161 L13 L3 W49 W41 2.0 (Susanna wins $40 Goddesschess prize money)
38. Wanek, Ellen Ann (32)......... WI 852 W45 L22 L8 L24 1.0
42. Filali, Sara A (39)........... WI 597 L29 -F- W44 L28 1.0
43. Newton, Jan L (40)............ WI 575 L36 L11 L24 W49 1.0

It was such a pleasure seeing everyone again, and chatting chatting chatting, oy, I'm hoarse! Congratulations to all of the winners!  Rachel Ulrich in the Open and Susanna Ulrich in the Reserve also receive free entry to Hales Corners Chess Challenge XVI, should they choose to play, courtesy of Goddesschess. 

Hmmmm, seems I'm going to lose some ratings points, LOL! Go figure!  Oh, this is just too funny!  I started in 40th place and finished in 43rd, despite my win. Okay, let me at that steak...


Friday, April 20, 2012



Check this out! Video from Elizabeth Vicary's blog (too excited to try and track it down myself - just click on the link and click on the video at Lizzy's blog to play!) 

From the U.S. Chess Federation website:

Competition for the team crown is usually fierce and this year was no exception, with the top four teams finishing within half a point of each other. The championship fight ended in a tie for first between two outstanding New York chess schools, Hunter College High School and I.S. 318 Eugenia Maria de Hostos (Williamburg), with I.S. 318 capturing the championship trophy on tiebreaks. What made I.S. 318’s victory even more striking is that this is a middle school team. It’s almost frightening to imagine what havoc they’ll wreak when they hit high school!

More coverage.

This morning Elizabeth V., who is a chess coach to I.S. 318 kids, left a message for me at Facebook:

Im in the airport with 7 girls en route to Chicago. We are all so grateful to you for sponsoring our trip! Thank you!!!

Well, it wasn't my sponsorship - it was Goddesschess!  We're just pleased as punch to have been able to help.  We're rooting for the girls!

4/20-22 - Chicago, IL

Precious Manuscript Fragments Found - After 100 Years!

This is very exciting news!  From the Brisbane Times:

Ancient manuscript found in Brisbane

April 20, 2012 - 5:21PM

The Queensland Museum has been revealed as an unlikely resting place for the missing pieces of a rare manuscript from ancient Egypt. 

Archaeologists had been searching for the missing fragments of the rare Book of the Dead for 100 years when a visiting Egyptologist stumbled across them while in Brisbane to open a mummy exhibition.  Fragments from the rest of the papyrus, more than 3000 years old, lie in the British Museum, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

The religious parchment is believed to have been buried with a top Egyptian official who lived in 1420 BC.  Parts of it were discovered in the late 19th century, but archaeologists have never found it all.

Dr John Taylor from the British Museum identified the fragments while being shown part of the museum's Egyptian collection.  He says a name on one of the pieces caught his eye and his suspicions were confirmed when he viewed the rest of the collection of more than 100 manuscript fragments.  The discovery was very significant, he said.

"This is not the papyrus of just anybody. This is one of the top officials from Egypt at the peak of ancient Egypt's prosperity," he said in Brisbane  "After over 100 years we're in a position to reconstruct this really important manuscript, perhaps in its entirety."

Dr Taylor said he was thrilled to make the once-in-a-lifetime discovery.

"It doesn't happy very often, not in this way. You get a really special feeling," he said.

Queensland Museum chief executive Ian Galloway says the manuscript fragments were donated to the Queensland Museum by a woman 100 years ago.  The museum is now trying to track down her family.

"We are incredibly surprised that we had such a significant object in our collection," Mr Galloway said.

He paid tribute to the museum's past curators for keeping the fragile fragments in such good condition. 

There was no doubt the rare manuscript would boost interest in the Queensland Museum, and potentially the value of its collection, he added.  "Our collections are valued every year and perhaps this year our collections will go up a notch," he said.

The fragments will remain in Brisbane and scholars are expected to attempt to piece together the papyrus on a computer, using photographs.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Hales Corners Chess Challenge XV

I cannot believe how quickly the time has flown by!  This Saturday is the XV Hales Corners Chess Challenge.

SIGN UP AND PLAY!  It's a wonderful group of players and people and the playing venue is comfortable and convenient -- the hotel is a nice one and very close to the airport and to the interstate.  Four games in one day is a LONG day (I know from personal experience, whew!), so if you want to stay over you can get a good rate at the hotel; there is dining on the premises and lots of restaurants nearby even within - gasp - walking distance! 

Goddesschess is sponsoring prizes for the chess femmes:

Open: $40 for a win; $20 for a draw
Reserve:  $20 for a win; $10 for a draw

Ladies, I put that in large print just so you can't miss it, ahem.

The Ulrich sisters are playing!  We therefore expect to make pay-outs to them and other chess femmes and we're thrilled!  I must remember to take my camera and I must remember to ask to take photos of the various chess femmes during the day.  I must also remember to try the "model pose" which is supposed to make me look 20 years younger and 50 pounds lighter.  Well - whatever.

Yes, I'm playing.  Don't ask me why.  In a fit of madness one day I emailed Ellen Wanek and said Ellen, if you come I'll come too and what's more, I'll stay for all 4 games.  That means they'll have to carry me out on a stretcher, as I'll be practically dead from sheer exhaustion.  Ambulance drivers, my address will be pinned to my jacket -- please roll me on to my lawn if you don't feel like carrying me to to the front door.  Someone, please remember to shove a blood pressure down my throat at 8 p.m.  It's the bottle with the blue capsules...

Thus far, there are 75 pre-registered player, including Olympic Youth Chess Championship Gold Medal Winner in his age group Awonder Liang!  Not too often one gets to rub shoulders, so to speak, with an Olympic gold medal winner.  A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!
My adopted chess club is hoping for a great turnout of 150 players this tournament!!!!  Can we do it?

I'm not very good at picking out some of the chess femmes' names.  You would think I would know the names of every single female player in Wisconsin (and Illinois, too), but I don't!  I'll give it a go from the pre-registered list thus far:
26 Ulrich, Rachel J WI 1763
36 Karimikonda, Teja WI 1439

38 Pahl, Sandra R WI 1373

18 Ulrich, Susanna WI 1161
24 Vootkur, Manisha WI 856
25 Wanek, Ellen WI 852
29 Newton, Jan L WI 575 (LOL!)

Shira Evans and I (I'm the short, gorgeous one on the left) survived Hales Corners Chess Challenge - what
the heck was it - X?  It was October 17, 2010, LOL!  And it was my first - my very first ever - chess tournament.
I didn't even know how to write down the moves or use the clock.  Still don't, come to think of it...
Ahhh!  October, 2011 Hales Corners Chess Challenge.
BobbseyTwins Ellen Wanek (the blonde) and I (the brunette) poking fun at each other (literally!),
while the always calm with onlookers, the sedate Pat Foat (in light hoodie -- she had a son also playing) and the even
calmer and more sedate (sedater?) can't recall her name -- shame on me!  She whomped me pretty good.
I blacked out the ugly memory...

2nd Women Masters Tournament

And the final standings are:

Rk.NameFEDRtgPts.TB1 TB2 TB3
1gmZhao, XueCHN25436.50.028.255
2imKhotenashvili, BelaGEO24906.00.024.254
3wgmTan, ZhongyiCHN24385.01.021.003
4wgmJu, WenjunCHN25575.00.021.002
5wgmZhang, XiaowenCHN23544.50.518.502
6wgmHuang, QianCHN23994.50.518.002
7imMuzychuk, MariyaUKR24904.00.516.501
8wgmDing, YixinCHN23504.00.516.002
9wgmGu, XiaobingCHN22573.00.014.751
10wgmShen, YangCHN24402.50.010.750

Congratulations to Zhao Xue and Bela Khotenashvili for their top finishes in clear 1st and 2nd places.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Little Girl and an IPad

My dear chess buddy and friend, Shira Evans Sanford, and husband Crispin Sanford, are conducting their latest computer lab in California, thanks to our contributions to support their ongoing work.  Take a look at this video:

Published on Apr 18, 2012 by cl4k
This was taken on April 16th at a shelter where Computer Labs for Kids is giving an iPad class in San Jose, CA.

Please visit Computer Labs for Kids

Roman Female Gladiator Statue

Beautiful!  Personally, I think it's Pink (see below - way below).
From Live Science

Rare Ancient Statue Depicts Topless Female Gladiator

Date: 17 April 2012 Time: 01:47 PM ET

A small bronze statue dating back nearly 2,000 years may be that of a female gladiator, a victorious one at that, suggests a new study.
If confirmed the statue would represent only the second depiction of a woman gladiator known to exist.
The gladiator statue shows a topless woman, wearing only a loincloth and a bandage around her left knee. Her hair is long, although neat, and in the air she raises what the researcher, Alfonso Manas of the University of Granada, believes is a sica, a short curved sword used by gladiators. The gesture she gives is a "salute to the people, to the crowd," Manas said, an action done by victorious gladiators at the end of a fight.
The female fighter is looking down at the ground, presumably at her fallen opponent.
The "precise real-life" details of the statue suggest the depiction was inspired by an actual person, a real woman who fought, Manas told LiveScience in an interview.
It’s not known where the statue was originally found, though it is currently in the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbein Hamburg, Germany. 
The rarity of such statues likely reflects the idea that female gladiators in ancient Rome were scarce. They were banned by Emperor Septimius Severus in A.D. 200 with only about a dozen references to them in ancient writing surviving to present day. The only other known depiction of them is a carved relieffrom the site of Halicarnassus (now in the British Museum) that shows two female gladiators fighting. There have been claims made in the past of burials of female gladiators being uncovered, but none has attracted widespread support among scholars. 
Identifying the gladiator
Scholars had initially suggested the statue represented a female athlete scraping herself with a strigil (a cleaning implement that can look similar to a sword). However, Manas noted several aspects of the artifact to suggest it instead represented a female gladiator.
One was the woman's stance. It would make little sense for an athlete to raise a cleaning instrument high in the air while looking down at the ground.However, raising a sword into the air was a common victory pose among ancient gladiators.
In addition, female athletes in the Roman world did not go completely topless, as they would wear a bikini or "a tunic that left one breast exposed," Manas pointed out. "In any case, female athletes never performed with bare breasts,” at least not with both exposed. Gladiators, on the other hand, tended to be slaves or people of low social status; depicting them topless would have been considered more acceptable. The bandage the woman is wearing on her knee is also a common feature of gladiators.
Altogether, this evidence "seems to indicate that the statuette at the MKG [the museum] represents a gladiator, thus becoming the second piece of visual evidence we have of female gladiators," Manas writes in a recent issue of the International Journal of the History of Sport.
Anna McCullough, a professor at Ohio State University who has written about female gladiators, but is not affiliated with the research, is cautiously optimistic about this identification. "The gesture is far more similar to gestures of victory than it is to any depictions of athletes actually scraping themselves," McCullough said. "I think it certainly resembles a female gladiator more than (an) athlete, and I'm kind of happy to tentatively say that it is a gladiator in those terms."
One potential problem, she points out, is the fact that the "gladiator" is portrayed without a helmet, greaves (shin protectors) or other form of armor.
"The reason for this woman being topless might simply be that whoever made it wanted to sort of emphasize the fact that this is a female gladiator and not a male gladiator," she said, still "for her to be completely without armor is a little bit odd."
Both Manas and McCullough pointed out that it wasn't uncommon for men to go into the arena topless, although typically equipped with defensive gear such as a helmet, shield, greaves or even a breastplate.

McCullough said that, in real life, female gladiators would likely have worn more than a loincloth and bandage into the arena. Without the protective gear, the fighters would have been killed in large numbers. "If gladiators died every time that there was a fight in the arena, you would have a really hard time keeping up your population of gladiators in your gladiatorial school," she said.
Manas said that in real life, a gladiator like this would have had at least a shield and possibly a helmet. Perhaps she had taken off the helmet for the victory gesture or because the ancient artist wanted to show her hair, he speculated. Or maybe she did in fact go into the arena without a warrior's helmet so that people could see her face. As for her shield, she may have been holding that in her right hand, which is no longer present on the statue.
Erotic Romans?
Manas argues in his paper that, in addition to the athleticism typical of gladiator matches, female gladiator contests would have had an element of eroticism for Roman men.
"No doubt the particular appearance of female gladiators (with their breasts uncovered) would also cause an erotic impact on viewers," he writes. "In a society so militarised as the Roman one, in which weapons were so popular (but exclusive to men), to see a woman in that role, so different to the usual feminine one, wearing the armour of gladiators and showing so much of her anatomy, should also stimulate the imagination and the libido of spectators."
McCullough has a different interpretation. "In the literary texts that we have, female gladiators are not described in any kind of an erotic context or using erotic language at all," she said. The authors of those texts, she said, simply note that"women fought in the arena and they fought very fiercely and we were excited to see them."
If there were any sexual implication of the nude gladiator, it would've been due to her low social status. "In the Roman mind, there would have [been] certain associations with the sexual availability of slaves,” McCulloughsaid. "Slaves were sort of expected to be sexually available to anyone at anytime, especially their masters."
To, "depict a female gladiator, or a slave, nude was really no big deal," she said. "It was an indication of their extremely low status."

2nd Women Masters Tournament

Getting close to the end now, people!  Standings after R8:

Rk.NameFEDRtgPts. TB1 TB2 TB3
1gmZhao, XueCHN25435.51.021.504
2imKhotenashvili, BelaGEO24905.50.019.504
3wgmTan, ZhongyiCHN24384.51.016.503
4wgmJu, WenjunCHN25574.50.015.752
5wgmHuang, QianCHN23994.01.014.252
6wgmZhang, XiaowenCHN23544.00.514.252
7wgmDing, YixinCHN23504.00.514.002
8imMuzychuk, MariyaUKR24903.50.012.501
9wgmGu, XiaobingCHN22572.50.011.751
10wgmShen, YangCHN24402.00.08.500

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Remains of Sican Priestess Discovered

Remains of Priestess of the 13th Century Lambayeque Culture Found in Peru
Published at 5:10 pm EST, April 14, 2012

Is This the Missing Pilling Figurine?

Nothing better than a good mystery!

Has Utah State University found long-lost prehistoric figurine?
USU studying whether anonymous gift is a long-missing artifact.
First Published Apr 13 2012 11:29 am • Last Updated Apr 13 2012 11:12 pm
Last year, Bonnie Pitblado received a striking piece of ceramic art in a small box with a typed note that expressed the anonymous sender’s desire for the artifact to "find its original home." One look and the Utah State University anthropologist knew the fist-sized figurine appeared very much like a treasured Fremont artifact that went missing nearly a half-century ago.
Is this a missing Pilling figurine?  Photo courtesy Holly Andrew, Utah State University A team of scientists led by USU anthropologist Bonnie Pitblado is investigating whether this object, anonymously given to the university last year, is a long-lost Pilling figurine. One of the clay pieces from this priceless collection, held by USU-Eastern's Prehistoric Museum in Price, went missing years ago. Rancher Clarence Pilling discovered a trove of 11 figurines in Range Creek in 1950.

But what if the piece were a clever fake? Pitblado wanted to make certain the piece is the one missing from the famed Pilling Figurines, one of North America’s most prized collections of prehistoric portable art.

For the past six months, she has led an interdisciplinary effort to link the 5-inch piece to the 10 remaining figurines with help from a Salt Lake City crime lab, a world expert on ancient basketry and other scientists. The team of history detectives is close to declaring the case closed, but not until results are available from chemical analyses being conducted at Brigham Young University this week.

"It’s such an iconic assemblage of artifacts. Museums want to know its provenance, where it has been and what has happened to it. Once you’ve broken that chain, there is usually no way to repair it," said Pitblado, the director of the Museum of Anthropology on USU’s Logan campus.

The figurine’s recovery will bring renewed attention to the celebrated figurines, which offer a vivid glimpse of how Fremont Indians dressed and adorned their bodies 1,000 years ago, according to USU-College of Eastern Utah professor Pam Miller, the Prehistoric Museum’s former curator of archaeology.

On a March day in 1950, Clarence Pilling and three other ranchers were looking for stray cattle on the Pilling ranch in eastern Utah’s Range Creek canyon when they saw a cave in a side canyon that sheltered a ruined structure. They entered the 12-foot recess, where Pilling spotted the figurines lying in a row on a natural shelf. The cowboys took the artifacts to Price, and Pilling entrusted them to Harvard’s Peabody Museum, which published a detailed account of them in 1954.

Peabody anthropologist Noel Morss concluded the figurines all were made by the same hand because they had the same stylistic quirks, such as left eye slits that are longer than the right and similar technical precision. Ten were in male-female pairings, appearing as limbless torsos. Figurine No. 2, the one that disappeared, wears what appears to be a leather skirt with fringes at the waist and at the hem, a belt, earrings, a necklace with three layers of beads covering the throat and chest. It has four horizontal red lines across its face.

The Peabody museum covered the figurines with an organic material called Alvar, an adhesive intended to stabilize the delicate artifacts, according to Pitblado. BYU scientists are using a scanning electron microscope to detect this substance on the returned figurine.

BYU geologist Steve Nelson is also using X-ray florescence, which detects geochemical signatures, to determine whether the figurines were produced from the same clay and pigment sources.
The piece was lost in the early 1960s, not long after the Prehistoric Museum opened in Price, according to Don Burge, the museum’s now-retired founding director. It is not clear exactly when, but Burge recalled that the collection toured for display around the state, and it returned with a figurine missing.

One figurine had been broken into two parts, according to Pitblado, which meant the remaining collection still had 11 pieces. Over time, that led to confusion over whether any were missing.

"The questions of whether it was missing was clouded. It was like the abandoned baby. It didn’t have any label of ownership," Burge said.

At the time, the collection was considered the property of the Pilling family, although it later became federal property held by the Prehistoric Museum, an official repository for artifacts recovered on federal land. The figurines are considered among the most precious in the museum’s 600,000-item collection.

And the missing figurine is the best in the bunch.

"It’s the sturdiest and well preserved. The beads were still adhered on. The missing one is the central figure," Pitblado said. One of the first details she noticed on the returned piece were fingerprints still imbedded in the unfired clay.

"They were clear as day. Wouldn’t it be great if the others had fingerprints? Wouldn’t it be a fun to work with a crime lab to see if we could match them?" Pitblado said.

Salt Lake City criminologists examined the pieces, but the artist or artists had obscured their prints while smoothing the clay centuries ago, making it impossible to make a reliable match.

But Pitblado did find a smoking gun: impressions left on the figurines’ backs as they dried on coiled basketry. The connection was made by Jim Adovasio, a Utah-trained archaeologist recruited by Pitblado for his expertise in basketry and other perishable artifacts. He happened to be in Logan last February for a lecture, so he took advantage of the visit to study the figurines by laying them on mounds of corn starch.
The fine powder captured the basketry impressions that were otherwise difficult to see on the clay. He recorded the diameter of the coil, the type and spacing of stitching and the splicing of new material, finding them consistent with the Fremont Indians’ distinctive style of basketry.

"That it was laid down while still wet on a Fremont basket is a certainty," said Adovasio, the provost and sciences dean at Mercyhurst University in Pennsylvania. But more telling was that the mystery figurine bore imprints that indicated it was dried on the same basket as the missing figurine No. 2’s known mate.

"If someone faked this they would have to have found a basket dead identical to the one used on the original and put it on in precisely the same way," Adovasio said.
Pitblado has had no interaction with the person who had possessed the figurine, which was delivered to her through a go-between, and does not know who he or she is. Pitblado believes the person was well-intentioned but wanted to keep a low profile in light of a heavy-handed federal raid two years ago on suspected artifact looters in Blanding.

The figurine came to her in pristine shape, with the red pigment lines across the face and detailed bead work intact. The note gave only vague clues to where the piece has been.

"Sometime between 1978 and 1982 I came into possession of this piece by way of a vagabond acquaintance. He had told of ‘acquiring’ it near Vernal, Utah," the note said. "It has rarely been out of the soft leather covering I put around it and have kept it in the condition in which I received it."

Possible Evidence of Pre-Clovis Habitation at Lamb Spring

Douglas County's Lamb Spring archaeological dig could rewrite human history

Posted: 04/15/2012 01:00:00 AM MDT
April 17, 2012 12:47 AM GMT

Molly the Columbian mammoth lived, grazed, and died, about 13,000 years ago near a spring in what is now a fast-developing chunk of Douglas County. Five thousand years later, early North American humans spent time at the same spring, where they killed and butchered bison.

We don't know if humans visited the spring at the same time as Molly, but if the Lamb Spring site produces evidence that they did — and it tantalizes with hope — the site could rewrite the scientific and cultural history of North America. And perhaps offer the Denver area a new attraction (see sidebar, Page 8E).

Lamb Spring sits in the Chatfield Basin, between South Platte Canyon Road and Chatfield Reservoir. "Stand on that site (Lamb Spring) and look around. You realize you are in the middle of one of the fastest-developing areas in Colorado," said Jim Walker, southwest regional director for The Archaeological Conservancy, an Albuquerque nonprofit that buys archaeologically promising land and safeguards it from development. The conservancy bought the Lamb Spring site in 1995. "The fact that we were able to find that site, buy it and preserve it, at the time we did, was a miracle. I'll bet within 10 years that area is going to be covered in houses."

Walker believes further excavation of Lamb Spring could show human activity between 13,000 and even 25,000 years ago, in which case "there would be a lot of rewriting of the peopling of North America."

"I would place Lamb Spring really high, in terms of its importance," he said. "If I were ranking Lamb Spring among the other 450 preserves we have, it would be in the top 10."

Evidence of Pleistocene megafauna like mammoths makes the Lamb Spring dig compelling in its own right, but mammoth sites pepper the West. Early-human findings, in contrast, are rare. Placing both in the same location sets Lamb Spring — the largest "mixed dig" in the country — apart.
The findings may do more than just embellish what we already know: that humans roamed North America as far back as 11,200 years ago. Some archaeologists believe Lamb Spring could provide solid evidence, instead of just speculation, that people lived in North America much earlier.

Rancher's surprise find

Today, the Lamb Spring dig amounts to little more than a weed-choked and trash-sprinkled depression in the ground, a cavity surrounded by 35 acres of undulating, fenced-in prairie. An informational plaque sits beside the gated dirt path that leads to the site. Once a month for half the year, people can watch a video about the site and then follow a tour guide to the swale to observe the grass.

If it weren't for a rancher's desire for a stock pond 50 years ago, the bones of Molly and 30 other mammoths — the largest find in Colorado, and the third- biggest in North America — would likely remain buried. But in 1960 Charles Lamb decided to use a spring on his land to make a fishing pond, and while digging he struck some big bones. Geologists identified them as mammoths.

In 1981, Smithsonian Institute archaeologist Dennis Stanford excavated the site and found many more mammoth bones, as well as camels, horses, sloths, llamas and wolves.

Stanford also found a 30-pound rock. Marks on the stone suggested it had been used as a butcher block. Geological forces could not have brought the stone to the site. Instead, Stanford theorized, early humans must have done it, and based on its location in the sediment, that could have happened 16,000 years ago. If the theory can be proved, it will mean humans dwelled at Lamb Spring at least that long ago.

For North American archaeologists, the faintest whisper of "paleo-Indian" usually sends hearts racing. Walker said he'll "drop everything" if he hears of a site that could be purchased. Signs of early humans in North America are scarce, largely because the population was small and nomadic. Most evidence amounts to a scrap here, a smidgen there.

But in addition to Lamb Spring's threat to upend the history of the peopling of North America, it also shows clear signs of a 9,000-year-old "Cody complex" bison kill, a site, similar to one found in Cody, Wyo., where humans camped, slaughtered buffalo, cut the meat, and hammered at bone with rocks to withdraw marrow. That alone makes Lamb Spring beguiling to archaeologists. But Lamb Spring, too, holds hints that the site was more than a quick way station for early hunters.

"I think Lamb Spring could yield what would be a jackpot — a campsite or village," said Walker. "That would be incredible."

"A lot of potential"

"The site tells us about the ancient environment, about the environment of the Front Range and the foothills, what they were like in the past, how it has changed, how climate has changed," said James Dixon, a University of New Mexico anthropology professor who has been active in Lamb Spring. "And it has the archaeological story, a later chapter. It has a lot of potential."

That potential seems to spread beyond Lamb Spring, too. Just three-quarters of a mile away, archaeologists from the Denver Museum of Nature and Science are unearthing mammoth bones and signs of early humans at a site they call Scott Spring.

"It's like a mini-Lamb Spring," said Steven Holen, curator of archaeology for the museum. "At Scott Spring we are seeing bones even older (than at Lamb Spring) that appear to have been broken by humans. That's what we are doing there — looking for evidence of humans older than Clovis (11,200 years ago)."

The team began excavating the site in 2010, and dug a test bed where a prairie dog had burrowed down into a mammoth tusk.

"There was ivory lying all around," Holen said. So far, they have identified a mammoth, a camel and a Pleistocene horse.

"These spring sites have great promise," he said. "They used those springs and hunted around those springs for thousands of years."

2nd Women Masters Tournament

Standings after R7:

Rk.NameFEDRtgPts. TB1 TB2 TB3
1gmZhao, XueCHN25435.50.017.754
2imKhotenashvili, BelaGEO24905.00.016.004
3wgmDing, YixinCHN23504.50.012.503
4wgmTan, ZhongyiCHN24384.01.012.503
5wgmJu, WenjunCHN25574.00.011.252
6wgmZhang, XiaowenCHN23543.50.010.502
7imMuzychuk, MariyaUKR24903.00.08.251
8wgmHuang, QianCHN23992.50.06.251
9wgmGu, XiaobingCHN22571.50.05.500
10wgmShen, YangCHN24401.50.05.000
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