Saturday, October 19, 2013

Oops! Etruscan Man Actually A Woman

Oh my, falling off my chair laughing as archaeologist Judith Weingarten (check out her fabulous blog Zenobia: Empress of the East) tugs the whiskers of the hoary old establishment for its original conclusions about the occupants of a certain intact tomb discovered in Tarquinia.  A must read!

Here is Tia Ghose's story on the er, gender error, at Live Science:

Oops! Etruscan Warrior Prince Really a Princess
By Tia Ghose, Staff Writer

Last month, archaeologists announced a stunning find: a completely sealed tomb cut into the rock in Tuscany, Italy.

The untouched tomb held what looked like the body of an Etruscan prince holding a spear, along with the ashes of his wife. Several news outlets reported on the discovery of the 2,600-year-old warrior prince.

But the grave held one more surprise.

A bone analysis has revealed the warrior prince was actually a princess, as Judith Weingarten, an alumna of the British School at Athens noted on her blog, Zenobia: Empress of the East.

Etruscan tomb
Historians know relatively little about the Etruscan culture that flourished in what is now Italy until its absorption into the Roman civilization around 400 B.C. Unlike their better-known counterparts, the ancient Greeks and the Romans, the Etruscans left no historical documents, so their graves provide a unique insight into their culture.

The new tomb, unsealed by archaeologists in Tuscany, was found in the Etruscan necropolis of Tarquinia, a UNESCO World Heritage site where more than 6,000 graves have been cut into the rock.

"The underground chamber dates back to the beginning of the sixth century B.C. Inside, there are two funerary beds carved into the rock," Alessandro Mandolesi, the University of Turin archaeologist who excavated the site, wrote in an email.

When the team removed the sealed slab blocking the tomb, they saw two large platforms. On one platform lay a skeleton bearing a lance. On another lay a partially incinerated skeleton. The team also found several pieces of jewelry and a bronze-plated box, which may have belonged to a woman, according to the researchers.

"On the inner wall, still hanging from a nail, was an aryballos [a type of flask] oil-painted in the Greek-Corinthian style," Mandolesi said.

Initially, the lance suggested the skeleton on the biggest platform was a male warrior, possibly an Etruscan prince. The jewelry likely belonged to the second body, the warrior prince’s wife.

But bone analysis revealed the prince holding the lance was actually a 35- to 40-year-old woman, whereas the second skeleton belonged to a man.

Given that, what do archaeologists make of the spear?

"The spear, most likely, was placed as a symbol of union between the two deceased," Mandolesi told Viterbo News 24 on Sept. 26.

Weingarten doesn't believe the symbol of unity explanation. Instead, she thinks the spear shows the woman's high status.

Their explanation is "highly unlikely," Weingarten told LiveScience. "She was buried with it next to her, not him."

Gendered assumptions
The mix-up highlights just how easily both modern and old biases can color the interpretation of ancient graves.

In this instance, the lifestyles of the ancient Greeks and Romans may have skewed the view of the tomb. Whereas Greek women were cloistered away, Etruscan women, according to Greek historian Theopompus, were more carefree, working out, lounging nude, drinking freely, consorting with many men and raising children who did not know their fathers' identities. [Read what the old misogynist wrote about the Etruscans but be warned, it's rather graphic.]

Instead of using objects found in a grave to interpret the sites, archaeologists should first rely on bone analysis or other sophisticated techniques before rushing to conclusions, Weingarten said.

"Until very recently, and sadly still in some countries, sex determination is based on grave goods. And that, in turn, is based almost entirely on our preconceptions. A clear illustration is jewelry: We associate jewelry with women, but that is nonsense in much of the ancient world," Weingarten said. "Guys liked bling, too."

Above:  From the Lourve Museum collection. 

The "Sarcophagus of the Spouses"
c. 520-510 BC
Banditaccia necropolis, Cerveteri (Caere), central Italy
Cerveteri (Caere), southern Etruria
  • Polychrome terracotta, clay, slip, paint; modeling and molding
    H. 1.11 m; L. 0.69 m; W. 1.94 m
  • Former Campana Collection, 1845; purchased by Napoleon III, 1861;Louvre, 1863

    Cp 5194
  • Funerary banquet and ritual

    This urn takes the form of a bed, upon which the deceased are resting in the position of banqueters. This theme was not an Etruscan invention, but originated in Asia Minor: the Etruscans, like the Greeks before them, had adopted the eastern custom of feasting in a reclining position, and the conventional method of representing it. Unlike in the Greek world, where banquets were reserved for men, the Etruscan woman, who held an important place in society, is represented by her husband's side, in the same proportions and in a similar pose. The couple are reclining on cushions in the form of wineskins, a reference to the sharing of wine, a ceremony that was part of funerary ritual. Tenderly clasped by her husband, the deceased woman is pouring a few drops of perfume into his hand, probably from an alabastron, as can be seen on a small urn displayed nearby (cinerary urn with the spouses on the lid, Louvre, CP 5193); in so doing, she is making the gesture of offering perfume, another essential component of funerary ritual. In her left hand she is holding a small, round object, possibly a pomegranate, a symbol of immortality.
  • Thursday, October 17, 2013

    All Right Then, We'll Call It A Draw...

    From Monty Python and the Holy Grail, King Arthur's battle against the Black Knight, courtesy of video at You Tube:

    I am not comparing my opponent in R3 of the Hales Corners Chess Challenge this past Saturday to the Black Knight, but that game (and in the skittles room afterward) did have it's Monty Pythonesque moments.  Here it is, in all of its not-so-raging glory:

    Notice moves 7 and 8 -- those are where I recorded phantom moves on my part!  As best a very patient Paul Kaye (after the game) and I could figure out, the move Qd2 did not happen.  Mr. Kaye said to me, nobody would move the Q out that early.  I said, well, I would.  Ha, take that, Mr. Black Knight!   But --

    We both had d5 on our scoresheets; he had it as my move, I had it as his, LOL!  The first move on line 8 -- e5 -- also did not exist on Mr. Kaye's scoresheet -- but we did agree that the following move was N from f6 to d7 (that's my kinky notation).  This is the sequence of 7th moves that we agreed on:  d5 by me and Nd7 for him. Ignore line 8 on my scoresheet (above).

    We agreed on all the rest of the moves.  I offered a draw on move 30 and he accepted.  Who knows, I may have given up a mate in 1 and not even realized it, har! 

    For a truly Monty Pythonesque sequence of events, I direct your kind attention to move 24.  See my crossed out move - d6?  Mind you, I had the white pieces in this game, but what I did was move a black pawn on d6 BACKWARD FROM ITS POSITION TO d5.  It was actually quite a brilliant move, because it forked two pieces and I believe I had some attacking pieces lurking in the wings, just waiting.  The only thing is, IT WAS NOT MY PIECE TO MOVE.


    I suppose we should have called for a TD at that point when I'd realized what I had done.  I didn't even think of that, actually.  I'm so used to playing chess in a casual setting, mostly with Mr. Don when he was alive and we often did that sort of crazy thing in the heat of our games when we were trying to beat each other's brains out on the chessboard (sometimes I think he did it deliberately just to provoke me, but I sure didn't do it to provoke Mr. Kaye!)  I looked up at Mr. Kaye and whispered something like, oh no, I moved your piece by mistake!  So sorry, and I motioned with my finger what I had just done.  Mea culpa

    He just looked relieved (I can't blame him) -- was he looking in absolute horror at the board at that point?  Maybe.  OH MY!  I felt terrible!  Did he realize that I'd done a totally illegal move?  Maybe not, because he didn't stop the clock.  Or maybe he was in shock.  Or maybe he was being a gentleman.  Or maybe he was terrified I was going to pull a big knife out of my purse if he'd said anything.  By the way, ladies, did you all notice how nice looking he is?  Oooh la la.  If I were 40 35 30 years younger, I'd have -- well, never mind.  He probably has a wife and 5 kids at home. 

    I motioned for him to hit his clock to stop his time running, and he did.  It was only a few seconds, but still.  I felt horrible!  I looked over the board, this time trying to make sure I was focusing on the CORRECT COLOR PIECES and made a move (Be2).  I hit my clock (again), and the game resumed.

    OH MY! 

    The rest, as they say, is HERstory. 

    Now, darlings, I'm wondering if it would have made any difference in the game if the moves that I wrote down had actually happened?  What if Mr. Kaye missed those moves because he was in catatonic shock or something?  Or, what if  neither of us had noticed that I had actually moved one of Mr. Kaye's pieces?  Would I have continued playing with the black pieces, totally obliterating my own (white) pieces at that point? What if at some point a few moves later Mr. Kaye realized that somehow I had managed to turn the tables on him by assuming play with his (black) pieces -- what would he have done?  Pulled out a big knife on me???

    Um, wait a minute -- would I have actually checkmated the black king with black pieces???

    Does this kind of thing happen to anyone else??? 

    Wednesday, October 16, 2013

    Indonesian Open 2013

    Hola darlings!

    Several chess femmes are playing in this event with a field of 108 players.  Here are the top female players at current (information from The Week in Chess):

    837Paehtz ElisabethGER24405.
    1130Hoang Thanh TrangHUN24954.
    2229Stefanova AntoanetaBUL24964.
    3871Medina Warda AuliaINA23194.
    4063Saduakassova DinaraKAZ23354.

    Very nice prizes are at stake in the Open:

    1st: 20.000 USD
    2nd: 10.000 USD
    3rd: 7.500 USD
    4th: 6.000 USD
    5th: 4.000 USD
    6th: 3.000 USD
    7th - 8th @ 2.000 USD: 4.000 USD
    9th - 10th @ 1.500 USD : 3.000 USD
    11th – 20th @ 1000 USD : 10.000 USD
    21th – 30th @ 750 USD : 7.500 USD
    31th – 40th @ 500 USD : 5.000 USD
    Best Women
    1st : 4.000 USD 2nd : 3.000 USD 3rd : 1.500 USD 4th : 1.000 USD 5th : 500 USD
    Best Junior U-20 (Date of Birth 1 January 1993 and after)
    1st : 2.000 USD 2nd : 1.500 USD 3rd : 1 200 USD 4th : 800 USD 5th : 500 USD
    Best Local
    1st : 1.500 USD 2nd : 1.000 USD 3rd : 700 USD 4th : 500 USD 5th : 300 USD

    Note: The Prizes in case of the same points of two or more players will be shared based on tie-break according to the Hort System.

    Will be reporting back at the conclusion of the event. 

    Several Indonesian player are participating in the simultaneous INA National Championships and several are in the hunt for norms, including:

    Irine Kharisma Sukandar,WGM (INA) 4,5 points – IM Norm Needs 1 Point again at Round 9
    Dewi Aa Citra,WFM (INA) 3 points – Gets WIM For 9 Round Needs 0,5 Point again at Round 9

    63rd Russian Women Super Final Chess Championship

    While I've been engrossed in preparations and then playing in the Hales Corners Chess Challenge XVIII and following news every few minutes wondering if my country was going to ACTUALLY jump off an economic cliff by gutting the Full Faith and Credit of the United States Government, a lot of chess was being played in Russia.  One of my favorite chess femmes, GM Alexandra Kosteniuk, 12th Women's World Chess Champion, came in second in this Russian Championship -- and I hope she's not too disappointed.  She and Gunina outclassed the rest of the field against some pretty tough contenders.  Congratulations to GM Valentina Gunina and GM Alexandra Kosteniuk for their fine performances.  The information below is from The Week in Chess

    63rd ch-RUS w Nizhny Novgorod RUS (RUS), 5-14 x 2013cat. VIII (2448)
    1.Gunina, ValentinagRUS2506*½1½11½11½72661
    2.Kosteniuk, AlexandragRUS2495½*1½½011112608
    3.Pogonina, NatalijawgRUS248500*½½111½12523
    4.Kovalevskaya, EkaterinamRUS2410½½½*½½½0½12452
    5.Goryachkina, AleksandrawgRUS24360½½½*½½½1½2449
    6.Kovanova, BairawgRUS2396010½½*0½112453
    7.Kosintseva, TatianagRUS2515½00½½1*0½½2360
    8.Bodnaruk, AnastasiamRUS24590001½½1*0½2366
    9.Kashlinskaya, AlinawgRUS243500½½00½1*½32324
    10.Charochkina, DariawgRUS2343½000½0½½½*2293
    Round 1 (October 5, 2013)
    Gunina, Valentina - Goryachkina, Aleksandra1-0 55A07Barcza System
    Pogonina, Natalija - Kovalevskaya, Ekaterina½-½ 53D30Queen's Gambit (without Nc3)
    Kovanova, Baira - Kosteniuk, Alexandra1-0 53B66Sicilian Rauzer
    Bodnaruk, Anastasia - Kashlinskaya, Alina0-1 45C42Petroff's Defence
    Charochkina, Daria - Kosintseva, Tatiana½-½ 47A22English Opening
    Round 2 (October 6, 2013)
    Kosteniuk, Alexandra - Pogonina, Natalija1-0 42C54Giuoco Piano
    Goryachkina, Aleksandra - Kovanova, Baira½-½ 42E06Catalan
    Kosintseva, Tatiana - Kovalevskaya, Ekaterina½-½ 68B30Sicilian Rossolimo
    Kashlinskaya, Alina - Gunina, Valentina0-1 52D19Slav Defence
    Charochkina, Daria - Bodnaruk, Anastasia½-½ 42E32Nimzo Indian 4.Qc2
    Round 3 (October 7, 2013)
    Gunina, Valentina - Charochkina, Daria½-½ 63A07Barcza System
    Pogonina, Natalija - Goryachkina, Aleksandra½-½ 55D11Slav Defence
    Kovalevskaya, Ekaterina - Kosteniuk, Alexandra½-½ 29B51Sicilian Rossolimo
    Kovanova, Baira - Kashlinskaya, Alina1-0 36C88Ruy Lopez Closed
    Bodnaruk, Anastasia - Kosintseva, Tatiana1-0 54C91Ruy Lopez
    Round 4 (October 8, 2013)
    Goryachkina, Aleksandra - Kovalevskaya, Ekaterina½-½ 46D34Tarrasch Defence, Main Line
    Kosintseva, Tatiana - Kosteniuk, Alexandra0-1 65B12Caro Kann Advanced
    Bodnaruk, Anastasia - Gunina, Valentina0-1 40B12Caro Kann Advanced
    Kashlinskaya, Alina - Pogonina, Natalija½-½ 58C45Scotch Game
    Charochkina, Daria - Kovanova, Baira0-1 42C58Two Knights Defence
    Round 5 (October 9, 2013)
    Gunina, Valentina - Kosintseva, Tatiana½-½111E32Nimzo Indian 4.Qc2
    Kosteniuk, Alexandra - Goryachkina, Aleksandra½-½ 42B30Sicilian Rossolimo
    Pogonina, Natalija - Charochkina, Daria1-0 28D85Gruenfeld Defence
    Kovalevskaya, Ekaterina - Kashlinskaya, Alina½-½ 56C46Four Knights
    Kovanova, Baira - Bodnaruk, Anastasia½-½ 49A15English counter King's Fianchetto
    Round 6 (October 11, 2013)
    Gunina, Valentina - Kovanova, Baira1-0 39E32Nimzo Indian 4.Qc2
    Kosintseva, Tatiana - Goryachkina, Aleksandra½-½ 53B30Sicilian Rossolimo
    Bodnaruk, Anastasia - Pogonina, Natalija0-1 51C65Ruy Lopez Berlin
    Kashlinskaya, Alina - Kosteniuk, Alexandra0-1 39D37QGD 5.Bf4
    Charochkina, Daria - Kovalevskaya, Ekaterina0-1 50B64Sicilian Rauzer
    Round 7 (October 12, 2013)
    Kosteniuk, Alexandra - Charochkina, Daria1-0 29B19Caro Kann
    Pogonina, Natalija - Gunina, Valentina0-1 53B12Caro Kann Advanced
    Kovalevskaya, Ekaterina - Bodnaruk, Anastasia0-1 37B40Sicilian Classical
    Goryachkina, Aleksandra - Kashlinskaya, Alina1-0 33D40Semi-Tarrasch Defence
    Kovanova, Baira - Kosintseva, Tatiana0-1 34B33Sicilian Sveshnikov
    Round 8 (October 13, 2013)
    Gunina, Valentina - Kovalevskaya, Ekaterina½-½ 94D32Tarrasch Defence
    Kovanova, Baira - Pogonina, Natalija0-1 57D37QGD 5.Bf4
    Kosintseva, Tatiana - Kashlinskaya, Alina½-½101C67Ruy Lopez Berlin
    Bodnaruk, Anastasia - Kosteniuk, Alexandra0-1 84C78Ruy Lopez Moeller Defence
    Charochkina, Daria - Goryachkina, Aleksandra½-½ 61B23Sicilian Closed
    Round 9 (October 14, 2013)
    Kosteniuk, Alexandra - Gunina, Valentina½-½ 60B12Caro Kann Advanced
    Pogonina, Natalija - Kosintseva, Tatiana1-0 48E04Catalan
    Kovalevskaya, Ekaterina - Kovanova, Baira½-½ 56C46Four Knights
    Goryachkina, Aleksandra - Bodnaruk, Anastasia½-½ 41E10Blumenfeld Counter Gambit
    Kashlinskaya, Alina - Charochkina, Daria½-½ 61B12Caro Kann Advanced

    White Queen Wins: All I Wanna Be Is DONE (Band Perry)...

    Totally awesome -- I see this in my chessly fantazies as rather a replay of my experiences on the chessboard at this past Saturday's Hales Corners Chess Challenge XVIII, heh heh! The battle scenes on the chessboard are - well, judge for yourselves :)  However, I have to tell you that I was not handed a crown at the end of it all. Dang! 

    How fitting that about ten days ago I used this song in an entirely different context, as a commentary upon what appeared to be a stalemate position at the time, in a purely political context.  Evidently the Democrats are much more accomplished chessplayers than anyone gave them credit for. 

    I REALLY like this song...

    Monday, October 14, 2013

    Hales Corners Chess Challenge XVIII - October 12, 2013

    Hola, darlings!

    Challenge XVIII had 66 players, of which 12 were chess femmes (myself included).  That comes out to about an 18% ratio of female participation.  Excellent!  More than double the world average of female to male players. 

    Goddesschess made a record pay-out for prizes this Challenge!  Here are the prize-winners:

    Open Section:
    (3.0) Rachel Ulrich - $120 plus paid entry to Challenge XIX
    (2.0) Alena Huang - $100
    (2.0) Anupama Rajendra - $100
    (1.5) Anne Ulrich - $60
    Reserve section:
    (3.0) Susanna Ulrich - $60 plus paid entry to  Challenge XIX
    (3.0) Ritika Pandey - $60
    (3.0) Sabrina Huang - $60
    (2.0) Divya Pandey - $40
    (2.0) Sandra Pahl - $40
    (1.0) Ellen Wanek - $20
    (1.0) Neha Mhaskar - $20
    Free Entries: $70 (Top female player from each Section in Challenge XVII)
    Best Game Prize: $50 (Open to all players)
    Total paid out is $800 (this does not include the $150 in special prizes that went to the top male finisher in each Section in honor of my Don McLean and National Chess Day)
    Eleven out of twelve registered chess femmes won a prize, whoop whoop! I would have won $10 for my draw in R3 Reserve and then we all would have won prize money, but it seemed silly to take money out of my left pocket and put it back in my right, LOL! 

    Here's a photo of Ellen Wanek and I in the lobby of the hotel that hosted our playing venue after she presented me with a gift tote bag that says "The Dance of the Goddesses."  Every chessplayer knows that at the best, most transcendental moments of one's game, the pieces become ibau (ancient Egyptian for "dancers," also a pun on their word for ivory, ebou, from which their earliest boardgame pieces were carved), dancing across the board!  I was so touched by her thoughtful choice, and surprised by the gift!  Those Halloween decorations are so cute.

    Hmmm, I think I need to get new smaller jeans and a smaller jacket (one size down, I think), YAYYYY! 

    I have no idea what happened to the pics that were taken of Ellen, Janet Ulrich and me -- they weren't on my camera.  There were at least two photos taken because the first one may not have worked.  I thought they'd been taken with my camera, but nope, guess not.  Or else the camera was not operating properly at the time.  It's an "antique" - a 5.1 megapiel Coolpic 5600 purchased in - 2005?  Geez Louise!  I heard a commercial on t.v. earlier this evening that was touting a camera with 41 megapixels - how quickly what is top of the line technology a few years ago is outmoded!

    Hales Corners Chess Club posted several photos of the action at Challenge XVIII.  Here is one from R2, showing me in my match with Devish Anand:

    My chess buddy, Ellen Wanek, who teaches chess in schools to children in Sheboygan and also established Chess in the Park in Sheboygan, is next to me on the right.

    This is one of the games I'm rather proud of, even though I resigned in the end.  It was my longest game (went 33 full moves) and afterward in the skittles room Devish told me that I had missed a mate in two.  SAY WHAT? Well, obviously I didn't see it, wasn't even aware of it, and he followed up almost immediately by saying "but I blocked it."  LOL!  If anyone reads this and hopefully I've got my notation correct, did I have a mate in 2?  First chance I'll have to pull out a board and play through this game is Thursday night. 


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