Sunday, January 4, 2015

2015 Wijk aan Zee is Coming!

Tata Steel is once again sponsoring a fabulous tournament at Wijk aan Zee.  The event, January 9 - 25, 2015.

The Masters Tournament features some of the best players in the world.  This year, the sole female representative is GM Hou Yifan of China, currently reigning women's world chess champion.  She's going to be facing off against some damn tough competition:

GMCarlsen, MagnusNOR28621Photo
GMCaruana, FabianoITA28202Photo
GMAronian, LevonARM27976Photo
GMGiri, AnishNED27847Photo
GMSo, WesleyUSA276210Photo
GMVachier-Lagrave, MaximeFRA275713Photo
GMWojtaszek, RadoslawPOL274415Photo
GMRadjabov, TeimourAZE273420Photo
GMDing, LirenCHN273222Photo
GMJobava, BaadurGEO272726Photo
GMIvanchuk, VasilUKR271533Photo
GMHou, YifanCHN267370Photo
GMVan Wely, LoekNED266781Photo
GMSaric, IvanCRO266682Photo

Average rating: 2746
Category: 20
FIDE-ratings of January 2015
Two women will also be facing off against much higher-rated competition in the Challengers Competition.  Personally, I'm going to be rooting for American GM Sam Shankland who, a few years back, after a disappointing finish at the U.S. Chess Championship, declared that he was retiring from chess.  He got his groove back, always a good thing.  Here's the line-up for the Challengers:

GMNavara, DavidCZE2729Photo
GMWei, YiCHN2675Photo
GMShankland, SamUSA2652Photo
GMVan Kampen, RobinNED2615Photo
GMl' Ami, ErwinNED2613Photo
GMPotkin, VladimirRUS2608Photo
GMSaleh, SalemUAE2603Photo
GMTimman, JanNED2593Photo
GMMichiels, BartBEL2563Photo
GMGunina, ValentinaRUS2538Photo
GMKlein, DavidNED2517Photo
IMSevian, SamuelUSA2511Photo
WIMHaast, AnneNED2352Photo
IMDale, AriAUS2291Photo

Average rating: 2561
Category: 13
FIDE-ratings of January 2015

Sustained Drought Led to Collapse of Ancient Mayan Civilization

We, the people, need to sit up and take notice of the current climate changes taking place, and somehow push and shove our governments into action!  I mean, really -- what do YOU think it's going to be like in your area of the world weather-wise in 20 years, heh?

December 29, 2014 (from Archaeology Magazine)

HOUSTON, TEXAS—New evidence from Belize’s Great Blue Hole strengthens the case that drought contributed to the collapse of Maya civilization. Earth scientist André Droxler of Rice University and his team drilled cores from the sediments of the Great Blue Hole, located near the center of Lighthouse Reef. “It’s like a big bucket. It’s a sediment trap,” Droxler told Live Science. The team also collected samples from Romboid Reef and analyzed their chemical composition, especially the ratio of titanium to aluminum. When rain is plentiful, titanium from volcanic rocks in the region is swept into streams and carried to the ocean. Low levels of titanium to aluminum suggest a period with less rainfall. Droxler’s team found that between A.D. 800 and 1000, when Maya civilization collapsed, there were only one or two tropical cyclones every two decades, rather than the usual five or six big storms. According to the new results, another major drought struck between 1000 and 1100, about the time of the fall of Chichen Itza. “When you have major droughts, you start to get famines and unrest,” Droxler explained. To read about a similar study, see "Long-Term Drought May Have Led to Fall of Harappan Civilization."

Ancient Underground City Discovered in Turkey

Reported at Hurriyet Daily News online:

New details emerge in massive ancient underground city discovery in Cappadocia

Erdinç ÇelikkanANKARA

New details have been revealed about the massive ancient underground city discovered in Turkey’s Central Anatolian province of Nevşehir. 

The tunnels of the underground city are located under a conical-shaped hill and are wide enough for a car to pass through. 

Özcan Çakır, associate professor at the Geophysics Engineering department of the 18 March University and involved in the excavations of the underground city, said they believe the tunnels were used to carry agricultural products.

“We believe that people, who were engaged in agriculture, were using the tunnels to carry agricultural products to the city. We also estimate that one of the tunnels passes under Nevşehir and reaches a faraway water source,” said Çakır.

Being potentially the year’s biggest archaeological discovery, the area around the underground city in Nevşehir is best known world-wide for its Fairy Chimneys rock formations. 

“There is a fortress on top of a conical-shaped hill; it is alleged to belong to the Seljuks. We made geophysical measurements in an area of four square kilometers and the [underground] city was surrounding the fortress in circular forms,” said Çakır, adding that it seemed as though two-thirds of the fortress was carved by means of the tunnels. 

The underground city was discovered by a Turkey’s Housing Development Administration (TOKİ) urban transformation project. Some 1,500 buildings located in and around the Nevşehir fortress were demolished, and the underground city was discovered when the earthmoving to construct new buildings had begun.

Hasan Ünver, mayor of Nevşehir, said they were going to meet with the TOKİ head and make a plan regarding the underground city. 

“Some malevolent people began saying ‘history will be destroyed.’ The head of TOKİ will come after the New Year and new work will begin. We said, ‘Either you transfer the area to us and we conduct the cleaning and restoration work, or you transfer it to the ministry and they will conduct the work.’ We are at this stage in the process; no transfer to any institution has been made,” said Çakır. 

TOKİ Head Mehmet Ergün Turan had said after the initial discovery of the ancient city that the area would be preserved as an archaeological site.

“It is not a known underground city. There are tunnel passages several kilometers in length. We stopped the construction we had planning to do on these areas after the underground city was discovered,” Turan had said.

The city is thought to date back some 5,000 years and is located around the Nevşehir fortress. Escape galleries and hidden churches were also discovered inside the underground

Another Treasure Trove Story - Doing Happy Dance!

This story comes out of western Russia.  I'm shocked the workers didn't make off with the precious items themselves. Hard times in Russia these days for the 99 percent since their Fearless Leader decided to piss off the civilized Western World by invading Ukraine.  But perhaps the Russian every-day people  fear Big Brother Putin more than they need to put food on their tables by risking selling antiquities on the black market.  Of course, we may never know just how much may have accidentally "disappeared" along the way...  There is only one photo in the article (copied below).

Story at RU Facts:

Under-cabinet director general of the Tver Museum found an ancient treasure

2014-12-30 12:21 PM |

Archaeologists have suggested that it hid in the earth noblewoman, hiding from the invasion of Batu

Archaeologists from Tver historical and archaeological research and restoration center, together with colleagues from the Institute of Archaeology RAS New Year’s Eve discovered during excavations in the building of the Tver Museum directly under the floor of the cabinet director.
Under the floor of the cabinet general director of the museum at a depth of 2 meters, archaeologists found a small hole, where he finds a treasure, closed at the top inverted small ceramic vessels.

- under a bushel was set precious holiday jewelry belonging to a noble Tver townswoman - said  Komsomolskaya, leader of the expedition of the Institute of Archaeology RAS Russia Alexander Khokhlov. - Several tens of objects made of silver filigree and granulation technique. Among them clasps (rings with mock delicate beads), probably decorated headdress, star and beam kolts, Ryasna and chain, which append to hats and going down, skirting the face of the owner. The structure of the necklace of large and medium-sized inflated silver beads, includes three large round pendants, medallions. Decoration hands served a large silver bracelet flap decorated with engraved ornaments in the form of wicker and zoomorphic images made using the technique of filigree and black.
Scientists are not looking for treasure specifically, they are usually carried out rescue excavations in connection with the restoration of the former real school, where today is located Tver State United Museum.
- probably at the time of danger to the entire city, mistress treasure could not find another safe place, - says Alexander Khokhlov. - And then could not return to their treasures. She probably died in the assault of the city has been stolen or in full. It could find a treasure in the 15th century, when the sites studied was carried out large earthworks on vase life and leveling the ground. But medieval diggers do not get to the treasure of some 10-15 centimeters [in depth beneath the surface].
Director of the Institute of Archaeology Nikolai Makarov, in turn, noted that such treasures are traditionally associated with the Mongol invasion of 1237-1238 years.
Although the composition of things makes it impossible to date them within a few years, the whole of their relationship with the Mongol defeat of Russian cities is not in doubt, the horizon of fire and destruction of the middle of the 13th century can be traced in many ancient cities. And this finding expensive jewelry, were part of the female attire boyar in Tver, one of the young cities of the North-Eastern Russia, it is important to characterize its early history, it is evidence of the presence status of the nobility in Tver in the early 13th century, - noted the significance of the finds for archaeologists Nikolai Makarov.

Love Me Another Treasure Trove Story!

Hola darlings!  Happy New Year to all of you, wherever you are.  May the Goddess bring you good health and good fortune in this year 2015.

It's snowing here today.  We had a mild December, for which I am grateful.  Now January is coming roaring in like a lion.  I've shoveled 2x in 2 days and I'm already worn out, LOL!  We're to get at least another 4 inches of snow over the next 24 hours.  Great, just great (NOT).  I won't have time to shovel tomorrow morning before I leave for work so that probably means more shoveling tonight before my favorite t.v. shows come on, and then shoveling more when I get home from the office tomorrow night.  YECH!  I did manage to capture snow actually falling in this photo taken from my patio door this morning:

It's already much deeper out there.  If you take a close look at the top "U-verse" wire running across the back of the yard, you'll see some of the snow is missing.  That thick wire is used by the squirrels as a highway, and as they traveled across and back today, the snow was knocked off.

Now you know I just love me treasure trove stories, and here's a new one for you:

From the Daily Record and Sunday Mail:

Ancient coins worth more than £1MILLION found buried in lead bucket in farmer's field

  • By Jack Evans

A HOARD of ancient coins worth more than £1MILLION has been found buried in a bucket in a farmer's field.  Amateur treasure hunters armed with metal detectors unearthed the rare Anglo Saxon coins near Aylesbury, Bucks., during a Christmas dig.
The stunning find is one of the most significant in Britain in recent years, say experts.  Over 100 people turned out to take part in the festive hunt and they were stunned to find the collection of more than 5000 silver coins, thought to be more than 1000 years old.
The perfectly preserved pieces, which feature the faces of Anglo Saxon kings, were in a lead bucket which was buried two feet underground.  The extremely rare coins could be worth more than £1million and Weekend Wanderers Detecting Club leader Pete Welch said the find was "very significant".
The recovered coins, all wrapped up and ready to be hauled off for inspection and valuation by
the experts.
Pete, 56, said: "They're like mirrors, no scratching, and buried really carefully in a lead container, deep down.  It looks like only two people have handled these coins. The person who made them and the person who buried them.
"Metal detecting is a bit random but most farms have a bit of history so you have a chance of finding something.  I think this was a case of you either move to the right or move to the left and on this case our member moved the right way. I'm just hoping that these coins will end up in a museum for the public to see. I wouldn't want to see them go to a private collector."
The discovery of a total of 5251 coins was made during the annual dig on December 21 on rural farmland the group had visited before. After they were found archaeologist Ros Tyrrell was called to help excavate them.
The coins are in "superb condition" and show the faces of some of the kings of England dating back 1000 years.  They include coins from the reigns of Ethelred the Unready (978-1016 AD) and Canute, or Cnut (1016-1035 AD).  Mr Welch believes the hoard is equal in importance to the Staffordshire Hoard of gold and garnets found by a metal detectorist in 2009.

He added: "We don't know how many variations of the coins there are and when we do we will know how significant the find is.  This would have been a huge amount of money in its day. One coin alone would have been a lot back then.
"Everyone dreams of a pot of gold. The reality is you spend most of your time digging up bits of junk.  This is the first of its kind since I've been running the club, which is 23 years."
A Bucks County Museum spokesman said: "This is one of the largest hoards of Anglo Saxon coins ever found in Britain.  When the coins have been properly identified and dated, we may be able to guess at why such a great treasure was buried."
He added that as the coins are precious metal over 300 years old they fall within the remit of the Treasure Act.
They will now be taken to the British Museum for conservation and identification before a coroner will decide whether they are legally treasure.  A museum will then be able to bid for the coins with the money from the sale being split between the land owner and the individual who made the discovery.
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