Friday, April 11, 2014

Hales Corners Chess Challenge XIX - April 12, 2014!

Hola darlings!

I won't be there in person tomorrow, but I will be there in spirit, and in Goddesschess Prize Money, woo woo!  The latest email I received, there are 89 pre-registered players, 11 of which are you, my dear chess femmes. 

Can we break a record?  Let's go for it, ladies.  Top $800 in Goddesschess prize money winnings (paid out in Challenge XVIII) and we set a new record.  I know you can do it...

You know, sitting here tonight, surrounded by incipient chaos of house sale and trying to find a new place for myself to live, I can't help but think of all those countless dreams I've had over the years, but none more than now, recently (does it mean something?), that I somehow, miraculously, was born again as a chess prodigy who became the first female World Chess Champion and also the Queen of England more or less at the same time. Well, what can I say? The Prince of Wales ("Wills", that is) IS a hunk of a man.  I would definitely take that job on...

Of course, as dreams do, "I" jump from time to time, era to era, but chess is always there, and so is that Prince.  Hmmmm.... Maybe in my next life.  So, if you someday see a very imperial Queenish-figure holding a Staunton style Queen between her thumb and forefinger in an official portrait, with a half-cocked smile and dimples showing, that will be me, darlings.  Swear it!

But, for now, I have to be content with "Dream On" by Aerosmith. I think these lyrics are the best chess-related I've ever heard, whether Steven Tyler has ever played chess or not.  Just read them, and think about it:

"Dream On"
Every time that I look in the mirror
All these lines on my face getting clearer [Will we make NM before 21, or 71...]
The past is gone [We supposedly forget about our prior losses --- but we NEVAH do...]
It went by like dusk to dawn [Hell, yeah]
Isn't that the way
Everybody's got their dues in life to pay [Yes, all chessplayers pay their dues...]

Yeah, I know nobody knows
Where it comes and where it goes
I know it's everybody's sin
You got to lose to know how to win  [So true. Until you lose, how do you know how to win?]

Half my life's in books' written pages [Chess master books...]
Live and learn from fools and from sages [Yeah.  Some of them are crap, some of them are gems.]
You know it's true
All the things you do, come back to you [Oh yeah.  It's called ELO, baby!]

Sing with me, sing for the year
Sing for the laughter and sing for the tear
Sing with me, if it's just for today
Maybe tomorrow the good Lord will take you away

Sing with me, sing it for the year
Sing for the laughter and sing for the tear
Sing with me, if it's just for today
Maybe tomorrow the good Lord will take you away

Dream on, dream on, dream on, [I will always dream of myself as World Chess Champion...
Dream until your dream come true [and Queen of England, too...]
Dream on, dream on, dream on,
And dream until your dream come true
Dream on [7x]

Sing with me, sing it for the year
Sing for the laughter and sing it for the tear
Sing with me, if it's just for today
Maybe tomorrow the good Lord will take you away

Sing with me, sing it for the year
Sing for the laughter and sing it for the tear
Sing with me, if it's just for today
Maybe tomorrow the good Lord will take you away

Want to see a video of Aerosmith in their prime singing "Dream On":


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Hales Corners Chess Challenge XIX!

Update:  As of last night, there are 79 pre-registered players, of which 11 are chess femmes:  3 in the Open and 8 in the Reserve. Woo woo! 

And as of earlier today, there are now 82 pre-registered players, 38 in the Open, and 44 in the Reserve!  Chess femmes in the Open are:  Rachel Ulrich (2070); Anne Ulrich (1668); and Alena Huang (1620).  In the Reserve:  Teja Karimikonda (1487); Susanna Ulrich (1461); Sabrina Huang (1435); Rachel Gomoll (1196); Ellen Wanek (1004) (she is my chess buddy and my chess nemesis at chess.com); Alyssa Przedwiecki (608); Anoushka Prasad (no rating).  I know I'm missing, I'm just too tired to go through the list again, sorry!

I do have gift bags, I just haven't had the time lately to put them together (and I don't have the actual bags, ahem.  I forgot, once again, to pick them up today.) I have forgotten (gasp!) to get them together in the midst of getting the sale of this house ready and trying to find a new place of my own to buy, and inspections, and all other kinds of stuff that is just boring but frustrating and exhausting. I'm pretty close to just calling a halt to the entire process and calling the deal OFF! THAT is how bad it has gotten the past few weeks. My health (not always so good) is suffering, as is my peace of mind (most important of all). Arrrrgggghhhh!

So, alas, I won't be attending Challenge XIX, but I will be there in spirit. And I've GOT to get those gift bags for the chess femmes who win out in each section ready! I'll be following the action, and reporting as I can.

Biblical Archaeology: Update on the "Jesus' Wife" Papyrus

Hola darlings!

I've been up to my ears dealing with an unexpected offer to buy my house, looking for a new house, contracts, work being done, blah blah blah, driving me absolutely insane and sucking all of my time and energy.  Selling a house and buying a different house - VAMPIRES!

I checked and yes, I did have a prior post on this interesting subject:

September 19, 2012:  Did Jesus Have a Wife?

Interestingly, in that article, Jesus' alleged wife was referred to by a name - Mary.  The article identified her as Mary Magdalene.  Please keep that in mind as you read this current news, as this identification is not mentioned in the current article.  Could I see a complete, full translation of this papyrus, please???

Article from CNN.com:

April 10th, 2014
10:04 AM ET

Study: 'Jesus' wife' fragment not a fake

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
 
CNN) - A team of scientists has concluded that a controversial scrap of papyrus that purportedly quotes Jesus referring to "my wife," is not a fake, according to theHarvard Theological Review.

"A wide range of scientific testing indicates that a papyrus fragment containing the words, 'Jesus said to them, my wife' is an ancient document, dating between the sixth to ninth centuries CE," Harvard Divinity School said in a statement.

The contents of the papyrus scrap may date even earlier - to the second through fourth centuries, Harvard added.

Scientists tested the papyrus and the carbon ink, and analyzed the handwriting and grammar, according to Harvard.

"None of the testing has produced any evidence that the fragment is a modern fabrication or forgery," the divinity school added.

Unveiled by Karen King, a Harvard Divinity School historian, in 2012, the scrap sparked a heated debate over Christian history, archaeological accuracy and modern media coverage of contested ancient history.

The fragment, which is about the size of a business card, contains just 33 words: “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife …. She will also be my disciple."

The scrap does not prove that Jesus actually had a wife, said King - just that ancient Christians wrote about the possibility.

Other Christians have suggested that Jesus may have been speaking metaphorically in the sentence fragments quoted in the papyrus. Some New Testament writers refer to the church as "the bride of Christ."

King and other scholars said they are equally intrigued by Jesus' mention of a female disciple.
"The main topic of the fragment is to affirm that women who are mothers and wives can be disciples of Jesus — a topic that was hotly debated in early Christianity as celibate virginity increasingly became highly valued," King said in a statement.

5 questions and answers about Jesus' 'wife'

The Harvard Theological Review also published a rebuttal by Leo Depuydt professor of Egyptology at Brown University.

“As a forgery, it is bad to the point of being farcical or fobbish," Depuydt told the Boston Globe. "I don’t buy the argument that this is sophisticated. I think it could be done in an afternoon by an undergraduate student.”

The Vatican's newspaper has also called the papyrus fragment a fake.

“Substantial reasons would lead us to conclude that the papyrus is actually a clumsy counterfeit,” the Vatican’s newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, said in an editorial in 2012.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Hales Corners Chess Challenge XIX!!!!!

Hola darlings!

Goddesschess is funding prizes for the chess femmes who participate in the Hales Corners Chess Challenge XIX on April 12, 2014, woo woo!  The same as we've done for several previous challenges: in the Open, $40 for a win, $20 for a draw; in the Reserve, $20 for a win, $10 for a draw.  Entry fees to Challenge XX will also be paid for the top finishing female player in the Open and Reserve Sections, if she chooses to register.

Goddesschess is also once again providing special gift bags to the top female finisher in each of the Open and Reserve Sections.  I have so much fun shopping for chessly items.  Be it noted that my definition of "chessly items" has somewhat expanded over the past several Challenges, as such unique items are rather difficult to find...

Challenge XIX is being held at the gorgeous Olympia Resort, a totally new venue:

Olympia Resort Hotel, 1350 Royale Mile Rd., Oconomowoc, WI 53066; 1-800-558-9573 (mention Southwest Chess Club for $99 room rate).

Life Master Sheldon Gelbart will also be providing post-game analysis to anyone who inquires.  I've quite got over my fear of him, LOL!  His insight is incredible, and his enthusiasm for our wonderful game - I would put him up against anyone!  I have kibbutzed during many analyses he has provided to players at all levels during various Challenges, and have always walked away feeling so enlightened based on what he said.  If only I could remember it all...alas.

FORMAT: Four Round Swiss System - Four Games in One Day - USCF Rated

TIME CONTROL: Game in 60 Minutes; 6 second delay

ENTRY FEE: $40 - Open; $30 - Reserve
(both sections $5 more after April 9, 2014)

Comp Entry Fee for USCF 2200+: Entry fee subtracted from any prizes won

SITE REGISTRATION: 8:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.

ROUNDS: 10 am -- 1 pm -- 3:30 pm -- 6 pm

Pairings by WinTD---No Computer Entries---No Smoking    


You can print out a registration form and mail it in with your check, or register in person on April 12, 2014 between 8:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m.  See also Southwest Chess Club's blog information on Challenge XIX

I will be following reports of the action closely at the Southwest Chess Club's blog, where results and photos will be posted.  In Challenge XVIII, Goddesschess paid out a record amount of prize money to the Chess Femmes.  Can we do it again???

What Would You Do -- Return Treasures to Crimean Museums Loaned Out Before Russian Take-Over?

I know what I would do.  What would you do?

April 4, 2014

Dutch doubt where to return Crimean gold

Should Dutch museum holding Crimean gold and treasures give them back to Ukraine or Russia?

Associated Press
 
A spiraling torque from the second century A.D., is displayed as part of the exhibit called
The Crimea - Gold and Secrets of the Black Sea

AMSTERDAM (AP) -- A Dutch historical museum got more than the bronze swords, golden helmets and precious gems it bargained for when it organized an exhibition on ancient treasures from Ukraine: it also inherited a diplomatic mess.

Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula a month after the Allard Pierson museum opened the "Crimea — Gold and secrets of the Black Sea" exhibition in February. Curators say now they are not sure where to return the objects on display when it ends in August.

Officials from both Ukraine and Russia insist the Crimean treasures must be returned to them.
"We're investigating who the legal owner is," said museum spokeswoman Amber van Schagen-Fayein Friday.

The museum has enlisted experts from the University of Amsterdam and the Dutch Foreign Ministry for advice on what to do now.

Among the most stunning objects in the exhibition are a solid gold Scythian helmet from the 4th century B.C. and a golden neck ornament from the second century A.D. that weigh more than a kilogram (two pounds) each.

Ukraine's Foreign Ministry asked the Dutch ambassador in Kiev last week to guarantee the safe return of the collection to Ukraine.

The country's culture minister Evhen Nishchuk said it was his office that approved the exhibition in the first place — in one of the largest releases of the country's historical collections abroad ever authorized — and it must return via the same route.

"This is about the national security of the cultural heritage of the Ukrainian state," Nishchuk said in a statement.

But four of the five museums that contributed artifacts are located in Crimea.

Somewhat poignantly, a major theme of the exhibition is the region's history of frequent conquests and as a crossroads for different peoples and cultures: modern Sevastapol was once the site of a Greek colony that traded grain for pottery from the Athenian Empire.

In the grave of a noblewoman who lived on Crimea's west coast in the first century A.D., archaeologists recovered an Egyptian scarab, Roman pots from Italy and France, and a Han dynasty lacquer box thought to have come from China via the Silk Road.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's culture envoy Mikhail Shvydkoi said the treasures must be returned to Crimea — but he acknowledged the situation is awkward.

"Since Crimea became part of another country, we have got a legal issue here but we're going to find a solution for it," Shvydkoi said.

The exhibition was put together by one of the most prominent archaeologists of the region, Valentina Mordvintseva. In the exhibition documents, she is listed as based at the Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences in Simferopol, Crimea.
_____
Associated Press reporter Nataliya Vasilyeva contributed to this story from Moscow.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

2014 Grand Pacific Open

Hola everyone!  This year's Grand Pacific Open takes place April 18 - 21, 2014 in beautiful Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

As you know, Goddesschess is funding prizes for the chess femmes again this year and providing a little extra to help defer some costs. 

Website.

It's just a few weeks away now, woo woo!  Someday perhaps I will be able to travel to British Columbia, I really would like to see that part of the world. 

So far there are 89 pre-registered players in the Premier and U1800 Sections, plus another 15 players in the YCC.  The highest rated female players are WGM Katerine Rohonyan, who lives in Seattle, Washington (USA) FIDE 2299, CFC 2351 and Alice Xiao, FIDE 1874, CFC 2007, living in Vancouver.  I did not see WFM Chouchanik Airapetian's name on the list, so she must have withdrawn.  Darn.  No re-match of the two top female players from last year's event after all.

But this also opens up the possibility for other chess femmes to win Goddesschess prizes!

Stay tuned.  As we are still quite a way out from final registration I won't have a full list of female competitors for awhile yet. Last year, Rohonyan finished in 4th place in the Open with 4.5/6, just out of tournament prize money (but she won top Goddesschess prize). 

There is a Facebook page. 

Rah rah rah, chess femmes!  I'm looking forward to following the action :)

Field of Menhirs at Mizos

Wow - I don't know why I didn't ever read before about menhirs in India!  I had no idea there were any there.  I've always thought of menhirs as Celtic -- in France, England, Wales and Scotland.  Guess now they're Indo-European...

Article at The Indian Express

Field of menhirs promises to shed new light on history of Mizos

Written by Adam Halliday | Aizawl | March 26, 2014 10:30 pm
 
Mizoram has made an entry into India’s archaeological map. In a first, the Ministry of Culture has declared a 9,000 sq m area dotted with several caves, and more than a hundred menhirs embossed with figures of humans, animals and weapons as an ancient site of national importance.
 

 
 
Some 170 menhirs, each at least as tall as a man, stand at the site at Champhai district’s Vangchhia village, which lies on the bank of the Tiau river that separates India and Myanmar.
 
Villagers call the site “Kawtchhuah Ropui” (The Great Gateway) and have protected these monuments for years in spite of not being sure what they represent or how they came to be there.
The Mizoram chapter of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) along with the state’s Art & Culture Separtment has been studying the menhirs, seeking help from the Archaelogical Survey of India (ASI) in interpreting the embossing.
 
There has been no significant breakthrough yet, either in reading the carvings or in understanding why the menhirs are there.
 
The ministry’s notification declares the menhirs, as well as the ground on which they stand, the surrounding caves and forest as protected.
 
INTACH is hopeful that studies on the menhirs and the figures on them will shed more light on the history of the Mizos, much of which was never documented. The community followed an unwritten, oral tradition until a script was developed a little over a century ago.
 
Menhirs with similar images have also been found in parts of eastern Mizoram including at Chawngtlai village near Khawzawl town and, according to Mizo historian B Lalthangliana, in the Chin Hills of Myanmar.
 
**********************************************************
Where the heck is Mizoram?  A quick Google search -- I had no idea that India had those northeastern provinces.  It's like that area was tacked on to the country as an afterthought. 
 

 
 

Richard III - Or Not?

Um, I thought they had done DNA testing???

Article at The Mail Online

Skeleton discovered under car park may NOT be Richard III: Experts cast doubt over accuracy of DNA and dating results

  • The findings have been challenged by history and archaeology experts
  • They said remains could belong to any victim of War of the Roses battles
  • Equally, the DNA match could be from any descendant of the king’s mother
  • Researchers are calling for a coroner’s court to consider all the evidence
  • Meanwhile, Leicester University said its findings all point to the same result and challenges these new claims
  • Remains were uncovered by in a car park in Leicester in September 2012

Spain Re-Examining Phoenician Settlement

Article at Past Horizons

Phoenician colony in southeast Spain re-examined

Egypt Pulling Publicity Stunt

If there are three priest-kings buried with the more treasures than Tut, I'll take a bite out of my wool beret and eat it! 

These are desperate times in Egypt.  We all know that tourism, the life-blood of modern Egypt, has fallen off some 95 to 98% during the continuing unrest of the past four years.  Egypt went from Mubarak (a dictator), to a weak coalition government (a form of democracy), to an Islamic majority (another dictatorship), to a military coup.  American tourists, who are considred "rich" by much of the world, are staying away in droves.  Well, who can blame them?  At least BBC is no longer broadcasting images of unemployed Egyptian males burning Americans in effigy and trampling the Stars and Stripes.  Like I would EVER spend an American penny in your country, dudes?  Ha!

I think this is bullshit - but, we'll see...

Archaeologists race to secure ancient burial site of three Egyptian kings that will make the treasure of Tutankhamun's tomb look like a 'display in Woolworths'

  • British archaeologist John Romer, 72, believes he knows location of tomb
  • It is believed three priest kings - Heridor, Piankh and Menkheperre - were buried there
  • Romer claims the site in Luxor, Egypt, contains magnificent treasures
  • Rival archaeology teams are now in a race to find and secure the tomb
By Suzannah Hills |

Origins of Ancient African Cattle

Ah ha!  Okay okay, you guys all know that I'm considered a nut case because I do believe there is more than just myth about Noah's Ark.  As to what kind of god would allow himself, the Supreme Creator of the Entire Universe, to get so pissed off at a bunch of puny humans who thumbed their noses at his teachings that he determined to not only punish them but also kill millions of innocent animals and infants, I leave that to theologians to debate.  Whether one believes in a great flood or not, I do believe there is more and more evidence becoming available all the time pointing to a sort of "explosion" of civilization coming out of the region of Ararat and mountains in Turkey and spreading then into the Fertile Crescent around 9500 BCE.  This is just another piece of the puzzle.

Article at Science Daily

Ancient African cattle first domesticated in Middle East, study reveals

Date:  March 28, 2014
Source:  University of Missouri - Columbia
Summary:  The genetic history of 134 cattle breeds from around the world has been completed by a group of researchers. In the process of completing this history, they found that ancient domesticated African cattle originated in the 'Fertile Crescent,' a region that covered modern day Iraq, Jordan, Syria and Israel.

Geneticist and anthropologists previously suspected that ancient Africans domesticated cattle native to the African continent nearly 10,000 years ago. Now, a team of University of Missouri researchers has completed the genetic history of 134 cattle breeds from around the world. In the process of completing this history, they found that ancient domesticated African cattle originated in the "Fertile Crescent," a region that covered modern day Iraq, Jordan, Syria and Israel.

Lead researcher Jared Decker, an assistant professor of animal science in the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, says the genetics of these African cattle breeds are similar to those of cattle first domesticated in the Middle East nearly 10,000 years ago, proving that those cattle were brought to Africa as farmers migrated south. Those cattle then interbred with wild cattle, or aurochs, which were native to the region, and changed their genetic makeup enough to confuse geneticists.

In their study published in PLOS Genetics, Decker and a team of international researchers compared the similarities and differences among the genetics of many different cattle breeds to determine how the breeds are related. Their research found mixing of native cattle in Indonesia with imports from India, European and African cattle in Italy and Spain, and European and Asian cattle in Korea and Japan. The MU researchers also determined that unique American cattle breeds, such as Texas longhorns, are the result of breeding between Spanish cattle, transported from Europe by explorers in the 16th century, and breeds of Zebu, or Brahman cattle from India imported into the U.S. from Brazil in the late 1800s. Decker says these discoveries help advance genetics and uncover important information about human history.

"In many ways, the history of cattle genetics mirrors human history," Decker said. "In the case of African cattle, anthropologists and geneticists used to suspect that domesticated African cattle were native to the continent, when in fact, they were brought by migrating peoples thousands of years ago. By better understanding the history of the animals we domesticate, we can better understand ourselves."

Decker also said that cattle breeding is important for animal farmers looking to maximize their herds' meat and dairy production. He says that understanding the genetic history of cattle breeds is important when looking for solutions to agricultural issues.

"Now that we have this more complete genetic history of cattle worldwide, we can better understand the diversity of the species," Decker said. "By understanding the variations present, we can improve cattle for agricultural purposes, whether that is through breeding more disease-resistant animals or finding ways to increase dairy or beef production."



Story Source:
The above story is based on materials provided by University of Missouri-Columbia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.



Journal Reference:
  1. Jared E. Decker, Stephanie D. McKay, Megan M. Rolf, JaeWoo Kim, Antonio Molina Alcalá, Tad S. Sonstegard, Olivier Hanotte, Anders Götherström, Christopher M. Seabury, Lisa Praharani, Masroor Ellahi Babar, Luciana Correia de Almeida Regitano, Mehmet Ali Yildiz, Michael P. Heaton, Wan-Sheng Liu, Chu-Zhao Lei, James M. Reecy, Muhammad Saif-Ur-Rehman, Robert D. Schnabel, Jeremy F. Taylor. Worldwide Patterns of Ancestry, Divergence, and Admixture in Domesticated Cattle. PLoS Genetics, 2014; 10 (3): e1004254 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1004254


Cite This Page:
University of Missouri-Columbia. "Ancient African cattle first domesticated in Middle East, study reveals." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 March 2014. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140328121025.htm.

Did you hear the one about Archangel Michael and the Sudanese Lady...

Well!  I could say plenty about this but will suffice to suggest that the tattooing of the name "Michael" on her inner thigh may have been meant to be a warning to maintain chastity, and not for "protection" as the story alleges; and that perhaps this branding was a predecessor to the later more grotestque form of assuring a woman's "virtue" by cutting off her clitoris.  Then again, an entirely different interepretation could be given to this tattoo:

Part of image of female mummy from article.
I don't think it's a stretch to suggest that this could also represent a vulva and a phallic symbol, incorporating a clever bit of old magic by using the cross (which predates Christianity by thousands of years) as the phallic symbol.  Hmmm...

Startling DIscovery: Tattoo found on inner thigh of 1,300-yr-old Sudanese mummy

So-Called "Neanderthal" and So-Called "Modern Human" DNA - This Story Ain't Going Away

This just makes me laugh, LOL!  So-called "evolution" is getting more complicated by the second?  Gee, I wonder why?  Maybe because the entire "theory" needs to be junked...

Photo Adapted from: Tetra Images/Alamy (from article)

Article from Nature.com

Human evolution: The Neanderthal in the family

Thirty years after the study of ancient DNA began, it promises to upend our view of the past.
 
 
An equine oddity with the head of a zebra and the rump of a donkey, the last quagga (Equus quagga quagga) died in 1883. [What a dirty rotten shame that we let that happen then, and we're still letting it happen today.  When a species goes extinct, do we not also lose a piece of our own herstory?]  A century later, researchers published1 around 200 nucleotides sequenced from a 140-year-old piece of quagga muscle. Those scraps of DNA — the first genetic secrets pulled from a long-dead organism — revealed that the quagga was distinct from the mountain zebra (Equus zebra).
 
More significantly, the research showed that from then on, examining fossils would no longer be the only way to probe extinct life. “If the long-term survival of DNA proves to be a general phenomenon,” geneticists Russell Higuchi and Allan Wilson of the University of California, Berkeley, and their colleagues noted in their quagga paper1, “several fields including palaeontology, evolutionary biology, archaeology and forensic science may benefit.”
 
At first, progress was fitful. Concerns over the authenticity of ancient-DNA research fuelled schisms in the field and deep scepticism outside it. But this has faded, thanks to laboratory rigour that borders on paranoia and sequencing techniques that help researchers to identify and exclude contaminating modern DNA.
 
These advances have fostered an ancient-genomics boom. In the past year, researchers have unveiled the two oldest genomes on record: those of a horse that had been buried in Canadian permafrost for around 700,000 years2, and of a roughly 400,000-year-old human relative from a Spanish cavern3. A Neanderthal sequence every bit as complete and accurate as a contemporary human genome has been released4, as has the genome of a Siberian child connecting Native Americans to Europeans5.
 
Enabling this rush are technological improvements in isolating, sequencing and interpreting the time-ravaged DNA strands in ancient remains such as bones, teeth and hair. Pioneers are obtaining DNA from ever older and more degraded remains, and gleaning insight about long-dead humans and other creatures. And now ancient DNA is set to move from the clean-rooms of specialists to the labs of archaeologists, population geneticists and others. Thirty years after the quagga led the way, Nature looks to the field's future.

Monday, March 24, 2014

2014 European Senior Chess Championships

Ladies' final standings, Fifty+ and Sixty-Five+.  Shit, I'm getting old.  GM Nona Gaprindashvili in the 65+ category. What?  I'm still shaking my head in disbelief. 

Official website (in English).

Classic Final Standings:

14th European Senior 65+ Ladies Chess Championship 2014

Rk.SNoNameFEDRtgPts.TB1 TB2 TB3
12WGMKozlovskaya ValentinaRUS21697.50.0727.00
26GMGaprindashvili NonaGEO23047.01.0625.75
33WIMTsifanskaya Ludmila AISR21027.00.0625.50
48Kabanova IrinaRUS19416.00.0522.25
59WGMKhmiadashvili TamarGEO20835.00.0417.00
610WFMDotan ValeriaISR19594.00.0311.50
75Zaitseva TamaraRUS20993.50.029.25
84Hoose HanneloreGER17502.50.028.50
91Āboliņa Ārija SolveigaLAT18741.50.012.75
107Savostina LarisaRUS15951.00.012.50

14th European Senior 50+ Ladies Chess Championship 2014

Rk.SNo NameFEDRtgPts. TB1 TB2 TB3
11 WIMFomina TatyanaEST21886.50.5527.50
24 WIMKasoshvili TsialaGEO21126.50.5426.00
37 WGMStrutinskaya Galina NRUS22906.00.0524.50
46 WFMBogumil TatianaRUS21185.50.0521.25
55 WFMKierzek MiraMKD20024.51.0417.25
63 WIMJicman Ligia-LetiţiaROU21544.50.0317.25
710 WIMMednikova SvetlanaRUS21803.50.5213.25
88 IMGurieli NinoGEO23293.50.5211.75
92 Chireykina NataliaRUS18912.50.029.25
109 Baliūnienė MargaritaDEN19442.00.0211.00
xxx

2014 Chinese Chess Championships

March 11 - 22, 2014.  Information courtesy of The Week in Chess.  Final standings (women first):

ch-CHN w 2014 Xinghua CHN Tue 11th Mar 2014 - Sat 22nd Mar 2014
Leading Final Round 11 Standings:
RkSNoNameFEDRtgPtsTB1TB2TB3
11Ju WenjunCHN25208.50.041.257
23Shen YangCHN24358.00.539.005
310Lei TingjieCHN23748.00.536.257
411Ding YixinCHN24297.50.038.004
58Tan ZhongyiCHN24996.50.029.754
612Guo QiCHN24626.00.027.754
72Zhang XiaowenCHN23975.50.024.254
87Wang JueCHN23844.50.019.502
99Wang DoudouCHN22173.50.015.252
105Xiao YiyiCHN21773.00.013.001
114Zhai MoCHN22662.50.513.500
126Gu TianluCHN21642.50.59.500
12 players

ch-CHN 2014 Xinghua CHN Tue 11th Mar 2014 - Sat 22nd Mar 2014
Leading Final Round 11 Standings:
RkSNoNameFEDRtgPtsTB1TB2TB3
13Yu YangyiCHN26647.00.537.003
210Ding LirenCHN27177.00.536.754
35Ma QunCHN26066.50.534.502
41Wei YiCHN26256.50.533.003
59Zhou JianchaoCHN25656.00.532.003
68Zhao JunCHN26086.00.531.503
77Hou YifanCHN26295.00.027.752
82Lin ChenCHN24754.52.022.252
912Xiu DeshunCHN25714.51.525.002
104Zeng ChongshengCHN25204.51.522.503
116Wen YangCHN25914.51.024.252
1211Liu QingnanCHN25014.00.023.002
12 players

GM Hou Yifan finished about the middle of the pack.  She was third-ranked going in, so I would consider this not a very good performance. 

Iron Age Woman Buried With Her Feet Cut Off and Buried With Her

This is just strange.  Was it done to keep the woman's spirit from "walking about" outside her grave?  And were the two sheep buried around her head provided as - compensation - for preventing her from walking around in the after-life?  I would think that back then, two sheep would have been a very valuable compensation.  But we really don't know.

From BBC News
March 2014 Last updated at 15:35 ET

Iron Age woman's footless body found near West Knoyle

Source.
 
A skeleton of an Iron Age woman with her feet chopped off has been discovered in a field in Wiltshire.
The remains were found along the A303, near West Knoyle, by archaeologists ahead of a new water main being laid. Wessex Water said the woman's feet were found "reburied alongside her" along with the carcasses of at least two sheep or goats "on her head".
Peter Cox, from AC Archaeology, said: "We're unsure why - but it must have some link to beliefs at the time."
The female skeleton was found alongside the remains of a child aged about 10 and two males with sword wounds to their hips.

'Bad spirits'
Wessex Water is currently building a 40-mile (64km) pipeline to carry water from a Dorset treatment plant into Wiltshire.  It was during a pre-work survey of the West Knoyle area that AC Archaeology unearthed the Iron Age burial site.
"Human remains from these periods are very rare and indicate the long period of settlement that has occurred in the area," said Mr Cox.  "But we're unsure why the female skeleton has been found without her feet or why she may have been buried with sheep, but perhaps it was to protect her soul from bad spirits."
The bones have been removed from the site and will undergo radiocarbon dating to determine their age.

Amazons: Truth or Fiction?

The Smithsonian put together a feature on the Amazons.

The Amazon Women: Is There Any Truth Behind the Myth?

Strong and brave, the Amazons were a force to be reckoned with in Greek mythology—but did the fierce female warriors really exist?


I loved watching the “Wonder Woman” TV series when I was a girl. I never wanted to dress like her—the idea of wearing a gold lamé bustier and star-spangled blue underwear all day seemed problematic—but the Amazonian princess was strong and resourceful, with a rope trick for every problem. She seemed to be speaking directly to me, urging, “Go find your own inner Amazonian.” When I read the news that Wonder Woman was going to be resurrected for a blockbuster movie in 2016, Batman vs. Superman, it made me excited—and anxious. Would the producers give her a role as fierce as her origins—and maybe some shoulder straps—or would she just be cartoon eye candy?

The fact that she isn’t even getting billing in the title makes me suspicious. It wouldn’t have pleased Wonder Woman’s creator either. “Wonder Woman is psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who should, I believe, rule the world,” declared the psychologist and comic book writer William Moulton Marston, offering a proto-feminist vision that undoubtedly sounded quite radical in 1943. “Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength and power. Not wanting to be girls, they don’t want to be tender, submissive, peace-loving as good women are.”

Over the years, the writers at DC Comics softened Wonder Woman’s powers in ways that would have infuriated Marston. During the 1960s, she was hardly wondrous at all, less a heroic warrior than the tomboyish girl next-door. It was no longer clear whether she was meant to empower the girls or captivate the boys. But the core brand was still strong enough for Gloria Steinem to put her on the cover of the first newsstand issue of Ms. magazine in 1972—with the slogan “Wonder Woman for President.”

The creators of Wonder Woman had no interest in proving an actual link to the past. In some parts of the academic world, however, the historical existence of the Amazons, or any matriarchal society, has long been a raging issue. The origins of the debate can be traced back to a Swiss law professor and classical scholar named Johann Jakob Bachofen. In 1861 Bachofen published his radical thesis that the Amazons were not a myth but a fact. In his view, humanity started out under the rule of womankind and only switched to patriarchy at the dawn of civilization. Despite his admiration for the earth-mother women/priestesses who once held sway, Bachofen believed that the domination of men was a necessary step toward progress. [Yeah, they've done a really great hand job with the world, haven't they.]  Women “only know of the physical life,” he wrote. “The triumph of patriarchy brings with it the liberation of the spirit from the manifestations of nature.”

It comes as no surprise that the composer Richard Wagner was enthralled by Bachofen’s writings. Brünnhilde and her fellow Valkyries could be easily mistaken for flying Amazons. But Bachofen’s influence went far beyond the Ring Cycle. Starting with Friedrich Engels, Bachofen inspired generations of Marxist and feminist theorists to write wistfully of a pre-patriarchal age when the evils of class, property and war were unknown. As Engels memorably put it: “The overthrow of mother-right was the world historical defeat of the female sex. The man took command in the home also; the woman was degraded and reduced to servitude; she became the slave of his lust and a mere instrument for the production of children.”

There was, however, one major problem with the Bachofen-inspired theory of matriarchy: There was not a shred of physical evidence to support it. In the 20th century, one school of thought claimed that the real Amazons were probably beardless “bow-toting Mongoloids” mistaken for women by the Greeks. Another insisted that they were simply a propaganda tool used by the Athenians during times of political stress. The only theorists who remained relatively unfazed by the debates swirling through academia were the Freudians, for whom the idea of the Amazons was far more interesting in the abstract than in a pottery fragment or arrowhead. The Amazonian myths appeared to hold the key to the innermost neuroses of the Athenian male. All those women sitting astride their horses, for example—surely the animal was nothing but a phallus substitute. As for their violent death in tale after tale, this was obviously an expression of unresolved sexual conflict.

Myth or fact, symbol or neurosis, none of the theories adequately explained the origins of the Amazons. If these warrior women were a figment of Greek imagination, there still remained the unanswered question of who or what had been the inspiration for such an elaborate fiction. Their very name was a puzzle that mystified the ancient Greeks. They searched for clues to its origins by analyzing the etymology of Amazones, the Greek for Amazon. The most popular explanation claimed that Amazones was a derivation of a, “without,” and mazos, “breasts”; another explanation suggested ama-zoosai, meaning “living together,” or possibly ama-zoonais, “with girdles.” The idea that Amazons cut or cauterized their right breasts in order to have better bow control offered a kind of savage plausibility that appealed to the Greeks.

The eighth-century B.C. poet Homer was the first to mention the existence of the Amazons. In the Iliad—which is set 500 years earlier, during the Bronze or Heroic Age—Homer referred to them somewhat cursorily as Amazons antianeirai, an ambiguous term that has resulted in many different translations, from “antagonistic to men” to “the equal of men.” In any case, these women were considered worthy enough opponents for Homer’s male characters to be able to boast of killing them—without looking like cowardly bullies.

Future generations of poets went further and gave the Amazons a fighting role in the fall of Troy—on the side of the Trojans. Arktinos of Miletus added a doomed romance, describing how the Greek Achilles killed the Amazonian queen Penthesilea in hand-to-hand combat, only to fall instantly in love with her as her helmet slipped to reveal the beautiful face beneath. From then on, the Amazons played an indispensable role in the foundation legends of Athens. Hercules, for example, last of the mortals to become a god, fulfills his ninth labor by taking the magic girdle from the Amazon queen Hippolyta.

By the mid-sixth century B.C., the foundation of Athens and the defeat of the Amazons had become inextricably linked, as had the notion of democracy and the subjugation of women. The Hercules versus the Amazons myth was adapted to include Theseus, whom the Athenians venerated as the unifier of ancient Greece. In the new version, the Amazons came storming after Theseus and attacked the city in a battle known as the Attic War. It was apparently a close-run thing. According to the first century A.D. Greek historian Plutarch, the Amazons “were no trivial nor womanish enterprise for Theseus. For they would not have pitched their camp within the city, nor fought hand-to-hand battles in the neighborhood of the Pynx and the Museum, had they not mastered the surrounding country and approached the city with impunity.” As ever, though, Athenian bravery saved the day.

The first pictorial representations of Greek heroes fighting scantily clad Amazons began to appear on ceramics around the sixth century B.C. The idea quickly caught on and soon “amazonomachy,” as the motif is called (meaning Amazon battle), could be found everywhere: on jewelry, friezes, household items and, of course, pottery. It became a ubiquitous trope in Greek culture, just like vampires are today, perfectly blending the allure of sex with the frisson of danger. The one substantial difference between the depictions of Amazons in art and in poetry was the breasts. Greek artists balked at presenting anything less than physical perfection.

The more important the Amazons became to Athenian national identity, the more the Greeks searched for evidence of their vanquished foe. The fifth century B.C. historian Herodotus did his best to fill in the missing gaps. The “father of history,” as he is known, located the Amazonian capital as Themiscyra, a fortified city on the banks of the Thermodon River near the coast of the Black Sea in what is now northern Turkey. The women divided their time between pillaging expeditions as far afield as Persia and, closer to home, founding such famous towns as Smyrna, Ephesus, Sinope and Paphos. Procreation was confined to an annual event with a neighboring tribe. Baby boys were sent back to their fathers, while the girls were trained to become warriors. An encounter with the Greeks at the Battle of Thermodon ended this idyllic existence. Three shiploads of captured Amazons ran aground near Scythia, on the southern coast of the Black Sea. At first, the Amazons and the Scythians were braced to fight each other. But love indeed conquered all and the two groups eventually intermarried. Their descendants became nomads, trekking northeast into the steppes where they founded a new race of Scythians called the Sauromatians. “The women of the Sauromatae have continued from that day to the present,” wrote Herodotus, “to observe their ancient customs, frequently hunting on horseback with their husbands...in war taking the field and wearing the very same dress as the men....Their marriage law lays it down, that no girl shall wed until she has killed a man in battle.”

The trail of the Amazons nearly went cold after Herodotus. Until, that is, the early 1990s when a joint U.S.-Russian team of archaeologists made an extraordinary discovery while excavating 2,000-year-old burial mounds—known as kurgans—outside Pokrovka, a remote Russian outpost in the southern Ural Steppes near the Kazakhstan border. There, they found over 150 graves belonging to the Sauromatians and their descendants, the Sarmatians. Among the burials of “ordinary women,” the researchers uncovered evidence of women who were anything but ordinary. There were graves of warrior women who had been buried with their weapons. One young female, bowlegged from constant riding, lay with an iron dagger on her left side and a quiver containing 40 bronze-tipped arrows on her right. The skeleton of another female still had a bent arrowhead embedded in the cavity. Nor was it merely the presence of wounds and daggers that amazed the archaeologists. On average, the weapon-bearing females measured 5 feet 6 inches, making them preternaturally tall for their time. [Selective breeding!  I believe that even today, the average height of a woman in the USA is 5 feet 3 inches!]

Finally, here was evidence of the women warriors that could have inspired the Amazon myths. In recent years, a combination of new archaeological finds and a reappraisal of older discoveries has confirmed that Pokrovka was no anomaly. Though clearly not a matriarchal society, the ancient nomadic peoples of the steppes lived within a social order that was far more flexible and fluid than the polis of their Athenian contemporaries.

To the Greeks, the Scythian women must have seemed like incredible aberrations, ghastly even. To us, their graves provide an insight into the lives of the world beyond the Adriatic. Strong, resourceful and brave, these warrior women offer another reason for girls “to want to be girls” without the need of a mythical Wonder Woman.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

More on That 9000 Year Old "Ritual Wand"

Prior post (March 15, 2014).

Archaeologists in Syria find ancient 'wand' engraved with human faces

The 9,000-year-old item, made of cow-bone, likely depicted 'powerful supernatural beings,' archaeologists say.

By | Mar. 17, 2014 | 3:46 PM
 
Archaeologists have discovered a 9,000-year-old 'wand' near an ancient burial site in southern Syria, with two human faces engraved on it.
                      
The item, made of cow bone, is thought to date from the late 9th millennium BC. Archaeologists excavated it from Tell Qarassa, an Early Neolithic site. This is among the few archaeological sites not damaged in the fighting in Syria, which on Saturday marked its third anniversary.
                      
The wand was found near a burial site, where 30 headless skeletons were discovered previously. Archaeologists say the findings shed light on the rituals of people who lived in the Neolithic period. Other findings at the site indicate that its inhabitants in the Neolithic period were some of the world's first farmers.
                      
"The find is very unusual. It's unique," study co-author Frank Braemer, an archaeologist at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in France told Livescience.

"Earlier traditions of figurative art had avoided the detailed and naturalistic representation of the human face. Fundamental changes occurred during the Pre-Pottery Neolithic with the famous plastered skulls of Jericho and other sites," International Business Times cited the archaeologists as saying. "Statues, masks and smaller carvings also appeared," they said in the findings, which were published in March in the journal Antiquity.

The cow-bone wand, found by archaeologists during digs at Tell Qarassa in 2007 and 2009, was possibly used in a burial ritual, archaeologists believe. "This small bone object from a funerary layer can be related to monumental statuary of the same period in the southern Levant and south-east Anatolia that probably depicted powerful supernatural beings," the experts said.
                      
"It may also betoken a new way of perceiving human identity and of facing the inevitability of death. By representing the deceased in visual form, the living and the dead were brought closer together."
With the fighting in Syria ongoing since 2011, there have been illegal excavations at UNESCO World Heritage sites in the country, including the Ancient Villages of Northern Syria, Bosra, Crac des Chevaliers, Palmyra, Damascus and Aleppo.

*************************************

At the risk of repeating myself, I'm much more focused upon the use of a COW BONE to carve this so-called "magic wand" and -- is it just a coincidence that Hat-Hert ("Hathor", the cow goddess) -- was developing via her predecessor, the warrior Goddess Neith, her own cult around the same time in the delta region of Egypt?

I believe it safe to say that many sacred cults of cow and bull worship developed during this period throughout the Fertile Crescent, focusing upon Sun and Moon worship, co-existent with cults that manifested separately (and may predate the worship of cows/bulls) the worship of felines (lionesses and lions).  Hat-Hert, for instance, turned into a voracious devouring lioness to destory evil mankind. Ancient Chinese goddesses (whose dates are yet uncertain) manifested themselves as tigress/females who could turn upon mankind at any second.  We should not ever forget the "lion" throne that was found with the rotund female sitting upon it, at Catal-hoyuk (Turkey, part of the Fertile Crescent), as well as the numerous aurochs' heads, either (approximately 7500 BCE - 5700 BCE). 

Add 2000 years, and what do you get -- development of such cults of worship more or less all around the same time...
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