Saturday, October 22, 2011

Hales Corners Chess Challenge XIV

Update - the final results/standings are in from Round 4!  USCF ratings changes will be posted later tonight, probably:

Winners/top finishers in the Open and Reserve Sections and results/rankings for the ladies:

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

1. Santarius, Erik (1)........... WI 2381 W30 W29 W5 D3 3.5
2. Sawalani, Navin (5)........... WI 2249 D19 W14 W11 W10 3.5
14. Ulrich, Rachel J (29)......... WI 1721 W41 L2 D12 W37 2.5 (Rachel wins $100 from Goddesschess
25. Rajendra, Anupama (35)........ WI 1611 W43 L18 L19 W38 2.0 (Anupama wins $80 from Goddesschess)
43. Karimikonda, Teja (46)........ WI 1242 L25 W41 L30 L22 1.0 (Teja wins $40 from Goddesschess)

1. MacLeish, Brian (3)........... WI 1568 W29 W25 D3 W10 3.5
2. Shefsky, Michael W (1)........ WI 1586 L14 W26 W30 W12 3.0
3. Kaczmarek, Daniel (7)......... WI 1467 W17 W23 D1 D6 3.0
4. Wright, Gary M (9)............ WI 1395 W30 L11 W27 W16 3.0
5. Reese Sr, Gregory (11)........ WI 1383 L23 W27 W28 W18 3.0
6. Andersson, Mitchel (13)....... WI 1358 W37 W24 D11 D3 3.0
7. Pahl, Sandra R (14)........... WI 1342 L11 W28 W20 W13 3.0
8. Ulrich, Susanna G (18)........ WI 1279 L25 W17 W21 W14 3.0  

9. Loomer, Xavier Mar (21)....... WI 1182 L21 W36 W24 W23 3.0
10. McVicker, Marqis (37)......... WI nnnn W20 W15 W13 L1 3.0 (an excellent tournament for Marqis)

15. Huang, Alena (15)............. WI 1335 L13 L10 W35 W31 2.0
18. Murali, Anjana (22)........... WI 1169 -H- D22 W25 L5 2.0
20. Huang, Sabrina (27)........... WI 914 L10 W35 L7 W29 2.0

31. Wanek, Ellen A (28)........... WI 906 L26 W37 L14 L15 1.0
33. Ulrich, Anne E (36)........... WI 182 -N- -N- -N- W37 1.03
4. Murali, Ananya (30)........... WI 753 -H- L19 L29 L22 0.5
35. Newton, Jan L (33)............ WI 579 L28 L20 L15 -N- 0.0
37. Foat, Patricia J (35)......... WI 350 L6 L31 L32 L33 0.0

Rachel Ulrich in the Open and Sandra Pahl in the Reserve also win paid entry to Hales Corners Chess Challenge XV, should they choose to play in that event (April, 2012!)

Southwest Chess Club blog entry and photos.

2011 Unive Hoogeveen

Crown Group results R6 and final standings:
Pairings round 6 (Saturday, 22 October 2011)
1GM Polgar, Judit1.52701GM Kramnik, Vladimir4.02791½-½
2GM Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime2.02715GM Giri, Anish2.52722½-½

1GM Kramnik, Vladimir4.5M27912906+0.8611½½1½
2GM Giri, Anish3.0M27222736+0.120½½½1½
3GM Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime2.5M27152681-0.32½½½½0½
4GM Polgar, Judit2.0F27012618-0.66½0½½0½

Judit performed below par for her.

In the Open, unfortunately GM Alex Lenderman (USA) was not able to hold his place - he lost his final game and finished in 4th place overall:

1GM Tiviakov, Sergei7.0NEDM26472652+0.2152.038.75111½½1011
2IM Van Kampen, Robin7.0NEDM25292628+1.3050.538.25½111½½½11
3GM Ernst, Sipke7.0NEDM25812561+0.0648.537.2501111½½11
4GM Lenderman, Aleksandr6.5USAM25622623+0.9153.536.51111½½½10

In Love Eternally?

Hmmmm....  What the article doesn't ask is whether the woman went willingly to the grave with her mate (I am presuming he died first).  It seems to be suggested that they died at the same time or very close together, although a cause of death has not been mentioned for either in this short article and, indeed, has yet to be determined!  Further study of the remains is pending.  So, my question is - was the woman killed (sacrificed) and then "posed" in this loving scenario?  I can go further - what if the male was killed (sacrificed) after the woman died, and set in the tomb in the faithful, loving pose?

Am I just being overly suspicious???

From Discovery News
Couple Held Hands for 1,500 Years
The man and woman were likely buried facing each other in Italy in the 5th century A.D.
By Rossella Lorenzi
Fri Oct 21, 2011 10:30 AM ET

Two skeletons found in central-northern Italy
reveal the couple was buried holding hands some 1,500
years ago. Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici
The skeletal remains of a Roman-era couple reveal the pair has been holding hands for 1,500 years.
Italian archaeologists say the man and woman were buried at the same time between the 5th and 6th century A.D. in central-northern Italy. Wearing a bronze ring, the woman is positioned so she appears to be gazing at her male partner.

"We believe that they were originally buried with their faces staring into each other. The position of the man's vertebrae suggests that his head rolled after death," Donato Labate, the director of the excavation at the archaeological superintendency of Emilia-Romagna, told Discovery News.

The tender discovery was made during ordinary construction work in Modena and was announced this week. Labate explained the dig revealed three layers of scientific interest.

The deeper layer, some 23 feet below the surface, contained the remains of Roman-era structures, including a calcara where mortar was produced. The ruins belonged to the suburbs of Modena, then called Mutina.

"A middle layer, at a depth of about 10 feet, featured 11 burials, while a third stratification on top of the necropolis, revealed seven empty tombs," Labate said.

Excavated by archaeologist Licia Diamanti, the skeleton couple belonged to the 11 tomb necropolis. According to Labate, the simple fossa (trench) tombs suggest that the people buried there were not particularly rich.

"They were possibly the inhabitants of a farm," Labate said.

The area was subjected to several floods from the nearby river Tiepido -- which may have caused the male skeleton's skull to roll away from the female skeleton after burial. The necropolis was covered by alluvial deposits, and on top of them, another seven tombs were built.

"These burials were empty. Most likely, they were covered by another flood just after their construction. We think it was a catastrophic flood which occurred in 589, as reported by the historian Paul the Deacon," Labate said.

The two skeletons, which are poorly preserved, will be now studied by Giorgio Gruppioni, an anthropologist at the University of Bologna. The research includes establishing the couple's age, their relationship and the possible cause of death.

"In antiquity, it is not surprising to learn of spouses or members of a family dying at the same time: whenever epidemics such as the Black Plague ravaged Europe, one member of the family would often die while the family was trying to bury another member," Kristina Killgrove, a biological anthropologist at the University of North Carolina, told Discovery News.

In 2007 another skeleton couple, buried between 5,000 and 6,000 years ago, was found at a neolithic site near Mantua, just 25 miles south of Verona, where Shakespeare set the romantic story of Romeo and Juliet.
Locked in a tender embrace, they also looked at one another in apparent defiance of time and decay.
"The two couples are separated in time by five millennia, and both evoke an uplifting tenderness. I have been involved in many digs, but I've never felt so moved," Labate said.
According to Killgrove, the positioning of the Modena skeletons, looking at one another and holding hands, indeed suggests they may have been a couple.
"Whoever buried these people likely felt that communicating their relationship was just as important in death as it was in life," Killgrove said. [I don't think anyone can confidently reach this conclusion until more thorough forensic studies of the remains have been completed!  Like I suggest above, the bodies could have been posed to make the couple look like they were devoted to each other even in the grave, while the reality was much different!]

Indian Girls Shed "Unwanted" Names

I just don't know what to say when confronted with an article like this, and it takes a lot (as you well know) to render me speechless:

285 Indian girls shed 'unwanted' names

MUMBAI, India (AP) — More than 200 Indian girls whose names mean "unwanted" in Hindi chose new names Saturday for a fresh start in life.

A central Indian district held a renaming ceremony it hopes will give the girls new dignity and help fight widespread gender discrimination that gives India a skewed gender ratio, with far more boys than girls.

The 285 girls — wearing their best outfits with barrettes, braids and bows in their hair — lined up to receive certificates with their new names along with small flower bouquets from Satara district officials in Maharashtra state.

In shedding names like "Nakusa" or "Nakushi," which mean "unwanted" in Hindi, some girls chose to name themselves after Bollywood stars like "Aishwarya" or Hindu goddesses like "Savitri." Some just wanted traditional names with happier meanings, such as "Vaishali" or "prosperous, beautiful and good."

"Now in school, my classmates and friends will be calling me this new name, and that makes me very happy," said a 15-year-old girl who had been named Nakusa by a grandfather disappointed by her birth. She chose the new name "Ashmita," which means "very tough" or "rock hard" in Hindi.

The plight of girls in India came to a focus as this year's census showed the nation's sex ratio had dropped over the past decade from 927 girls for every 1,000 boys under the age of 6 to 914. Maharashtra state's ratio is well below that, with just 883 girls for every 1,000 boys — down from 913 a decade ago. In the district of Satara, it is even lower at 881.

Such ratios are the result of abortions of female fetuses, or just sheer neglect leading to a higher death rate among girls. The problem is so serious in India that hospitals are legally banned from revealing the gender of an unborn fetus in order to prevent sex-selective abortions, though evidence suggests the information gets out.

Part of the reason Indians favor sons is the enormous expense of marrying off girls. Families often go into debt arranging marriages and paying for elaborate dowries. A boy, on the other hand, will one day bring home a bride and dowry. Hindu custom also dictates that only sons can light their parents' funeral pyres.

Over the years, and again now, there are efforts to fight the discrimination.

"Nakusa is a very negative name as far as female discrimination is concerned," said Satara district health officer Dr. Bhagwan Pawar, who came up with the idea for the renaming ceremony.

Other incentives, announced by federal or state governments every few years, include free meals and free education to encourage people to take care of their girls, and even cash bonuses for families with girls who graduate from high school.

Activists say the name "unwanted," which is widely given to girls across India, gives them the feeling they are worthless and a burden.

"When the child thinks about it, you know, 'My mom, my dad, and all my relatives and society call me unwanted,' she will feel very bad and depressed," said Sudha Kankaria of the organization Save the Girl Child. But giving these girls new names is only the beginning, she said.

"We have to take care of the girls, their education and even financial and social security, or again the cycle is going to repeat."

Hales Corners Chess Challenge XIV

I'm here, about to start R2.  I lost my first game (as expected) - player was rated 1033 to my 579, eek!

I gave him a battle but in the end he got me, aaaaaahhhhhhh.....

Now I've got to run and see who I'm paired against.  Ellen Wanek is here - more later.

Update 1:55 p.m.
Well, I went down in flames to Sabrina Huang in 22 minutes - and I had the white pieces.  Going downhill fast - my head hurts!  Ouch!

On a positive note, there are 12 female players out of 80, for an excellent participation rate of about 15%!  I'm absolutely delighted.  There are three femmes playing in the Open, including Rachel Ulrich who I believe has a 1728 rating.  She won her first game and in game 2 has the black pieces against a player rated above 2200, so she's going to have her work cut out for her!  All the rest of us femmes are playing in the Reserve.

Today I met Pat Foat, who has 2 sons who play chess and she learned to play so she could play while they're playing! This is Pat's first rated tournament.  She also plays casually at the Southwest Chess Club and at a chess club in Waukesha.  Each of her sons belongs to his "own" club!

Ellen Wanek teaches chess to kids in Sheboygan-area schools.  She's got a rating in the 900s, she wasn't exactly sure.  She won game 2 against Pat.  I'm not sure, but I expect I may be paired with Pat for R3.

I'm about spent - it's amazing that I can spend a day stomping around the Met and never get exhausted (until I fall over when my legs give out, that is) and yet playing two chess games since 10 a.m. has sapped my brain!  Round 3 begins at 3:30.  I must try to play better! 

I have taken only a few pictures.  I should wrap this up now and go track down some of the other femmes and ask if I can take their photos...

It's now 5:31 and I am home.  I left at the end of R3, which did not last very long.  I was horribly pathetic in my last game and I feel awful, actually, that I did not give more of a game to Alena Huang.  I lasted 8 lousy moves.  Eight!  Someone just take me out and shoot me now, please.  Yeah yeah, she's rated 1300 something, but I give Shira (who at her peak was over 1700) better games than I gave Alena H. today. Sorry, Alena. 

I was too tired to stick around after I finished R3 to try and get pics of some of the female players and in no shape to wait until the conclusion of R4, which doesn't begin until 6 p.m., to hand out prize checks to the winners!  Maybe next Challenge -  but I won't play in that one, I'll just hang around making a pest of myself with my camera and asking stupid questions, darlings!  LOL!  We'll see.  Right now, my head hurts and I'm dehydrated.  Wine, I need wine...

Unfortunately the one photo that I did take was blurry - it's of Ellen Wanek and Marquis McVicker (I hope I have his name right).  He's a senior in high school and a scholastic player; and he won his first two games in the Reserve Section where I played.  He has a scholastic rating (which I don't know) but he does not have a USCF rating. Today he joined USCF in order to play in the HCCC XIV and he will now get a USCF rating, which I expect will be very respectable!  He's a cool, collected young man, and very charming.  I hope he continues to play in USCF-rated events.

Pat Foat's son, Dustin, took this photo of four of us chess femmes before the start of R2 - unfortunately also a little blurry:

On the left is Ellen Wanek and me (Ellen is pointing at me and I was making a face), and across from us are Sabrina Huang, who was my opponent in R2, and in front of her is Pat Foat. 

I was able to meet/greet some other female players and some parents of some of the younger players.  Tom Fogec (one of the TDs) insisted in spotting me out by introducing me to both Open and Reserve Sections, and I think I stayed red for the rest of the tournament.  He told me that he'd also done that at the last Challenge I attended (Challenge XII) - I must have blanked the memory out of my mind...

So, in retrospect, my first game was probably my best - at least I lasted 28 moves until I was mated, ach!  That was also my longest game, time wise.  Time issues are definitely not a problem with my play at its current level...

I am pleased to report that I did manage to write down each and every move that I made as well as the moves of my challengers.  Now, I'll admit it's not all in official notation and I may have muffed some of them and put our pieces in impossible squares - although some of the easy stuff like pawn from e2 to e4 I did absolutely 100% correct!  Life Master Sheldon G., who was available throughout the Tournament in the Skittles Room to go over games with the players afterwards, was present and saw some of my R3 game and I think I nearly gave him a stroke, poor man.  Alas, Life Master, I have not improved one iota from the woman who hung a knight a year ago...

Soooo - here's some news from the Southwest Chess Club's blog:

In the Open, going into R4:

25. Ulrich, Rachel J (29)......... WI 1721 W39 L4 D19 A31 1.5
37. Rajendra, Anupama (35)........ WI 1611 W41 L21 L11 A32 1.0
41. Karimikonda, Teja (46)........ WI 1242 L37 W39 L20 A35 1.0

Honorary Mention to Anne Ulrich, who did not officially play in the Tournament but consented to be a - I'm not sure I've got the term right - table player?.  Tom F. explained to me that this is a person who agrees to play another player who otherwise would be left without a game because of an odd number of players.

In the Reserve, going into R4:

1. McVicker, Marqis (37)......... WI nnnn W28 W23 W8 A2 3.0
12. Pahl, Sandra R (14)........... WI 1342 L3 W27 W28 A8 2.0
14. Ulrich, Susanna G (18)........ WI 1279 L21 W24 W30 A10 2.0
16. Murali, Anjana (22)........... WI 1169 -H- D32 W21 A11 2.0
23. Huang, Alena (15)............. WI 1335 L8 L1 W34 A29 1.0
28. Huang, Sabrina (27)........... WI 914 L1 W34 L12 A22 1.0
29. Wanek, Ellen A (28)........... WI 906 L19 W36 L10 A23 1.0

33. Murali, Ananya (30)........... WI 753 -H- L17 L22 A32 0.5
34. Newton, Jan L (33)............ WI 579 L27 L28 L23 -N- 0.0

36. Foat, Patricia J (35)......... WI 350 L5 L29 L31 A37 0.0
37. Ulrich, Anne E (36)........... WI 182 -N- -N- -N- A36 0.0

P.S. Here's a pic I tried to take of myself after I got home, just to show that I am actually still alive and it is not the Ghost of Jan Newton writing this:

My Xena, Princess Warrior figure is chastising me above my head (she's riding the black elephant - a potent chess symbol).  Well, at least my outfit was nice!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Personal Stuff - You Can Skip This, Darlings...


Lucille and I are related through the Makuski line on my mom's side of the family tree.  She sent me an email yesterday that I didn't get to read until this morning.  HOLY GODDESS!  It has information that I did not have before, including the name of the parents of one Josef Jablonski, whom I had not been able to trace back beyond his stating on old census records that he came to America in 1871 from Poland.  The information includes the names of his parents, which did not previously have!  It also has contact information to a descendant of one of Josef's children, but it's from 2004.  I will try and follow-up.

So - tonight I'm going to be working on family tree stuff because Christmas is looming -- it will be here sooner than I think!  I've got to get the major family lines firmed up and printed, and then add photographs, obituaries and histories to round things out.  A major undertaking.

Tomorrow it's C-DAY!  The Hales Corners Chess Challenge XIV is upon me. EEEK EEEK EEEK!

LOL!  Seriously, darlings, I'm not ready for prime-time but I have to tell you, I had some of the most interesting chess conversations today that I've ever had in life.  What's more, on the one that took place coming home tonight from the office, half the bus listened in on it and had input!

I'm not kidding you!  Damn, this is one time I wish I had one of those fancy-pants cellphones where I could have recorded what happened, it was just so much fun.

As you know, I'm a relatively new member of the CCR (Crazy Cougars Rock).  But we don't restrict ourselves to cougars.  I'm the oldest at 60; "Thelma" (not her real name, it has to do with a long involved conversation we had about "Thelma and Louise" and - well, the less said about that, the better) is our newest member, and she can't be more than 25.  She's ridden the bus with one or more of us, off and on, for some years -- you know how you get to recognize regulars along your route, morning and night -- but it was only during the last week or so that she started sitting with JJ, A, D and others in the morning, and joining JJ, A, D and I on the evening ride home.  We're non-discriminatory.  We have male members, too, but they mostly sit and laugh riotously at whatever we say :)

Anyway, tonight we were minus two of our regulars.  I sat down next to JJ and next stop, Thelma got on.  The conversation went along, and at one point JJ asked me what I was doing tomorrow.  I said tomorrow's the tournament.  She knew what that meant, but Thelma didn't, and when JJ explained that tomorrow I was going to be playing in a CHESS TOURNAMENT (and that's just how she said it, in ALL CAPS), Thelma was not only duly impressed, it seemed most everyone else on the now crowded bus was, too!  I mean, darlings, it was just one of those priceless moments when all eyes are on YOU in a GOOD way and you feel like a GENIUS!  Me and my 579 ELO!

Oh Goddess, it was priceless! 

When I modestly (ahem) declaimed that I was a very poor player who would have her butt whipped tomorrow by 10 year olds, advice started pouring in!  The lady standing next to my seat told me about a 9 hour event she'd played in, and thought she'd die but she did okay!  And the young dude sitting in front of us (who had been laughing at our conversation earlier, well, we are pretty funny broads, if I do say so myself, although he was trying hard not to show it, his shoulders were shaking; and when I declared to the bus in general that the New Middle Age was between 60 and 80, and after 80 I intended to be an Old Bitch, he just couldn't hold it in anymore) - he had some words of advice.  Good advice, actually, hmmm...

Thelma, who has never played a game of chess - gasp! - wanted a lesson then and there.  JJ, whose significant other sounds like a very competent and competitive chessplayer, who gets into staring-at-the-board-matches-for-long-stretches-of-time with one of his brothers, explained to Thelma and everyone else who was within shouting range (she's rather LOUD, if you know what I mean) with air drawings how some of the pieces move, and I filled in here and there with timely narrative. 

I had so many "good luck" and "you beat their little 'bleeps' off tomorrow" yelled to me as people exited the bus (JJ and I don't get off until near the end of the route) that I was getting hoarse shouting back at ya'll.  THANK YOU.  I doubt any of you read this blog - but here's to you, darlings, just in case :)

Thelma wants lessons.  How we can manage that on the bus...

Speaking of which, today I gave my very first chess lesson to a fellow employee, who wants to learn how to play so that she can teach her son, who is three and absolutely precious.  We had a very productive lunch hour lesson.  I explained and showed her the basic moves of each of the pieces, I explained the "j'doube" rule, I explained what "shah mat" (checkmate in English) actually means and where the original term came from, and gave her just a little bit of the ancient tradition of The Royal Game. For our second 30 minutes I "tested" her on what the pieces were and what their moves were (she did very well!), and showed her basic situations of how a king can harried by the other pieces. 

By Goddess, I think she's got it.  But you know what, it's so easy to teach someone who is eager to learn.  So I'm still feeling like a GENIUS. 

I am hoping that some of the Chess Magic that happened in my life today will carry-over to tomorrow, and give me a draw!  That's all I want, just ONE DRAW!

2011 FIDE Women's Grand Prix - Nalchik

Final results and final standings.  The Chinese players finished 1-2 - and I don't think anyone can "blame it on steroids" unlike in some other disciplines :)

Round 11 on 2011/10/21 at 13:00
6GMStefanova Antoaneta2528½ - ½IMKovalevskaya Ekaterina242112
7GMKosintseva Tatiana2536½ - ½GMKosintseva Nadezhda25605
8WGMJu Wenjun25361 - 0GMZhao Xue24974
9GMCmilyte Viktorija2525½ - ½GMZhu Chen24903
10GMKosteniuk Alexandra24690 - 1GMLahno Kateryna25542
11IMGalliamova Alisa24981 - 0IMMunguntuul Batkhuyag24671

Final Ranking
14GMZhao Xue2497CHN*0½111111111046,502817
28WGMJu Wenjun2536CHN1*½½½1½11½0½7039,752606
312IMKovalevskaya Ekaterina2421RUS½½*1½½½1½½½06133,752551
49GMCmilyte Viktorija2525LTU0½0*1½1½½½½16029,252541
52GMLahno Kateryna2554UKR0½½0*½½½1½½1026,7512502
63GMZhu Chen2490QAT00½½½*½½1½105225,002472
77GMKosintseva Tatiana2536RUS0½½0½½*½½½½1524,502468
85GMKosintseva Nadezhda2560RUS000½½½½*½½11523,0012466
96GMStefanova Antoaneta2528BUL00½½00½½*1115123,0012469
1011IMGalliamova Alisa2498RUS0½½½½½½½0*10023,7522443
111IMMunguntuul Batkhuyag2467MGL01½½½0½000*14021,752408
1210GMKosteniuk Alexandra2469RUS0½100100010*019,002377

Here are the "scheduled" events for the remainder of the 2011-2012 Women's Grand Prix Cycle:

30 May - 13 June 2012, Kazan RUSSIA
16-30 July 2012, Jermuk ARMENIA
16-30 November 2012, Istanbul TURKEY

2011 Unive Hoogeveen

1GM Kramnik, Vladimir4.0M27912955+0.9811½½1
2GM Giri, Anish2.5M27222740+0.130½½½1
3GM Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime2.0M27152669-0.33½½½½0
4GM Polgar, Judit1.5F27012584-0.78½0½½0

Judit's pic from today, official website.  Tres chic!  Classic
Burberry scarf, flattering black cuffed top, gorgeous shiny
hair, trendy jeans, purse and right-on-trend stiletto "shoeties."
In the Open, GM Alex Lenderman (USA) is having a good tournament!  He's currently in 1st place (again) but the battle is fierce and tight at the top.  Tomorrow's final round - who knows?  Here are the current leaders in the Open:

1GM Lenderman, Aleksandr6.5USAM25622684+1.291111½½½1
2GM Nyzhnyk, Illya6.5UKRM25612684+1.281½111½1½
3GM Tiviakov, Sergei6.0NEDM26472609-0.17111½½101
4GM Ernst, Sipke6.0NEDM25812506-0.4101111½½1
5GM Haslinger, Stewart G6.0ENGM25422571+0.4411½1011½
6IM Van Kampen, Robin6.0NEDM25292585+0.78½111½½½1
7IM Grover, Sahaj6.0INDM25142575+0.751½11011½

He's going to have his toughest match yet, though, tomorrow for the final round, going up again Tiviakov, who will have the white pieces.  Here are the top pairings:

1GM Tiviakov, Sergei6.0NED2647GM Lenderman, Aleksandr6.5USA2562
2GM Nyzhnyk, Illya6.5UKR2561GM Ernst, Sipke6.0NED2581
3IM Van Kampen, Robin6.0NED2529GM Haslinger, Stewart G6.0ENG2542
4GM Baklan, Vladimir5.5UKR2617IM Grover, Sahaj6.0IND2514
5GM Zherebukh, Yaroslav5.5UKR2580IM Popilski, Gil5.5ISR2381

Thursday, October 20, 2011

New Examination Confirms Pre-Clovis Dating for Washington Site

From Popular Archaeology
Mastodon Kill Site Shows Human Presence in North America Before 13,000 Years Ago
By Dan McLerran Thu, Oct 20, 2011

[Excerpted]Based on new dating results, the tip of a bone point lodged within the rib bone of a mastodon excavated in the 1970's near Manis, Washington, turns out to be about 13,800 years old, say scientists. The finding suggests that hunters who killed the mastodon likely lived in North America before the traditionally accepted dawn of the "Clovis" culture, thought previously by many scientists to be the earliest human culture established on the continent.

Dr. Carl Gustafson of Washington State University, the initial excavator of the mastodon remains more than three decades ago, concluded from radiocarbon dating of charcoal deposits around the remains that it was about 14,000 years old, a conclusion that has been a subject of considerable debate among scholarly critics.  Also controversial was his suggestion that the bone point found embedded in the rib bone was an early projectile point, similar to other bone projectile points found at other Paleo-indian sites.

The case was revisited recently when Dr. Michael Waters of Texas A and M University, along with a team of colleagues, used mass spectrometry to date carbon in samples of bone from the rib, a pair of tusks found at the same site, and the embedded point. Results indicated that all of the fossils tested were about 13,800 years old. They also used high-resolution X-ray CT scanning of the embedded bone point to produce a three-dimensional visual study or image. Based on this, they determined that the point was likely at least 27 centimeters long, similar in length to those of later, Clovis-age projectile points that were used in throwing or thrusting weapons made by Paleolithic hunters of North America. Moreover, the team examined the specimen using DNA protein analysis of material from the bone point and the rib in which it was embedded. They concluded that the point itself was fashioned from mastodon bone.

"What that told us", says Waters, "was that these people [who] killed this particular (Manis) mastodon must have killed at least one other mastodon to harvest the bone to make a tool, or at least scavenged some bone from another mastodon to make a tool."

Most significantly, the findings constitute more evidence that Paleo-Indians settled the americas before 13,000 B.P.E., the earliest date that has traditionally been assigned to the emergence of the "Clovis" cultural horizon. The "Clovis" culture is originally derived from archaeological discoveries in the late 1930's at a site near Clovis, New Mexico, where a distinct bifacial, fluted stone projectile point artifact type (pictured left) was found and which became a common find among numerous archaeological sites throughout the American continent. Clovis marked the first presence of humans in North America and was considered ancestral to all Native Americans. Additionally, it has been suggested by some scientists that the hunting practices of the Clovis people may have played a salient role in the extinction of the mastodon, along with other large mammals that roamed North America.

But that theory, popularly known in the scientific world as "Clovis First", has been challenged in recent years by new finds. Among the new discoveries were those of Eske Willerslev, a key lead researcher with Waters on the Manis mastodon study. He conducted Carbon-14 dating and DNA analysis on human remains found in caves in the state of Oregon and concluded that these traces of humans in North America were approximately 14,340 years old. Maintains Willerslev, "our research now shows that other hunters were present at least 1,000 years prior to the Clovis culture. Therefore, it was not a sudden war or a quick slaughtering of the mastodons by the Clovis culture, which made the species disappear. We can now conclude that the hunt for the animals stretched out over a much longer period of time. At this time, however, we do not know if it was the man-made hunt for the mastodons, mammoths and other large animals from the so-called mega-fauna, which caused them to become extinct and disappear. Maybe the reason was something complete different, for instance the climate."

Whether or not the Oregon finds and those at Manis, Washington can be correlated in terms of a new theory on early Paleo-Indians in North America and the extinction of the mastodon, the latest research on the Manis mastodon does open an additional window of consideration on the presence of humans on the American continent.

Says Waters, "We're looking at another pre-Clovis locality in North America where, in this case, bone weaponry was used to hunt mastodons 800 years before Clovis stone weaponry show up on the landscape."

Etruscan Birth Scene May Be Oldest In the West

From Southern Methodist University (Texas) blog

Ancient Etruscan childbirth image is first for western art


An archaeological excavation at Poggio Colla, the site of a 2,700-year-old Etruscan settlement in Italy's Mugello Valley, has turned up a surprising and unique find: two images of a woman giving birth to a child.

Researchers from the Mugello Valley Archaeological Project, which oversees the Poggio Colla excavation site some 20 miles northeast of Florence, discovered the images on a small fragment from a ceramic vessel that is more than 2,600 years old.

The images show the head and shoulders of a baby emerging from a mother represented with her knees raised and her face shown in profile, one arm raised, and a long ponytail running down her back.

The identification of the scene was made by Phil Perkins, an authority on Etruscan bucchero and professor of archaeology at The Open University.

"We were astounded to see this intimate scene; it must be the earliest representation of childbirth in Western art," said Perkins. "Etruscan women are usually represented feasting or participating in rituals, or they are goddesses. Now we have to solve the mystery of who she is and who her child is."
The Etruscans were the first settlers of Italy, long before the Roman Empire. They built the first cities, were a conduit for the introduction of Greek culture to the Romans, and were known for their art, agriculture, fine metalworking and commerce. They occupied Italy for the first millennium B.C., but were conquered by the Romans and eventually became absorbed into their empire.
Image on elite pottery has implications for Poggio Colla sanctuary worship

"The birth scene is extraordinary, but what is also fascinating is what this image might mean on elite pottery at a sanctuary," said Greg Warden, professor and associate dean for academic affairs at the Meadows School of the Arts at SMU and a director of the Mugello Valley Archaeological Project.
"Might it have some connection to the cult," Warden said, "to the kind of worship that went on at the hilltop sanctuary of Poggio Colla?"
First image of its type from Etruscan sites

The ceramic fragment is less than 1-3/4 x 1-1/4 inches (4 x 3 cm), from a vessel made of bucchero. Bucchero is a fine, black ceramic material, embellished with stamped and incised decorations, used to make eating and drinking vessels for Etruscan elites.

Typically, stamped designs range from abstract geometric motifs to exotic and mythical animals. There are no known Greek or Roman representations of the moment of birth shown as clearly as the Poggio Colla example until more than 500 years later. The fragment dates to about 600 B.C.E. (Before the Common Era).

Because the site at Poggio Colla has produced numerous votive deposits, scholars are certain that for some part of its history it was a sacred spot to a divinity or divinities.

The abundance of weaving tools and a stunning deposit of gold jewelry discovered earlier have already suggested to some scholars that the patron divinity may have been female; the discovery of the childbirth scene, because of its uniqueness, adds another piece of evidence to the theory.

"This is a most exciting discovery," said Larissa Bonfante, professor emerita of classics at New York University and a world-renowned expert on the ancient Etruscans. "It shows an image of a type so far unknown in Etruscan context and gives us plenty to think about as we try to understand its religious significance."

A paper about the find will be presented at the annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America in Philadelphia in January. The paper, titled "Defining Northern Etruria: Evidence from Poggio Colla (Vicchio di Mugello)," will be presented by Ann Steiner, provost, dean of the faculty and Shirley Watkins Steinman Professor of Classics at Franklin and Marshall College.

Poggio Colla: Highly significant as it spans Etruscan history

Poggio Colla is a highly significant and rare site. One reason is that it spans most of Etruscan history. Archaeological evidence suggests that the site was occupied from around 700 B.C.E. until 187 B.C.E., when it was destroyed by the Romans. Another reason is that it was not buried under later construction. The Etruscans picked beautiful, easily defended hilltops for their settlements. As a result, generation after generation built new cities on top of their sites. That means many have 2000 years of other civilizations on top of Etruscan settlements and cemeteries. Poggio Colla, however, remained in its original condition. Third, Poggio Colla represents an entire settlement, including tombs, a temple, a pottery factory and an artisan community. Excavations of workshops and living quarters are yielding new details about Etruscan life to scholars.

The site centers on the acropolis, a roughly rectangular plateau of one and a half acres at the summit of Poggio Colla. Excavations have found strong evidence that the acropolis was home to a sanctuary and have identified a temple building and an altar at the center of a large courtyard. Numerous offerings have been found buried around the altar, gifts left behind as part of a sacred ritual to a still unidentified deity. These votive donations range from a massive deposit of nearly 500 varied bronze objects, to a spectacular gift of women's gold jewelry and semi-precious stones. Another votive deposit contains a collection of ritual objects that were laid to rest in a room at the northwest corner of the sanctuary courtyard, possibly by a priest.
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