Saturday, February 16, 2013

Team of California Chess Queens Wins

Local girls win at chess

Ukiah Daily Journal Staff

The Ukiah Daily Journal
Chess Queens from the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas Instilling Goodness Elementary School prevailed at the all girls chess touranment in Santa Rosa on Saturday, Feb. 9.
Four of the nine girls in Ms. Light's Chess Club who attended won first place trophies at this 4th annual all girls chess tournament in Santa Rosa.
This year it was a benefit to support Sonoma County Girls on the Run, a nonprofit with a mission to prepare girls for a lifetime of healthy living and self-respect.
The first place winners were: Joy Sun, grade 6; Kaili Golden, grade 5; Oceana Sipila, grade 4; and Amelia Adams, grade 2. Other Chess Queens attending and placing were: Ayled Alfaro, Nevaeh Storie, Sierra Sipila, Hailey Luong, Reina Pittman.
Chess is a game that helps improve concentration and critical thinking skills and fosters self-discipline and sportsmanship. Light has 20 girls who have joined her chess club.

A View Toward Eternity: Senet in MY Photographs

Hola darlings!

I've been working on a wall in my dinette for the past 3 weeks now in my "spare time," putting up the ubiquitous "Gallery Wall."  LOL!  In the blogging world of D-I-Y and home decorating, they're all the rage right now, and have been for some time.  'course, I did my own version in 2007 on the staircase wall but that was when I was ignorant and didn't know any better, and just hammered a bunch of nails in the wall and hung up pictures in any old frame I happened to have on hand at the time, because they were important to me and reminded me of wonderful and pleasant things.  They weren't meant to make a "fashion statement".

That initial "gallery wall" was taken down when I put Maison Newton on the market in November, 2009, and although (by mutual agreement, LOL!) the brokers I was listed with cancelled my listing near the end of January, 2010, I did not re-install that gallery wall.  Always meant to..

Fast forward to about a month ago...

My (new and improved, cough cough) gallery wall started out simply enough, with only five items -- three photographs and two small mirrors.  But that damn wall soon took on a life of its own.

Now, my "Gallery Wall" isn't like anything the Earth as ever seen before, since it has taken on the symbolic form of a gigantic Senet Game (a/k/a Thirty Squares) starting, appropriately enough, from top row left to right, and then following a serpentine course right to left, alternate rows, down to the "End" of The Game (bottom row). 

I'm nearly finished with it, only have four more photographs to hang, but they are the most important and symbolic of the entire board, because they represent the final three positions plus Nirvana.  Yeah, I know Nirvana is an Indian term, but the concept of Nirvana is universal and is something a lot more people have at heard about than the ancient Egyptian Land of the Dead in the Western Desert!

If one lands on square 30, one departs to the Land of the Dead in the Western Desert (a/k/a Nirvana), which will be represented by a photograph of the Pyramids at Giza.  One might also be especially lucky and throw a number that will jump their playing piece directly to square 31. Of course, on the typical Egyptian Senet boards, square 31 is invisible, i.e., off the grid. It was understood by all players to be there, but the square was not physically represented.  And, I have to point out, that in the oldest stone-carved Senet boards uncovered in the Naqada layers (pre-Dynastic, and none a complete board to my knowledge), there were 33 squares, not 30! 

I have hung 27 photographs thus far, representing my biological family and my other family, the Magnificient Goddesschess Four, taken during our various travels over the years, including (of course) Don McLean a/k/a Mr. Don.   

Therefore, the final three photographs that I hang are of the utmost importance, since they represent the final steps toward the end/beginning/eternity. 

Here is a not so good photograph of what the wall looks like thus far, with 23 photographs, 1 clock and 3 mirrors on it:

The final row will march across the bottom, near the floor, starting with a photograph of our dear friend, Carmen Romeo, when she took a tour of Egypt some years ago (2008?), which will be positioned on the corner, lower right.  Egypt points the way

The final photograph, the Pyramids at Giza, will finish at the left of the wall, fittingly, aligned underneath the very first photo in the top row, which represents the "beginning" of my modern-day family (Great-Grandfather David Antoine Newton/Villeneuve and Great-Grandmother Laura Ruth Baily, and some of their adult children and their spouses). In between, the bottom row will be photographs of my father and of Mr. Don, either the last I have of them before they died or photographs from their funerals. 

The square mirror that is more or less in the center of the board and has the word "EmBrace" scralled on its border is square 13.  This represents the largest water hazard in the game, and sends a player who lands on it back to the very beginning.  There are two other, smaller, mirrors on the board; landing on one sends a player back five spaces.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Haaretz Article on Ancient Boad Games in Israel

Unearthed board games shed light on ancient holy land trivial pursuits

A Jerusalem 'artifactologist,' who directs a national storage facility that holds more than a million archaeological items, says games offer insight into human life throughout the ages.

By | Feb.10, 2013 | 10:53 AM
A few years ago, a striking street from the Roman period was discovered in the back part of the Western Wall Square. This eastern cardo area features a wide lane, sidewalks, and entryways for stores. Archaeologists, led by Shlomit Wexler-Bedolah from the Israel Antiquities Authority, discovered an inscription in one of the sidewalk areas − the engraving stretches across two quadrants, each divided into squares, and has a large X in its center. 
In another area, an engraving features a rectangle divided into 42 squares. An intensive search uncovered another six inscriptions of various types; and searches in other parts of Jerusalem’s Old City uncovered another 21 engravings − in the Damascus Gate square, around the Dung Gate, at the Jewish quarter’s cardo, and elsewhere. Each is actually a public game-board, dating from the Roman period, similar to public chessboards that can sometimes be found in public parks in Europe.
Jerusalem in Roman times − Aelia Capitolina − is not unusual in this respect. Archaeologist Dr. Michael Saban, who investigates ancient games artifacts, alludes to hundreds of game boards of different types, from all historical periods. The oldest such board dates to the 7th century B.C.E., 9,000 years ago. [In non-Jewish time, between about 2,700 and 2,600 years ago.]
Archaeology established that residents of this country started to play games immediately after they built the land’s first settlements; and, apparently, hunter-gatherers were also games players. A circumstance in which two seated game players sit on opposite sides of a board with dozens of spectators looking on, in a competition that is a social event and perhaps also a business contest, characterizes human society in this country no less than familiar situations of wars, conquests and catastrophes.
“A game represents an integral part of human life,” says Saban. “It is what enables conversation between people.”
Saban, who directs the Antiquities Authority’s artifacts storage facility, is in charge of a huge industrial operation. The storehouse, whose exact location is a type of state secret, holds more than a million archaeological items discovered in excavations throughout the country. The artifacts range from carved flint tens of thousands of years old to huge iron anchors dating from the Crusader period, and from Second Temple period ossuaries ‏(bone depositories‏) to clay pipes from the Ottoman era.
Out of all these items, Saban − who describes himself as an “artifactologist” − cultivated a special interest in the ancient game equivalents of the likes of Monopoly, backgammon, checkers and chess. In an article ‏(“Ancient Board Games in the Land of Israel”‏) published recently in the Qadmoniot journal ‏(vol. 45 no. 144‏), he summarizes 20 years of research of game boards discovered in Eretz Israel.
Saban started his research of ancient games during excavations at Tel Arad, directed by Prof. Ruth Amiran. This excavation of ancient Arad yielded a bountiful collection of game boards from the Bronze Age, 4,500 years ago. Some 55 boards, or fragments of game boards, were uncovered at the ancient Canaanite city. The expansive but precise character of the excavation conducted at the site yielded these ample finds, Saban believes.
Saban claims that relics of games can be found at virtually every archaeological site in the country, or around the world. Generally, crude engravings were made on stone, or simple, shallow holes were drilled on surfaces. Sometimes, excavators uncover more sophisticated game boards, which were used by persons of higher status and were crafted by artisans. The most famous example is the carved Senet game board found alongside the grave of the pharaoh, King Tutankhamun, in Egypt.
An ornate ivory game board from the Bronze Age was found at Tel Megiddo in the north; it was used for a game called “Dogs and Jackals.” Archaeologists were also able to find stone dice and other small items used for this game.
Saban divides the board games into four types:
1. Position games, akin to tic-tac-toe. These are games in which a player tries to position his pieces in a winning position over his opponent’s pieces;
2. Race games, as in the ancient Egyptian Senet game, or backgammon, in which a player tries to advance all of his pieces to a defined finish line;
3. War games, such as chess or checkers
4. Forms of Mancala games − a group of logic games originating in Africa, and which spread around the world together with the slave trade. The game hones tactics of moving seeds into holes.
The common denominator linking these games is the gap between the primitive instruments used for playing, and the sophisticated gamesmanship required for victory. In most cases, players needed no more than half a minute to set up the game, by digging a few holes in the sand and collecting a few small stones or twigs that could be used as dice. Some of the games put a premium on luck, but even in these cases the more experienced player who followed a better strategy was more likely to win.
Intersection where games meet

Apart from the oldest games, whose names and rules have long since disappeared, Saban and other researchers have been able to recreate rules and features of ancient games. Senet is the oldest game whose rules are known conclusively to Saban. It was clearly the national pastime of ancient Egypt. The game also had a spiritual component because the last five squares on the board represented the soul’s journey after death, and the game’s conclusion symbolized the longed-for union between the deceased person’s soul and the god, Ra. As years passed the game lost its religious character, but it was never forgotten in the hearts of the region’s residents. Today, Bedouin in the Sinai and Negev deserts still play the game, albeit under the name Tab.
Eretz Israel was a crossroads where two games enjoyed by two regional empires intersected: the Egyptian Senet and a royal game, of the race game variety mentioned above, which originated in Mesopotamia. Proof of this game-playing cross-fertilization is furnished by two-sided boards: Senet can be found on one side of such boards, and the royal game is on the other. Such double-sided boards, dating to the Bronze Age ‏(3,600 years ago‏), have been uncovered in this country − for instance, at Tel Hazor and Beit Shemesh. In the case of the latter board, archaeologists from Tel Aviv University even found the name of the game’s owner, Hanan, engraved on it.
The engraved boards from the Roman period discovered in Jerusalem are a version of a game that came to be known as Nine Men’s Morris. This is a sophisticated positioning game, whose most primitive version is Tic-Tac-Toe. The game was popular in the Roman Empire, and remained a favorite in Europe during the Middle Ages. Centuries after soldiers from the Roman Legion played on the boards near the Western Wall, the game returned to Eretz Israel with the Crusaders; and boards engraved for the game by Crusader knights can be found at Atlit and Kochav Hayarden.
Game-playing in ancient times was so widespread that artifacts researched by Saban constitute just a fraction of the phenomenon, and most game artifacts have been lost. “Games are an integral part of being human,” Saban says. “Were you to have wandered around Aelia Capitolina, you would have seen hundreds of such game boards on streets, on sidewalks leading to temples, alongside wells; two people would play each game, with dozens of spectators looking on. It was a kind of encounter. People spoke, made business deals. A game was only for adults − children weren’t involved in these [ancient] eras. Today, adults can be heard saying ‘I have no time for games,’ but they also play games. The biggest religion in the world today is soccer. How many people watch the World Cup final? And all of the spectators are really playing. It’s not 11 men against 11 others on the field if everyone else is watching, cursing − if they are involved, they are playing.”
As Saban sees it, board games also retain their vitality. “There isn’t a person on earth who hasn’t played some sort of board game,” he says. He has taught his own children and their friends some of the ancient games, much to their enjoyment. “The need to play, and to watch a game, is branded deep within us, and represents a basic component of human culture,” Saban writes in his article.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

2013 Moscow Open

Here are the final standings of the ladies from the Open A (Men's) and the top finishers in the Open B (Women's).

Clear first place in the Open A is also shown - a male player I haven't heard of, but since I don't pay much attention to men's chess that's not surprising.  Still, this year's Moscow Open A seemed to be mostly populated by third and fourth tier of male GMs, probably due to the crappy prizes.  I have to wonder why Fearless Leader Putin did not see fit to raid the state treasury for some funds for the Moscow Open, tsk tsk.  He's been raiding it for everything else (mostly vacations where he's shown without his shirt on, doing "manly" things.  Perhaps he thinks chess isn't very "manly.")


NameFEDRtgPts.TB1 TB2 TB3
GMSavchenko BorisRUS25847.551.5637.0
GMHarika DronavalliIND25145.546.0429.5
WGMGomes Mary AnnIND23945.039.0424.5
IMKaravade EeshaIND23914.543.5326.0
WGMPadmini RoutIND23074.537.5418.0
IMMohota NishaIND23274.038.0220.0
WGMNakhbayeva GuliskhanKAZ23534.037.5421.0

Okay, so no matter how many times I tried, I could not get the final ranking list for all 233 players.

The full cross-table was working, so I grabbed the information for the remainder of the female players:

WFMPujari Rucha2100IND59b0216w186b0147w0200b1153w0139b0208w1209b+4.033.5416.0
WGMKiran Manisha Mohanty2188IND52w0100b½182w1111b0183b159w0172b0175w1160b03.538.5318.0
Michelle Catherina P2105IND135b0185w159b0209w½122b0175w1147b0200w½163b½3.535.5216.5
WGMSoumya Swaminathan2291IND93w037b0219w1199b½39w0213b1120w0180b0212w13.534.5315.0
WGMCherednichenko Svetlana2307UKR50b0118w0218b½217w190b0179w0212w½210b½214w13.530.0213.0
WIMAbdulla Khayala2203AZE70w0213b½128w1143b½134w0117b0159w0204b1145w03.035.5216.0
WFMBharathi R.2099IND92w0149b½38w½117b0182w0184b0206w½205b½224b13.033.5111.0
WFMMonnisha Gk2055IND85b0197w½116b½191w0140b0206w1163b0194w0217b13.030.5212.5
Zizlova Sofia2129RUS120w0114b0187w½127b0128w0224b1176w0213b0220w½2.030.018.0

None of the female players in the Open A won any prizes.  I have a tremendous amount of respect, though, for the female players from India and the other ladies who played in the A Group, knowing hey would be up against VERY tough competition.

In the Women's Open B, mostly populated by lower rated Russian female players, here are the top finishers:

NameFEDRtgPts. TB1 TB2 TB3
IMRomanko MarinaRUS23497.555.5743.0
WFMKhlichkova TatianaRUS21717.550.5736.0
WFMTomnikova LidiaRUS21347.052.5739.0
IMBodnaruk AnastasiaRUS24307.052.0535.5
WIMTarasova ViktoriyaRUS22737.050.5637.0
WIMKomiagina MariaRUS22427.049.0635.5
WFMCheremnova TamaraRUS22707.046.0633.0
WGMManakova MariaSRB23477.046.0631.5
IMOvod EvgenijaRUS23616.554.0538.5
FMStetsko LanitaBLR21846.551.0538.0
WIMDolzhykova KaterynaUKR23096.548.5534.0
WIMFominykh MariaRUS22846.547.0631.5
WGMBurtasova AnnaRUS22786.547.0631.0
IMGalojan LilitARM23266.547.0533.5
WGMKovanova BairaRUS23876.546.0629.5
Ibrahimova SabinaAZE21566.545.5531.0

You can find the prizes here.  Group B's prize purse was 650,000 rubles.  Current conversion rate is 30.07 rubles to a U.S. Dollar; total women's prizes were approximately $21,616 USD.  The top women's prize was 150,000 rubles, or approximately $4,988 USD.  Under the regulations, prizes were not split among players with equal scores but were determined on tie-breaks.   

Sunday, February 10, 2013

More Than You Wanna Know About Richard III

Yeah, it's him:\
thorough; includes video of announcement)\

… although some folks are questioning the DNA evidence:\

… and the ‘closeness’ of the researchers to the subject matter:\

Hair Debates - An "Amateur" Is Turning Heads with Her Research

Kudos to Janet Stephens, a "non-archaeologist" who showed the so-called experts a thing or three about ancient hairstyles and their silly assumption that all of those extragavant hairstyles were wigs. 

From The Wall Street Journal Online

On Pins and Needles: Stylist Turns Ancient Hairdo Debate on Its Head

Ms. Stephens Says Ornate Coiffures Weren't Wigs After All; The Vestal Virgin Challenge

Wednesday, February 6, 2013
By day, Janet Stephens is a hairdresser at a Baltimore salon, trimming bobs and wispy bangs. By night she dwells in a different world. At home in her basement, with a mannequin head, she meticulously re-creates the hairstyles of ancient Rome and Greece.
Ms. Stephens is a hairdo archaeologist.
Her amateur scholarship is sticking a pin in the long-held assumptions among historians about the complicated, gravity-defying styles of ancient times. Basically, she has set out to prove that the ancients probably weren't wearing wigs after all.
"This is my hairdresserly grudge match with historical representations of hairstyles," says Ms. Stephens, who works at Studio 921 Salon & Day Spa, which offers circa 21st-century haircuts.
Her coiffure queries began, she says, when she was killing time in the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore back in 2001. A bust of the Roman empress Julia Domna caught her eye. "I thought, holy cow, that is so cool," she says, referring to the empress's braided bun, chiseled in stone. She wondered how it had been built. "It was amazing, like a loaf of bread sitting on her head," says Ms. Stephens.

She tried to re-create the 'do on a mannequin. "I couldn't get it to hold together," she says. Turning to the history books for clues, she learned that scholars widely believed the elaborately teased, towering and braided styles of the day were wigs.

She didn't buy that. Through trial and error she found that she could achieve the hairstyle by sewing the braids and bits together, using a needle. She dug deeper into art and fashion history books, looking for references to stitching.

In 2005, she had a breakthrough. Studying translations of Roman literature, Ms. Stephens says, she realized the Latin term "acus" was probably being misunderstood in the context of hairdressing. Acus has several meanings including a "single-prong hairpin" or "needle and thread," she says. Translators generally went with "hairpin."

The single-prong pins couldn't have held the intricate styles in place. But a needle and thread could. It backed up her hair hypothesis.

In 2007, she sent her findings to the Journal of Roman Archaeology. "It's amazing how much chutzpah you have when you have no idea what you're doing," she says. "I don't write scholarly material. I'm a hairdresser."

John Humphrey, the journal's editor, was intrigued. "I could tell even from the first version that it was a very serious piece of experimental archaeology which no scholar who was not a hairdresser—in other words, no scholar—would have been able to write," he says.

He showed it to an expert, who found the needle-and-thread theory "entirely original," says Mr. Humphrey, whose own scholarly work has examined arenas for Roman chariot racing.

Ms. Stephens' article was edited and published in 2008, under the headline "Ancient Roman Hairdressing: On (Hair)Pins and Needles." The only other article by a nonarchaeologist that Mr. Humphrey can recall publishing in the journal's 25-year history was written by a soldier who had discovered an unknown Roman fort in Iraq.

Ms. Stephens dates her fascination with hair to her childhood in Kennewick, Wash., where she entertained herself as a five-year-old by cutting the neon tufts on her Troll dolls. When she chopped off all the Troll fluff and realized it wouldn't grow back, she says, she got into styling, creating Troll costumes including an Egyptian suit of armor made of tin foil. "Whatever you're most passionate about when you're five is what you should do for the rest of your life," says Ms. Stephens, 54 years old.

In recent years, Ms. Stephens has reconstructed the styles of ancient royals including Faustina the Younger and Empress Plotina—sometimes on live models. Last year she gave a presentation at an Archaeological Institute of America conference in Philadelphia in which she lined up several mannequin heads.

"It was like a bad science-fair project," she says. "I had no idea what I was doing." Also speaking that day: a researcher with new insight into spearheads from the Iron Age in South Italy.

The "Mullet from Hell."
There is one hairstyle that Ms. Stephens says she hasn't been able to find a real, live model to submit to. The style, seen on an ancient Roman sculpture known as the Fonseca Bust, boasts a tall, horseshoe-shaped pile of curls in the front that would involve cutting the model's hair. "It's like a mullet from hell," she says.

At the cavernous, Buddha-filled Baltimore salon where Ms. Stephens is employed, her fellow stylists find her archaeology work a bit mysterious. Nevertheless, they occasionally model for her Roman re-creations.

One of them is Rachael Lynne Pietra. Her long tresses provided an ideal medium for demonstrating a style worn by the Vestal Virgins—women who took a vow of chastity and guarded a sacred fire in ancient Rome.

"People have been interested in the construction of that hairstyle for centuries," says Ms. Stephens. Big problem: Vestals wore their hair covered, so there are almost no carvings or images of the complete hairdo.

Ms. Stephens solved the mystery by studying many portraits, each showing bits of braids poking out from the front and back of the head covering. Then she "started scribbling" on the images, she says, "color-coding everything—this braid looks like it belongs with this one; that braid belongs with that one."

In a YouTube video by Ms. Stephens, "Vestal Hairdressing," she intones: "The Roman grammarian Festus informs us that both brides and the Vestal Virgins wore an ancient hairstyle called the Seni Crines."

The resulting nest of braids was "awesome," says Ms. Pietra, the model in the video. Although it did feel "heavy." She promptly took it down.

Ms. Stephens is "crazy, crazy intelligent," Ms. Pietra notes.

Not everyone agrees with the hairdresser's theories. Last month, at an Archaeological Institute of America conference in Seattle, Ms. Stephens says, a woman doing a dissertation on Vestal Virgin hair took issue with her argument that the Vestal hairstyle was built out of seven separate braids—not six as long believed.

"I walked her through it," Ms. Stephens says. "There's a logic to hair."

Marden Nichols, curator of ancient art at the Walters Art Museum, says Ms. Stephens is able to "break new ground" specifically because of her work as a stylist.

"Like many classicists, I spend my days analyzing works of literature and art that relate to activities I have never performed: harvesting crops, building temples, sacrificing animals," she says. Ms. Stephens can "draw upon practical experiences."

Thus far, none of Ms. Stephens' clients have asked her to do one of the ancient 'dos on them. But after her work appeared online, she says, "I did have a man fly down from Boston to get an Augustus Caesar cut."

A version of this article appeared February 7, 2013, on page A1 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: On Pins and Needles: Stylist Turns Ancient Hairdo Debate on Its Head.

Preserving Saudi Arabia's Islamic Heritage

Holy Hathor!  After the prior article about Islamists in Iran destroying Iran's pre-Islamic heritage (one monument at a time), I found this op-ed from the Saudi Gazette rather ironic, asking the Saudi government to take more action to preserve Islamic heritage in Saudi Arabia (!) all the more ironic.

Preservation of Islamic antiquities is our historical responsibility


Last Updated : Tuesday, February 05, 2013 12:38 PM
Abdul Illah SaatiOkaz newspaper

Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi once held a meeting in Rome with a Saudi delegation of which I was a member. Berlusconi spoke proudly about the history of his country and said Rome was a big, open museum that had no parallel in the world. He further told us that the Italian government has a huge budget for the maintenance and upkeep of the historic sites and relics.

The attention given by a nation to its antiquities shows that it is a country whose people have a deep understanding and respect of civilization. Nations that are proud of their history, reserve and maintain their antiquities because of their great value as symbols of their history and civilization.

Our country is rich in history and has a large number of archeological treasures scattered all over its regions. The most important of these antiquities are the Islamic relics which show the history of Islam and its Prophet (peace be upon him). Saudi Arabia is the birth place of Islam so it contains many important Islamic antiquities that narrate the story of the Prophet (pbuh), the establishment of the first Islamic state, the efforts to spread Islam all over the world and the historic developments of the Islamic civilization.

It is really painful that we treat these relics in a manner that reflects our complete ignorance of their value and significance. Historian and writer Mohammed Al-Salmi once wrote "we consolidate our ignorance of the value of these relics with naked aggression against them. We deliberately destroy them to a degree that makes us unworthy of them." I would add to this and say that our dealing with Islamic antiquities reflects a great inability on our part in realizing the religious and historic significance of these antiquities. By this ignorance we are not only being unfair to ourselves but also to future generations.

It is high time we realize the great value of Islamic antiquities in our country. We should work hard to preserve and upkeep them in a manner that reflects their real worth. Makkah is the region which contains most of these Islamic antiquities. It is hoped that its Emir Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, who himself is an artist and thinker, will exert more efforts to preserve historic locations and maintain them for future generations. We also hope that the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) will play a bigger role in preserving, developing and maintaining Islamic locations so people know more about the history of their religion.

We should give utmost priority to Islamic relics and the history of our Prophet (pbuh) and dismiss any calls that advocate otherwise as incompatible with the contemporary age we live in and the progressive nation we are striving to become. [Progressive nation we are striving to become....bwwwaaaaaahhhhhaaaaaa!]
I probably won't be alive when the Goddess finally decides to destroy this vile, vicious backward woman-hating religion once and for all (right now she's busy taking down Roman Catholicism dollar by dollar).

Sad Fate of Ancient Fire Temple at Qom

Qom’s Parthian fire temple left at her own devices to be destroyed

February 8, 2013 (From Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies)

LONDON, (CAIS) -- A recent report from Qom, indicates Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicraft and Tourism Organisation (ICHHTO) has purposely left a 2,000-year-old Kermejgān (recently Karamjegān) fire temple at her own devices at the mercy of zealous religious leaders and harsh weather, to be destroyed.

Kermejgān fire temple, which in fact is a chār tāqi (small fire-temple with astrological and calendrical functionalities) is located in the northwest of a village of the same name, in the Kahak District of the central Iranian province of Qom. The chār tāqi is 7.10 x7.10 meters, and there is a 3.5-meter gap between each 1.8 x 1.8 meters tick pillars. Although smaller, the similarity between Kermejgān and Niāsar chār tāqi in Kashn, led to believe Kermejgān is a Parthian dynastic (248 BCE-224 CE) construction, dating to the early first century CE.

In 1997 a number of zealous Muslim leaders from Kahak and Qom, in Taliban style fighting and destroying pre-Islamic heritage, brought 2000-year-old Kermejgān to the ground, by destroying two of her pillars, causing her ancient dome to collapse – her ashlars were taken away in order not to be restored, and some were reused in the construction of a nearby underground water reservoir.

The collapse of the dome and lack of protection, particularly during the wet seasons, has caused the rainwater to penetrate into her foundation from within, causing the floor to rise. Today, from her two remaining pillars only portions of it are visible. No scientific research has ever been carried out on the site, and if no immediate measures are taken to protect the remains then nothing will be left of her within the next few years.

Although the criminals for destroying the heritage site are known to the authorities, no charges were brought against them. This suggests the action was sanctioned by the ruling clerics.

Qom today is considered as the main centre for the Shiat sect of Islam, it held the same religious prominence during the Sasanian period, but as the Zoroastrian Centre. The city was called Godmān/Gomān and later Ērān Win(n)ārd Kawādh.
While nothing is known of Qom’s history during the Median (850-550 BCE) and Achaemenid (550-330 BCE) dynasties, there are significant archaeological remains from the post-Achaemenid and Parthian dynasties, of which the ruins of Khurha (85 km from the city of Qom, and since 1978 part of Markazi Province) are the most famous and important remnants.

Qom during the Sasanian dynasty (224-651 CE) continued to thrive and contained numerous palaces, religious, military and administrative buildings. It is believed that the city was divided into twelve sectors, each having a fire temple.

During the 7th century CE, the city was formed as the core of the Persian resistance against the Arab invaders, where the Persian nobles and soldiers gathered there after the fall and massacre of Nahavand. The city finally felt into the Arab hands in 644 CE, after a long few days of hard resistance and a number of bloody battles.

After the fall, the city had continued to survive as a Zoroastrian city but under Isfahan’s administration, by placing a poll-tax on the population’s head. This was due to the fact that the Zoroastrian and mythical personalities in connection with the city and its surrounding area was too strong to be Islamicised. However, due to the migration of groups of Arab refugees to the city between 685 and 696 CE, the tables were turned; all the fire temple were razed to the ground and Persian inhabitants were forced to accept Islam or killed and their properties were confiscated. Many of those fire temples had become the foundation for the later mosques, including the Masjed-e Emām.

Kushite Pyramid Complex Being Excavated

I'm sure you've read this news by now.  The Mail Online has several good photographs of some of the gravesites and objects recovered. What I find interesting is that this complex, dating back around 2,000 years, was created and continued to be built upon about 400 years AFTER the Kushites were expelled from Egypt.  Of course, trade ties continued between the two kingdoms, even after the Romans took over Egypt, and who knows, maybe even after the last of the Egyptian temples was closed in the 5th century CE, perhaps even after the Muslims took over in the 7th century CE. 

Mini-pyramids of the kingdom of Kush: Archaeologists discover 35 burial chambers in Sudan desert with fascinating links to Ancient Egypt

By Daniel Miller

Archaeologists excavating a site in Sudan have discovered 35 pyramids revealing fascinating links between the bygone Kingdom of Kush that once existed there and ancient Egypt.

The pyramids, which date back around 2,000 years, are smaller than most Egyptian examples with the largest being 22 feet in width and the smallest, likely constructed for the burial of a child, being just 30 inches.

The site in Sedeinga, northern Sudan, was part of the ancient kingdom of Kush which shared a border with Egypt and, later on, the Roman Empire.

One factor that has surprised the team was how densely concentrated the pyramids were. In a single area of 5,381 square feet, roughly the size of a basketball court, they found 13 pyramids.

Packed: One feature that surprised the team was how densely concentrated the pyramids were. In a single area of 5,381 square feet, roughly the size of a basketball court, they found 13 pyramids.

Sadly the condition of the pyramids has suffered from the presence of a camel caravan route and the long passage of time and none of the top sections remain intact.

Capstones, depicting either a bird or a lotus flower on top of a solar orb, who [would] have originally been placed at the top of the pyramids.

Graves were discovered beside the pyramids in tomb chambers which were often found to have held more than one body.  Sadly these graves had all been plundered, possibly many hundreds of years ago, howver the archaeologists did find skeletal remains and some artifacts.

The archaelogical team believes building of pyramids at Sedeinga continued for centuries and was strongly influenced by Egyptian funerary architecture. Vincent Francigny, a research associate with the American Museum of Natural History in New York, told LiveScience: 'The density of the pyramids is huge. Because it lasted for hundreds of years they built more, more, more pyramids and after centuries they started to fill all the spaces that were still available in the necropolis.

'They reached a point where it was so filled with people and graves that they had to reuse the oldest one.'

Some of the pyramids were found to have been built with cross-braces connecting the corners to an inner circle. Interestigly only one pyramid outside of Sedeinga is known to have been built in this way.

Mr Francigny believes that when pyramid building came into fashion at Sedeinga it could have been combined with a local circle-building tradition called tumulus construction, resulting in pyramids with circles within them.

He added: 'What we found this year is very intriguing. A grave of a child and it was covered by only a kind of circle, almost complete, of brick.'

Among the artifacts discovered were depictions of Egyptian gods including Bes who is associated with children and pregnant mothers.

Treasures: An amulet of the
Egyptian god Bes who was
often associated with children
and pregnant mothers

One of the most interesting finds was an offering table depicting the jackal-headed god Anubis and a goddess believed to be Isis.

A dedication to a woman named 'Aba-la,' which researchers belive may be a nickname for 'grandmother,' was inscribed with ancient Meroitic writing - a script derived from Egyptian hieroglyphs.  It reads:

Oh Isis! Oh Osiris!
It is Aba-la.
Make her drink plentiful water;
Make her eat plentiful bread;
Make her be served a good meal.

Amen, Grandmother, amen. 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...