The astounding art of the tomb of Nefertari

Nefertari ( d. circa 1255 BCE) was the first wife of Ramses II. Her tomb is in the Valley of the Queens. The astounding art of the tomb in the Valley of the Queens ( d. circa 1255 BCE) is at 38 minutes.

The film is about the powerful women of ancient Egypt. Gary Bob says check it out!

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blog Kirkpatrick Family History

The Kirkpatrick/Kilpatrick Clan

As a result of my interest in Italian citizenship I made contact with a high school classmate with expertise in the scientific aspects of genealogy in 2008. She arranged for me to have a Y-DNA test to the 37th allele. The Y test traces your paternal heritage. This is more appropriate for heritage tracing where the mother drops her family name for that of the father. The results of my test are in The test showed the presence of relatives from the general area of Central Europe west to Ireland. This was to be expected given my father’s Scottish Celtic heritage.

While in Ireland in the mid 1990’s I went to a shop and bought a print out dealing with the Kirkpatrick clan, my first notification that the family originated in Scotland, not Ireland as we had been told. By 1998 I’d learned of a town called Kirkpatrick-Fleming in Scotland near the border with England. We drove past it on the way to Glasgow. While in Glasgow for a two month period I noticed the many instances of the Kirkpatrick-Kilpatrick name such as Kilpatrick Hills (Kilpatrick is a variation). When we were in Flackwell Heath, England in 2014, one of the volunteers helped me research the Kirkpatricks using their account, at which point I learned about Roger de Kirkpatrick and the Closeburn Castle, owned by the Kirkpatricks from around 1200 to circa 1750.

Several years later I decided to see if I could trace the lineage back to Sir Roger de Kirkpatrick, our most famous ancestor. I used an paid account. I started with the people whose names I knew, the oldest being my great grandfather, whose name and other details I’d learned thanks to the family tree made by my cousin Lois. I then found his father and then the next and so forth, back to around 1200 and Sir Roger. I added this information to my account Kirkpatrick-Palermo-Peloso.

Among my findings was a James Kirkpatrick who was born in 1719 in Dumfries, Dumfries-shire (same area as Kirkpatrick-Fleming), Scotland and who died in South Carolina. The record I found shows that James moved to Ireland, had at least one child there, then moved to America. He had at least one child born in America, in Pennsylvania. James’ father, Alexander Kirkpatrick, left Scotland and settled in Belfast, Ireland in 1725, presumably bringing James with him. He also immigrated to America but I do not think any of his children were born there.  This is the link between our Scottish and Irish heritage. You can say we came from Ireland and to be correct but at the same time it is clear the family originated in Scotland circa 1200. This modifies the family story that we are Irish in origin. We are, in a sense, but much more Scottish, by a long shot.

Recently I discovered a Facebook group called Kirkpatrick DNA Member Roger Caulley looked at my Y DNA results and determined the following: “This indicates you are related to the Closeburn group but not very recently. Your common ancestor with the 2 known descendants of Sir Roger (de Kirkpatrick) lived about 800 years ago — ca 1200 AD. That would have been closer to Sir Ivone de Kyrkpatrick, founder of the clan. ” Ivone was born in 1196 per

No photo description available.
I do not understand this chart very well so can not explain it but perhaps a reader can
Above: Migration of Haplo Group R to which we likely belong

For additional background he referred me to This is a rambling and sometimes confusing account of the history of the family.

There you find a reference to Closeburn: “In 1232, Ivone de Kirkpatrick was granted a charter of ‘Kelosburn’ by Alexander II, and here they remained until 1783, when an imprudent heir was obliged to dispose of his inheritance. ” Kelosburn is now spelled Closeburn and is near Kirkpatrick-Fleming.

In Closeburn the Kirkpatricks built a castle called, appropriately enough, Closeburn Castle. It is still in existence and is now a B and B. It is a Category B listed tower house that was until 1783 the family seat. It was sold apparently to settle debts.

closeburn castle keep

Per Wikipedia, the family was granted the lands called Closeburn in 1232 by Alexander II, consistent with the aforementioned rambling account. The tower house dates from circa 1200.

In 1306 Sir  Roger de Kirkpatrick  (circa 1280-1357) reportedly finished off John “the Red” Comyn, a rival to the throne, whom Robert the Bruce  (Brus) had seriously injured. Bruce fled from the scene of the crime saying he was not sure his rival was dead. Sir Roger reportedly said, “I mak sikker” (I’ll make sure). The drawing below memorialized the scene. Less than seven weeks after the killing in Dumfries, Bruce was crowned King of Scotland. He granted de Kirkpatrick an armorial, which you see below. “I mak sikker” became the family motto.

The killing of John Comyn in the Greyfriars church in Dumfries, as seen by Felix Philippoteaux, a 19th-century illustrator.

Sir Roger was a 3rd cousin of Robert the Bruce. He was a 1st cousin of Sir William Wallace, a well known historical figure. Sir Roger recaptured Caerlaverock and Dalswinton castles from the English in 1355. He was murdered by Sir James Lindsay at Caerlaverock in 1357.

In 1685 the Kirkpatricks’ were awarded a baronercy Here is the list:

  • Sir Thomas Kirkpatrick, 1st Baronet (died c. 1695)
  • Sir Thomas Kirkpatrick, 2nd Baronet (died c. 1730)
  • Sir Thomas Kirkpatrick, 3rd Baronet (1704–1771)
  • Sir James Kirkpatrick, 4th Baronet (died 1804)
  • Sir Thomas Kirkpatrick, 5th Baronet (1777–1844)
  • Sir Charles Sharpe Kirkpatrick, 6th Baronet (1811–1867)
  • Sir Thomas Kirkpatrick, 7th Baronet (1839–1880)
  • Sir James Kirkpatrick, 8th Baronet (1841–1899)
  • Sir Charles Sharpe Kirkpatrick, 9th Baronet (1874–1937)
  • Sir James Alexander Kirkpatrick, 10th Baronet (1918–1954)
  • Sir Ivone Elliott Kirkpatrick, 11th Baronet (born 1942)

In the 17th century the family moved from Closeburn Castle to a newly built manor house next door. The manor house burned down in 1748. They repaired the castle and moved back in. The castle was sold in 1783 to a local minister, James Stewart-Menteith. Since then it has since changed hands.

Coat of Arms of the Kirkpatrick Baronets, of Closeburn


44,000 year old cave paintings

December 18, 2019

The oldest form of communication that reaches us from ancient man comes from artists.  The oldest drawing, found on a rock in South Africa last year, is some 73,000 years old.  In Germany there is a 40,000-year-old sculpture of a human with lion’s head.  In France, a 14,000- to 21,000-year old mural depicts a figure fighting a bison, with the faces sporting a beak.

A new discovery extends narrative cave painting back 44,000 years.  In caves on the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia, archaeologists discovered a painting of a hunt or ritual.  There are two wild pigs and four dwarf buffaloes chased by  mythical human-animal figures hunting with rope- and spear-like weapons.  They are not just individual pieces as in older discoveries but tell a story.   If the age of the paintings is confirmed independently, these become the oldest known narrative cave paintings. 


Screenshot from 2019-12-17 09:17:46



Screenshot from 2019-12-17 09:16:20



Screenshot from 2019-12-17 08:20:50


Screenshot from 2019-12-17 08:19:35


For further reading,


Screenshot from 2019-12-17 09:17:46

Bolivian Dance at Midnight

December 14, 2019


It was a bit past midnight.   We were on the way home from the theater, passing through Parque Turia, when we came across this group doing some worship dancing. There is an impromptu shrine to Mary in front of which they dance.


Bolivian folk dance

There were perhaps 100 people in the crowd.  Children were running about like it was afternoon.  People were laughing, watching the dance, clapping, chatting.  




blog Blog 2019

Festival Internacional de Mediometrajes (short films) 2019 in Valencia

Screenshot from 2019-12-24 15:30:26

The Festival Internacional de Mediometrajes (Short Films) is an annual event in Valencia. This year the venue was the historical Centre Cultural de la Nau on the campus of the Universidad de Valencia and at the Filomteca. The former is an impressive building with a large courtyard where they seated hundreds and it where we were this evening. Spoiler alert- I go though the plot of Notre Dame de la Zad.

The film was introduced in person by the French director. He told is that Our Lady of the Zad is a comedy about a fictitious group’s effort to block highway construction through a forested area containing an endangered species, a huge escargot. Well, you know how the French love snails.

A priest visits the site. He is met by a young woman who spins a tale, obviously made up as she goes. It is about the appearance of the Virgin Mary, who tells her that the highway must not be built as this is now a holy place.

The priest is not convinced by the story but is a supporter of the protest so tells her he will report to the bishop. He convinces the bishop that it’s worth a visit to the site to determine the veracity of the claim. The bishop brings his laptop so he can fill in the app, which asks questions about the predominant colors, rosey or pale pink. She says black, so the priest asks if the Mary was an immigrant (no), then concludes is was a black Madonna. There are statues of such, by the way. During the exchange the priest interrupts by banging the table as the young woman tries to bring up the highway protest in connection with the apparition, the banging causing the lights to fail. Protecting endangered species does not appear as an option in the app, noted in the tongue in cheek dialogue.

Once the app gives him the positive result, the bishop leaves to spread the word of the appearance of Mary. Later, as the police are about to arrest the protesters, pilgrims looking for Mary’s assistance appear with walkers and canes. The police chase the protesters, who circle around, bringing the police back to the supplicants. The police think they are all in it together at first, wading into the pilgrims with clumsily wielded batons, before they distinguish the groups from one another, not at all difficult unless you are really into batoning people. The cops finally arrest just the protesters. Instructions then come from the Prefect, the priest’s sister, say to arrest the priest as well. However, the officer says, the orders are to arrest the Protestants, misreading protesters for Protestants, and the priest is clearly a Catholic, so must not be arrested. They sort that confusion out finally. The priest is thrown in with the woman, the two alone at first. They kiss, but not before she asks, “What about God.” The priest replies, “He already knows.”

The protesters are then packed in with the couple. The van shortly has a flat yet again – a running gag (pun intended) – and it is suddenly dark (part of another running gag), but there is no jack and they are still in the middle of the forest. The rest of the police force is nowhere to be seen. As they ponder the problem, a woman in robes appears out of the fog. They stare, look at each other, and when they look back she is holding a jack. One of the officers approaches with pointed pistol – imagine approaching someone you think is Mary with a gun for protecton – retrieving the jack. In the meantime the protesters have escaped unnoticed – how could that happen? – running off into the woods. The two officers drive on without a glance back.

No one died laughing but most enjoyed the cleverness of the farce. If you get the chance, check it out!


blog Blog 2019

St Nicolas Church of Piraeus

The lovely St Nicolas Church of Piraeus was finished around 1900.  It stands near the main harbor in Piraeus, the port city next to Athens from which many ferries depart for the multitude of Greek islands.   Of the Greek Orthodox churches we have seen, it comes closest to the magnificent Orthodox churches we saw in St Petersburg.  There are good examples of the religious art typical of these churches.  The Mary icon you see below, in gold, was kissed by multiple visitors during our visit, behavior that is common to the Orthodox, as is the sign of the cross which includes touching the floor. 



blog Blog 2019

On Greek cuisine


I am impressed with what’s on offer in Greece, both the raw ingredients and prepared foods either in restaurants or in the grocery stores.   Commonly used spices  include allspice, cardamon, cloves, coriander, mahlab, mastic (also an after dinner drink), nutmeg, saffron, and sumac.  I suggest you forget about ordering mintroduced by Nikolaos Tselementes, a Greek chef who worked in the St. Moritz Hotel in New York.    Greek salad is everywhere and not as good as I have had in Greek restaurants abroad, lacking the dressing that gives the salad its zing,  also lacking the spicy jarred peppers.  There is a slice of feta atop, which is quite good but I find it lacks integration, and would be better if cubed.  I suggest skipping it and trying some of the other salads or even the cooked vegetable side dishes. 

Not to worry about losing these three dishes!  There is a great deal to enjoy as you explore this complex, sophisticated cuisine. The Greeks love grilled meats.  These they generally call souvlaki, served on a skewer sometimes with grilled vegetables.  The meat is very tender, often marinated.  Throw it on a pita bread and you have an inexpensive lunch, about 2.5 euros.  A gyro is the equivalent of the kebab, which is the meat grilled on a vertical spit then shaved.  You will find beef, chicken, pork and to a lesser extent lamb.  Sandwiches may have fries inside.  They are limp, as are those ordered separately or included in quantity.  Fries in Greece do not rank with those of France, Belgium and Nederlands in my book, where they know how to fry them:  a second time to make them crispy.


Saganaki is a fried cheese, the name coming from the pan in which the cheese is fried.  The cheese is usually graviera, kefalograviera, halloumi, kasseri, kefalotyri, or sheep’s milk feta.  Mussels or shrimp saganaki are served in a superb tomato base.  The mussels I tried were heavenly at a small place near the port.  The shrimp was in one case superb and in the other the sauce tasted like an Italian was in the kitchen, very good but not it did not seem Greek to me.



Cheese saganaki



We have had several stews that were outstanding and which cost no more than 8 euros at a non-tourist restaurant.  One near us called their dish “pork bites.”  I have no idea what it is made from but a very rich flavor and amazingly tender pork.  There are probably hundreds of recipes.   The meat in general has been very tender and juicy, a matter of good igredients and technique. 


There is a variety of cheese pies, in addition to spanakopita.  Tiropita (or tyropita) is  made from the usual layers of filo dough filled with a cheese and egg mixture.   There are dozens of versions of these pies, served as main dishes or as snacks from the bakeries.


I have tried several main course vegetable dishes.  The eggplant at our local restaurant called the Olýmpion (





Bakeries offer a wide selection of crusty bread, not as crunchy a crust as the bread that you get in Italy (the stuff you get in the US called Italian bread is a pale imitation).  I was surprised to find a huge variety of bread sticks, much better than the tasteless crostini you sometimes find in Italy and the US.  In Rome and other Italian cities you can find an excellent bread stick, a thick crusty one with sesame seeds, that are still my favorite even after tasting many of the Greek varieties.  The Greek versions are nearly as good but there are many more varieties to choose from and they are widely available, although they do not serve them in restaurants.  The restaurant bread is generally of high quality bakery bread. 


An excellent olive bread


bread sticks










The desserts are amazing.  They are primarily made with honey, nuts, cream and fruit. There is the usual baklava, large servings rather than the tiny diamonds one finds in the US.  Bougatsa is also made with filo then filled with a creamy custard.  Diples are fried turnovers.  Halva is made with with semolina flour or sesame with raisins and cinnamon.   Melomakarona are soft cookies dipped in honey or syrup then covered with walnuts.  At the Acropolis museum I had a kind of nut cake.  I think there was nutmeg. I did not taste any honey.   Kataifi is made with a dough that lookes like shredded wheat.  You add walnuts and perhaps other nuts),  clove and cinnamon,  and covered with a lemon scented syrup.  Wow!   


The dessert possibilities are nearly endless.   Writing this is making me hungry so I am stopping here.   


The market near our house is top notch.  Olives, melons, figs.  Greens!   The Greeks love greens.  There are several varieties of cicoria like in Italy.  They sell beet greens, and various forms of endive and a variety of lettuces.  And reasonable prices, if not sometimes dirt cheap.  



eggplant, peppers and more


   Nuts in bulk


Wine.  The white is very good, even the inexpensive ones.  You can get a half liter of the house white for 4 to 6 euros and not be disappointed.  We have only found one good red house wine and have spent as much as 13 euros for a bottle and still not found anything worth mentioning.  Per one commentary, ” For fans of lively whites like Sauvignon Blanc and Albariño, Greek white wines offer astounding quality for a reasonable cost. While Greek reds are not as uniformly compelling, the best bottlings are terrific.”  Stick with the white or spend a lot.   


After almost a month here I have barely begun to know the Greek kitchen.  I certainly have a new appreciation for it.  







blog Blog 2019

A bit of the history of the Acropolis


The Acropolis overlooks Athens on a limestone outcropping providing great views of the city and  inspiring views of the temples from below, the Parthenon being the most prominent.   Its defensive properties no doubt appealed to early inhabitants.  Evidence of their interest dates to the 4th millennium BCE.  The Mycenaean Megaron palace was probably built here during the late bronze age.  The temple to Athena Polias came circa 550 BCE, a bit after the Old Temple of Athena.  A structure called the Older Parthenon was started circa 500 BCE but sacked by the Persians, who destroyed and looted the city.  Elements of that structure were used to build the curtain wall still visible today.    Pericles (circa 495–429 BCE) built the Parthenon, the Propylaia, the Erechtheion and the Temple of Athena Nike.   


Parthenon at Dusk, pen and ink, 15 x 21 cm/ 6 x 8 “

During the Hellenistic and Roman periods there were significant repairs to the temples.  The Parthenon was used as a church during the Byzantine period.  During the Duchy of Athens, founded by Crusaders, the Acropolis was the administrative center.  The Propylaia,  the monumental entrance to the Acropolis, was part of the Ducal palace.  A large tower was added to the Propylaia but later demolished. 



The Propylaia

It was the Venetians who most seriously damaged the Parthenon.   In 1687 it was largely intact until gunpowder stored in the Parthenon exploded after it was struck by a cannonball.   Columns fell, the roof collapsed.   This accounts for its appearance before the renovations began in the 1990’s.  



The Parthenon

Temple of Erechtheion or Erechtheum

Caryatid at Temple of Erechtheion, pen and ink, at the Museum

In 1801 Thomas Bruce, the Earl of Elgin, transported sculptures to England with permission of the Ottomans.  These were later sold to the British Museum where they remain to this day, much to the chagrin of the Greeks, who call it a theft.  After the Greeks became independent from the Ottoman Empire in 1830, anything from the Byzantine, Duchy (124-1500) and Ottoman periods were removed.  
The columns of the Parthenon are now being restored and put in place.   Some of the 19th century restorations to the columns are being redone as the columns were incorrectly assembled.  Over 2000 tons of marble elements have been restored to date using new Pentelic, the same marble the ancients used.  It is white so you can distinguish it from the older marble, which has a yellow tint.  This marble comes from the region northeast of Athens. 
For further information visit the Acropolis Museum to watch the excellent videos.  Also click the links below.

Acropolis in Greek literally means “the highest point of the town”

Great timeline history of Greece  Timeline

Acropolis Museum

blog Blog 2019

Photos from the National Archaeological Museum in Athens

The National Archaeological Museum in Athens is one of the world’s finest of its type and competes with the best of any type.  The collection is stupendous and the display and organization are top notch.  Here are some of the photos we took during our visit.  


blog Blog 2019

The Acropolis

Oct 7, 2019 


We boarded the train for Athens in Thessaloniki a week ago for the 4 hour journey, waving to the gods as we passed Mount Olympus, ducking a lighting bolt chucked our way.  These gods dislike non-believers, apparently.   


Mount Olympus


The dry land between us and the gods supports cotton fields and olive groves.  White stucco houses populate the small villages sitting in the bright sun under cerulean blue skies.
From Athens surprisingly small central train station we took a taxi to our apartment, from whence it is a short walk to a lovely view of the Acropolis, with the Olympic stadium at our feet and at its original site.  Here terminated the run from a town called Marathon when, in 490 BCE,  a vastly outnumbered Athenian army defeated the Persians.  


The next day we walked the 2 kilometers to the Acropolis – acro meaning high point, polis meaning city.  The temples there evoke both vast appreciation for the skills of the ancient Greeks and a sadness for all that has been lost, much of it in fairly recent times with the explosion of stockpiled weapons and the removal  if not theft of sculptures and more by the British, whose impressive collection resides in the British Museum. 


Parthenon at Dusk, pen and ink, 15 x 21 cm/ 6 x 8 “


The Parthenon is the largest of the structures atop the outcropping. It dates to 447 BC when  Athens was at its zenith.  The temple is a superb example of Doric style that I speculate came from the invading Doric tribe who settled in a place called Sparta.  The temple gave home to a 13 meter, 40 foot wooden sculpture of Athena, clad with precious metals and accompanied by her snake and shield.  The goddess who gave her name to this city is no longer is with us, so I was spared the lightning bolt.  Per the video we know what she looked like and how she was adorned, an altogether impressive sight to greet those who climbed the steep hill to pay their respects.  


The sculptures and friezes that adorned the temples were legion. There were 92 elements to the frieze atop the Parthenon alone. An impressive number survive to this day.    Here a few examples: 


Multiple busts in the museum


My pen and ink sketch of one of the statues in the Acropoli Museum.  I was particularly impressed with the flowing robes.






The Parthenon as of the day we visited. There is one crane in operation currently.


My favorite temple is this small one, for the caryatids that support the roof.   Another fabulous view beyond.




The originals are in the museum:



These are the actual caryatids, in the museum

The reconstruction of the Parthenon continues, as well documented in the films shown in the Museum, located near the base of the outcropping upon which the temples rest.   In the films workers chisel on marble, showing also the templates they use to match the ancient designs.  The old stone has a yellow tinge compared to the bright white of the new so you can see what changes have been made. 


view of Acropolis from its museum

Modern cranes effortlessly lift the repaired columns with their older bits now joined with new stone.  There is a model of an ancient crane, hand cranked yet capable of raising the original columns as well.
Perhaps the most gorgeous piece in the museum is the floral decor that was on the pediment of the Parthenon:


floral decor on the pediment of the Parthenon

Below the temples is the Odeon Theater, still in use.  It is next to the Theater of Dionysus.  The black bags in the photo contain seat cushions wrapped for protection from the elements.  The acoustics are excellent.  I could hear Peg despite the noise of the crowd as I sat about half way up.   We wonder if the sound was even better in the days of Euripides and Sophocles when it was at its peak of completion.    Great views abound.  


== The Odeon


Dionysus Theater