I have two very large posts that bear more directly on this company’s immediate temporality that are ready to go but are being held up until the financing announcement ‘finally’ occurs; - this one is just passing time.
Recently, a number of posters have suggested that Alhambra should change its name.
What’s in a name?
- There are two approaches for integrating images into the framework of a meaning creation system. The ‘classification’ approach preprocesses all images and attaches a semantic classification with an associated certainty factor whereas the ‘abstraction’ approach (visual representation) captures the image by using a composite consisting of the values of some of its features; as such, it can be seen that these varying schemes primarily differ in the way (pattern recognition and indexing) in which the content is ultimately computed.
- By converting an image from a physical representation to a logical representation (such as a textual description of the image, a list of objects found in the image, a collection of features describing the objects in the image, etc.), the abstraction approach is delaying the classification until execution time; permitting greater flexibility in response; so that a “Symbolic Image” can capture the “spirit of place”; which is what we want.
So, it would seem the essential question becomes, - What is the ‘Symbolic Spirit of the place’?
It just so happens that the ‘exact’ territory where Alhambra now operates was through unnumbered ages the largest source of gold-ore during the entire Bronze Age throughout the continent of Asia; and of Africa as well. This was the place to be; it was really jumping.
What was it like there?
From the very earliest times in the primeval age of the world the ‘gold industry’ rose from these sorts of subterranean excavated chambers in the rock, descending passages of very small bore carved out deep in the heart of the rock, - cutting their sloping way down to the necessary depths.
- From that silent dead obscurity when as yet nothing is recorded in the dissolute chasm of life, - at these Bronze Age sites, a small bored passage was pushed on into the rock a few feet at a time, with most holes unfinished, where many similar laborious abortive attempts downwards undoubtedly left a comparative scene of up-and-down holes, rocks, and fragmentary confusion.
- However, in that ineffable successful gold-bearing passage, as the miners followed the gold vein ever deeper, the light of day from the wide stretched heaven above would be reduced down to practically nothing, - a mere star-like point at the upper end of the long entrance-passage; overwhelmed in the Abyss of Being.
- To these ancient ‘gold miners’, the edifice of this universe was, in its structure, as it were, a labyrinth to the human intellect that contemplates its ambiguous ways (oblique and winding); with nature’s knots everywhere presenting themselves to view.
During the seventh to the third century B.C., a great warrior culture (actually, a group of related nomadic tribes) notable for relentless ferocity dominated the vast sweep of grasslands that stretched from the Carpathian Mountains in eastern Europe to Mongolia, more than 4,000 miles away. Known as the Scythians, these fierce warriors lived in the saddle and traveled light, but, at the same time, were amongst the ancient world's most extravagant art patrons; linking the ancient civilizations of the Mediterranean world with the manifold cultures of Central Asia.
- As thousands of burial sites punctuating the table-flat landscape testify, by the fifth century B.C. the Scythians were important patrons of master goldsmiths (living in Greek cities on the northern shores of the Black Sea); believing, like the Egyptians did, that they could take their wealth with them into the afterlife, whence it springs, as it were a suitable solution to the intimate mystery in life.
At the height of their power in the fourth century B.C. the Scythians held reign over a vast land mass; and sizing up their exquisitely crafted gold objects, one noted expert has recently said that they “constitute a new chapter, even a new book in the dialogue between the ancient Aegean worlds, the ancient Near East, and the steppes that extend from north of the Black Sea as far at the Altai Republic near Mongolia… a window to a mysterious, vanished culture."
The cause behind the eventual demise of the Scythians is perplexing and baffling; for they were well established, prosperous and in control. While some scholars think that worsening climatic conditions coupled with overgrazing by their cattle may have contributed to their downfall, the most reasonable theory is that the Scythians, wealthy and secure in their interaction with the Greeks, probably became far too complacent, - neglecting to maintain the vigilant edge required to withstand the encroaching of other nomadic peoples, not unlike themselves; but the world has become no wiser for their song.
- This extravagant ‘Scythian Gold' was often lavishly decorated with precious stones, - true masterpieces recording scenes from a Scythian heroic epic.
The ancestral homeland of the Scythians lay in the Altai Mountains, at approximately the juncture of present-day Kazakhstan, Russia, Mongolia, and China.
- The Altai Mountains (called ‘Altay Shan’ in Chinese) is a complex Central Asian mountain system extending some 1,200 miles (2,000 kilometers) in a southeast-northwest direction from the Gobi Desert to the western Siberian plain through parts of China, Mongolia, Russia, and Kazakhstan; with its jagged mountain ridges deriving their name from the Turkic-Mongolian ‘altan’, - meaning “golden.”
- The Altai Mountains occupy the middle of the Asian continent, midway between the Ural Mountains and the Pacific Ocean.
- This area, where the forests of Siberia converge with the grasslands of Central Asia, has been one of the great cultural vortices of mankind, and it is from here that the Huns and the Mongols would later emerge.
How about the specific ‘area’ where Alhambra currently operates?
- Although formed during the great orogenic (mountain-building) upthrusts that transpired between 500 and 300 million years ago, the Altai have since been worn down, turning this part of Kazakhstan into a gently undulating plateau.
- Over the course of geologic time, extreme dislocations suffered by the Altai have occasioned a variety of rock types, many altered by magmatic and volcanic activity; resulting in large accumulations of geologically young, unconsolidated sediments in numerous intermontane depressions where tectonic structures bear commercially exploitable deposits of minerals, - such as gold (‘altan’).
As such, the “Central Asia-Chinese Altay Shan Gold Belt” (in which Alhambra operates) is merely one component of the great Central Asian Orogenic Belt (also known as the Altaid), shaped by a complex geological history; where ore-forming processes (‘creating’ many world-class deposits) transpired within the context of large-scale geodynamic events of plate and plume tectonics (e.g., assembly/breakup of supercontinents).
- Here, a complex cycle of rifting, subduction, accretion and collision culminated in the ‘present’ complex assembly; where major mineral deposits distributed across central Eurasia were formed during a range of magmatic episodes from the Ordovician to the Jurassic in connection with magmatic arcs within the extensive subduction-accretion complex, with large ore deposits sourced from the Earth’s crust (… some associated fluids also reveal a mantle component).
What’s in a name?
As I’ve pointed out in this forum previously, the name “Alhambra Resources” conjures up images of being an oil, coal, natural gas, uranium, or other consumable, but not a leading-edge ‘gold exploration and production’ company.
Face it, - names matter.
- ‘Resources’, - What’s up? Do they make and sell fertilizer? Do they recycle old tires?
With many thousands of players in a rough and tumble industry jostling for attention, it is a distinct disadvantage to be cobbled to such a mundane misrepresentation. Of course, many mineral development companies do inhabit the “resources” space, but this doesn’t make it either prudent, a good idea, or the best way to capture the ‘Symbolic Spirit of the place’.
- In an undertaking that is never (or, very rarely) easy or frustration-free, requiring considerable expenditure of capital while juggling a complex set of time-consuming regulatory and technical considerations, and upward cost pressures, - - - all the while steadily staring the steely gaze of uncertainty in the face, - why go out of your way to make it more difficult?
A catchy name is absolutely vital.
- What’s the point of having millions of acres in a prolific gold belt (potentially containing a long string of significant, some world-class, gold deposits) if you don’t have enough capital for robust exploration?
- What’s the point of having a heap leach operation if you don’t have sufficient capital to do it right?
- … As we speak, Alhambra is just another ‘resources’ entity.
However, - being on the verge of stepping onto the global stage; being listed on an Asian stock exchange; entering a select ‘corporate universe’ (only populated by those possessing non-trivial proven reserves); and triggering the radars of both industry players and institutional investors; it is time to get this ‘name thing’ right.
- Times, tone, and texture have never been more abounding with positive anticipatory excitement and promise.
Since antiquity, metals of various kinds have been sought and produced for use as tools, weapons, utensils and adornments; and, in Kazakhstan, gold-mining operations have taken place since the Stone Age, - with the earliest ‘open-pit workings’ having been dated to 4000 B.C.
In Kazakhstan, gold has been ‘mined’ since Bronze Age times (1500 BC) in both opencast and underground mines; and the first archaeological survey in 1941 listed 70 ancient goldmines in Kazakhstan (whose exploitation can be traced back to the Bronze Age).
- According to one leading expert, “the whole of north Kazakhstan emerges as one huge quarry, especially the area around Stepnyak.”
- This is the heart of Alhambra’s license area.
During the Late Bronze Age, metallurgists of Kazakhstan were extremely active; and the earliest ‘Scythian type’ dates to the middle of the 7th century BC.
Settlements in the area of the Stepnyak mine (currently one of Alhambra’s exploration targets) show that this was the largest gold mine operating in the Bronze Age; and, during the 7th century BC, there were several lakeside villages of ‘gold-miners’, - one of these settlements has left an archaeological layer up to 0.6 meters thick with traces of ore-processing.
- Herodotus wrote: “The Scythians had on their heads tall stiff felt caps rising to a point.” These helmets covered the neck and had a rectangular cut in the front and a tube on the top to fasten a plume; and while the original form for the ‘Scythian analogies’ are the Zhou helmets in the 11th-10th centuries BC, this innovative form of armor was actually of Chinese origin. The leading specialist in the history of Asian weaponry maintains that Chinese helmets were invented to protect against “the blow of a puncheon” (which was the main weapon of warrior-charioteers), - - so it is not by chance that they emerged and became widespread among ‘the northern barbarians’ who waged war with the Ancient Chinese. In any case, these helmets were widespread in the archaic Scythian epoch, and many have been found in the settlement of Stepnyak.
As a matter of fact, it was in this very region where (according to ancient mythology) the dreaded mounted army of the one-eyed Arimaspians (arima being the Scythian word for ‘one’ and spu for ‘eye’, Herodotus IV, 28) was said to live by a river that flowed over gold.
- And, it was also through this ancient gold mining region that a major caravan route led (stretching from the Greek city of Olbia through Scythia and far into the Asian interior); used primarily by Greeks and Scythians to conduct their trade, - and the Scythians, it was reported, had to employ seven interpreters to communicate with the various peoples on this long route. Meantime (to outsiders passing through), the mounted warriors of the one-eyed Arimaspian tribe would occasionally rob them of their gold and take possession of it themselves (according to ancient legend).
The rich gold deposits of Kazakhstan (found in the 1920s) were almost all re-discovered; with these productive mining sites often located with the help of ancient folk tradition, - and frequently also on the basis of old place-names meaning ‘gold’ or through general indications of the whereabouts of shafts, pits or quarries.
- These deposits had already been exploited during the Bronze Age, but were later forgotten; until present-day mining frequently unearths traces of the ancient mine-workers, who had tunneled horizontally as well as in descending inclines.
The ‘Symbolic Spirit of this place’, Alhambra’s backyard, is that it was one of the greatest mining centers of the Asian interior.
We have gone full circle back to the Scythians, an ancient warlike nomadic people riding the steppes and controlling regional trade to finance their love of the rich gold ornamentation that is so often found in the many massive burial mounds, or ‘mohyly’, also called ‘kurhany’ (or kurhans), that rise from the flat plains of the steppe region; with the source of the gold in these remarkable and extraordinary pieces likely obtained from Kazakhstan and the Altai Mountains.
The Scythians represent a rich and unique culture producing ‘Scythian gold’ objects that share overwhelming originality and a high degree of artistic skill, - not a bad source of inspiration for a ‘Canadian based exploration and gold production corporation operating in the Republic of Kazakhstan’.