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Rare Rockwell painting owned by Debbie Reynolds for sale

History Blog - Wed, 2017-09-20 23:40

A rare painting of Benjamin Franklin striking a saucy pose as he signs the Declaration of Independence will be sold to the highest bidder at The Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds Personal Property Auction to be held in Los Angeles on October 7th-9th. For the past seven years until Ms. Reynold’s recent death, the painting was on loan to the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts which must be disconsolate by the loss of so important and unique a piece.

The painting is accomplished in oil on 37 x 28 in. canvas, capturing a full-length portrait of Benjamin Franklin with a quill pen in hand, prepared to sign The Declaration of Independence and leaning on a Federal-style desk with the Seal of the United States behind him. The platform base reads, “Sesqui * Centennial * Celebration * of * the * Signing * of * the Declaration * of * Independence”. This incredibly historic Rockwell work has been exhibited in twelve museums around the United States since 1972 and has been published in several books.

Rockwell painted the work for the cover of the May 29, 1926, edition of the Saturday Evening Post commemorating the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The Post commissioned the subject and chose Benjamin Franklin for a specific reason: Franklin was the publisher of the influential Pennsylvania Gazette, the Philadelphia newspaper that the Saturday Evening Post claims as its historical ancestor, even though the Post didn’t exist until 1821 and the Gazette ceased publication in 1800.

The Post‘s reverence for Franklin continued to be expressed in its covers for decades. Between 1943 and 1961, every January the cover would feature a portrait of Benjamin Franklin (usually rather dry ones with a sadly unsaucy stone bust in the foreground) and a quote from his writings. Even today the revived magazine runs a “find Benjamin Franklin’s key” contest, named after his famed kite experiment first published anonymously in the Pennsylvania Gazette of October 19, 1752.

The pre-sale estimate for the oil-on-canvas original capturing the history of one of the United States’ most brilliant innovators, statesmen and printers and a magazine whose slice of Americana covers by Norman Rockwell have become iconic is $2,000,000 – $3,000,000. This is the first time the painting has been gone up for public auction, so the sky is probably the limit, pricewise.

Some of the proceeds from the auction will go to Debbie Reynolds’s most beloved charity The Thalians and The Jed Foundation, an anti-suicide organization chosen by Carrie Fisher’s daughter Billie Lourd.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Happy Æthelmearc Day!

AEthelmearc Gazette - Wed, 2017-09-20 08:37

Earl Yngvar with an Æthelmearc procession

Happy Æthelmearc Day!

Twenty years ago today, Yngvar and Caryl became the first King & Queen of Kingdom of Aethelmearc.

Video of the Coronation can be found here, courtesy of Rowena Dhonnchaidh.

Want to learn more about the history of our Sylvan Kingdom? The Æthelmearc Historian’s website can be found here.

Ad Gloriam Æthelmearc!

Categories: SCA news sites

Peruvian child mummy X-rayed in Texas hospital

History Blog - Tue, 2017-09-19 23:48

An ancient Peruvian mummy that has been part of the collection of the Corpus Christi Museum of Natural History and Science for 60 years received its first X-ray yesterday at Driscoll Children’s Hospital. Very little is known about the mummy which was removed from Peru by unknown (illegal?) means at an unknown time. It has been at the museum since it opened in 1957, a gift from New York’s American Museum of Natural History via its former employee and the Corpus Christi Museum’s first director, Aalbert Heine. The mummy was one of many ancient artifacts and remains Heine brought to the new museum, accession number 137 in a collection that now counts in the millions.

There are no records extant of the mummy at the Museum of Natural History. The Corpus Christi Museum of Natural History and Science’s tag labels it the mummy of an Inca child approximately 2,000 years old. As the Inca Empire is nowhere near that old (the civilization’s origin story places its founding in the 13th century), the label is drastically off-base. It is wrapped in a coiled rope that looks like a basket but isn’t. The only other potential source of information about the mummy are a few textile fragments that have somehow managed to remain on her body, but they have yielded no more answers so far.

Attitudes towards the display of human remains have changed over the years as the anthropological approach shifted from treating people like curios to respect for the dead (and living, for that matter) within their cultural context. The mummy was removed from display in the 1980s and has been kept in storage ever since. Last year, collections manager Jillian Becquet and assistant curator of education Madeleine Fontenot began to investigate the history of the mummy with the aim of repatriating it to its homeland. After extensive research in the museum archives, newspaper records and scrapbooks, the two had little new information to show for it.

Enter the Driscoll Children’s Hospital. An X-ray might reveal important information that would confirm its Peruvian provenance, an essential step in the repatriation process.

“She was not my average patient!” said Suzi Beckwith, Diagnostic X-ray Coordinator at Driscoll Children’s Hospital. […]

“Because of the size of the mummy, I thought it was a baby,” Beckwith said. “But looking at the X-rays, you see her legs are actually tucked in. So she’s not a baby. She’s a little girl.

X-rays can confirm gender, age, and even cause of death.

“We’re looking for things that can help us give information to anthropologists in Peru, and then hopefully confirm cultural group that she belongs to, said Jillian Becquet, Collections Manager at the Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History.

The burial position confirmed by the X-rays could be one of the most important pieces of the puzzle. Different cultural groups buried their dead in different positions, so experts could determine her origins from that alone. Examination of her bones could pinpoint injuries, healed, peri-mortem or post-mortem.

The museum is working with Peruvian Embassy officials to identify the mummy and arrange for her return. Fontenot and Becquet hope Peruvian experts can learn more about her by studying the rope that binds her and the fragments of cloth. They’re not at that stage yet, however. Before they decide whether to invest in that kind of research, Peruvian officials will study the X-rays and documentation to see if the mummy is a likely candidate for repatriation to Peru. The more data they have, the more securely they will be able to claim her as their own.

“Whatever group was around her chose to do this very caring thing, to wrap her purposefully and bury her,” Becquet said. “Somebody along the way disrespected that, and so we want that to be restored.”

When this little mummy is returned to the land of her ancestors, the Corpus Christi Museum of Natural History and Science will have no people left languishing in its storage cabinets. She is the last one.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Event Report: Cast Iron Chef III (at Shoot in the Wildwood)

AEthelmearc Gazette - Tue, 2017-09-19 20:01

By Elska á Fjárfelli, of the Dominion of Myrkfaelinn (Susan Verberg)

Come for the pointy projectiles! Stay for the fabulous food!

Accurately described by co-organizer THL Lijsbet de Keukere, Delftwood hosted its third annual Cast Iron Chef Cooking Tournament on September 3 as part of the barony’s archery event A Shoot in the Wildwood.

The cooking trench at Cast Iron Chef cooking tourney III, with in the foreground the oven Algirdas scratch built.  All photography by Elska.

Each year brings a new challenge, and this year Lijsbet and Lord Sebastian Mora challenged the archers to shoot their best royal round on behalf of the cooks for first pick of their coveted Mystery Baskets. The baskets varied in theme, each one contained high-quality, valuable ingredients… and all had to be used in some way or another to create the best three-dish meal.

To supplement the Mystery Basket, the pantry had been bountifully stocked with pantry staples common for the average medieval household: beans, grains, common garden vegetables, simple dairy products, and foraged goods.

With these building blocks the teams, consisting of no more than a head cook, one assistant, and one archer, were charged to make a plausibly medieval meal over the communal open fire for the judges to sample. Following the format of the past three years, all tournament cooking had to be done on site during the designated tournament time of three hours, and no food brought in from off site could be used. While most cooks brought their own copious amounts of cast iron cook wares, for the cook in sudden need loaner pots & pans were available. Occasionally, the judges would make their rounds, and even though they were not supposed to direct, it was totally fine to ask questions…

While I tried my best to compile as complete a picture as possible, I was distracted by cooking, and the Book of Faces wasn’t as enlightening as hoped… my advanced apologies to anyone I might have missed!

And without further ado, let’s introduce our cast iron teams!

Kiera and her menu.

Kiera MacLeod had archer Edward Harbinger shoot her the East Kingdom Basket, which included barley, asparagus, rosewater, cherries, turnips, and rump roast.

Ciaran & Wynn’s meal.

Algirdas and Aldanza.

Ciaran & Wynn choose the Butcher’s Basket, which included an intriguing collection of pork necks, pork hocks, and chuck steak.

Meadbh and Elska’s menu.

Meadbh ni Clerigh, assisted by me, had her daughter Mary of Hartford shoot us the Sweet & Savory Basket;  Mary shot the overall highest score. This basket included walnuts, dried figs, dried prunes, dried apricots, dried dates, and dried cherries with chuck steak.

Matheus & Katherine’s entry.

Matheus Hundamaðr, assisted by Katharine Thorne, had archer Snorri sketi Bjornsson shoot them the Perrote Basket. This basket included parsnips, lentils, chickpeas, turnips, chives, peach sauce, and pork shoulder.

Thirteen-year-old Morgan Littlejohn, assisted by her father Fearghus macEoin Littlejohn, had archer Siobhan shoot them the Farmer’s Basket. This basket included gruyere, parmesan, turnips, leeks, celeriac, apples, pears, asparagus, and chicken.

Algirdas Wolfus, assisted by Aldanza Wolfus, had archer Robert of Furness shoot them the Delftwood Basket. This basket included eggs, apples, olive oil, honey mustard, dates, and chicken.


Fearghus and Morgan.

While the highest scoring archer gave her team first pick of the Mystery Baskets, the organizers then threw in a nice curve ball by reversing the order of who went shopping first in the Pantry! Did I overhear one cook thank his archer for having been a lousy shot…?

What did we end up making?

Matheus & Katharine made a “Norse Meal in Miklagård” with a menu of:

  • Grikkland Grautr: a pottage of red lentils, rice, chickpea, parsnips, onion, garlic, butter, cumin, and celery seed, garnished with shaved radish and chives.
  • Pork in the way of Serkland: pork, rubbed with rosemary infused olive oil, crushed long pepper, salt, coriander, cumin, and turmeric, seared then stewed with verjuice and dried figs, finished with fresh figs.
  • Sœtrbröd: whole wheat and ground walnut pancake, spiced with mace, nutmeg, and ginger, topped with peach preserves, butter, cooked apricots, and roasted walnuts.

The menu of Morgan & Fearghus included:

  • Chicken and vegetable stew.
  • Stuffed roasted apples and pears, decorated with edible flowers.
  • Asparagus with parmesan.

Algirdas & Aldanza’s menu offered, with little flags following the French style:

  • Vegetable and cheese egg tart.
  • Apple and carrot salad (garnished with fig and almonds).
  • Chicken bruet with mustard sauce in a leaf of egg.
  • Sage water.
  • Date and apple tart.

Meadbh & Elska made a 14th century Anglo-Saxon meal with:

  • Kidney and Steak stew with dates and apricots.
  • Savory custard pie with eggs, soft cheese, pears, dates and almonds
  • Barley with raisins and shaved almonds.
  • Cherry and almond pie.
  • Bread pudding with dates and figs.
  • Sage water for hand washing.

Ciaran & Wynn’s hearty menu was:

  • Pig knuckle and barley pottage.
  • Pork hock pottage.
  • Grilled vegetables & steak.
  • Rehomogenized milk.

Finally, Kiera’s menu included:

  • Grilled chicken with cherry sauce
  • Chicken & barley pottage
  • Grilled asparagus
  • Marzipan-filled dates.

The winners of the third Cast Iron Chef cooking competition, with the competition organizers.

In the end? We were all so excited and hungry for our own food that we were waiting for the judges to move along, so we could go enjoy ourselves! And not just us, there were quite a few bystanders with empty plates, waiting for the word to dig in…

For me, this was the first time cooking multiple dishes over open fire, and am I glad I brought all my cast iron pots & pans, we used every single one! It was a wonderful experience, not competitive at all. There was many a time where someone exclaimed for some sugar/cinnamon/flour and it would instantly appear from another cook’s station. We loaned out gear as needed and kept and eye on all that was cooking. I do not think I would have done anything different, and hope to be able to participate again next year! Thank you, Lijsbet and Sebastian for organizing, again, this wonderful event. A big thank you to all the volunteers and donors of wonderful foodstuffs, thanks to you the pantry was glorious! Thank you to our judges for your constructive help and feedback. It made for a most wonderful outdoor experience. All in all, I hardly even noticed the rain.

And now for the results we’ve all been waiting for…

While being able to make something wonderful out of pig’s knuckles and hocks is a worthy deed indeed, the Baroness felt she was most impressed by 13-year-old Morgan and her third time entering this competition successfully, thereby Morgan  and her dad Fearghus were the Baroness’s pick.

Playing to the crowd by bringing Delftwood and Kingdom regalia – and choosing the Delftwood Basket – the Baron was not able to overcome all this Delftwood splendor and picked team Algirdas & Aldanza Wolfus as the Baron’s choice. But don’t think that was all! Algirdas built a completely functional on-site oven as well, and the two of them walked away victorious as the Ultimate Cast Iron Chefs! Vivat!

For many more pictures of the A.S.52 Cast Iron Chef, see John Michael Thorpe’s photos here and JJ Art and Photography’s here.


For more information about this awesome Tournament, see here.



Categories: SCA news sites

Indian manuscript with zero symbol far older than realized

History Blog - Mon, 2017-09-18 23:32

Researchers have discovered that an ancient Indian manuscript is far older than previously realized and therefore contains the earliest known example of the symbol for zero as it is used today. The Bakhshali manuscript, written on 70 delicate leaves of birch bark, was discovered buried in a field near Peshawar in 1881. Indologist AFR Hoernle bought it from the farmer who found it and in 1902 gifted it to the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford where it is kept in the rare books collection.

Replete with Sanskrit numerals, including many instances of the small dot that is the ancestor of our zero, the manuscript is believed to have been written by Silk Road merchants practicing math rather than being a philosophical or scholarly work. Its age has long been subject to debate among scholars and the best guesses, based on factors like writing style and the mathematical concepts it convers, put it between the 8th and 12th century.

University researchers hoped radiocarbon testing would provide an absolute date and answer some of these long-standing questions. They were astounded when several of the pages turned out to date between 200 and 400 A.D. Before now, the zero dot on the wall of the Ganesh temple at the 9th century Gwalior Fort in Madhya Pradesh, India, was believed to be the oldest visual representation of the ancestor of the modern zero numeral. Researchers expected the Bakshali manuscript to date to around the same time as the depiction in the temple.

The zero symbol that we use today evolved from a dot that was used in ancient India and can be seen throughout the Bakhshali manuscript. The dot was originally used as a ‘placeholder’, meaning it was used to indicate orders of magnitude in a number system – for example, denoting 10s, 100s and 1000s.

While the use of zero as a placeholder was seen in several different ancient cultures, such as among the ancient Mayans and Babylonians, the symbol in the Bakhshali manuscript is particularly significant for two reasons. Firstly, it is this dot that evolved to have a hollow centre and became the symbol that we use as zero today. Secondly, it was only in India that this zero developed into a number in its own right, hence creating the concept and the number zero that we understand today – this happened in 628 AD, just a few centuries after the Bakhshali manuscript was produced, when the Indian astronomer and mathematician Brahmagupta wrote a text called Brahmasphutasiddhanta, which is the first document to discuss zero as a number.

The reason for the confusion about its date is that the birch pages date to three different periods, hence the range of styles and arithmetic.

Marcus du Sautoy, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford, said:

‘Today we take it for granted that the concept of zero is used across the globe and is a key building block of the digital world. But the creation of zero as a number in its own right, which evolved from the placeholder dot symbol found in the Bakhshali manuscript, was one of the greatest breakthroughs in the history of mathematics.

‘We now know that it was as early as the 3rd century that mathematicians in India planted the seed of the idea that would later become so fundamental to the modern world. The findings show how vibrant mathematics have been in the Indian sub-continent for centuries.’

The Bodleian will loan one folio from the Bakhshali manuscript to the Science Museum in London for its upcoming Illuminating India: 5000 Years of Science and Innovation exhibition. This is the first time any part of the manuscript has been loaned to another institution and a unique opportunity to see a seminal piece of mathematical history alongside other important of India’s contributions to the history of math, science and technology. It runs from October 4th, 2017, through March 31st, 2018.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Unofficial Court Report – A Funny Thing Happened to St. Andrew on the Way to the Forum

East Kingdom Gazette - Mon, 2017-09-18 20:21

Unofficial Court Report
The Court of Their Majesties Ioannes and Honig
Held at A Funny Thing Happened to St. Andrew on the Way to the Forum – An Investiture
On September 16, A.S. 52, 2017 C.E.
In the Barony of An Dubhaigeainn

In the morning Court, the following items of business were conducted.

Lord David Vazquez de Valencia stepped down as Baron of An Dubhaigeainn.

Mistress Suzanne Neüber de Londres stepped down as Baroness of An Dubhaigeainn.

Lord Titus Aurelius Magnus was invested as Baron of An Dubhaigeainn. He was given a scroll created by Mistress Catarina Giaocchini.

Lady Sorcha of Stonegrave was invested as Baroness of An Dubhaigeainn. She was given a scroll calligraphed and illuminated by Lady Magdalena Lantfarerin, with words by Mistress Kay Leigh Mac Whyte.

Lord Peter of Hawkwood presented a hand-crafted wooden footrest to Her Majesty.

Lady Sofia Gianetta di Trieste was inducted into the Order of the Maunche for her excellence in costuming. She was given a scroll calligraphed by Lord Vettorio Antonello and illuminated by Mistress Suzanne Neüber de Londres.

Lady Sofia Gianetta di Trieste was then sent to Vigil to contemplate induction into the Order of the Laurel.

Lord Vettorio Antonello was also called to sit Vigil to contemplate induction into the Order of the Laurel for his excellence in calligraphy and illumination.

In the afternoon Court, the following items of business were conducted.

Lord David Vazquez de Valencia was given a Court Barony with Grant of Arms for his service to the Barony of An Dubhaigeainn. He was given a scroll crafted by Lord Vettorio Antonello.

Mistress Suzanne Neüber de Londres was given a thank you scroll, calligraphed by Master Jonathan Blaecstan and illuminated by Mistress Kis Marike, for her service as Baroness of An Dubhaigeainn.

The children of the East were called forward. Their Majesties offered them toys from the Kingdom toy chest if they could capture its bearer, the Court’s newest Baron, David Vazquez de Valencia.

Her Majesty presented Mistress Suzanne Neüber de Londres with the Queen’s Order of Courtesy for her graciousness while serving as Baroness of An Dubhaigeainn. The Queen did the embroidery on the glove.

Their Majesties called for Mistress Jadwiga Zajaczkowa. She was made Guildmistress of the established at the newly re-established East Kingdom Herbalists’ and Apothecaries’ Guild. The Guild’s charter was calligraphed and illuminated by Lady Sarah bas Mordechai.

Genevieve Velleman was called before the Crown. For her work as an archer, and her contribution to the arts and sciences and service in kitchens and at events, she was Awarded Arms. Scroll forthcoming, words by Master Rowen Cloteworthy.

Their Excellencies An Dubhaigeainn presented gifts of welcome to Their Majesties and Their Highnesses.

The Crown called for those newcomers attending their first Royal Progress. Those newcomers were given tokens from the Crown in welcome.

Monkey Makgee was called into Court. For her work in the kitchens, as event steward, and for her work with the arts and sciences, she was awarded the Order of the Silver Wheel. The scroll was created by Lady Onora ingheann Ui Rauirc.

Lady Sláine Baen Ronáin was also called forward to take her place in the Order of the Silver Wheel for her work as an MoL, royal retainer, chatelaine, event steward, and dishwasher. She was given a scroll crafted by Baroness Mari Clock van Hoorne.

Their Majesties called for Barone Francesco Gaetano Gréco d’Edessa. For his work as seneschal, herald, webminister, and chronicler, he was inducted into the Order of the Silver Crescent. In recognition of this, he was given a scroll made by Baroness Aesa feilinn Jossursdottir with words by Master Erhart von Stuttgart.

Conrad Järnhand was called before the Crown. For his contibutions as a fighter, teacher, and combat archer, he was Awarded Arms and given a scroll with calligraphy and illumnation by Lady Triona MacCaskey, words by Master Toki Skaldagorvir.

The Crown next called for Louis of House Three Skulls. For his work as a kitchener and feast cook, he was Awarded Arms and presented a scroll with words and illumnation by Lady Triona MacCaskey and calligraphy by Master Jonathan Blaecstan.

Their Majesties summoned Baroness Sorsha of Stonegrave. For her work as an herbalist, teaching at scholas and demos and running workshops, she was inducted into the Order of the Maunche. She was given a scroll crafted by Pan Jan Janowicz Bogdanski.

The Crown called then for Lady Onora ingheann Ui Rauirc. For her work as a calligrapher and illuminator, she too was inducted into the Order of the Maunche. She was gifted a scroll calligraphed by Lord Vettorio Antonello and illuminated by Vicereine Lada Monguligin.

Emperor Ioannes and Empress Honig then thanked Their event steward, Lord Ronan Fitzrobert, for his work.

Their Majesties requested the attendance of Lady Bianca Anguissola. For her services to the Crown as a retainer and aide, she was presented with a Court Barony and Grant of Arms. The scroll was crafted by Queen Ro Honig von Sommerfeldt with words by Nicol mac Donnachaidh.

Their Imperial Majesties then called for the answer to the question set before Lord Vettorio Antonello. Lord Vettorio was released from his fealty to Mistress Kay Leigh Mac Whyte. Words of support were offered by Sir Antonio Patrasso for the Chivalry. Mistress Nest verch Tangwistel spoke for the Pelican. Sir Antonio read the words of Master Donovan Shinnock for the Defense. Mistress Suzanne Neüber de Londres presented the words of Duchess Thyra Eiriksdottir. Master Ateno of Annun Ridge read the words of Master Alexandre St. Pierre, then spoke words of his own. The scroll was crafted by Mistress Kay Leigh Mac Whyte, with words by Mistress Kay Leigh and Master Ryan McWhyte. Master Vettorio was presented two medallions, two cloaks, and a wreath, then offered his fealty to the Crown.

Lady Sofia Gianetta di Trieste was then called before Emperor Ioannes and Empress Honig to accept her place in the Order of the Laurel. She was released from her apprenticeship to Master Jose Felippe Francisco el Sastre de Madrid. Sir Donnan Fitzgerald came forward to speak on behalf of the Chivalry. Master Philip White spoke for the Order of the Pelican. Master Jean Xavier Boullier offered words for the Order of Defense. Duchess Isabella of York spoke for the Order of the Rose. Lord Ervald LaCoudre Edwardson the Optimistic offered words on behalf of the populace. Mistress Caterina Gioacchini spoke for the Order of the Laurel. The scroll was created by Vicereine Lada Monguligin with words by Master Jose. Mistress Sofia was given several medallions, a mantle, and a wreath. She then offered her fealty to the Crown.

Their Highnesses and Their Majesties offered final words of thanks and appreciation to the Barony of An Dubhaigeainn, then Court was concluded.

These are the events of the day as I recall them. My thanks to the Barony, all the guards, retainers, heralds, scribes, and those others who made the day possible.

For Crown and Kingdom,
Pray know I remain,

– Master Rowen Cloteworthy

Filed under: Court

Oldest royal tomb of Centipede dynasty found in Guatemala

History Blog - Sun, 2017-09-17 23:25

Archaeologists excavating the ancient Maya city of El Perú-Waka’ have discovered the oldest known royal tomb of the Wak or Centipede dynasty. The international team from the El Perú-Waka’ Archaeological Project (PAW) found the tomb excavating tunnels under the Palace Acropolis. Analysis of the ceramic grave goods date the tomb to 300-350 A.D. Going from the date alone, the deceased could be King Te’ Chan Ahk who ruled in the early 4th century.

The skeletal remains of an adult male were found inside the tomb, but there were no inscriptions that would conclusively prove his identity. One artifact did make it clear that this was a royal tomb: a jade funerary mask. The portrait mask, painted a bright red with cinnabar, has a tell-tale hair tab on the forehead characteristic of the Maize God. There’s a symbol on the tab reminscent of a Greek Cross which is a combination of the glyphs for “Yellow” and “Precious,” another reference to the corn deity.

[Guatemalan archaeologists Griselda Pérez Robles and Damaris Menéndez] discovered the mask under the head of the ruler, and it may have been made to cover the face rather than as a chest pectoral. Archaeologists at Tikal in the 1960s discovered a similar greenstone mask in the earliest Maya royal tomb, dating to the first century A.D.

Additional offerings in Burial 80 included 22 ceramic vessels, Spondylus shells, jade ornaments and a shell pendant carved as a crocodile. The remains of the ruler and some ornaments like the portrait mask were painted bright red. Burial 80 was reverentially reentered after 600 A.D. at least once, and it is possible that the bones were painted during this reentry.

El Perú-Waka’ was an important city-state that controlled major north-south and east-west trade routes during the Mayan classical period. It produced a wide range of goods for trade — maize avocados, latex, jade — and its support was hungrily sought after by the greatest rivals of the time: Tikal and Calakmul. The north-south trade route linked the great Classical period Mayan power center of Calakmul in modern-day Campeche, Mexico, with its allies to the south in what is today Guatemala. The rulers of Calakmul, the mighty Snake dynasty, cemented their relationships with the rulers of conquered, vassal and allied cities in strategically significant areas by marriage. Lady K’abel, aka Lady Snake Lord, daughter of King Yuhknoom Ch’een the Great of Calakmul, married King K’inich Bahlam II of the Centipede dynasty in the 7th century.

The Wak dynasty long predates the rise of Calakmul and its military and political machinations, however. Drawing from later inscriptions found at El Perú-Waka’, historians believe the dynasty was founded in the 2nd century A.D. making it one of the earliest Mayan ruling families. By the early 5th century A.D., the city’s population numbered in the tens of thousands and the city had dozens of public buildings, squares, religious centers and more. That was the heyday of the city’s prosperity, even though its alliance with Calakmul and the benefits it incurred from the relationship were still hundreds of years away.

“The Classic Maya revered their divine rulers and treated them as living souls after death,” said research co-director David Freidel, professor of anthropology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis.

“This king’s tomb helped to make the royal palace acropolis holy ground, a place of majesty, early in the history of the Wak — centipede — dynasty. It’s like the ancient Saxon kings England buried in Old Minister, the original church underneath Winchester Cathedral.”

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History


East Kingdom Gazette - Sun, 2017-09-17 12:09

The Society College of Arms runs on monthly cycles and letters. Each month, the  College processes name and armory submissions from all of the Kingdoms. Final  decisions on submissions are made at the monthly meetings of the Pelican Queen of Arms (names) and the Wreath Queen of Arms (armory). Pelican and Wreath then write up their decisions in a Letter of Acceptances and Return (LoAR). After review and proofreading, LoARs generally are released two months after the meeting where the decisions are made.

An “acceptance” indicates that the item(s) listed are now registered with the Society. A “return” indicates that the item is returned to the submitter for additional work. Most items are registered without comments. Sometimes, the LoAR will address specific issues about the name or armory or will praise the submitter/herald on putting together a very nice historically accurate item. The following results are from the June 2017 Wreath and Pelican meetings.

EAST acceptances

Avonmore, Shire of. Badge for Populace. Per bend sinister purpure and Or, a lighthouse Or and a bird sable.

East, Kingdom of the. Order name Order of Silver Mantle of the East and badge. (Fieldless) A mantle argent.

In the return of Lochac’s badge, (Fieldless) A mantle gules, lined and charged on the sinister breast with a mullet of six points argent in June 2003, it was noted:

If someone wore a red mantle which was lined white and charged on the sinister breast with a mullet of six points argent, it would not appear to be a correct display of this badge. … One correct heraldic display… would be to create an enameled pin in the shape of the charged mantle. Another correct display would be to make a flag and put a picture of the charged mantle on the flag.

Similarly, the correct display of this badge is not a silver mantle; it would be a pin or medallion displaying a silver mantle.

Ile du Dragon Dormant, Baronnie de l’. Badge association for Populace. Purpure, on a pale argent a pallet Or.

Ioannes Aurelius Serpentius. Name and device. Per pale gules and sable, a three-headed hydra passant and on a chief argent three frets couped gules.

After the close of commentary, additional research by Ursula Palimpsest and Alisoun Metron Ariston supported the pattern of the name based on, among other things, the attested example of Libius Severus Serpentius.

Katla of Stóra Borg. Name and device. Azure estencely, an owl maintaining in its feet a sheaf of arrows fesswise reversed argent.

PN2E of SENA states:

No name will be registered that either in whole or in part is obtrusively modern. Something is said to be obtrusively modern when it makes a modern joke or reference that destroys medieval ambience and drags the average person mentally back to the present day. Obtrusiveness can be either in the written form or when spoken. A period name that has a modern referent will not generally be considered obtrusively modern. Only extreme examples will be returned.

Submitted as Katla of Borg, commenters in OSCAR and at the Roadshow at the Known World Heraldic and Scribal Symposium universally agreed that the phrase “of Borg” is an obtrusively modern Star Trek reference. As the submitter allows all changes, we have changed the byname to of Stóra Borg to use the lingua Anglica name of one of the places known as Borg in period and thereby avoid the appearance of obtrusive modernity.

Lillia de Vaux. Heraldic title Crampette Herault.

Nice Middle English heraldic title!

Luca Spadini. Name and device. Azure, a serpent erect and on a chief argent three ravens sable.

Luna Cohen. Name.

Objections were raised in commentary to the use of the surname Cohen by a woman based on its Hebrew meaning denoting descent from the priestly caste. However, in commentary, Yehuda Blue Tyger provided evidence from the FamilySearch Historical Records of 16th century and early 17th century English women with the surname Cohen. In addition, Lillia Crampette noted in commentary that Cohen is the name of a location in France. Based on this evidence, there is no reason to bar a woman from using the surname Cohen in English or French. As Luna is also found as an English given name, this name is registerable as a 16th century English name.

Mael Eoin mac Echuid.  Household name Company of the Black Boot.

Submitted as Black Boot Company, no evidence could be found to support the pattern of this household name. In December 2013, we ruled that the correct form of a company name using the pattern Color + Heraldic Charge is Company of [color] [charge]:

Submitted as Red Dragon Company, commenters could not find evidence of a company name using the pattern X Company, where X is a charge or a color + charge. However, the pattern Company of the X can be justified as the lingua Anglica form of an order name or fraternal organization. Although the submitter did not allow major changes, he permitted the change to Company of the Red Dragon. We have done so in order to register the name. [Tristram O’Shee, 12/2013 LoAR, A-An Tir]

Neither the Letter of Intent nor commenters provided any documentation inconsistent with this precedent. Accordingly, with the submitter’s permission, we have changed the name to Company of the Black Boot for registration.

Mari Clock van Hoorne.  Badge (see RETURNS for alternate name). (Fieldless) A comet per pale gules and Or.

Mathias Feuer Drache.  Device. Sable semy-de-lis, on a pale Or a dragon gules.

Ysmay de Lynn.  Badge. (Fieldless) A shoe Or.

Nice badge!


EAST returns

Cillene O Caollaidhe.  Device. Per pale purpure and argent, a butterfly counterchanged and on a chief argent five trefoils vert.

This device is returned for violation of SENA A3B, Armorial Contrast. The chief is argent on a field that is half argent, half purpure, and the chief comes into contact with the argent portion of the field. In the Letter of Intent, the submitter cited SENA A3B4b, which states that

The field and charges on it may share a tincture only if … (2) only one of the two is multiply divided and the charge(s) is an ordinary or simple geometric shape arranged in a way that both the type of field division and charge are clearly identifiable.

However, the rule gives a clear example that informs this decision:

For example, both Vair, a chief argent or Checky Or and vert, a lozenge vert can be acceptable, if drawn so that the shared tinctures are not against each other.

Because per pale is not “multiply divided,” and the chief comes into contact with a substantial portion of the field that shares its tincture, it becomes unrecognizable and must be returned.

Gaius Claudius Valerianus.  Device. Per fess argent and vert, a stag’s head caboshed sable and two lightning bolts in saltire Or.

This device must be returned for redraw. The line of division as depicted is high enough above the tics of the marked fess line that the lightning bolts (which should be completely below it) cross the normal fess line.

When resubmitting, the submitter should make the lightning bolts thicker and bolder, and not interlace them where they cross in saltire.

There is a step from period practice for the use of lightning bolts not as part of a thunderbolt.

Mari Clock van Hoorne.  Alternate name Star Dust.

This name must be returned for violating PN2E, which states:

No name will be registered that either in whole or in part is obtrusively modern. Something is said to be obtrusively modern when it makes a modern joke or reference that destroys medieval ambience and drags the average person mentally back to the present day. Obtrusiveness can be either in the written form or when spoken. A period name that has a modern referent will not generally be considered obtrusively modern. Only extreme examples will be returned.

Commenters in OSCAR, at the Pelican decision meeting and at the Roadshow at the Known World Heraldic and Scribal Symposium unanimously called this name obtrusively modern, particularly as the concept of “star dust” is dated to the 19th century and later. Even applying the fairly liberal standard for obtrusive modernity, this name grabbed too many listeners by the scruff of the neck and dragged them into the 21st century.


Filed under: Heraldry Tagged: heraldry, LoAR

Irma exposes dugout canoe, history buff saves it

History Blog - Sat, 2017-09-16 23:05

A dugout canoe driven from its watery home on the bottom of the Indian River just north of Cocoa in Brevard County, Florida, by Hurricane Irma has been saved thanks to the quick thinking and responsible actions of a local history buff. Freelance photographer and history enthusiast Randy “Shots” Lathrop spotted a cypress log on the banks of the Indian River on Monday, September 11st. A less keen eye would have dismissed it as just another piece of arboreal debris littering the shores of the river thanks to Irma’s destructive power, but Lathrop noticed its carved interior and prow and recognized it as a dugout canoe.

He took a picture and sent it to an archaeologist friend who confirmed that it appeared to be a canoe. Lathrop immediately reported the find to the Florida Division of Historical Resources, as required by law, but with all the havoc wreaked by the hurricane the FDHR, the state archaeologist wasn’t going to be able to inspect the canoe right away. Meanwhile, county workers were clearing the area of debris. Lathrop was concerned that they would mistake it for a log, toss it in the truck and put in a landfill before the archaeologist had a chance to see it. He secured permission from the FDHR to move it to safety.

That was easier said than done, however. The canoe weighs close to 700 pounds, and is saturated with water from having been at the bottom of a river for years or even centuries. He enlisted the aid of a friend with a truck and the two of them managed with difficulty to heft the artifact onto the bed. They transported it to a nearby freshwater pond and submerged it to keep the wood from drying out and to keep hurricane debris collectors from disposing of it.

Three days later, the FDHR dispatched a regional archaeologist from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to examine the canoe. He wasn’t comfortable identifying its makers or date based solely on the preliminary investigation, but the possibilities are intriguing. This is an unusual piece.

The 15-foot-long canoe could be anywhere from several decades to several hundred years old, according to Sarah Revell, a spokeswoman with the department. Carbon dating will help to narrow down the boat’s age. […]

The canoe has a squared off form, which Revell said is commonly seen in the historic period (from 1513 to about 50 years ago in Florida), but there are several uncommon features on it too: compartments, square nails and what appears to be a seat.

“The compartments are a bit out of the ordinary,” she said. “The square nails are cut nails. Cut nails were first in production in the early 19th century so that helps to indicate it is a historic canoe.”

Lathrop noted that there are visible remains of red and white paint, colors traditionally used by the Seminole people to paint canoes (among other things).

The canoe is now being conserved in a water bath. There are no specific plans for its ultimate disposition at this juncture, but the buzz is it will stay in Brevard County where it will go on public display once it has been stabilized.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Reindeer hunters find Viking sword in Norway

History Blog - Fri, 2017-09-15 23:55

A group of reindeer hunters discovered a Viking sword last month while stalking the mountains of Lesja in Oppland, south central Norway. Einar Ambakk found the three-foot-long sword nestled between rocks on August 23rd at more than a mile in altitude. The sword was embedded hilt-down in the gaps between stones. Half of the blade jutted up above the rocks. Einar saw it first and, not even recognizing that it was a sword, placed both his hands on each side of it and lifted it up. Only when he’d pulled it all the way out did he realize he, like a young and confused Once and Future King, had just drawn a sword from the stone.

The hunters reported their discovery to the municipality. Experts examined the weapon and determined it dates to the Viking era, around 850-950 A.D., and is exceptionally well-preserved. The sword’s fine condition and high-altitude location 1,640 meters above sea level generated much excitement. Two glacier archaeologists from Secrets of the Ice, a metal detectorist and a local archaeologist went to the find spot with the reindeer hunters to explore it further.

They were fortunate to be able to find the precise place. The hunters didn’t record the GPS coordinates, but the pictures Einar Ambakk took of the sword had geolocation data enabled, so the team was able to use that information to identify the exact find spot even in the stark mountainous terrain which doesn’t have much in the way of landmarks to help guide them. Even if there had been some peculiar rock formation or other fortuitously identifiable feature, it could only have provided a general search area. The sword selfies made a full and accurate archaeological investigation of the specific site possible, something that was not an option, for example, when a hiker discovered an earlier Viking sword 300 miles southwest of Lesja in 2015.

They found no other artifacts with a 20 meter area of the find. This is significant because if the sword had been schlepped up the mountain by someone who met their end leaving the sword as mute witness to his final days, the team would probably have discovered the remains of other equipment even though the organic materials (including the body and clothing) had rotted away. There is no evidence of ritual weapon sacrifice, a nearby burial, or anything else that might explain the sword’s location.

Nor is there evidence on the sword and in the context of the find to indicate the sword was hidden below the surface and only recently shifted into view due to the movement of the stones in the permafrost. No scratches, no dents, no dings, no bending, at least one of which you’d expect to find had the sword recently been put through a stone wringer. Archaeologists think Einar Ambakk found it pretty much in its original position, perhaps a little lower from sliding down into the crack between the stones.

It may seem strange for the sword to have survived on the surface for more than one thousand years. However, to all appearances this is what happened here. Isolated finds of well-preserved iron arrowheads are also known from the high mountains, and some of these artefacts are even older than the sword. The preservation is probably due to a combination of the quality of the iron, the high altitude and the mostly cold conditions. For most of the year, the find spot would have been frozen over and covered in snow.

The sword would most likely have had bone, wood or leather covering the grip, but the organic parts are no longer preserved.

Because a Viking’s sword was likely his most prized possession, it wouldn’t have just been abandoned or forgotten during a mountain-top jaunt. Not that the find site is ideally suited as a walking trail. The rocky terrain would have been treacherous and there was a well-established path nearby without any such obstacles. It’s possible the owner of the sword got lost in the white-out of a blizzard and died, but, as the glacier archaeologists point out, if that were the case, then where is the rest of his gear? You don’t climb a mile up a mountain carrying only a sword.

The sword is now at the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo where it will be studied further and conserved.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Celebrating 20 Years: We are the Escarbuncle

AEthelmearc Gazette - Fri, 2017-09-15 14:50

Noble Cousins, I bid you greetings and extend an invitation to celebrate the Birth of our Kingdom and the choosing of our next Heirs.

The Celebration of Æthlemearc‘s Twentieth Anniversary and Fall Crown Tournament will be held on the 7th of October 2017 at All Saints Camp (110 All Saints Rd, Emlenton, PA 16373). The Autocrats are THL Muirgheal inghean Dubhghaill and Lady Elena de la Palma; a fantastic lunch will be prepared by Mistress Illadore de Bedagrayne and a sumptuous feast will be prepared by THL Ottilige van Rappoltsweiler.

Activities will include Our Crown Tournament, an arts and science display, equestrian activities, fencing, a grand ball, archery, a history display, thrown weapons, a heraldic consult table, youth fighting, a bardic circle, a heavy weapon’s torchlight tournament, a choir performance, atl-atl, brewers playtime, and cut and thrust! Not to mention the food!

Site is Wet. Service Animals only, please (excepting equines). Open flame is approved.

The Adult Event Registration will be $21.00.
Adult Member Discount Event Registration will be $16.00.
Children 0-5 Free; age 6-17 free.
A lavish Saturday lunch is included in the event registration.
Feast is an additional $10.00 per person, all ages.

Last day to Pre-Register is September 23, 2017.

Cabin space is limited to 100 people and will be first come first serve; reservation for this will be $5.00/adult per night, all youth ages 0-17 free. Tent camping is available and free to all.  All reservations can be sent to THL Hara Kikumatsu (sbooth@sbooth.net).

Make checks payable to SCA PA, Inc. – Debatable Lands. The Head Tollner for this event is THL Hara Kikumatsu (sbooth@sbooth.net). Send all pre-registrations to her at Sharon Booth, 1105 Shady Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15232.

Find more information here.

Yours in Service,
THL Muirgheal inghean Dubhghaill

Categories: SCA news sites

Met acquires splendid gilded Egyptian coffin

History Blog - Thu, 2017-09-14 23:01

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has acquired an exceptional gilded cartonnage coffin from Late Ptolemaic Period Egypt. Cartonnage was made of layers of linen or papyrus plastered together to create a material that when wet could be molded into a desired shape and then dried into a hard shell. The hardened shell was then painted or gilded, more frequently the former than the latter. Cartonnage funerary masks and sarcophagi were used in Egypt from the First Intermediate Period (2181–2055 B.C.) well into the Roman era.

Molded into a mummiform shape, the coffin was made between 150 and 50 B.C. to hold the remains of one Nedjemankh. He was a priest of Heryshef, a fertility god depicted with the head of a ram, in Heracleopolis Magna. The city had been the cult center of Heryshef since the third millennium B.C. and the Ptolemies, keen to associate their Greek religious traditions with the ancient Egypt pantheon, declared Heryshaf the equivalent of Herakles and renamed the city to match.

The recently-acquired coffin is a spectacular example of a very high status cartonnage artifact, even unique in several ways. It is composed of layers ofa linen, gesso and resin and decorated with gold, silver and glass. The lid is covered with scenes of funerary spells and one long inscription referring to the gold and silver that are so prominently displayed in the coffin itself. Inside the lid is an image of the sky goddess Nut adorned with silver foil. The base of the coffin is decorated with a djed pillar, symbol of stability and the creator god Osiris.

Unique to this coffin are the thin sheets of silver foil on the interior of the lid, intended to protect Nedjemankh’s face. To the ancient Egyptians, the precious metals gold and silver symbolized several things. On a general level, they could represent the flesh and bones of the gods, or the sun and the moon; on a more specific level, they were identified with the eyes of the cosmic deity Heryshef, whom Nedjemankh served.

Even more remarkably, the long inscription on the front of the coffin’s lid explicitly connects gold and “fine gold” (electrum) to the flesh of the gods, the sun, and the rebirth of the deceased. The association of the inscription with the actual use of metals on the coffin is a rare — possibly unique — occurrence.

Perhaps even rarer than the beauty, condition and quality of the cartonnage coffin is that it was actually legally exported. No fraudulent “private Swiss collection,” no forged documents, no fake history ginned up by sellers seeking to justify a sudden appearance on the market in the 90s. Instead, there is a full ownership record and legal paperwork proving that it was exported from Egypt in 1971 with a license from the authorities. Believe it or not, it was bought by a real Swiss private collector from the shop of Cairo dealer Habib Tawadrus. (This is the first time I can recall seeing the Swiss private collector be an actual flesh-and-blood human instead of a convenient fiction to cover the widespread flouting of cultural patrimony laws in the antiquities trade.) The coffin has remained in the owner’s family until the Metropolitan bought it from them this year.

It is now on display in the Met’s Lila Acheson Wallace Galleries for Egyptian Art.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Hurricane Relief Donations Accepted at Upcoming Events

AEthelmearc Gazette - Thu, 2017-09-14 13:16

Greetings to the kind and generous people of Æthelmearc!

As you know, two hurricanes in quick succession have devastated major areas of the U.S. Many of our SCA cousins in Ansteorra (Texas & Oklahoma) and Trimaris (Florida) have suffered heartbreaking losses.

While there are numerous real-world charities to which you can send your donations (and many of you probably already have), we ask that you consider also specifically helping members of the Society.

SCA members have, no doubt, lost items specific to our hobby like garb, armor, pavilions, and scrolls, but right now what they need most is cash to help them rebuild and repair their homes, and replace destroyed vehicles, furniture, and clothing. SCA-specific donations can come  later, once the flood and wind damage has been repaired and people’s lives are no longer so disrupted.

A donation box will be available at the troll table at Coronation this weekend in Ballachlagan. Please consider bringing a little extra cash to give to those in need. With the blessing of Their Majesties, I have been communicating with the Disaster Relief Coordinator in Ansteorra, and this week I reached out to the Disaster Relief Coordinator in Trimaris, though they are still taking stock of things since it’s only been a few days and almost the entire Kingdom was affected. The proceeds of the donation box will be split between the two kingdoms’ disaster relief funds.

Not going to Coronation? Donation boxes will also be available at Agincourt and Crown Tourney/20 Year as well.

Note that these must be private donations from individuals, not from SCA groups. If your group has an SCA bank account and would like to donate some of those funds to hurricane relief efforts, please contact the Kingdom Exchequer, Master Tofi, for guidance.

If you have any questions, please contact me at ariannawyn@gmail.com.

Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope

Vivat Trimaris!  Vivat Ansteorra!

Categories: SCA news sites

One of largest Mycenaean tombs found in Greece

History Blog - Wed, 2017-09-13 23:18

Archaeologists have discovered one of the largest tombs of the Mycenaean era in Orchomenos, Greece. The burial chamber is an estimated 3,350 years old, dating to the 14th century B.C. and is the ninth-largest Mycenaean chamber tomb of the 4,000 known to have been excavated in the last century and a half.

It is of monumental scale, with a road 20 meters (66 feet) long carved of out of stone leading into the tomb. The burial chamber is a single large room 42 square meters (452 square feet) in surface area. The walls were topped by a stone roof that was originally around 3.5 meters (11 feet) high. That figure is an estimate because the roof collapse in antiquity, perhaps even shortly after it was constructed in the Mycenaean era.

The cave-in damaged some of the artifacts and human remains inside the tomb, but it also saved it from a far worse danger than architectural failure or natural disaster: human beings. Covered by the collapsed pile of rocks, the tomb was hidden from looters and from well-meaning people who might seek to reuse the tomb, a very common practice in ancient Greece. That makes this find extremely valuable to archaeologists, because they can learn so much about a single identified point on the timeline without concern that later interventions have contaminated the scene. It will be one of the best documented Mycenaean tombs ever found on the Greek mainland.

The remains discovered inside the tomb are of an adult male, about 40-50 years old. He was buried with a selection of expensive and meaningful objects: more than 10 tin vessels, a pair of bronze hooks from horseshoes, bow fittings, arrows, brooches, jewelry, a seal ring, pottery and more. Because there are no other people buried there — almost unheard of with monumental Mycenaean tombs which were usually built to accommodate multiple family members over the course of generations — archaeologists are in the unique position of being able to associate every artifact with the one man interred in the chamber.

It has already upended some of the received wisdom on Mycenaean funerary practices.

Finding this burial site and its features will give researchers the opportunity to better understand the burial practices of the region during the Mycenaean times. For example, the deposition of many jewels on a man-made burial contests – as in the case of a centuries-old warrior from Pylos found in 2015 – the widespread belief that the jewelry was mostly accompanied by women in their last home. It is also noteworthy that, with the exception of two small false amphoras, no Mycenaean ceramics were found in the grave, which, moreover, is extremely popular in this period.

This was a great way to inaugurate the first year of a five-year collaboration between the Greek Culture Ministry, the Ephorate of Antiquities of Viotia, the British School of Athens and the University of Cambridge. The interdisciplinary program combines excavation with osteoarchaeological study to find out more about the Mycenaean era. The discovery of the tomb dovetails perfectly with the program’s mission.

Orchomenos in the southeastern Greek province of Boetia traced its founding back to the mythological king Minyas, described as the son of an array of different deities and demigods depending on which account you read. He moved his people inland from Thessaly and established a new royal dynasty in a new capital. Heracles burned it down once in a fight against the Minyan king who was exacting heavy tribute from the Greeks.

Whatever the kernel of truth in the city’s origin myth, by the Mycenaean era Orchomenos was a center of wealth and civilization. It had a grand palace with elaborately frescoed walls, monumental tombs and ambitious infrastructure projects. The wetlands of nearby Lake Copaïs were drained to reclaim the fertile land for agriculture.

At its peak in the 14th and 13th centuries B.C., Orchomenos was comparable in prosperity and pomp to Thebes, the most important city in Mycenaean Greece. Its rise was halted in the 12th century B.C. when the city was razed — archaeological remains attest to Orchomenos being devastated by fire — but it was rebuilt successfully enough to reengage its rivalry with Thebes. That’s what did them in the end, internecine warfare. It was sacked repeatedly by Thebes and its allies in the 4th century B.C., and while it was rebuilt by Philip II of Macedon and his son, the future Alexander the Great, in 335 B.C., it never recovered its former significance. Under the Roman Empire and the Byzantine, Orchomenos had declined into just another sleepy little town among many, albeit one with an excellent theater courtesy of the Macedons.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Irma cannot defeat cats with opposable thumbs

History Blog - Tue, 2017-09-12 23:31

Ah, Internets, how I missed you. An outage of just over 24 hours had me in full white-knuckle withdrawal mode. I don’t know how the Harvey/Irma folks can stand it. Take, for instance, the staff of the Hemingway Home and Museum on Key West. Key West, like all of the Florida Keys, was smack in Irma’s path, and the Overseas Highway, its sole road linking it to the mainland, was sure to be underwater leaving Key West without means of resupply. Residents were ordered by the governor to evacuate the Keys. The National Weather Service minced no words, warning that “nowhere in the Florida Keys will be safe” from Irma. Governor Rick Scott minced even fewer words: “You will not survive.”

One museum curator, 10 museums staffers and more than 50 cats were not persuaded. Curator of the Hemingway Home and Museum Dave Gonzales chose to stay in the historic property once inhabited by Ernest Hemingway and 10 staffers joined him. Perhaps even more beloved (and certainly better known) than the mere humans are the cats, most of them polydactyl, descended from the author’s original cats.

Hemingway loved cats and ended up with more than 50 of them. He had a great fondness for polydactyls which were considered good luck on board ships. It was a sea captain who gave Hemingway his first polydactyl, Snowball. Today the descendants of Snowball and his feline family live on the estate and have the run of the place, just as the cats did when Hemingway lived there. Most of them are neutered, with only a select few allowed to breed very rarely to ensure the population remains steady at around 50. Named after the greatest stars of pop culture, they are so famous and so popular that polydactyls, particularly those with little thumbs that make them look like they’re wearing boxing gloves, are commonly known as Hemingways. Half of the visitors to the Hemingway Home and Museum go there just to see the cats.

Nobel-prize winning novelist Ernest Hemingway’s home on Key West has many of his personal belongings on display from furniture to pens, and of course it has its greatest stars roaming the grounds, but it is a National Historic Landmark whose history long predates Hemingway’s residence. The white Spanish colonial mansion was built in 1851 by marine architect Asa Tift. A ship’s captain and salvage wrecker who was well-versed in the challenges of building on a small island that is almost entirely at sea level, Tift chose his site wisely. He picked the second highest point in Key West at 16 feet above sea level and then quarried its limestone. That provided his home with a deep, dry basement and a supply of 18-inch blocks carved from solid limestone with which to build it.

A family squabble kept the old Tift mansion boarded up and abandoned until Ernest Hemingway bought it in 1931 for $8,000. He lived in the home with his second wife Patricia and their two sons from 1931 until 1940. Those brief nine years were exceptionally prolific, the most productive of his life. He wrote 70% of his total output during those years, including To Have and Have Not, Death in the Afternoon and For Whom the Bell Tolls. He also paid a nosebleed-inducing $20,000 to have the first in-ground pool in Key West installed in 1938. Two years later and three years after he began his affair with Martha Gellhorn, Ernest moved to Cuba, got a divorce and got remarried to Gellhorn three weeks after it was finalized.

He kept the house until his death, although he never lived in it again. He died in 1961 and his widow (wife #4, Mary Welsh) sold it to Bernice Dickson who would transform it into a museum. In all this time, through the dozens (hundreds?) of hurricanes and crazy storms it has seen since 1851, the Hemingway Home has always held out against the elements. Its basement doesn’t flood. Its walls remain unbreached. That’s why Gonzales is so confident in the Hemingway Home’s capacity to weather even a monster hurricane like Irma. Only Solares Hill (18 feet above sea level) is at a higher elevation than the Hemingway estate, and its massive limestone construction and deep basement make it one of the safest places, if not the safest, on the island. It also has an array of generators for power and climate control. The ten employees who are joining Gonzales live at lower elevations on the island and have chosen to seek shelter behind those thick limestone blocks.

Besides, somebody has to take care of the cats. The staff helped round them all up and bring them indoors to safety. Father John Baker from St. Mary’s Star of the Sea Basilica (one of the oldest Catholic parishes in Florida and Pauline Hemingway’s parish when she lived at Hemingway Home) blessed the staff and cats.

Window and shutters nailed down under plywood, fully stocked with supplies, safe and dry in a basement that has never flooded, Gonzales, the staff and the cats stared Irma down. She was no match for them. From the Hemingway Home Cats Instagram page:

We are so extremely happy to announce that everyone, cats and staff, have weathered the storm and are only reporting trees down on property as far as damage goes. Communication with the Hurricane crew is incredibly limited and they currently do not have power, water, phones or internet. We do not have any photos to share at this time. Nicole was our only admin for the page that stayed on the hurricane crew. She will share when internet access is available. Please keep in mind that clean up is already underway and therefore we will not be posting anything more until normal communication services are available on the island. We appreciate the concern and well wishes.

Here’s a great tour of the Hemingway Home and Museum led by Dave Gonzales, whose handsome snowy beard may or may not be related to Hemingway’s iconic facial hair.

And here is an extremely badass cat with many toes ideally positioned for the pummelling of interlopers keeping Ernest Hemingway’s typewriter from harm.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Technical difficulties

History Blog - Mon, 2017-09-11 18:56

Due to inclement weather, my Internet is out. If the cable company isn’t lying, I should be back online soon. Don’t panic!

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Aethelmarc Coronation – Change of Location

East Kingdom Gazette - Mon, 2017-09-11 17:48

The Coronation of Gareth and Juliana, on September 16, has been moved due to possible problems with the weather. For more information:

ATTN: Coronation Location Change


Filed under: Announcements Tagged: events

Ducal Challenge – Unofficial Court Report

East Kingdom Gazette - Mon, 2017-09-11 17:40
Unofficial Court Report of the Court of Ioannes and Honig, held at Ducal Challenge in the Barony of Settmour Swamp, September 9, A.S. 52, as reported by Master Rowen Cloteworthy. Katheryn Fontayne, Vigil for Laurel Rory MacLellan, Vigil for Chivalry Hasanah bint al-Khalil ibn Habib, Court Barony
C&I: Shoshana Gryffyth, W: Ysmay de Lynn Children of the East, Gifts from the Crown Emeline la Chauciere, Golden Lyre (Backlog)
Token only Phelippe le Vigneron, Golden Lyre (Backlog)
Token only Emeline la Chauciere, Award of Arms
Scroll forthcoming Phelippe le Vigneron, Award of Arms
C&I: Mariette de Bretagne Brennan mac Fearghus and Caoilfhionn inghean Fhaoliann, Event Stewards
Thanks of Their Majesties Nadia Hart, Silver Brooch
C&I: Ellesbeth Donofrey Ellice de Valles, Maunche
C&I: Jonathan Blaecstan Newcomers Tokens from the Crown Katheryn Fontayne, Laurel
C: Jonathan Blaecstan, I: Kis Marika, W: Ardenia ARuadh Conchobar mac Oengusa, Court Barony with Grant of Arms
Scroll forthcoming, W: Rowen Cloteworthy Redacted, Silver Wheel
C&I: Katherine Barr, W: Dietrich Schwelgengruber Devillin MacPherson, King’s Cypher
C&I: Shoshana Gryffyth Caoilfhionn inghean Fhaoliann, Silver Crescent
C&I: Nataliia Anastasiia Evgenova, W: Lorenzo Gorla Rory MacLellan, Chivalry
C&I: Jonathan Blaecstan, W: Malcolm Bowman
Filed under: Court Tagged: court report

ATTN: Coronation Location Change

AEthelmearc Gazette - Mon, 2017-09-11 07:54


The site for the Coronation of Gareth and Juliana has been moved to Warwood Middle School, 150 Viking Dr, Wheeling, WV 26003. (This is the same site that was used for The Donnan Party.)

If you need a map, please go to the Æ website and click on the event. There is a Google Map under the event announcement.

All other event details will be the same.

Thank you.

In service,
Æ Webminister

Categories: SCA news sites

Coronation Pre-Registration Announcement

East Kingdom Gazette - Mon, 2017-09-11 06:40
An announcement about Coronation preregistration from the event steward:

You have the option to preregister using PayPal. Please use this link.

There are instructions in both English and French. You will input your information into the survey and after you hit send PayPal will generate an invoice within 24 hours and send it to you via email. Please check your email and pay the invoice, putting your SCA names and membership numbers for all those in your party in the notes section to speed up check in at troll on the day of the event. Any invoices not paid by September 27th will be canceled and those persons will need to pay at the door.
Filed under: Announcements Tagged: coronation, event announcement