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A Missive from Their Majesties

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sun, 2015-06-14 20:20

Unto the mighty Kingdom of Æthelmearc do Timothy and Gabrielle send warmest greetings,

In a few short weeks it will be Pennsic. The forces of the East and the Middle have marshalled their troops, and have decided to split Our Kingdom amongst themselves. Many amongst us have done what we could to rally others to our cause, and We have allies of Our own who will stand by Our side as we struggle to remain free. Atlantia, Ealdormere, Northshield, Ansteorra, Caid, the Tuchux, House Clovenshield and others will support us.

We are eternally grateful for all their assistance, but even with their help, we will have our hands full. These are our lands. It is time for us to step up to the plate. We have been amazed at the efforts of people throughout our Kingdom stepping up during these last few months. Fighters and fencers have been traveling throughout the Kingdom making muster after muster. People are authorizing in record numbers. Our ranks are swelling with new fighters, fencers and combat archers. Shires, Baronies and Households are having workshops (here’s looking at you Sable Maul) to equip more of our troops for the war.

It is deeply inspiring. With their Highnesses at our side, We will do everything in Our power to try and rally Our Kingdom to victory. His Majesty will be in armor, or under mask for every battle. Her Majesty will be joining the fencers for their battles, and both of Us will be shooting war points early each and every morning. If you want to meet Us at the range, it is Our intent to be at the range every day at 8:00AM. Several of Our marshals have agreed to open the range early so that We may have the opportunity to shoot alongside Our troops. It may turn out that the populace archery shoots decide the eventual outcome of the war. If you can, make the effort to not just shoot once or twice at the war, but pick up your bow once or twice before the war, and attend your local archery practice. Knock the rust off.

Æthelmearc, We are inspired by your efforts, and look to return the favor during this push for war.

Timothy and Gabrielle

Categories: SCA news sites

Their Majesties Seek Assistance

East Kingdom Gazette - Sun, 2015-06-14 13:17

Photo courtesy of Baroness Cateline la Broderesse

Greetings to the Kingdom of the East from Queen Etheldreda and King Omega!

The generosity of the East Kingdom is without renown. We ask for a bit of that generosity now so we may continue to give small tokens in court to newcomers to our society. This is an important tradition in which newcomers are called into court and given a small token to thank them for their attendance and give them something to remember the event. We have been blessed with many new faces this reign, with each event having no less than 6 new people at Our Courts! This means that our supply of newcomer tokens is running low.

Order of the Burdened Tyger

The tokens range from veil pins to small boxes. They are simply meant to say ‘Welcome’ and should not be large, expensive gifts, but rather small mementos of things useful to a new SCAdian.

We also have a lack of Burdened Tyger medallions and Tyger’s Cub medallions. We have a plethora of all other medallions but could use both of these types of medallions. The medallions can be painted, embroidered, carved from leather, or made of metal.

Order of the Tyger’s Cub

Finally, our toy chest coordinator has already placed a call out for more toys so we can continue to bring joy in court to the smallest members of our populace.

Thank you so much for your generosity! We truly appreciate those who donate time, skills and materials so worthy gentles can continue to be recognized!

In Service to the East,

King Omega and Queen Etheldreda

Filed under: Announcements

Merovingian wine jug found in Denmark cemetery

History Blog - Sun, 2015-06-14 04:59

Archaeologists excavating the oldest cemetery in Ribe, southwestern Denmark, have discovered an intact Merovingian-era pitcher. It is the only vessel of its type ever found in Denmark and because Ribe, founded in the early 8th century, is not only the oldest extant city in Denmark, but the oldest in Scandinavia, this teapot-sized jug is of disproportionately large historical significance.

The pitcher was found underneath a large upside-down vessel which was cracked and broken. It may have been deliberately placed over the little treasure to protect it, but if it wasn’t, it performed that function anyway, keeping the jug from being damaged or broken over the centuries. When the archaeologists removed the pieces on top of it, they immediately saw they had something special. Danish pottery from the early Middle Ages is black, brown or red. The bright color of this ceramic marked it as imported. When they excavated it fully they were amazed to find a complete piece of such high quality and great age.

Unsure of what exactly they had unearthed, the team consulted with experts who identified it from its features — the clover leaf spout, the shape of the handle — as a trefoil pitcher made during the Merovingian dynasty (circa 450-750 A.D.) in France or Belgium. Unlike domestic ceramics, this pitcher was made on a turntable and fired in a kiln.

Merovingian vessels have also been found in the late 8th century trading settlement of Hedeby, also on the Jutland peninsula but today just across the border in Germany about 80 miles south of Ribe. They are very rare. Out of 2,000 graves excavated in Hedeby, only three of them included Frankish pitchers, none of them of the trefoil type.

“It is a unique find,” said Morten Søvsø, the head of archaeology at Sydvestjyske Museum.

“The pitcher is an example of the finest pottery produced in northern Europe at the time, and it has never been seen before in Denmark. The vessel reveals information about the vast trading network that put Ribe on the map during the Viking era.” [...]

“The jug is a masterpiece from the French or Belgian workshops, and its elegant form is a direct legacy from ancient Roman potters. No pottery at home could technically produce such a thing at the time,” said Søvsø.

Archaeologists couldn’t narrow down the precise date it was made or when it was buried. It was certainly interred more than 1,000 years ago and most likely when Ribe was still new. Archaeologists have long thought that Ribe grew gradually into a city of import, but the discovery of the pitcher suggests there were early connections with the Franks. It could have been traded or the person with whom it was buried was of Frankish origin. According to lead archaeologist Søren Sindbæk, the grave goods found in its cemetery are useful objects that had meaning to the people buried with them, not exotic objects like this pitcher would have been to someone native to the area. If he was a Frank, he must have been well-enough known in Ribe society to garner a formal burial in the cemetery.

The archaeological team is hoping to be able to answer some of the questions about the origin of the pitcher and the person whose grave it adorned by studying the bones found in the grave. Stable isotope analysis of the teeth and bones can narrow down where someone lived in early childhood.

The burial ground has a wide variety of graves from different periods: pre-Christian cremation burials, urn burials, boat burials, Christian inhumations, animal burials. Last year the team unearthed the unique grave of a fully outfitted warhorse and rider from the earliest days of the city. Elite mounted warrior burials have been found before, but they date to the 10th century, the end of the Viking period, while this grave is from the early 8th century almost a hundred years before the first Viking raid on Lindisfarne (793 A.D.).

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Gazette Editor Profile: Katja Davidova Orlova Khazarina

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sat, 2015-06-13 21:52

The third article in our series of Gazette editor interviews.

Name: Baroness Katja Davidova Orlova Khazarina
Editor Area/Title: Food & Cooking

What made you want to join the Gazette staff?
First, I was thrilled to be asked to interview gentles about feasts and food research around the kingdom and to encourage gentles to contribute articles on such to the Gazette. Chatting with and learning from other cooks is absolutely one of my favorite, favorite things to do. I love it! Second, I was a newspaper reporter and then editor for a decade before moving into book publishing in mundane life, and I have a lot of fond memories of interviewing and writing back then (before I got tired of the long hours and low pay). So, I jumped at the opportunity to do some writing and interviewing again. Third, my dream is to move into food history publishing in some manner, and having some recent “clips” could be useful toward that goal. If it isn’t, I’ll still thoroughly enjoy interviewing gentles and nudging them to write articles.

What do you like most about being on the Gazette staff?
It’s a fantastic group of knowledgeable, excellent writers and techie folks. I love how we each take turns “manning the daily desk” so that we can all balance this work with our regular responsibilities. Having been a local chronicler and editor of the Pennsic book in the past, I find this a far more collaborative environment — staff members share story ideas and can switch daily editor duties when Life gets in the way, so it’s far more flexible and less arduous than being an individual running a whole publication. Having been in newspaper, magazine, and book publishing for the past 30 years, the ability of online publishing to quickly post stories individually and edit/update on the fly is a delightful eye opener to me. It’s so current and fresh.

How has the Gazette been received in your area?
Quite well, I think. Gazette articles are frequently mentioned at Thescorre meetings and are shared on the Barony’s Facebook group.

What kinds of articles would you like to encourage people to submit?
Anything on medieval food, of course! Seriously, some things I’d love to see are cooks sharing their thoughts and experience on what’s involved in being an effective head cook, how to research period recipes without spending a fortune, how to redact period recipes, how to plan a menu that will meet your group’s budget and please your diners, how to adjust your menu to your site and type of event, different ways to run an effective lunch, how to cook safely in a firepit…

The Gazette has published some excellent articles that introduce and explore a topic (such as the bardic arts) or offer step-by-step instructions on how to get involved in something (like building inexpensive archery targets).

Being a research geek, I completely and eagerly encourage gentles to share their advanced exploration of and research on a food topic or recipe — I’d love to see explanations of the humoral theory, redactions of recipes, diaries of building that elaborate subtlety — but I also want to see a variety of introductory, hands-on, practical articles on effective food preparation to encourage MORE gentles to cook delicious period food.

What are some of the articles you’ve done so far?
I interviewed Mistress Alicia and Baroness Bronwyn, the autocrat and head cook, before AEthelmearc Twelfth Night in Abhainn Ciach Ghlais about their special dining format and how it would work at that event. I chatted with Baroness Nuzha at College of Three Ravens about her feast of favorite dishes (and ones she had wanted to do but couldn’t fit into a previous meal) from her 20 years of SCA cooking. I am currently talking to Baron Janos about the Food Lab — so far, I’ve been focusing on talking to cooks about how and why they’re choosing their meal formats and menus, but I have several thoughts for future articles.

Interested in submitting articles to the Gazette, suggesting blogs to feature, or to be put on our roster of photographers whose work we have permission to use? Email us at aethgazette@gmail.com. Check out our submission guidelines here.

Categories: SCA news sites

Iconic Bach portrait returns to Leipzig

History Blog - Sat, 2015-06-13 06:44

The most famous and best-preserved portrait of composer Johann Sebastian Bach has returned home to Leipzig after an absence of at least more than a century, possibly two. It was painted in Leipzig by Elias Gottlob Haussmann in 1748, the second of two virtually identical portraits he made of the Baroque composer. The first iteration, painted in 1746 and now in the Stadtgeschichtlichen Museum Leipzig, was damaged by excessive cleaning and overpainting particularly on the face. With the exception of a small overpainted area of the background, the 1748 Haussmann portrait is entirely original. The colors are vibrant and rich. The difference is so pronounced that the 1748 portrait is considered to be the sole authentic depiction of Bach’s facial features.

The Haussmann portraits are the only surviving images of Bach painted during his lifetime. They are also the only portraits commissioned by Bach. They depict him in a serious, formal pose wearing his Sunday coat and peruke and holding a sheet of music entitled “Canon triplex à 6 Voc[ibus]” (triple canon for six voices) signed “by J. S. Bach.” Bach chose not to be painted with a keyboard instrument or with a conductor’s baton, but with one of his counterpoint canons. He wanted to be immortalized as a composer, even though during his lifetime he was better known for his playing.

Before he died in 1750, Johann Sebastian gave the 1748 portrait to his son Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach. Carl died in 1788. We know the painting was still in the possession of his widow two years later because it is described in detail in a 1790 inventory of Carl’s estate. After that it’s unclear where the painting went until the 19th century when it was in the possession of the Jenke family of Breslau (present-day Wrocław, western Poland), Silesia. The family was Jewish, so in 1936 descendant Walter Jenke hastened out of Germany to Dorset where Rolf Gardiner, an old friend from their days together at a German youth camp, had a country estate. When war broke out Jenke was interned as an enemy alien on the Isle of Man; the painting stayed in Dorset out of harm’s way.

After the war, the Walter reclaimed the painting but soon had to sell it to support his family. In 1952 it was put up for auction. The buyer was oil baron, collector, philanthropist and accomplished Bach Scholar William H. Scheide who kept it in his Princeton, New Jersey, home for more than 60 years. When Scheide died at a venerable 100 years of age on November 14th, 2014, he bequeathed the painting to the Leipzig Bach Archive.

As coincidence, fate or inspiration would have it, Rolf Gardiner’s son John Eliot, who grew up under the gaze of the Haussmann portrait, would become one of the preeminent musicians and conductors of our time, renown for his performances of Baroque music on original instruments. He has published a biography of Johann Sebastian Bach and is today the president of the Leipzig Bach Archive.

On June 12th, the opening of Leipzig’s Bach Festival, the portrait was unveiled in St. Nicholas Church by Leipzig’s mayor Burkhard Jung, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Mr. Scheide’s widow Judith and daughter Barbara. Hundreds of dignitaries attended the event which was broadcast live on a huge screen in the city’s market square. The choir of St. Thomas Church, where Bach served as cantor for 27 years, sang to mark the joyous homecoming.

As of today, the portrait is in the Bach Archive Museum’s Treasure Room along with the only known surviving painting of Johann Sebastian’s father Johann Ambrosius Bach. In the archive’s historic 16th century building across from St. Thomas Church, the 1748 Haussmann portrait is now on permanent public display for the first time in 267 years.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

The SCA Diffusion Study

AEthelmearc Gazette - Fri, 2015-06-12 08:37

THLord Thomas the Green

THLord Thomas the Green recently created a survey he calls the “SCA Diffusion Study,” in which he is attempting to determine how the Society has spread over its 50 years. You can contribute to the survey here. Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope interviewed His Lordship about the project.

When did you join the SCA? Where are you from?

I joined the SCA in 1993 at the Shire of Dernehealde, Barony of the Middle Marches, Midrealm, in Athens Ohio, (Ohio University). Oddly enough, I’ve always lived in the Midrealm.

What sorts of activities do you like to do in the SCA?

Over the years I have been a group Seneschal for the Shire of Drakelaw, in Ashland, KY, a group Herald (same), a Herald at Large within the North and South Oaken region of the Midrealm, and a Silent Herald. I’ve also been a Fencing Marshal and the baronial fencing Champion for the Barony of the Middle Marches, as well as a heavy weapon spearman. Principally, though, I’m a scribe. I’m apprenticed to Mistress Katarina Helene von Schoenborn. So I’ve been pushing ink / graphite / lead for … nearly 15 years or so. It’s part of my monastic persona.

What do you do in the real world?

In real life I’m a doctoral student in sociology at Kent State University. Before enrolling here, I was a full-time instructor of sociology at Shawnee State University for the past 8 years (which seems sort of backwards, but it’s a long story).

What made you decide to do the SCA Diffusion Study?

The idea for the SCA Diffusion Study is one of those “No kidding, there I was” stories. Like many things in the SCA, it all began with a road trip. I was on the road with a good friend of mine who is also a Scadian. Mundanely she’s Dr. Amy Rock, Humboldt State University Department of Geography; in the SCA she’s Lady Catriona MacRath. Originally from the Middle Marches and the Midrealm like me – we met back in college – now she’s a transplant out to the West Kingdom. Her big focus both within and outside of the SCA is cartography so it’s a natural fit to ask for her help in the project. We were talking about how we’re now in A.S. 50, and I commented about how the SCA spread around the country and the world. Both of us knew the stories that the Society started in California and then moved around as people relocated either to or from universities or military bases. But, being a doctoral student, I came up with the idea of actually studying the process as a measure of cultural diffusion; how an idea, like the SCA, moves throughout society. Since Catriona is a cultural geographer and I’m a cultural sociologist., between the two of us we basically came up with the idea of putting the data (when groups were founded) on a map to track how the idea of the SCA spread.

I’ve done on-line research before and after a quick survey of what was available on sites like Midrealm Wiki, I figured that the best way to collect the data was to let SCAdians help me out. There’s enough “living history” out there that someone would be most likely to know when a group, barony, principality, etc. was formed. Once the form was completed on Google Docs, it was a simple matter of getting it out into the SCAdian hive-mind.

Other than social media, how are you distributing this study?

 Currently the survey form is being sent around through social media like Facebook, with email sent to a few people I knew in other kingdoms who could spread it on their end, since I’m only a member of the Midrealm and SCA Facebook groups.

Have you thought about how to find information on defunct groups?

The topic of defunct groups is why, specifically, I hit social media. I can dig through records like Gandalf in Minas Tirith but it seemed logical and efficient to ask the SCAdian population at large to help identify which groups are no longer in operation. I would have no idea where to even look for groups who aren’t currently reporting – especially groups that may have formed and gone cold twenty or thirty years ago.

When did you initiate the survey, and how many responses have you received to date? How has it been received?

So far people have been fairly curious about the project and I’ve received a lot of comments from people who were trying to pull in some of those ‘living history’ members who would know the history of the SCA within their region. So far I’ve received 40 responses and the project has only been live for 24 hours (since June 10 at 9 a.m.). I’m going to be tracking the progress on a weekly basis by kingdom, so if I know the total number of active groups (shires, baronies, etc.) within a given kingdom, I can measure how close I am to having data on all of the current groups for each kingdom. I already have responses from Middle, East, Caid, Calontir, Atlantia, and Ansteorra to just name a few, so the word is definitely getting out.

Have you contacted anyone at the Society level to gain additional data?

There was a post on one of the Facebook pages from someone mentioning that I should review the Board meeting minutes since any new group’s origin would be listed in them as an official point of business. I have no idea how to access those minutes but they would be a great resource. I’ll probably use them to fill in the gaps as needed and serve as a comparison between what was reported.

The Board minutes would only indicate when the group became official. That could be years after its founding. However, they would also list any groups that had been dissolved.

Right. Defunct groups will be plugged in as we get them. That may be what I look for in the Board’s minutes – to find where groups did exist but have gone dormant. There may be pockets of a kingdom’s territory that may have been active at one time but are now generally quiet.

You’ll probably also find groups that spring up and then die over and over again in the same location. Small towns and college groups are prone to that.

Yup. which hopefully we can track. What began as a brain teaser of “I wonder how the SCA spread around the world” will probably turn into a much larger project once I start digging through the responses and putting the information in order.

What sort of information do you expect or hope to learn from it, besides the obvious of how the SCA spread over time?

The study of diffusion is a lengthy one. I’m basically tracking an idea. This method only tracks the path the idea took, which is not exactly the same thing as the process. Many people have already told me stories of how one principality was founded when Duke-Sir-Someone broke down on the road and was helped by some people. They asked about the medieval stuff in his car and voila… the idea is passed from person to person.

What do you plan to do with the information you gain?

The idea is to take all of the information on the form (group’s name, area, first year, etc.) and plug it into a GIS (Geographical Information Systems) program. This is where my friend Lady Catriona, the Cultural Geographer, comes in. We can then plot, by year, where certain areas (probably by county) ‘went active’. Since we have 50 years of the SCA, I’d have 50 layers of map, and each one would show which counties light up (are active) or fade (go inactive) over that time period. There will most likely be various iterations of this mapping project where we track active groups over the years and then compare that information to the location of college campuses and military bases around the country/world.

Do you see this information as having a practical application? Or is it mostly of historical / social interest?

As far as practical applications for the research, there are a few things that we’re playing with. An interesting feature of GIS is that we can use existing trends (the spread of a cultural trend like the SCA) not only to see where the trend has come from but also to predict where it will most likely originate next. And that’s the really interesting stuff. Basically, this project will help shed light on questions like: “What is necessary to facilitate the creation of an SCA group?”

So could have predictive value?

I’m not as clear on how that part works, that’s where Catriona’s work in Cultural Geography kicks in. You would assume that SCA groups are formed in proximity to other SCA groups; so that you could have some degree of mentoring.

A lot of people have expressed concern that the Society is shrinking. The numbers I’ve seen on the Society’s membership levels seem to indicate that it’s increasing slightly in the past few months, with some kingdoms stronger than others. I wonder how your study results might correlate with that?

That’s also what I was curious about as well. With the economy being as it is – how much can people afford to “live the dream”? When I helped found the shire of Drakelaw in Ashland KY, we were across the river from an existing group in Ohio and only 30 minutes away from a group in Æthelmearc (Port Oasis). So we had a lot of other SCAdians around to help us build the idea of what the SCA was.

To participate in the survey, click here. If you have any questions about the survey, please email THLord Thomas. His Lordship has promised to update the Gazette once he has the data crunched from the survey. To see regular updates on the status of the study, you can Like its Facebook page.

Categories: SCA news sites

The Wellcome Collection’s tattooed human skins

History Blog - Fri, 2015-06-12 07:47

Pharmaceutical magnate Henry Wellcome was a passionate collector of medicalia, amassing more than one million books, artworks and artifacts by the time of his death in 1936. He dispatched purchasing agents to acquire objects of interest for his collection. One of them, Captain Peter Johnson-Saint, bought 300 tattooed human skins from a certain Dr. La Valette at the Rue de l’Ecole de Medecine in Paris in June 1929.

La Valette claimed to have collected and cured all of the skins himself, using a dry preparation method of his own invention which modern testing indicates may have involved dangerous chemicals mercuric chloride and/or arsenic trioxide. That was almost certainly an exaggeration, since Johnson-Saint noted that the skins dated from the first quarter of the 19th century through the 1920s, so at least some of them must have been preserved before La Valette was born. Also, there are several specimens that were roughly cut off the body so that parts of the tattoos are missing. This may have been by necessity — because of an injury or decomposition, for example, that broke up the tattoo — or they may have been harvested hastily by people hoping to be able to sell them to, say, a Parisian doctor.

The ones that he did harvest and prepare himself were probably taken from the corpses of French sailors and soldiers. La Valette worked in several military hospitals over the course of his career, which gave him access to a concentration of tattooed bodies that a doctor in general practice would not have.

It was sailors, the crew of James Cook’s ship Endeavour, who brought the new fashion for tattoos back to Europe from Australia and New Zealand in 1771. By the 19th century Western iconography — religious figures, female nudes, florals — and military symbols — anchors, weapons, men in uniform — were well established in European tattoo culture, but tattooing’s roots among the so-called “savages” of the Pacific islands suggested to some scholars that people who chose to adorn their bodies with tattoos were themselves primitives, throwbacks with criminal and degenerate tendencies.

Criminologists and forensic scientists in the late 19th century studied tattoos extensively, looking for some pattern that would explain the criminal psyche that drove men to ink. French criminologist Alexandre Lacassagne recorded thousands of tattoos, tracing precise copies of them from the bodies of prison inmates. By 1881 he had 1,600 drawings of tattoos in his collection, accompanied by detailed notes about where the tattoos were located on the body. He created a taxonomy of tattoos, arranging them by design and location, in the hope of cracking the code of criminal character. He called them “speaking scars,” which is both poetic and literal, especially since many of the tattoos included text.

Lacassagne’s contemporary, Italian criminologist Cesar Lombroso, believed that tattoos were as much indicators of born criminals as congenital physiological characteristics like a sloping forehead, long arms and big ears. While tattoos are obviously consciously acquired rather than innate, Lombroso believed they were symptoms of another feature inherent to the criminal body: insensibility to pain.

English doctor Havelock Ellis in his 1890 book The Criminal dedicates a chapter to tattooing. He cites Lombroso’s studies of juvenile criminals, Lacassagne’s studies of convict soldiers and other sources for statistical evidence of the high percentage of tattoos in criminal populations, far higher than the general public and even higher than the non-convicted military population.

The greater number of tattooed criminals are naturally found among recidivists and instinctive criminals, especially those who have committed crimes against the person. The fewest are found among swindlers and forgers, the most intelligent class of criminals.

With so much attention in the medical literature paid to tattooed bodies, it’s little wonder that Henry Wellcome approved heartily of Johnson-Saint’s acquisition of Dr. La Valette’s specimens. Wellcome noted in the margin one of Johnson-Saint’s reports that the skins were “of great interest to us for certain section” of the medical museum he was planning to house his vast collection. His plans for a “Museum of Man” did not come to fruition before his death, and the 300 pieces of tattooed human skin were stored out of view. Some of his collection went on display at London’s Science Museum starting in 1976, and that’s where the tattoo collection has been stored.

A few individual pieces have gone on display since then. Two are on display in the permanent exhibition Medicine Man at the Wellcome Collection museum in London, and seven were part of its 2010 Skin exhibtion, but the collection as a whole has yet to see the light of day. It hasn’t even seen the light of the scanner. Only a small selection of tattooed skins are in the huge Wellcome Images database.

They are haunting, macabre and fascinating, from rudimentary pinups to beautifully drawn elegant ladies, from melancholy inscriptions to travel souvenirs. Some of them have the scalloped edges and puncture marks that are the result of the drying process. Others are neatly trimmed to look more like illustrations on parchment, possibly done to make them look less like skin stripped off of human beings in preparation for display.

That’s what they are, though, and here are three pictures that bring that reality very much home. The first is a photograph taken of prisoner Fromain on July 24th, 1901, at an unknown prison, next to two pictures of what’s left of his chest in the Wellcome Collection.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Donations Needed for the Royal Toy Chest

East Kingdom Gazette - Thu, 2015-06-11 20:00
Greetings Everyone – The wonderful tradition of giving toys to the children during Royal Court is something we all look forward to. The generosity of the people of The East has kept the toy chest overflowing for our children. In celebration of the alliance between The East and The Midrealm I would like to fill the toy chest with tigers and dragons!! Please feel free to contact me about donations! In Service…Lady Tysha z Kieva – Toy Chest Coordinator
(The Keeper of the Toys!!) Facebook contact – Patricia Saklas
Filed under: Uncategorized

Gazette Editor Profile: Arianna of Wynthrope

AEthelmearc Gazette - Thu, 2015-06-11 19:32

Next in our continuing series on our Gazette Editorial Staff.

Name: Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope
Editor Area/Title: A&S and Youth Combat Editor

Arianna of Wynthrope, photo by Don Corwyn Montgomery.

What made you want to join the Gazette staff:
I thought the SCA’s newsletter system was outmoded and needed to be replaced with something more relevant to modern methods of communication. I had read and was impressed by the East Kingdom Gazette, and asked Tiercelin about creating one here almost a year ago. I wanted to see a similar venue in Æthelmearc for timely news and articles that people throughout the Kingdom would find valuable and interesting, and I’m thrilled that it’s happened and worked out so well.

What do you like most about being on the Gazette staff?
I get to write about whatever strikes my fancy. As a teenager, I toyed with the idea of being a reporter, but ultimately decided against it as a career that was too much work and not enough pay. Now I get to do it! And it’s too much work with no pay….

But that’s ok because I can choose my topics and work on my own schedule. I really enjoy both the process of writing the articles and the pleasure others tell me they get from reading them. In particular, I’ve learned a lot from the interviews I’ve done, which kind of surprised me — I’ve been in the SCA for 38 years and I thought I knew most of what the SCA is about and how it operates. I guess there’s always something new to learn.

How has the Gazette been received in your area?
Very well. Quite a few people have told me how much they enjoy the Gazette.

What kinds of articles would you like to encourage people to submit?
Really, anything. Most of the submissions we get are more announcements than articles. I’d like to see people submit more opinion pieces, stories about things that have happened to them in the SCA, how they think things could be done differently or better, short A&S how-to articles like the ones THL Deryk Archer does about making archery targets, things like that. There are a lot of people with unique and interesting perspectives on the Society in our Kingdom, and I’d really like their voices to be heard!

Interested in submitting articles to the Gazette, suggesting blogs to feature, or to be put on our roster of photographers whose work we have permission to use? Email us at aethgazette@gmail.com. Check out our submission guidelines here.

Categories: SCA news sites

Event Profile: Artisan’s Village

East Kingdom Gazette - Thu, 2015-06-11 16:30

This past weekend the shire of Hartshorn-dale hosted its first Artisans’ Village, a weekend long camping event dedicated to showcasing, promoting, and supporting the arts and sciences of our fair kingdom. The site was split into different artists areas, with similar arts located together. There were areas for glass bead making, metalworking (including blacksmithing and casting), confectionary science, paper arts (including scribal arts, bookbinding, and printing), plaster casting, historic combat, fiber (including spinning and weaving), and period brewing.

Attendees were free to wander through different village areas at the event, where artisans spent the day demonstrating and teaching their crafts to all. Many attendees chose instead to spend most of their day working and learning in only one of the village areas. This allowed people to learn new arts or to continue to build skills they already had, developing a more in-depth understanding of their art by working closely with other artisans.

While there was no overall arts and science competition, there were still many chances for those who chose to be competitive to show off their skills. A fleece to shawl competition was held at the event, pitting two teams of spinners and weavers against each other to complete a project. In a twist on the typical A&S competition, the populace was also invited to issue arts and science challenges a few months prior to the event. This allowed anyone to take up a challenge and display the fruits of their labor at the event for all to see. An hour was then set aside to allow challengers and the artisans who took up their challenges to discuss their works.

Photos by Mistress Rainillt de Bello Marisco and Lissa Underhill

**The event organizers are grateful to the East Kingdom University for sponsoring and supporting this event**

Filed under: Events Tagged: a&s, events

Rapier Announcement: Experimental Weapons Programs

East Kingdom Gazette - Thu, 2015-06-11 16:01

We are pleased to announce the start of two rapier experimental weapon programs.

The first program is Fleeting Body Contact, run by Master Donovan
Shinnock. This experiment will explore the feasibility of changing
II.B.9, currently “Wrestling with an opponent, or any form of
body-to-body contact is prohibited.” to the Society Rapier Standard
of, “Fleeting contact between opponents is allowed, as long as no
grappling, deliberate striking or other unsafe behavior occurs.”
Fighters and marshals wishing to participate in this program should
contact Master Donovan.

The second program is Blade Grabbing, run by Baroness Alesone Gray of
Cranlegh. This experiment will explore the feasibility of allowing
blade grabbing in the East Kingdom as defined by the Society Rapier

For this experiment:
Blade grabbing will be announced at the beginning of each bout in
which it will be used. Both participants must agree to the convention.
If the blade that is grasped moves or twists in the grasping hand,
that hand is deemed disabled
Grasping techniques shall be used only to immobilize a blade, not to
bend it or wrest it from the opponent’s grip.
Fighter attempts to move or twist the blade free, the blade must be
released and the grasping hand shall be deemed disabled, even if the
blade is grasped tightly enough that it cannot be moved.
Wrestling or grappling with opponents or blades is prohibited.
Fighters and marshals wishing to participate in this program should
contact Baroness Alesone

With both programs:
Any marshal who has been deputized by the marshal supervising the
experiment may oversee bouts fought under the proposed new rule.
Combatants in such a bout will be informed of the rule and
expectations of behavior. After overseeing any such bouts, the marshal
will discuss the bout(s) with the combatants and send an after-action
report to the supervising marshal.

If there are any questions, please feel free to contact me

In service,
Baroness Alesone Gray of Cranlegh,
Experimental Weapon Deputy, Rapier

Filed under: Fencing

Pennsic War Pre-registration Closes June 17th

East Kingdom Gazette - Thu, 2015-06-11 13:07


As a reminder, paid pre-registration for Pennsic 44 closes on Wednesday June 17th. For more information, please see the Pennsic Registration Website.

Filed under: Pennsic

The Bristowe Hat

SCAtoday.net - Thu, 2015-06-11 11:30

Eleri Lynn, Collections Curator for England's Historic Royal Palaces, is always looking for new items for the collection. She recently was thrilled to add the Bristowe Hat, "a rare example of Tudor or very early Stuart fashion made from silk tufting, with a green feather, silver button, and evenly positioned holes for attaching jewels." (photo)

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Categories: SCA news sites

18th c. horse skeleton unearthed in St. Augustine

History Blog - Thu, 2015-06-11 08:01

An archaeological excavation on the site of future construction in St. Augustine, Florida, has unearthed the intact and articulated skeleton of a small horse. The remains have not been radiocarbon dated yet, but fragments of ceramic pieces in the layer alongside the horse are from the late 18th century. It’s the only horse burial ever found in the colonial downtown district of the city.

The site once housed the Spanish Dragoon barracks in a pre-existing two-story early Spanish structure. The dragoons and their stables were there from 1792 until the waning days of Spanish control. The deteriorating buildings were razed in 1822 but the dragoons were long gone by then as Spain formally ceded Florida to the United States in 1819. The horse was therefore probably a mount belonging to a dragoon officer, which explains its careful burial.

“I think there’s reverence here,” [St. Augustine archaeologist Carl] Halbirt said. “They actually laid it out on its side with the legs folded in the chest area. That’s a sign of reverence.”

It was once a companion that meant a lot to a St. Augustine man – a dragoon – who relied on it.

“It was a cavalry man’s life,” [colonial cavalry researcher Amanda] LaPorta said. “They were a special kind of soldier. The horse was their best friend. It was all important to them.”

LaPorta thinks the small size of the horse indicates it was a Marsh Tacky, one of several horse breeds descended from the Iberian horse stock the Spanish brought to the Americas. At less than 15 hands (about five feet) at the withers, the petite horse was agile on Florida’s swampy terrain, easy to house and feed. There are other Colonial Spanish Horse breeds, however, that are just as small as the Marsh Tacky — for example the Banker horse and the Florida Cracker Horse — so only DNA testing can determine its breed with certainty.

The horse skeleton has been removed from the site and will be kept at St. Augustine’s archaeology lab.

St. Augustine is the oldest permanent European settlement in the United States, but its history long predates Columbus. Archaeological investigations in the area have discovered 3,000-year-old shell middens. In the city itself, Native American artifacts and human remains have been found dating to between 1100 and 1300 A.D., and when the Spanish arrived in the 16th century, they found well-established Timucua towns. St. Augustine was founded in 1565 by Spanish governor Don Pedro Menéndez de Avilés in a section of the Timucua town of Seloy. According to Spanish accounts, at first relations between the Spanish and Timucua were friendly — the locals allowed the Spanish use of their homes and territory on the site of what is now the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park — but soon the Spanish outstayed their welcome and relations grew strained. After less than a year, the Spanish moved across the bay to Anastasia Island. In 1572 they moved back to the mainland to what is now the downtown St. Augustine area.

St. Augustine was the capital of Florida for 259 years, through the entire duration of Spanish rule, the period of British control from 1763 until 1783, and the early American era until it was moved to Tallahassee in 1824. Because of its unique and long history, the city of St. Augustine has extensive heritage protection regulations. Its Archaeology Preservation Ordinance requires that all “subsurface disturbances” (ie, ground-penetrating construction), whether on private or public land, are subject to archaeological review for their potential effect on buried history. It has a city archaeologist, currently Carl D. Halbirt, who performs reviews, archaeological surveys before construction and test excavations and monitors all ongoing construction in case it turns up anything that needs further investigation or salvage. This archaeology-focused approach is relatively common in European countries, but it’s a regulatory unicorn in the US where generally people can do whatever they want on private property even in places that are famously packed with ancient remains.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Cambridge hospital skeletons revealed

SCAtoday.net - Thu, 2015-06-11 00:04

From the 13th through the 15th centuries, the Hospital of St. John the Evangelist operated on what is now the grounds of St. John's College, Cambridge University. In 2010, archaeologists working there discovered the hospital's cemetery, considered one of the largest medieval hospital burial grounds in England. Photos of the discovery have now been released. (photos)

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Categories: SCA news sites

Period or not… Names

East Kingdom Gazette - Wed, 2015-06-10 22:00

This is a recurring series by Mistress Alys Mackyntoich on whether certain names currently can be documented to period based on existing evidence. There are a lot of names that people think are medieval, but actually aren’t, and others which people think are modern, but in fact are found in the SCA’s period. If you would like to suggest a name, send an email to the Gazette.

Today’s names are Valeria and Valerie.

Although the name Valeria is often associated with modern fantasy literature and movies, it was a popular female given name in several languages in period.  Valeria is found as a female given name in the 16th century and early 17th century in Spain[1], Germany[2], Switzerland[3], and England[4].  The related name Valerie, although it appears quite modern to our eyes, was also found in late-period England, both as a male name[5] and as a female name[6].

[1]  Valeria Paula Margarida Montras; Female; Christening; 20 Oct 1599; San Felíu, Gerona, Gerona, Spain; Batch: C89274-2. [2]  Valeria Wagner; Female; Christening; 23 Feb 1589; KATHOLISCH, BAUERBACH, KARLSRUHE, BADEN; Batch: C95149-1. [3] Valeria Gessler; Female; Christening; 17 Sep 1571; Basel, Basel-Stadt, Switzerland; Batch: C73985-8. [4]  Valeria Crosse; Female; Christening; 10 Dec 1617; SAINT DUNSTAN, STEPNEY, LONDON, ENGLAND; Batch: C05576-5. [5]  Valerie Kettlewell; Male; Christening; 15 Dec 1574; TATTERFORD, NORFOLK, ENGLAND; Batch: C04149-1. [6]  Valerie Morgan; Female; Christening; 01 Nov 1620; SAINT MARTIN-VINTRY, LONDON, LONDON, ENGLAND; Batch: C02245-2.
Filed under: Heraldry Tagged: names

Event Report: Northern Oaken War Maneuvers, June 6, A.S. 50

AEthelmearc Gazette - Wed, 2015-06-10 11:54

THFool Dagonell the Juggler provided this report of the Northern Oaken War Maneuvers in the Barony of Cleftlands, Middle Kingdom, which was invaded visited by a substantial number of gentles from Æthelmearc.

As dusk fell on Friday night, activities began with a Twilight Tourney for rapier, a Torchlight Tourney for armored and a Shakespearean Puppet competition for the non-martially inclined.

The sawdust smack down was judged by THL Elizabethe Alles, Baroness Verena Entenwirth, and Lord Pietro de san Tebaldo, and saw entries from Henry V, King Lear, several sonnets, and the Taming of the Shrew. One audience member said, “I’ve never laughed so hysterically at King Lear!” The King Lear performance was, in fact the winner having been put on by Lord Walter Glatz and his (newlywed!) Lady Sarah.

After the formal competition was over, the senior puppeteers gave a few impromptu puppet tutorials, and allowed participants and audience to play with a real puppet stage. The European Ball didn’t quite come together as gentles were tired with long drives, camp set-ups, and competitions, and instead quietly talked in the main pavilion until all hours of the night.

In the morning, the Breakfast Tavern opened with a filling breakfast of oatmeal, eggs, sausage, coffee and coffeecake for only $4. All lists, ranges and fields opened for inspections, authorizations, practices, and pick-ups.

Ranges, lists, and fields opening for the day.

Sir Otto of Westphalia (Rhydderich Hael) armors up for the heavy list.

While Lord Jacob of Dunmore (Heronter) armors up for the fencing list.

In the First Heavy list there was a 6′ Spear Tourney which was won by Duke Maynard von dem Steine (Rhydderich Hael).

A Novice Tourney was held in the Second Heavy List. In the First Fencing List was the Northern Oak Rapier Championship, while the Second Fencing List ran the NOT The Northern Oak Rapier Championship!

Artisans’ Row had some truly wonderful goods, including Dominica’s Fine Fashions from Æthelmearc.

I bought some wonderful homemade mustards from THL Edward fitz Ranulf, who got his Dragon’s Heart later that evening. We learned that a small accident had occurred the night before: the proprietor of Magic Carpet Kavehane pinched his hand between a trailer hitch and trailer ball and had to be taken to the hospital for stitches and then sent home. Classes to be held at the Kavehane were cancelled, so Dominica graciously took over as Merchant Liaison for the site, and the bards took over running the NOBLE competition so his lady could attend him at the hospital.

Classes offered that day included How to Make a Mary Rose Archery Bracer; Flax Processing: From Plant to Cloth; Intro to the Forge; Intro to Cloisonné Enameling; The Life and Times of our Boy Will (Shakespeare); Tortoise Shell Brooches and Temple Rings; Fiber Arts for Youth; Your First SCA Event; Rus Clothing; Out Damned Spot (Medieval Laundry techniques); Bardic Teaching Circle; Norse Gods: Aesir and Vanir; Norse Spirits: Trolls, Giants, Elves and Dwarves; Leather Art; From Page to Performance; Share the Love: Tokens of Appreciation; Death Becomes Her; Bayeux Tapestry Stitch Basics; Norse Apron Dress Concepts; Equestrian 101: Getting Involved with Horses (there were no horses on site); The Arte of Making the Medieval Bed (taken from a 15th c servant’s manual); and Calf to Codex.

Our Boy Will by Mistress Catriona nicHugh McLae

Fiber Arts (Lady Sorcha brecc ingen Donnchada)

Leather Arts by Exile Leather company

Flax Processing (THL Brendan O’Corraidhe)

From Page to Performance by THL Brendan O’Corraidhe (Midrealm Bard Emeritus)

Intro to the Forge by Vahalla’s Anvil

How to Make a Mary Rose Archery Bracer by Lord Oliver Stillman

The battlefields were also busy with The Grand Tournament of the Salamander, Melee Practice, an Unbelted Battle, Bridge Battles, Open Field Melees, Novice Rapier, and many pickups.

Sir Steffan Ulfkelsson lead Æthelmearc’s troops as the Rattan Army Warlord. As reported previously on the Gazette, Æthelmearc fielded 60+ fighters, and with its allies won three out of five field battles, two out of three bridge battles, and the gate battle. Vivant!

The archery range was equally busy with Royal Rounds, Youth Shoot, Northern Oaken Regional Championship Archery Shoot, Thrown Weapons Tourney, Youth Thrown Weapons Tourney, and a Novelty Shoot.

Northern Oaken is also home to the Baroness’ Bocce Tourney. The winner of the tourney takes home the Official Northen Oaken Baroness’s Bocce Tournament trophy, and must return the following year to defend it.

The Baroness’ Bocce Tournament

The Baroness’ Bocce trophy

At the Bocce tournament, I met The Bookie. You could bet bling (no real money!) on nearly any event occuring at Northern Oaken. What time it will start raining, the winner of a competition, the round a specific competitor is eliminated, the number of kills a specific fighter makes, etc. The Bookie will take any wager you can think of and decide on your odds. Winners are paid in NOWM pewter coinage. I wagered a spoon ring on myself to win the Bocce tournament and got 11 to 1 odds, as there were 12 competitors. Alas, personal wealth was not to be mine. Bling bet and lost becomes Royal Largess.

The Bocce Tournament winner, Hakon Hrafnsson of Rivenvale (Also pictured: Nagasani)

At the Bocce tournament, I also met a Midrealm celebrity.

Fizzgig is a Giant Angora rabbit. It’s hard to tell from the picture, but he’s the size of a miniature poodle! Not only does his mistress brush him daily and use his fur to spin, but he is also a Registered Therapy Animal and goes to senior citizens’ homes where he sits quietly on laps and lowers blood pressures. He also has his own Facebook page, so his fans know where to meet him in person.

For refreshment during the day, The Pierogi Hut open for business with standard hot dogs, hamburgers, cold drinks and the house specialty, three potato pierogis with fried onions and sour cream for only $3. I’ve eaten more pierogi this past weekend than I have in the past six months. Excellent pierogi!

As daylight faded and people started to gather in the main pavilion for court, we were entertained by a Middle Eastern dance troupe and by several bards including a few former Royal Bards. Court was announced and Their Draconian Majesties entered followed by Their Excellencies of Cleftlands and their respective entourages. Court was brief and amusing. This weekend was National Doughnut Day, so Their Majesties, Ragnvaldr and Arabella, thoughtfully provided a tray heaped with doughnuts. Anyone who had business before court or was called into court was encouraged to take a doughnut back to their seat.

After court was the 6th Annual NOBLE (Northern Oaken Bardic Lagniappe of Excellence) Cup Bardic competition. Each barony and shire was invited to send forth their best bard to compete. This year’s entrants included Lady Jolicia att Northclyffe for the Barony of the Cleftlands, Nagasani for the Shire of Rivenvale, Aron Stark for the Barony of Red Spears, and Lord Donalbane of Blakmer for the Barony of Brendoken. Each performer gave two performances., which ranged from Shakespeare recitations to songs to instrumental performances to period stories to “No ****, There I Was” tales. The judges consisted of Lady Kateryn Draper, a Midrealm Bard; myself, as an out-of-kingdom bard; and Lady Elizabethe Alles, last year’s NOBLE winner. After long discussion, the prize was awarded to Lady Jolicia.

The Knotty Dragon Tavern opened shortly after the bardic, with a free wet bar (you need a license to charge for alcohol, so gentles tipped well so that the tavern would keep going year after year.)

THL Brendan the Bard led the crowd with song and story, both solemn and silly, clean and bawdy. Things quieted down in the wee hours, so gentles not at the tavern could sleep. Conversation continued far into night, until one by one, gentles retired to their beds.

Sunday morning was breakfast at the Breakfast Tavern, a few minor purchases from merchants staying open til the last minute, then breakdown of personal gear as well as event locations and final farewells before hitting the road. I can’t wait until next year.

All photos by THFool Dagonell the Juggler.

Categories: SCA news sites

Explore the Revolutionary gunboat Philadelphia

History Blog - Wed, 2015-06-10 07:00

In the early days of the American Revolution, the northern border with Quebec was of great strategic importance as a potential entry point for British troops. After some initial successes like Benedict Arnold and Ethan Allen’s capture of Fort Ticonderoga on May 10, 1775, the Continental Army launched a pre-emptive invasion of Quebec. They captured Montreal on November 13th, 1775, and moved on to attack Quebec City where they were soundly defeated on December 31, 1775. By spring of 1776, the Continental Army had retreated out of Canada back to Fort Ticonderoga.

Licking their wounds and anxious to prevent the British from traveling south via the Hudson into New York, Continental Congress ordered the construction of a fleet of 15 ships to replace the ones Arnold had destroyed to keep them out of British hands. At Skenesborough (present-day Whitehall) in upstate New York at the head of Lake Champlain, Hermanus Schuyler, the assistant deputy commissary general of the Northern Department, oversaw the construction of four galleys and eight gundalows, larger and armed versions of the flat-bottomed cargo boats used for transportation across the lake. It was the summer of 1776 and this was the first American Navy.

Commanded by Benedict Arnold, who as a civilian had captained his own ships as a successful merchant in the West Indies trade, the small fleet patrolled Lake Champlain getting in the way of the British invasion. On October 11th, 1776, most of the fleet met its end at the Battle of Valcour Island, but not before fighting the larger and much fancier British fleet to a standstill. One of the fatalities was the Philadelphia, a 54 foot, 29-ton gundalow armed with one 12-pounder cannon, two 9-pounders and mounts for up to eight more swivel guns. It was struck by a British cannonball and sank to the floor of Lake Champlain.

For 160 years the Philadelphia rested in the frigid embrace of the northern waters. In 1935 civil engineer and World War I veteran Lorenzo F. Haggulund, who had discovered Arnold’s flagship the Royal Savage in 1932, found the Philadelphia sitting straight up on the bottom of the lake. It was in excellent condition, considering the beating it had taken a century and a half earlier. The mast was missing its top but was otherwise still in place, as were the timbers of the hull. So much of it remained that there were three clear holes shot into the hull, one of them with the 24-pound cannon ball still lodged inside it. That was the proverbial smoking gun, the actual hit that took down the ship still in place after all those years. Hundreds of artifacts from tools to clothes to cooking gear and human remains were also found.

Using a system of slings and spreaders, Haggulund raised the wreck on August 2, 1935. Here is footage of the raising of the Philadelphia, its incredible white pine mast standing proud:

Haggulund put the Philadelphia on a barge and exhibited her at various places on Lake Champlain and the Hudson River. He continued to search for other wrecks from the fleet but only made one more find: a gunboat he raised in 1952. He was unable to secure funding to maintain and display the gunboat and it soon decayed and was picked away at by looters until there was nothing left to display.

In the wake of that sad loss, Hagglund approached the Smithsonian Institution to see to the long-term safety of the Philadelphia, and in 1961, bequeathed her and associated artifacts to the SI where they were thoroughly studied. When the National Museum of American History opened in 1965, the Philadelphia was on display.

Conservation of the wreck is an ongoing problem, and since visitors to the museum can only observe it from the front and over its decks, in 2013 the Smithsonian made a digital 3D model of the Philadelphia. For curators, it gives them the tools to ensure the ship’s stability and preservation. For the rest of us, the model gives us the opportunity to virtually explore the floating gun platform that was deployed against the might of Britain’s navy.

You can click and drag to change the angle of the model. Scroll to zoom in and out. Be sure to click the dropdown menu on the top left to view the model fullscreen. Once you’ve done that, click the globe icon of the expanded left menu and select “#1 Gunboat Philadelphia Overview” to kick off the guided tour. It takes you through the different parts of the ship, its design, its weapons, the cannonball that took it down and more.

Edit: I’ve removed the embedded 3D model because it may cause mobile devices to crash. Here again is the link to it.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

What is this Gazette Thing?

AEthelmearc Gazette - Tue, 2015-06-09 16:07

Several people have asked us how the Æthelmearc Gazette came to be, how it is staffed, and how we work. This is the first in a series of interviews with the Gazette staff; wonder no longer!

Staff Member: Mistress Ysabeau Tiercelin
Staff Title: Founder and Managing Editor

Tiercelin and her warhorse, Fionnbharr.

Why did you start the Gazette?
During my term as Society Chronicler, I realized that the newsletters weren’t keeping up with the demand for current information; we are content to be period in our other activities, but social media has taken our recreation world by storm, fostering friendships among far-flung people and connecting those people and events in ways that a monthly newsletter can no longer hope to do.

I’d been avidly following the East Kingdom Gazette, and touched base with their Managing Editor, Mistress Catrin o’r Rhyd For to talk about her experiences. I’d also been talking with Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope and Maestro Filippo de Sancto Martino, who were on board with starting something similar in our own Kingdom. Suckered in Emboldened by the encouragement from the EK Gazette, and the overwhelming support from within Æthelmearc, we gathered together a solid core of staffers (scroll down here to see our staff roster) and began publication in December of 2014.

Do you have a mission statement?
Why, yes we do. It’s simple – to connect the Kingdom with a totally accessible blog, covering events, news from officers, and all the various things we do as SCAdians. A secondary, but no less important purpose is its use as a marketing tool; by presenting the best the Kingdom has to offer, new members can easily see what we do – and join in!

How is the Gazette actually run?
Each of the editors is on a schedule roster and becomes editor of the day a couple of time a month – they check our email account to see what has come in, and put up articles that are ready to run. Our intrepid scheduling editor, Lord Magnus de Lyons, works with everyone to put out a schedule each month that takes into account everyone’s conflicts – not always easy when we are all at the same events on weekends! Editors also solicit articles in their areas.

We use WordPress as a platform; we had a bit of a learning curve (I developed our editor’s tutorial as I learned it myself!) but it’s worked well for what we are doing.

You are totally unofficial – does that mean no oversight?
We made the decision in the beginning that the staff will never politicize their positions. However, we will absolutely print things from Corporate or from officers and Royalty that may have political ramifications, just as any news outlet would in the modern world. When something potentially problematic comes over the transom, the editors discuss it on our private FB group before posting. To quote the EK Gazette editor, though, and with my hearty agreement, “We run by consensus when possible, but the final call on articles that may be controversial is mine.  If there is a problem, I want it to land at my feet as managing editor.”

Since it is a private blog, we have more leeway than the official SCA publications; we use common sense in getting permissions for things, but do not use complicated waivers.

What’s next?
We’ve been happy with our success so far! More of the same! We want to encourage our officers to use the Gazette more and more, since it is a great way to reach the populace quickly with announcements. With hundreds and sometimes thousands of page views in a day, we have definitely become the prime information outlet for the Kingdom.

We also encourage more people to send articles and papers for publication – it’s a great way to get your work seen across the Kingdom and around the Known World (strangely, we have a relatively large following in Lochac). Submit early, submit often!


Interested in submitting articles to the Gazette, suggesting blogs to feature, or to be put on our roster of photographers whose work we have permission to use? Email us at aethgazette@gmail.com. Check out our submission guidelines here.






Categories: SCA news sites

LACMA acquires, restores 18th c. Damascus Room

History Blog - Tue, 2015-06-09 04:39

In late Ottoman-era Damascus, the wealthy had homes built in the Old City that looked plain on the outside but only because they were saving all the good stuff for the interiors. Richly decorated rooms with elaborately carved and painted wood panels and colorful stone inlays faced onto courtyards kept cool and fragrant by fountains and fruit trees. The rooms were designed to welcome and impress important visitors with luxurious comfort. They would enter the home through a modest door and walk down an unassuming hallway before turning the corner onto a courtyard surrounded by living spaces often on two stories. The more expensive the home, the more courtyards it had.

There were 17,000 of these 18th and 19th century courtyard homes still standing in Damascus in 1900, but the clock was ticking. The great beauty of the rooms made them worth more than the homes when they were stripped and sold to museums and collectors overseas. Doris Duke bought two of them and installed them in her Honolulu home Shangri La, now the Shangri La Center for Islamic Arts and Cultures. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City scored their Damascus Room in 1970.

Most of the late Ottoman homes were demolished in the late 1970s when a building boom laid waste to the Old City. One of the casualties of the boom was a courtyard house built around 1766 that was demolished during the construction of a road in the al-Bahsa quarter. Before it was destroyed in 1978, a Lebanese art dealer bought the home’s 15 by 20-foot reception room, known as the qa’a. The decorated wood panels on the walls, the inlaid stone floor, an inlaid limestone and marble wall fountain, everything that was nailed down was unnailed and moved to Beirut where it was stored in a warehouse for thirty years.

After somehow surviving more than three decades in a war zone, the dismantled room caught the eye of Linda Komaroff, head of the Middle Eastern art department at the L.A. County Museum of Art (LACMA). In 2011 she saw pictures of it and by the end of the year she was actively lobbying the museum to acquire the room. As the conflict in Syria took an increasingly monstrous toll on the country’s cultural heritage, Komaroff’s advocacy took on additional urgency. Finally in spring of 2014, the purchase was finalized and LACMA became the proud owner of an 18th century Damascus Room of its own.

The room is in excellent condition. Only one important part of it — the ceiling — is missing, likely due to water intrusion since the wall panels have visible water damage up top where they would have once joined the ceiling. Unlike most of its compatriots, this room was never renovated, altered or painted over so the original surfaces are still brilliant and saturated underneath a few layers of grime.

As is typical, it has multicolored inlaid stone floors, painted wood walls, elaborate cupboard doors and storage niches, a spectacular arch with plaster voussoirs decorated with colored inlays that served to divide the room into upper and lower sections separated by a single tall step; and an intricately inlaid stone wall fountain with a carved and painted hood. Perhaps because the room remained in storage for so many years and had never been reinstalled or restored, it is largely in its original, though aged, state, with one of the best-preserved painted surfaces—including bright pinks, oranges, blues, and greens—of any similar room of the period. The decoration, mainly floral, incorporates on the cornices detailed depictions of platters of fruit, nuts, and even baklava, which must have served to whet the appetites of visitors to the room as they awaited the same types of refreshment.

The poplar wood panels were decorated using a technique called ‘ajami in which a thick layer of gypsum and glue was applied to the wood and carved in relief before being painted and accented with tin leaf which itself would be painted with colored glazes. Gold leaf accents added shine while egg tempera paints produced contrasting matte surfaces. Because LACMA’s room has managed to avoid the fate of so many others of its kind and has such a well preserved original surface, researchers expert to learn more about the ‘ajami technique and materials used by examining it.

Cleaning and conservation on the room has begun, funded in large part by the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. The stone only needs cleaning; it’s the wood panels that need to be cleaned, repaired and stabilized for permanent display. The LACMA team is also taking an innovative approach by building an armature for the room so that it can be moved whole to different exhibition spaces.

This will be immediately relevant because the renovated room will first go on display in Dhahran at the inaugural exhibition of the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture in March of next year. Accompanied by 130 of the best pieces from LACMA’s extensive Islamic Art collection, the room will be in Saudi Arabia for two years before returning to Los Angeles. That gives LACMA a breather because they have no idea where to put this room. The problem is they need ceilings 20 feet high and LACMA’s current building doesn’t have any of those. There’s a new building in the works, but construction isn’t even scheduled to begin until 2018.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History