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Late medieval longsword found in Polish peat bog

History Blog - Tue, 2017-06-20 23:27

An intact late medieval longsword has been found in a peat bog in Poland. It was discovered in late May by excavator operator Wojciech Kot during drainage operations at the bog in the municipality of Mircze, 12 miles south of the town of Hrubieszów in southeastern Poland. The next day, Kot contacted the Fr. Stanisław Staszic Museum in Hrubieszów and the day after that he brought the sword to the museum in person. Then he took the museum experts to the peat bog where he showed them the exact find spot which is not being revealed to keep treasure hunters from despoiling it.

The cruciform-handled sword is corroded from centuries spent in a wetland and is missing the original hilt which would have been made out of wood, bone or antler, but it is otherwise intact from pommel to tip. Its original weight is estimated to have been just 1.5 kilos (3.3 lbs) which is light as a feather for a weapon that today is 120 centimeters (four feet) long. The elongated grip was intended for two-handed use which coupled with its long reach and light weight made the sword an agile weapon for armoured knights in battle. This design is typical of the 14th century.

On the back of sword is a symbol, an isosceles cross inside an heraldic shield, that Bartecki thinks is a maker’s mark engraved by the blacksmith. This was a very fine piece of craftsmanship. It is still well-balanced, in excellent condition and does not show any signs of having been deliberately discarded due to damage.

“The place where the discovery was made is a wetland and a peat bog. It is possible that an unlucky knight was pulled into the marsh, or simply lost his sword” – told PAP Bartłomiej Bartecki, director of Fr. Stanisław Staszic Museum in Hrubieszów. […]

The area is first appears on the historical record in the 13th century where it’s mentioned as the site of a few hunting lodges surrounded by forest. The region was part of Ruthenia (aka the Kievan Rus) then and was absorbed by the Kingdom of Poland in 1366 century after the disintegration of the Rus. The Polish governor built a castle in Hrubieszów in the late 14th century. So at least the second half of the century offered good employment opportunity for knights. Or he could have just been riding through and made a wrong turn into the bog.

Archaeologists plan to return to the find site to do a limited excavation. They’re hoping to find additional artifacts or information related to the sword, perhaps even other pieces of the knight’s equipment.

The sword is now in Warsaw where it will be stabilized and conserved. Experts will analyze it for any marks that might help identify the owner. Engraved characters on the top of the blade beneath the handle, for example, may be associated with a particular knight or family. After conservation and study, the sword will return to Hrubieszów where it will go on display at the museum. They expect it to be back around November.

“This is a unique find in the region. It is worth pointing out that while there are similar artefacts in museum collections, their places of discovery is often unknown, and that is very important information for historians and archaeologists” – [Bartecki] noted.

Information nobody would have if it weren’t for the quick thinking and responsible actions of Wojciech Kot. Because the finder was so diligent in giving the sword to the museum and noting the find spot, museum staff will apply to the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage to grant him a reward or at least official thanks and recognition of his “exemplary attitude.”

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Recommendation Deadline

East Kingdom Gazette - Tue, 2017-06-20 19:40

Their Highnesses Ivan and Matilde will be accepting award recommendations for their 1st polling through July 4th.

Recommendations can be submitted here.

Their Highnesses thank you all in advance for your hard work in noting and commending the good works of the people of the East.

En français Traduction: Behi Kirsa Oyutai

Leurs Altesses Ivan et Matilde accepteront les recommendations pour les différentes reconnaissances jusqu’au 4 juillet, pour leur 1er vote.

Les recommendations peuvent être soumises ici.

Leurs Altesses vous remercient d’avance de votre travail acharné a noter et saluer les excellents travaux des gens du Royaume de l’Est.

Filed under: Announcements Tagged: award recommendations

Record-breaking 17th c. cabinet goes on display

History Blog - Mon, 2017-06-19 23:35

An ornate 17th century cabinet with the most aristocratic of lineages inlaid with pietre dure (hard stones) and festooned with gilded figurines has gone on display at the The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. The Getty bought the cabinet at a Sotheby’s auction in Paris last fall for €2.5 million ($2,790,000), a record price for a piece of Roman furniture, and they had no qualms about spending it given its exceptional quality and previous owners.

The cabinet was produced around 1620 by an unknown maker in Rome. Made of ebony, fir, chestnut, rosewood and walnut wood, the display cabinet is around six feet tall and was designed to look like a three-tiered Baroque church facade, only in a riot of vibrant colors from finely carved inlaid hard stones, including lapis lazuli, jasper, agate, carnelian and amethyst. Only the hardest, most expensive, most difficult to work stones were used in this piece, an unmistakable message to those in the know that this was a unique, top-of-the-line luxury object that only the greatest of the great could afford.

The first level of the facade is decorated with four pairs of Corinthian columns and a set of three on either side of a nice made to look like a doorway. It’s topped with a semi-circular pediment containing the gilded coat of arms of Pope Paul V, born Camillo Borghese. More Corinthian columns, slightly smaller in scale, adorn the second level which has a triangular pediment in the middle. Two gilded female allegories flank the level. The third level is a balustrade with allegories on each end and six caryatids holding up a semi-circular pediment. Silver gilt allegories recline atop the pediment while a Roman emperor stands at the apex of the roof.

Paul V commissioned this masterpiece as an elaborate display cabinet meant to hold the family’s treasures squirreled away in its many drawers and hidden compartments. Inlaid pietre dure cabinets were de rigeur in the palaces of the crowned heads of Europe in the 17th century, fitting settings for collections of even more precious objects, jewels and heirlooms.

It remained in the Borghese family until the early 1820s when it was bought from Prince Camillo Borghese by an English art dealer, possibly W. Kent. The Neoclassical veneered ebony stand was already attached to the cabinet by that time because an 1821 Christie’s catalogue entry mentions it. It was made by French cabinet maker Alexandre Louis Bellangé who mirrored the shape and columns of the cabinet and added gilt bronze capitals and scrollwork to match its gilded elements.

The cabinet didn’t sell at that 1821 auction. The next known owner is London art dealer Edward Holmes Baldock who acquired it around 1827 and flipped it right quick. That same year, he sold it to King George IV whereupon the Borghese Cabinet entered the Royal Collection. Three labels on the back indicate the cabinet’s new home was Buckingham Palace, at one point the Green Drawing Room. The royal cypher of King George V is on one of the labels.

The British royal family kept the cabinet until 1959 when it was sold by order of Queen Elizabeth II in an auction of objects from the Royal Collection. The buyer was Aladar de Zellinger Balkany, a businessman of Hungarian extraction. He left it to his son Robert de Balkany, a real estate developer who was even more an avid collector of objets d’art than his father. It decorated his palace, the Hôtel Feuquières, on the rue de Varenne in Paris until his death in 2015. The cabinet was auctioned off in 2016 in Sotheby’s Paris’ sale of the Robert de Balkany collection.

“The Borghese-Windsor cabinet is one of the finest examples of Italian pietre dure cabinets known. Works of this quality, craftsmanship, and historical significance are almost all in museums and princely private collections, so the opportunity to acquire one of the most renowned examples for the Getty is too good to pass up,” said Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. “The Getty Museum’s strong collection of Roman Baroque paintings and sculpture is now greatly enhanced by the addition of a major piece of furniture from the period. This unique and imposing piece will stand out even among our renowned collection of French furniture.”

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

A Blending of the Past and Present – This Month’s Florilegium Article

AEthelmearc Gazette - Mon, 2017-06-19 21:48

Over the past twenty-seven years in an ongoing effort, I have been collecting bits of useful information from various newsgroups, mail lists, facebook groups, and articles whose authors have given me permission to publish. In order to make this information available to others, I have placed this information in a collection of files called Stefan’s Florilegium.

The Florilegium is on the web at: http://www.florilegium.org/.

I am always interested in new articles. If you have written an article that would be of interest to others in the SCA, please send it to me for possible inclusion in the Florilegium. A&S documentation and class handouts will also often work well. I am especially interested in research papers submitted as A&S entries.

If you see someone’s A&S documentation or perhaps an article in a local newsletter that you think deserves a wider audience, please let me know. I won’t publish anything without the author’s permission, but many authors are too reserved to send me their articles on their own.

THLord Stefan li Rous
Stefan at florilegium.org

Here are the new files for this month:

In the COMMERCE section:
Charcoal-Ashs-art “Of Charcoal and Ashes” by Unnr in elska á Fjárfella.

In the CRAFTS section:
feathers-msg (8K)  4/19/17  Use of feathers in the Middle Ages and today.

In the FEASTS section:
Pik-Fst-Menus-art  (8K)  4/29/17  “On Rules for Feast Menus or Why No One Ever Says ‘Let Them Eat Tripe'” by Ld. Daniel Raoul Le Vascon du Navarre’.

In the FOOD-DAIRY section:
N-Whey-Y-Whey-art (22K)  4/15/17  “No Whey! Yes Whey! – Lacto-Fermentation as a Method of Preservation” by Baroness Ailleagan nas Seolta, OL, OP.

In the FOOD-MEATS section:
caul-fat-msg   (5K)  3/22/17  Medieval use of caul fat. What it is.

Salmon-n-Beer-art  (4K)  4/9/17  “Salmon Poached in Beer” by Mistress Leoba of Lecelade.

In the FOOD-VEGETABLES section:
Pkld-Mushroms-art  (5K)  4/22/17  “Pickled Mushrooms” by Mistress Leoba of Lecelade.

In the SCA-CAMPING section:
Handy-Knots-art  (39K)  4/1/17  “Handy Knots for Reenactors” by Master William de Wyke.

In the TEXTILE ARTS section:
Tub-Card-Weav-art (12K)  3/29/17  “Tubular Card/Tablet Weaving: Making Period Cord” by Lady Elena Hylton.

In the TRAVEL section:
Shipbrd-Meal-art  (95K)  4/ 4/17  “A Meal Onboard Ship in the 16th Century” by The Honorable Tomas de Coucy.

Updated files:
parchment-msg      Making and buying parchment. substitutes.
root-veg-msg      Medieval and period root vegetables.
taro-msg          Use of the taro plant in period.


Copyright 2017, Mark S. Harris. Permission to reprint in SCA-related publications is hereby granted if the file descriptions are left unchanged. Removing any of the updated files listed in order to fit the article into limited publication space is allowed.  The article introduction may also be edited, provided the web address and contact info are retained.

Categories: SCA news sites

Tir Mara Bank Account for Heraldic Submissions

East Kingdom Gazette - Mon, 2017-06-19 17:56

Unto the populace of the East does Malcolm Brigantia, Principal Herald, send greetings.

I am deeply pleased to announce that the College of Heralds can now receive submission payments from Tir Mara drawn on Canadian chequing accounts!

This project has been three years in the making, and I would like to thank the hard work of the Tir Maran heralds, the Kingdom, the regional and Kingdom exchequers, and my predecessor in making this finally happen.

Due to the difference in currencies, submissions paid in Canadian funds will be charged $10 CAN per item, while those in US fund will remain $9 per submission.

This new fee structure shall go into effect as of July 1.

Please direct any questions to myself, or the Tir Mara submissions deputy, Jeanne Blue Alaunt.


French Translation: https://wordpress.com/post/eastkingdomgazette.org/12517

Filed under: Uncategorized

Arts & Sciences Research Paper #19: Tequila: Is it a Period Beverage? A Brief History of Agave Based Fermented and Distilled Beverages and the Origins of Distillation in West-Central Mexico

East Kingdom Gazette - Mon, 2017-06-19 11:31

Our nineteenth A&S Research Paper comes to us from Lord John Kelton of Greyhorn, Guildmaster of the Honourable Company of Fermenters of the Barony of Concordia of the Snows. He considers the fascinating question of distilled spirits within our historical period – specifically the possibility of such spirits in SCA-period Mexico. (Prospective future contributors, please check out our original Call for Papers.)

Tequila: Is it a Period Beverage? A Brief History of Agave Based Fermented and Distilled Beverages and the Origins of Distillation in West-Central Mexico

Mayahuel, the Aztec goddess of the maguey. From the Rios Codex via Wikimedia Commons.

Table of Contents
The Players
Beverages from the Maguey
When was distillation introduced to Mexico and the Americas?
Distillation prior to European contact


Tequila. There is no other drink that conjures up the mystique and history of Mexico as well as this legendary elixir of the gods. A drink, which comes from a plant, the agave. A plant which has its own goddess and pantheon of drinking gods. Over the past 400 years, tequila has become a symbol of Mexican nationality, pride and culture (Chadwick). However, as Shakespeare would say, aye, there’s the rub – it’s modern. As members of the SCA, we’re not really interested in modern, are we? The question for us then is, could it be period?

The Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) is a “practical history society, recreating the arts and skills of pre-17th century Europe” (SCA.org). Over the years I have heard arguments for more specific dates such as 400/450/600 CE – 1600/1650 CE. Further, although the Society’s definition of period refers to Europe, it is common and accepted for members to have personae which are not of European origin. I would have liked to limit this discussion by not considering awareness or accessibility of the product in Europe but it turns out that that is impossible. Spaniards, Mexicans and even Filipinos are intricately bound together in the origins of this beverage (Colunga-GarcíaMarín 1654; Zizumbo-Villarreal 289)

To properly answer the question posed above we need to know when tequila was first produced and who would have been drinking it. Let’s explore then the origins of this beverage. To do this, we need to understand the plant, its related beverages and the peoples involved.

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The Players

The Aztec empire existed from 1345 CE to 1521 CE when it was conquered by the conquistadores. At its greatest extent, it covered most of northern Mesoamerica (modern Mexico). The empire’s date of origin is somewhat flexible depending on one’s definition of empire. It is often dated from 1428 AD with the triple alliance between the cities of Tenochtitlan, Texcoco, and Tlacopan. Nahuatl was the language of the empire and modern versions are still spoken in Mexico. (“Aztec Empire” 2016)

Hernán Cortés, marqués del Valle de Oaxaca (1485-1547) was a Spanish explorer and conquistador. In February 1519, Cortés arrived in Mexico with about 500 soldiers and 100 sailors. By 1524 he had conquered the Aztec empire. He was appointed governor of New Spain by King Charles I of Spain the following year (Bandelier; James).

Surprisingly, Filipinos were also involved. They came to Central America with the Spanish and works as laborers on the palm plantations (Colunga-GarcíaMarín 1654-1655).

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The maguey plant, Agave atrovirens. Photo by the Rodale Institute.

As mentioned, tequila and its close relative mescal are derived from the agave (Chadwick). The agave also known as the maguey is a member of the botanical family Agavaceae which includes over 400 species; it resembles a cactus but is related to the families Amaryllidaceae and Liliceae which includes the amaryllis and lily. The agave is a perennial, native to the hot and arid regions of Mexico, South America and the southern United States. Agaves have thick, succulent, often thorn-edged leaves clustered close to the ground and surrounding a single stout base. The plant can range in size from a few inches to over 12 ft. tall and wide. The Blue agave (A. tequilana Weber var. azul), is the variety specifically used for tequila (Chadwick; Colunga-GarcíaMarín 1653-1654, 1656; Maestri).

Blue agave plant. Photo courtesy of tothewind.tumblr.com

There is extensive archaeological evidence dating back over 12,000 years that foraging groups made extensive use of the maguey for food and fiber. It has also been used for making string and cordage (for nets, hammocks, and rugs), shoes, textiles, paper (for codices), thatching, food, fuel, soap, bandages and snakebite cures (Maestri 1; Zizumbo-Villarreal 289).

Before corn [(maize) (Zea mays subsp. mays)] became a staple crop, agave was the main source of carbohydrates for the indigenous peoples of western Mexico and the southeast United States. Agave was prepared by cooking the stems and floral peduncles (quiotes) in stone lined pit ovens. This is critically important, to the subject of tequila, as baking the agave body (piña or pineapple) is a necessary step in the manufacture of tequila. We do know that pit ovens used for food preparation are identical to those used for producing mescal (Colunga-GarcíaMarín 1654; Zizumbo-Villarreal1 289).

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Beverages from the Maguey

Two culturally significant alcoholic beverages are produced from the maguey: pulque and mescal.

Pulque, was characteristic of central Mexico. The Spanish described the Otomi Indians (thought by some to have discovered the process of making pulque) as a tribe of half -naked barbarians who went about in an intoxicated state brought on by drinking the liquor made from the maguey. Cortes described pulque in his first letter to King Carlos V: “They sell honey emanated from corn that are as sweet as the sugar obtained from a plant they call maguey and from these plants they make wine and sugar which they sell” (Kolendo).

Pulque is the fermented, but not distilled sap (aquamiel, “honey water”) of the maguey plant. It is a milky white, somewhat thick, slightly foamy beverage with a sour yeasty flavor of 4-8% alcohol by volume (ABV). Pulque played a significant and complex role in the religious practices of Mesoamerican cultures. There is extensive archaeological, pictorial and written evidence that pulque was known to the Maya and central to their religious beliefs long before their empire rose to power. (“Aztec Empire” 2016; Correa-Ascencio; Lappe-Oliveras).

The original name for pulque was iztāc octli, white pulque. The term pulque was probably mistakenly derived by the Spanish from octli poliuhqu(i), which meant “spoiled pulque”. This term may have originated because of pulque’s rapid rate of spoilage. There is debate over the terms linguistic origin. It may derive from the Náhuatl or Mexica languages (“Pulque” 2016, 2013).

An illustration from Codex Mendoza depicting elderly Aztecs smoking and drinking pulque. By en:User:Billycuts [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In the past, Pulque was reserved for the priesthood and religious ceremonies. Over time, it spread to the general population. It became the dominant fermented drink of Mexico until displaced by beer in the 20th century. Pulque also provided an important and inexpensive source of carbohydrates, amino acids, and vitamins (Chadwick).

The fermented liquid extracted by roasting the plant’s body (piña or pineapple) was characteristic of western Mexico. Once distilled this beverage becomes mescal. However, it may have also been known as mescal prior to distillation. Indeed, mescal can also refer to the plant and to food made from roasting the plant. The etymology of mescal is from the Nahuatl metl plus ixcalli for cooked-agave and so is not a beverage specific term. We do know that a fermented beverage made from the liquid extracted from the cooked plant was in use by the time of the Spanish conquest, but it is not clear if this beverage always had a separate name. Beginning with our (SCA) period the pre-distillation fermented liquid has been known as mescal-crudo and Tubo. (Tubo was a term also used by the Filipinos for coconut spirits). Other than originating from the same plant, mescal and pulque are not related; as noted above, mescal comes from the roasted plant, while pulque is made from the maguey’s sap (Maestri; Valenzuela-Zapata1).

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To brew pulque, the nascent flower stalk is scooped out of the ripe piña before it begins to grow. This procedure is known by the unfortunate term “castration.” Castration creates a reservoir in which the sweet liquid sap (aguamiel) collects. The aguamiel is harvested by hand using a long necked gourd (an acocote) and placed in large wooden barrels. Natural fermentation turns it into alcoholic pulque in just a few days. A maguey may produce 5-8 liters of sap per day for about 3-4 months (Lotter; Maestri).

Aquamiel collecting in the cavity where the plant was castrated. Photo by Rodale Institute.

Pulque does not have a long shelf life. This is commented on in this wonderful quotation from a Spanish traveler in 1552. “There are no dead dogs, nor a bomb, that can clear a path as well as the smell of…. (putrified pulq)” (Carey; Lotter). We can presume from this that the Spanish were certainly familiar with pulque.

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When I started this project, I was under the mistaken assumption that pulque is distilled to produce Tequila and Mescal. Mescal, also mezcal, is quite likely the first distilled spirit of the Americas. The word derives from the Nahuatl mexcalli ‎(cooked maguey; mezcal) from metl ‎(“maguey”) + a derivation of ixca ‎meaning “to cook, bake, roast” (Chadwick, Colunga-GarcíaMarín). Mezcal is if you will a Spanish-Aztec fusion drink; a mestizo, from the Spanish for mixed, implying that it is a combination of European, Filipino and indigenous traditions; distillation from Europe and the Philippines and maguey from the Aztec (Pint).

Mescal can be made from several maguey varieties, whereas tequila is specifically from the Agave tequilana [blue agave (agave azul)]. The cultivars used for pulque are different from those used for either mescal or tequila. Those used to produce pulque, agave pulquero and Agave salmiana (Yetman) are enormous with leaves large enough to cradle an adult (Lotter; Valenzuela-Zapata1).

In mezcal and tequila production, the sugary liquid is extracted from the piñas (or hearts) by roasting and then crushing them. This gives rise to a different liquid base than that used for pulque. Thus if one were to distill pulque, it would not be a form of mezcal, but rather a different drink. I have not come across any references to distilled pulque (Chadwick).

Stone baking pit with trimmed piñas. Photo by Ian Chadwick.

Today name Mescal, like the name Tequila is a protected denominación de orígen. Its production methods, much like Cognac or champagne must meet certain legal requirements. Naturally, this protection and current nomenclature is a modern invention dating to the 19th century (Huhn; “Norma” 2016).

To produce mezcal, the sugar-rich heart of the agave, the piña, is placed in a rock-lined pit oven, covered with layers of moist agave-fiber mats and earth and then steam-baked over charcoal for several days. The charcoal is from a wood fire used to heat the pit and helps gives mezcal its distinctive smoky flavor. Baking the agave in a pit oven is one of the primary differences between tequila and mescal. The baking process caramelizes sugars in the plant which contributes to the flavor (Chadwick, Huhn).

Piñas baking under a large mat. Photo by David Driscoll.

The cooked plants are then cut into pieces and milled into a fibrous pulp (bagazo) with a traditional stone mill (tahona, molino egipcio or molino chileno). The mill may be powered by draft animals, or a machine. In some regions, the baked agave are pounded with wooden mallets rather than processed in a mill. Some feel this produces a better flavor (Huhn).

The pulp along with sufficient water is mashed in open air tanks to allow for natural yeast and bacteria to begin the fermentation process (Lappe-Oliveras). The bagazo is sometimes allowed to dry ferment for several days before water is added. According to regional tradition, the vats may be dugout logs, stone pits or wooden vats. Another traditional method was to ferment in cowhide. The end product, musto, is about 5% alcohol. This fermented beverage is also referred to as tubo, a Filipino term referring to distilled coconut spirits. Interestingly, this is an historic anachronism which hints at the origins of distillation in Mexico. I’ll discuss this further in the section on the history of distillation in Mexico below (Huhn; “Mezcal” 2016, Pint).

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The term tequila derives from the town of Tequila in Jalisco, Mexico, famous for producing this style of mescal. The word itself derives from Nahuatl Tequillan, Tecuila meaning place of tribute (James). Tequila is a type of mescal, but mescal is not tequila. The term is a protected Appellation of Origin in accordance with the Norma Oficial Mexicana and the Tequila Regulatory Council (“Norma” 2016).

As with the relationship of cognac to brandy or champagne to sparkling wine, the term is region, species and technique specific. Tequila is a modern term first used in 1875. Previously, tequila was simply vino-mescal de tequila (Chadwick; Colunga-GarcíaMarín).

Agave processing for tequila is similar to mescal production. There are however some differences. The agave are split then baked in above ground ovens rather than left whole and cooked in stone pits under wet fiber mats and charcoal. Modern ovens use pressurized steam. Before the late 19th century this process was similar to the pit cooking used for mescal; deforestation from the increasing demand for tequila led to the innovation of above ground gas and coal fired heating. A low heat is used to prevent caramelization of the sugars (Chadwick; James). Traditional ovens (horno) are stone or brick-lined. Modern ovens are stainless steel autoclaves. Cooking the agave is a required step for both tequila and mescal. The heat transforms the agave’s natural carbohydrates and starches into fermentable sugars. This is analogous to mashing barley grains in order to brew beer.

As with mescal, initial fermentation takes place in open air vats exposing the musto to natural yeasts and the bacteria Zymomonas mobilis which lives on the skin of the agave plants (Correa-Ascencio; Lappe-Oliveras). Zymomonas species are perhaps the most important alcoholic fermenters of the bacterial world. They are found in sugar rich plant saps and juices, and are integral to the fermentation of agave (Correa-Ascencio; Lappe-Oliveras).

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When was distillation introduced to Mexico and the Americas?

Tequila is a distilled beverage. To answer our question we need to know when distillation began in this area. There is no archaeological or written evidence of distillation in West Central Mexico or the Americas prior to European contact in the 16th Century. Mexican wines made from maguey (not pulque), hog-plum, maize, and cactus pears are documented by the Spanish by 1580 (Zizumbo-Villareal2 414).

The prevailing thought is that distillation was introduced by Filipino sailors and workers who arrived in West Central Mexico with the Spanish via the “Manila Galleon” trade (1565–1815). Other researchers suggest agave distillation began in the 17th century through adaptation of the sugarcane rum model using the Arab style still introduced by the Spanish. Finally, there is a hypothesis for pre-Spanish distillation of agave (Colunga-GarcíaMarín 1654-1655; Valenzuela-Zapata2; Zizumbo-Villareal3 494, 499).

Filipinos were brought in by the Spaniards around 1570 and were primarily occupied with coconut cultivation and production of vino de cocos. This term is somewhat vague and may refer to a fermented coconut wine. However, in addition to the quote above, there is a 1612 reference to vino de cocos which states “ it is incorrect to call it vino de cocos because in reality it is spirits … and to obtain it requires skill, a still and lots of work.” Another source from 1612 notes that large quantities of coconut spirits (232,000 liters annually by 1612) had been made for the past twelve years, whereas before that, very little was made (Colunga-GarcíaMarín 1654-1655, 1665; Zizumbo-Villareal3 499-500).

A clay pot still. Photo by Alvin Starkman.

The stills used today to produce mescal remain similar to the stills used in Mexico and the Philippines by 16th and 17th century Filipinos to produce coconut spirits. Historically the stills were made from hollow tree trunks or pottery and were quite primitive in construction (Bourke). Today of course some producers use more modern stainless steel stills or copper alembics. The type used will affect the final flavor (Pint; Valenzuela-Zapata2, Zizumbo-Villarreal3).

Initially distillation was limited to coconut spirits. This is understandable given that this is what was familiar to the Filipinos. Coconuts were introduced to western Mexico in 1569 although it may also have been brought in as early as 1539. The first documentation for a producing coconut plantation occurs in 1577. In that year Francisco Hernández records that there are two types of palm, one for fruit and one good for spirits (Zizumbo-Villareal3 499-500). Coconut cultivation expanded rapidly which necessitated the incorporation of native Mexican workers (Zizumbo-Villareal3 500).

The Filipino still technology was more easily adapted to local resources than the more elaborate and difficult to reproduce Spanish style alembic (of Arabic origin, also introduced by the Spanish). The Filipino still was also more easily disassembled which in turn kept mescal alive during the following centuries despite the prohibitions, fines and persecution enacted by the authorities. The Spanish did not want the domestic product competing with imported wines. This type of still continues to be used for mescal production (Bourke; Colunga-GarcíaMarín 1664-1665; Zizumbo-Villareal3 500-501).

Because of competition with imported Spanish spirits, prohibitions and restrictions on the sale of coconut spirits were enacted as early as 1603. In 1612 coconut, plantations in Colima were ordered destroyed for the same reasons. This could be taken as a hint as to how productive this industry had become. Interestingly there is speculation that the combination of legal restrictions and prohibitions of coconut spirits combined with increased demand in growing mining areas may have promoted production of agave spirits, i.e. mescal, through adaptation of the Filipino coconut distillation technique (Colunga-GarcíaMarín 1660; Zizumbo-Villareal3 501, 506-507).

Although the first written documentation of mescal appears in 1619, there is ethnohistoric and archaeological evidence that both coconut and agave spirits may have developed simultaneously near Ixtalhuacán, Comala, and Nahualapa Mexico around 1580-1600 (Zizumbo-Villareal3 498-499, 501-502).

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Distillation prior to European contact

At this time distillation in western Mesoamerica prior to European contact remains conjectural and controversial. There is extensive documentation of various fermented beverages in Pre-contact codices. There is no evidence however for distillation. The hypothesis is based on the physical similarity of early Chinese stills to early Capacha era bean pots and steamers (c1500-1000 BCE) from Colima (western Mexico). It does not appear that researchers are proposing cross cultural technology transfer in that period. Rather, they are noting the similarity of the Colima vessels to the Chinese still. This could simply be a case of similar needs resulting in independent development of similar technologies. They do suggest that the native Chinese bean pot/steamer vessel which were characteristic cooking vessels during the Shang and Zhou periods (1600-221 BCE) was the probable origin for the Chinese still as well (Zizumbo-Villareal2 414-415).

(A) Trifid vessel and miniature pot from the Capacha cultural phase (1500–1000 BCE) of Colima, Mexico that could be used as a recipient, on display in the Regional Museum of Guadalajara. (B) Gourd-shape vessel from El Pantano culture (1000–800 BCE) of Jalisco, that could be used as a steamer, on display in the Archaeological Museum of Mascota. Photos by the respective museums.

Distilling requires a means for separating ethanol from water by exploiting ethanol ’ s lower boiling point (78.4°C vs. water’s 100°C). Thus setting a small catch basin on the grating of a Chinese steamer or in the center of the upper portion of a Capacha vessel with a bowl of cold water over the mouth of the vessel above it would mimics the arrangement of a Chinese still. The alcohol containing steam from the heated low alcohol liquid rises condenses on the undersurface of the cool water filled bowl and drips into the catch bowl below. Alcohol having a lower boiling point than water, this process will produce a higher alcohol distillate. Interestingly, researchers in Mexico were able to distill agave spirits with an ABV of 12-32% using reproduction bean pots and steamer pots. Although plausible, the reality of Pre-contact distillation remains an intriguing but unproven hypothesis (Zizumbo-Villareal3 419-422).

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So then, what are we to say our faithful Scadian who wishes to remain in period? He may certainly enjoy a frothy mug of Pulque. This was a drink well known to and often commented on by the Spanish. Our faithful Spanish cleric can slake his thirst on coconut spirits as we have evidence that this was in production as early as 1577 and causing trouble for the authorities by 1603. Unfortunately, the earliest written evidence for agave distillation dates to 1619. However, there is hope. There is always hope. First, some say our period ends in 1650 in which case, mescal is comfortably late period. Others can place their hopes on the supposition that agave distillation quite plausibly occurred simultaneously with coconut distillation as early as 1577. In this case mescal falls into standard definition for SCA period. Tequila however did not arrive on the scene until the mid nineteenth century. Granted, it is a subdivision of mescal, but it cannot be considered as an SCA period beverage.

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Aztec Empire.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 21 July 2016. Web July 2016.

Bandelier, Adolph Francis. “Hernando Cortés.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 4. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908. Web. 27 July 2016 from New Advent. Accessed July 2016.

Bourke, John G. Primitive Distillation Among The Tarascoes. American Anthropologist
Vol. 6, No. 1 (Jan., 1893), pp. 65-70

Carey jr, David. Alcohol in the Atlantic. Latin American History. Oxford Research Encyclopedias. April 2015. Web. July 2016

Chadwick, Ian. An introduction to the spirits of the agave. In Search of the Blue Agave. Tequila and the Heart of Mexico. Ian Chadwick. May 2011. Web. July 2016

Colunga-GarcíaMarín, Patricia; Zizumbo-Villarreal, Daniel. Tequila and other Agave spirits from west-central Mexico: current germplasm diversity, conservation and origin. Biodiversity and Conservation 2007, Volume 16, Number 6

Correa-Ascencio, Marisol. Pulque production from fermented agave sap as a dietary supplement in Prehispanic Mesoamerica. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America vol. 111 no. 39. 2014

Huhn, Axll; Dallman, Nils. Production. Mezcaleria. Web. July 2016.

James, Josh. Tequila. Trade, Culture, & Environment. TED Case Studies #629. (2001)

Kolendo, Jan. The Agave: a plant and its story, part 1. 2002. Web. July 2016.

Lappe-Oliveras, P., Moreno-Terrazas, R., Arrizón-Gaviño, J., Herrera-Suárez, T., García-Mendoza, A. and Gschaedler-Mathis, A. (2008). Yeasts associated with the production of Mexican alcoholic nondistilled and distilled Agave beverages. FEMS Yeast Research, 8: 1037–1052. doi:10.1111/j.1567-1364.2008.00430.x

Lotter, Don. Pulque: Mexico’s unique and vanishing drink. PAN-AMERICAN ADVENTURE: Tepotzotlán, Mexico. Rodale Institute.

Maestri, Nicoletta. The Domestication History of Agave Americana or Maguey. Plant of Ancient Mesoamerica. Updated June 2015

Mezcal.” Memidex. Free Online Dictionary/Thesaurus 2013 . Web. December 2016.

Norma Oficial Mexicana.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 5 November 2015. Web. July 2016.

Pint, John. Did Tequila Originate in Colima. 2016. Web. July 2016.

Pulque. Memidex. Free Online Dictionary/Thesaurus. 2013. Web. July 2016

(1) Valenzuela-Zapata, Ana G.; Nabhan, Gary Paul. (2004) Tequila: A Natural and Cultural History.  The University of Arizona Press.

(2) Valenzuela-Zapata, A. G., Buell, P. D., “Huichol” Stills: A Century of Anthropology – Technology Transfer and Innovation (2013) Crossroads, 8, 157-191.

What is the SCA.” Society for Creative Anachronism Newcomers Portal. Society for Creative Anachronism. Web. June 2016.

Yetman, David. “Pulque: A Pre-Columbian Alcoholic Beverage of Mexico.” Latin American History. June 2016. Web 25 Dec 2016

(1) Zizumbo-Villarreal, Daniel; González-Zozaya, Fernando. Archaeological Evidence of the Cultural Importance of Agave spp. in Pre-Hispanic Colima, Mexico. Economic Botany September 2009, Volume 63, Issue 3, pp 288–302

(2) Zizumbo-Villarreal, Daniel; González-Zozaya, Fernando. Distillation in Western Mesoamerica before European Contact. Economic Botany December 2009, 63:413

(3) Zizumbo-Villarreal, Daniel; Colunga-GarcíaMarín, Patricia. Early coconut distillation and the origins of mezcal and tequila spirits in west-central Mexico. Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution (2008) 55:493-510

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Filed under: A&S Research Papers, Arts and Sciences Tagged: a&s, Arts and Sciences

Major Islamic trade center found in Ethiopia

History Blog - Sun, 2017-06-18 23:54

Archaeologists excavating in Harlaa, eastern Ethiopia, have discovered the remains of a major Islamic city dating as far back as the 10th century. Local farmers have been finding archaeological remains and artifacts for years — pottery, coins, some from China, and masonry structures whose large stones inspired legends that a race of giants once lived there and built appositely giant buildings for themselves. Even with this evidence that there was something of historical significance in Harlaa, the site was neglected by archaeologists. The area has such an extraordinarily rich prehistorical fossil record, particularly as regards early hominids, that its later history has been overshadowed.

An international team of archaeologists from Britain’s University of Exeter, Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia and the University of Leuven in Belgium stepped into the breach two years ago, working with the residents who have a wealth of previously untapped knowledge. The excavation has unearthed the remains of a 12th century mosque, Islamic graves and headstones, a wide variety of beads made of glass, rock crystal and carnelian and fragments of glass vessels. The Chinese coins found by the farmers turned out to be just scraping the surface of how far ancient Harlaa’s trade networks reached. Archaeologists found imported cowry shells, coins from 13th century Egypt and pottery from Madagascar, the Maldives, Yemen and China.

Professor Timothy Insoll, from the Institute of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Exeter, who led the research, said: “This discovery revolutionises our understanding of trade in an archaeologically neglected part of Ethiopia. What we have found shows this area was the centre of trade in that region. The city was a rich, cosmopolitan centre for jewellery making and pieces were then taken to be sold around the region and beyond. Residents of Harlaa were a mixed community of foreigners and local people who traded with others in the Red Sea, Indian Ocean and possibly as far away as the Arabian Gulf.”

Harlaa is 120km from the Red Sea coast and 300km from Addis Adaba. The architecture of the mosque is similar to those found in Southern Tanzania and Somaliland, showing connections between different Islamic communities in Africa.

Remains found in the dig suggest jewellers were making high-quality, delicate pieces in silver, bronze and semi-precious stones and glass beads. They used some technology usually associated in that period with jewellers in India, suggesting trade or immigration from that country to Harlaa.

The Islamic-era settlement as excavated thus far appears to have been populated between the 10th and 15th centuries and is about 500 meters (.3 miles) by 1,000 meters. The use of large stone blocks to build walls and structures is consistent throughout the site, hence the giants idea. The locals, by the way, aren’t convinced that the giants theory is wrong. They think the 300 bodies found in the cemetery may have been the giants’ children. Samples of the remains are being studied to determine the diets and health of the ancient residents of Harlaa.

The archaeological team will return next year to continue excavating. They want to dig deeper and cover more sites to discover more about the earlier history of the area.

Professor Insoll said: “We know jewellery was being made here for trading into the African interior, and materials to do this came in from the Red Sea, East African Coast and possibly India, but we don’t know what was given in exchange for that jewellery. During the next stage of our archaeological research in this era we hope to examine this by working on other sites up to 100km away.”

The Harlaa excavation was done in partnership with the Ethiopian Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage and many of the artifacts will be go on public display at a local heritage center. It will provide jobs for the community and, the hope is, bring tourist money and a new understanding and appreciation for the Islamic history of the area and of Ethiopia in general. A selection of artifacts will be exhibited at the National Museum of Ethiopia in Addis Ababa where they will be in most illustrious company. The skeletal remains of the internationally famous Australopithecus afarensis Lucy are kept there (although the display version is a plaster replica).

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Baby dinobird found trapped in amber

History Blog - Sat, 2017-06-17 23:51

Researchers have discovered the remains of a baby avian dinosaur in a 99-million-year-old piece of Burmese amber. This is the most complete bird ever found trapped in amber, and it’s the most complete fossil of any kind found in Burmese amber. Its resinous coffin has preserved almost all of the skull and neck, a large section of one wing, one leg with perfect little claws and the soft tissues of the tail. Because so much of the bird has survived — almost half of it — researchers were able to identify it from its proportions and morphological features as a fledgling enantiornithes.

Enantiornitheans were a clade of toothed avialan dinosaurs that went extinct about 65 million years ago, at the tail end of the Late Cretaceous period and dawn of the Paleogene, one of the 75% of terrestrial organisms obliterated in the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event. Fossils from 80 different species of enantiornitheans have been identified in every continent except Antarctica. Their diversity and wide geographical distribution indicates that at least of them were able to fly across oceans on their own wing power, the first bird-like animals to develop that ability.

Juvenile enantiornithes remains have been found in Burmese amber before, but they were just individual wings. Even from such small pieces, scientists were able to determine that enantiornitheans’ feathers shared the features of modern bird feathers, unlike other than flying dinosaurs like Archaeopteryx. This exceptional specimen provides researchers access to biology they’ve never seen before. The amount of surviving soft tissue gives them the opportunity to examine the opening of the ear, the eyelid and the scales.

In this specimen, scientists observed that while the baby enantiornithine already possessed a full set of flight feathers on its wings, the rest of the plumage was sparse and more similar to the theropod dinosaur feathers, which lack a well-defined central shaft, or rachis.

The presence of flight feathers on such a young bird is reinforcing the idea that enantiornithes hatched with the ability to fly, making them less dependent on parental care than most modern birds.

This independence came at a cost, however. The researchers point out that a slow growth rate made these ancient birds more vulnerable for a longer amount of time, as evidenced by the high number of juvenile enantiornithes found in the fossil record. (No juvenile fossil remains from any other bird lineage are known from the Cretaceous).

The amber chunk (3.4 x 1.2 x 2.2 inches) containing this exceptional specimen of enantiornithes was mined at the Angbamo site in the Hukawng Valley of northern Myanmar, an incredibly rich source of amber deposits from the Cretaceous period (145.5 to 65.5 million years ago). Amber mined in Myanmar is believed to contain the greatest amount and diversity of Cretaceous animal and plant specimens. The large size and clarity of Burmese amber make the trapped remains invaluable sources for scientific study.

When the miners came across the enantiornithes preserved in amber, they thought it was some sort of weird lizard foot because of the prominent clawed hindfoot. Guang Chen, director of the Hupoge Amber Museum in Tengchong City, China, heard about the “lizard claw” in 2014 and acquired the sample. Chen alerted Lida Xing of the China University of Geosciences, whose team had studied a previous find of a therapod tail trapped in Burmese amber, to the specimen. Xing and her colleagues identified it as the hindlimb of an enantiornithes, not an odd lizard claw.

Technology then helped reveal there was so much more to this little guy than just his foot.

“[I thought we had] just a pair of feet and some feathers before it underwent CT imaging. It was a big, big, big surprise after that,” says Xing.

“The surprise continued when we started examining the distribution of feathers and realized that there were translucent sheets of skin that connected many of the body regions appearing in the CT scan data,” adds team co-leader Ryan McKellar of the Royal Saskatchewan Museum.

The amber specimen, named Belone after the Burmese word for the Oriental skylark which is amber in color, is now on display at the Hupoge Amber Museum. Between June 24th and the end of July, it will be on display at the Shanghai Museum of Natural History.

Lida Xing and her team have published the first paper on the specimen in the journal Gondwana Research. You can read it free of charge here.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Pennsic Preregistration Extended!

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sat, 2017-06-17 16:51

Thought you waited too long? This just in….

Due to high demand, Pennsic Preregistration will stay open an extra week! Registration will now close on Saturday, June 24th 2017 at 11:59 PM EST*. Having an issue getting registered? Feel free to e-mail prereg@cooperslake.com with any questions. Have a great day and we will see you in a few short weeks. 

*Please note: The date provided in the update conflicts with the date on the official website. The website lists the end date as Friday, June 23rd 2017 at 11:59 PM EST. Please check the official website for details and updates. A request for clarification has been sent, and we will update that info when available.

Preregistration information!

Categories: SCA news sites

New Deadline for Pennsic PreRegistration

East Kingdom Gazette - Sat, 2017-06-17 14:29

Photography by Baroness Cateline la Broderesse

The deadline for paid pre-registration for Pennsic has been extended until 11:59 pm (Eastern Time) on Fri, Jun 23, 2017. The deadline for unpaid pre-registration is 11:59 pm July 7th.

Filed under: Announcements, Pennsic

Q and A with the New East Kingdom Tyger Clerk

East Kingdom Gazette - Sat, 2017-06-17 10:25

En français

Master Nataliia, Tyger Clerk of the Signet.
Photo by Duchess Caoilfhionn.

The Gazette had the pleasure of chatting with Nataliia Anastasiia Evgenova, the new Tyger Clerk of the Signet for the East, who took over the position in February of this year.  Nataliia has been in the SCA since around 1994 and resides in the Barony of the Bridge.  Prior to discovering the Society, she studied art and competed in USFA fencing competitions.  Her love of fencing brought her to an SCA fencing practice in the Barony Beyond the Mountain.  While fencing provided an entry to the SCA, and remains one of her biggest passions, she discovered an outlet for her artistic aspirations in the scribal community. Her first scroll was produced in 2001, and she was encouraged to continue by Duchess Katherine Stanhope, the Tyger Clerk of the Signet at the time.   Her favorite artistic medium is painting, particularly with period pigments, and in the early years Nataliia was very fond of pen and ink renderings for representations of period rapier manuals.   She finds calligraphy challenging, but is never one to back down from a challenge.  


What does the Tyger Clerk of the Signet do?

The Tyger Clerk of the Signet (known as the Tyger Clerk or The Signet) is the head of the East Kingdom College of Scribes.  The Tyger Clerk of the Signet:

  1. Coordinates the production of scrolls requested by The Crown;
  2. Promotes the development of calligraphers and illuminators in the East Kingdom and warrants said scribes to perform Signet Office work, and;
  3. Maintains accurate records of scroll assignments.

Close to 150-200 scrolls go out every six months (per reign), approximately 25 – 34 each month.  In my role as Signet I manage approximately 100 scribes who do calligraphy and illumination and wordsmiths who write the words, as well as scribes who do less traditional scrolls such as stained glass, embroidered scrolls, and carved rocks, to name a few.  The artists in the East Kingdom are exemplary and have a reputation of excellence across the Known World, and I am honored to be working with them.

How do people get awards?

That is a longer story, but the short answer is that a member of the populace recommends an individual for an award.  This recommendation is sent to the royals.  Their Majesties then decide whether to give the award.  For many awards a scroll is produced to commemorate the occasion.

Gazette articles on the award process can be found here:
How the Award Process Works, by Duchess Avelina

How to Write an Award Recommendation, by Duchess Avelina

On the Scheduling of Awards, by Duke Brennan

East Kingdom Awards Overview, by Lady Tola knitýr

How is the Signet involved with that?

When the Royalty decide to give an award, they tell their Royal Scheduler, who keeps tracks of their awards. The Royal Scheduler does their best to contact those close to the recipient to schedule the Award. Once the award has been scheduled, the Royal Scheduler contacts the Signet, me, with the list of awards and dates. I then arrange for the scroll by contacting an artist who will make the scroll and deliver it to the Royalty before it needs to be given out.

What do you do once you have the list of scrolls to be done?

Each award with the date, event, award and individual’s name, and the contact information for the person who recommended the individual is emailed from the Scheduler to the Signet.

Each Signet is different in how they manage the office, however, I add the assignments to a worksheet that contains all the events for that reign  The Signet will then choose a scribe from the list of over 100 scribes in the East Kingdom. I prepare an assignment sheet that will be sent to the artist asking them to take the assignment.  The scribe accepts the assignment and starts work on the beautiful pieces of artwork that you see in court.  The scribe makes arrangements for the scroll to get to the event, Their Majesties sign the scroll prior to court and then present the scroll to the worthy individual.  I work with a lot of amazing scribes who also have wonderful management skills to help track the life of the scroll from request to arrival in the hands of a worthy recipient.

How do I join the College of Scribes?

The College of Scribes is always looking for new scribes and wordsmiths!  We love creative people.  No experience is necessary, and all levels of artistic ability are welcome.  You can become a scribe by contacting me or Vettorio, who is the New Scribes Deputy.  We can introduce you to other scribes and point you in the direction of supplies.  No one is required to join the College of Scribes in order to be a scribe, nor is that the only way to explore this type of art.

How can I find other scribes to speak to?

There are a variety of ways to get in touch with the Scribal community.  Many local groups have Scribal get togethers.  Contacting your local Seneschal is a good first place to start.  There are also Scribal regional deputies that are listed on the East Kingdom College of Scribes Webpage under officers.  The EKCoS Webpage also has loads of information for new or returning scribes.  There is a Facebook page for the East Kingdom scribes, as well as a Google Plus group for the East Kingdom Scribes.

What are some of your suggestions that help the scribes with their scrolls?

One of the best things that anyone can do is to make a wiki page in the East Kingdom wiki.  In fact, my East Kingdom wiki page is here. Even if it is no more than a picture and your arms, that is really helpful to a scribe.   If you already have a wiki page, please consider updating it.  If you are aware of an upcoming award for a friend please feel free to contact me and I’ll help in whatever way I can.  Communication is absolutely welcome as more information makes for better art.  I can’t always honor every request, and not everything is possible, but I do my best to arrange our Kingdom’s artists to make beautiful art for someone’s special day. Another way to help is to give a wish list to a loved one on preferences for a certain type of scroll or a particular artist should there be a scroll in your future!  There is no guarantee, but again, more information makes it easier to line up a piece of artwork that will memorialize your special day.   I will be trying to have office hours at events so that you can come see me in person if you have questions.   I’m looking forward to meeting many people in my job as the East Kingdom Tyger Clerk of the Signet.

En français
Traduction: Behi Kirsa Oyutai

Nataliia Anastasiia Evgenova est la nouvelle Greffière des Sceaux du Royaume, ayant pris la position en février de cette année. Nataliia fait partie de la SCA depuis environ 1994 et réside dans la Baronnie of the Bridge. Avant de découvrir la Société, elle a étudié les arts et compétitionné à l’escrime au sein de la USFA. Son amour de l’escrime l’a amenée à une pratique d’escrime de la Baronnie Beyond the Mountain. Bien que l’escrime lui aie fournie une porte d’entrée dans la SCA, et demeure une de ses plus grandes passions, elle s’est découvert un exutoire pour ses aspirations artistiques dans la communauté des scribes. Son premier parchemin a été produit en 2001, et elle a été encouragée a continuer par Duchesse Katherine Stanhope, la Greffière des Sceaux du Royaume à ce moment. Son médium préféré est la peinture, particulièrement avec des pigments d’époque, et dans ses années formatrices, Nataliia était appréciait beaucoup les rendus au crayon et à l’encre  de représentations de manuels d’escrime d’époque. Elle trouve la l’art de la calligraphie ardu, mais elle n’est pas connue pour reculer devant un défi.

Qu’est-ce que la Greffière des Sceaux du Royaume fait ?

La Greffière des Sceaux du Royaume (connue comme Tyger Clerk ou le Signet) est à la tête du Collège des Scribes du Royaume de l’Est. La Greffière des Sceaux du Royaume:

  1. Coordonne la production des parchemins demandés par La Couronne;
  2. Promeut le développement des calligraphes et enlumineurs dans le Royaume de l’Est et certifie ces scribes afin d’accomplir les tâches de l’Office des Sceaux, et;
  3. Maintiens un registre rigoureux des assignations de parchemins.

Près de 150 à 200 parchemins sont distribués chaque six mois (par règne), approximativement 25 à 34 chaque mois. Dans mon rôle comme Greffière, je gère approximativement une centaine de scribes qui procèdent à la calligraphie et à l’illumination, des écrivains qui composent les textes, ainsi que des scribes qui font des parchemins moins conventionnels, comme en vitrail, brodé ou taillé dans la pierre, pour n’en nommer que quelques uns. Les artistes du Royaume de l’Est sont exemplaires et ont une réputation d’excellence dans tout le Monde Connu, et je suis honorée de travailler avec eux.

Comment recevoir une reconnaissance ?

Ceci est une plus longue histoire, mais la réponse courte est qu’un membre de la population recommende un individu pour une reconnaissance. Cette recommendation est envoyés à la royauté. Leurs Majestés décident alors de donner ou non la reconnaissance. Pour plusieurs reconnaissances, un parchemin est produit afin de commémorer l’occasion.

Un article de la Gazette sur le processus menant aux reconnaissances peut être consulté ici:
Comment le Processus de Reconnaissance fonctionne, par Duchesse Avelina

Comment Écrire une Recommendation pour une Reconnaissance, par Duchesse Avelina

Sur la Planification des Reconnaissances, par Duc Brennan

Survol des Reconnaissances du Royaume de l’Est, par Dame Tola Knitýr

Quelle est l’implication de la Greffière dans le processus ?

Quand la Royauté décide de d’accorder une reconnaissance, ils en avisent leur Planificateur Royal, qui garde trace de leurs reconnaissances. Le Planificateur Royal fait de son mieux afin de contacter les proches du récipiendaire afin de planifier la Reconnaissance. Une fois que la reconnaissance a été planifiée, le Planificateur Royal contacte la Greffière, moi, avec une liste des reconnaissances et les dates. J’organise alors la fabrication du parchemin en contactant un artiste qui s’occupera de créer celui-ci, et de le livrer à la Royauté avant qu’il soit remis à la cour.

Qu’est-ce qui se passe une fois que la liste des parchemins à faire est complète ?

Chaque reconnaissance avec la date, l’événement, la reconnaissance et le nom du récipiendaire, ainsi que l’information de contact de la personne ayant recommandé le récipiendaire est envoyée par courriel du Planificateur à la Greffière.

Chaque Greffier gère son office différemment, cependant, j’ajoute les tâches dans une feuille de travail qui contient tous les événements de ce règne. Le Greffier choisira ensuite un scribe d’une liste de plus d’une centaine de noms dans le Royaume de l’Est. Je prépare une feuille de travail qui sera envoyée à l’artiste, lui demandant d’accepter la tâche. Le scribe accepte le travail et commence à produire les magnifiques oeuvres d’art que vous pouvez admirer à la cour. Le scribe s’occupe d’organiser un transport pour que le parchemin parvienne à l’événement, Leurs Majestés signent le parchemin avant la cour, et ensuite présentent le parchemin au digne récipiendaire. Je travaille avec de nombreux scribes extraordinaires qui ont d’excellentes aptitudes de gestion afin d’aider à garder trace du processus de création d’un parchemin, de la demande initiale, à son arrivée dans les mains d’un récipiendaire méritant.

Comment joindre le Collège des Scribes ?

Le Collège des Scribes est toujours à la recherche de nouveaux scribes et écrivains ! Nous adorons les gens créatifs. Aucune expérience n’est nécessaire, et tous les niveaux d’habiletés artistiques sont bienvenus. Il est possible de devenir un scribe en me contactant ou Vettorio, qui est le Député des Nouveaux Scribes. Nul n’es tenu de joindre le Collège des Scribes afin d’être un scribe, et cela ne représente certainement pas la seule manière d’explorer ce type d’art.

Comment puis-je trouver d’autres scribes à qui parler ?

Il y a une variété de façons d’entrer en contact avec la communauté des Scribes. Plusieurs groupes locaux tiennent des rencontres de scribes. Contacter votre Sénéchal local est un bon point de départ. Il y a aussi des Députés Scribes Régionnaux, listés sur la page internet du Collège des Scribes du Royaume de l’Est, sous la catégorie “officiers”. La page du Collège des Scribes du Royaume de l’Est regorge d’informations autant pour les nouveaux scribes que ceux étant plus expérimentés ici.

Il existe aussi une page Facebook pour les scribes du Royaume de l’Est ici.

Ainsi qu’un groupe Google Plus pour les Scribes du Royaume de l’est ici.

Avez-vous des suggestions afin de faciliter la tâche des scribes créant des parchemins ?

Une des choses les plus aidantes que tout le monde peut faire, est de créer une page sur le wiki du Royaume de l’Est. En fait, ma page Wiki est disponible ici. Même si ce n’est rien de plus qu’une image de vos armes, c’est quelque chose de vraiment utile pour un scribe. Si vous avez déjà une page wiki, considérez la mettre à jour. Si vous savez qu’un de vos amis recevra une reconnaissance, sentez-vous libre de me contacter et je vous aiderai autant qu’il me sera possible. La communication est absolument bienvenue compte tenu que plus nous avons d’informations, meilleur est le résultat artistique final. Il ne m’est pas toujours possible d’honorer chaque demande, et certaines choses ne sont pas toujours possibles, cependant, je fais tout en mon pouvoir afin d’organiserla création de fantastiques pièces artistiques pour commémorer une journée spéciale. Une autre manière d’aider est de fournir une liste de souhaits sur les préférences de vos proches pour un certain type de parchemin ou de requérir un artiste en particulier, si un parchemin est dans votre futur ! Nous ne pouvons pas donner de garanties, mais encore une fois, le plus d’informations dont nous disposons, le plus aisé il est pour nous de produire une oeuvre qui immortalisera votre journée spéciale. J’essaierai d’avoir des heures de bureau aux événements pour que vous puissiez me rencontrer en personne si vous avez des questions. J’espère avoir la chance de rencontrer de nombreuses personnes pendant mon mandat en tant que Greffière des Sceaux du Royaume de l’Est.




Filed under: Interviews Tagged: officers, Q&A

Woolly dog hair found in Coast Salish blanket

History Blog - Fri, 2017-06-16 23:20

Researchers at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture in Seattle, Washington, have confirmed that a Coast Salish blanket in its collection was woven from the fur of the woolly dog. Woolly dogs were carefully bred and husbanded for centuries by the Coast Salish peoples of the Pacific Northwest, who sheared them like sheep and used their thick, long fur to weave textiles. Because the trait for this woollen hair was recessive, the Salish were meticulous about keeping the woolly dogs separate from their hunting dogs to ensure the continuation of the genetic line.

Explorer George Vancouver encountered the Coast Salish and their marvelous woolly dogs in May of 1792 during his expedition to the Pacific Northwest. He was in Puget Sound on the south end of Bainbridge Island when he met a small group of Coast Salish on the move with all their earthly possessions. Their dogs squeezed into the single canoe with them. In his account of the expedition, Vancouver describes the animals thus:

The dogs belonging to this tribe of Indians were numerous, and much resembled those of Pomerania, though in general somewhat larger. They were all shorn as close to the skin as sheep are in England; and so compact were their fleeces, that large portions could be lifted up by a corner without causing any separation. They were composed of a mixture of a coarse kind of wool, with very fine long hair, capable of being spun into yarn.

When the Europeans arrived, 1,000 years of Mendelian curation broke down irretrievably. Displacement of tribes, uncontrolled mixing with dogs brought by explorers and traders and introduced diseases devastated the breed. By the end of the 19th century, the woolly dog was extinct.

Because textiles are delicate and so many of them were sold, discarded or destroyed, the rich tradition of Coast Salish woolly dog weaving was reduced to a few items in scattered museums, and even fewer of them have been confirmed to have been made with woolly dog hair. In 2011, seven pieces in the collections of the Smithsonian Institution, some collected during the Lewis and Clark expedition, were discovered through microscopic examination to have woolly dog hair in them. The Burke’s blanket is the only object in a Northwest museum confirmed to have been woven from woolly dog hair, which is enormously exciting to researchers and Coast Salish weavers who will finally have the opportunity to study an ancient craft in the place where it was developed and practiced for a thousand years.

Not much is known about the ownership history of the blanket. It was once part of the collection of Native American artifacts assembled by none other than Judge James Wickersham, who is best known today as the first federal judge of the newly formed Third District covering Alaska and his tireless advocacy for Alaskan statehood, but who was a Washington state representative before that and lived in Tacoma from 1883 until 1900. (While he lived there, he was involved in one of Tacoma’s most ignoble incidents. Wickersham was part of the mob of white residents who forcibly expelled all the Chinese from Tacoma in 1885. He was one of the ringleaders, in fact, one of the so-called Tacoma 27, who were arrested and prosecuted but never convicted.)

After Wickersham’s death in Juneau in 1939, his collection was sold to a tourist store in Alaska. Another collector recognized the historical and cultural importance of the objects and acquired them. In 1975, they were donated to the Burke Museum. The blanket has a simple design — two brown selvages on the far left and right against a creamy-buttery background — but the lucky break came in the form of a small tear.

Unlike many plaited Coast Salish blankets, the blanket is twined (meaning that the weaver used two horizontal “weft” yarns, one passing in front while the other passes behind the vertical “warp” yarn).

“As soon as I saw the warp yarns exposed by the tear, I knew this was an unusual blanket” said Liz Hammond-Kaarremaa, a Coast Salish spinning expert. Hammond-Kaarremaa received a grant through the Museum’s Bill Holm Center to study Coast Salish blankets and robes in the Burke collection. The unusual warp in this blanket is made from a combination of string, bark and sinew. As she pored over the blanket, she began to suspect the materials used to weave it may also have included woolly dog hair. “The warp caught my attention but it was the weft that posed the mystery: the weft fiber did not look like mountain goat, nor did it look like sheep wool. It looked like woolly dog hair I had seen at the Smithsonian.”

The Burke enlisted the aid of Elaine Humphrey and Terrence Loychuk from the University of Victoria Advanced Microscopy Facility to study the blanket’s fibers. They’ve examined several Coast Salish blankets using light and scanning electron microscopy. Advanced microscopic analysis confirmed the woolly dog hair.

“This exciting discovery brings attention to a fascinating piece of Northwest history, and connects the Burke’s collections to this unique, Coast Salish tradition,” said Dr. Kathryn Bunn-Marcuse, Burke Museum curator of Northwest Native art. “We look forward to sharing the blanket with weavers and other researchers, so that it can be reconnected to the Indigenous knowledge systems from which it came.”

The blanket will be on display this weekend as part of the Burke’s new Testing, Testing 1-2-3 exhibition. Burke ethnologists will be there on Saturday from 11:00 AM until noon to answer questions about the blanket and the Coast Salish woolly dog hair tradition.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Unofficial Court Report – Southern Region War Camp

East Kingdom Gazette - Fri, 2017-06-16 07:25

On a bright and sunny day, being the 10th of June, A.S. 52, or 2017 Gregorian, Their Majesties Ioannes and Honig traveled to Their Barony of Carillion, there to observe the Southern Region War Camp.

In the morning, before the day’s battles began, Their Majesties held a brief Court.

They called for Duchess Caoilfhionn inghean Fhaolain and spoke of her fierceness on the rapier lists and her command of the Southern Region Rapier army. Their Majesties called for Their Order of the Silver Rapier and gave her that honour, presenting her with a scroll with calligraphy by Baroness Mari Clock van Hoorne, illumination by Mistress Elizabeth Eleanor Lovell, and words by Banfili Aife ingen Chonchobair in Derthaige and Laerifadir Magnus hvalmagi.

Next the Crown called for Lady Jane of Milford. They praised her work as a marshal and her effectiveness at both tourney and melee fencing and bade her join the Order of the Silver Rapier. She was given a scroll crafted by Lady Charis Accipiter.

Master Aaron the Arrowsmith, Southern Region Archery Commander, came before Their Majesties. He called for Lord Eanraig the Bonesetter and Edmund Harper and presented them to The Crown as the newest Master Bowmen of the East. They were given tokens in recognition of their accomplishments.

Their Majesties called for the Order of the Silver Tyger and found the Order incomplete. They called for Lady Vasia von Königsberg and spoke of her skill with sword and shield and how well she performed in Crown Tourney and asked that she take her place with the Order. She was given a scroll created by Nataliia Anastasiia Evgenova, with words by Marguerite ingen Lachlainn.

Chiba Touta Yoshitaki was summoned next. Their Majesties spoke of his skill with great weapons and told him to take his place with the Order of the Silver Tyger. He was given a scroll crafted by Lord Ryouko’Jin of Iron Skies.

The Crown called for Baron Joseph Hartcourt of Serpentius. They spoke of his skill with sword and shield and with polearm, and his work as a knight marshal. Then They made him a Companion of the Order of the Tygers Combatant, backlogged to Bhakail Investiture on the 3rd of June, 2017. He was given a scroll to remember the event, with calligraphy by Master Jonathan Blaecstan, illumination by Mistress Kis Marika, and words by Lord Mithgiladan the Herald.

Next, Their Majesties called for Lord Hashiji Morikatsu. They spoke of his skill with glaive and other weapons, and his chivalry, and had him join the Order of the Tygers Combatant. A scroll, made by Lady Svea the Shortsighted, was presented to him.

His Majesty requested the presence of the Company of St. Adrian and asked that they bring forth Luthor von Eisenfaust. His work as a fighter on the unbelted team was praised and he, too, was inducted into the Order of the Tygers Combatant. He was given a scroll with calligraphy by Master Jonathan Blaecstan and illumination by Baroness Ellesbeth Donofrey.

Their Majesties then called for Baron Rory MacLellan. They praised his skill at armoured combat and his comportment and courtesy, and called forth the Order of Chivalry. Their Majesties gave Baron Rory a Writ to be answered at a later date, to declare whether he would join that Order. The Writ was prepared by Mistress Eleanor Catlyng.

As the last piece of business in morning Court, Their Majesties called Baroness Tysha z Kieva. They praised her work running kitchens, running gate, stewarding events, working as a royal guard, and her work with Pennsic tech services. They then called for the Order of the Pelican and set Baroness Ty to Vigil, to answer that evening if she would join that Order.

Court was then adjourned until the evening. When Their Majesties’ Court reconvened, They called for Conchobar mac Óengusa. They spoke of his work as the Herald for the Barony of Carillion and his enthusiasm and Awarded him Arms. He was given a scroll created by Lady Mariette de Bretagne.

They next called for Erin inghean Chonchobhair. They spoke of her work as an archer and crafter, that she helps at events and is the Baronial Archery Champion for Carillion. They then called for the Order of the Tyger’s Cub and had her join that company. They gave her a scroll made by Mistress Leonete d’Angely, with words by Mistress Alys Mackyntoich. But Their Majesties felt that the Tyger’s Cub was not all Erin deserved, and so They named her a Lady and Awarded her Arms. A scroll will be forthcoming.

Their Majesties called for the children of the East. They then asked that the Queen’s Armored Champion, Lord Klaus Winterhalter von Walachey, bring the toy chest forward. The children ran after him, excited to each find a toy.

The Crown called for Allaster del Blair and spoke of his fencing and time on the thrown weapons range. They found his deeds worthy and Awarded him Arms, commemorated in a scroll illuminated by Lady Lorita deSiena, with words and calligraphy by Lord Faolan an Sccreccain.

Next, Their Majesties called for Mistress Juliana von Altenfeld. They spoke of her work as cook for the Bhakail Investiture and K&Q Champions at Arms event the previous weekend. They praised the menu and quality of the food. They also mentioned how good the meal was even though it had been significantly delayed by the events of the day. Their Majesties then gave her the token of the Award of the Burdened Tyger.

Emperor Ioannes and Empress Honig then called for Baron Jonathan Miles and spoke of his skill at the art of defense and his steady improvement at that skill and called for him to join the Order of the Silver Rapier. He was given a scroll created by Lady Magdalena Lantfarerin, with words by Kay Leigh Mac Whyte.

The Crown also called Lord Matteo Cole Amici, a fencer and marshal who loves rapier and dagger. They bade him join the Order of the Silver Rapier and gave him a scroll to remember the day, with calligraphy by Lady Tola Knityr, illumination by Lady Mýrún Leifsdóttir, and words by Master Frasier MacLeod and Mistress Alys Mackyntoich.

Their Majesties called for Sir Antonio Patrasso and praised his work as a maker of silk banners, pointing out several banners around the court that he had made. They then called for Their Order of the Silver Brooch and had him join that Order. He was given a scroll to acknowledge this, with calligraphy by Lady Tola Knityr, illumination by Mistress Elizabeth Eleanor Lovell and Lady Mýrún Leifsdóttir, and words by Baroness Charitye Dale.

Timothy of Serpentius was called before the Crown and they spoke of his skill at fencing and his development of his persona. Feeling him worthy, they Awarded him Arms and gave him a scroll to remember the day, created by Baron Wulfgar Silfraharr and with words by Baroness Theodora Bryennissa called Treannah.

Guillaume of House Carpathia was summoned next. Their Majesties spoke of his skill as a fighter, particularly with sword and shield and with spear, and called for Their Order of the Silver Tyger and made him a member of that Order. He was given a scroll with illumination by Mistress Melisande of the Gryphon Wood and calligraphy by Master Jonathan Blaecstan.

Her Majesty then called for Lady Yasemin bint al-Hajjar. She spoke of Yasemin’s comportment, of her service as a retainer to Queen Anna and Herself. Then Empress Honig presented her with the glove of the Queen’s Order of Courtesy.

Next, Their Majesties called for Maeve O’Morain. They spoke of her service as a water-bearer and her help in the kitchens. Recognising this worthy service, They called for Their Order of the Silver Wheel and had Maeve take her place among them and further Awarded her Arms. She was given a scroll with calligraphy by Baroness Mari Clock van Hoorne, illumination by Lady Mairi Crawford, and words by Lord Sean O’Morain.

Finding the Order of the Silver Wheel incomplete, The Crown called for Lord Martin Wasser Speier. They spoke of his helpfulness, how he aids in getting people to events, and how he now writes words for scrolls, and They named him a Companion of the Order. He was given a scroll created by Lady Magdalena Lantfarerin, with words by Mistress Kay Leigh Mac Whyte.

The Order of the Silver Wheel still incomplete, Their Majesties called for Oodachi Jirou Tsu’neyasu. They spoke of his work as chronicler, web minister, and exchequer and Awarded him Arms and bade him take his place with the Order. A scroll was presented, created by Lord Ian Douglas.

Their Majesties then called for Lord Lorenzo Gorla. They spoke of his skill as a fencer, his bearing, his teaching, and his research into period forms of rapier, and They summoned forth Their Order of the Golden Rapier and had him join that Order. He was given a scroll to remember the day, crafted by Mistress Eva Woderose, with words by Mistress Alys Mackyntoich.

Those new to the Society, attending their first Royal Progress, were called forward by the Crown and given tokens that they might remember their first days among us.

Baroness Charitye Dale was summoned by the Crown. They spoke of her research into personal hygiene and her practice of other arts, including pottery, lace-making, calligraphy, and cooking, and found these studies worthy of recognition. They called for Their Order of the Maunche and named her a Companion, presenting her a scroll calligraphed by Lady Tola Knityr, illuminated by Mistress Elizabeth Eleanor Lovell and Lady Mýrún Leifsdóttir, and authored by Master Malcolm Bowman.

Master Dietrich Schwelgengräber announced the winner of the handpie competition. Meave Macintosh won and was given a token from the Crown in recognition of her culinary skill.

Master Aaron the Arrowsmith, the event steward, was called forward and thanked by the Crown for a wonderful event, and he in turn thanked his staff for their efforts.

Emperor Ioannes and Empress Honig then called for the Tyger Clerk of the Signet, Master Nataliia Anastasiia Evgenova. They praised her work as a calligrapher and illuminator and felt her exemplary skills were worthy of recognition. They called for Their Order of the Laurel and gave Nataliia a Writ, to be answered at Northern Region War Camp, as to whether she would accept a place among that Order. The Writ was created by her daughters, with illumination by Mistress Leonete d’Angely, calligraphy by Lady Tola Knityr, and words by both.

Their Majesties then requested the answer to the question asked of Baroness Tysha z Kieva. Would she accept a place in the Order of the Pelican. She agreed that she would and was then released from her service as protoge to Master Rupert the Unbalanced. Duke Brennan mac Fearghus spoke on her behalf for the Order of Chivalry. Master Dietrich Schwelgengräber spoke as a member of the Order of the Laurel. The Order of Defense was represented by Master Pascual de la Mar. Duchess Caoilfhionn inghean Fhaolain gave words from the Order of the Rose. Tysha was then vested with the regalia of her Order. She was given two medallions, a hood, a pin, and a hat. A document recording her peerage was presented, calligraphed by Lord Vettorio Antonello, with illumination and words by Mistress Kay Leigh Mac Whyte. Mistress Tysha then gave her fealty to the Crown.

The Order still assembled, The Crown called for Mistress Kis Marieka called Mika. They spoke of her long service to her Barony and her Kingdom, her penchant for helping newcomers, her many scrolls produced for the Signet, and They asked if she would take a place among the Order of the Pelican. His Highness, Prince Ivan Ivanov Syn Dimitriov Vynuk Tzardikov, then spoke of her character for the Order of Chivalry. Master Jonathan Blaecstan represented the Order of the Laurel. Master Thomas de Castellan read the words of Master Jean Paul Ducasse. Duchess Etheldreda Ivelchyld spoke on behalf of the Order of the Rose. And Master Uilliam Twit of Witlow represented the Order of the Pelican. Mistress Mika was then draped in the regalia of the Order. She was given a sari, two medallions, earrings and bracelets, a veil and a tiara, and socks. A scroll, with illumination by Mistress Melisande of the Gryphon Wood, and calligraphy by Master Jonathan Blaecstan, with words by Lady Maria Charriez, was presented. Mistress Mika then offered fealty to the Crown.

There being no further business, the Court of Their Majesties Ioannes and Honig was closed. These are the events of the day as I recall them. My thanks to the Barony of Carillion, all the heralds, guards, retainers, Champions, scribes, and all those who attended the event and made it a joyful day.

For Crown and College,
Pray know I remain,

Master Rowen Cloteworthy

Filed under: Court Tagged: court report

Remains of temple and Ball game court found in Mexico City

History Blog - Thu, 2017-06-15 23:40

Archaeologists have unearthed the remains of a major Aztec temple and ball game court in downtown Mexico City. The remains of the massive temple dedicated to Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl, the Aztec god of benign rain-bringing winds, were discovered just to the north of the city’s main square, the Zocalo, behind the Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral. A hotel that collapsed during the catastrophic 1985 earthquake once stood on the site. The owners of the hotel realized there were ruins underneath the rubble and alerted Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), but the century would turn before a thorough archaeological excavation of the site could be arranged.

The announcement of the discovery is the culmination of seven years of excavation work spearheaded by the Urban Archeology Program (PAU) with the collaboration of INAH. Led by archaeologist Raúl Barrera, the PAU seeks to rediscover the remains of the sacred precinct of Tenochtitlan currently buried under historic downtown Mexico City to bring to the light the Aztec history that Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés did his best to obliterate from the landscape and memory in 1521.

This temple was built 1486 and 1502, so it had only a few decades of glory before its destruction. All construction and improvements ended in 1519. Cortés and his army reached Tenochtitlan in November of 1519. Remarkably, a significant amount of the original white stucco cladding has survived. The remains of the temple attest to what a grand structure it was before it was razed by Cortés. The rectangular platform that formed its base is between 34 and 36 meters (112-118 feet) long. There are two large circular structures on top of the back part of the rectangle, the largest of which is 18 meters (59 feet) in diameter. They are separated by a walkway 1.1 meters (3.6 feet) wide.

The rectangle and circular platforms together are 4 meters (13 feet) high, a fraction of the size of the temple when it was intact. As the dozens of other monumental buildings in the sacred precinct were square, the rounded design of Ehecatl’s temple would have stood out even in an area so densely packed with architectural wonders. Archaeologist and Aztec specialist Eduardo Matos believes the top of the temple would have been carved to looked like a coiled snake, its flared nostrils acting as a dramatic entryway for priests.

About 20 feet south of the temple is another exciting find from the late Aztec period: the remains of a court where the Mesoamerican ball game was played. Archaeologists excavated a platform nine meters (30 feet) wide. On the north side is a double staircase of four steps each that was a direct path to the Temple of Ehecatl. On the south side are three overlapping walls that slope backward. These are the remains of the stands, stadium seating Aztec style.

Under the staircase, archaeologists found multiple groups of human cervical vertebrae still in their original anatomical positions. The neck bones came from 32 individuals, all of them male, all of them children ranging in age from neonates to toddlers to six-year-olds to adolescents. Cut marks on the bones indicate the children were decapitated or sacrificed as part of the ball game ritual. These are the only ritual offerings discovered in the excavation of this site, which is unique and of itself. (The Temple of Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl unearthed in another part of Mexico City in 2014-2016 included the skeletal remains of more than a dozen individuals.)

These discoveries are highly significant taken on their own, but they take on even greater significance because of what they can tell us about the geographical relationships between buildings in the sacred precinct of Tenochtitlan.

“Due to finds like these, we can show actual locations, the positioning and dimensions of each one of the structures first described in the chronicles,” said Diego Prieto, head of Mexico’s main anthropology and history institute.

The excavation isn’t completed yet, but when it’s done, the archaeological site will be converted into a museum.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

On Target: Moving Targets

AEthelmearc Gazette - Thu, 2017-06-15 19:27

A moving target will add fun to your outdoor shoot. Imagine a pig or a deer running across your field.

Take two 4 foot long 2 x 4’s, drill two holes in the bottom of each board, and hammer in two very long nails. Next, take a set of bolt cutters and cut the heads off the nails. This turns them in the spikes. The spikes hold the boards up right so you can set this target up by yourself.

Next, run guy wires off the boards. Take a 50 foot piece of rope, double it and twist it to make the rope stronger so it will not sag when you pull the target across it.

Next, take a hard cardboard tube and cover it in camo duct tape. This’ll make the tube disappear into the background. Next, zip tie the wings to the tube and then zip tie the tube to the top of the pig. Then, take the twisted clothesline and run it through the tube and tie it to the upright 2x4s.

Run a guy wire from the nose of the pig back behind the firing line to the marshal. Pull the pig across the range to give the illusion of flight. The guy wire is over 100 feet long, allowing the marshal to call the line and pull the target at the same time.

At Hornwood’s Scarlet Guard Inn earlier this month, I ran a range just for fun with these targets. I made a flying pig, and everybody enjoyed the pun all day long.

THLord Deryk demonstrates the moving pig target

This month’s safety tip: check out the land around your range. I found a hole in the ground that was well over a foot and a half long and almost 10 inches deep. The hole was full of dead grass and leaves; it was deceptive how deep it really was. If someone had stepped in it, they would’ve twisted an ankle. I marked it with some fluorescent orange tape to make sure no one was hurt.

Until next month, in service,

THLord Deryk Archer

Categories: SCA news sites

Help Create Their Highnesses’ Wardrobe!

AEthelmearc Gazette - Wed, 2017-06-14 20:02

Greetings to all the talented and generous Gentles of our Glorious Kingdom from Elisabeth Johanna von der Flossenburg

Good Gentles:

Our Royalty represents our Kingdom, both at home and abroad. Pageantry is a large part of our game. So is showcasing the talents of our artisans. This is why I am coming to you today requesting your help.

Their Highnesses have honored me by appointing me Mistress of the Wardrobe. But I cannot do this by myself; nobody can. However, if the work is divided out into small parts it becomes easy and manageable.

My thoughts are as follows: I would like to have groups of artisans work together on this project. Please let me explain

In period, there were workshops, where a master and his apprentices and journeymen worked together. If a garment was embroidered, an embroiderer did that work, while the tailor or seamstress only sewed the garment. There were Modelbooks that had the designs in them for the embroiderer, etc. etc.

I hope you see what I am trying to say: I think our Illuminators could be the designers of the embroidery design, which our embroiderers then execute, the weavers make the trim and the seamstresses or tailors put the garment together. Someone else casts the buttons and so on. You see many hands make light work.

It is my hope that all over this Kingdom artisans will get together to form teams so we can all together make our Royalty look fabulous and showcase the talents this Kingdom is so blessed with.  

I will be at Æcademy this weekend. Please find me and talk to me if you are interested in participating in this project. Their Highnesses have expressed that they are willing to wear many different styles of clothing, so everybody in this Kingdom can get involved, and no one person has to do all the work.

If you are not coming to Æcademy but are interested in getting involved, please contact me via email or Facebook messenger under Elisabeth von Hahn.

And please do not worry, I am not expecting anyone to start working on this until after Pennsic unless you want to and have time before then.

Looking forward to speaking to and hearing from many of you. I remain in Service to our Glorious Kingdom and our Royalty



Categories: SCA news sites

It’s not over yet, but…

History Blog - Wed, 2017-06-14 19:38

I’m relieved to report that the upgrade to the newest version of WordPress went well. So far the only obvious problems are some broken media embeds, but that’s no biggie. The fix is easy; it just takes a little time. The WP upgrade was the most urgent issue because the blog would have gone down tomorrow due a MySQL upgrade on the server that is incompatible with the ancient version of WP I was running.

The installation of the new theme, on the other hand, has been bedevilling me most of the day. I’ll get it in the end, and its little dog too. Thankfully, there is no pressing emergency. In tests, the old theme looked terrible on the new WordPress version, but for some mysterious reason on the live site it looks pretty much the same as it used to with just a few wrinkles here and there. I’m chalking it up to the many ritual sacrifices you performed to all your benign deities and unpronouncable Lovecraftian horrors. Thank you so much.

We’ll be back to your regularly scheduled programming tomorrow, rain or shine.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Programming Note (of Doom)

History Blog - Tue, 2017-06-13 15:33

You know how when Howard Carter made a little hole in the sealed entrance to Tutankhamun’s tomb and peered through it and was struck dumb by all the treasures and Lord Carnarvon was all “Can you see anything?” and Carter replied “Yes, wonderful things”? Well, I can no longer put off the long-delayed software upgrade of the blog, so over the next two days WordPress will leap up like 20 versions and I will replace this sweet old theme with a new one that Google and cellphones won’t hate quite so much. Will you be able to see things? Yes, probably. If all goes well, there shouldn’t be much in the way of downtime. Will they be wonderful things? No. No they will not.

I’ve done this in a testing environment many times and the conversion has always been dark and full of terrors, mainly in the form of seriously messed up comment threads. Major problems that interfere with the rendering of the site will be fixed promptly, and in the long-term I will address the stuff that is functional but hideous. If that means I have to manually reenter every comment from the dawn of time, then that’s what it means.

The changes will make the site much more usable. I’ll be able to do things that were cutting edge a decade ago like automatically link to new posts on my dormant Twitter account and add a donate button which many of you very kind and supportive folks have asked about repeatedly. Most importantly, the blog will be far more secure and it won’t projectile vomit errors every time the server has a MySQL upgrade or a stiff breeze blows past it.

Please keep all your fingers and toes crossed, stroke your fascinus amulets, use the Liver of Piacenza as a guide when scrutinizing your next sheep liver, do whatever ritual you can think of, the more bizarre the better, and send all the good luck this way.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Leatherworking Demo at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh

AEthelmearc Gazette - Tue, 2017-06-13 11:04

The MAKESHOP leather working demo poster (The items on the poster were made by Lord Robert of Ferness, from the Dominion of Myrkfaellin -picture taken by Luceta at Æ A&S Faire, used with his permission)

Lady Luceta Di Cosimo reported the following: On June 4th, the Barony Marche of the Debatable Lands conducted another medieval skills demo at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. This time the museum asked the members of the Barony to do a demo on medieval leatherworking. So, once again we were invited to the MAKESHOP which is a partnership between the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) and the University of Pittsburgh Center for Learning in Out-of-School Environments (UPCLOSE). It is a space dedicated to making, reusing and designing things, using everyday materials and real tools. It has regular programs and special guests. Readers may recall that the Barony did a weaving workshop there a few months ago.

THL Sumayya al-Ghaziyyaa, head of the BMDL Leatherworking Guild, graciously agreed to share her skills and knowledge of period leatherworking with the museum visitors. She was assisted by Luceta di Cosimo and Medea da Venexia. Our goal was to convey to the visitors just how widely leather was used in period. Kids know that nowadays leather is used for shoes, clothing, and accessories, but most are not aware that its uses in period were much broader. Therefore, we had a display of period leather items (reproductions, of course). In addition to shoes, boots and belts, we had things like books, armor, and paintings on parchment. The kids were so surprised to see that you can have armor made out of leather. Some were not sure leather could ever work as armor. So we set up an ornate cuir bouilli chestplate on the back of a chair, and invited the kids and their grownups to hit it with mallets, so they could see how just tough it was. It proved to be their favorite display item. (Cuir bouilli is the process of hardening leather through the application of heat and/or wax.)

Leather items display, including a Turkish shoe and pouch, men’s boots and pouch, small messenger bag, and miniatures on parchment.

THL Sumayya helps a MAKESHOP visitor choose designs for the key fob

In addition to the display, THL Sumayya put together a make and take activity. In period, tooled leather was primarily carved, but to make sure even the littlest visitors could safely participate, we had children and their adults make stamped leather key fobs, even though stamped leather was less common in period. We had a number of stamps available, and the Museum loaned their own sets of leather punches. The kids came up with many really neat designs, and many key fobs were made as father’s day gifts. We had dozens and dozens of people come through the MAKESHOP that day, and even after the demo was officially over, we still had people working on their key fobs. Overall we probably had about 150 people visit the MAKESHOP that day.

Luceta, Medea, and Sumayya in the MAKESHOP

It was a pleasure to be back at the WORKSHOP. The Children’s Museum is a wonderful resource for local families. It promotes a “play with real stuff” philosophy, which is dedicated to inspire curiosity and creativity in kids and allows them to learn through play. We are very proud to be a part of this experience. The Society is full of talented and skilled people, who do amazing and rare and beautiful things, and we are glad to share these skills and knowledge with our Museum neighbors.

A sample key fob made by Luceta at the demo


Categories: SCA news sites

Picasso portait ring of Dora Maar for sale

History Blog - Mon, 2017-06-12 23:55

A portrait ring made by Pablo Picasso for his mistress Dora Maar is going up for auction on June 21st at Sotheby’s and is estimated to sell for as much as half a million dollars. The ring’s central medallion is a portrait of Maar, one of many painted by Picasso during their tempestuous affair. It is surrounded by a garland of flowers wrapped in ribbons made of colored enamel mounted on a ring of yellow gold.

The relationship between Picasso, 20 years Maar’s elder, and the talented surrealist photographer and artist, was one of the most intense and artistically inspiring of his life, and that’s saying something because he had many lovers/muses over the years. Her hands, whose long, tapered, elegant fingers were reputed to be of particular beauty, and their adornment were at the center of several pivotal episodes in her relationship with Picasso.

Their first meeting (that he recalled; she remembered meeting him once before but apparently she didn’t make a strong enough impression on him that time) was in January of 1936 at the Café des Deux Magots in Paris. Dora Maar was sitting at a nearby table, stabbing a knife between her begloved fingers. More than once she missed the gap and cut herself, her blood mingling with the red embroidered flowers on her black gloves. Enchanted by the fearlessness and boldness of her self-destructive game, Picasso asked his friend Paul Eluard to introduce him to this raven-haired, blue-eyed beauty. He asked her if he could keep the cut and bloodstained gloves so they could take their place among the beloved mementos in his cabinet of curiosities. She agreed.

That was the beginning of their relationship. He already had a wife (Olga Kokhlova, estranged) and a mistress (Marie-Thérèse Walter) who had recently given birth to his daughter (Maya) whom he was keeping in an apartment. He kept seeing Marie-Thérèse even as his relationship with Dora Maar intensified. Dora was an important part of Picasso’s personal and artistic life during the fecund period between 1936 and 1945. (His catalogue lists more than 2,200 works made over those nine years.) She’s the one who suggested who move into the studio at 7 Rue des Grands Augustins, an attic apartment in a 17th century palazzo once owned by the Dukes of Savoy, where many of his greatest works would be painted. She was the model for The Weeping Woman, a subject Picasso returned to over and over, ultimately creating more than 60 versions of it, the last and most famous of which is now on display at the Tate Modern.

It was Dora who photographed Guernica during the month between May 11th and June 4th that Picasso spent furiously painting the monumental tribute to the horrors of war. At the behest of Christian Zervos, founder of the literary and art journal Cahiers d’Art, Maar took dozens of pictures capturing the seven main stages of the painting’s evolution. Through her photographs, you can see how Picasso’s vision developed as he progressed from outline to painting, how some of the most recognizable elements — the bull, the horse, the figure with the lamp, the person with arms raised, the dead soldier, the mother holding her dead child — were on the canvas from the beginning, but the artist altered their positions and proportions as he worked. That’s what he liked about Maar’s photographs, that together they captured the metamorphosis of creation, not a logical progression of steps.

The story of the ring takes place around this time. James Lord, an American art critic and close friend of both Pablo Picasso and Dora Maar, described the event in his 1993 biography Picasso and Dora: A Personal Memoir:

“Dora and Picasso one day were strolling on the Pont Neuf, they had a bitter altercation in the course of which the artist reproached his mistress for having prevailed on him to give a work of art in exchange for a bauble (a cabochon ruby set in a gold and agathe ring), whereupon Dora took the ring from her finger and threw it into the Seine, silencing her lover. She later regretted having been so impulsive. A few months afterwards, the riverbed at that spot was being dredged, and for several days Dora haunted the spot, in hopes of recovering her ring. But it was lost for good. And through Picasso’s fault […] she kept at him until he created a ring of his own design for her.”

That kind of blow-up was far from rare in their relationship. Picasso could be mean as a snake, and tormenting his lovers was one of his favorite hobbies. Dora was hot-tempered and easily provoked into high emotion. While he respected her great intellect and artistic talent, Picasso also took pleasure in pushing all her buttons. In 1943, he met Françoise Gilot, a woman 40 years his junior, and she became his latest mistress. He didn’t end his relationship with Dora (or Marie-Thérèse, for that matter), but it was increasingly fraught with tension and conflict.

They remained lovers for the duration of World War II, never living together but always in close physical proximity, whether traveling or living in Paris under the Nazi occupation. Picasso was under constant surveillance by the Nazis and his studio was searched repeatedly, but he derived a significant benefit from his fame, his Spanish nationality and, frankly, his money. As a “degenerate artist” who had become increasingly involved in anti-fascist causes starting with the Spanish Civil War, he could have very well have ended up dead or deported. He was too big to be easily dispensed with, however, and Dora Maar, a long-time committed Communist, union sympathizer and, rumor had it, the daughter of a Jewish father, managed to dodge the Nazi killing machine too, probably because of her association with Picasso.

In 1946, they broke up for good. Dora had a nervous breakdown and was hospitalized in a psychiatric ward for a few weeks, receiving electro-shock therapy. She then went into a private facility where she was treated by eminent psychiatrist Jacques Lacan. When she emerged again, she withdrew from her once-vibrant social life, focusing on her art and becoming a devout Roman Catholic. She and Picasso stayed in touch over the years. They became the weirdest, creepiest pen pals you can imagine, exchanging bizarre gifts. Picasso sent her a chair made of steel tubes and rough-hewn hemp rope. She sent him a rusty shovel, which he loved, by the way.

One of his “gifts” never made it to her. It was discovered by a Canadian doctor when he was going through Picasso’s stuff in 1983. Still wrapped, it was labeled “pour Dora Maar.” The doctor tried repeatedly to contact Dora so he could finally deliver the long-delayed gift, but she never answered him. I’m guessing she knew it was something twisted in there and didn’t want any part of it. If so, she was certainly right. When the doctor opened the present he found a ring “resembling a flat signet ring with the engraved initials P-D [Pour Dora] but to my absolute amazement and horror, I found attached on the inside of the signet a large SPIKE! Thus it was absolutely impossible for anyone to wear it! I thanked my lucky stars for her refusing to accept this ‘gift’ from Picasso.”

How sick is that? I imagine it had to be at least in part a reference to the great Seine ring-toss incident that led to the creation of the portrait ring.

Dora Maar died in 1997 at the age of 89. After her death, her belongings were found to include pretty much every single scrap of everything that had come in contact with or was related to Pablo Picasso — chairs he had sat on, a scrap of paper with his blood on it, newspaper clippings, paintings and artworks, and one portrait ring. The ring was sold at the 1998 estate auction along with her large and seminally important collection of Picasso paintings. The buyer at that sale is the current owner putting the ring up for auction at the end of the month.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History