A team from the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) excavating the Bronze Age archaeological site on the La Almoloya plateau in the southeastern Spanish municipality of Pliego have unearthed residential and government buildings and 50 tombs. The plateau’s steep slopes made it a highly defensible location that was occupied from 2,200 B.C. to 1,550 B.C. by the El Argar culture. The extensive construction and dense population point to La Almoloya having been an important political center 70 miles northeast of the Argaric capital of El Argar (modern-day Antas, Almeria).
Artifacts found inside the buildings were in excellent condition. Metals, ceramics, stone and bone survived alongside exceptionally rare textiles. The structures and their contents paint a picture of a rich urban environment that is unique in Bronze Age continental Europe.
The excavations indicate that the La Almoloya plateau, of 3,800 metres square, was densely populated and included several residential complexes of some 300 square metres, with eight to twelve rooms in each residence. The buildings’ walls were constructed with stones and argamasa [a kind of lime mortar], and covered with layers of mortar. Some parts contain stucco decorated with geometric and naturalistic motifs, a novelty which represents the discovery of an Argaric artistic style.
Among the discoveries made is a wide hall with high ceilings measuring some 70 square metres, with capacity for 64 people seated on the benches lining the walls. The hall includes a ceremonial fireplace and a podium of symbolic character. This unique building was used for political purposes and archaeologists consider that it must have been used to celebrate hearings or government meetings.
Archaeologists affirm that this is the first time a building specifically dedicated to governing purposes has been discovered in Western Europe, and believe that decisions were taken here which affected many of the region’s other communities.
The ceremonial hall is flanked by adjoining rooms. Because of its political significance and large size, archaeologists categorize this structure as a palace, and a highly advanced one at that, comparable only to near Eastern buildings from this era.
Another reason to deem the building a royal palace is a tomb that was found adjacent to the main wall of the government hall. It holds the skeletal remains of an adult man and woman who were buried with 30 artifacts made of precious metals and gemstones. The woman wore a silver diadem around her head, one of only five Agaric diadems ever discovered and none of the other four remain in Spain. They were found at the El Argar type site by Belgian mine engineers Henri and Louis Siret in the 1880s and are now in the permanent collection of the Royal Museums of Art and History’s Cinquantenaire Museum in Brussels.
The royal couple were also buried with four ear dilators, two of gold, two of silver, plus silver rings, earrings and bracelets. A bronze dagger had silver nails in the handle. These are rare and important examples of the advanced metallurgy of the El Argar culture. Two other pieces are uniquely significant on that score: a ceramic vessel with bands of finely layered silver and a punch with a bronze tip and a silver handle. Both of them are one of a kind objects that demonstrate the high level of Argaric silver craftsmanship.
Leicester, England mayor Peter Soulsby was on hand recently to celebrate the opening of a UK£4 million visitor center near the site of the grave of Richard III, discovered in 2012 in a city car park. The center is housed in an abandoned school building.
Lady Helene von Braunschweyg reports that she has created an album of photos from Laurels Prize Tourney, which took place September 13, 2014 in the Kingdom of Ansteorra. The photos are available to view on Flickr.
Gulf Wars Exchequer, Baroness Genevieve McCullum de Caen, reports that the Kingdom of Ansteorra totaled over 4700 hours of volunteer time at the 2014 Gulf Wars. She lists the hours for the top five groups.
A volunteer with WallQuest, a community archaeology project excavating Arbeia Roman fort in South Shields at the easternmost end of Hadrian’s Wall has discovered a carved stone head of a goddess. The small figure is just over three inches high and is finely carved. She wears a mural crown — a crown in the shape of battlements — that identifies her as a protective goddess. Archaeologists believe she is a representation of Brigantia, the goddess of the northern British tribe of the Brigantes. Indeed, an altar inscribed “Deae Brigantiae sacrum Congenncus (V[otum] S[olvit] L[ibens] M[erito]” (To the sacred goddess Brigantia Congenncus willingly and deservedly fulfilled his vow) was unearthed 100 yards from the head in 1895, and at least one other statue of Brigantia wearing a mural crown has been found.
The find is a small, finely carved female head which is believed to date back to the second century AD and stands at 8cm high. Every part is delicately carved including eyes, nose, mouth and hairstyle with traces of pink paint on the statues face as well as a bit of red on her lips.
The head dates to the 2nd century A.D., early in the life of the fort which was first built overlooking the River Tyne around 160 A.D. and enlarged in 208 A.D. to serve as a maritime supply base the soldiers along Hadrian’s Wall. We know the stone goddess predates that expansion because it was found in an aqueduct channel that was filled so new construction could be done on top of it. The statue of the goddess wouldn’t have been freestanding on its own; given the discovery of her head and the altar found in the 19th century, it’s likely that there was a shrine to Brigantia in Arbeia that was demolished to make room for the enlargement of the fort.
Troop divisions at Arbeia that have been identified thus far include boatmen from the Tigris River in what was then Persia, now Iraq, Gaulish infantry, Spanish cavalry (First Asturian) and Syrian archers. Although locals probably enlisted later on, when the statue was standing, it was these units from all over the empire who were likely responsible for creating the shrine to the local goddess.
Nick Hodgson, WallQuest Project Manager, said:
“The head is a truly wonderful find. Northern Britain was a dangerous place for the Roman army in the second century AD; if the goddess is Brigantia it shows how keen the Romans were to placate the spirits of the region.”
It must have worked, because Arbeia and the civilian settlement that grew in its shadow remained in active use for decades after most of the other fort settlements on Hadrian’s Wall were abandoned or greatly contracted. There was new construction in the Arbeia settlement in the late 3rd century or early 4th. This is attributable to its commercial importance as a maritime fort and market center. The only permanent masonry granaries ever found in Britain were built in Arbeia. The fort and settlement were in use through the end of the Roman occupation in the 5th century.
The head of Brigantia will be conserved over the next few months. In Spring of 2015, it will go on display at the Arbeia Roman Fort & Museum. At the same time the community excavation project at Arbeia will begin again, and volunteers will have the opportunity to look for the rest of the statue.
All know our good Queen Thyra’s skill with the bow, and that She is ever eager to test Her mettle at the butts. So it was that at the most recent Pennsic War, while She was yet Princess of our fair realm, She and Her retinue processed to the archery range for the Saint Sebastian’s Shoot, to enjoy a fine day of shooting and good fellowship.
One of the challenges that day required archers to score hits on several small targets — pineapples, as it happens — before attempting to hit a further higher-scoring target — a boar. Her Highness easily vanquished the first three small targets, but the fourth was crafty and mocked Her by moving out of the way of each arrow she sent toward it. In frustration, Her Highness declared “That pineapple is banished!” A trusted retainer quietly advised Her that She did not yet possess the authority of banishment, but that She soon would.
Thus it was that one of Her first acts after being Crowned was to ban pineapples from Her presence. Herewith follows the text of Her proclamation:
By Thyra the Queen. Having considered that the peace of our realm is greatly disrupted by the predations of the dread, awful and terrible creature known as the piña de Indes, called by some the “pine-apple,” lately brought from the New World to our shores by agents of Spain for nefarious purposes, and our own Royal Person having been greatly and foully troubled and harassed by the same upon the archery range at the Pennsic, and wishing to restore and bring our realm to justice, tranquility and peace, We do therefore condemn and perpetually exile from this our Eastern Realm all such piña de Indes now dwelling herein. Should any such piña de Indes be hereafter found within the lands where our will holds the power of law, their goods shall be escheat to the Crown, and they shall be put in the Crown’s irons for their trespass, then their ears shall be removed and be nailed to the market cross before they are removed from this realm. And if thereafter they are found again within our Eastern Realm, they shall be hanged. We do further prohibit and ban, with the full force of our royal authority, for the term of our reign, all and any of our subjects, spiritual and temporal, from bringing the dread and terrible piña de Indes into the Royal Presence under the pain of treason, loss and forfeiture of life, land and goods.
Several relatives of the offending fruit were brought before the Queen, who ordered that they be dealt with (in Her kitchens) as a lesson to other potential malefactors. They were expeditiously dispatched, and their mortal remains were later presented in Court, with their heads paraded on pikes, and their bodies having been expertly prepared by the Royal Cooks for Their Majesties’ enjoyment.
Photos by Lord Sergei Rozvad syn.
Filed under: Court, Tidings Tagged: pineapples
Archaeologists have packed their tools and left the site of the Silchester Roman town in Hampshire, England, still without an answer as to why the major town was abandoned in the sixth century.
In 1999, Stephen Harrison and Raghnall Ó Floinn have headed a project to catalog Viking burials beneath the city of Dublin. Their work has produced an 800-page book entitled Viking Graves and Grave Goods in Ireland. The site is now considered the largest Viking burial zone in western Europe outside of Scandinavia.
Be Merry, Good Friends! Bergental and the Barony Beyond the Mountain unite once more to celebrate Yule and you are all invited guests. Traditional festivities include merchants, performances, music, games and family activities, A&S Classes, Heraldic Consultation, the Yule Ceremony, a Mysterious Stranger and a few surprises.
Our joyous Yule festivities will be graced by Their Royal Majesties King Edward and Queen Thyra.
The Site Opens at 10am and Closes at 10pm
Site Fees, including Dayboard:
Pre-registrations MUST BE RECEIVED by Wednesday November 26th.
If you live in Canada, please contact Mistress Pagan to arrange pre-registration without extra currency conversion fees.
Feast Fees: $10 per person occupying a chair, regardless of age, and in addition to the family cap.
WE WILL NOT be accepting feast reservations after the cut-off date of November 26th.
YOU MUST PRE-REGISTER if you wish to eat the feast!
Make checks payable to: “SCA MA, Inc., Barony of Bergental”.
Send Reservations to:
Autocrat contact info:
Filed under: Events Tagged: BBM, Bergental, royal progress, Yule
The Labours of the East, a 2015 calendar with artwork by scribes of the East Kingdom to benefit the Royal Travel Fund, goes on sale today. Each month features a poem about an SCA activity with an accompanying illustration. Blank notecards are also available in sets of 6 that feature parts of the illustrations.
The calendar and the notecards were designed for the enjoyment of members of the SCA regardless of kingdom and to explain the many things that happen in the SCA to people who are unfamiliar with the organization.
The calendar features poetry by Master Christian von Jaueregk and magnificent scribal and calligraphic art by Mistress Rhonwen glyn Conwy; Lady Lada Monguligin; Lady Sakura’i no Kesame; Mistress Eleanore MacCarthaigh; Mistress Ro Honig von Summerfeldt with Mistress Carolyne de laPointe; Mistress Eva Woderose; Lady Palotzi Marti; Baroness Emma Makilmone; Dona Camille des Jardins with Mistress Carolyne de la Pointe; Dona Isabel Chamberlaine; Mistress Khioniya Nikolaevna Ryseva;and Lady Lisabetta Medalia with Mistress Eleanor Catlyng.
Calendars are $17 + $ 3 shipping. Notecards are $12 + $3 shipping. Calendars and notecards can be ordered at the website until November 1, 2014.
To see the artwork and order yours, go to www.eastkingdombookofdays.org.
Filed under: Arts and Sciences, Tidings Tagged: calendar, Calligraphy and Illumination
The second polling of Edward III and Thyra II will be starting shortly.
Recommendations are requested via the online form:
All recommendations for our 2nd polling are due by Saturday, October 25.
Order members will be asked to respond to their 2nd polls by Saturday, Nov 22.
Please remember that there are always new folks who need to be considered, and long-standing members who have been overlooked. Please take a look at the current Order of Precedence, as well: http://op.wiglaf.org/index.php.
There is no deadline for non-polling recommendations.
Saying thank you to the populace via the awards system is one of the most important roles of the royalty. We appreciate your assistance in finding those who deserve such recognition.
In Service to the East Kingdom,
Editor’s Note: Need more information about the East Kingdom awards polling process? This article gives a good overview. You do not need to be a member of an order to recommend someone for an order. Any person may recommend any other person for any award.
East Kingdom polling awards are as follows:
Kingdom Orders of High Merit
A quick guide to the full descriptions of all East Kingdom awards can be found here: http://www.sca.org/awards/east.html
Society Level – Peerages
Filed under: Court, Law and Policy, Official Notices Tagged: award recommendations, awards, Edward and Thyra, polling deadlines, polling orders, pollings
In 2009, the remains of nearly 400 people were discovered by workers for the Edinburgh Trams system in Leith, Scotland. Now forensics experts have given one of the individuals, a teenage boy, a face. (photos)
The shipwreck found last month near King William Island in the eastern Queen Maud Gulf has been identified as Franklin’s flagship, the HMS Erebus. Captained by explorer Sir John Franklin on the hunt for the legendary Northwest Passage, Erebus and its companion ship HMS Terror got stuck in the ice in September of 1846. Nearly 130 souls were lost and as were the ships. People have been searching for the Franklin ships ever since.
When a coalition of private and public organizations led by Parks Canada discovered the ship on September 7th, they weren’t certain which of the two Franklin vessels it was. Storms kept researchers from exploring the wreck for three days, leaving only a brief two-day window before the temperatures dropped below zero and put an end to the summer campaign. They made those two days count, sending four two-man teams on seven dives lasting a cumulative 12 hours. The divers took high resolution photographs, high-definition video and measurements of the wreck
It was the measurements taken during the dives that allowed the research team to identify it as HMS Erebus. The ship is such a good state of preservation that it was possible to compare the measurements to the plans of the ship at the UK National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. Erebus is longer and wider than Terror and the measurements and sonar data found that length and breadth aligned with the Erebus plans. The position of certain deck structures also matched Erebus, not Terror.
No artifacts have been recovered as the divers did not go inside themselves. With the limited time they had, researchers would not have been able to explore the interior with the kind of diligence required for a maritime archaeological exploration. The team will be returning next summer (and who knows how many summers after that), so these two days were more gainfully employed surveying the structure and layout of the site. Parks Canada underwater archaeologist Ryan Harris:
“As an archaeological and underwater site, it’s complex and novel, in that it’s a significant three-dimensional structure that we’re going to have to figure out to work inside the interior spaces,” he said.
They did send a camera through an opening in the deck to get a glimpse of the interior of the ship. They were able to view the ship’s galley and the crew’s sleeping quarters. They also saw a mechanism that was part of the custom alterations done to the ship especially for the expedition: a lift that pulled the propeller out of the water up a bronze track to save it from being damaged in thick ice.
Exploring the interior of the stern is a high priority. That’s where Franklin’s cabin and log room were. It’s possible that there could be surviving documents, believe it or not, because the logs were written on rag paper that is very durable and because the cold and darkness of the Arctic water is an excellent preservative. Even if the ink has washed off, imaging technology could detect what was written on any surviving pages.
On a tangentially related note, the discovery has brought to the fore a macabre but awesome story involving a cursed painting that freaked out students taking their exams. In 1864, Sir Edwin Landseer exhibited a painting he’d done inspired by the lost Franklin expedition. It’s entitled Man Proposes, God Disposes and features two ravenous polar bears tearing into the wreck of a ship and the skeletal remains of one of its crew members.
It made a strong impression on critics who described it using words like “tragic grandeur” and “living fire of imagination” and was by far the most popular piece at the Royal Academy that year. Lady Franklin and the Admiralty were less enthused. At best the scene was a horrific depiction of Franklin’s fate. At worst those bears were allegorical references to reports that the crew had succumbed to cannibalism which had been very much in the news since Captain John Rae of the Hudson Bay Company had returned from a rescue expedition in 1854 with Inuit testimony of mutilated bodies and bones in kettles. You can read both sides of the cannibalism question debated in Charles Dickens’s literary journal, Household Worlds. Dickens believed Franklin and the fine men of the British navy would never stoop to such behavior. He made his moral argument in two parts, then printed Rae’s response also in two parts.
In his response, Rae specifically rebutted the contention that those gnawed bones could have been the work of polar bears.
Had there been no bears thereabouts to mutilate those bodies — no wolves, no foxes? is asked; but it is a well-known fact that, from instinct, neither bears, wolves, nor foxes, nor that more ravenous of all, the glutton or wolverine, unless on the verge of starvation, will touch a dead human body ; and the carnivorous quadrupeds near the Arctic sea are seldom driven to that extremity.
Franklin’s crew certainly were driven to that extremity, however, and the Inuit who told Rae about it also found Franklin’s telescope which is in the painting.
Victorian patent medicine mogul Thomas Holloway bought the painting at auction in 1881. Holloway died in 1883; in 1886, Man Proposes, God Disposes moved to Royal Holloway College, the all women’s college he had founded in 1879. It now hangs in the school’s Picture Gallery at eye level to students trying to take their exams.
“Originally, it was bad luck if you sat next to it. We really do not know where the rumour started. It must be the subject matter – the biggest failure that Victorian Britain tackled up to that point,” said Royal Holloway curator Dr. Laura MacCulloch.
“When you look at this picture, it’s so miserable and so bleak.”
Yet for one student in the 1970s, the thought of sitting next to a depiction of such failure while writing exams invoked a strong protest.
“The poor registrar had to find something to cover it and the only thing that was big enough was a Union Jack,,” said Dr MacCulloch.
To this day, the painting is covered by the Union flag while students sit exams but Dr MacCulloch denied a story that the painting’s curse was so strong that a student who sat by it committed suicide, leaving a diary entry saying ‘the polar bears made me do it’.
“There is no evidence of that ever happening,” she clarified.
The Recuyell of the Histories of Troye is considered to be the first book ever to be printed in English. A translation of a French book by William Caxton, the 1474 English edition sold recently at auction for more than £1m. (photo)
Southern Utah took a step back in time recently with the arrival of the Utah Midsummer Renaissance Faire to Cedar City. Zach Whitney of Fox 13 Salt Lake City visited the faire and spoke to some of its guests. (video)
The enamelled bronze cockerel found in a child’s grave in the western cemetery of Roman Cirencester in 2011 has gone on display at the Corinium Museum along with other artifacts excavated during that dig. The site was known to have had a Roman cemetery since the 1960s when it was surveyed before the construction of Bridges Garage, but the auto body shop had dug deep to accommodate two huge underground fuel tanks, so archaeologists thought whatever was left of the cemetery was probably destroyed.
When the Bridges Garage property was slated for redevelopment in 2011, the archaeologists who returned to survey the site had modest expectations. Much to their surprise, they found 71 inhumations and three cremations, a surprisingly high number of the former (the 60s excavation had found 46 cremations and eight inhumations). The cemetery spanned almost the entire period of Roman Britain, from the late 1st century through the fourth. Archaeologists were able to identify 30 females and 21 males from the inhumations (the sex of the remaining 20 could not be determined). There was significantly more bone wear in the shoulders of the male, probably an indication of repetitive motion strain from skilled crafts like stone-working rather than agricultural work.
The grave in which the cockerel was found is one of the earlier ones, dating to the middle of the 2nd century A.D. The child was about two or three years old and must have come from a wealthy family because she or he was buried in a wooden coffin with the bronze cockerel placed near his head and a pottery feeding cup with a drinking spout known as a tettine. The cockerel was a very expensive piece, the product of high quality workmanship made in northern Britain and exported all over the empire.
Only eight of these objects survive, four in Britain, four in Germany and the Low Countries. This is the only one of the British cockerels to have been found in a grave, and the only one of all of them that still has its tail. That’s significant not just because it’s a fabulous openwork enameled rooster tail, but because before it was found, archaeologists speculated that these figurines might have had a practical use, like as lamps, due to their hollow bodies. The tail was soldered in place, however, making the hollow body inaccessible and usage as a lamp impossible. It was likely included in the grave as a symbol of the god Mercury who guided the souls of the dead to the afterlife.
In the same display case with the cockerel are a selection of jewels also found in the grave of a child. Jet beads found around the neck were once part of a necklace. Jet bracelets and bangles were found at the wrists, while two bronze bracelets were buried under the child’s feet. This was a later burial than the cockerel child’s, dating to the late 3rd or early 4th century. Other jewels on display were found in the grave of a late Roman woman. Near her wrist archaeologists found bone bracelets with metal clasps, a sheet metal bracelet with abstract designs and a bracelet of glass and bone beads strung on a copper-alloy wire chain.
Archaeologists in Saint-Aubin-des-Champs, France have discovered a burial ground containg more than 300 graves dating from the 5th through 7th centuries. The graves were single burials and included "rich grave goods." (photos)
Mariah reports that Their Majesties Walrick and Cecilia of the Kingdom of the Outlands offered elevation to the Order of the Laurel to THL Alamanda de la Roca.
In an installment of the The Columbian (Vancouver, Washington) series Working in Clark County, news assistant Mary Ricks interviewed blacksmith and SCA member Nick Marcelja, who turned his hobby into a business.
This week's collection of news and tweets for medievalists.
[View the story "Pirates, Doodles and Sinking Castles - Medieval News Roundup" on Storify]