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Irma exposes dugout canoe, history buff saves it

History Blog - Sat, 2017-09-16 22:05

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Reindeer hunters find Viking sword in Norway

History Blog - Fri, 2017-09-15 22:55

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Celebrating 20 Years: We are the Escarbuncle

AEthelmearc Gazette - Fri, 2017-09-15 13:50

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find more information here.

Yours in Service,
THL Muirgheal inghean Dubhghaill


Categories: SCA news sites

Met acquires splendid gilded Egyptian coffin

History Blog - Thu, 2017-09-14 22:01

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Hurricane Relief Donations Accepted at Upcoming Events

AEthelmearc Gazette - Thu, 2017-09-14 12:16

Greetings to the kind and generous people of Æthelmearc!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope

Vivat Trimaris!  Vivat Ansteorra!


Categories: SCA news sites

One of largest Mycenaean tombs found in Greece

History Blog - Wed, 2017-09-13 22:18

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Irma cannot defeat cats with opposable thumbs

History Blog - Tue, 2017-09-12 22:31

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Technical difficulties

History Blog - Mon, 2017-09-11 17:56

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

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Aethelmarc Coronation – Change of Location

East Kingdom Gazette - Mon, 2017-09-11 16:48

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

ATTN: Coronation Location Change

 


Filed under: Announcements Tagged: events

Ducal Challenge – Unofficial Court Report

East Kingdom Gazette - Mon, 2017-09-11 16:40
Unofficial Court Report of the Court of Ioannes and Honig, held at Ducal Challenge in the Barony of Settmour Swamp, September 9, A.S. 52, as reported by Master Rowen Cloteworthy. Katheryn Fontayne, Vigil for Laurel Rory MacLellan, Vigil for Chivalry Hasanah bint al-Khalil ibn Habib, Court Barony
C&I: Shoshana Gryffyth, W: Ysmay de Lynn Children of the East, Gifts from the Crown Emeline la Chauciere, Golden Lyre (Backlog)
Token only Phelippe le Vigneron, Golden Lyre (Backlog)
Token only Emeline la Chauciere, Award of Arms
Scroll forthcoming Phelippe le Vigneron, Award of Arms
C&I: Mariette de Bretagne Brennan mac Fearghus and Caoilfhionn inghean Fhaoliann, Event Stewards
Thanks of Their Majesties Nadia Hart, Silver Brooch
C&I: Ellesbeth Donofrey Ellice de Valles, Maunche
C&I: Jonathan Blaecstan Newcomers Tokens from the Crown Katheryn Fontayne, Laurel
C: Jonathan Blaecstan, I: Kis Marika, W: Ardenia ARuadh Conchobar mac Oengusa, Court Barony with Grant of Arms
Scroll forthcoming, W: Rowen Cloteworthy Redacted, Silver Wheel
C&I: Katherine Barr, W: Dietrich Schwelgengruber Devillin MacPherson, King’s Cypher
C&I: Shoshana Gryffyth Caoilfhionn inghean Fhaoliann, Silver Crescent
C&I: Nataliia Anastasiia Evgenova, W: Lorenzo Gorla Rory MacLellan, Chivalry
C&I: Jonathan Blaecstan, W: Malcolm Bowman
Filed under: Court Tagged: court report

ATTN: Coronation Location Change

AEthelmearc Gazette - Mon, 2017-09-11 06:54

Greetings,

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

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

All other event details will be the same.

Thank you.

In service,
Amalie
Æ Webminister


Categories: SCA news sites

Coronation Pre-Registration Announcement

East Kingdom Gazette - Mon, 2017-09-11 05:40
An announcement about Coronation preregistration from the event steward:

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

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

Cache of cavalry weapons found at Vindolanda

History Blog - Sun, 2017-09-10 22:59

Speaking of banner dig seasons, this year’s excavations at Vindolanda Roman fort have unearthed a unique treasure: a large cache of weapons left behind on the floor of a cavalry barracks.

The discovery of the barrack was momentous on its own. The team of archaeologists and volunteers dug underneath the stone foundations of the 4th century fortress (the last one built at Vindolanda) and found a layer of anaerobic soil. That has been the secret to Vindolanda’s exceptional preservation of organic materials likes leather shoes, wooden toilet seats, birch log water pipes and, its famous writing tablets. Archaeologists did not expect to find this type of soil in this location and were elated.

Inside the oxygen-free soil layer, the team found timber walls, floors and fences recognizable from the remains of the stables as a Roman cavalry barrack. In total they’ve unearthed eight rooms — the stables, the living space for the humans, the kitchen ovens and fireplaces. The first blade was unearthed in a corner of the living room. The iron blade was still sharp and secured inside its wooden scabbard and the wooden pommel intact.

The numen of Vindolanda must be looking out for their archaeologists because a few weeks later the team found a second cavalry sword. It was just the blade and intact tang this time — no handle or scabbard or pommel — but it’s an incredibly rare piece nonetheless and the team was ecstatic to have found two cavalry swords inside one month. Long and very thin, Roman cavalry swords rarely survive the ravages of time because they’re so easily destroyed by corrosion.

They also found two wee wooden swords, toys for children, doubtless, and a massive quantities of assorted artifacts. Rubbing shoulders with swords real and toy were ink writing tablets, shoes, stylus pens, ink writing tablets, copper-alloy harness fittings, and even more weapons from cavalry lances to ballista bolts.

The abandonment of such an exceptional (and expensive) assortment of goods left strewn on the floor of the barracks must have been occasioned by some impending danger.

Birley said: “The swords are the icing on the cake for what is a truly remarkable discovery of one of the most comprehensive and important collections from the intimate lives of people living on the edge of the Roman Empire at a time of rebellion and war. What’s exciting is that [they] are remarkably well-preserved … There is a huge range of stuff – their hair combs, pots, wooden spoons, bowls, weapons, bits of armour, and their cavalry bling.

“Even for us, it’s very unusual to get things like complete Roman swords, sitting on the ground in their scabbards with their handles and their pommels. We were slightly dumbfounded by that. Then, to find another complete sword in another room next door only two metres away, two wooden swords and a host of other cavalry equipment, all in beautiful condition, is just terrific.

“Archaeologists would never expect to find a Roman cavalry sword in any context, because it’s like a modern-day soldier leaving his barracks and dumping his rifle on the floor … This is a very expensive thing. So why leave [it] behind?”

The barrack is one of the earliest built at Vindolanda. Constructed in 105 A.D., it predates Hadrian’s Wall by almost 20 years. At that time, it was host to military units from all over the empire, including the Belgians in the 1st Cohort of Tungrians and the Spanish Vardulli Cavalrymen.

Birley said: “There was strife. This is the precursor to Hadrian coming to the UK to build his wall. This is the British rebellion. So you can imagine a scenario where the guys and girls at Vindolanda are told: ‘We need to leave in a hurry, just take what you can carry.’ If it’s your sword or your child, you grab the child.”

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

New Kingdom goldsmith’s tomb found in Luxor

History Blog - Sat, 2017-09-09 22:09

The Draa Abul Nagaa necropolis in Luxor has had an extraordinarily productive year. In April Egypt’s Antiquities Ministry announced the discovery of a more than a thousand ushabti funerary figurines, eight mummies and 10 wooden sarcophagi with their polychrome paint still vivid in the tomb of an 18th Dynasty judge named Userhat. A month later the Spanish National Research Council revealed one of my favorite Egyptian finds of all time: the first funerary garden ever discovered. To that outstanding record we can now add the tomb of a New Kingdom goldsmith.

Archaeologists excavating the site unearthed a tomb replete with figurines, mummies, painted sarcophagi, jewelry, combs and, even more important to researchers, a statue whose inscription identifies the owner of the tomb as “Amun’s Goldsmith, Amenemhat.” The statue is a portrait of the Amenemhat seated next to his wife, a painted portrait of their son between them. His wife, identified as “the lady of the house,” was named Amenhotep, an unusual choice as it was traditionally a male name. The statue was placed in a niche in the courtyard of the site. According to the Egyptian Minister of Antiquities Khaled Al-Anani, the tomb dates to the 15th century B.C. during the 18th Dynasty of the New Kingdom.

The team unearthed two burial shafts. The first one archaeologists excavated and explored connected to a funerary chamber with multiple mummies, about 150 wood, clay and limestone ushabtis and funerary masks. The chamber at the end of the second shaft held the mummified remains of a woman and two children. Osteological analysis of the woman’s remains indicate she was about 50 years old when she died. She suffered from a painful bacterial bone disease, although it’s not clear if that was the underlying condition that led to her death. The two adult males with her, likely her sons, were in their 20s and 30s at time of death.

There is no evidence linking the remains to Amenemhat, so we don’t know if this is the wife depicted in the statue or someone completely different. Many tombs at Draa Abul Nagaa were reused for centuries, and this one was no exception. It was reused for burials during the 11th and 10th centuries B.C. (the Third Intermediate Period).

The excavation is ongoing and Al-Anani is hopeful that the team will be able to unearth more tombs, remains and artifacts. Dig leader Mostafa Waziri, head of the Antiquities Ministry’s Luxor department, thinks there are four more tombs adjacent to the goldsmith’s tomb. It was Waziri and his team that discovered the plethora of ushabtis and mummies in the judge’s tomb earlier this year, so it’s been a banner year for them.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Rijksmuseum to delight Schiphol travelers even more than the duty-free cheeses

History Blog - Fri, 2017-09-08 22:58

The Rijksmuseum, ever the innovator in devising new ways for people to experience its incalculable cultural patrimony, opened a mini-branch at Schiphol airport. It was the first museum in the world to open in an airport. Now Rijksmuseum Schiphol is back again and better than ever in a newly refurbished space. The area just past security between Lounge 2 and 3, dubbed Holland Boulevard, has been converted into a museum showcasing some of the Netherlands’ greatest works of art.

The exhibition space was designed in an S-shape for ease of movement and travellers can enter it from two opposite sides. On display are 10 paintings from the Rijksmuseum collection. There are two pairs of exceptional portraits, landscapes with windmills enough to satisfy the most demanding of tourists, a floral still life that anyone who has played with the museum’s fantastic Rijkstudio gallery will recognize as the sample image on how to use the system, turbulent seascapes on canvas and on tile. Among the masters on display are Jan van Goyen, Willem van de Velde the Younger, Abraham Mignon and Michiel van Mierevelt.

For those last-minute “what did you bring me?” presents, there is also a gift shop with souvenirs from famous Dutch museums, including the Rijksmuseum. (They have some pretty great stuff, actually. I reverently clip my toenails into The Night Watch mini-tray my parents got me from the Rijksmuseum gift shop a few years ago.)

The new exhibition makes Schiphol the only airport in the world with original 17th century artworks on display in the terminal. If visitors can’t make it to Holland Boulevard, Schiphol will give them a little something cool to remember the Netherlands’ art by anyway. Starting on September 5th, the entire 73-meter facade of carousel 16 in Baggage Hall 3 was decorated with pictures of 45 iconic paintings by the likes of Rembrandt van Rijn, Jan Mostaert, Johannes Vermeer and Vincent van Gogh.

Rijksmuseum Schiphol is open 24 hours a day and admission is free. Travellers flying into or out of Amsterdam will be able to transmute the base metal of slogging through airports into the purest Dutch Golden Age.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

17th c. royal flagship unearthed in central Stockholm

History Blog - Thu, 2017-09-07 22:50

Earlier this summer, the remains of a shipwreck were discovered during renovation of a quay on the Skeppsholmen islet in central Stockholm. Stockholm is no stranger to shipwrecks underneath its feet. Like Manhattan, San Francisco and other major port cities, large parts of it were constructed over the rubble of discarded ships. Archaeologists from the Stockholm Maritime Museum were overseeing the work and so were on site when the wreck first emerged and it was quickly clear to them that this ship was much older than anything they had expected to find in the area.

“We were really surprised, because we have some old maps that show some wrecks from the early 1800s, and it seems like the older wrecks don’t show up on the map. There were no indications of this wreck on the maps,” [marine archaeologist Jim Hansson] said, adding the remains uncovered include a section of the ship two metres up from the keel and parts of the transom.

“It was really well preserved. It is only to the first deck level, but you can still see the cut marks from the axes on the timber, for example. It’s been really nice to excavate the parts.”

Dendrochronological analysis of wood samples from the shipwreck found that the oak timbers were cut in the winters of 1612/3 and 1613/4 from trees in Sweden. The principle of Swedish shipbuilding in the early 17th century held that wood should be used within two years of cutting, so most of the ship was probably built between 1612 and 1614 with bursts of activity through 1616. The team searched through the naval archives for major warships that were built at that time. Only four warships were found on the lists made then. Two of them were too small, the third sank in a storm at sea leaving one likely identification: the Scepter, the largest of them all.

The Scepter was built by Isbrand Johansson, the Dutch-born master shipwright at Stockholm’s Royal shipyard, starting in late 1612, early 1613. She entered the lists in 1615 but was only fully completed and ready for action in 1617. Displacing 800 tons and armed with 36 guns, it was one of the flagships of young King Gustavus Adolphus’ fleet. In 1621, the Scepter carried that same king on a mission of conquest to Riga, then part of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. They got it as far as Estonia before a storm forced them to stop. The king disembarked and made his way to Riga overland. The surviving ships of the 148 that had set out for Riga tried again only to meet another brutal storm. The fleet, including the Scepter, finally did make it to Riga, although Scepter ran aground once she got there and the whole fleet had to wait for the crew to extricate her.

After a long and distinguished career, the Scepter was retired in 1639 and sent to a farm in the country with lots of other ships to play with in a big crystalline lake. Naw, jk, they scuttled her on the coast of Skeppsholmen so her woodsy skeleton could be part of the foundation of a new shipyard being built on the island.

The king who ordered her construction when he was a teenager and caught a ride to nowhere on her a few years later, was a brilliant military commander whose success in warfare on sea and land during the Thirty Years’ War made Sweden one of the great powers of Europe. From his ascension to the throne as Gustav II Adolf in 1611 two months shy of his 17th birthday until his early death in 1632, Gustavus fought constantly, first to keep his throne and then to expand its territories and powers exponentially. He inherited wars against three foreign powers and was beset by enemies/family members who thought a boy king made an easy target.

They were wrong. Little Gustav turned out to be really good at fighting. (When will we learn the lessons of Lyanna Mormont of Bear Island?) His innovative approach combined modern technology (artillery), cavalry and infantry to work together seamlessly. All of his troops received extensive cross-training and were not saddled with all the hierarchical obsessions about which branch of the armed services were superior to others, cavalrymen being higher-up on the socio-military scale than infantry, etc. Gustavus did away with those entrenched inequities kept other nations’ militaries splintered in function and fractious in disposition. Every branch was treated equitably with full financial support from the king’s efficient and, most importantly, solvent administration.

Because of his forward-thinking integration of resources human, animal and technological and his gift for logistics, Gustavus Adolphus has been called the Father of Modern Warfare. After he died leading a cavalry charge at The Battle of Lützen on November 6, 1632, the Swedish Estates of the Realm declared that King Gustavus Adolphus would hereby be known as Gustavus Adolphus Magnus, Gustav Adolf the Great. That remains his official name in Sweden. He is the only king of Sweden to be granted this honorific.

It was Gustavus Aldophus who created the modern Swedish navy, taking it from the small Royal Fleet his grandfather King Gustav Vasa had started with ships he bought from the powerful Hanseatic city of Lübeck into a naval force of state-of-the-art warships. Gustavus started from scratch, building and expanding shipbuilding facilities that could supply new vessels at a brisk pace. He also started young, still effectively under regency, ordering new, heavily armed warships so he had a chance against in all those wars Sweden had been embroiled in while he was still in diapers. Ten years after the Scepter was launched, Gustavus launched an even larger beauty queen of a ship that also wound up wrecked. This one wasn’t wrecked deliberately — it was too top-heavy and just toppled over like a real life Barbie doll would — and good thing too because then we would have been denied the misty fantasy dreamship that is the Vasa.

“It’s a really important find because the ship is from the generation before Vasa, so we can see the technical building methods that were used, and it can help us understand what went wrong with the Vasa as well,” said Hansson[.]

The poor Scepter doesn’t rate the kind of huge-budget, multi-decade commitment that resurrected the Vasa. It isn’t intact, obviously, and there are no plans to raise it. Researchers have done some 3D imaging of the wreck in situ, fully documented it and taken samples. She’s staying where she is. Construction continues at the site, still overseen by Stockholm Maritime Museum archaeologists who are hoping more of the ship, or artifacts therefrom, may be discovered.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Kingdom Archery Champion’s Tournament at Agincourt

AEthelmearc Gazette - Thu, 2017-09-07 17:15

Master Jacopo at the spring Archery Champion’s shoot. Photo by Lord Mikus Magellus.

On September 23rd at the Agincourt event in the Barony-Marche of the Debatable Lands, the competition to choose the Archery Champion of Their Highnesses, Gareth and Juliana, will take place.

Master Jacopo di Niccolo, the outgoing Kingdom Archery Champion, announced that the championship will be open to all with no qualifier. A single elimination tourney will be held to reduce the competitors to a final group. The targets will be changed and then the single elimination shoot will continue until only the Champion remains.

All interested archers must be signed in by noon on Saturday. The signup list will be available at the troll table. All competing archers should be at the field by 12:30 and ready to begin shooting at 1 pm.


Categories: SCA news sites

Heralds and List Runners for Crown Tournament

East Kingdom Gazette - Thu, 2017-09-07 16:13

Greetings to the tourney heralds and list runners of the East and Tir Mara from Mistress Suba al-Hadid, Troubadour Herald!

Please save the date for Crown Tournament on November 4th in the Barony of Bergental (Massachusetts)! Event announcement is here: http://www.eastkingdom.org/EventDetails.php?eid=3234

Yours in Service to the Dream,
-Suba
Jamilia al-Suba al-Hadid min Bhakail al-Sheikha al-Mu’allima (Baroness Suba al-Hadid) Troubadour
جميلة
الاصبع
الحديد
من
باكالي
الشيخة
المعلم

Crown Tournament of Ivan & Matilde Event Details November 4th, 2017 <a href=https://bergental.eastkingdom.org>Barony of Bergental</a> – Feeding Hills, MA
Filed under: Announcements

Stone latrine found in Byzantine basilica in Egypt

History Blog - Wed, 2017-09-06 22:33

Archaeologists excavating the site of an ancient city on the shore of Lake Mariout southwest of Alexandria have unearthed a stone latrine in the remains of a Byzantine-era basilica. Built in the late 5th century A.D., the basilica was the second largest of its kind in Egypt. During its heyday, masses were attended by huge crowds. Congregants filled the interior and pilgrims lined the exterior of the church. Hence the need for toilet facilities.

“We believe that they were available to the believers – from the inside of the basilica, and to the pilgrims – from the outer walls of the building” – said [excavation director Dr. Krzysztof] Babraj. According to the scientist, the discovery is not a surprise for researchers, because the latrines were a standard facility in ancient churches. There probably were separate rooms for women and separate for men.

“Interestingly, the priest had a private latrine in one of the side chapels of the basilica” – added the archaeologist.

In keeping with the fine tradition of important artifacts being found in and around toilets, the team has discovered two exceptional pieces of jewelry in the rooms next to the latrines: a bronze seal ring engraved with the figure of a saint, and a tiny bracelet (probably worn by a child) engraved with an apotropaic symbol to ward off evil and bad luck. The seal ring is the only one known to have been discovered in northern Egypt. Researchers think it is a bishop’s ring used to stamp the official’s seal on official documents and correspondence.

The Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology, University of Warsaw and the Archaeological Museum of Krakow have been excavating the site since 2000. They believe it is the ancient city of Marea, a port town that gained international fame in the Greco-Roman era for its high quality wine, glass and pottery. Marea’s proximity to the Nile at full flood and to the Mediterranean enabled it to create a direct navigable route to the sea via a series of canals. The city prospered from the Mediterranean and Upper Egyptian trade for centuries and a great deal of archaeological evidence attests to the importance of its port. Six massive stone piers more than 100 meters (330 feet) long have been unearthed, the largest of which was made from large stone blocks sealed with waterproof mortar. Archaeologists have also found quays, a causeway linking the port an island 100 meters east on which additional piers and quays were built. There were sufficient harbour facilities to allow hundreds of ships to load and unload cargo at the same time.

While the Polish mission calls the site Marea, there is not universal agreement among scholars that they’re right. Marea was an important city already in the early Roman and was likely already coming to prominence during the reign of the Ptolemies, but in almost two decades of excavation, the mission has found very few remains from the Greco-Roman period, most notably a kiln from the 2nd-3rd century A.D. which is one of the largest ever found in Egypt. The basilica, public baths, and massive stone piers, the kind of imposing structures you would expect a city like Marea to have had in its ancient heyday, all date to much later, the 5th and 6th centuries.

Another possible identification for the city has been posited by the University of Warsaw’s Mieczyslaw Rodziewicz, an expert in Greco-Roman Alexandria. He suggested it might be Philoxenite, a Byzantine city founded during the reign of Eastern Roman Emperor Anastasius (491-518) to provide shelter and supplies for pilgrims on their way to the monastery of Abu Mena less than 20 miles southeast of the city. The body of martyr and saint Menas of Alexandria was said to have been transported from Alexandria past Lake Mariout into the desert. The monastery was built on the spot of his burial. It makes sense that a city built to accommodate pilgrims on their way to Abu Mena would be located on the path his body took, that it would have the large-scale facilities necessary to host this kind of traffic and that they would date to the early Byzantine era.

There’s a chance we might find the answer to this question written on potsherds. In a group of commercial buildings and residences behind the apse of the basilica, the Polish mission found a large number of ostracons (pottery fragments with writing scratched onto them). These are records left behind by the workers who built the basilica. They date to the 5th-6th century and most of them appear to have been written by one man. Translation is ongoing.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Please Donate Drinking Vessels for Newcomers

AEthelmearc Gazette - Wed, 2017-09-06 20:52

Greetings to the citizens of our Sylvan Lands!

Coronation will soon be upon us, and with it, a wonderful opportunity to support those who are new to our hobby. Our next King and Queen, Gareth and Juliana, would like to give each newcomer a drinking vessel (mug, goblet, cup, etc.) during Royal Courts as a way to welcome them to the Society. Will you help Them in this endeavor?

Donations do not need to be new but should be in good condition and serviceable as feast gear.

Please contact THLady Antoinette de Lorraine (Antoinettedelorraine@gmail.com) with any questions.

Have a donation? Feel free to bring it to an event or mail it to:

Lady McKenna Henderson, Largess Coordinator for TRH Gareth & Juliana
Andrea Peters, 14 Miller Run Road, Burton, WV 26562

OR

THLady Antoinette de Lorraine
Ashley Green, 1111 Ave G, Danville Pa 17821

Thank you for helping us keep the dream alive one moment at a time.


Categories: SCA news sites