You’ve seen SCA scrolls with miniatures, but you’ve never seen anything like THESE before!
In the interest of keeping this a family-friendly site, we’re only using images that qualify as G, PG, or PG-13. But trust us, our medieval ancestors were… earthy… folk. Sometimes with a twisted sense of humor.
These images are from actual medieval manuscripts, and are usually referred to as grotesques or drolleries. They often appear in the margins of 13th-15th century manuscripts.
We’re not sure what this beastie is, but we’re glad someone has it under control, even if riding it naked looks like an ill-advised plan.
Is this break dancing or yoga?
Talk about angry birds….
There’s one in every crowd. Sometimes two.
The original Pushme-Pullyu, only backwards:
Our ancestors seem to have had a strange fear of giant rampaging snails.
They also seem to have believed that bunnies were going to take over the world, or maybe kill us all in our sleep.
Or maybe bunnies and snails will just go after each other.
And then there are women using their distaffs in battle.
There are also some pretty wacky human-animal hybrid critters:
And then there are the ones that defy description:
Happy April Fool’s Day!
It’s all Arianna’s fault.
Images are taken from the Macclesfield Psalter, the Luttrell Psalter, the Croy Hours, the Gorleston Psalter, the Rutland Psalter, the Vaux Psalter, the Missale Romanum of Amiens, and Le Livre du Lancelot du Lac.
Yes, real medieval manuscripts. And we didn’t even include the really creepy ones.
Bowing to the inevitable, the Board of Directors of the SCA Inc. has announced that beginning May 1, 2016, all SCA events will take place in cyberspace, using Facebook.
It has been rumored that a wealthy industrialist is so inspired to become King that he seeks a current Kingdom to move in to. He would then open one of his large call centers there and each employee would receive an SCA membership as a benefit of employment. That Kingdom would benefit from having new members and employment for any current SCA member who needs a job. In return the wealthy capitalist would like to grow that area into a Principality and then to a Kingdom without the usual policy, long period waits and rules, wink-wink nudge-nudge, where he would sit as King as often as possible via a tournaments where the boss should win.
It has been rumored that being able to perform a period dance shall be a requirement of a Peerage and each member of said Orders will have to dance publicly at least once per year as physical limitations allow.
It has been rumored that SCA electronic publications like supplements are held prisoner by the SCA and cannot be republished outside the SCA newsletter website even if they are multiple years old.
It has been rumored that a new ten-page disclaimer, waiver, and standard celebrity form has been commissioned to cover all past, current, and future disclaimer, waiver, and celebrity needs. New offices will be formed for the proper administration, evolution, and storage of said forms, as said forms could evolve intelligence, gain speech, and eventually eat someone. If all goes well such new officers could create hundreds of new novel disclaimer, waiver, and standard celebrity addendums leading to thousands of service Grant and Peerage memberships.
It has been rumored that there are so many local events that they will soon be rationed so that in addition to Kingdom events, each Barony may hold only two events plus their champions tourney, and Cantons and Shires may hold only one event each. The only exception is holding a Kingdom event such as Crown, Coronation, or an Academy.
It has been rumored that given enough time, the Office of Redundancy will create rules so brilliantly complex and encompassing that both the Tax and Penal codes will fall to their knees and cower in the wake of the new legislation. The sections on period alcohol and shoes alone will require a Doctorate in Weasel Wrangling.
It has been rumored that illicit cloved oranges led to more than one slapping.
It has been rumored that the Children’s Water War will count as a War Point. Red and blue dyes will be supplied to each side for a thirty-minute siege of the Castle with “res” points.
It has been rumored that the Lost Boys have been found.
It has been rumored that the phrase “or we could get sued” will be added to the end of each new rule in Corpora.
It has been rumored that by the rules of Chivalry and decency, what happens on the Battlefield late at night should not be announced on Social Media the next morning.
It has been rumored that Jugging will become the official sport of sophisticated Kingdoms.
It has been rumored that this is April Fools and all of this is nonsense and could not possible be taken as true in any way or form, but to avoid any lawsuits, please sign this standard disclaimer, waiver, standard celebrity form.
It has been rumored that no Moose were injured in the writing of this article.
Thank you and carry on good citizens.
We can neither confirm nor deny the rumor that this post was written by Master Filippo de Sancto Martino.
Happy April Fool’s Day!
The traditional Pennsic Blood Drive, held the middle weekend between Peace Week and War Week, is getting an extreme makeover this year, as blood collection will now follow fully period medical practices.
Greetings from Ryan, Brigantia Principal Herald of Kingdom the East!
When I took office over two years ago I quickly noticed a problem. When heraldic submissions came in from Tir Mara they had to be in US Funds. The Money order transfer fee would add $5CDN to the cost of the submission. Such an expense is patently unfair. I have been working with the Kingdom Submission Herald, Mistress Alys, and the Kingdom Exchequer, Mistress Ignacia, and we have been talking with several persons in Tir Mara during our travels in order to find a way to remove this burden from our Tir Maran members.
I’m happy to say that we’re finally about to put a solution into place. Starting in May Tir Marans will be able to submit their paperwork and send their fees to Baroness Jeanne de Robin from L’Ile du Dragon Dormant, our new Blue Alaunt Herald. She has agreed to bear the burden of collecting the funds for Tir Maran submissions and deposit the monies into a bank in Canada. Therefore the costly transfer fees will fall onto the College’s account once or twice a year instead of the individual submitter’s pocketbook for each individual submission.
In order to simplify the process, and to encourage Tir Maran submissions, for the time being the Fees for our Tir Maran heraldic submissions will be the same as the US fees, $8CDN.
As of May first heraldic Submissions from the Crown Principality of Tir Mara can be sent to:
Please make checks payable to “SCA Inc. – East Kingdom”
As Always, in service to the Society, Kingdom, Crown, and College,
Au moment où j’ai pris l’office de Hérault du Royaume il y a plus de deux ans j’ai rapidement pris conscience d’un problème. Les soumissions héraldique venant de la Principauté de Tir Mara devait être en dollar US. Le coût du transfert monétaire augmentait la facture de plus de cinq dollar par soumission. Ce coût supplémentaire est inéquitable. J’ai travaillé avec la responsable des soumissions du Royaume, Maitresse Alys ainsi que l’Échiquier du Royaume, Maitresse Ignacia. De plus nous avons aussi discutés avec plusieurs résidents de Tir Mara durant nos voyages pour trouver un moyen de retirer ce poids des épaules de la population de la Principauté.
Je suis heureux de vous annoncer que nous avons trouvé et mis en place une politique. Commençant au début Mai, les soumissionnaires pourront envoyer leurs documentations et paiement à Son Excellence Jeanne de Robin de l’Ile du Dragon Dormant, notre nouvelle « Blue Alaunt Herald ». Elle a accepté la responsabilité de recevoir les soumissions ainsi que l’argent pour ensuite déposer ce dernier dans une banque canadienne. Conséquemment le coût du transfert de devise sera assumé par le Collège des Hérault du Royaume de l’Est en lieu et place des coûts assumés auparavant par chaque soumissionnaire.
Dans le but de simplifier les procédures ainsi que motiver les résident de Tir Mara à faire des soumissions, jusqu’à édit contraire le coût par soumission sera au même montant que pour les habitant en territoire du sud de la frontière sans tenir compte du taux de change. Soit 8$ CND par soumission.
Commencant en Mai les soumissions de la population de Tir Mara devront être envoyé a :
Jeanne de Robin
se il vous plaît faire les chèques payables à « SCA Inc. – East Kingdom »
Comme toujours au service de la Société, du Royaume, de la couronne et du Collège.
Traduction : Eginhard d’Aix la Chapelle
Filed under: Announcements, En français
So, you think you know King Titus? Well, think again. Here are some things that only his closest retainers and lackeys know about His Majesty, the King of Æthelmearc.
1. He won season 2 of Dancing with the Stars.
2. He wore a reindeer codpiece with a light-up nose to Steltonwald 12th Night.
3. He made his Broadway debut as King Arthur in Camelot.
4. He was voted “Sexiest King” at this year’s Estrella War.
5. He is a huge fan of Batman.
6. He has been turned into a meme more times than any SCA royal in history.
7. He is actually kind of shy.
8. He secretly hates going to court.
9. He’s the grandson of Yul Brynner.
10. He is a notorious photobomber.
12. And he adores his Queen.
Here’s the kicker – only 8 of these are actually true. Can you guess which ones? The answer will be revealed at the end of the day, so check back later!
Happy April Fool’s Day!
It’s all Arianna’s fault.
With thanks to everyone whose photos we stole appropriated borrowed used for this article.
And (drumroll…..) here are the correct answers:
Since Alexander Fleming first noticed that the Penicillium mold that had accidentally contaminated his petri dish was lethal to the Staphylococcus bacteria inside it in 1928, humans have become accustomed to a world where infections can be cured with no more effort than having to swallow a few uncomfortably large pills for a week. The days when a scraped knee could kill seem like ancient history, but they’re not. Bacteria have become increasingly resistant to the antibiotics in the medical arsenal and with very few new antibiotics discovered over the past two decades, the prospect of a world of infectious microbes we cannot kill has become a terrifying reality. According to the CDC, 23,000 people a year die from antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections.
Even Fleming knew the antibiotic gravy train ran on unstable tracks. He noted in the official Nobel Lecture (pdf) he delivered in the days leading up to the ceremony awarding him the 1945 Nobel Prize in Medicine: “It is not difficult to make microbes resistant to penicillin in the laboratory by exposing them to concentrations not sufficient to kill them, and the same thing has occasionally happened in the body.” The bacteria that survive the antibiotic onslaught and their descendants develop resistance to that antibiotic. If any survive the next antibiotic deployed against them, they become resistant to that one as well and on and on through the entire pharmacopoeia.
That’s how Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria came to set up shop particularly in hospitals because MRSA laughs at our puny human doctors with their losery old penicillins and amoxicillins. The rate of MRSA infections at US academic hospitals doubled between 2003 and 2008, and since there hasn’t been a new class of antibiotics discovered since the 1980s, MRSA and other drug-resistant bacteria are only getting stronger.
The potential disaster here is so far-reaching it’s hard to grasp. It’s not just pneumonia and injuries that used to be easily treated that will become many times more fatal. Cancer treatment, organ and device (mechanical knees, hips, etc.) transplants, dialysis, open-heart surgery, any surgery at all, for that matter, including plastic surgery, even getting tattoos all rely heavily on antibiotics to keep patients alive. See the World Health Organization’s Antimicrobial Resistance: Global Report on Surveillance (pdf) to learn more about the post-antibiotic apocalypse we’re facing.
Scientists all over the world are looking for new drugs to combat the rise of superbugs, among them a team from the University of Nottingham who have taken an approach so old it’s new again. The brain child of Dr. Christina Lee, an Anglo-Saxon expert from the University’s English department, the study tested the efficacy of a recipe for a salve to treat eye infections found in Bald’s Leechbook, a collection of remedies for illness written in Old English around 950 A.D. in Winchester that is now in the British Library. Here is a translation of the recipe in volume two of Oswald Cockayne’s outstandingly titled Leechdoms, Wortcunning, and Starcraft of Early England, published in 1864-6. (I need to integrate “wortcunning” into my daily vocabulary.)
Work an eye salve for a wen, take cropleek and garlic, of both equal quantities, pound them well together, take wine and bullocks gall, of both equal quantities, mix with the leek, put this then into a brazen vessel and let it stand nine days in the brass vessel, wring out through a cloth and clear it well, put it into a horn and about night time apply it with a feather to the eye; the best leechdom.
No disrespect to Oswald Cockayne and his mastery of the catchy book title, but his translation needed updating for use in a scientific context. Dr. Lee translated the recipe from the original manuscript, researching ambiguous words for optimal accuracy. Researchers, led by microbiologist Dr. Freya Harrison, were meticulous in recreating the recipe as faithfully as possibly, even securing the wine from a vineyard that is known to have been in use in the 9th century. They made four batches of the salve and a control batch without any of the vegetable ingredients, then applied Bald’s salve to well-established MSRA cultures (with a dropper, not a feather) and waited for 24 hours before counting the surviving bacteria.
The team made artificial wound infections by growing bacteria in plugs of collagen and then exposed them to each of the individual ingredients, or the full recipe. None of the individual ingredients alone had any measurable effect, but when combined according to the recipe the Staphylococcus populations were almost totally obliterated: about one bacterial cell in a thousand survived.
The team then went on to see what happened if they diluted the eye salve – as it is hard to know just how much of the medicine bacteria would be exposed to when applied to a real infection. They found that when the medicine is too dilute to kill Staphylococcus aureus, it interfered with bacterial cell-cell communication (quorum sensing). This is a key finding, because bacteria have to talk to each other to switch on the genes that allow them to damage infected tissues. Many microbiologists think that blocking this behaviour could be an alternative way of treating infection.
Bald’s onion and bile salve, it turns out, is an MRSA-killing machine.
Dr Harrison commented: “We thought that Bald’s eyesalve might show a small amount of antibiotic activity, because each of the ingredients has been shown by other researchers to have some effect on bacteria in the lab – copper and bile salts can kill bacteria, and the garlic family of plants make chemicals that interfere with the bacteria’s ability to damage infected tissues. But we were absolutely blown away by just how effective the combination of ingredients was. We tested it in difficult conditions too; we let our artificial ‘infections’ grow into dense, mature populations called ‘biofilms’, where the individual cells bunch together and make a sticky coating that makes it hard for antibiotics to reach them. But unlike many modern antibiotics, Bald’s eye salve has the power to breach these defences.”
It worked in vivo, too, on mice with MRSA-infected skin wounds at Texas Tech University.
As promising as this study is, it’s still in the early stages. The AncientBiotics program is crowdfunding to hire a summer intern to help them move forward briskly with this incredibly exciting research. They just reached their goal of £1,000 so they’ll definitely get funded, but given the modesty of the original goal and the global importance of this project, I’d love to see them raise a lot more than that. There are 26 days left in the fundraiser. Donate!
Photo: Museum of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Norway
Reuters 21 April 2015
Scientific American via University of Pennsylvania Department of Antiquities written by Inglenook Rosebottom
Philadelphia, PA. Crews dredging the Delaware river in Philadelphia have come across something amazing. Spring thaw and run off have built silt to alarming levels after a winter of excessive snowfall. It is a yearly tradition that Philadelphia city crews dredge the mouth of the river to prevent flooding. This year is no exception.
Many unusual items have come to light during the annual project. Including, in the past, the remains of Native American canoes, a pristine but waterlogged Audi R8 valued at $100,000, bags of garbage and drug paraphernalia, and the torso of a then-unidentified Caucasian male in 1998. This year’s top find, however, is causing quite a stir. Chief amongst the questions asked is this: “How did it get there?”
Gleaming up from the wet silt piled into the bed of a city crew truck, a mysterious artifact surfaced that has the history department at the University of Pennsylvania, which oversees the project, baffled. Chief archaeologist Wilhelm Lagerschmidt cautioned readers to take the find at face value, and not attach any speculative history to the find.
What is it, though? It turns out, against all odds, that the piece has an identical twin. That twin, pictured above, is currently residing in the museum of the University of Science and Technology in Norway. The twin artifact in Norway has a long an convoluted history of its own. Once, in approximately the eighth or ninth century, it was the head of a Bishop’s Crozier from the North of England. The richly jeweled and filigreed piece was probably seized as plunder or passed as trade goods by Vikings from Norway.
An enterprising Norwegian, having acquired the piece, chopped the fancy gold ball in half, and made it into two turtle-shell shaped pins, similar to but fancier than the cup brooches most Norwegian women would have worn at the time. This however, is where the twins part ways. Twin Two was found inside a tin box shaped like a church, in a Norwegian grave belonging to a high-status woman from the town of Romsdal. That grave itself was uncovered in 1961.
How Twin One got from Romsdal, Norway to Philadelphia, PA is a mystery that only time and investigation can unravel. “It is just as likely that it was stolen from the grave, traded on the black market, and lost in the river as a transaction went bad in this century, than it is that some Viking man or woman sailed down the coast of the North American continent and up the Delaware river,” Lagerschmidt cautioned. He continued, “At this point, the so-called runic stones found in Northern Pennsylvania, hauled from the edge of the Susquehanna river, are entirely unconnected by concrete evidence. Many believe them to be a hoax. But there is a little boy inside of me that is jumping up and down in joy, imagining that there were Viking Warriors on the river flowing past what would eventually become Philadelphia. It is finds such as these, which are fabricated from start to finish from real news (see link below), that we say unto you the reader, Happy First of April my friends.”
Shared by Dame Aoife Finn
Resource Information: NTNU
Documented from the Scrolls of the Reign of Titus and Anna Leigh, King
Wednesday March 18 on the Fencing Tournament Field
Their Majesties invited the Assembled Royalty of the Known World in attendance, to bear witness as They issued a Writ of Summons to Don Orlando di Bene del Vinta to confer with Their Heirs, Timothy and Gabrielle, as to when he would accept entry into the Order of Defense. Writ by Catharine Wolfe.
Thursday March 19 in Æthelmearc Camp
King Titus and Queen Anna Leigh invited the members of the Golden Thorn to rise and then presented Helen of Avalon, THLady Cristina inghean Ghriogair, Lord Uaithne mac Faelin, Lady Ailis inghean Mhaolain, Lady Katerina McGilledoroughe, Lady Arianna dal Vallone, Master John the Pell, THLord Marek Viacheldrago, Master Tofi Kerthjalfadsson, Countess Genevieve du Vent Argent, Lady Phelippe Ulfsdotter, Don Annanias Fenne, Maistir Brandubh O’Donnghaile, Amalia Lesniak, Alaric of Steltonwald, Master Alastar MacCrummin, Meistress Myfanwy ferch Rhiannon, THLady Anna im Turm, THLady Ines of Alegria, Lady Cassandra de Matise, Lady Siobhan MacDermott, Mistress Shishido Tora Gozen, Lady Rowena McCara, THLady Alianora Bronhulle and Baron Ichijo Honen with Golden Thorns for their service to the crown in travelling to Gulf Wars to support the kingdom of Æthelmearc.
Their Majesties then invited THLord Marek Viacheldrago, Sir Thomas
Helen of Avalon was Awarded Arms for her service as she had attended the war to support the kingdom and assisted driving a van full of other’s gear. Scroll limned by Mary Ann of Seamarch, scrivened by HL Vistillia Messalina Pulcheria.
Their Majesties called forth Lady Arianna dal Vallone and praised her for her skills in the fencing melees of the war, as she had singlehandedly stopped an Atlantian charge.
Baron Robert O’Connor was called forth and presented with theÆthel mearc Award of Excellence for serving as the land agent and camp organizer for the Gulf Wars camp. Scroll limned by HL Signey of Starvanger, and scrivened by HL Vistillia Messalina Pulcheria.
Lady Phelippe Ulfsdotter was called forth and inducted into the Order of the Millrind for her service to the Kingdom as Webminister and seeing the kingdom through many changes in the policies of that office. Scroll by HL Lillius MacGuffin and Mistress Adela Scrijver van Brugge.
Their Majesties called forth Lady Katerina McGilledoroughe and invited her friends to come forward and join her as They created her a Baroness of the Court for her service to Their Majesties as Head Retainer. Scroll by THLady Alianora Bronhulle.
Their Majesties then thanked all who had come to attend Gulf Wars and fight for Æthelmearc, and then dismissed the crowd to their entertainments.
There being no further business, Their Majesties’ Court was closed.
In Honor and Service,
Kameshima Zentarō Umakai
A new lighting system will allow visitors to the Vatican's Sistine Chapel to appreciate Michelangelo's famous frescoes more than ever better. The chapel makeover "cost some three million euros (US$3.77 million)—with 1.9 million euros spent on the lighting alone."
The NEW Æthelmearc Kingdom Arts and Sciences website is up! You can see it here.
The Kingdom Minister of Arts & Sciences, Master Fridrikr Tomasson av Knusslig Hamn, and his Deputy, Mistress Orianna Fridrikskona, are excited to offer this great new resource to Æthelmearc’s artisans.
“The new A&S website is designed to make information gathering easier,” said Master Fridrikr. “We have a new calendar page, more space for images of Arts and Sciences from around the kingdom, [and] new areas for artisans to share their work. It is streamlined and user-friendly. I hope that everyone will go and look at it, and that the artisans and scholars of Æthelmearc will use the website to share their work with the kingdom.”
Mistress Orianna continued, “Our monthly message will be there as well as information on A&S activities both around the Kingdom and in some of our neighboring Kingdoms. We are also hoping to start a regular focus on individual areas of study, so watch for those.”
The site was built by Lady Amalie Reinhardt and THLady Desiderata Drake, for which the Ministers of Arts and Sciences are very grateful.
Archaeologists from the Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) have unearthed a rare 14th century devotional panel dedicated to the death of rebel-turned-martyr Thomas, 2nd Earl of Lancaster. The team was excavating the north bank of the Thames near London Bridge in advance of construction in 2000 when they found the rare piece in a medieval land reclamation dump. The waterlogged soil of the Thames riverbank is an outstanding preserver of artifacts, and this lead alloy panel with its delicate openwork has survived in excellent condition along with organic artifacts like timber revetments from the Roman period and the Middle Ages, the remains of plants used for cloth dyeing and a medieval leather knife sheath.
The panel was originally a mass-produced object sold at a pilgrimage site dedicated to the earl. People bought them as devotional objects, often for use in small home shrines. Thomas Plantagenet, Earl of Lancaster, would not at first glance seem to be the ideal subject for religious reverence. A holy man he was not. What he was was a powerful baron, the holder of no fewer than five major earldoms (Lancaster, Lincoln, Salisbury, Leicester, Derby) that made him the second wealthiest man in England after the king, the paternal grandson King Henry III of England and a thorn in the side of the unpopular King Edward II, his cousin.
At first Thomas supported Edward, but the bloom was soon off the rose, in large part thanks to Edward’s lavishing of titles, monies and power on his low-born favorite Piers Gaveston. By 1311, three years after he’d carried Curtana, the sword of St. Edward the Confessor, at his cousin’s coronation, Thomas was the leader of the Ordainers, a group of barons, earls and bishops demanding, among other things, that Gaveston be exiled. When Gaveston returned less than two months after this his third exile and Edward gave him all his lands and titles back, the Ordainers went to war. He was captured, tried and beheaded. Lancaster was one of the judges and Gaveston was executed on his property.
From then on it was one fight after the other between the royal cousins. For a while Lancaster had the upper hand in a big way, becoming the de facto king after Edward’s army was defeated by the forces of Robert the Bruce at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, but in 1318 he was ousted and the two Hugh Despensers, father and son, took over as power behind the throne and Edward’s favorite. Lancaster marshalled his private army, struck up a deal with Robert the Bruce and rebelled against the crown.
On March 16th, 1322, Lancaster and the King’s allies went head to head at the Battle of Boroughbridge. Lancaster lost. He was taken prisoner and tried for treason in a sham court (the judges included both Despensers and the King) in his own castle at Pontefract where he was not allowed to speak in his own defense. He was convicted, of course, and on March 23rd, he was executed by beheading (Edward had commuted the traditional sentence of hanging, drawing and quartering on account of Lancaster’s royal blood).
Within weeks after Lancaster’s execution, shrines dedicated to him began to crop up, at the site of his execution at Pontefract Castle, his tomb in Pontefract Priory and at Old St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. Rumors of miracles at the priory tomb and execution site abounded and soon Thomas was venerated as a popular saint. He was so popular Edward II put an armed guard around the priory to keep the crowds away. In response money was raised from all over England to build a chantry chapel on the site of his execution.
His saintliness rested not in his personal piety or holy behavior (there certainly wasn’t much of the latter), but in his rebellion against a despised king. This was a thing in Medieval England: make saints out of fallen political/military heroes. Simon de Montfort received similar devotions after his death in 1265. What better way for Edward III to distance himself from his father after Edward II’s murder than to side with the cult of St. Thomas of Lancaster? In 1327 petitioned Pope John XXII that Thomas be canonized as an official saint of the Church, but it never happened.
Notwithstanding his lack of a Church-sanctioned halo, Thomas continued to be revered locally at least until the Dissolution of the Monasteries. His relics were believed to hold specific healing properties — his belt helped women in labour, his hat cured migraines — and a hymn called the Lancaster Suffrage was included as part of the daily prayers in the psalters and Books of Hours of wealthy Lancastrians. Here’s the one from Manuscript 13 (ca. 1330) in the Bridewell Library at Southern Methodist University:
Antiphon: Oh Thomas, Earl of Lancaster,
For people who could not afford to have French illuminators make them their own personal prayer books, devotional panels provided a less expensive entre into the private veneration of St. Thomas. Although they were very popular in the 14th century, few of these panels have survived. The British Museum has two examples, one smaller and one larger, neither of them are in great condition. The figures on the smaller piece are crudely designed and while the larger panel has an elaborate Gothic cathedral-like structure and more people in it than the MOLA panel, they aren’t as finely crafted and the piece is fragmented. You can see in the picture that it’s being held together with wires.
The MOLA piece is five inches high and 3.5 inches wide and divided into four scenes that are to be read clockwise from the top left. In scene one, Thomas is captured. The caption in French reads “Here I am taken prisoner.” In scene two he is put on trial. The caption reads “I am judged.” In scene three he is convicted and conveyed by horse (the quality, or lack thereof, of this horse was a big issue in some of the chronicles) to the site of execution. The caption: “I am under threat.” In the last scene Thomas is beheaded by sword. The caption states simply: “la mort” (death). These shenanigans are presided over by Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary, perched atop the sun and moon, waiting to welcome Lancaster’s saintly soul to heaven.
This is the only Lancaster devotional panel known to have French labels explaining each scene. It’s also the only one known with surviving gilding which highlights the sun and moon.
Up until now the panel has only been known by Museum of London experts, but the riverbank excavation, including detailed information about the panel, has just been published (Roman and Medieval Revetments on the Thames Waterfront) so the museum is putting the panel on display for the first time. The exhibition in the museum’s Medieval Galleries will run from March 28th to September 28th of this year.
Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope reports on the bardic merriment of A Kingdom for a Stage.
The Kingdom for a Stage event was small but packed with music and theatrical entertainments. Baron Liam macanTsaoire and Baroness Elizabeth Arrowsmyth autocratted the event which featured storytellers, singers, a puppet show, and performances by the Debatable Choir and Delftwood’s Commedia group, i Got Woodi.
For the heraldic brag-off, each of the five competitors had to select a volunteer from among the attendees. The heralds then had 10 minutes to learn as much as they could about their “bragee”, after which the bragging began. Each herald spoke on the virtues, real or imagined, of their bragee. Lord Justin Lymner praised the good works of Baroness Elizabeth Arrowsmyth as an autocrat and royal retainer. Baron Janos Meszaros, whose subject was THLady Anlaith ingen Trena, spoke of how good things come in small packages, and cited Her Ladyship’s skills with atlatl and paintbrush. Master Dagonell Collingwood spoke of the many contributions of Master Alaric MacConall as a musician, exchequer, and seneschal, then lamented that in archery, Master Alaric “shoots like a 12-year-old” (an in-joke which is explained in the video below). Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope boasted about the many accomplishments of Her Excellency Helene al-Zarqá, Baroness of Delftwood, as a fencer, bard, and member of i Got Woodi, but then noted that Her Excellency apologized for bringing Delftwood’s weather to the Debatable Lands. Finally, THLord Kieran MacRae extolled the virtues of Lady Lijsbet de Kuekere, most especially as a cook and member of i Got Woodi.
Baroness Constance and Master Kameshima judged the two best entrants to be THLord Kieran and Master Dagonell, so they were then given another task as a run-off: to do a second heraldic brag, both of them on the topic of Baron Liam. It was a close contest, but in the end, the judges chose THLord Kieran as the winner. His prize was a baronial t-shirt, ironically with a Celtic design that he himself created.
Over the course of the day, there were classes in singing technique and about pilgrimage songs, numerous storytellers and singers, and an impromptu puppet show put on by Kaden, the 7-year-old son of Lord Hrafna-Erlender inn Raudi and Lady Aibell ingen Chernachain, with help from his dad. In addition, Baroness Constance Glyn Dwr set up her Baroness’ Bower for folks to hang out and do hand crafts like knitting and embroidery, complete with yummy snacks.
The Debatable Choir performed a concert of five songs as recorded in the video below.
Then the Delftwood Commedia Troop, i Got Woodi, consisting of Baroness Helena al- Zarqá, Mistress Felicitas Flußmüllnerin, Lord Justin Lymner, Lady Lijsbet de Kuekere, and Lord Fridrich Flußmüllner, performed a play in which Capitano kidnaps the servant girl who is in love with Arlecchino. Capitano asks her to marry him but she declines, and calls to Arlecchino for help. Unfortunately, Arlecchino couldn’t seem to figure out that she had been kidnapped, so she ended up having to rescue herself by tricking Capitano into loosing her bonds. She then beat Capitano so he fell to the floor, after which she returned to her beloved and friends. It was noted that Baroness Helene had successfully written a script that permitted Lady Lijsbet, who is currently on crutches with one foot in a cast, to spend the entire play sitting in a chair.
While the bardic activities were occurring, there was a delectable all-day sideboard prepared by THLord Jorundr hinn Rotinn with assistance from a large crew of experienced cooks. It was noted that the theme of the feast was “carrots” as His Lordship had gotten a really good deal on a large basket of them… The onion soup was so good that one lady was heard to exclaim that she would marry it if she could. Fortunately, her husband was amused rather than offended.
His Excellency, Baron Liam, thanked everyone who attended, and especially those who jumped in to help with clean up. He plans to make the event even bigger and better next year.
Heraldic brag videos courtesy of Mistress Ts’vee’a bas Tseepora Levi. Choir video courtesy of Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope with thanks to THLord Kieran for manning the camera.
With only 2 weeks left to send in your Letter of Intent to fight in the Spring Crown Tourney of Prince Omega and Princess Etheldreda, the Kingdom Seneschal reminds prospective entrants and consorts to use the following link:http://fluidsurveys.com/s/EKCrownTourneySubmissionKAII/
The Letter of Intent must be received by Coronation, April 11, 2015.
If using email, the letters of intent must include all of the following information for both combatant and consort: Society name, legal name, address, telephone number, years of residency and be accompanied by proof of membership with membership number & expiration date that is valid at least thirty days after Crown. If both entrants are combatants, then that should be clearly indicated.
Proof of valid membership consists of a copy of a valid membership card, a postcard (with a date-stamp) or letter from the Corporate office, or a confirmation form printed from the website after an online membership purchase.
Their Hignesses also request that combatants bring heraldic shields for the list trees.
In Service to the East, I remain
Dueña Mercedes Vera de Calafia
Filed under: Announcements
The Barony-Marche of the Debatable Lands invites you to a regional muster celebrating Archery, Thrown Weapons, Youth Fighting and Arts & Sciences at the Castle home of Sir Byron and Sir Ariella on April 12th. This is the day after Æthelmearc Coronation. The muster will begin at 10:00 in the morning and continue until 5:00 pm.
The archery and thrown weapons ranges will be open at 10:00 am and archery from the towers, led by THL Deryk Archer, will begin at 1:00 pm.
The main archery goal this day is to shoot and submit rounds for the Gwyntarian Winter Challenge which closes later that week. There will also be training if we have enough marshals. The Barony’s loaner gear will be there.
Please bring something for a pot luck. We’re going to be there all day, so let’s eat. Pop, water, plates, bowls, and utensils will all be provided.
We also ask that you dress in garb for the day.
The Castle address is 755 Stonegate Drive, Wexford PA 15090.
In service to the Barony-Marche and the Kingdom,
Mestari Urho Waltterinen
The Gazette is not an official publication of the East Kingdom; changes to East Kingdom Law do not take effect until they have appeared in the Pikestaff.
At the opening of the Third Curia of their Right Noble Majesties Edward and Thyra, Old Business was opened and the first item of business discussed was the addition of V.C.1.g. – The King’s & Queen’s Thrown Weapons Champions. Concerns about over-loading the Royal Calendar were again brought up, and suggestions for ways to alleviate such pressures were also discussed. Weekend-long Champions events with more than one Champions Tourney were suggested, but ultimately it has been left to Their Highnesses, Omega and Ethedreda, to discuss and implement a plan going forward.
There was a much lengthier discussion regarding the changes to Officer Residency. Many people spoke and there was a wide variety of opinions from the populace, both in favor and against the proposed change. There were many questions as to how the policy would be implemented and monitored. Concerns regarding outside members “taking over” a local group were raised, while others discussed the plight of those who live in Crown Lands, as well as those who live far from their local groups population center, but close to another group’s. Additional issues covered included groups where volunteers are available for offices, but not for specific functions (e.g. lacking a volunteer with experience appropriate to execute the duties of a Webminister), as well as the risk of needing to close a group in the event that a specific task could not be fulfilled by the available volunteer pool. Many of these concerns were addressed to various levels by Their Majesties with assurances that the new policies written would vetted for compliance to Kingdom Law and Corpora by the Kingdom Seneschalate.
Ultimately, Their Majesties approved the proposed new policy to provide a process for branches that wished to allow non-residents to hold office in the branch with some changed wording. The following was added: Branch Seneschals and Exchequers may not be eligible without prior, written approval of the Kingdom Seneschal.
Her Majesty also implored local groups to hold off on adding new language to their bylaws until the Kingdom Seneschal has had a chance to prepare guidelines for creating appropriate language.
Under New Business, Their Majesties first brought up the addition of the Order of Defense to the Peerages and Polling list sections of EK Law, which was accepted without much additional commentary, outside of the need to do so, following the changes to Corpora before the Order is created at Crown Tourney in May.
The second item of New Business was discussed at a much greater length. This was the creation of an Order to recognize prowess and service in the Equestrian lists and activities in the East Kingdom. Two options were available to Their Majesties:
1) Create a new Order of High Merit with an Order unique to the EK, requiring the Kingdom to submit a name and badge to the College of Heralds,
2) Sign the Order of the Golden Lance Treaty which is currently signed by Æthelmearc, Atlantia, Trimaris, Ansteorra, and Caid, which grants the right to the East to use the Order of the Golden Lance name and registered regalia; the only requirement is that it be the highest award for Equestrian prowess and service in the Kingdom.
His Majesty offered commentary that this would not become an issue as has occurred in some White Scarf treaty kingdoms regarding the creation of the Order of Defense. His Majesty also remarked on the lengthy discussions and valuable survey information on the Equestrian community in the East, which currently stands at approximately 35 authorized Equestrians. This is apparently a mid-sized Equestrian group amongst the Kingdoms of the Known World, and the time and cost of investment required to participate in the community is significant, limiting its ability to grow. His Majesty also remarked that he felt creating this award will create an environment that will encourage the community to grow and will give recognition to members of the Order when they travel, as part of an Order that is recognized in several kingdoms. Other commentary was offered by members of the populace, recommending the treaty not be signed, but that an award recognizing Equestrians be created, and respectfully disagreeing with the benefits of signing the treaty in lieu of creating an award specific to the East Kingdom.
Their Majesties stated their preference for signing the Golden Lance treaty and so made it into Law.
The Order of the Rose was also added into IX.E. – The Peerage Orders (Chivalry, Laurel, Pelican, Rose, and Defense)… as a clerical correction, as the Order of the Rose carries a Patent of Arms by Kingdom Law.
Following the end of New Business, Officer Reports were given and the following summaries are paraphrased by the Gazette’s correspondent:
Seneschal – Dueña Mercedes – She is working on a number of different projects at any given time. If anyone has questions about anything specific, please contact her directly.
Brigantia – Master Ryan – Updates to Order of Precedence are coming. The database is being worked on, and we hope to see it on the Kingdom website in the coming weeks. The badge for the Order of the Golden Lance will be submitted and processed in the coming months.
Exchequer – Mistress Ignacia – We have money, and my report to Kingdom was filed on time.
Chronicler – given in abstentia – Mistress A’isha has applied to take on a fourth and final year in office and is looking for anyone interested in becoming the next East Kingdom Chronicler, so she can begin training.
Arts & Sciences – Mistress Rainillt – Winter is leaving and A&S activities are gearing up to full swing.
Chatelaine – Mistress Vienna – This is Mistress Vienna’s last Curia report as her term in office is coming to an end. There has been a lot of interest in the SCA via the Newcomer’s Portal at welcome.sca.org. There is a new type of demo happening on Saturday, May 16th. The Sir Wilhelm’s Hastilude & Demo is being held in Connecticut and will feature a free event with tournaments that will also serve as a demo. Please come out an support this new event/demo combination. Event Annoucement
Chirurgeon – Master Galefridus – In the event that the BoD eliminates the Office of the Chirurgeonate, it will likely fold into a guild structure so that the Chirurgeons can continue supporting events and remain in line with Corpora.
Signet – Mistress Nest – We still have scribes!
Chancellor Minor – given by Lady Wentlyanna on behalf of Baroness Leonete – Many more groups are having family activities, and the Society Office is promoting the YAFA program.
Webminister – Lord Lorenz – The Webministry is currently processing approximately 36,000 emails per week, there are approximately 160 different sites hosted by the Kingdom, and there are approximately 16-24 groups that still need to move their websites onto the Kingdom Server.En français
La Gazette du Royaume n’est pas une publication officielle du Royaume de l’Est; les changements aux Lois du Royaume de l’Est ne prennent effet qu’à compter du moment où ils sont publiés dans le Pikestaff.
Le premier sous-point concernant l’ajout de l’article V.C.1.g – Champion d’Armes de Lancer- fut d’abord exposé.
Le deuxième sous-point concernait la Résidence des officiers dans les groupes locaux.
Les autres discussions ont gravité autour des groupes ayant un bassin de bénévoles qui ne possèdent pas les qualités requises pour prendre en charge un office particulier comme ex.: Ministre de laToile. La possibilité de fermeture de groupe dû à un manque de bénévole fut aussi discutée. Leurs Majestés ont rassuré la curie concernant plusieurs des points soulevé et ont assuré celle-ci que la loi écrite serait vérifiée, par le Senéchal du Royaume, pour être conforme aux Lois du Royaume et à la Charte Corporative (Corpora).
Ultimement Leurs Majestés ont approuvé, avec amendement, la nouvelle politique qui permet à un groupe d’établir un processus permettant à un non-résident d’y détenir un poste d’officier. L’amendement se lit comme suit :
Sénéchal et Échiquier de groupe ne peuvent se prévaloir de ce privilège à moins d’avoir obtenu, au préalable, une autorisation écrite du Sénéchal du Royaume. Sa Majesté a demandé à tous les groupes locaux d’attendre avant de faire toute modification à leurs règlements, que le Sénéchal du Royaume aie préparé un guide sur la formulation précise de ce règlement.
Le second sujet abordé fut celui des Nouveaux points.
Peu de discussion s’en sont suivies, sauf d’attendre les changements à la Charte Corporative (Corpora) avant la création de l’Ordre au Tournoi de la Couronne de mai prochain.
Le second sous-point touchant la création d’un Ordre pour reconnaitre la prouesse et le service pour les activités Équestres.
Deux options étaient possibles pour Leurs Majestés.
1) Créer un Ordre de Haut Mérite unique au Royaume de l’Est, nécessitant que le Royaume doive soumettre un nom et un écusson (badge) au Collège des Hérauts.
2) Signer le Traité de l’Odre de la Lance dorée et rejoindre les Royaumes d’Æthelmearc, d’Atlantia, de Trimaris, d’Ansteorra et de Caid. Par cette signature, le Royaume acquiert le droit d’utiliser le nom ‘’ l’Ordre de la Lance dorée’’ et les insignes associés. Il est requis, par ce traité, que l’Odre de la Lance dorée’’ soit la plus élevée des récompenses Équestre du Royaume.
Sa Majesté a affirmé que la signature de ce traité ne susciterait pas les mêmes problématiques que d’autres traités du genre, tel le Traité de l’Écharpe Blanche dans le dossier de la création de l’Ordre de Défense. Sa Majesté a aussi fait remarquer les grandes discussions et toutes les informations pertinentes recueillies auprès de la communauté équestre du Royaume. Rappelons que la communauté équestre du Royaume est constituée d’approximativement 35 membres accrédités, ce qui en fait une communauté de moyenne envergure parmi les Royaumes. Le coût en temps et en investissement requis pour participer à cette communauté est un frein à sa croissance potentielle. Sa Majesté croit que cette récompense créera un environnement favorisant la croissance de cette communauté tout en permettant une reconnaissance accrue de ses membres. Particulièrement lorsque ceux-ci voyageront dans des Royaumes ayant eux aussi signé ce traité. Des commentaires différents ont été offerts par des membres de la population, recommandant que le traité ne soit pas signé, mais plutôt qu’une distinction reconnaissant les prouesses équestres soit créée, car le sentiment général est que le traité ne présenterais pas d’avantage comparé au fait de créer une récompense spécifique au Royaume de l’Est.
Leurs Majestés ont annoncé que leurs préférences étaient de signer le traité de la Lance Dorée et d’en faire loi.
L’Ordre de la Rose a été ajouté à l’article IX.E –
Le troisième sujet fut le rapport des officiers et voici un résumé rédigé par le correspondant de la Gazette.
Sénéchale : Dueña Mercedes –Elle travaille sur plusieurs dossiers, si quelqu’un a des questions particulières, on peut la contacter directement.
Héraut de Brigantie : Maître Ryan – La mise à jour de l’Ordre de préséance sera finalisée sous-peu. Des travaux sont réalisés à la base de données et on souhaite que les résultats soit accessibles via le site Web du Royaume dans quelques semaines.
Échiquier : -Maîtresse Ignacia- Nous avons de l’argent et son rapport au Royaume est à jour.
Chroniqueur : -Sans être présente- Maîtresse A’isha a postulé pour une quatrième et dernière année à son poste. Elle souhaite trouver une relève bientôt pour débuter sa formation.
Arts & Sciences : -Maîtresse Vienna- Il s’agit de sa dernière Curie Royale puisque que son terme d’officier prend fin. Le portail des nouveaux welcome.sca.org, génère beaucoup d’intérêt. Un nouveau type de démonstration aura lieu le samedi 16 mai prochain. L’Hastilida de Sire Wiliam & Démo se déroulera au Connecticut et consistera en un événement gratuit comprenant un tournoi. Nous sommes tous invités à participer et à encourager ce nouveau concept d’événement/démo.
Chirurgien : – Maître Galefridus- Si jamais l’Assemblée des Directeurs (BoD) dissolvait le poste de Chirurgien, ce dernier serait fort probablement transformé en guilde structurée pour que les Chirurgiens puisse continuer d’assurer une présence lors des événements, le tout en accord avec la Charte Corporative (Corpora).
Clerc des Sceaux : -Maîtresse Nest- Nous avons des scribes.
Webminister : – Seigneur Lorenz- Le Webministère gère approximativement 36 000 courriels par semaine et il existe approximativement 160 sites différents hébergés par le Royaume et entre 16 et 24 groupes nécessitent un déménagement de site vers les serveurs du Royaume.
Filed under: En français, Law and Policy Tagged: curia
Lost and found items from Mudthaw. Please contact Galefridus (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you recognize any of these.
Fleece scarf, grey and black
Pair of brown fleece gloves
Pair of grey suede and faux fur boots
2 books on weaving
White cotton women’s coif
Leather belt pouch containing several belt tokens
Black leather mug strap
6″ hairpin with gobular crystal
Small black cloth drawstring bag
Belt token, yellow with crossed keys
Belt token, green velvel with gold fringe and embroidered design
Belt token, narrow card-woven with pewter token
Single men’s wrist-length black leather glove (RH)
Single men’s black leather fencing glove (RH)
10″ wooden plate
6″ wooden bowl
White tee shirt, no decoration, XL
Small plastic gryphon head, looks hand-painted
3″ blue pastice toy dish
2 site tokens from various events
Filed under: Announcements
Forensic studies on the skeletal remains of Pharaoh Senebkay discovered last year at Abydos have found numerous sharp-force injuries indicating that he died a brutal death in battle. A pharaoh from a weak transitional dynasty in Egypt’s Second Intermediate Period (1650 and 1550 B.C.), Senebkay was beset by enemies to the north — the Canaanite Hyksos 15th Dynasty — and south — the Theban 16th and 17th Dynasties (1650 – 1590 B.C., 1580 – 1550 B.C.). These were turbulent times that would only come to end with the unification of Egypt under Pharaoh Ahmose I, founder of the 18th Dynasty and of the New Kingdom.
Senebkay lived somewhere in the middle of the Second Intermediate Period, probably around 1600 B.C., which makes him the earliest pharaoh known to have died in battle. Before this study the first pharaoh thought to have died in battle was Theban Pharaoh Seqnenre of the 17th Dynasty (ca. 1558 B.C.), father of the future Ahmose I. Although Seqnenre too was viciously slaughtered, there are no defensive wounds so he could well have been attacked in his sleep or executed by his Hyksos enemies.
Osteologists found that Senebkay was between 35 to 49 years old at the time of his death and of unusual height for his era at five feet seven inches to six feet tall. His wounds were so extensive he must have been the target of multiple attackers.
The king’s skeleton has an astounding eighteen wounds that penetrated to the bone. The trauma includes major cuts to his feet, ankles, knees, hands, and lower back. Three major blows to Senebkay’s skull preserve the distinctive size and curvature of battle axes used during Egypt’s Second Intermediate Period. This evidence indicates the king died violently during a military confrontation, or in an ambush.
The weapon in question was a bronze duckbill axe. University of Pennsylvania archaeologist Josef Wegner, leader of the excavation team, believes the pharoah’s injuries, the weapons they were inflicted with and force with which they were used indicates professional soldiers took the king down in a fight rather than, say, assassins or muggers.
Senebkay appears to have been on horseback when the assault began. Wounds to his lower body — a cut to his right ankle so severe it would have all but amputed his foot, slashes on his knees and hands — were inflicted from the ground upwards and the strikes on his lower back indicate he was seated when he received them. That was more than enough to unhorse him. By the time his assailants embedded their axes in his skull, the pharaoh was probably on the ground.
Another surprising result of the osteological analysis is that muscle attachments on Senebkay’s femurs and pelvis indicate he spent a significant amount of his adult life as a horse rider. Another king’s body discovered this year in a tomb close to that of Senebkay also shows evidence for horse riding, suggesting these Second Intermediate Period kings buried at Abydos were accomplished horsemen.
This is a significant discovery because the introduction of the horse to Egypt was still recent at the time. The first inscriptions referring to the use of horses among the Egyptian elite appear shortly after this period and the chariots that would become inextricably associated with pharaonic Egypt weren’t introduced until the New Kingdom.
One of other skeletons thought to be from a royal tomb (other than Senebkay’s, none of the seven other royal tombs had cartouches identifying the deceased), was a powerfully built man trained to perform a strenuous, repetitive activity with his left arm, possibly archery or combat. Between their prowess on horseback and their tough physical training, it’s possible these Abydos pharaohs were warrior-kings. The research team is hoping to be able to confirm with DNA testing if any of the people found buried in the tombs bore a familial relationship to each other.
Because we know so little about the Abydos kings, the geographic boundaries of their territory are unclear. It seems Senebkay did not die close to Abydos, however. The linen bandages wrapping him are close to the bones, which means the body had already been decaying for a while when he was mummified. He could have been exposed, perhaps by the enemies who killed him, before being sent home, or the voyage home was so long it took several weeks to get his decomposing body to the royal necropolis at Abydos.
Possibly the king died in battle fighting against the Hyksos kings who at that time ruled northern Egypt from their capital at Avaris in the Nile Delta. However, Senebkay may have died in struggles against enemies in the south of Egypt. Historical records dating to Senebkay’s lifetime record at least one attempted invasion of Upper Egypt by a large military force from Nubia to the south. Alternatively, Senebkay may have had other political opponents, possibly kings based at Thebes.
The University of Pennsylvania team will continue excavations at Abydos and to study the remains in the hope of answering some of these questions.
The Coronation of TRH’s Timothy and Gabrielle is but two weeks away.
There will be dancing to celebrate. Dances will be taught and enjoyed.
But to make this most memorable occasion more memorable we need the skilled musicians of the Sylvan Kingdom to play for the dancing to honor the new King and Queen.
If you are both willing and able to play for the dancing at Coronation on April 11, please contact me as soon as you can so I can provide you the set list and other necessities to make your participation easier.
Looking forward to hearing from you soon!
THL sionn, the lost
The Carabinieri art theft squad has recovered two major artworks in separate investigations: an early Cubist work by Pablo Picasso and an ancient Roman sculptural group of Mithras slaying the bull, a scene known today as a tauroctony. Only one of them, the sculpture, is known to have been looted. The Picasso painting is currently under investigation, but its purported provenance is a classic art smuggler’s tall tale, and a particularly bold iteration at that. It could be true, sure, but the Carabinieri clearly don’t think so or they wouldn’t have confiscated it.
The Picasso came to light when Sotheby’s, in the name of the putative current owner, filed an export license request in Venice for the oil painting Violin and Bottle of Bass made in 1912 by Pablo Picasso. The painting is listed in the 1961 edition of the great multi-volume catalogue raisonné of the artist’s works compiled by Christian Zervos. It was done in the early Analytic Cubist style developed by Picasso and Georges Braque characterized by a palette of browns and other neutrals and as such is extremely rare and desirable.
Yet, the declared value of this early work was 1.4 million euros ($1.5 million). That’s a ridiculously lowball figure for a painting that would go for at least 15 million euros ($16.2 million) in the open market and could easily make more at auction. The weirdly cheap Picasso drew the unblinking eye of art squad investigators who sought an explanation from the owner. Said owner turns out to be a retired Roman frame maker. In 1978, a gentleman of advanced age came to his shop holding a picture frame with a photo of his beloved late wife inside. The maid had apparently knocked over the frame and broken the glass, devastating the widower. The frame maker repaired the frame for free because it was such an easy fix. In gratitude, the customer repaid the frame maker by returning two days later with a gift: Violin and Bottle of Bass. The frame maker had no idea what a treasure he’d been given for replacing a two-cent piece of glass, so he just stashed it somewhere and forgot about it for 36 years until discovering by accident that he might have a Picasso.
Mysteries abound in this less than entirely believable story. Tests have confirmed the attribution of the painting to Picasso, but more will be forthcoming while the investigation proceeds.
The statue of Mithras is a looter’s special, too. The Carabinieri found it during a complex operation of surveillance centered in the Fiumicino area outside Rome where the airport is, a crossroads of the market in illicit archaeological goods. Carabinieri noticed a nondescript van with no external identifiers that for some reason had a motorized escort — a motorcycle in front and a Smart Car taking up the rear. They pulled the van over and searched it. The back was filled with flowers and plants under a tarp. Cops saw the nose of a bull sticking up through the plants and found the marble sculpture group with the soil from its illegal excavation still caked on it.
The sculpture dates from the 2nd-3rd century A.D. and depicts an iconic scene in Mithraism wherein the hero tilts back the bull’s head and slays the beast with a knife while a dog and snake lick its blood and a scorpion has a go at the bull’s testicles. Every Mithraeum had at least one representation of this scene, usually reliefs and frescoes. A large freestanding sculpture like this would have been extremely luxurious then, and it is even more so today. Experts put its value at a minimum of 8 million euros. Only two other large tauroctonies like this one are known to exist today, one in the British Museum, one in the Vatican Museums.
Soil tests of the dirt on the sculpture pinpointed two possible locations of origin in central Italy: the ancient Etruscan cities of Tarquinia and Vulci. The regional Culture Ministry immediately began emergency excavations at the possible sites and found the exact spot from which the statue had been looted. It was Tarquinia, and archaeologists found two smoking guns in the form of the little rampant dog missing from the sculpture and the head of the missing snake. They also unearthed a few other marble fragments, the remains of a mosaic floor and a terracotta tile floor that suggest this was once a Mithraem.
A map of Switzerland and Swiss traveling routes found in the van make it very clear where the tauroctony was headed if it hadn’t been intercepted. Its value on the open market would be something in the neighborhood of 8 million euros ($8.7 million), a meager thing compared to its immense historical value. The statue will go on temporary display at the Vatican Museums in a few weeks after which it will return to Tarquinia in July.
The Carabinieri announced a third recovery at the same press conference, an 18th century oil painting by Luca Carlevarijs entitled View of Piazza San Marco from the Dock. It was stolen on April 28th, 1984, from the home of a private collector and discovered last September in the hands of an art dealer in Milan indicted for receiving stolen goods and illegal export of a painting now in the United States. While searching the dealer’s home, cops found 190 photographs of paintings. One of them was the Carlevarijs. They compared the photos against the squad’s database of stolen cultural goods and discovered the 30-year-old theft. It seems the artwork had been given to the dealer by a collector in anticipation of its sale.
Carlevarijs was the founder of the Venetian school of vedute, meaning views or landscapes of the city, starting with etchings in 1703 and then moving on to oil paintings. Canaletto was strongly influenced by him, as you can see in this piece, and probably met Carlevarijs around 1720 when the young artist moved back home to Venice after studying in Rome. Canaletto may have been Carlevarijs’ pupil at this time — the sources are murky — but if so, he soon surpassed the master. In 1725, just five years after Canaletto’s return, art merchant Alessandro Marchesini would suggest to his client, collector Stefano Conti who was looking for vedute of Venice, that he acquire a piece by Canaletto who “inevitably amazes everyone here who sees his works, which are in the manner of Carlevaris, but light shines out from the sun.”
Compared to the Picasso and the tauroctony I’m afraid poor Mr. Carlevarijs doesn’t quite make the headline, but it amuses me how each of these stories touches on the standard tropes of the traffic in illicit art and antiquities. We’ve got a supershady provenance story, a recently excavated, high-quality ancient sculpture that was destined for surreptitious sale in Switzerland where it doubtless would have received brand new papers certifying it as having been in “an anonymous Swiss collection” for the past 50 years, and we have the art dealer acting as a fence and keeping a big cache of incriminating photographs of the pieces he is trying to sell/has sold illegally. It’s like looter’s bingo.