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Webminister Report Form

East Kingdom Gazette - Tue, 2017-12-12 16:53

Good morning and greetings to the Webministers of the East Kingdom!

It’s reporting season – and linked, please find the 2017 Reporting Form. Please fill out the form for either the year or just for the 4th quarter if you’ve already provided quarterly reports for the year.

The warrant renewal form will be released soon as well, but we didn’t want to bury everyone under these admittedly awesome new Google Forms.

2017 Webminister Report

If you have any questions, please just let us know and we’ll be happy to assist in any way we can.

Matthias von Würzburg, Deputy Kingdom Webminister

Filed under: Announcements Tagged: officers, webminister

Report from East Kingdom Curia: December 9, 2015

East Kingdom Gazette - Tue, 2017-12-12 16:53

The final version of the changes to East Kingdom Law resulting from the Curia held on December 9, 2017 at Yule Revel in Renaissance Germany, in the Barony of Bhakail, can be found on the Seneschal’s website under the Curia tab. The final version can be found by clicking on the Changes made to Law at December 2017 Curia, or here:


The original version is still located by clicking the Agenda link, or here: http://seneschal.eastkingdom.org/docs/EKCuria20171209Agenda.pdf

The agenda for the Birka curia will be posted in the next few weeks.

I encourage everyone to check the website and read what is proposed for any curia.

Katherine Barr, East Kingdom Seneschal

Filed under: Law and Policy Tagged: curia

EK Pennsic Court Survey

East Kingdom Gazette - Tue, 2017-12-12 16:53


Greetings, East Kingdom!

Brennan and I really like going to Midnight Madness. Unfortunately, EK Pennsic court is traditionally on Wednesday night of War Week, and thus we, as Royals or Populace members, are often tired and the hour is late by the time we are able to get to the merchant area. I am certain we are not alone in this.

Thus, we are contemplating changing the night of EK court at Pennsic this year and we are interested in your opinion on the matter. Please fill out the EK Pennsic Court Survey and let us know your thoughts.

Thank you very much in advance.

In Service to the East,
Caoilfhionn Principissa & Brennan Princeps

Filed under: Announcements Tagged: announcement, midnight madness, Pennsic, pennsic war, royal court, Survey

Ice Age fossils found in LA subway construction

History Blog - Tue, 2017-12-12 00:28

The expansion of the subway system in Los Angeles, California, has an unexpected commonality with Rome’s tortured endeavors to build a new line through the historic center: the ground under these cities is crammed full of the remains of the current residents’ predecessors. In Rome’s case it’s ancient archaeological materials, while Los Angeles’ specialty is Ice Age fossils. The company that has LA’ contract for digging the new tunnels keeps a paleontologist on call at all times so that whenever they find something, which is often, it can be properly handled and recovered by a professional. It’s a state regulatory requirement that has ensured the protection of cultural and natural historic patrimony since subway construction first began the 1990s, an attempt to right the many wrongs done to Los Angeles’ history and prehistory during its earlier spurts of rapid growth.

The latest fossil bumper crop has been springing up since 2014 when construction on the extension of the Metro Purple Line started. Paleontologist Ashley Leger of Cogstone Resource Management (CGM) was contracted to examine any finds made by work crews excavating tunnels. Whenever they found something, they’d stop what they were doing, call her and move over to another location to continue work on the project. That gave her the space she needed while still keeping the extension on some semblance of a schedule. The construction crews even pitch in when help is needed.

Most of the finds haven’t required their aid. Leger has unearthed, among other remains, fragments of a rabbit jaw, one mastodon tooth, the foreleg bone of a camel, several bison vertebrae, one tooth and one ankle bone from a horse. But, appropriately for a show business industry town, Los Angeles had something far more spectacular saved up for her. Last year, she got a late night call from one CGM’s site monitors. He said they’d found something and that “it looks big.”

The next morning, Leger knelt at the site and recognized what appeared to be a partial elephant skull.
It turned out to be much more. After 15 hours of painstaking excavation, the team uncovered an intact skull of a juvenile mammoth.

“It’s an absolute dream come true for me,” said Leger, who spent the previous decade at a South Dakota mammoth site with no discoveries even close to the size of the one in Los Angeles. “It’s the one fossil you always want to find in your career.” […]

From there, the skull was hauled a mile or so to Los Angeles’ La Brea Tar Pits and Museum, home to one of America’s most fossil-rich sites.
Assistant curator Dr. Emily Lindsey called it a “pretty remarkable find,” noting that while thousands of dire wolf and saber-toothed cat remains have been uncovered in L.A., there have been only about 30 mammoths.

A few hundred pounds and the size of an easy chair, the skull is especially rare because both tusks were attached. It’s being studied and is available for public viewing inside the museum’s glass-walled Fossil Lab.

The skull with its glamorous attached tusks and those crazy mammoth teeth with the Golgi Apparatus-looking molars was named Hayden after the actress Hayden Panettiere who was apparently on TV when the CGM monitor first spotted the big head.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Two unopened tombs rediscovered in Luxor

History Blog - Mon, 2017-12-11 00:30

Luxor’s Draa Abul Nagaa necropolis has capped a year of sensational finds with another compelling rarity: two unexplored tombs discovered in the 1990s but never opened or excavated. They were first unearthed by German Egyptologist Friederike Kampp-Seyfried who recorded their existence and named tem Kampp 150 and Kampp 161, but he did not explore them. He excavated Kampp 150 only up to the entrance, and he didn’t get to Kampp 161 at all. They were forgotten and neglected and only rediscovered by Egyptian archaeologists who have been exploring the necropolis

In less than 10 months, archaeologists excavating the necropolis have found more than a thousand ushabti figurines, eight mummies, 10 wooden sarcophagi with still-vibrant polychrome paint, all in the tomb a magistrate named Userhat, the first funerary garden ever discovered and the tomb of a New Kingdom goldsmith named Amenemhat. All of the tombs unearthed this remarkable year date to the 18th Dynasty of the New Kingdom (1550-1292 B.C.) when Luxor, then Thebes, was the capital and the primary religious and administrative center of the kingdom. The people buried at Draa Abul Nagaa originally were likely priests, courtiers and government functionaries.

Neither of the newly-opened tombs include inscriptions specifically identifying the deceased as such, so we can’t be certain who was buried there or what function they may have performed at the pharaonic courts. The earlier tomb, Kampp 150, a mud-brick and masonry structure, is about 3,500 years old. It is larger than Kampp 161, with five entrances that open onto a courtyard that has two shaft burials on the north and south side.

Archaeologists found a significant number of artifacts inside, including painted wood funerary masks, funerary cones, earthenware vessels and around 450 painted wood figurines. They also found human remains: a mummy with intact linen wrappings indicating he was an individual of rank and ministerial importance. On the ceiling is a cartouche of the pharaoh Thutmose I, which dates the tomb and indicates the deceased may have been an official in his government. We do have one potential clue to the occupants of the tomb. Funerary seals in the courtyard bear the names of Maati and Mohi, a scribe and his wife. It’s not as precise as an inscription or dedication, but the presence of multiple seals naming the same couple does suggest they might have been buried there.

Kampp 161 has a single shaft burial but no remains were found there. There is no tell-tale cartouche to date it, but stylistically the tomb is comparable to its neighbors built in the reigns of Amenhotep II or Thutmose IV, around 3,400 years ago. The crown jewel of the tomb’s decoration is a mural on the western wall that has had some paint loss but not much. What’s left is a richly colored banquet or ritual during which people present offerings to the deceased and his wife. Archaeologists unearthed wooden funerary masks, intact and fragmentary, pieces of wooden furniture, and a painted coffin in the tomb.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

A Request for Fencers Entering Rapier Champs

East Kingdom Gazette - Sun, 2017-12-10 18:15

Greetings to the Fencers of the Kingdom from the Editors of the East Kingdom Gazette,

We at the Gazette would like to report on the King’s and Queen’s Rapier Champion tourney much the same way we do Crown Tourney, as we continue to expand our coverage of important kingdom events and tourneys.

One of the things that makes it easier to cover tourneys like this is having the list of combatants in advance, to make it easier for our on site reporters to get posts up. Unlike Crown Tourney, Rapier Champs has no requirement for a letter of intent or pre-event sign up.

We have created an online poll with the intent of getting as many names as possible pre-typed and spelled correctly. We have the permission of Don Lupold to do so, however this is in no way official or binding. You will still need to sign up for the tourney when you arrive on site. We fully understand that we will not reach every fencer who may be competing, but each fencer we do reach is one more name spelled correctly we won’t have to type in the moment.

The form can be found here.

Thank you for helping us share the day with those who are unable to be there.  If you have any questions, please email us at eastkingdomgazette@gmail.com. Please share this widely so that we can reach as many combatants as possible.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Update on the Kingdom Email Migration

East Kingdom Gazette - Sun, 2017-12-10 14:21

Greetings once again from the Webministry of the East Kingdom!

The migration of our Kingdom’s email services to Google for Nonprofits proceeds apace. We have now moved 11 branches and the Kingdom Exchequer and his team, and have 7 more branches scheduled for next week. These are out of totals of 67 branches, 11 Kingdom Offices, 3 event sites, and 9 guilds.

Now we have a problem. We’re trying to schedule such that after we receive a branch’s list of officers and create their new accounts, they have a week to get their password set and get accustomed to the new environment before they have to rely on that environment to get their jobs done. However, we don’t have anything to schedule, and this is starting to open up days off on our calendar. We have 4 people doing these migrations, don’t worry about setting us up for days off, we’re covering that just fine internally.

Please, we need the user information spreadsheets returned from every branch or we can’t proceed. (If you’re about to hold elections for all of your Officers, please feel free to hold off until after that. Migrating everything once is enough, we don’t need to do it twice.) Our goal is to complete this migration before the end of the reign of Their Majesties Ivan and Mathilde, which means we have to be migrating something at least every other day in order to succeed. That includes weekends, and holidays. But we can’t migrate without users to migrate.

As a reminder, our calendar can be viewed at:

Also, our Frequently Asked Questions List is accessible at:

Progress is definitely being made on the mechanism that will be used to manage officer transitions in the future (we’re starting to test), and that has lead to some advances in working with mailing lists. I expect these will be ironed out in the next week or so and ready for public consumption.

As always, please direct any questions or concerns to gfnp@eastkingdom.org.

In Service,
Joel Messerer
East Kingdom Deputy Webminister for Services

Filed under: Announcements Tagged: webministry

Kingdom Website Redesign Planned

East Kingdom Gazette - Sun, 2017-12-10 12:38

Greetings Unto the Good People of the East!

I write to you today as the new Deputy Kingdom Webminister for Design. As you know the webministry is in the process of significant upgrades to our systems. This will include our EastKingdom.org site. I’d like to talk to you about plans and opportunities for participation. 

Technology evolves rapidly. One goal will be to migrate the site onto a new platform which is in line with current best practices and usability. That will be managed by the Webministry. Where we would like to invite members of the populace to contribute is the “look and feel” of the new site. Come the New Year I will be seeking submissions for a new visual design for www.eastkingdom.org. I tell you now NOT to overburden anyone at this busy time of year, but to plant a seed that may germinate in your minds.

Further details for those who may be interested in participating:

  • I will draft the guidelines and finalize requirements with the Webministry staff during December/early January.
  • By mid-January provide the requirements and scope of the project/ high-level information architecture along with any rules. Take public questions from then until submissions open.
  • By Birka, begin accepting design submissions and accept them through the end of February.
    • During the visual design submission timeframe I will be working with select webministers and content owners on eastkingdom.org (NOT yet all of the sub-sites) to plan the content organization and text. Surveys will be shared to gather populace needs and opinions as well as looking at metrics in the various logs our servers keep.
  • During March, we will pare down the designs to those that best meet the requirements and then gather our panel of judges to discuss their feedback and make a selection. The panel will be comprised of Their Majesties, Their Highnesses, our Kingdom MoAS, and myself. We will notify all parties of the selection.
  • In April, begin working with the winning team on implementing the design on a development site.
  • Debut the new site at the 50th Celebrations in June.

If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to write to me at web-design@eastkingdom.org. I will do my best to answer questions – or develop answers – as we move this process along.

Yours in service to Kingdom and Crown,

Baroness Christina Jenevra de Carvalhal

Deputy Webminister, Design East Kingdom
Filed under: Announcements Tagged: webministry, websites

Puttin’ on the Rijks

History Blog - Sun, 2017-12-10 00:30

Why yes I am absurdly pleased with that title, thank you for asking. When the Rijksmuseum is putting on a show dedicated to full-length portraiture of moneyed art patrons from the Renaissance to the 20th century, certain puns become irresistible. The new exhibition, High Society will be centered around the museum’s most spectacular new babies, the portraits of wealthy merchant Marten Soolmans and his bride, heiress Oopjen Coppit painted by Rembrandt van Rijn in 1634. He was only 28 years old but already had made a name for himself as the top portraitist on the scene. He had known Soolmans since the latter’s desultory stab at law school in Leiden when he was 15, and as Oopjen Coppit was kind enough to bring an enormous pile of cash into the matrimonial home as a dowry, Marten booked the best to have himself and his wife immortalized top to bottom. These are the only full-length, life-sized portraits Rembrandt ever painted.

The pair is jointly owned by the Louvre and the Rijksmuseum who spent €80 million apiece to buy the portraits from Baron Eric de Rothschild. Because the portraits were already in France with the baron, the Louvre got first crack at displaying them in accordance with the intricacies of the shared acquisition deal. They went on display in Paris in March 2016 for three months, then moved on to Amsterdam where they had another brief three-month display next to the Night Watch before being taken off public view for much-needed conservation. The portraits had only been lightly cleaned and had “fake saliva” daubed on to bring back some of their original sheen before their debut at the Louvre.

That thorough restoration, undertaken by a joint team of experts from both national museums, is just about finished now and the wedding couple will be shown conserved, repaired, their finery back to its finest, for the first time at the new exhibition opening March 8th, 2018. It’s not the happy couple who will be peacocking it in this show. The Rijksmuseum took the opportunity to make Marten and Oopjen the fulcrum of a larger exploration of the evolution of the full-length portrait in art history, borrowing more than 35 masterpieces from private collections and museums in Paris, London, Florence, Vienna and California, among others. This is the first exhibition dedicated to this most magnificent of portrait formats.

Life-sized, standing, full-length portraiture had been the province of kings and powerful aristocrats in earlier times, and barely seen at all up north. The portraits of two proud exponents of the moneyed Dutch bourgeoisie illustrate the upwardly-mobile aspirations of the young Dutch Republic, then just 50 years old and focused on building wealth through trade and industry instead of bloodlines, currying monarchical favor and conquest. Marten and Oopjen were some of the earliest examples of the style being employed in Holland.

The earliest life-sized portraits of worthies standing around looking fabulously wealthy (or telegraphing their politics or promoting their families or celebrating their greatest beauties or their weddings, as in the case of Marten and Oopjen) that we know of were painted by Lucas Cranach the Elder in 1514. The subjects were Henry the Pious, Duke of Saxony, and his wife Catharina, Countess of Mecklenburg. Less than a decade later the Italians stepped up to the plate with the unnamed subject in Moretto da Brescia’s Portrait of a Man (1525). The earliest known couple depicted in a full-length portrait by an Italian artist are Count Iseppo da Porto and his wife Countess Livia Thiene by Paolo Veronese (ca. 1552).

From those beginnings, the format spread north and west during the 16th and 17th centuries. Great masters like Velázquez, Anthony van Dyck and Frans Hals went big during this period, as did Rembrandt with Marten and Oopjen. The exhibition keeps going, illustrating the shift in focus from people of noble rank to people with money to socialites and even (gasp!) artists in the early 20th century. One of the last portraits to be painted from the group on display is one of Edvard Munch by Walther Rathenau (1907).

The exhibition is a short one — giant rarities don’t get loaned very often or for long — and closes on June 3rd, 2018.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

From the Board of Directors – New Director-Elect

East Kingdom Gazette - Sat, 2017-12-09 20:48

The Board of Directors is pleased to announce the appointment of Craig Carter (Quintus Aurelius Dracontius) as Director-Elect for Seat E for the Board of Directors of the Society for Creative Anachronism. Craig Carter is the Chief Operating Officer for Radiology Associates of North Texas. Quintus Aurelius Dracontius is a Duke and a Knight from the Kingdom of Ansteorra.


Mr. Carter will take his seat at the conclusion of the April 2018 quarterly meeting.


The Board of Directors of the SCA Inc. establishes the rules of the Society’s historical recreation activities and minimum administrative requirements for officers and branches. It is the final arbiter of the interpretations of these rules as made by the officers of the Society. Members of the SCA Board of Directors serve three-and-a-half year terms. Candidates for the Board are nominated by SCA members and participants. For more information on this process please contact Director Chele Martines at recruiting@sca.org.

Comments are strongly encouraged and can be sent to:
SCA Inc.
Box 360789
Milpitas,  CA 95036

You may also email comments@lists.sca.org.

This announcement is an official informational release by the Society for Creative Anachronism , Inc.  Permission is granted to reproduce this announcement in its entirety in newsletters, websites and electronic mailing lists.

Filed under: Corporate Tagged: board of directors

From the Board of Directors – New Society Seneschal – Elect

East Kingdom Gazette - Sat, 2017-12-09 20:41

The Board of Directors is pleased to announce the selection of Mike Watkins (Alywin Watkyn) as Society Seneschal-Elect for the Society for Creative Anachronism. Mike Watkins is the a Tech Projects Manager for Auburn University. Alywin Watkyn is a Pelican and former Kingdom Seneschal for Meridies. Mr. Watkins will undergo an intense training period, before succeeding current Society Seneschal, Anthony Pongratz (Antonio Giordano da Sicilia).


The Society Seneschal is responsible for coordinating the administration of the Society’s historical re-creation. This involves directing the activities of the Kingdom Seneschals and of Society-level deputies. Where questions arise concerning the intent of Corpora, the Board specifically authorizes the Society Seneschal to make interpretations and clarifications. The Society Seneschal is also responsible for reviewing all sanction related activities.

Comments are strongly encouraged and can be sent to:
SCA Inc.
Box 360789
Milpitas,  CA 95036

You may also email comments@lists.sca.org.

This announcement is an official informational release by the Society for Creative Anachronism , Inc.  Permission is granted to reproduce this announcement in its entirety in newsletters, websites and electronic mailing lists.

Filed under: Announcements, Corporate Tagged: corporate announcements, society seneschal

Massive Venezuela petroglyphs mapped for the first time

History Blog - Sat, 2017-12-09 00:25

Large rock art panels discovered recently on islands in the Atures Rapids in the Amazonas region of western Venezuela have been thoroughly mapped and studied for the first time by researchers from University College London (UCL). The engraved images of animals, people and symbols were carved by local people up to 2,000 years ago. (Shortly after the Spanish arrived, Jesuit missionaries identified the Adoles as the inhabitants of this area, but we don’t know who was there before.) Thanks to the historically low level of the Orinoco River, more petroglyphs have been exposed. Researchers found eight groups of rock art on five islands. Some of these engravings, individual and as a group, are huge. One panel is festooned with 93 petroglyphs over an area of 3270 square feet. A horned snake from another panel is 100 feet long just on its own. These are some of the largest rock art panels ever found anywhere in the world.

It was a challenging task recording such large and spread-out petroglyphs carved into high rock faces in the middle of the Orinoco River. That’s why this study is unprecedented. Others have studied the artworks, but were not able to get anywhere near as close and as a detailed a view as the University College London archaeologist. The team employed robot aides in the form of drones to take aerial overhead pictures of the engraved surfaces that were out of puny human reach. Every petroglyph was documented in photographs and their dimensions and positioning measured using photogrammetry (a technology that derives precise spatial data from photographs by creating 3D renderings of the pictures). Researchers also studied the relationship between the Atures Rapids petroglyphs, their archaeological and cultural context and the links they suggest between the locals who carved them and other indigenous peoples of pre-Hispanic Latin America.

The paper’s author Dr Philip Riris (UCL Institute of Archaeology) said: “The Rapids are an ethnic, linguistic and cultural convergence zone. The motifs documented here display similarities to several other rock art sites in the locality, as well as in Brazil, Colombia, and much further afield. This is one of the first in-depth studies to show the extent and depth of cultural connections to other areas of northern South America in pre-Columbian and Colonial times.”

“While painted rock art is mainly associated with remote funerary sites, these engravings are embedded in the everyday – how people lived and travelled in the region, the importance of aquatic resources and the seasonal rhythmic rising and falling of the water. The size of some of the individual engravings is quite extraordinary.” […]

In one panel surveyed, a motif of a flautist surrounded by other human figures probably depicts part of an indigenous rite of renewal. Performances conceivably coincided with the seasonal emergence of the engravings from the river just before the onset of the wet season, when the islands are more accessible and the harvest would take place.

The research is part of the Cotúa Island-Orinoco Reflexive Archaeology Project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust.

Principal Investigator, Dr José Oliver (UCL Institute of Archaeology), said: “Our project focuses on the archaeology of Cotúa Island and its immediate vicinity of the Atures Rapids. Available archaeological evidence suggests that traders from diverse and distant regions interacted in this area over the course of two millennia before European colonization. The project’s aim is to better understand these interactions.”

“Mapping the rock engravings represents a major step towards an enhanced understanding of the role of the Orinoco River in mediating the formation of pre-Conquest social networks throughout northern South America.”

The UCL research team’s findings have been published in the journal Antiquity and can be read here. It’s openly available for now (be warned: that could change) and makes a fascinating read.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

How to host a spice-tasting party!

AEthelmearc Gazette - Fri, 2017-12-08 22:32

On Sunday, December 3, the gentles of the Dominion of Myrkfaelinn convened to sample the results of our second redaction challenge. I challenged our cooks to mix a blend of spices to create a Powder Forte and a Powder Fine — two frequently occurring additions to many a medieval recipe.

The base recipes can be viewed here

After an initial flurry of “where can I get galingale?” and “can I swap some grains of paradise for long pepper?”, we made a group spice order and set to blending. Some folks used modern grinders, while others employed mortar and pestle, sifted the results through a sieve, then ground the remainder — over and over until the spice reached a consistent texture.

It turns out that online suggestions for “how to host a spice tasting party” aren’t very helpful, and I found myself in the position of creating a template for doing so. To sample and compare the dozen spice mixtures, we used sandwich picks dipped in canola oil, then dipped in the spice mixture. I made gluten-free and oyster crackers available to cleanse the palate between tastings, though at least one individual dipped the cracker and then tasted the spice on the crackers.

Sandwich picks

The strong powders and fine powders were arranged together; some folks tried the fines then the fortes, others in reverse. It didn’t seem to make a difference to the tasting which spice combination we tasted first, but it was very nice to be able to sample fortes and fines side-by-side.

Once again we had an array of flavors from the same recipe. There were no clear favorites among the group, and more than once I heard “this is good, but I like mine better.” (Given the nature of the recipe, this was not a surprising comment; we were making blends to suit or own tastes.)

As a group, we decided that this methodology did work well to sample the various spices. After more thought, I would recommend the following additions, should you hold your own spice-tasting event:

  • Provide water for palate cleansing.
  • Offer a mild bread, chicken cubes, and warm elbow pasta to carry spice on — some folks though it odd to be eating spices plain, and this would overcome that feeling (plus add some different flavor to think about how the mixture would “work” with different base ingredients).
  • Find sampling dishes that are flat, without sharp corners and crevices, so the spice doesn’t get lodged into unreachable corners.

Once again, we had many folks participate, and we all look forward to using their mixtures in future challenges!

Lady Meadbh ni Clerigh
Dominion of Myrkfaelinn

Photos by Elska á Fjárfelli

Categories: SCA news sites

Earliest known slave remains found in Delaware

History Blog - Fri, 2017-12-08 00:21

An archaeological excavation at the historic site of Avery’s Rest in Rehoboth Bay, Delaware, has unearthed the skeletal remains of some of Delaware’s earliest colonists. The inhumation burials of 11 individuals interred in the late 1600s include three of African descent, one of them a child. These are the earliest known remains of enslaved people ever discovered in Delaware.

Seven of the eight individuals of European descent were neatly buried in a single row. The three African Americans — two adult men and one child of about five years of age at time of death — were interred near the seven but in a separate section. Black and white were all buried in coffins, although only the nails have survived. The people of African descent were not related to each other and their mitochondrial DNA places their ancestral origins in west, central and east Africa. Most of their lives, if not all of them, were spent in the mid-Atlantic area of what is now the United States. Rehoboth Bay was wilderness then, and officially part of Pennsylvania and therefore a Dutch colony.

The hardship of their lives was writ large on their bones. One of the people of African descent, an adult male about 35 years of age, received a blow to the head so severe it chipped a piece of bone off his right eyebrow and fractured his face. Experts believe it wasn’t likely to be the strike that killed him, but it did happen at the time of his death and likely contributed to it. His spine showed signs of heavy labour and his front teeth have grooves from where he bit down hard on his clay pipe while doing all that heavy labour. All of the remains show signs of copious dental issues: cavities, abscesses, extractions. One petite 4’11” adult woman was missing all but six of her teeth.

Avery’s Rest is listed in the National Register of Historic Places because it was part of the vast 800-acre property of Captain John Avery who moved to Rehoboth Bay from Maryland in 1675 shortly after the colony changed hands from the Dutch to the British. A ship’s captain in Maryland, he grew his plantation into a major agricultural and livestock concern, planing corn, wheat and most of all, tobacco. There is evidence of a peach orchard on the property as well, some of the first peach trees imported to what would become the United States.

John Avery became a very wealthy and prominent community leader in Delaware, attaining the rank of captain in the militia and receiving an appointment as Justice of the Peace of Whorekill Court in 1678. He doesn’t seem to have endeared himself to many in the role; he was frequently reported for going into rages and showering his fellow justices with abusive language. He was said to have beaten one of them with a cane. They didn’t have long to put up with his irascibility. Avery died in 1682, leaving his plantation to his wife and three children. His will and estate inventories list 50 head of cattle, other assorted livestock, tools, furniture and two humans bound in chattel slavery valued at 3,000 pounds of tobacco apiece.

Despite its significant history as a very early plantation owned by a first-generation English colonist and its including on the National Register, in 2005 the site was acquired by real estate developers to build housing. The Archaeological Society of Delaware and the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs asked the developers allow them to dig a trench or two on the off-chance there might be some archaeological material from the earliest days of European and African presence in Delaware and the developers magnanimously granted them permission to excavate the site in 2006 and 2007. Construction, and the attendant destruction of anything left unexcavated, went forward after that, but the teams continued to explore neighboring land.

The teams excavating the site were hoping to find the remains of the main house Captain Avery and his family lived in, but they never did. By 2007, they had found wells, one wooden well lining (preserved in the waterlogged environment), fence lines, clay pits, glass beads, numerous pipe bowls, Spanish coins, metal pieces from horse fittings, assorted pottery and a large number of animal bones, likely left behind during the process of butchering all that stock mentioned in the estate documents for trade, not for family consumption.

These were meaningful discoveries from a social historical perspective, providing researchers with a rare opportunity to explore the day-to-day operations of an early colonial plantation that was large and prosperous enough to anchor the trade and supply of the British residents of the New World colony. They weren’t the structures the archaeologists had been hoping for, however, so over the next few years they kept looking for them on adjoining properties.

In 2012, they found something else entirely: the first human remains. That triggered a legal requirement that next-of-kin be sought to grant state permission to excavate and study the remains. Three Avery descendants stepped up and granted said permission. By September of 2014, 11 bodies had been unearthed and the Smithsonian Institution’s experts were on the ground to recover the remains and move them to the Smithsonian laboratory for thorough analysis.

So thorough was it that the analysis has taken three years to complete. The age, gender, ethnic origin of the decedents are now known, with even more detail to come.

“Avery’s Rest provides a rare opportunity to learn about life in the 17th century, not only through the study of buried objects and structures, but also through analyses of well-preserved human skeletal remains,” said Dr. Owsley, who leads the Division of Physical Anthropology at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. “The bone and burial evidence provides an intriguing, personal look into the life stories of men, women and children on the Delaware frontier, and adds to a growing body of biological data on the varied experiences of colonist and enslaved populations in the Chesapeake region.”

Bone and DNA analysis confirmed that three of the burials were people of African descent and eight were of European descent. Coupled with research from the historical record, Dr. Owsley further determined that the European burials may be the extended family of John Avery and his wife Sarah, including their daughters, sons-in-law and grandchildren. However, genetic markers alone are not sufficient to determine the exact identities of the remains. […]

The remains will stay in the custody of the Smithsonian, where they will assist ongoing work to trace the genetic and anthropological history of the early colonial settlers of the Chesapeake region. Delaware law strictly forbids the public display of human remains.

While the Smithsonian works the science, Delaware, the Archaeological Society and other historical organizations are launching a research project in the hopes of discovering the identities of the 11 people found buried at Avery’s Rest. Any information they uncover would become part of an exhibition, be it names, places, dates or facial reconstructions.

“Delaware’s history is rich, fascinating and deeply personal to many of us who call this state home,” said Secretary of State Jeff Bullock. “Discoveries like this help us add new sharpness to our picture of the past, and I’m deeply grateful to the passionate community of historians, scientists and archeologists who have helped bring these new revelations to light.”

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Puzzling runes found on whetstone in Oslo

History Blog - Thu, 2017-12-07 00:02

Archaeologists excavating in Oslo, Norway, have discovered a medieval whetstone inscribed with puzzling runes. The Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU) was digging there as part of the Follo Line Project, an archaeological survey of the path of a new railway being built between Oslo and Ski. The railway culvert will run through Oslo’s old medieval center, hence the need for a careful archaeological exploration of the site.

In late October, the team unearthed a small but comparatively thick piece of slate from the smallest trench. The stratigraphy indicated it was medieval, dating between 1050 and 1500. The archaeologist who found it noticed with his keenly trained eye that one side of it was inscribed with some runes. This made the little slate a very large discovery because few runic inscriptions have been found in proper archaeological excavations. Later examination identified the slate as a fragment of a whetstone. Whetstones with runic inscriptions are even more unusual. One three other have been found before in Norway, one from the Viking period, two from the Middle Ages.

The runes weren’t quite legible on the freshly excavated slate, nor could they be read in photographs. It had to go to a laboratory and be viewed under a microscope to identify which runes were used and to begin to unravel the inscription. Experts have been struggling to solve the runic puzzle ever since.

Some of the runes are difficult to identify, but it seems that the runes æ, r, k, n, a appear on the whetstone. But it is not easy to tell what they mean.

NIKU’s rune experts have come up with several possible interpretations, ranging from a person’s name to word to words like “scared,” “ugly” and “pain.”

“This is probably an unsuccessful attempt to write a name or another rather trivial inscription, but we can see that this is hardly a trained rune carver,” says Karen Holmqvist, a Ph.D. fellow at NIKU and a specialist in runes.

The findings contribute to the perception that the art of runic writing was relatively widespread in medieval Norway. But many writers would probably find themselves in a borderland, where they knew about writing, but were not literate.

“It is perhaps not that strange that we find some strange spellings and some mirrored runes. Just think how you yourself wrote when you were learning to write,” says Holmqvist.

The medieval person behind this whetstone inscription probably belonged to this group. They knew about the runes, but probably mixed them up a bit.

That’s a kind way of putting it. According to a blog entry co-authored by Kristine Ødeby, archaeologist and field supervisor on the Follo Line excavations, and Karen Holmqvist, the runes can read in a multitude of ways, and this carver seems to have been inconsistent and confused. Runes are confusing enough as it is, with a lot of variables to account for in their interpretation. It’s hard to tell which way is up, for example (literally, not metaphorically). It’s also not certain whether they were written left to right or right to left. (Runes are flexible like that, and it wasn’t until later in the Middle Ages that left to right runic inscriptions became the norm.)

Ødeby and Holmqvist ask readers to comment with any suggestions and ideas for possible interpretations, so if you speak fluent rune (or even just read Norwegian so you don’t have to rely on terrible online translators like I do), chime in with your ideas about what our whetstone-carving friend might have been trying to say.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Brewers Guild Promotes Participation

AEthelmearc Gazette - Wed, 2017-12-06 20:04

by Viscountess Lucilla Theresa de Courtenay

Recently, the Æthelmearc Guild of Brewers, Vintners, and Meadhers (affectionately known simply as the Brewers Guild) implemented a program designed to promote greater participation among its members as well as to entice new people to join the ranks: Points for Participation.

“We have been struggling for a couple of years to increase participation in guild activities,” said THL Madoc Arundel, the current head of the guild. “There are a lot of really decent brewers in this kingdom, and guild activities provide an opportunity for them to showcase their product.”

The goal of the new program is not just to get more brewers involved in A&S competitions, but to promote participation in many of the other opportunities available, such as roundtable discussions, teaching and attending classes, and largess.

“We looked at the archery and thrown weapon communities for inspiration. The ranking programs they have encourage people to shoot or throw as often as possible while rewarding improvement in their skills,” said Madoc. “The programs did not translate directly to the brewing community, but we were able to adapt the basic concept to a construct that works for us.”

Harvest Raid roundtable, 2017.

The new program works on an individual rolling 12-month cycle, meaning that brewers can jump in at any time without missing out on opportunities. Points are awarded for attending or hosting roundtables; organizing, judging, entering, and winning competitions; publishing research or informative articles; contributing to social activities or largess; and teaching or attending classes with a brewing theme. The scale rewards both the breadth and depth of participation. As points are tallied, and thresholds are met, guild members receive a token of recognition of their advancement from Novice to Grandmaster.

Leading into the implementation of this new program, the guild has been promoting greater visibility of its members throughout the Kingdom. Beginning with the regional representatives reaching out within their regions to provide more organized opportunities. Currently, the goal is a minimum of one roundtable and one regional competition within each region every year. Regional representatives are also reaching out to event stewards and local A&S officers to ensure brewing considerations are taken into account whenever an A&S activity is planned for an event. Regional representatives and their contact information can be found at http://brewers.aethelmearc.org/org.html.

Since the implementation of the program in late September, roundtables appeared in Regions 2 and 4 with a focus on the historical ingredients in the various beverages brought by the participants. “I think a big part of AE brewers … is that they also don’t focus on the historic part of the drink. Isn’t that what we’re trying to change?” quipped THL Elska á Fjárfellí, the Region 5 guild representative. Elska is the point person on revamping and restructuring the guild’s competition program to make it easier for local groups to conduct a brewing competition either as a standalone activity or as part of a larger A&S activity. Additionally, the Fall Æcademy included three classes focused on alcoholic beverages: “What the Irish Drank” by Baron Charles O’Connor; “Judging an SCA Brewing Competition” by THL Madoc; and “Brewing a Basic Beer” by Lord Ulf the Barelegged. Classes are being developed or encouraged in future Æcademy and schola events, as well as War Practice.

Since the inception of the new program, sixteen people have qualified for the initial activity level of reward and two people have qualified for advanced levels. Any brewer, judge, teacher, student, activity coordinator, or A&S officer can report brewing activity for themselves or their constituency by sending an email to BVMGuild.Points@hotmail.com with the type of activity, the date/event, and the names of the people participating. “We are planning to announce the first group of achievers at BMDL Twelfth Night,” stated Madoc.

Learn more about the Points for Participation program at the unofficial AE brewers Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/groups/248448708659644/) or the official Brewers Guild website (http://brewers.aethelmearc.org/).



Categories: SCA news sites

3D animation of Sculptor’s Cave

History Blog - Wed, 2017-12-06 00:25

Sculptor’s Cave in Moray, Scotland, is an archaeological gem among archaeological gems. It is the main cave of several set in the craggy ocean-facing cliff that was used by local peoples for millennia. In the Bronze Age deposits of jewelry and ceramics were made there, and the abundance of human skeletal remains, many of children, from that era also found in the cave suggests it held some ritual funerary significance. The skull of one the children appears to have been defleshed post-mortem. Less sensational that the defleshed child but just as meaningful historically are the Pictish symbols carved on the walls of the entrances.

This unique location has been kept hidden from public view (from most people’s view, for that matter) for its own protection and for everyone else’s because it is only accessible at low tide. That’s going to change now, at least virtually.

A new project, funded by Historic Environment Scotland and carried out by Professor Ian Armit and Dr Lindsey Büster at the University of Bradford, has created a high-resolution animated model of the cave. Through laser scanning and structured light scanning, the details of the cave have been digitally preserved to allow for more in-depth exploration of the cave – and the Pictish symbols – no matter whether the tide is high.

“The Sculptor’s Cave is a fascinating location, known for decades for the richness of its archaeology and for the unusual Pictish carvings around its entrance,” said Professor Armit of Bradford’s School of Archaeological and Forensic Sciences. “This walk-through animation allows us to study the carvings in detail, and to present this inaccessible site to the public through online and museum displays. It also ensures that we can preserve the cave and the carvings digitally for future generations to study.”

Here is an animated flythrough of Sculptor’s Cave in the 3D model created using the scan data. This is just a glimpse of what’s to come. Next year the results of the study will be published by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. The animated model will be deployed at the Elgin Museum so that visitors will be able to see the cave and its carvings in detail.

In keeping with the mini-theme I seem to have accidentally developed over the past couple of days, Historic Environment Scotland has launched an even more ambitious digitization project that will see 50,000 items from its archives scanned, uploaded to the web and made freely available to all. The records include photographs taken by HES’ predecessor organizations, the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland and Historic Scotland. For more than a century (1908 to 2015) RCAHMS’ brief was documenting everything it could about Scotland’s history as seen in physical structures and the environment. There are a thousands of aerial photos shot from airplanes, pictures of buildings (and therefore street life) throughout the decades, among many other things. RCAHMS merged with Historic Scotland, steward of many of Scotland’s listed buildings, in 2015. As a result HES today has an enormous collection of photographs stored in their headquarters Edinburgh, but they’re only accessible to people who can get to John Sinclair House in person.

The digitization initiative will take those 50,000 photos out of their green archive boxes and into pixel space. Once the scanning is complete, the images will be uploaded to Canmore, HES’ online catalogue of its enormous collection of records (including a fine array of historic photographs like Misses Reid and Bonshaw looking fierce in their garden on July 10th, 1890) and catalogue entries of archaeological sites, survey data, architecture and tons more.

Not related to the theme but too awesome not to genuflect before is a new exhibition at Stirling Castle called The Jacobite Risings: The Fight for Britain’s Throne. It recreates key events and locations in the Jacobite rebellions in LEGO. That’s right, one million bricks and 2000 tiny soldiers were used to bring history to life for all LEGO-loving peoples, child and child-at-heart alike. Two of the scenes include miniature buildings whose real life versions are cared for by Historic Environment Scotland. One is the starkly white medieval tower house Corgarff Castle. The other Ruthven Barracks, a military fortification on a high promontory built after the 1715 Jacobite uprising by George II to keep the ever-restless Jacobites from re-rising. It didn’t work in the long-term and the barracks were taken by a frontal assault in 1746.

The Jacobite conflict writ in LEGO is currently opened to the public on Monday and runs through February 2nd, 2018. You can even make a day of it and visit Ruthven Barracks after you see mini-Ruthven at Stirling. Unfortunately the hat trick is not an option because Corgarff Castle is closed until the spring. (It is in the middle of nowhere anyway, so probably would have made it a multi-day LEGO inspired pilgrimage.)

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Google, British Museum digitize Maya collection

History Blog - Tue, 2017-12-05 00:29

The British Museum and the Google Arts & Culture have been collaborating on creating a complex, in depth digital virtual museum experience for years now. It’s been an exceptionally fruitful partnership from the outset, when the the new Google subsite dedicated to the British Museum’s physical structure, contents, permanent collection and exhibitions opened two years ago. Google Street View’s cameras crawled the entire space and put one of the world’s greatest encyclopedic museums online for everyone in the world with an Internet connection to explore in mind-blowing detail. The collection was rephotographed, this time in the massive resolution of gigapixel cameras, so objects could be viewed on computer screens in far greater dimensions than in person.

Their latest endeavour is dedicated to the preservation of endangered Mayan cultural knowledge and artifacts. It’s a fully functional guided tour, not just of the British Museum’s Maya collection, but of Mayan history and culture. If you go through the virtual exhibition in order, you’ll first encounter an introduction by writer Kanishk Tharoor who gives a summary of who the Maya were and are, a timeline of key events, what we know about their cities, architecture, engineering, language, art and science. That’s followed by a piece by historian Robert Bevan on what the collapse of Mayan cities can tell us about our own present. It’s highly relevant to the British Museum’s collection because since the Spanish burned almost all of the written manuscripts, in order to read Mayan history we have to rely on inscriptions carved in stone.

Atmospheric erosion has caused many in situ written carvings to become illegible, but a new collaboration between Google Arts & Culture and the British Museum is working to combat this gradual destruction. Using 19th century photographs and casts, combined with 21st century digital techniques, means fresh texts to decipher, and a deeper understanding of the ancient Maya.

The project’s source material is the work of the much-overlooked Victorian explorer Alfred Maudslay who traveled through Guatemala, Mexico and Honduras in the 1880s. He used the up-to-date photographic technique of dry plate photography and hauled tons of plaster of Paris with him to create moulds of some of the monuments he encountered, and paper to make impressions (‘squeezes’) of others. 400 of the resulting casts and 800 glass plate negatives are now in the British Museum, among the 100,000 American items held in its collection.

Now, all of these casts and squeezes are being 3D-scanned, allowing researchers to manipulate the images in a way that will assist in translating the Maya inscriptions. Alongside this, an immersive VR journey is being created that takes children, via objects in the museum, to see the ruins in the forests of the Maya region, complete with howler monkeys and soaring ceiba trees that, amongst the Maya, are thought to connect the underworld with the sky. The project is giving us a clearer picture of what happened to the ancient Maya.

Bevan’s article includes embeds of some of the newly digitized Mauslay photographs and 3D models of the moulds he took. You cannot download them, sad to say, but click on the embeds to see them in their fully zoomable fulgor. The next section is a multi-media slide show that explain Mayan writing, the conservation of Mauslay’s casts, the history of Guatemalan masks and the many challenges of preserving Mayan monuments using pictures and animated street view captures. It culminates in a YouTube video of curator Dr. Jago Cooper speaking about Maudslay’s work and how the British Museum can help Google to preserve Mayan history.

The next section is another slideshow, this one about the history of the museum’s Mayan collection which is of comparatively recent extraction. They didn’t really start collecting Maya artifacts until the mid-19th century. Maudslay’s casts didn’t join the party until the 1920s and the best known original artifacts only arrived in the 1930s when coffee planter Charles Fenton donated his important private collection to the museum. The two slideshows after this one focus on the explorer and his casts, followed by a huge photos and 3D models of the casts.

Because it’s Google we’re talking about, there are opportunities to take a virtual stroll through ancient Maya archaeological sites, explore their cities in 360-degree flexibility, even tools for teachers to design virtual trips through space and time for their classes. It’s an ambitious assemblage with a deep bench of content and media to devour. So what are you waiting for?

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

In Quest of Volunteers – Perfect Period Feast Heian-kyō 2020

AEthelmearc Gazette - Mon, 2017-12-04 12:17

Unto the people of Æthelmearc, greetings!

There is a small team of individuals currently working on an all-day immersive event set in 16th Century Japan planned for September 2020.

Right now, the team is looking for additional volunteers who are interested in committing 3 years to helping bring this event to fruition.

Right now we are looking for:

+ Someone who would be interested in heading up our fund raising activity.

+ Someone with a background in the technical side of theater who can help us design and plan the “set” to turn the event space into an appropriately dressed Japanese house.

+ Craftspeople in pottery, wood, and fabric to assist with creating the items needed for the set and for use during the day.

If you have any questions or are interested in signing up to be on the staff, feel free to write the event stewards below. We plan to have a general question and answer session, as well as a staff meeting, at Æthelmearc Kingdom Twelfth Night, plus additional sessions at upcoming events this spring.

Baroness Orianna Fridrikskona, Event Steward • email
Baroness Othindissa Bykona, Deputy Event Steward • email

Categories: SCA news sites

Ancient orca geoglyph rediscovered in Peru

History Blog - Mon, 2017-12-04 00:33

The arid desert coast of southern Peru is famed worldwide for its enormous geoglyphs, the abstract, geometric and zoomorphic shapes known as the Nazca lines after the ancient Peruvians who moved rocks to expose the topsoil creating a line-drawing effect when viewed by the aliens who used them as a landing pad. (Sorry about that. I haven’t watched the History channel in years and still the sarcasm flows out of me like honey. Really bitter, eye-rolly honey.) It seems the Nazca’s abilities may have antecedents, however, in another culture that preceded them, and a recently rediscovered geoglyph may hold the key to unlocking the early history of this magnificent art form.

In the 1960s, German archaeologists discovered a geoglyph of an orca in the Palpa Valley, an area neighboring Nazca in the same Ica region about 250 miles south of Lima. It was photographed at the time but not documented properly so its exact location was lost and nobody could find the enormous killer whale drawn into the side of a hill for 50 years. In 1997, a team of researchers from the German Archaeological Institute’s Commission for Archeology of Non-European Cultures (KAAK) started a project in cooperation with the Instituto Andino de Estudios Arqueológicos (INDEA) to study, map, document and restore all the great line drawings in Nazca and Palpa. There are thousands of geoglyphs in less than hospitable terrain, and when they haven’t been maintained or even seen in decades, they can be hard to track down.

Team leader Johny Isla Cuadrado, head of the Decentralized Office of Culture of the Ica region, saw the old picture of the orca geoglyph in an archaeological catalog published in the 1970s. The description was confused and not specific enough as to the size and find site for Isla to figure out where it might be. When he researched it further, he found the area’s residents had no idea where it was either. He used Google Earth to search for it but it the elements had not been kind and the design was difficult to discern. Well, impossible for any normal human. Archaeologists are special, though, and he was able to pick out clues to possible locations of the geoglyph here and there. Finally he found the long-lost orca the old fashioned way: he tromped the desert hills until he saw it with his own two eyes.

That was January of 2015. This spring, Isla returned with Ministry of Culture experts to clean and restore it so it would again be visible to the untrained human eye instead only satellites and archaeologists who know what to look for. Now their work is done and the geoglyph is back to its former splendor inhabiting the characteristic shape of early Peruvian killer whale iconography.

About 70 meters (230 feet) long, the orca is unusual in several ways. Its location on a rolling hillside distinguishes it from the Nazca lines which were all more practically placed on flat plateaus. Archaeologists believe this was one of the earliest stages of this type of artwork. It is found elsewhere among the Palpa geoglyphs, while very rarely at Nazca. It seems the successors of the tradition simplified the task by selecting more ideal surfaces. The hilly terrain also makes the older line drawings more susceptible to damage from erosion.

The creators of the orca drew it on the hillside in negative relief by removing a thin layer of stones to form the outline of the figure. This is similar to the technique used by the people of the Nazca culture to create geoglyphs from about 100 B.C. to A.D. 800.

But some contrasting parts of the rediscovered pattern, such as the eyes, were created out of piles of stones, the researchers said. This technique was used by people of the older Paracas culture, who occupied the region from around 800 B.C. to 200 B.C.

Soil tests have indicated that the orca geoglyph dates from around 200 B.C. The style of the pattern and its location on a hillside, rather than on a plain, suggest that it may be one of the oldest geoglyphs in the region, said one of Isla’s colleagues, Markus Reindel of the German Archaeological Institute, in an interview in a German newspaper.

The Paracas culture, you might recall, produced some of the most exquisite textiles and knits in the ancient world, some of which were used to wrap mummy bundles and survived in extraordinarily vibrant color thanks to the arid climate. They were also innovators in the creation of pottery.

Peru would like to make this remarkable early example of some of its most beloved cultural patrimony accessible to the public, but they can’t because terrible people are terrible and have basically stolen the land using some offensively stupid loophole that allows any grasping greedo to claim huge swaths of state-protected property as “uncultivated lands.” This is a major problem in Peru right now, land traffickers who snatch public land, even in a desert, even covered in priceless ancient art, enclose it and exploit it giving not a rat’s ass about the impact their construction/agriculture/whatever has on the patrimony it abuts.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History