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Remains of monumental Roman arcade discovered in Colchester

History Blog - Thu, 2016-02-11 00:58

The remains of a monumental Roman column arcade 120 meters (394 feet) long have been unearthed in the old town center of Colchester in Essex, England. The Colchester Archaeological Trust has been excavating the site on 97 High Street in advance of construction of a new apartment building. The site was known to be inside the precinct of the ancient Roman Temple of the Deified Claudius and small finds have been made in the area over the past 60 years, but because there was an office building on the spot a thorough excavation was not possible. When the offices were demolished to make way for the new block of flats, archaeologists were able to fully explore the site and realized for the first time just how massive a structure the arcade was.

Colchester is the oldest recorded Roman town in Britain. The Romans built a legionary fortress there after the conquest of Britain in 43 A.D., and six years later the town was renamed Camulodunum and founded as a veteran colony. It was the first capital of Britannia province. Public buildings — a theater, the town council house, a forum — were constructed befitting the new capital. A large temple completed after the death of emperor Claudius in 54 A.D. was dedicated to him as the Temple of the Deified Claudius. It was the largest classical temple built in Britain and the only one in the province known to have been dedicated to Claudius.

The city was destroyed in the Boudiccan revolt of 61 A.D. The residents fled to the safety of the temple whose cella (inner chamber) had thick, windowless walls and massive bronze doors. Boudicca’s Iceni warriors besieged the temple for two days before storming it and putting it to the torch along with the rest of the town. Camulodunum was rebuilt after the revolt was suppressed. New city walls were built between 65 and 80 A.D., and around the same time the temple was rebuilt within an even grander temple precinct. Later additions expanded the temple and precinct. At its peak in the 2nd and 3rd centuries, the Temple of the Deified Claudius had a massive monumental arch in the center flanked by an arcade of 14 columns on each side. The vast scale of the temple and precinct was unique in Britain.

Phillip Crummy, the [Colchester Archaeological Trust]‘s director told The Telegraph: “This arcade is the largest of its kind in Britain. Its closest rival in terms of size stands in what was Gaul, in northern France, and shares some of the architecture we can see in Colchester today – but that is only around 70-metres long.

“The original arcade and its grand columns are similar to those you see in Bath, at the Roman Baths. It really is an extraordinary find and confirms the grandeur and richness of its Roman culture.”

Large sections of the temple were intact through the Saxon period when it became known as King Coel’s Palace. By the time of the Norman Conquest in 1066, the “palace” was in ruins, but the Normans used the base of the temple as the foundation for Colchester Castle, now a museum. The temple podium is still visible in the vaults underneath the castle.

Remains of the monumental central archway were first discovered in 1931. Subsequent investigations in 1953 and 1964 unearthed more of the arcade, but the remains were reburied. It wasn’t until a 2013 evaluation of the site that a large section of the massive foundations of the arcade was discovered. On June 12th, 2014, the archaeological team surveying 97 High Street found a collapsed brick and stone pier from the monumental arcade. Made of alternating layers of brick and stone, the column was found inside the Norman-era layer. It’s evidence that at least part of the colonnade was still standing when the Normans arrived. Archaeologists believe the Normans stripped the prized marble facing stones of the arcade to use in the construction of the castle and then toppled what was left of the column.

Flying Trade Group, the developers who are constructing the new apartments on the site, plan to preserve the foundations and columns of the arcade in the ground floor of the building. They will install a café with glass panels in the floor that reveal the ancient remains. The café/archaeological park will raise money for local and international charities including World Food Aid.

If you’re anywhere near Colchester on Saturday, February 13th, you can surprise your history nerd sweetheart with a romantic early Valentine’s Day outing to the Claudius Temple arcade excavation. From 10:00 AM until 4:00 PM, visitors are welcome to view the site. All 13 meters (43 feet) of the arcade’s foundations will be visible with special labels, lighting and projected digital reconstructions installed just for the day.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Heraldic Display Competition at Mudthaw

East Kingdom Gazette - Wed, 2016-02-10 15:35

Break out your banners, surcoats, shields and pennons! With the kind
permission of Their Excellencies Erec and Jehannine, at Mudthaw, in
Settmour Swamp, on April 2nd, there will be a Herald Display
competition. Full rules to come shortly.

Note that there will be a judging category for artists under the age
of 16, as well as judging categories for various levels of experience.
The focus of the judging is going to be on the heraldry, with extra
points being given for displayed heraldry that is more period in

— Mistress Alys Mackyntoich, competition coordinator

Filed under: Heraldry Tagged: competition, heraldry, mudthaw, Settmour Swamp

Massive illegal dumpsite found in Roman catacomb

History Blog - Wed, 2016-02-10 00:45

Roman police have discovered tons of refuse, everything from household trash to industrial waste, illegally dumped in the 2nd and 3rd century A.D. catacombs of Tor Fiscale, an archaeological park in east Rome. Situated on the Via Latina near the junction with the ancient Appian Way, the Tor Fiscale park is part of the vast Appian Way Regional Park. The small park is dense with archaeological riches. It is at the crossroads of six Roman and one Renaissance aqueduct whose arched galleries dominate the landscape alongside the 13th century tower that gives the park its name. It is replete with remains of ancient luxury villas, homes, tombs and underground caves dug out of soft volcanic tufa. Initially carved to quarry the stone, the caves were used by early Christians for gatherings and burials during the imperial era when the religion was viewed with suspicion and its adherents sometimes persecuted.

Authorities came to suspect something was rotten underground during an investigation of illegal car scrapyards and waste disposal rackets in the area. On January 26th, about 20 people — police officers, personnel from Italy’s Regional Environmental Protection Agency (ARPA), municipal workers and members of the archaeological speleology organization Sotterranei di Roma (Undergrounds of Rome) — worked together to explore miles of the underground tunnels. They found a shocking amount of waste, including old refrigerators, mattresses, electronics, tires, batteries, hundreds of bags of organic materials full of various molds that may have been used in the cultivation of mushrooms.

In one of the deepest tunnels, they found a veritable lake of greasy black goo that is likely used motor oil. On the surface alone this lake of hydrocarbon pollution covers about 200 square meters (2,150 square feet), and preliminary analysis found the lake is more than a foot deep, so the total volume of toxic filth in this one spot alone is something in the neighborhood of 800 cubic meters (28,250 cubic feet). At some points the vaults of the tunnel appear to be impregnated with the goop, suggesting it was dumped from above rather than transported deep into the caves. The team took samples of the fluid to identify it and they will examine the surface to locate the entry point. There will also be extensive testing to assess whether the oil has seeped into the water table.

After making the shocking discovery, police used drones to fully explore the network of bat-and-mice-infested tunnels to try to establish the extent of the dumping.

It is thought that local businesses and residents have been using the site to cheaply dispose of their unwanted goods for years. Police even discovered that unscrupulous dumpers had drilled shafts down into the caves from above, which they used as rubbish chutes to quickly dispose of their unwanted goods.

Authorities have closed the entrances to the caves on Via Demetriade and Via di Torre Branca, but of course that won’t stop people from using their homemade garbage chutes. The municipal police are investigating the case in the hopes of finding who is responsible, at least most recently, for this ruthless assault on Rome’s cultural history and environmental health.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Want to be an Ice Dragon Pentathlon Judge? Here’s How!

AEthelmearc Gazette - Tue, 2016-02-09 19:07

The Ice Dragon Pentathlon, the largest A&S competition in Æthelmearc, is fast approaching. We are looking for judges for this year’s competition, and bring you words from our Pent Judge Coordinator, Maestro Filipia Capriotti, Baroness of the Court of Æthelmearc, sometimes called the Cupbreaker.

What is the most important thing people should know about judging the Pent?
Being a judge for the Pentathalon is a two fold gift: First, the judge’s gift of time, attention and knowledge for the entrant; providing a benchmark to the entrant on the development of their skill and knowledge base as well as adding to information or resources the entrant may not have. Second is the gift from the entrant to the judge, sharing new research, approaches and enthusiasm with the judge – I get excited when I see things I have learned before, or change the way I look at things!

How long can I expect to spend judging?
We want the judge’s time in the Pent room to be enjoyable and satisfying without being exhausting. The scoring format has been simplified, and any judge will only be asked to judge 2 categories to let everyone have more time to enjoy the event, and our friends. To make this happen we need as many judges as possible – this will also make it possible to assign judges to categories they want and enjoy.

Do I need to be a Fleur or Laurel to judge?
Community recognition of proficiency in your art supports judging; if you are uncertain, or curious, please contact me. We will continue the Shadow Judging Program, where you can be teamed up with a more experienced judge to learn the ropes of judging and commentary.

Will there be rubrics for the judges to use?
Rubrics will be available to guide judging decisions, and there will be additional judging guidelines, but complex math has been eliminated from this year’s forms.

Can I judge if I am entering Ice Dragon?

Anything else?
I am looking forward to working with everyone to gather as much participation as possible; here where our community gathers, we have the opportunity to share our art and our joy. Please come be a part of it all.

I’m in! How do I sign up?
Send me an email with your SCA and modern names, and the categories you would like to judge.

Categories: SCA news sites

Unofficial Court Report: King’s & Queen’s Arts & Sciences Championship

East Kingdom Gazette - Tue, 2016-02-09 14:50

Their Majesties of the East, Brennan Ri and Caoilfhionn Banri did travel this Saturday, 6 February AS L, to the Shire of Barren Sands. There they did hold their King’s and Queen’s Arts and Sciences Championship.The competition and judging complete, Their Majesties, accompanied by Their Highnesses Kenric and Avelina, did call a court.

It began when Her Majesty called forth her champion of Arts and Sciences, Agatha Wanderer. She thanked her for her time as champion, relieved her of the regalia, and then named Elisabeth “Lyssa” Underhill the new Queen’s Champion of Arts and Sciences. Lyssa received the regalia and a scroll by Elen Alswyth of Eriskay.

His Majesty called forth his champion of Arts and Sciences, Naomi bat Avraham. He thanked her for her time as champion, relieved her of the regalia, and then named Magnus hvalmagi the new King’s Champion of Arts and Sciences.

The Princess Royal, Courtney Rose, was called into the court to make a presentation to one she had chosen to recognize. Thus was Nero Camulus called before the court. He was presented with tokens and a scroll by the hand of the Princess Royal herself.

Next were the kids who participated in Her Majesties’ Children’s Service initiative called forth. Emma, Caleb, Caitlin and Courtney all received tokens for their service.

The rest of the children in attendance were called into court. It was decided that Aethelthyrth Kenricing should run with the toybox, to the delight of all those in attendance.

Their Majesties Brennan Ri and Caoilfhionn Banri did call before their court Chartye Dale. They spoke of her service and her hard work, and then named her a Baroness of their court, Granting her Arms. She received a coronet and a scroll by Rhonwen Glyn Conwy.

Next Their Majesties called into their court Ellynor Redpath. They Awarded her Arms, presenting her a scroll by Constance de St. Denis with words by Charitye Dale. Further, Her Majesty presented to Ellynor the glove of the Queen’s Order of Courtesy.

Her Majesty Caoilfhionn Banri called into court Ciaran Ua Meic Thire. She spoke of his great service and kindness, and presented him with the glove of the Queen’s Order of Courtesy.

Their Majesties called forth the Seneschal of Barren Sands. She presented them with a gift from the people of the Shire.

Their Majesties invited into their court the companions of the Order of the Silver Brooch. They called forth Nero Camulus, and inducted him into the order. He received a medallion and a scroll featuring calligraphy by Nest verch Tangwistel and illumination by Elizabeth Eleanor Lovell.

The Order not yet complete, Isabel du Royse was called forward. She was inducted into the Order of the Silver Brooch, presented a medallion of the order and a scroll with calligraphy by Jonathan Blaecstan and illumination by Lillian atte Valeye.

Their Majesties welcomed into their court all those attending their first, second or third event. The newcomers received tokens and thanked for their attendance.

Brennan Ri and Caoilfhionn Banri called into court Kamejima Takauji. He was thus made a Lord of the Court and Awarded Arms, and received a scroll by Magdalena von Kirschberg.

Next was Anna Vitalis called before the court. She was made a Lady of the Court and Awarded Arms, receiving a scroll by Svea the Shortshighted.

Her Majesty called forward Liadin ingen Chineada. Her courtesy highly regarded, Queen Caoilfhionn presented the glove of the Queen’s Order of Courtesy to Liadin.

Their Majesties called before their court Griffith Davion. Speaking of his long service, they invited to attend them the companions of the Order of the Silver Wheel. Griffith was inducted into the order and presented a medallion as well as a scroll by Caitriona inghean Sheamuis.

The Order still incomplete, Their Majesties called into court Alexis of Woods End. She was inducted into the Order of the Silver Wheel, presented with a medallion and a scroll by Robert of Stonemarch with words by Harold von Auerbach.

Their Majesties continued with the Order of the Silver Wheel, and called forth Aibhilin Inghean ui Phaidin. She was inducted into the order, presented a medallion and a scroll by Marieta Charay.

Their Majesties had one more for their new service order that day, and called forth Agapios Cargos. They inducted him into the Order of the Silver Wheel and presented him a medallion and a scroll by Aesa Lokabrenna Sturladottir.

Brennan Ri and Caoilfhionn Banri called into their court Naomi bat Avraham. They spoke of her art, and called forth the Order of the Laurel. Naomi received a writ to consider elevation to the Order, and received a scroll by Palotzi Marti.

Their Majesties called into their court Bran MacAirt. He was made a Lord of the Court, and Awarded Arms. He was presented with a scroll by Aziza al Shirazi. But Their Majesties were not done with Bran, and they further inducted him into the Order of the Silver Tyger for his fighting prowess.

Next was called into the court of Their Majesties Elena Hylton. They spoke of her arts, and called forth the companions of the Order of the Maunche. Elena received a medallion of the order, and was presented a scroll by Lada Monguligin.

The Order not complete, Their Majesties called forth Kathryn Kit Mercer. She was inducted into the order and presented a medallion of the order, and received a scroll by Katrusha Skomorokh which included a Sonnet by Tristan le Chanticler.

The Order of the Maunche not yet complete, Their Majesties invited before them Ulfgeirr Ragnarrson. He was presented the medallion of the order, and a stone with illumination by Aesa feilinn Jossursdottir, words by Anne of Framlingham and Runes translated by Avaldr Valbjarnarson.

King Brennan and Queen Caoilfhionn called before them Elisabeth Underhill. At the start of the day she had been put on vigil, and now answered the question before her in the affirmative. The Order of the Laurel was called forth. Lyssa was elevated to the Order, receiving a medallion and other regalia, and a scroll by Isabel Chamberlaine with words by Grimm the Skald.

Thus it was the court of Their Majesties came to its conclusion. It had been a wonderful day of presentations from the talented artisans of the Kingdom of the East.


Malcolm Bowman, Eastern Crown Herald

A thank you to the Heraldic staff for the day: Alys Mackyntoich, Anastasia del Monte and Liadin ingen Chineada.







Filed under: Arts and Sciences, Court Tagged: Arts and Sciences, champions, court, court report, Kings and Queens Champion, Kings and Queens Champions, royal court

Earliest evidence of fermentation found in Sweden

History Blog - Tue, 2016-02-09 00:51

Archaeologists excavating a 9,200 year-old settlement on the banks of the long-defunct Lake Vesan near the Baltic Sea coast in Sölvesborg, southern Sweden, have discovered evidence of a massive fish fermentation operation. They found pine bark and an incredibly dense concentration of fish bones, about 30,000 of them per square meter. Underneath the fish bone layer was an oblong pit dug into the clay soil. The pit was rimmed with five larger postholes and 32 smaller stakeholes.

The team looked to ethnographic studies of current circumpolar societies which rely on fish as their primary source of sustenance for comparison. They found that these fish-dependent cultures cope with large catches over a short fishing season by fermenting the fish. In a cold climate with a very short summer, there just isn’t the time to dry or smoke all the fish necessary to sustain life over the long winter. Some areas are too damp for drying to work at all. The cold climate has one major advantage: it is possible to ferment food without adding salt. Traditional circumpolar people like Inuits from Greenland, the Jawina in Kamchatka and the Karelians in Finland, don’t use salt. They dig holes in the ground, fill them with fish and cover the pits with animal skins, stones or earth, much like the people on the shores of Lake Vesan may have been doing 9,200 years ago.

Analysis of the remains suggests that fish had been fermented in that pit. The presence of a small number of wild boar and seal remains may indicate the Mesolithic fishermen wrapped the fish in animal skins that were then attached to the posts in the holes. The pit in that scenario provided air circulation underneath the fermenting fish. Once fermented, the flesh could be removed and the bones dumped into the pit. Another possibility is that the fish were in a pit lined with seal and boar remains (blubber and fat acidify the fish and aid in the fermentation process) and covered with pine bark. Pine bark is also acidic and would help ensure that the fish began to ferment right away rather than just rotting.

Using fine mesh sieves to sift through the soil and capture every tiny fish bone and calculating from the number of bones found at the site, the team discovered that at least 60 tons of freshwater fish from the lake, mostly common roach, were caught there. It’s the world’s earliest evidence of fermentation, and it has the potential to rewrite the timeline of the Early Mesolithic.

Traps to capture large numbers of fish and game have been found before from this period, large enough numbers that some form of storage would have been necessary. Without direct archaeological evidence of long-term and large-scale storage, however, the preservation of food has been seen as the province of more complex, sedentary Neolithic farming communities which have pottery, granaries and silos to attest to their long-term storage of grain. This new direct evidence of storage by fermentation in the Mesolithic indicates a more socially complex culture with previously unrecognized technological skill and adaptability to a rapidly changing environment.

The discovery is also an indication that Nordic societies were far more developed 9,200 years ago than what was previously believed. The findings are important as it is usually argued that people in the north lived relatively mobile lives, while people in the Levant – a large area in the Middle East – became settled and began to farm and raise cattle much earlier.

“These findings indicate a different time line, with Nordic foragers settling much earlier and starting to take advantage of the lakes and sea to harvest and process fish. From a global perspective, the development in the Nordic region could correspond to that of the Middle East at the time,” says Adam Boethius.

That’s not to say that this was a farming community. There is no evidence of cultivation of crops. The Nordic peoples of the Early Mesolithic were still foragers, but the scale of the fermentation indicates they may have been semi-sedentary, ie, mobile, but with a regularly maintained home base. Judging from the kind of game and marine life killed at what stages in life, the lakeside settlement was occupied most of the year, from late summer to late spring, particularly in the coldest part of the winter. That makes this site the earliest winter-summer settlement in southern Scandinavia and the earliest settlement of any kind on the east coast of Sweden.

The findings have been published in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

EK Rapier Tourney Sought for SCA 50 Year Celebration

East Kingdom Gazette - Tue, 2016-02-09 00:24

   Greetings to the mighty Kingdom of the East from Master Frasier MacLeod, Kingdom Rapier Marshal,
     The SCA’s 50th Year Celebration is rapidly approaching, and there is much to be done! I have been asked by Master Robert MacPharland, coordinator of Rapier Activities at 50 Year if the East is planning on sponsoring any Rapier tournaments this year. I will sadly not be able to attend 50 Year, but if someone who is wants to step up and sponsor a tournament for the East Kingdom, I would be first to encourage it! So, with that in mind, if someone would like to sponsor a tournament, please contact Master Robert at Rapier@sca50year.org and let him know! This NEEDS to be done by the end of this week, likely Friday the 12th or Saturday the 13th. So, please Please PLEASE get in touch with Master Robert and make the East proud!
     In Service,
         Master Frasier MacLeod, KRM, East

Filed under: Uncategorized

Gulf Wars Pre-Reg Closes Feb 15th

AEthelmearc Gazette - Mon, 2016-02-08 18:18

From Sir Koredono, Æthelmearc’s Land Agent for Gulf Wars:

This is a reminder that pre-registration for Gulf Wars closes in a week, on Feb 15.  If you are planning on going, and have not pre-registered yet, please do so very soon.  How much land the kingdom encampment gets is determined by the number of pre-registered campers we have – just like Pennsic – and if you don’t pre-register, we cannot guarantee that there will be a space for your tent in camp.

I received a list from the Gulf Wars Land Staff over the weekend, and there were only 12 confirmed gentles who had both pre-registered and had told them that they were camping with Æthelmearc; I know a few more had mailed in their payments close to the deadline, so there may have been a delay in processing the physical paperwork and getting the checks to clear, but I know many more people than were on that list were planning on attending.

Please don’t want until the last minute, as there is always the possibility of technical issues which may cause you to miss the deadline.  If you’re not sure, but *think* you’re attending, you can get a full refund (less $5 processing fee) through March 1.  Not to mention that it’s cheaper to pre-register than to pay at the door.

The URL for pre-registration is http://www.gulfwars.org/index.php/registration

In Service,

Magariki Katsuichi no Koredono, KSCA
曲水 勝一 の 兵殿
Æthelmearc Gulf Wars Land Agent.

Categories: SCA news sites

Rare complete first edition 17th c. sex manual for sale

History Blog - Mon, 2016-02-08 00:30

Aristotle’s Masterpiece, not a masterpiece nor by Aristotle, was a manual of advice on sex, childbirth and infant care first published in 1684. Its anonymous author took the name of the famous ancient Greek philosopher to give his material an air of intellectual and scientific authority. Aristotle’s Problems, a book about health and sex in question-and-answer format published in 1595, had established the philosopher’s reputation for expertise on sexual matters even though again the author had only borrowed Aristotle’s name. By the early 17th century, the name “Aristotle” was popularly associated with sexual knowledge. The Masterpiece sought to piggyback off of that reputation. In truth it actually contradicted Aristotle’s theory of conception, proposing a two-seed mechanism whereby a man and woman each contribute generative material to create new life while the real-life Aristotle believed there was only one seed, the man’s, which planted a baby in the lady’s womb field.

The book is a compilation of the most sensationalized parts of two 16th century volumes, The Secret Miracles of Nature (1564) by Levinus Lemnius and De conceptu et generatione hominis (1554), a midwifery manual by Jakob Rüff. It was one of almost two dozen books about midwifery printed in the wake of the great success of Nicholas Culpeper’s Directory for Midwives, published in 1651. What made the Masterpiece stand out in the crowd was its promise of advice on “the act of copulation” on the very title page. The more conventional midwifery texts were not so direct. In keeping with the finest tradition of sex sells, Aristotle’s Masterpiece became a bestseller for centuries, reissued in two more versions with additional material from later books and going through hundreds of printings in Britain and the United States. The 1728 version went through more printings than all the other books on midwifery combined and was still in print well into the 20th century.

The inclusion of woodcuts yoinked from French barber surgeon Ambroise Paré’s 1573 treatise Of Monsters and Prodigies first published in English in an edition of his Works in 1634, played a part in the book’s success. Again the title page made it clear what readers could expect to find within: woodcuts of naked ladies and “monsters,” babies born with various anomalies. The title page woodcut was of a hairy woman and a black child, both the result of their mothers having seen something that imprinted on their fetuses during pregnancy or the moment of conception. The hairy lady’s mother while pregnant with her had beheld an image of John the Baptist wearing animal skins. The picture was imprinted in her mind on her developing fetus, resulting in the monstrous birth of a hirsute baby girl. The black child was, ostensibly, the son of two white parents who had a picture of a black man hanging in their bedroom. The mother happened to glance at it while having sex with her husband, and the result of that copulation was a black baby.

It was a tricky thing, this conceiving of a healthy, non-monstrous child. Allowances had to made for women’s colder humours, allowances which fortuitously required husbands actually take the time to excite their wives before getting to the business of insemination. Here’s some advice on foreplay justified by old-timey nonsense science.

When the husband cometh into his wives chamber, he must entertain her with all kind of dalliance, wanton behaviour, and allurements to venery: but if he perceive her to be slow and more cold, he must cherish, embrace, and tickle her, and shall not abruptly, the nerves being suddenly distended, break into the field of nature, but rather shall creep in by little and little, intermixing more wanton kisses with wanton words and speeches, handling her secret parts and dugs, that she may take fire and be in flames to venery, for so at length the womb will strive and wax fervent with a desire of casting forth its own seed, and receiving the mans seed to be mixed together therewith.

But if all these things will not suffice to inflame the woman, for women for the most part are more slow and slack into the expulsion or yielding forth of their seed, it shall be necessary first to foment her secret parts with the decoction of hot herbs made with muscadine, or boyled in any other good wine, and to put a little musk or civit into the neck or mouth of the womb, and when she shall perceive the flux of her seed to approach, by reason of the tickling pleasure, she must advertise her husband thereof, that at the very instant, time, or moment, he may also yield forth his seed, that by the concourse or meeting of the seeds, conception may be made, and so at length the child formed and born.

The first edition of Aristotle’s Masterpiece was published by John How and, as printed on the title page, was “to be sold next door to the Anchor Tavern in Sweethings-Rents in Cornhil.” How registered it with the Stationers Company, an early version of copyright protection which allowed registrees to block publication of their works by unlicensed publishers, but he was unable to prevent pirated copies from getting out there almost immediately. Printers both anonymous and named cranked out copies starting within the first year of its initial publication.

Because it was considered a dirty book with all the sex talk and the naked hairy ladies and four-armed children, it wasn’t overtly sold by booksellers although most of them surreptitiously kept copies under the counter for the client in the know. It was sold by traveling peddlers, in general stores and, as stated in the first printing, in or next to taverns. Never officially banned, publication and sale of the book should in theory have been stymied by Britain’s Obscene Publications Act of 1857 and the 1873 Comstock Law which prevented its sale through the mail in the United States. By then it had such a long record of under-the-table printing and sale that it’s unlikely these hard to police laws had much of an effect on the book’s distribution.

Despite its wide popularity over the course of centuries, Aristotle’s Masterpiece is a rare book today. Out of more than 250 known editions published, very few intact copies have survived. Printed on cheap paper and thumbed through with much vigor, they were prone to heavy wear and having pages torn out. There are less than a dozen of the first edition known to survive, and most of them are incomplete. Two complete copies have recently appeared at auction. One of them sold at Bonhams in 2014 for $32,743, the other sold at Bonhams in 2015 for $29,105.

Now a third complete copy has come on the market. It will be sold at Dominic Winter Auctioneers on March 2nd. The pre-sale estimate is £10,000-15,000 ($14,500-22,000). My favorite part is that the cover of this copy was made from a recycled land deed.

The incomplete deed used for the covers in this copy appears, from the partially visible text, to be a title deed from 30 January [1686], and relates to property owned by George Speke [1623-1689, English politician. Speke was a Royalist during the English Civil War, but after the Restoration became MP for Somerset and an early Whig supporter in Parliament.]

I like to think George Speke donated his old paperwork to the cause of naughty book printing.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Riddle of Steel V – A new Conan arises

PainBank - Tue, 2015-12-15 11:56

I attended the AMCF recognized EMP event Riddle of Steel V this past weekend near Orlando, FL.  It was a blast and quite a bit of fun.  It is a fairly unique event, which are usually the best.  Here is my review, which I started on my trip home:

As I sit here thinking on this past weekend at the Riddle of Steel, I’m recalling a similar feeling to Spain and France in 2014 and 2013.  Something magical happened.  Prague was great as well, in it’s own way.  There was a explosion of emotions and release of dopamine.  The high that is created from such intense combat is an addictive thing.   The best part of it all is being around those who I have been able to share these experiences with.  I celebrated this past weekend with many friends, old and new.  It is a celebration of life and energy.  The expression of friendship and shared interest.

Love life and enjoy the moments you have, as they are fleeting.  Gone the next moment when the mundane bleak world returns to focus.  I love living a life in harness and the trials overcome.  I hope to continue to enjoy this for many more years to come, but should it pass too soon, I will know I have enjoyed every minute for what it was worth.  Time is precious, enjoy it, don’t waste it on the negatives in life.  If you don’t like something or you want to do something, then do it.  Change your stars.

I would thank first Michelle and Tinker for opening their home and hearth to all of us.  To the many folks that helped setup/tear down of the various stuff.  You rocked.  The cooks and those that helped prep the food, it was excellent all around.  To the marshals, who enabled the fighters to have fun and not worry so much about the other parts, your time is very, very appreciated.  To all the fighters I had a chance to throw down with and those I didn’t from far and wide, laugh in the face of your enemies, crush them, drive them before you…..  To all the little things that everyone else chipped in, from the music, to the dancing, to the awesome boats, and the rest, it you who makes this fun possible.  Finally to Alex Cooley, Baldar, I say thank you for being such a Conan nut.  The Riddles continue and only Crom knows who will answer.

All Hail Derek Gabreski the new Conan.


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