It's Shakespeare's 450th birthday. In a feature article for the BBC's Future, Claudia Hammond looks at whether the poisons mentioned in William Shakespeare's plays, such as Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night's Dream, could actually work.
Master Caelin on Andrede reports that he has created an album of photos from Dragonsfire Tor Guardian 2014 which took place recently in the Kingdom of Ansteorra.
Ye Sunne in Splendour offers a humorous look at recent...incidents...involving luggage, airports, and...well, you know what happens when luggage encounters an airport.
Much of what we know about woolly mammoths has come from discoveries of skeletal remains, and even when the occasional soft tissues were discovered, scientists weren’t able to examine thoroughly and non-invasively until the advent of technologies like computer tomography. The discovery of two baby mammoths preserved virtually intact for 40,000 years by the Siberian permafrost have given scientists a unique opportunity to learn about their lives and deaths using full-body CT scans and cutting edge X-ray technology.
Lyuba, who died when she was one month old, was found on the Yamal Peninsula in northwest Siberia in 2007. Khroma was two months old when she died in the northernmost area of Yakutia. She was discovered in 2009. They are the most complete examples of mammoths ever found, Khroma more so because her body was frozen almost immediately after death while Lyuba’s suffered some decomposition before it was stopped in its tracks by ice. Although they were found 3,000 miles apart, they are the same species and died around the same time which allowed for the first comparative study of mammoth skeletal development from two examples of known age.
Their completeness proved a challenge for researchers. Lyuba was too big to fit in standard CT scanners so at first scientists had to make do with partial scans done in Tokyo in 2009 and Wisconsin in early 2010. When the remains were transferred from Chicago to New Jersey later in 2010, University of Michigan researchers convinced the Russian team to let them take the mammoth on a detour to the Ford Motor Company’s Nondestructive Evaluation Laboratory in Detroit. They have an oversized scanner used to examine vehicle transmissions which was big enough to accommodate Lyuba. At Ford she got her first full-body scan.
Researchers were then able to compare the Ford scans with ones taken of Khroma at two French hospitals, and compare Micro-CT scans of both mammoths’ teeth done at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry. It was the dental scans that pinpointed their ages at death — Lyuba was 30 to 35 days old, Khroma 52 to 57 days old — while the CT scans revealed interesting skeletal differences.
Scans of Khroma’s skull showed she had a brain slightly smaller than that of a newborn elephant, which hints at the possibility of a shorter gestation period for mammoths.
Lyuba’s skull is conspicuously narrower than Khroma’s, and her upper jawbones are more slender, while Khroma’s shoulder blades and foot bones are more developed. These differences may simply reflect the one-month age difference between the calves, or they could relate to the different populations from which the two calves derived.
The scans also found that the mammoths died in similar tragic accidents.
In Lyuba, the scans revealed a solid mass of fine-grained sediment blocking the air passages in the middle of the trunk. Sediment was also seen in Lyuba’s throat and bronchial passages. If Lyuba had died by drowning rather than suffocation – as some have suggested – then traces of sediment should also have been detected in parts of the lungs beyond the bronchial passages, but that was not the case.
Slightly coarser sediment was found in Khroma’s trunk, mouth and throat. Her lungs weren’t available for study because they were scavenged before the carcass was recovered. Since both animals appear to have been healthy at the time of death, a “traumatic demise” involving the inhalation of mud and suffocation appears to be the most likely cause of death in both cases, according to the authors.
The researchers suspect that Lyuba died in a lake because sediments found in her respiratory tract include fine-grained vivianite, a deep blue iron- and phosphate-bearing mineral that commonly forms in cold, oxygen-poor settings such as lake bottoms.
It’s possible that Lyuba crashed through the ice while crossing a lake during the spring melt. If she was struggling to breathe while submerged in a frigid lake, the mammalian “diving reflex” may have kicked in during her final moments, Fisher said. The reflex is triggered by cold water contacting the face, and it initiates physiological changes that enable animals to stay underwater for extended periods of time.
You can read the entire study, complete with 30 previously unpublished high resolution scan images, online free of charge in the Journal of Paleontology.
Unto the generous people of the East Kingdom,
The first polling of Edward III and Thyra II will be staring shortly. Recommendations are requested via the online form: http://fluidsurveys.com/s/EKRecommendations/
These are due by Friday, July 25 for polling orders.
There are always new folks who need to be considered, and long-standing members who have been overlooked. Please take a look at the current Order of Precedence, as well (it’s an interesting read!) http://op.wiglaf.org/index.php There is no deadline for non-polling recommendations.
Please also remember to re-subscribe to the discussion lists if you are a member of a polling order. The discussions are valuable to your monarchs!
Saying thank you to the populace via the awards system is one of the most important roles of the royalty. We appreciate your assistance in finding those who deserve such recognition.
Edward & Thyra
Prince & Princess
For further information about the awards system, how it works, and how to write someone in, check out the Gazette’s How Do I Page, and take a look at our guide explaining all the different awards in the East Kingdom.
Filed under: Official Notices
Are you working on a knotty-yet-fascinating piece of historical deduction? A messy-but-exciting piece of experimental archeaology? Do you want to show off all the amazing ways your process has surprised you?
On October 25th, 2014, the Barony of Carolingia will host an Arts and Sciences Colloquium and Poster Session at the First Parish Unitarian-Universalist Church, located at 75 The Great Road in Bedford, MA. The day is intended to provide a forum for arts and sciences researchers to gather together and share what they are learning, using all the useful tools for knowledge transfer that are available in a modern, conference-style setting.
This is an day to talk about your process, your surprising discoveries, your successes and even more importantly your fruitful and instructive failures. There is no competition and no judging – the day is designed around pure knowledge transfer.
The day will have lecture-style presentations with question and answer periods, a poster session, a reference consulting table (with book petting zoo!), and lounge space for kibitzing and further exploration of topics that catch your interest.
If you are interested in presenting, either as a lecturer or a poster contributor, or serving as a reference consultant, or if you have any questions at all! – please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Because this is structured as a modern conference-style event, the day will be in modern dress. There will be no court and no feast, but coffee will be available all day and a lunch is available for a separate fee. There is ample space for attendees to bring their own lunch, and there are several nearby purveyors of food of various types.
The official event announcement is here:http://www.eastkingdom.org/EventDetails.html?eid=2702
A regularly updated event site with information for presenters, consultants, and other interested parties is here:
We are excited to host this – please come and play!
Filed under: Arts and Sciences, Events
Odalisque in Red Pants is back in Venezuela after more than a decade on the lam. The 1925 Matisse painting of a semi-nude woman wearing a pair of red pants was stolen from the Caracas Museum of Contemporary Art as early as 2000. Nobody knows for certain exactly when it was stolen because the thieves replaced it with a fake which was not noticed until 2002. As if that weren’t embarrassing enough, it was a really, really bad fake, too, and not just in the small details that experts would recognize. The vase in the front right of the canvas was the wrong color. Not the wrong shade. The wrong color. The original is yellow while the fake is blue.
Matisse made a series of Odalisques in the 1920s. He decorated a corner of his Nice apartment in Moorish style with a low couch, fretwork screens, carpets and colorful wall hangings. He returned again and again to theme of the harem concubine standing, sitting, reclining in sensual poses, clad in languorously draped fabrics or nothing at all. Matisse explained his motivation thus: “I paint odalisques in order to paint the nude. Otherwise, how is the nude to be painted without being artificial? But also, I know they exist. I was in Morocco. I saw them.” There are Matisse Odalisques in museums all over the world, including New York’s Museum of Modern Art, the Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris, the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa and Copenhagen’s Statens Museum for Kunst. Venezuela’s Odalisque in Red Pants was the only one in a Latin American museum.
It was purchased from a New York art gallery in 1981 by Sofia Imber, art critic, collector and founder of the Museum of Contemporary Art, for $480,000. Its estimated worth today is $3 million. The museum started in Imber’s garage in 1973 became a world-class museum with a collection of about 3,000 works by contemporary masters like Picasso, Braque, Chagall, Kandinsky and Botero.
The theft of the painting came to light in late 2002 when Miami-based Venezuelan gallery owner Genaro Ambrosino alerted museum officials that he had been approached by someone attempting to sell him the Odalisque in Red Pants. After no further leads on the theft for nine years, in 2011 the F.B.I. found out that a Cuban man was attempting to sell the painting in Miami. Agents made a deal with the seller, Pedro Antonio Marcuello Guzman, to buy the painting for $740,000 and in July of 2012, agents met with Guzman and a woman named María Martha Ornelas, wife of Guzman’s “Mexican partner,” who carried the Matisse rolled up in a poster tube from Mexico City to a Miami hotel. They told the agents during their sales pitch that the painting was stolen by museum employees and replaced with the crappy fake. After examining the work, the F.B.I. agents arrested the would-be sellers.
Repatriation discussions have been ongoing ever since. Finally on Monday the painting arrived at the Maiquetia International Airport in Caracas where it was greeted by Culture Minister Fidel Barbarito and a live television broadcast.
“It’s generally well preserved,” Culture Minister Fidel Barbarito told local television from Caracas airport where a white box containing the painting was shown upon arrival after a court in south Florida authorized its return.
“This is another achievement of the Bolivarian revolution, of a government in touch with the arts,” the minister said, referring to the country’s 15-year-old socialist government that began in 1999 with the election of the late Hugo Chavez.
Barbarito said the painting would undergo a delicate 72-hour “acclimatization process” and be back on display at the museum in around two weeks. There was damage to the edges of the work but not the painting itself, he said.
That statement about the Bolivarian revolution was a not at all subtle reference to the controversy that has plagued the Venezuelan government’s approach to the arts since January of 2001 when then-President Hugo Chávez announced on his weekly radio broadcast that he had fired Sofia Imber as director of her own museum because “culture ha[d] become elitist as a result of being managed by elites,” and that he was firing her and other “elites” in the first salvo of a “Bolivarian cultural revolution.” The purge was roundly criticized by the art world.
The subsequent discovery of the stolen Matisse and unnoticed fake didn’t exactly cast this “revolution” in a positive light, hence the big show at the airport on Monday.
His Majesty, Brennan Augustus, Emperor of the Kingdom of the East, without his Empress Caoilfhionn Augusta, on 14 June 2014, AS XLIX traveled to his Shire of Eisental, and held a brief court at East Kingdom War Camp.
It was reported to me that these things did happen:
His Majesty called forth Ethrelinda du Eisental and Gabriel of Eisental. They were, repectively, made a Lady and Lord of the Court, and presented AoA scrolls with illumination by Ellesbeth Donofrey and calligraphy by Jonathan Blaecstan.
Later in the day did His Majesty call forward Sigridh Bengtsdotter. He did name her a Lady of the Court, and Awarded her Arms. Her scroll, by Vettorio Antonello, is forthcoming.
Thus closed the court of Their Imperial Majesties, Brennan Augustus and Caoilfhionn Augusta. Long may they reign over the Empire of the East!
Eastern Crown Herald
PS – Thank you to the Heralds for the day – Ellesbeth Donofrey and His Majesty Brennan Augustus.
It was gorgeous day upon which Their Imperial Majesties, Brennan Augustus and Caoilfhionn Augusta, visited their Barony of An Dubhaigeainn on 21 June 2014, AS XLIX for the competition to choose their Champions of Arms.
There was some most chivalrous and outstanding fighting. The finals came down to Culann mac Cianainand Kenric æt Essex. Following several impressive passes at arms, Kenric emerged as victor, and would be named King’s Champion of Arms.
At the beginning of court Konrad der lowe Von Ulm relinquished his title as King’s Champion to Kenric, who was presented the regalia of the King’s Armored Champion, and a scroll by Eloise of Coulter.
Before Konrad was to step down, however, His Majesty had another honor to bestow upon his outgoing champion. Dude. Dude dude dude dude. Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuude! Dude! DUde. Duuuuuuuuud….duuuuuuuuuuuud….duuuuuuuuuuuud…..DUDE DUDE!! (Dude dude dude dude dude dude dude dude). Dude…YOU ROCK!
(Translation – Konrad was presented with a King’s Esteem of Merit).
Ryouko’jin Of the Iron Skies was thanked for his service, and relieved of his duties as Queen’s Armored Champion. Her Majesty, in agreement with Her Highness, chose Ivan Ivanov. Ivan received the regalia of the Queen’s Champion of Arms, and a scroll by Eloise of Coulter.
Their Excellencies An Dubhaigeainn were invited before the court. They presented largess to Their Majesties they had collected for Their Majesty’s challenge.
Her Highness Thyra presented a token to Hrafn Bonesetter for his chivalry and prowess during the tournament.
Conall o Ceallaigh was called before the court. He was named a Lord of the Court, and thus Awarded Arms. A scroll would be forthcoming.
Next was Nikolai Wegener invited before Their Majesties. He was named a Lord of the Court, and presented an AoA scroll with calligraphy by Kay Leigh Mac Whyte and illumination by Vettorio Antonello.
Their Majesties welcomed into their court Hannali of An Dubhaigeainn (Hannah of House Three Skulls). They spoke well of her, and inducted her into Their Order of the Tyger’s Cub. A scroll would be forthcoming.
Her Majesty invited before the court those Children participating in Her Majesty’s Service Challenge. They were presented with the beads symbolic of the work they had done that day.
The rest of the children in attendance were called before the court. Radames accepted the challenge of serving as Human punching bag, and was chased rather far by the children when he ran with the Royal Toy Box.
Their Majesties invited forth Hermina de Pagan. She was named a Lady of the Court, and presented with an AoA scroll by Jan Janowicz Bogdanski.
Next Miriam Giant Killer was called forth into court. After explaining the origin of her name, she was named a Lady of the Court, and received an AoA with a scroll by Lassar ingen Aeda.
His Majesty did request the presence of Matheus Weasel (formerly Matthias Tiberius, the Weasel). His Majesty spoke of Matheus’ most impressive achievement in pulling together a fantastic feast in less than three days time. For this and his other impressive body of work, His Majesty presented to Weasel a King’s Esteem of Merit. There was a scroll with calligraphy by Jonathan Blaecstan and illumination by Melisande of the Gryphon Wood (called Plunder).
Aurora Whitehill was invited to attend Their Majesties court. She was named a Lady of the Court, and received an AoA with a scroll by Onóra ingheann Uí Rauirc.
The household of Surtr’s Brood were called forth. They formed their ranks, and presented Brom de Fechten to Their Majesties. His service cited, he was named a Lord of the Court, and presented with an AoA scroll featuring illumination by Melina al Andalusiyya, calligraphy by Robin dit Dessaint and words by Dankwert Bathory.
Their Majesties requested the presence of Bran Dayton. The named him a Lord of the Court, and he received an AoA with a scroll by Anastasia Henrich.
Their Majesties invited Ryouko’jin Of the Iron Skies to attend their court. He had a presentation to make to Tombo no Tanaka. He marked her passage from youth to the way of the Samurai, and presented her several appropriate gifts. This, however, led to Their Majesties requesting Tombo’s presence. Her skill at combat expounded upon, the companions of the Order of Gawain were called forth. Tombo received a garter from His Majesty’s arm, and a scroll with calligraphy by Mariette de Bretagne and illumination by Aziza al-Shirazi.
Their Majesties noted that the previously orderly members of Surtr’s Brood Houshold were getting noisome, and demanded their return into court. Once they had formed ranks before the crown again, their own Dankwert Bathory was called before the thrones. Their Majesties did thoroughly surprise Dankwert, and made him a Baron of their court. He was presented with a leather coronet by Culann mac Cianain and a scroll by Lada Monguligin.
It was the conclusion of a great day, and thus closed the court of Their Imperial Majesties, Brennan Augustus and Caoilfhionn Augusta was closed. Long may they reign over the Empire of the East!
Eastern Crown Herald
PS – Thank you for Heraldic assistance to Martyn de Halliwell and Yehuda ben Moshe. Additional thank you to Eva Woderose for on-site scribing.
Filed under: Court, Heavy List, Heraldry
A new study by University of South Carolina anthropologist Sharon DeWitte shows that those who survived Europe's 14th century Black Plague "lived significantly longer and were healthier than people who lived before the epidemic struck in 1347."
Master Lorcan Dracontius has announced the audition schedule for The Known World Players’ production at Pennsic 44 of “The Merchant of Venice.”
The Spoliation Advisory Panel, a committee of the British Department for Culture, Media & Sport, has issued a report (pdf) recommending that the British Library return a 15th century painted wood panel to the descendants of its 1936 owners. It’s not so much a matter of law — the original owners’ title would have expired by 1948 at the latest and the British Library didn’t take possession of the piece until 1968 — but rather the “moral strength of the Claimants’ case” that underpins the recommendation.
The panel is a tempera on wood painting attributed to Guidoccio Cozzarelli that originally was used to cover ledgers and other financial records in the Biccherna, the Sienese treasury that managed all the city-state’s revenues and expenses. It depicts the entrance and the exit of public officers from the Biccherna in 1488. Underneath the cityscape are the coats of arms of the officials; underneath the coats of arms the officials’ names are listed.
The practice of covering the records of the Biccherna with painted panels began in the mid-13th century. They started off as simple designs — the camerlengo (the chamberlain or head treasury official) at his desk, the coats of arms of Biccherna officials — and became increasingly complex as the city grew in wealth and political prominence. They began to include historical scenes, current events and religious allegories, eventually growing beyond the constraints of the ledger cover into wood panel paintings commissioned from the area’s best artists that were hung on the treasury wall.
Although much of the vigour of the form was lost after Cosimo de’ Medici conquered Siena in 1555, Biccherne continued to be made into the 17th century. They began to be dispersed in the 18th century when local families claimed them as testaments to their lines’ histories and heraldry. The city’s archive of panels was plundered by Napoleon and shipped to Paris. They were sent back after the Bourbon Restoration (one cartload fell into the Rhône on the way), but some of them were sold off when they arrived. The city’s collection was gradually pieced back together starting in the 19th century. Today there are 105 Biccherne on display at the Siena State Archives.
The Biccherna panel now in the British Library was in a Jewish-owned Munich art gallery whose contents were forcibly sold at auction in June of 1936. The owners had been presented with an extortionate tax bill in 1935, a common Nazi practice which, coupled with banking restrictions and other fees and tariffs, ensured Jews would be stripped of all their property before they could leave the country. When, as expected, they couldn’t pay the bill, they were forced to sell their assets at absurdly low prices. In 1930 the Biccherna panel was priced at 15,000 Reichsmarks (about $3,500 dollars in 1930 because inflation in Germany was crazy; at 1936 rates it was worth nearly double). At the 1936 auction it sold for 2,800 Reichsmarks, the equivalent of about $1,100 at the more stable currency conversion rate.
There is no record of who bought it at the forced sale. The panel next appears at a Sotheby’s auction in London in 1942. It was sold as part of the collection of Arthur Bendir and was purchased by Henry Davis, a collector of important book bindings. Davis donated it to the British Library in 1968 as part of a gift of 890 rare bindings. Its place in the Henry Davis Gift is one of the reasons the BL really wants to keep the panel. It wants to keep the collection intact and accessible to scholars.
The claimants submitted their case to the Spoliation Advisory Panel because the BL can only return an object of cultural heritage in its collection at the recommendation of the Panel and with the approval of Culture Minister. They want the Biccherna Panel back. The British Library hopes to negotiate payment in lieu of restitution. The Spoilation Panel is fine with that plan, but it’s the claimants that will make the final call. If they can’t agree to a compensation solution, then the BL will have to return the piece.
Countess Matilda Seton, Northern Herald, reports that at Their Coronation Court, Their Majesties Walrick and Cecilia of the Kingdom of the Outlands, offered admittance to the Order of Chivalry to Kolgrimr Olafsson.
A horde of medieval Vikings descended on Lismore, New South Wales recently when members of the Rognvald's Lith joined with the Lismore Medieval Re-enactment Society to celebrate the Winter Solstice. Leah White of the Northern Star has the story.(photo)
Brita reports that she has created an album of photos from Palio di Stonemarche 2014, which took place recently in the Kingdom of the East. The photos are available to view on Shutterfly.
Among the many attendees to Northern Region War Camp this past weekend was a reporter for The Glens Falls Post-Star. The Post-Star is local to the Shire of Glenn Linn, and featured an article about the event and the SCA in general. Read the whole article at their website.
Filed under: Events Tagged: Northern Region War Camp
This weekend, July 10-13, the Province of Malagentia will be hosting Great Northeastern War. Ahead of the weekend, the site booklet has been made available, along with much more information on the GNEW website.
Filed under: Events Tagged: Great Northeastern War
Cadw, the Wales’ Historic Environment Service, has launched a neat new initiative as part of its Time Traveller campaign to inspire interest in Welsh history and encourage tourism to Welsh historic sites. It’s a video series called Castles from the Clouds, so named because some of Wales finest castles are filmed by a remote controlled drone carrying high resolution cameras. The videos are short but sweet, providing sweeping bird’s eye view vistas of the castles.
So far there are four videos uploaded to the Cadw YouTube channel, with more to come.
Laugharne Castle was built in the 13th century on top of a 12th century Norman earth and timber fortification by the de Brian family. It was destroyed by Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, last sovereign prince of Wales. Most of what stands today are the remains of a Tudor-era mansion built by Sir John Perrot who was reputed to be one of Henry VIII’s bastards. In 1644, it was besieged for a week and captured by Parliamentary troops. Already severely damaged by cannon fire, after its capture the castle was slighted (deliberately destroyed in whole or in part) leaving it in ruins. Those ruins inspired Dylan Thomas who wrote Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog in the castle’s garden gazebo overlooking the estuary of the River Tâf.
Caerphilly Castle was watershed (no pun intended) in the history of castle construction. Built by Gilbert de Clare in the 13th century, the castle is encircled by a series of concentric walls and is surrounded by elaborate water defenses, artificial lakes and moats created by the damming a local stream. It’s the second largest castle in Britain (Windsor is number one). By the late 15th century the castle was in decline. By the 18th several towers had collapsed and the waters receded. It wasn’t until the 1950s when the castle was given to the state that the water defenses were re-flooded. One tower still standing today leans even more than a certain tower in Pisa.
Kidwelly Castle is a Norman castle that began as a ringwork castle in the 12th century. The stone castle was built in the mid-13th century by the de Chaworth family with the outer defenses added in the 14th century. It remained in English hands until Henry VII gave it to Rhys ap Thomas who had fought for him ably at the Battle of Bosworth. You might recognize it from the first scene of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
St Davids Bishop’s Palace:
St Davids Bishop’s Palace began life as a monastery in the 6th century. The Norse raiders made a meal of it at least 10 times over the next four centuries. The Normans built a motte and bailey fortification to protect the holy site which held the relics of St. David, patron saint of Wales. A succession of bishops in the late 13th and 14th centuries built the stone structures. Bishop Henry de Gower built the cathedral in the 14th century, including the Great Hall with its beautiful wheel window.
Another bishop, Bishop William Barlow, is largely responsible for its ruin. Initially a Augustinian prior, he became prominent figure in the Protestant Reformation and an active participant in the Dissolution of Monasteries. In 1536, he stripped the Palace’s lead roof to raise money for his daughters’ dowries. Without a roof, the palace began to fall apart. By the 17th century it was considered a derelict hulk unfit for repair.
Subscribe to Cadw’s channel to see new Castles from the Clouds videos as they’re uploaded.
As a dedicated aficionado of coloring (no, I never grew out of it and never will), I must point you towards another aspect of Cadw’s Time Traveller campaign, the printable coloring sheets of Welsh heroes and (there’s one heroine but she’s a rather passive, tragic one). They’re very simple line drawings suitable for crayon work and young colorers. I’d love to see them add more intricate examples.
Leiden University archaeologists have unearthed a rare and beautiful silver bowl from the from the early 7th century in Oegstgeest, a town in the province of South Holland in the western Netherlands. It was discovered just over a year ago, on June 4th, 2013, during the excavation of village from the 6th and 7th century on the banks of the Rhine. The find wasn’t announced for a year to allow the team to complete the excavation without interference from treasure hunters and lookie-loos.
The silver bowl itself dates to late antiquity, probably around 300-500 A.D., and is decorated with plant and animal figures in gold leaf. On the inside, three large trees or plants go from the base of the bowl to a border frieze. The plants divide the frieze into three sections separated by rosettes. Each section features animal figures running, one set appears to be three deer, another is two bucks and a dog, the third is two mythological animals, one of which appears to be carrying a human leg in its mouth. These decorative motifs suggest the bowl was originally manufactured in the eastern Mediterranean or Middle East.
It’s the elaborate gold and garnet appliqués that date to the first half of the 7th century. The base of the bowl is inset with a central disc that has garnets inlaid in a cross pattern. Between the garnets are swirls made of knotted gold wire. Tiny versions of the swirls decorate the border of the disc. There are two mounts with suspension rings added to the outside of the bowl. They too are gold with garnet accents and swirls of knotted gold wire. The style of decoration is from the German Rhineland (except for the suspension rings which are more in keeping with English and Scandinavian styles), so someone took an expensive Eastern bowl and made it even more expensive by adding Germanic gold accents.
The rings are characteristic of hanging bowls and the handsome interior decoration would certainly be more effectively shown off if the bowl were suspended with the interior visible. However, in order to hang evenly the bowl would have needed a third ring and there’s no evidence of a third mount on the bowl, not even rivet holes. It’s possible the piece was in the process of being manufactured, which would make it a very rare artifact captured mid-production.
The bowl was presumably used as a drinking vessel or a wash basin initially, but at some point a small hole was made in the base of the bowl from the outside in. The hole would have made it impossible for the bowl to hold liquids without leaking and it seems to have been done on purpose.
The ancient village was criss-crossed by several small waterways leading to and from the Rhine. The bowl was found in one of those small waterways, and archaeologists believe it was deliberately deposited as a sacrifice.
Researchers are assuming that the bowl, which is 21 centimetres wide and 11 centimetres high, was buried as part of a ritual sacrifice. Such gilded discoveries are extremely rare. This one is exceptional because such bowls were usually made of bronze. In addition, they were not, as a rule, lavishly decorated with gold leaf. This means that we are dealing with an artefact that is unique, not only for the Netherlands, but for all of Western Europe. (Until the discovery of this bowl there were no indications of the presence of a local or regional elite on the Oegstgeest settlement. It may be that in this period some members of the elite lived on ‘simple’ farms.)
The was in pieces when it was first found. A full restoration funded by the Province of South Holland has returned it to its former glory. The bowl is now on display at the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities as part of the Golden Middle Ages exhibition that runs through October 26th. After that, it will be exhibited in the museum’s permanent collection on long-term loan from the Province of South Holland.
“The volume represents the very first appearance in print of all five books of the Pentateuch as well as the first to which vocalization and cantillation marks have been added,” said the Christie's auction house catalogue about the sale of a Torah, printed in Hebrew in Bologna in January 1482. An anonymous buyer paid US$3.87 million for the book. (photo)
St. Sabas, a leader of the monastic movement, was a very important person in Jerusalem during the Middle Ages. Recently a lead seal, bearing his image and dating to the 13th century, was discovered during an archaeological dig in the Bayit Vegan neighborhood of Jerusalem. (photo)