A Damaged Defense – Ly Fenris McGill
Quill Pen Making (2 hours) – THL Robert l’Etourdi
Using the Guidonian Hand Scroll for Gregorian Chant – THL Máirghréad Stíobhard inghean uí Choinne
Calligraphy 101 – THL Julianna Stafford
Dagger for Dummies – Simon Caminante
Making Fencing Armor – Ly Fenris McGill
Gilded Letters Part 1 – Mistress Alicia Langland
Noon – LUNCH (from the kitchen of Bjorn Grimsson)
ABCs of Youth Fencing – Baron Edward Harbinger & Baroness Anastasie de L’Amoure
Gouache 101 – Ly Felice de Thornton
Now What? Effective Documentation for Competition – Unnr in Elska a Fjarfella
At a Loss for Words – Baroness Ekaterina
Basics of SCA Fencing – Pan Henryk Bogusz
Working with a Quill Pen – THL Robert l’Etourdi
Understanding Tournament Trees – Baroness Ekaterina
Ready, Set, Teach! – Mistress Alicia Langland & Mistress Cori Ghora
Becoming a Fencing Marshal – Pan Henryk Bogusz
Shuji: Taking the Brush – Japanese Calligraphy (2 hours) – Mistress Sólveig Þróndardóttir
Illumination for the Artistically Inept – THL Julianna Stafford
Running the Gate/Troll – Baroness Anastasie de L’Amoure
Your First Authorization – Pan Henryk Bogusz
A Guide to Field Heraldry – Ly Petronilla Goodwin
Gilded Letters Part 2 – Mistress Alicia Langland
Archaeologists have discovered the remains of 17th century Christian burial on a Taiwanese island. This is the earliest European burial ever discovered in the Asia-Pacific region. Under the direction of María Cruz Berrocal from the University of Konstanz in Germany, the archaeological team has excavated the site on the island of Heping Dao in northern Taiwan since 2011. The digs have unearthed material going back as far as the island’s first human habitants. The evidence of early European colonization is exceptionally significant because there is little known about the period and archaeological remains are few and far between.
The settlement of San Salvador de Isla Hermosa was founded on the island as a colony of Spain in 1626. They occupied the site until 1642 when the Dutch took over. After the Dutch came the Chinese, and then Japan occupied Heping Dao until the end of World War II. Because its time as the San Salvador de Isla Hermosa colony was brief and the island passed through several hands in the centuries since, archaeologists didn’t expect to find anything from the early colonial period. The Spanish occupation was known solely from archival records; no archaeological materials associated with it had ever been found before.
Instead, the excavations revealed a wealth of important discoveries from the early days of the colony: the foundations of a church or convent and its cemetery from the Spanish settlement. Thus far, the team has unearthed six burials and disarticulated human remains. Last November, they discovered the skeleton of an adult buried with his hands folded in the traditional Christian prayer pose. Osteological examination of the skeletal remains indicate bodies of European, Taiwanese local and maybe African origin (presumably brought to the island as slaves) were interred in the cemetery.
“These are the first European burials from this time period discovered in the entire Asia-Pacific region and they contain the first documented human remains. The colonial cemetery that we unearthed is also the oldest in the region,” says María Cruz Berrocal.
Additional analysis of the bones and teeth should answer a great many questions about the deceased. Recovering nuclear DNA from archaeological remains is a tricky thing, but researchers from the French National Center for Scientific Research, the Royal Belgian Institute of Science and the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History are now carrying out stable isotope and botanical analyses on the teeth, examining pathogen and human DNA recovered from the bones. The isotope analysis will narrow down their place of origin. Pathogen DNA will shed new light on the vectors of disease transmission between European colonists and the local people. Botanical analysis may provide important information on the introduction of non-native plant species during the early colonial period.
This research has the potential to rewrite the sparse history of the Spanish colonization of the island. The historical records are deeply one-sided. According to the Spanish settlers, they dominated the island, the biggest fish in the smallest pond, and had little but contempt for the locals. The archeology puts the lie to their self-promotional exaggerations. In fact there were very few Spanish colonizers in Heping Dao and far from living like lords impressing the natives with their fancy European goods, they were desperately poor. They needed trade with China to survive and left behind almost nothing of their material culture. The excavation has found exactly one European artifact: a bronze buckle.
That’s not how it was supposed to go.
“The results demonstrate that we are dealing with an early globalisation hub here. The Spanish-style construction of the church illustrates that this colony was just as important to the Spanish Crown as other colonies established elsewhere, as in the Americas, for example. However, its attempt to gain a long-term foothold in the Pacific region was ultimately unsuccessful. For this reason, historians have since assumed that Taiwan only played a marginal role. But that is not the case,” concludes María Cruz Berrocal.
Thus it was that Their Majesties, Brion and Anna, did travel far, and attend the twenty-sixth Gulf Wars in the Kingdom of Gleann Abhann.
During their visit to such far lands, they did see fit to hold a court.
The following gentles were named to the Company of the Pennon of the East:
Cristoff Gockerhan von Loch, called “Clockwork”
Tysha Z Kieva
Fortune St. Keyne
Elizabeth Elenore Lovell
His Highness Ioannes Aurelius Serpentius
Her Highness Ro Honig von Sommerfeldt
Samuel Peter DeBump, called “Speedbump”
Their Majesties Brion and Anna proceeded then to exchange with their cousins Roger and Zanobia, King and Queen of the West, many wonderful gifts.
Their Majesties called into their court Brannat Dub, called “Raven”. They spoke of her long service to waterbearing and general fighter support, and named her a Baroness of their Court.
This closed the court of Their Majesties, Brion and Anna.
Other crowns in attendance did hold courts at Gulf Wars. At the court of the Kingdom of the Middle, Their Majesties Edmund and Kateryn did call Elizabeth Elenore Lovell. They spoke of her efforts on the rapier field, and awarded her a Dragon’s Tooth.
It has been my privilege to record the honors received by many who travelled such a long ways from home.
Malcolm Bowman, Brigantia Principal Herald
Filed under: Court Tagged: court report, Gulf Wars
A few days ago, Duchess Avelina made changes to the Awards Recommendation form to make the recommendation process more user friendly.
1) Users now have the option to print their submissions for their records. At the end of the survey, there is a link “Print Your Answers”. If the user clicks this link, a *.PDF will open. The user can then either print or save that file for their records. It was asked if we could have email notifications, but the software had some issues with that. This should give users the confirmation of submissions. It should be noted that, submission does not mean that the Royalty *will* take action. It is only confirmation that the recommendation was received.
2) In response to some loved ones of awards recipients not being notified, a field was added: “Does this candidate have a spouse/partner/other loved one that should be notified should the Royalty act on this recommendation?”
Any questions or concerns can be sent to email@example.com
Filed under: Announcements Tagged: awards
Master Philip announces the 5th Annual Unoffical Pennsic Half Marathon! Will you join us? Princess Signy Heri of Atlantia and Countess Thora Heri of The Outlands started this fun run five years ago as a way to encourage fitness in a fun and challenging way.
Their inspiration for the race? If you can run 13.1 miles before the start of war week then you will be fully prepared to have as much fun as you want the rest of the war. You will have the stamina to enjoy all pick up fights, and bouts, and battles. Dance all you need. Shop at all the places. Walk all over Pennsic for all the parties. Rune Stone Hill would not even slow you down.
What’s the course look like?
The estimated 13-mile course (it is medievally inexact!) consists of three loops around the entire Pennsic campground, plus one smaller loop around the Serengeti. Runners meet in front of the old Chirurgeon’s Point (Services Area) at 8 am on Saturday August 5th. Thanks to Mistress Genoveva von Lübeck of the Middle we also have a course map for runners to review in advance. Check it out: halfmarathonmap2
Water is available from the Services Area (old Chirurgeon’s Point)…but runners are expected to supply their own water /sports drink/snack needs. We will pass the Services Area (old Chirurgeon’s Point) three times at roughly 4.5 mile intervals.
Are there pace requirements? Not at all! If 13.1 miles sounds like too much, that’s okay! Join us for one loop. Or even two! Everyone is welcome! Walkers also!
This is a group run, not a race. No times will be kept. The goal is fitness as part of the SCAdian lifestyle. All are welcome. Wearing medieval-style tunics instead of modern running clothes is encouraged.
Last year we had over 40 people start and do some amount of activity. And we amazingly had over 20 finishers!
Is there a medal? Of course there is a medal! Pictured is the Half Finishers Medal made in the style of a pilgrim’s badge by Mistress Serafina Alamanni from the Kingdom of Meridies. She is already in the planning stages of making the one for this year.
Now is a great time to start training. Here are some things to consider:
* Try to get outside and start getting adjusted to the heat. It will be hot!
* Get used to running in the sun! Wear sunscreen and consider a hat.
* Run some hills. We will be tackling a *lot* of hills.
* Don’t rely on a treadmill. Make sure you are getting used to running on the roads. It makes a difference.
Join the fun on Social Media too. We have a Facebook group under “Unofficial Pennsic Half Marathon”. Send a request and join!
We look forward to walking or running with you soon!
Filed under: Announcements, Pennsic Tagged: Pennsic
(March 24 Update: Volunteers who wish to discuss the suggested SMS messaging system and/or help with data entry are invited to join the new Facebook group Pennsic Messaging System Progress.)
Have you gone to Pennsic? Are there sounds and sensations at War that make the experience everything you had hoped for, making indelible memories that stay with you throughout the year until you can return? Have you fought on the field or walked through the merchant’s area and heard the cannons fire in the distance? You might flinch and look up, or you may do nothing at all.
Or, if you are like a rather large portion of the Pennsic population, you may dive for cover, start to sweat, or lose your field of vision as you are transported back to bad places you thought were still somewhere overseas.
For many of us, the cannons are more than just a sound that signifies the start or end of a battle; they trigger an internal battle we have with post-traumatic stress (PTS), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and/or anxiety.
I have heard many talking points while discussing the cannons with people over the past five years or so, ever since I stopped fighting and began watching the battle with the eyes of someone who’d been in it. I had just come off of several deployments, some of which were pretty hairy; others which were scary and anxiety riddled due to my line of work and the bodies I had to confront. I found fighting at Pennsic to be the exact outlet I needed and loved the camaraderie I encountered both on and off the field.
But as I came to know my friends and fellow fighters, I began to notice their tics and twitches, their wild-eyed looks, and the association of those reactions with the cannon fire.
I thought I was the only one who was twitchy before and after the battle, the only one who dropped low when the cannons went off, the only one who would sweat not from the heat but from the excessive beating of my heart.
I found that I would focus on one or two people during a battle and as long as they were nearby at the start of battle, I was good to go. Admittedly, this is not a good strategy for fighting, but it was a game and a way to play the game.
After I was injured and began my off-field fight with a physical handicap that prevented me from ever again taking to the field; I started to really focus on my friends and the environment around us. I started photographing them and the fighting.
That’s when I really saw it: the low, sudden head and shoulder drop, the hunched bodies, the jerkiness and wide glassy eyes when the cannons would fire. I decided to find out if this was a real problem, or something that was minor and affecting only a few fighters on the sidelines of the field.
I want to clarify something first: I don’t have PTSD per se, since that is a non-specific umbrella term for a group of PTS-related conditions. What I have is designated “PTS with distinct triggers,” which sends me back to places or events that initiated the stress response.
(Editor’s Note: The following contains graphic description of real battle experiences.)
My stress issues originated from two events combined with a lot of other bad experiences that solidified the stressors in my psyche. The first event was dealing with mass graves while in Iraq. I was the only one on my team without kids in my family, so I was chosen to evaluate and document the remains of children killed during the al-Anfal campaign by Saddam Hussein. The tiny remains lay two per table, on every table in my pathology lab. Seventy-five percent of our forensic population were children under the age of 13, with an average of 24 bullet wounds per child. If this wasn’t stressful enough, we were shot at constantly and our lab was placed next to the base wall, along a road where IEDs were commonplace.
One day, an IED caught some Marines coming through the gate. After the cloud and debris settled, I found their engine block, along with pieces of the driver, deposited right outside my lab door. I had to process that by convincing myself it was, “Nothing to be upset about, just get back to work”, which I did…18 hours a day, seven days a week, for nearly two and a half years.
The second stressor makes being in large crowds difficult if I cannot see an exit. It’s because on our sister base, Camp Victory, there was a huge PX (imagine a mini-Walmart in the middle of a military base) where we would go to “relax” because it was away from the mass graves we were working on. We’d go to the PX and shop or eat junk food at the several trailer-sized fast food places parked outside the PX. One day while drinking coffee I saw an Iraqi man, who appeared to work in one of the trailers, counting his paces and then talking to someone on a phone. He did this several times and I pointed it out to my friend and one of the base soldiers. I was told to mind my own business. I watched this man for an hour and even got close to hear him pace counting under his breath. I reported him again to no avail. I left and went back to work feeling a little disturbed.
That night I was invited to a cookout for a unit that, after 18 months, was going home. I went to the party and sat down to eat burgers while hearing the stories of all the soldiers who were going home. One was Sergeant Ramos, a grizzled soldier in his mid-thirties who had described a rough deployment but said he had an 18-month-old baby girl at home who had been born after he’d deployed. He had never held her in his hands. He wanted something to take with him to give to her; so without remembering the Iraqi man, I told him about the stuffed teddy bears in the PX. It was 6 p.m. (1800 hours). He finished his burger and drove off to the PX to grab a bear before he had to report to the tarmac at 2000 hours. I received word at 18:30 that the PX had been mortared twice and there were heavy casualties. The PX was fully caved in on the one side… the side where the teddy bears were located. Sgt. Ramos died on impact with his side SAPI plates embedded in his chest wall.
I had sent him there.
To this day, I cannot be in big box stores without seeing the exits or knowing how to get out if something were to happen. Years have passed and I work to recognize what stresses me so I can avoid them. I am much, much, better than I used to be, and typically have no stress responses at all.
Merchanting: A New Perspective of the Problem
About three years ago, I became a merchant and set up shop along the side off the Darkyard encampment, near the North Gate. I was right across from the battlefield and was able to talk to fighters before battle and after, as well as able to see the fighting.
I was surprised at how LOUD the cannons were from where I was located. I dealt with the anxiety and kept note of the battle times, set an alarm on my phone… but somehow there was still cannon fire that I could not anticipate. I would be so stressed and tired at the end of the day that I’d pass out as soon as it was dark.
The following year, I had to determine if it was financially worth coming back, but with my business picking up I realized I couldn’t afford to skip Pennsic. So, I dealt with the cannons a second year.
I asked more and more people if they were bothered by the cannon fire and started hearing stories of people who were not fighters but who either couldn’t come to War (often, or every year) due to the cannons, or couldn’t bring people with them (like children) because of the sound.
I encountered people with service dogs who had to cage them for hours from their anxiety (which would then trap the human in camp with the dog), non-PTS sufferers who developed anxiety from the cannons and only experienced it at Pennsic, and even a gentleman who wore tight earplugs during battles and walked around War deaf in order to avoid the sounds of the blasts!
Pennsic War is one of those places I call “home.” I have been attending for 25 years and have loved every time I have gone. Two of those years I paid just so I could attend for one day before deploying again. I mentioned that I fought for a time, but most of my years were as a photographer and partier, and all-around “troublemaker.” I’m part of a house known as the “Drunks on the Hill” and I am the Instigator of Shenanigans. I have met so many people at War these 25 years and have the most amazing stories for each event.
I can honestly say that for most of my years after the deployments, I just dealt with the cannons and “sucked it up” with alcohol and bold stories. That is why I can say without reservation that I have been there, done that, heard it, and likely said it.
I understand all the reasons why we want the cannons to be at War, and all the reasons we also fear the noise.
But here is my one point, the one that sticks in my head, has led me down the path that I am undertaking, and the point of my story:
Pennsic is a vacation, a game, a home, and for many of us, a livelihood.
In none of those descriptions should a sound negate our enjoyment or our ability to earn a living.
During my third year of merchanting, I was invited to move into a permanent spot directly across from the battlefield along Currie Road. I jumped at the chance to be in such a great spot and gave no thought to the cannons. I figured I’d be further away and therefore, would not hear them as much.
Boy, was I wrong.
The area where I am located is right in line with the cannons and in the direct trajectory of the sound blast, making me the recipient of an incredibly loud BOOM.
I had the best spot for a merchant, but the worst spot for someone with trigger-related stress.
I was grateful to have a neighbor who not only recognized what I was experiencing but also had observed the reaction of his friends and customers to sudden cannon fire. He too had been trying for years to figure out how to resolve the situation within the SCA. I had found an ally.
Pennsic has, on average, 11,000+ people in attendance. So, being a “fix it” person, I decided last year to undertake the discovery of a solution.
I began interviewing people so that I would have information to take to the cannoneers. My merchant neighbor Alan (Alanus) worked with me to figure out who we needed to speak to and what assets were available.
Our first try was to drive up to the hill and talk to the cannoneers. It was, for lack of a better term, unsuccessful. When a cannon was fired close to me, with only a short warning, I lost it (I do apologize for my language, gentlemen!). After seeing an example of the problem, the cannoneers volunteered several helpful suggestions.
So, Alan and I took this information to the Mayor of Pennsic to find out ways to proceed. We spoke with him at length over cigarettes (his, not mine), and he agreed that a signal system would be a good method of notification since the usual means of communication like the newspaper, posters, and several different sound-based signal systems had been tried in the past and had not worked. The Mayor told us whom we needed to speak with for next year and told us he was scheduled to be the Deputy Mayor for Martial Activities (which includes the oversight of the logistics for the Gunners) for the battles at Pennsic War 46. This was a great start; we just needed to find the method for notification delivery.
Alan and I spent the rest of Pennsic 45 figuring out ways to warn people of impending cannon fire, what the timing was between a marshal’s call to end the battle, radio time for the Signal Corps to notify the cannoneers, and the time it took to fire the cannons.
Alan and I had several people in our booths who’d come in to shop and instead found themselves taking cover under our tables. The worst was when the cannons fired outside regularly scheduled times. I found myself losing customers either due to my “zoning out” or having full anxiety attacks and having to have an employee take over while I left the booth to de-stress.
I don’t drink much, at least not anymore, but at this War I was downing bottles of wine as fast as I could in order to calm down. That isn’t a solution I was willing to continue or prescribe for anyone else. The situation just strengthened my resolve. I dug in my heels.
Understand this: I don’t want the cannons to go away.
Nor do I want the fun of the cannoneers, the Signals Corps, or the fighters to be subdued.
What I want is a notification system to be put in place so that people like me — my neighbors, the veterans, the handicapped people with service dogs that freak out, the attendees with minor autism, the victims of violent crimes, and the hundreds of others I have encountered — can attend and enjoy Pennsic but with proper notification so that they can brace themselves or prepare for the sounds.
What is intolerable is any discussion that includes the words “If it bothers you that much, just stop coming to Pennsic.”
I started a Facebook thread (on the Pennsic War 45 group) asking for ideas. I wanted to know how far the sound travelled across the site and who was affected by the noise. I will say that for every post on Facebook where I was told “go home,” “if you can’t handle it, don’t play,” or “suck it up,” there were many more that encouraged me to find a solution for the benefit of all who consider Pennsic an important part of their life. I concluded we weren’t going to make everyone happy, and both Alan and I are okay with that.
At the end of Pennsic 45, the bottom line was that a solution would be found, the cannons would continue to signal the beginning and end of battles, and notice would be given to those who need it in order to enjoy Pennsic.
The Proposed Solution: A New Beginning
After Pennsic was over, Alan and I kept in touch and continued to talk with those who would be involved in the notification system. All we were missing was a method of delivering an alert.
I am a member of the military reserves; one day at drill, our communications officer came to me to sign up for our new messaging system. I gave him my email, responded once I received the message from him; then download the app so I could receive instant texts. The messaging service is the same one used by several airlines to message their flight crews with notifications and flight time changes.
After testing the app, I wondered if it would work at Pennsic. I contacted Alan. He downloaded the app, created a test group, and found that we received notifications between five and 10 seconds after they were sent!
The messaging service will alert via the app or text via SMS, so the application does not have to be downloaded by the message recipient for the system to work. We then tested various locations to verify that cellular reception was not a problem. We received both text and online messages, which can be set to produce an audible warning, with a mere few seconds of delay!
Alan wrote step-by-step instructions on how to deploy the system and presented them to the rest of our SCA project team for comment. The system can handle a communications group of several thousand individuals and will require only someone to collect and upload the phone numbers of participants. The notification of impending cannon fire will need to be sent by a Signal Corps member or by a cannoneer a short time before the cannon is fired.
Mind you, when Alan and I were testing this application I was in Virginia and he was in a remote cabin in Washington State. We know the time given to participants in the messaging system will be enough for them to set down their drinks, cage a cannon-sensitive dog, hold a child, go into a quiet place, or do whatever they need to do to prepare.
We need volunteers willing to manually enter phone numbers into laptop database either at registration or at troll.
The system admin will upload data to a dedicated cellphone the weekend before War Week with upload of additional phone numbers daily throughout War Week. We know this will work and we know there is room for improvement, but it’s the start of a solution.
With all the very best intentions for the Society and the greater comfort of the citizens of Pennsic. We remain,
Amani Ahmed Mash’al al-Sabti al-Dulaymi of the Most Glorious Ottoman Empire, owner and proprietor of Silvertree Souq
Alanus of Bunghea, owner and proprietor of Nordic Trader
(For more information or to get involved in the project, email Amani.)
Doña Gabrielle de Winter invites gentles from throughout Æthelmearc to join the good folk of the Shire of Silva Vulcani at some upcoming demonstrations.
California University of Pennsylvania is full of demo opportunities this April. I thought it would be an excellent time to give you the low-down, in case you are free and would like to participate.
Diada de Sant Jordi, April 27th, 10:00-3:00 (Thursday)
Saint George’s day is a very important holiday in Spain – a day of books, roses, and romance. Last year, we had dancing, arts and sciences, and fencing, and were considered one of the most important aspects of the event. This year, we already have wonderful scribal talent from the Bog, fencers, and dancers have already signed up to come, but we would be thrilled to welcome more people. High school students will be bused in, so the age range is high school to college.
A Trip Through Time, April 29th, 11:00-4:00 (Saturday)
This is a major reenactment event, advertised to schools, public libraries, VFWs, and more. The age range is open – anyone with an interest in history is invited. We already have a Civil War Encampment, Scottish dancers will be joining our medieval ones, people portraying French and Indian and Revolutionary Wars, hands-on demos of primitive food preparation, and fencing. I would love to add anything to this mix – to introduce the people coming here to the wide range of reenactment and living history opportunities.
There are reasons why these came so close together. Several people were given minor grants in order to have events on campus to help assist with bringing people to Cal U and recruiting new students. Unfortunately, all of our timelines came together (I started planning mine in November). It also means that I had to grab what space I could, and so had to pick a rather unfortunate date that coincided with Blackstone Raids. I understand that there is a lot going on, but I could not pass up any opportunity to both bring the SCA to a new audience and show the University how useful and awesome the College of Silva Vulcani (known to them as the Medieval Club and the Fencing Club) is and how we support the university. If you can come to any of these, I would be grateful, because the more support we have, maybe the more people we will recruit? In any case, it will be lovely to see you.
The Life of Christ tapestries have made their triumphant return to public view for the first time since a 1981 fire almost reduced these precious 17th century masterpieces to cinders. As of March 21st, they are hanging in the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in Manhattan. It has taken a decade and a half of painstaking labour from conservators for this day to arrive.
The story begins with a pope who had a great love of luxury textiles and an even greater love of nepotism. Maffeo Barberini was elected the Throne of St. Peter as Pope Urban VIII in 1623 and wasted no time in spreading the ecclesiastical wealth around to his family members. He made his brother Antonio a cardinal. He made his brother Carlo’s sons Francesco and Antonio cardinals too. Other family members got grand titles (Duke, Prince), extensive properties in the Papal States, cushy sinecures and military commands requiring little in the way of actual soldiering.
Rome was not known for its tapestry industry — France and Flanders dominated tapestry production in Europe — but for a brief window in the 17th century, it came to prominence thanks entirely to Cardinal Francesco Barberini, Urban’s nephew. He founded a private tapestry workshop in 1627, hand-picked its staff and oversaw the production of six multi-tapestry series depicting the early history of Christianity and the Church.
His papal uncle shared Francesco’s love for tapestries, the more silk, gold and silver thread the better. He already had a large collection before he was elected pope. After the dramatic improvement in family status, Francesco’s workshop gave the Barberini the opportunity to create personalized tapestries by the greatest artists in the richest materials, the kind of access only royalty (and in Italy the Medici family of Florence), had.
The Life of Christ cycle, designed by Giovanni Francesco Romanelli and woven by Gaspare Rocci, Caterina della Riviera and Maria Maddalena della Riviera, monopolized the workshop from 1643 to 1656. There were some gaps in there due to unforseen obstacles. Urban VIII died in 1644, severely hampering the production schedule. The new pope was no Barberini fan, and Francesco was soon tied up investigations on his alleged misappropriation of funds. Production cranked back into gear in 1647 but it still took another nine years to complete the series.
The workshop died with Francesco, its driving impetus, in 1679, and that was the end of Rome’s brief moment of relevance in the history of Baroque tapestry. The Life of Christ cycle hung on the walls of the Barberini family palaces until it was purchased along with the rest of the Barberini tapestry collection (135 in total) by wool manufacturer and tapestry expert Charles Mather Ffoulke in 1889. He moved them to the States where he resold the Life of Christ tapestries to Mrs. Elizabeth U. Coles. A devout congregant, Coles donated the complete series to the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in 1891, before the church was built.
The Barberini tapestries were added to by other donors, until by the mid-20th century, Saint John the Divine found itself the proud owner of Flemish tapestries depicting the Acts of the Apostles made from Raphael cartoons and nine Mortlake tapestries. With such an important and unique collection, the Cathedral opened an in-house Textile Conservation Laboratory in 1981.
That expertise proved invaluable when tragedy struck in December 2001. A five-alarm fire broke out in the sanctuary, and the six Barberini tapestries hanging on the other side of the wall in the nave (the other six were already in the conservation lab when the fire started, thankfully) took heavy smoke and fire damage. Two of them, The Last Supper and The Resurrection, were so damaged that 30 to 40% of them were destroyed.
The conservation lab has been working on the delicate tapestries ever since. It’s a time-consuming, incredibly detailed job to clean and repair tapestries 16 feet tall and 12-19 feet wide one inch at a time. It has taken 16 years, but now 10 of the 12 tapestries of Life of the Christ have returned to the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine. The two heavily damaged ones have been stabilized but are in no condition to be hung.
The Rev. Canon Patrick Malloy, the priest who oversees arts-related projects at the cathedral, in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, said the idea was to recreate a Baroque chapel and show the tapestries differently from when they hung over the transepts. But he said the exhibition was more than just that.
“They’re hanging in a liturgical space,” Dr. Malloy said, “so they’re not just works of art but devotional objects. It wouldn’t be the same if they were in the Met. I go to the Cloisters from time to time. It’s wonderful, but it’s not the same as if it were a monastery.”
The new installation will give visitors the chance to examine the tapestries in much more detail. Tangential to the religious theme of the tapestries but very much central to the monarchical power they were meant to telegraph, the three bees on the Barberini family coat of arms are plastered in the four corners of each tapestry.
The Barberini bees are a common sight in Rome. After the elevation of Urban VIII to the papacy, he slapped those bees on everything from Barberini properties, to the bronze baldachin in St. Peter’s made of ancient Roman beams stolen from the Pantheon and melted down, to frescoes in the Vatican made a dozen years before Maffeo was even ordained a priest.
Of course they were woven into the tapestries, just as the kings of France wove their fleurs-de-lis on the tapestries they commissioned. The ones in the corners are the traditional three bees, two on top, one of the bottom, encircled by a laurel wreath in place of the shield, but the bees also appear on the tapestries in a rather bizarre tableau that I’ve never seen before, notwithstanding the Barberini penchant for scattering their pollinators far and wide in the city of Rome. There are three bees, yes, but two of them are pulling a plough while one rides above them holding a whip. This curious arrangement is apparently a very, very arcane reference to Virgil’s Georgics, and symbolizes the powerful combination of “highest rule, sown fields of cultivated land, production of honey.” It may be a nod to Urban’s three nephews — Francesco, Antonio and Taddeo — who held the three highest offices (not counting the pope, of course) of the Roman Church and whose combined labours were meant to ensure the continued wealth and victory of the Church.
I don’t know if any of that makes much sense, but I’m kind of crazy about the image of the Barberini bees pushing that plough with their tiny bee hands while their brother/overseer cracks the whip.
Archaeologists have discovered a massive treasure from a 17th century shipwreck in Meishan City in the Sichuan Province of southwest China. The ship sank where the Jinjiang River branches off from the Minjiang River in 1646, and with it plunged more than 10,000 gold, silver and bronze coins, ingots, jewels, gold artifacts and weapons including iron swords, spears and knives. They are in pristine condition, with engraved inscriptions on the ingots still clearly legible, inscriptions that name one of the self-styled titles of Zhang Xianzhong, a famed rebel against the Ming Dynasty.
It all started with a looter. He, like everyone else in the region, knew the legend of the great treasure of Zhang Xianzhong which had sank with all his ships in the river. With the Minjiang less than 10 feet deep, the looter, who happened to be an experienced diver, decided to have a look around in the dark of night to see if he might get his hands on a little illegally obtained cultural heritage. He found a gold tiger first, then an inscribed square piece, also gold, with four little divots that the tiger’s feet fit into perfectly. The inscription confirmed it was a gold seal (the tiger was its handle) made in lunar November, 1643, and bearing the title “Grand Marshal of Yongchang,” one of Zhang’s honorifics. He also found an incredibly rare gold and silver books, ingots, coins and several other treasures, all of which he sold to an unscrupulous collector for 13,600,000 yuan (ca. $2,000,000).
More precious objects from this period began to appear on the black market. Police investigated and last fall were able to bust 10 artifact looting gangs and 70 traffickers and recover hundreds of artifacts of significant historical import. It was the largest looting case ever cracked in China. So, with the scofflaws apprehended and their contraband found, cultural heritage authorities turned their collective unblinking eye to the find site of some of the most important objects. Time for the professionals to get a turn.
The ambitious excavation project began in January with the arrival of the dry season. Water was pumped out of the river leaving a passable but very mucky riverbed. The archaeological team then had to dig down five meters (16’5″) beneath the surface of the riverbed before they literally struck gold. In the two months since excavations began, the team has unearthed more 10,000 objects. The inscriptions on several them point to them having been either produced under the aegis of Zhang Xianzhong or stolen by him during his long committment to raiding the valuables of Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) palaces. They even found an item that matched a description in the Qing Dynasty records as having been used by Zhang: a tree trunk split lengthwise, hollowed out, filled with silver ingots and then clamped back together with iron or copper shanks.
Zhang Xianzhong, known as Yellow Tiger after his complexion and his strong “tiger jaw,” was born in poverty in Shaanxi Province in 1606. He joined the army of the Ming Dynasty, but he wasn’t great at following orders and soon found himself with a death sentence hanging over his head for breaking military rules. He was spared by a superior officer who was swayed by his height and strength, but by 1630 Zhang was officially over it and went AWOL.
He joined a peasant revolt that was then spreading all over the country, spurred by the Ming administration’s oppressive taxation during a time of famine and drought. He carved out a space for himself as leader of a group of rebels in his home province of Shaanxi. Seven years later, he had an army of 300,000 at his command. While suffering occasional defeats, one a very big one, at the hands of Ming Dynasty armies, he and his forces won more than they lost, and they collected great gobs of loot along the way.
In 1644, the year of the fall of the Ming Dynasty, Zhang went for the big score. He and 100,000 of men conquered Sichuan. All of it. In September of that year, Zhang’s forces took Chengdu. He crowned himself the first king of the Daxi Dynasty and made Chengdu his capital. The good times didn’t last long. In the spring of 1645, pro-Ming troops retook Chongqing and in a classic piece of projection, Zhang started seeing conspiracy and rebellion everywhere. He decided to fight the seditious elements in his “kingdom” with a campaign of terror. Piles of body parts, flaying and killing became the order of the day.
It’s difficult to know precisely how many people he killed, but according to Jesuit priests who had worked for him in the beginning when it seemed like he would be a benevolent ruler, only a handful of people made it out of Sichuan alive. The only hard figures we have come from census records. The 1578 Ming census, the last we have for Sichuan before Zhang, recorded a population of 3,102,073. In 1661, there were a grand total of 16,096 men registered in Sichuan. The province was depopulated on a massive scale, that much is certain, and the blood of many was on Zhang’s hands, but there was a lot of conflict in the region before and after Zhang’s very brief rule, and widespread famine also must have taken a great toll on the populace.
In October of 1646, with a new and vigorous enemy, the army of the Manchu Qing Dynasty, coming for him, Zhang decided to leave Sichuan with a quickness and head back home. He loaded 1,000 boats with all the cash and treasures he’d accumulated over years of raids and conquest and sent them south to Shaanxi. The recently unearthed ship only made it about 50 miles from Chengdu before sinking. In July 1647, Zhang’s army and allies clashed with Manchu forces. He either died in this battle, or he fled with his troops on his treasure-laden ships which then sank either because they were set on fire by the enemy or because in the chaos of retreat, the vessels crashed into each other and went down.
“The objects have helped identify the area where the battle was fought and are direct evidence of this historical event,” said Wang Wei, a Chinese archaeologist. [...]
“The items are extremely valuable to science, history and art. They are of great significance for research into the political,economic, military and social lives of the Ming Dynasty,” said Li Boqian,an archaeologist from Peking University.
This news story has the best views of the excavation and a small fraction of the artifacts recovered I could find:
On March 5th, the Fiber Guild of the Barony-Marche of Debatable Lands (BMDL) conducted a demo at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. This was the second demo conducted at this site by the Barony within the last three months. The theme this time was medieval weaving and was held in the Museum’s MAKESHOP. MAKESHOP is a partnership between the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) and the University of Pittsburgh Center for Learning in Out-of-School Environments (UPCLOSE). It is a space dedicated to making, reusing and designing things, using everyday materials and real tools. It has regular programs and special guests.
The Guild members were honored to be invited to be the guest artisans for the weaving program. Mistress Mahin Banu Tabrizi of Sunderoak and Lady Beatrix of Anglesey of Ballachlagan demonstrated medieval weaving techniques to curious kids and their grown-ups, assisted by Lady Luceta di Cosimo of the Debatable Lands.
We displayed a full size warp-weighted loom, a tablet weaving set up, and a sprang frame, as well as pre-made samples. The kids and adults who wanted to take something home could make little cardboard looms and weave with bits of yarn.
There were dozens of visitors, weaving samples, playing with the looms and asking questions. One of the MAKESHOP staff artists was a tablet weaver himself. He was particularly interested in learning how to weave letters and Mistress Mahin taught an impromptu tablet weaving class.
It was wonderful to be back at the Museum, and we are looking forward to more skill demos at this location. Thanks go out to the Museum staff for inviting us and sharing their MAKESHOP space, to Mistress Mahin and Lady Beatrix for sharing their skills, and to Sydney, Jacob, and Karl of Sunderoak for warping the looms for the demo, even though they couldn’t be there the day of the demo.
A related article written by WORKSHOP staff member Colin Williams can be found here.
The Society College of Heralds runs on monthly cycles and letters. Each month, the College processes name and armory submissions from all of the Kingdoms. Final decisions on submissions are made at the monthly meetings of the Pelican Queen of Arms (names) and the Wreath Queen of Arms (armory). Pelican and Wreath then write up their decisions in a Letter of Acceptances and Return (LoAR). After review and proofreading, LoARs generally are released two months after the meeting where the decisions are made.
An “acceptance” indicates that the item(s) listed are now registered with the Society. A “return” indicates that the item is returned to the submitter for additional work. Most items are registered without comments. Sometimes, the LoAR will address specific issues about the name or armory or will praise the submitter/herald on putting together a very nice historically accurate item.
The results from the December 2016 Wreath and Pelican meetings can be found here.
Filed under: Announcements, Heraldry
The colossal statue discovered in the Matariya neighborhood of Cairo on March 7th is not of Pharaoh Ramesses II, Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany announced at a press conference Thursday. When the head and bust of the statue were unearthed, the massive scale and style suggested it might be a depiction of Ramesses the Great who was fond of having giant sculptures of himself made. He was built extensively in the sacred city of Heliopolis whose remains underly Matariya.
After causing much controversy by removing the massive head of the statue from the muddy pit using a bulldozer, archaeologists took a kinder, gentler approach with the torso. It was strapped to a crane and slowly lifted out of the waterlogged trench on March 13th. The torso alone weighs three tons, the head 1.5 tons. The weight of the complete statue could have been as much as 50 tons; the estimated height is nine meters (30 feet).
When the head was moved, archaeologists noticed some stylistic features characteristic of later periods. Then, on the back pillar of the statue they found an inscription with key evidence for a very different and much later identification: Pharaoh Psamtek I.
Mr el-Anani, speaking at the famed Egyptian museum in the heart of Cairo, said they were lucky to spot an inscription of one of Psamtek’s five names on the statue.
“We were lucky to find the second title — the Nepti title — drawn with a vulture and a cobra, followed by the name Neb Aa.
“Neb Aa means the possessor of the arm, which means the mighty.”
The only pharaoh who was referred to as Neb Aa was the Pharaoh Psamtek I from the 26th Dynasty who ruled Egypt for 54 years.
Ramesses reigned from 1279–1213 B.C., more than 600 years before Psamtek I (664–610 B.C.) ascended the throne. Psamtek would have good reason to want to be associated with one of Egypt’s most successful and best remembered pharaohs. He too was a highly effective ruler, both military and political. Founder of the 26th Dynasty, Psamtek I kicked out the Assyrians after 17 years of occupation and reunified Egypt. His reign, almost as long as Ramesses’, was something of a renaissance for Egypt, a revival of its ancient glories, albeit in much diminished form. Psamtek and his successors deliberately sought to emulate the iconography of Old Kingdom Egypt.
Despite the strong evidence of the unique title in the inscription, Enany won’t categorically state that the statue depicts Psamtek I at this juncture, a wise choice in the wake of the overly enthusiastic Ramesses claims. First the excavation team must finish their exploration of the site. There may be more fragments still to be found there. A close study of the inscription and pieces will, hopefully answer some of the questions about its age and identity. For instance, what if it’s both Ramesses and Psamtek? There’s an outside chance the latter recycled a statue of his great predecessor, altering it to make it resemble him more and adding the inscription.
If the identification and dating is confirmed, the colossus will be far and away the best surviving example of an Old Kingdom throwback from Psamtek’s reign. More than that, it will be the largest statue from the Late Period (664-332 B.C.) ever found.
The most urgent issue is the stabilization of the statue fragments. The sudden change in environment from the muddy, wet and below the water table to the desert heat of the surface can damage the quartzite stone. Cairo Museum conservators will spend at least three months helping the statue adjust to its new circumstances.
I’ve always felt archery was more fun with 3D or moving targets.
Like the squirrel that falls over, this whole target is only 12 inches tall. Thinking bigger would be better, I made a multiple fish target that was over 3 feet tall.
In my backyard, which is wind free, it worked perfectly, but on an open range I found out it didn’t work quite so well. Every time the wind blew, the target fell over, and I realized I had built a giant sail. I took it home and added more weight to the base. In the next two pictures you can see that, when struck, it would rock backward but not completely fall over.
But sometimes it would rock forward, fall over, and break any arrows already stuck in it. Not good!
Finally, I realized that anything over a foot tall just doesn’t work properly. This was one of those times I learned more from making a mistake. So when you’re building, make sure the target won’t damage other archers’ equipment.
I just want to remind everybody that I’ll be at the unofficial Archery Muster at Earl Byron and Countess Ariella’s castle in Wexford on April 9. In addition, I will be Marshal-in-Charge at Blackstone Raid, where the prize is a bow and all the extra equipment to go with it.
I have been asked if people can repost my articles, and the answer is yes! The things I write are for the enjoyment and the safety of all archers of all kingdoms, so feel free to use any information I put in this article.
This month’s safety tip: be sure to warm up if you’re going out to shoot for the first time, and don’t shoot for more than 30 minutes until you get back into shape.
‘Til next month, in service,
THL Derek Archer
Archaeologists have discovered the grave of a Viking man containing gilded bronze and silver-plated mounts from a horse bridle in the town of Hørning near Skanderborg in Jutland, Denmark. The large grave complex consisting of multiple contiguous chambers was discovered in 2012, but only a very small section of it has been excavated. The site was cleared and a small test pit dug in one of the chambers revealed the bridle fittings. The bridle area was raised in a soil block and excavated in the laboratory. Archaeologists have dubbed the grave’s occupant the Fregerslev Viking, the name of the spot where the burial was found.
“The artefacts that we’ve already found are exquisite gilded fittings from a horse bridle. This type of bridle would only be available to the most powerful of people in the Viking Age, and we believe it might have been a gift of alliance from the king,” said Merethe Schifter Bagge, a project manager and archaeologist at the Museum of Skanderborg
“The fittings date to circa 950 AD, which means that the Fregerslev Viking could have been the confidant of the king, Gorm the Old – or alternatively a rival.”
The bridle artifacts are such a rare find and indicate such high status that the find is being compared to two of the greatest archaeological discoveries in Danish history, the impossibly life-like bog body Tollund Man and the fantastically stylish immigrant teenager Egtved Girl.
The discovery has been announced now, more than four years after it was made, because the team led by Museum of Skanderborg archaeologists has finally secured funding for a full excavation of the site. The grave complex is unusually large for the period, so there may be as many as three chambers. Archaeologists hope the excavation will reveal more about the Fregerslev Viking, perhaps additional grave goods, maybe even a horse sacrifice. There’s also the chance there are other people buried in the complex, possibly family members or servants. The wider goal of the project is to gain new insight into the power elite, trade and commerce of 10th century Viking society.
The excavation begins on April 18th, and best of all, the site is open to the public. There will be daily tours guided by a team member so visitors can get the full picture of the site while they watch the archaeologists at work. Meanwhile, the fittings that have already been excavated will be on display at the Museum of Skanderborg.
The museum has created a website dedicated to the Fregerslev Viking excavation. (It’s on Danish only, so you may have to deploy an online translator.) Follow it to keep updated on new developments.
This very brief teaser video from the museum show aerial shots of the find spot and X-ray of the fittings in the soil block.
From Countess Elena d’Artois:
[Thursday] morning in the Everyman tourney Mathias made it out of his round robin pool only to be taken out in the top 8 of a 40 person tourney!!
[Thursday] afternoon the rapier army of 11 from Æthelmearc had one job. Get the right-hand flag and keep it.
We. Did. Our. Job.
At the outset of the melee, Robert Hawksworth and Mathias Al Tabai set the pace ! They were the first to the flag and they slowed the opponents long enough for our main force to approach and take possession for the lion’s share of the battle. The combined forces of Trimaris, Northsheild, Meridies, Atlantia and Æthelmearc took home a decisive victory, but our worthy opponents truly made us work for it.
Acts of heroism and prowess included Mistress Illadore and Countess Elena each rolling the enemy lines at separate times to retake flags that had been lost. Count Byron of Haverford, Master Anias Fenne, and Duke Titus Germanicus used their melee expertise and leadership to solidly control the flag we were assigned. Kudos to Kara Burkhart, Don Jacob of Dunmore, Brehan Lapidario, and Lady Cairdha Eilis O’Coileain on their battlefield awareness and willingness to go wherever there was a problem, to support and hold weak points and, in many cases, turn the tide.
Our contingent was small but mighty. We worked extremely well with our friends from Trimaris.
And an especial kudos to all who fought this war point. The combat was tactically brilliant, well planned and chivalric. All were a joy to fight.
Many of the rapier army participated in the Rose tourney [Friday] morning. I do not know how all of them did. When i find put i will post a supplement.
On the rattan field our unit was asked to gain and hold a bridge until such time as help could come from the back field. Each time we united with either the Midrealm or Northshield to do just that. We did “fight in the shade” in 2 passes as we were peppered by combat archers. We were successful in our mission. Those times we did have breakouts on our bridge we beat them back successfully. Kudos especially to Sir Marek on his hero moment facing 3 enemies and besting them in the backfield. Kudos to Baroness Beatrix on her field command. Kudos to Master Anias on his spear work in the last bridge. And kudos to Sir Maghnus in the fort for taking out the enemy King with his first ballista shot!
We are small, but we are mighty. Vivant to all the combatants!!
Final report from the cabin [on Saturday morning]. We have quit the field. Camp is broken down and clear. The wagon is loaded and intrepid heroes are on their various paths home.
Safe and brief travels to all. We anticipate arrival in the Debatable Lands in the wee hours of the morning not too terribly long after sunrise.
A good war. Ending with the only truly hot shower of the entire week. Simple joys.
From Baroness Beatrix Krieger:
Æthelmearc was small, mighty, and gallant in the Ravine. Recognized throughout the Known World for our cause. Well done!
Æthelmearc stood bravely in the Ravine with Clovenshield, Trimaris, Northshield, Atlantia, and [our] Allies, and faced a vast army of Calontir, Midrealm, East, Western Alliance, and their Allies, who stood to take possession of banners. The small but mighty contingent of Æthelmearc repelled our foes time and time again, and helped push the enemies back against the tides of shields, arrows, and spears. We were divided for a period to aid in two places, and we were able to stave off the mighty enemy. Though we numbered thirteen on the field, the Kingdom of Æthelmearc was recognized time and time again for melee skills, command, capability, and honor.
[On Friday] Æthelmearc fought on the bridges with our allies, the Mid and Northshield, with ferocity, helping to press the enemy and duel with our foes. We would hold off their pulses, buying time for our allies to sweep the center bridge. Our battalion was small but useful. We served our allies well, helping to acquire 3 victories to gain the point for Trimaris. The last battle, for fun, was also a victory for Trimaris.
One of the coolest moments at any SCA event, war, etc., EVER was something I got to watch [Friday] and something I had nothing to do with in any capacity. Between the bridges and the fort battles, they held a youth bridge battle. The children had an opportunity to fight two bridge battles against members of the chivalry. It was amazing. The kids stepped up without fear, and closed against the chivalry with a desire to crush the opposing forces. In both passes, the chivalry were slain to the last man, and each of the kids, varying in age, fought with courtesy, chivalry, and skill. It was a privilege to watch, it embodied the dream of the Society. Absolutely amazing.
We fought in the Fort battles, first attacking, then defending. Our numbers had dwindled somewhat, but nonetheless we fought bravely. Æthelmearc divided to aid our allies and crashed the shields in the side doors. To defend, Æthelmearc fought well, dying to the last man defending the side gates. We were not successful in taking the castle in the fastest time.
Æthelmearc: be proud of those who came on Crusade. To those who stood fiercely with our allies and served their Crowns, their kingdom, and each other with honor, be proud. You humbled and honored me.
Many have departed, including your Gulf Wars Warlord, for home. Safe drive for all, see you soon. War ends [Saturday], and the warriors of Sylvan Æthelmearc will be back to defend their homeland from invaders soon enough.
Names to remember for standing on the field: Baroness Gwen, THL Thorsol, THL Roland, Countess Elena, Sir Angus, Duke Titus, Duchess Morgen, Master Robert, Count Byron, Sir Marek, Master Anias, Sir Maghnus, Sir Koredono, Lord Random, Sir Graedwyn (in spirit), Nissan, Ben, THL Edward, and Master Jussie.
From Mistress Illadore de Bedegrayne:
[On Wednesday], we had a tragedy! The oven for pie baking had an issue due to an o-ring, so we did not have pie. We made apples in wine instead.
[Thursday] was a great day – entirely due to to Æthelmearc ‘s amazing skill and strategy, our side also won both the heavy and rapier Ravine War Point. Thursday was also steak night, with THLady Pippi in charge. We also served fettuccini with parmesan and butter, spinach salad, more snow, and finally cheese and fruit slices for dessert. Friday night was chicken in orange glaze, farfalle with green sauce (pesto), and bread pudding with berries for dessert.
All combatants and consorts wishing to participate in the Crown Tournament of Ioannes and Honig are reminded that letters of intent are due in two weeks, by April 1.
Details of the submission process were previously published in the Gazette as follows:
Filed under: Announcements
In the wee hours of September 6th, 1622, the convoy of 28 ships in the Spanish Tierra Firme flota met the business end of a hurricane in the Florida straits. When the skies cleared and dawn broke, eight of the treasure ships were lost, smashed on the seabed, their glittering cargos strewn over 50 miles from the Marquesas Keys to what is now Dry Tortugas National Park.
The Tierra Firme fleet, so named because it departed from the southern Spanish Main, or Tierra Firme province, on the Gulf of Mexico, was absolutely heaving with treasure that year. Hundreds of tons of gold, silver, copper, indigo, tobacco, emeralds, pearls from Peru, Mexico, Colombia and Venezuela were transported to the coastal port cities of the Tierra Firme on mule trains. There was so much loot that inventorying it and loading it onto the ships delayed the expedition by six weeks, pushing the voyage into the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season. It took two months to load the Nuestra Señora de Atocha alone, and it was more heavily armed than the other ships of the fleet because it was the rear guard of the convoy so it could “only” carry 40 tons of gold and silver and 70 pounds of emeralds from the Muzo mines of Colombia.
The Nuestra Señora de Atocha was one of the eight ships that went down in the hurricane. It was torn apart on a reef, its hull breached and keel broken in two. It sank in minutes after that, taking almost the entire crew with it. Only five men survived, three sailors and two slaves, because they had the presence of mind to tie themselves to the mizzenmast.
The Spanish tried to salvage what they could from the lost treasure galleons. One of the ships, the Santa Margarita, ran aground near where the Atocha sank. Using bronze diving bells and slaves to man them — many of whom died performing this incredibly dangerous job, as we know from the insurance claims filed so the owners could be reimbursed for the sale value of their human chattel — crews were able to recover about half of the Santa Margarita‘s cargo. They knew the wreck of the Atocha was in the area somewhere, but the Spanish were never able to find it.
Almost four centuries would pass before someone did. Treasure hunter Mel Fisher searched for 16 years for the wreck and finally hit paydirt in July of 1985. Fisher and his team recovered vast quantities of coins, silver and gold ingots and emeralds, even though the bulk of the gold and emeralds are believed to have been stored in the ship’s sterncastle which has never been found. After a decade of legal skirmishes with the State of Florida, the courts awarded Fisher full rights to all of the treasure of the Nuestra Señora de Atocha.
Some of its riches are now on display in Mel Fisher Maritime Museum on Key West. A selection of its most exceptional emeralds will be going up for auction on April 25th at Guernsey’s auction house in New York City. The gemstones belong to Manuel Marcial de Gomar who started out working in the Chivor emerald mines of Colombia in 1955 when he was 19, opened the first emerald specialty store in 1964 and became one of the world’s leading emerald specialists.
Fisher hired him to appraise all the emeralds from the Atocha, about seven pounds of them, recovered over the course of more than two decades. Appropriately, Marcial’s consulting fee was paid in emeralds. Emeralds from the Muzo mines are considered the best in the world for the richness of their blue-green color. Add the Atocha history and these stones become even more than the sum of their beautiful parts. Marcial selected some of the stones to be cut and set in jewelry of his design. Some he kept in their rough state.
It’s one of the rough emeralds from the Nuestra Señora de Atocha which is the star player in the upcoming Marcial de Gomar Collection auction. La Gloria is a 887 carat rough emerald, bigger than the one in the Smithsonian (857 carats) and the one in New York’s Museum of Natural History (632 carats). The pre-sale estimate is $3,000,000-$5,000,000.
Coming in close at its heels is a group of loose emeralds romantically dubbed the Nine Pillars of the Andes (pre-sale estimate $3,000,000-$4,000,000). From largest to smallest they weigh 26.72 carats, 15.54 carats, 11.65 carats, 9.82 carats, 7.77 carats, 6.68 carats, 6.45 carats, 4.56 carats, and 2.50 carats for a total of 91.69 carats.
Not to say there aren’t any bargains. For a mere $100,000-$125,000, you can score the Andina del Mar, a 2.51-carat round cut emerald Marcial cut from a 5.35 rough emerald. It’s the second largest known round faceted emerald recovered form the ocean. Or how about its pear shaped sister, the Lagrima de Atocha, a 1.61 carat emerald cut from a 4.41 carat rough gemstone, which is also estimated to sell for $100,000-$125,000.
In addition to the emeralds, some coins recovered from the famous shipwreck are also part of the sale, like this Spanish eight escudo coin made of 22-karat gold. It’s a comparative bargain with a pre-sale estimate of $15,000-$20,000. This coin comes from the personal collection of Mel Fisher, as do several other gold coins going under the hammer at this auction, including a group recovered from the wreck of the 1715 Treasure Fleet.
Construction of a new subway line and station in Algiers has revealed archaeological remains dating from Roman times through the French colonial period. Remains were first discovered in 2009 during archaeological surveys along the proposed subway line. The full excavation began in 2013, recovering archaeological materials going back to the 1st century B.C.
The site is in the historic Casbah area of Algiers which was founded in the 3rd century B.C. by Punic Phoenicians as a small trading post. It became a Roman colony 146 B.C. after the Fall of Carthage and its name was Latinized from Yksm (“Island of the Seagulls”) to Icosium. Icosium became part of the Roman client state of Mauretania in the late 1st century B.C. which became a Roman province under Caligula in 40 A.D. Mauretania was divided into two provinces, Mauretania Tingitana and Mauretania Caesariensis, the latter of which included Icosium.
During the chaotic decades of imperial musical chairs, barbarian invasions, epidemics and economic woes that became known as the Crisis of the Third Century, Berber tribes made incursions into what is now Algeria contracting the areas of Romans control. A fortified city on the sea, Icosium held out a long time, but was sacked in 371 A.D. by the Berber Prince Firmus during his revolt against Romanus, the military commander of Rome’s Africa Province. Icosium never recovered and disappeared from the historical record in the 5th century.
The city of Algiers was founded by Berbers in the mid-10th century. The Casbah, a fortified citadel common in North African cities, was built over what had once been Icosium on the cliffs overlooking the sea. In the late 15th century Algiers was conquered by Spain, but their occupation would not last. The Ottoman admiral Hayreddin Barbarossa tossed the Spanish out permanently in 1525 and established Algiers as the capital of an Ottoman regency which would become the empire’s primary base in the region. The Ottoman Regency of Algiers lasted until the French took the city in 1830.
The French pillaged Algiers, destroying religious sites like the Es Sayida mosque in the Casbah. Between the French and the long line of conquerors that preceded them, it didn’t seem likely that there would be much of Algiers’ history left to find below the surface. Nobody imagined they’d unearth such a wealth of archaeological materials, even from the long gap between the fall of Icosium and the rise of Berber Algiers.
Finds over the 3,000 square meters (32,300 square feet) of the excavation site include a public building with mosaic flooring dating to the 5th century, a 7th century Byzantine necropolis with dozens of graves, large numbers of Roman-era architectural elements — columns, capitals, pediments — ancient catapult balls and 385 coins. The excavation even found parts of the Es Sayida mosque, a thoroughly unexpected survival given that the French colonial government built a square over the levelled mosque and named it King’s Square, renamed Martyrs Square after Algeria won its independence in 1962.
Algeria has some of the most significant Roman architecture still standing in the world, but none of it is in Algiers. That makes the metro ruins exceptionally important, so much so that the city completely changed its plans for the line and station. The Martyrs Square subway station, originally planned to be 8,000 square meters in area, will now take up only 3,250 square meters and will have a museum built into it. The train line is going way underground, as much as 115 deep, to avoid interfering with the ancient remains.
The Martyrs Square station is set to open in November, part of an extension to the main metro line inaugurated in October 2011.
The museum will open shortly afterwards, covering 1,200 square metres and organised chronologically.
Some of the remains will be exposed to a depth of over seven metres.
“In Rome or Athens, museums present particular periods, whereas here the visitor can embrace the whole history of Algiers over 2,000 years,” [archaeologist and excavation co-director Kamel] Stiti said.
Unto glorious Æthelmearc do Timothy and Gabrielle, Prince and Princess send warm greetings,
Prior to moving here, the SCA had lost much of its magic for us. Once we got to Æthelmearc , we found ourselves once again enjoying all the wonders that the Society has to offer. But we understand that isn’t the experience that everyone has here. Like any large organization it can be easy to feel left out or left behind if you aren’t part of the “in” crowd. We have always endeavored to treat everyone, regardless of rank, with courtesy and kindness, and are pleased that so very many of everyone in this kingdom does the same.
However, with many thousands of members, sometimes personality conflicts arise. Members with different ideas of how things should be compete with one another and typically, one comes out on top. This can cause many fine people to become disillusioned and leave, taking with them a little piece of our magic. We have solicited for ideas, and continue to do so, as to what we can do to bring people back into the fold. As you can imagine, we received quite a bit of feedback. There were many ideas, many of which (big surprise) were in direct conflict with one another. Setting those aside for now, there was one large, over-arching theme, the cliquish nature of the organization makes our warm welcome, while not the sole exception, far from the norm, even for people whose first experience with the society is in Æthelmearc .
There are several steps we would like to implement to try and correct this situation. First and simplest, for the duration of our reign, we would welcome those with Peerages into the Grant level order meeting along that track Knight/Gage, Pelican/Millrind, Laurel/Fleur, Mod/WS. Further, we invite those who have the equivalent Grant level award from other kingdoms to join us in our order meetings. We welcome PMs discussing this matter, as we will be considering adding this to kingdom law. These members have valuable contributions, and why should we exclude them simply because they have not had the good fortune to spend their entire SCA career in Æthelmearc?
Second, and more difficult, concerns the single largest facet of the cliquish nature of our organization. There is no polite way to say this, so we will be blunt. There are more times than any of us care to admit that some of the more strong willed members of our polling orders can effectively and thoroughly block someone who is deserving of recognition in perpetuity. We clearly don’t know every personality conflict, we haven’t been present at every conversation where someone spoke rashly, or when a sentence was taken out of context. In the past, We have given awards to gentles we are familiar enough with to recognize that they have been blocked unfairly. As King and Queen, we had that right, and as Prince and Princess, we soon will once again, but not everyone is afforded the opportunity to correct injustices they perceive. So we would ask our citizens this: if you feel someone has been unfairly victimized in this fashion, make your best case to us. We certainly will not grant all of these requests, but we will honestly listen. It is easier to go into an order meeting and discuss a candidate if we understand some of the background and personality conflicts before people voice their opinions. Just please do this prior to our order meetings, so we have time to look into the background, and your case.
Finally, we want to see members of our polling orders actively fostering others. If you are a knight, or would like to be, go out and train newer fighter, whether they are your squire or not. If you are a Laurel or a Fleur, why wait for an Æcademy? Run a workshop or a guild. In short, mentor people. We should be shepherds, nurturing folks as they grow, rather than serving as goaltenders keeping them out of our Orders.
In service to Æthelmearc,
Timothy and Gabrielle
From craftsman to Queen, in the Middle Ages embroidery was part of the fiber of everyday life. Using materials from earthy wools to ethereal silk, gold, pearls, and precious stones, women as well as men devoted uncounted hours to embellishing and enriching their fabrics. The organizers of The Academy of St. Clare of Assisi: MORE Stitches in Time invite stitchers of all skill levels to spend the weekend of March 31-April 2 immersing themselves in the study and practice of these exquisite techniques. This unique all-you-can-embroider event offers short classes on specialized topics, long detailed “kit” classes on beloved styles, and a chance to spend time with others who love the art of the needle. This year’s classes will feature a both a Beginners’ Track and a Scandinavian Track.
Those arriving Friday night may choose to spend the evening chatting and stitching in the large meeting room. It’s a great chance to share favorite suppliers, talk about tools in your embroidery kit, and get to know others from far away. (FUN FACT: Last year’s attendees came from five Kingdoms!). A hearty breakfast will set the stage for Saturday’s activities, which begin with a Keynote Address — “Dismantling Musiaphobia: learning to approach museum collections with confidence” — by Patrikia Maria Agrissa Sgourina. Maria, herself a life-long stitcher, is interested in embroidery styles that span the centuries, from early- to late-period. She received her Laurel in 2004 for her research, especially in Byzantine and Sassanid clothing and culture before the year 1000 CE. A full day of learning follows, starting with these one-hour classes Saturday morning:
After a break for lunch, students will spend the afternoon in their pre-selected “kit” class, where they will not only learn the skills needed to complete their hands-on project but will also spend ample time working on the project. “Kit” class options include:
To enable instructors to provide students individual attention, “kit” classes have size limits. Once a class is filled, no more students will be accepted in that class. Some classes are nearly filled, so for the best selection, we encourage you to mail your event registration today. (Please note that the “kit” classes require pre-payment; we will email you instructions on how to register for your “kit” class upon receiving your event registration.)
In addition to the classes, the event will also offer an all-day Embroidery Display Area, where entrants can get feedback on their work and where everyone can be inspired. A Reference Library of on-loan embroidery books will be available to peruse all day. (The library will be staffed, and books will not leave the library area.). In the afternoon, the Stitching Solar will give students an option to sit and stitch in good company while others are in class. Returning from last year by popular request, we will break for Tea after the “kit” classes end. Following the tea, the Embroidery Display Show-and-Tell will allow us the chance to chat with those whose work we admire.
To help defray our out-of-Kingdom teachers’ travel expenses, a Silent Auction will be held. Attendees are encouraged to bring excess and unwanted embroidery supplies and books – or SCAdianly-useful items — for the auction. (After all, your no-longer-wanted items might be just what someone is looking for!) All proceeds from the Silent Auction will be split among the out-of-Kingdom teachers.
After Feast – once again prepared under the direction of Lady Elizabetta Tempesta, our Head Cook from last year — an Embroidered Fashions Show will let us hear about the lovely garments we’ve been admiring all day. Those who didn’t get their fill of stitching during the day will be welcome to spend what’s left of the evening stitching and schmoozing in the large meeting room.
On Sunday morning, following breakfast, Lady Shirin of Susa will offer a class on Teaching Fiber Arts.
Does this sound like the event you’ve been dreaming of? Then please mail your event registration TODAY!Event registration (includes 4 meals, served family-style, plus lodging) is as follows:
Feast spaces are nearly full, so we urge you to mail your event registration today to avoid disappointment!
Please make your check payable to “SCA PA Inc. — Shire of ACG” and send it, along with the requested information listed below, to THL Aibell ingen Dairmata, c/o Lea Wittie, 913 Colonial Lane, Lewisburg PA 17837.
Kindly include the following with your event registration:
Bunk spaces in the heated cabins are filled on a first-paid, first-served basis. Those needing access to electricity should request a bottom bunk near an outlet.
The event will be held at the same site as last year, Boy Scout Camp Karoondinha, 225 Thomas Dam Road, Millmont PA 17845-9448 (GPS Coordinates: 40.85630, -77.2547) Please note that the site does not permit alcohol.
Questions? Please contact the autocrat, Mistress Alicia Langland (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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