This month’s edition of On Target: Why we protect our bow from the heat and why we inspect bows at events.
Two things you should never leave in a car with the windows up are a small child and your bow. When the windows are up the inside temperature of the car can reach 140 degrees Fahrenheit or more. This could cause the bow to delaminate and warp. Make it the last thing you pack and the first thing you take out when you reach the event.
When you reach the event, whether you are a once-a-week shooter or once-a-year shooter, make sure the first thing you do is have the bow inspected by Marshall. Notice in the first picture, this bow looks perfectly fine.
In the next picture, after the bow is strung, you can see the crack (see the note card that fit in the crack easily).
Notice in the next picture, by putting a line on the note card, how deep the crack is. The bow is no longer usable.
Tie a fluorescent orange ribbon around the bow so you do not accidentally use it again. WARNING: do not try to fix it, dispose of it, or make it a wall hanger.
This month’s safety tip:remember when you’re at the archery range at Pennsic, you’re a long way from the store. Take water, snacks and sunblock with you, especially if you have small children.
Till next time be safe and enjoy the War.
THL Deryk Archer
The ancient mummified head of a macaw has been found in a cave in a suburb of San Francisco de Borja, Chihuahua northern Mexico. It was discovered by the what was likely a funerary context. Manuel Rodriguez and his son were leveling the floor of a cave on his property when they came across archaeological remains and artifacts. Though they notified archaeologists of the discovery, unfortunately residents collected objects to hand over rather than leaving the context unmarred. The recovered materials include two adult skulls, several long bones, human hair, a basket, a textile, cotton string, the woven base of a vessel or basket, worked deerskin that may have been part of a bag or a loincloth, a snail and the head of the macaw.
The textile, basketry materials and the head of the macaw are in an excellent state of preservation. The conditions inside the cave naturally mummified the bird remains, even as the human remains were skeletonized. The feathers on the macaw’s head are still bright green. According to the locals who rashly scooped up the objects, the rest of the macaw’s body was also found on the site, but they only picked up the head, leaving the body pieces behind.
Recognizing the significance of the materials, INAH archaeologists explored the cave, hoping to recover what they could of the original context. In a strip 25 meters (82 feet) long and one meter (three feet) wide, they found evidence of a reed and mud wattle housing structure with an earth floor and a the remains of charred corn cob. The cob has been sent to the laboratory for radiocarbon dating. In another area of the strip, archaeologists found a burial: the lower half of an adult human body including pelvis and both legs tied together. It’s possible this was a secondary burial, that the body was buried somewhere else first, and later transferred to this location. Piece of coal, burned corn cobs and arrowheads were also found in this section.
At the end of the excavation, archaeologists had unearthed 30 arrowheads, ears of corn, a gourd, basketry, cordage, human coprolites (mineralized feces) and many pieces of wattle from walls, one of which bears the imprint of a hand left behind when the worker was packing mud into the reeds to make the wall. The style of architecture is typical of the Early-Middle Archaic period (ca. 2500-1000 B.C.), while the arrowheads are in the style of the Middle/Late Archaic or Early Agriculture period (1000 B.C.-700 A.D.).
The structure, arrowheads and the corn cob indicate the cave habitation predates the settlement of Paquimé, one Chihuahua’s largest and most complex prehistoric towns where the first settlements appear in the 8th century. Macaws are known to have been used in religious rituals during the Middle Period of Paquimé (1060-1340 A.D.) and fragments of macaw bones and feathers have been found there in ceremonial and funerary contexts. They were integrated into artifacts, however — bags and earrings. This is the first time an entire bird (although only the head has been recovered due to the interference with the site) has been discovered. Because the site was disturbed, archaeologists can’t say for certain that the macaw was buried along with the human remains for ritual funerary purposes, but that is the likeliest conclusion.
Macaws were prized in northern Mexico and the southwestern United States. They had to be imported as they are not native to the north, so were extremely expensive. Their large size and soaring flight connected them symbolically to the sun, and their brilliant green-blue plumage was associated with lifegiving rain and water. By the Middle Period of Paquimé, macaws were being bred there for use in rituals and in commercial goods.
The discovery of the macaw head and the snail indicate the prehistoric cultures in this part of Chihuahua had access to goods traded over significant distances. The snail is native to northwestern Sinaloa region on the Gulf of California, and the macaw had to be imported from the south. Archaeological research elsewhere in Chihuahua has found evidence of trade linking the peoples of the coast and desert north to the south via the mountains of the Sierra Madre Occidental, but this is the first evidence of it in San Francisco de Borja. In fact, it’s the first archaeological site ever registered in the municipality.
East Kingdom A&S Champions for Pennsic Announced / Déclaration royale des représentants du royaume de l’Est pour les Arts et Sciences au prochain Pennsic
On behalf of Their Most Noble and Wise Majesties, Kenric and Avelina, I am pleased to announce the competitors for the A&S War Point at Pennsic.
The War Point will be on Thursday of War Week, in the Great Hall, 9-4.
All are welcome to come and view the amazing works of all of the artisans; anyone with a Silver Brooch, Maunche, or Laurel (or out-of-Kingdom equivalent) may also vote for their favorites.
Voting is from 9-3; from 3-4 the Artists will stand by their works if you have questions or praise. The point will be awarded at 4 o’clock.
The portion of the team from the East is as follows:
I would bet on these artists against any in the Known Worlde, and I hope you come out and support them!
Mistress Amy Webbe
De la part de leurs majestés nobles et sages, Kenric et Avelina, j’ai l’honneur de vous introduire ceux qui représenterons l’Est pour les points d’Arts et Sciences à Pennsic.
Cette compétition aura lieu le second jeudi de la guerre, dans la Grand Hall, et ce de 9 à 16 heure.
Tous sont bienvenues et encouragés afin de témoigner du travail de ces artistes et artisans. Quiconque est membre des ordres de la Broche d’argent (Silver Brooch), de la Manche (Maunche) ou sont du Laurier (Laurel) (Ou encore des équivalents provenant d’autres royaumes) pourront apposer leur vote pour leur favoris.
La période de vote sera ouverte de 9 à 15 heure, puis pour l’heure d’après, les artisans eux-mêmes seront présents pour des questions ou des éloges. Le point de guerre sera accordé à 16 heure.
Ceux qui composent la délégation de l’Est seront :
J’oserais parier sur toutes ces personnes sans aucune hésitation devant n’importe quel autre artisan du Monde. J’espère que vous viendrai pour en faire autant!
Toujours prête à servir,
Maîtresse Amy Webbe
Filed under: Arts and Sciences, En français, Pennsic Tagged: a&s, a&s champions, A&S champs, Arts and Sciences, Pennsic, Pennsic 45, pennsic champions, pennsic war, pennsic war champions
Duke Maynard von dem Steine sends the following announcement:
I am pleased to announce, by the grace of Their Majesties, the following members of the kingdom 10-man unbelted team. These individuals will represent Æthelmearc in the 10-man unbelted melee tournament at Pennsic War on Monday August 8th at 5pm on the battlefield. Please come out to support the team and the kingdom. I would like to thank the members of the chivalry for their help in the selection of the team as well as every unbelted fighter in the kingdom for pushing hard every year and making these decisions harder each time we do it.
Baron Tadhg Sotal O’Neil – Captain
The Portland Phoenix covered the Great Northeastern War. The article can be found here.
Filed under: Uncategorized
We had a wonderful time at Pax Interruptus Saturday, delighting in the Thrown Weapons range and learning about the archery target mechanics in the morning, then fencing and heavy weapons for His Majesty in the afternoon. Thanks to the many marshals who gave of their time so others could practice and compete- quite a large group came up to be acknowledged in Court!
Thanks to those who provide us two nice canvas tents, especially on a day where wind threatened the nylon ones.
Thanks to the cooks and all event staff who made sure our experience was enjoyable and efficient all day. Marguerite De Neufchasteau made many good decisions as autocrat, including the one to brave out the rainy sprinkles for Court. We thank Her Excellency, Sadira Wassouf, for sharing Her Barony’s good efforts and gentles with Us and Their Royal Highnesses and for the egg favors! Vivant to Thescorre!
Yours in Service,
This was our last PainBank episode from 2005-6 timeframe. We interviewed His Royal Majesty (at the time) Semjaka, King of Calontir.
It was enjoyable and we never intended to stop podcasting, but alas we did. Maybe one day we will get going again.
George Eastman was a 23-year-old bank clerk when he caught the photography bug in 1877. While keeping his day job, he began to tinker with camera technology, trying to simplify the complex procedures and bulky apparatus require to take a picture at the time. Negatives were still made on glass plates. Photographers had to coat a plate with a light-sensitive silver nitrate emulsion under a dark drape then quickly slide it into a big, heavy box mounted on a tripod.
Eastman’s idea was to make a dry plate that was evenly and thinly coated ahead of time with silver nitrate and gelatine and dried for easy use. He received a patent for a dry coating apparatus (pdf) on April 13th, 1880. Still working out of his home in Rochester, New York, he founded the Eastman Dry-Plate Company. In 1884 he developed another innovation, flexible photographic film (pdf) that could be rolled for compact storage. The accordingly renamed the Eastman Dry-Plate and Film Company was soon a full-service camera supply company, selling all manner of photography accessories — squeegees, enlargers, roll holders — in addition to its patented dry plates and photographic film.
Its greatest breakthrough came in 1888 when George Eastman patented his first camera (pdf). He called it the Kodak, a name he created by moving letters around on a page until he found a combination that looked sharp and couldn’t be mispronounced. This camera was compact, lightweight, portable and so easy to operate anyone could do it, not just professionals or dedicated amateurs. All the operator had to do was pull up a string to arm the shutter, aim at the subject and press a button.
The Kodak Camera came preloaded with a roll of film that took 100 circular pictures 2.5 inches in diameter. Once the customers had taken their 100 pictures, they would send the camera to the Rochester factory where the film was developed and the photographs printed. The pictures were then returned to the customer along with the camera loaded with a fresh roll of film. The camera cost $25 and the development, printing and reloading cost $10. It was marketed in advertisements with the slogan “You press the button, we do the rest.”
The camera was a huge success, particularly with women. Before the Kodak, buyers of photography products were almost entirely professionals. The Kodak Camera made photography accessible to the general population and the general population thanked him by buying his cameras in droves. In 1892 George acknowledged the fulcrum of his success by changing the name of the company to the Eastman Kodak Company.
Today the George Eastman Museum, formerly housed in George’s Rochester mansion until it outgrew the space, has a vast collection of cameras, photographic materials and films, and is a pioneer in film preservation. The museum recently acquired the only known surviving box of Kodak Film (originally American Film) used in Kodak Camera No. 1, and one of only three boxes known to survive of the 1889 generation of camera film, Kodak Transparent Film.
Now a part of the museum’s internationally renowned technology collection, these unopened boxes of film complete the Eastman Museum’s holdings related to the original Kodak camera — adding to its examples of the camera, case, shipping box, and sample images.
“These two rolls of film make a critical contribution to the Eastman Museum’s holdings of photographic technology—considered the leading collection of its kind in the world,” said Bruce Barnes, Ron and Donna Fielding Director, George Eastman Museum. “Given their importance and rarity, these boxes of film are not only among of the most significant objects in our technology collection, they are also extremely important to the evolution of photography and the history of Rochester, New York.” [...]
Eastman’s Transparent Film was the flexible photographic material used by most people experimenting with early motion pictures. Thomas Edison’s assistant W. K. L. Dickson used Kodak Transparent Film (which was 70 millimeters wide), slit in half to 35mm and then perforated, as the flexible medium to store images to be presented in the Edison Kinetoscope, the first 35mm motion picture viewing device.
The acquisition of the rolls was funded in part by the man who is largely responsible for the demise of film — Steven Sasson, inventor of digital photography — and by former Eastman Kodak employee and current author on Kodak Film Robert Shanebrook and his wife Lynne. The newly acquired boxes of film are now on display at the George Eastman Museum.
In an effort to encourage crossing over to different fields at the war, I would like to announce the following:
If you compete in armored combat, rapier, archery, or thrown weapons, and you compete in all war point activities which you are eligible for in at least two of these areas, I would like to recognize your efforts with a token.
(For archery and thrown weapons, that means throwing or shooting each shoot/throw as many times are you are allowed.)
If you compete in all war point activities for three of these areas, there will be a slightly different token.
If you compete in all four, well, one, you’re insane. But if you do, I’ll have to think of something because I don’t really expect it…
Dans le but d’encourager la participation aux différentes activités martiales à la Grande guerre, j’annonce ce qui suit :
Si vous participez au combat en armure, à l’escrime, au tir à l’arc ou aux armes de jet, et si vous participez à toutes les activités auxquelles vous êtes éligible et qui contribuent aux points de guerre dans au moins 2 catégories, j’aimerais vous récompenser en vous donnant un gage particulier.
À titre d’exemple, pour le tir à l’arc et les armes de jet, cela implique de tirer ou de lancer aussi souvent que vous y êtes autorisé.
Si vous participez à 3 catégories, un gage un peu différent vous sera octroyé. Et si par la plus grande des chances, vous en veniez à participer à 4 activités, eh bien….vous êtes complètement fou!
Mais si vous le faites réellement, je devrai trouver quelques chose, car je ne m’attend pas à cette possibilité!
Filed under: En français, Pennsic Tagged: Kenric and Avelina, Kenric's challenge, Pennsic, Pennsic 45, pennsic war, pennsic war points, war point challenge, War Points
The Fournoi archipelago in the eastern Aegean had long been known to local divers and, alas, looters, as an area replete with shipwrecks. Last September, a diving team from the non-profit RPM Nautical Foundation followed up on a tip from a spear-fisher and explored the coastal waters around some of the Fourni islands. It was a short trip, but in just 10 diving days the team found 22 shipwrecks.
This year they returned with a big team of more than two dozen divers, marine archaeologists and conservators and explored the area from June 8th through July 2nd. In those 22 days, they discovered 23 new shipwrecks from the Greek archaic period (8th through 5th century B.C.) through the 19th century. So in less than a year, 45 shipwrecks have been found at Fourni. While Greece’s vast coastline, rich mercantile tradition from antiquity to the present and treacherous waters have claimed many a ship over the millennia, the 45 discovered at Fourni comprise 20% of the all the identified and documented shipwrecks in Greek territorial waters.
It was the topography of the islets which sealed so many ships’ doom. The distribution of the wrecks suggests they were dashed against sheer cliff faces, sometimes while anchored and seeking shelter from powerful storms only for the wind to change the direction and drive the ships against the cliffs. It’s unlikely the crews would have survived such a beating from the elements. Even if they did manage to swim the storm-tossed seas, there were no beaches to clamber up, only steep rocky cliffs.
All the ships found thus far were merchant vessels: small, manned by crews of a dozen men or fewer, dependant on sail power. The wood structure of the vessels did not survive centuries in the sea, but their cargoes of amphorae did. It’s possible to determine what kind of merchandise the ships carried based on the different types of amphorae. It’s also possible to deduce where the jars were made based on their shape and size. The larger amphorae likely carried the three most popular categories of products — olive oil, wine, and garum (the sauce made of fermented fish guts that was ubiquitous in the kitchens of the ancient Mediterranean) — while the smaller jars likely contained specialty items like fruit preserves, nuts and perfumes.
The wrecks discovered last year were all ancient, while this year’s discoveries range from the 6th century B.C. to the early 1800s. Some of the wood of the newer ship has survived, the only one of the Fourni shipwrecks with surviving exposed wood. In addition to the many amphorae, divers found artifacts including anchors, dishware, lamps, cooking pots and ceramics. The most significant finds of the season are amphorae from Knidos and Kos on a ship from the middle of the Hellenistic period, a late archaic/early classical cargo, a Roman-era ship with amphorae from Cape Sinop on the Black Sea, a 3rd-4th century Roman ship from the empire’s North African provinces, and a cargo of tableware also from North Africa. Marine archaeologists also found two stone anchors, the largest ever found in the Aegean.
It is estimated that the area investigated corresponds to less than 15% of the total coastline surrounding the Fournoi island group. It is expected that the ongoing research in the area will lead authorities to locate an even larger number of shipwrecks, allowing archaeologists to understand the use of marine space and study of the maritime navigation and freight traffic in the archipelago in different eras.
For one day, the Rare Books Library of the University of Pennsylvania will welcome the free learners of the SCA. In the same spirit as the voyages of discovery previous event please come and talk about your research, your failed attempts, your successes, and get feedback on your work and ideas for future projects.
Have questions? Want to present? E-mail Lissa.
A list of presentations and posters currently being offered is available online at the event website.
We hope to see you there!!
Filed under: Events
By Elska á Fjárfelli.
Inspired by the Scarlet Apron subtleties contest at Æthelmearc War Practice, I delved into the challenge of sculpting with food. And what’s better to play with than sugarpaste and marzipan!
As a traditional sweet at our Dutch Saint Nickolas celebrations and as filling of our traditional Christmas Stollen bread, marzipan (sweetened and finely pureed almondpaste) symbolizes home and the year’s end to me. For years, the store Aldi’s supported my seasonal habit… until a few years ago they stopped carrying German marzipan. Luckily, my best friend Angelika Rumsberger, originally from Hamburg and with a similar seasonal sweet tooth, gets a holiday package filled with German goodies. The marzipan from Lübeck is highly prized! As Angelika grew up on Lübeck marzipan, considered to be the best marzipan in Germany (and probably the world), she was able to give me great feedback on what good marzipan should taste and feel like.
Even though modern marzipan is typically seen as a German sweet, it originated in the Orient (where almonds and sugar also originated). A Persian doctor, Rhazes, praised the curative qualities of almond and sugarpaste as far back as the 9th century. When the Crusaders returned from the Orient, they brought marzipan with them. Thirteenth century philosopher and theologian Thomas Aquinas reflected upon the indulgence of eating marzipan, reassuring his anxious clerics: “Marzipan does not break the fast.” And in his novels, 14th century poet and author Boccaccio clearly noted a correlation between passion and marzipan.
In 13th century Italy, confectionery and spices were generally traded in tiny boxes. One theory is that the Italian word, mataban, for “small box,” gradually came to be used for the sweetmeat contents of the box: mazapane (Italian), massepain (French), marzipan (German, recently also English), marsepein (Dutch), and marchpane (English). The Latin form of marzipan appears as martiapanis in Johann Burchard’s Diarium curiae romanae (1483–1492), and Minshæu defines the word as Martius panis, or bread of Mars, for the elaborate towers, castles, and other subtleties made of this confectioner’s art sweetmeat.
For my subtlety entry, I choose to use marzipan as a filling and sugarpaste on the outside, since sugarpaste has a much finer definition of detail and would help keep the marzipan moist during display. As suggested in my period source, I wanted to use a mold and was lucky to find a good deal on a vintage Dutch candy mold. Even though this mold is obviously not period, the use of molds to shape food is period.
I based my marzipan on recipes in A Closet for Ladies and Gentlewomen, 1602:
To make a Marchpane, to ice it, and garnish it after the Art of Comfit-making.
Take two pound of small Almonds blanched, and beaten into perfect Past, with a pound of suger finely searsed, putting in now and then a spoonfull or two of Rose water, to keepe it from oyling, and when it is beaten to perfect Past, rowle it thin, and cut it round by a charger, then set an edge on it, as you doe on a tart, then drie it in an Ouen, or a backing pan, then yce it with Rose water and suger, made as thicke as batter for fritters, when it is iced garnish it with conceits, and sticke long comfits in it, and so guild it, and serue it.
To make all sorts of banqueting conceits of Marchpane stuffe, some like Pyes, Birds, Baskets, and such like, and some to print with moulds.
TAke a pound of Almond past, made for the Marchpane, and drye it on a Chafindish of coales, till you see it waxe white, then you may print some with moulds, and make some with hands, and so guild them, then stoue them and you may keepe them all the yere. They bee excellent good to please children.
Blessed with a local health food store, I was able to pick up two pounds of raw almonds. Then I looked up the word “blanched” simce I was unfamiliar with the process. Properly educated, I thought, I poured boiling water over the almonds so that the skins would loosen enough to be removed, since the skins are bitter and would darken the almond paste a brown color (rather than a very light beige). Since I do not own a large mortar and pestle (yet), I chose to run the blanched almonds through my food processor and came to the first hurdle: the almonds would crumble but not stick together as a paste! Maybe mixing in the sugar and rosewater would help it come together? But no… the period recipe clearly does not mention processing it twice. However, it did not look right, so I ran a small sample again and behold: marzipan! Apparently, modern almonds need to be processed twice?
This kept bugging me, and after some brainstorming with a fellow SCA cook, I learned about the difference between modern blanching and period blanching: in modern blanching, boiling water is used (a quick process) while in period blanching involved extended soaking in cold water (a slow process). And I wondered — would the extended soaking have a different effect? Soaking anything for extended periods hydrates tissue, and the same is true for soaking dried almonds: I suspected that grinding soaked almonds makes for perfect period marzipan.
Since historically marzipan is connected with both Christmas and with Easter celebrations, I choose a hen shape for the main mold. In Denmark and Norway, it is common to eat marzipan pigs for Christmas and marzipan eggs for Easter. And the English word marchpane might mean “march bread,” for marzipan shaped into a loaf. Inspired by the German tradition of Marzipankartoffeln, small potato-shaped marzipans dusted brown with Dutch cocoa, I shaped little egg marzipans. Instead of dusting with cocoa, as post-period kartoffeln are, I used spices available in period, including cinnamon, to give the “eggs” a beautiful brown glow (and a bit of a tartness in the first bite).
And what about the sugarpaste?
Sugar, by far the most important ingredient in confectionery, was first grown probably by the Persians and Arabs. Most importantly, they learned how to refine sugar from the raw cane plant. In Roman times, sugar (called saccharon) was available only as naturally exuded droplets from the cane. Before that time, honey was the world’s main sweetener; after this discovery, the cultivation of sugar cane spread slowly throughout the Arab world. A number of sugar-related words trace their heritage to Arabic origin, including sugar to sukkar, candy to qand, and syrup to sharab.
In medieval times, sugar was imported by the Venetians and Genoese from Arab-controlled areas until the 1420’s, when the Portugese started cultivating cane in the Azores. Not only would sugar quickly become indispensible in medicine, as a sweetener, and a preservative, it also became an artistic culinary ingredient of amazing flexibility: sugarpaste, which could be molded, formed, and dried into an array of edible items.
Although THL Lijsbet de Keukere quickly pointed me in the right direction to find a period sugarpaste recipe, unfortunately it was made with an ingredient not typically found in modern cooking supply stores or supermarkets: gum tragacanth. This period binding agent (also known by gumme and dragant) is a bit challenging to locate (and more expensive) than modern gum paste. If you have the time, order a couple of ounces if only to experience sugarpaste from scratch. (See URL for a vendor below.)
Against my cooking philosophy but up against deadline I used modern gum paste, which was available in the bridal section of my local Jo-Ann’s Fabrics Store.
The most complete period recipe for sugarpaste comes from Thomas Dawson’s The Second Part of the Good Hus-wives Jewell, 1597 (see http://www.cooksplaydough.html for a redacted recipe).
To make a past of Suger, whereof a man may make al manner of fruits, and other fine things with their forme, as Plates, Dishes, Cuppes and such like thinges, wherewith you may furnish a Table.
Take Gumme and dragant as much as you wil, and steep it in Rosewater til it be mollified, and for foure ounces of suger take of it the bigness of a beane, the iuyce of Lemon, a walnut shel ful, and a little of the white of an eg. But you must first take the gumme, and beat it so much with a pestell in a brasen morter, till it be come like water, then put to it the iuyce with the white of an egge, incorporating al these wel together, this done take four ounces of fine white suger wel beaten to powder, and cast it into the morter by a litle and a litle, until they be turned into the form of paste, then take it out of the said morter, and bray it upon the powder of suger, as it were meale or flower, untill it be like soft paste, to the end you may turn it, and fashion it which way you wil. When you have brought your paste to this fourme spread it abroad upon great or smal leaves as you shall thinke it good and so shal you form or make what things you wil, as is aforesaid, with such fine knackes as may serve a Table taking heede there stand no hotte thing nigh it. At the ende of the Banket they may eat all, and breake the Platters Dishes, Glasses Cuppes, and all other things, for this paste is very delicate and saverous. If you will make a Tarte of Almondes stamped with suger and Rosewater of this sorte that Marchpaines be made of, this shal you laye between two pastes of such vessels or fruits or some other things as you thinke good.
Modern sugarpaste is made by combining powdered sugar with gum paste and glucose. I used my trusted Kitchenaid mixer with the dough paddle attachment and followed the recipe on the gum paste’s can, and discovered that it made a fairly sticky dough (like thick peanut butter). To be able to sculpt I was expecting something more like bread dough, and since sometimes my bread dough is also similar to peanut butter when the liquid is off (that extra egg…) I did the same thing I’d do then and kept adding a dry ingredient. I added more powdered sugar slowly until the dough came together as a ball without sticking to the bowl, until it finally turned into something I felt comfortable sculpting with. According to the can’s instructions, I then rolled it into a loaf, wrapped it in plastic, and cured it at room temperature until the next day.
The sugarpaste was initially dry to the touch, but probably due to body heat handling it quickly became very sticky, which made sculpting rather frustrating. My solution was to keep my finger pads dusted with powdered sugar, which worked like a charm. To keep the sugarpaste from sticking to the mold (which would have made it impossible to unmold without losing the fine detail I wanted) I used a paper towel dipped in oil to grease the inside of the hen mold, and then liberally dusted both insides with powdered sugar. The sugarpaste hardly stuck to the walls and the hens were much easier to remove. I recommend keeping sugarpaste sculptures away from heat or moisture (including sunlight), and give it time to air dry until it becomes a beautiful chalky white.
While the sugarpaste I used was a modern substitute, I was able to make my marzipan with raw almonds and raw sugar. It therefore had a fairly course texture, which I really like. For a smoother marzipan, you could use finely ground almond flour and powdered sugar, which you can buy pre-made from a store. But never forget the rosewater – it’s the finishing touch of quality marzipan! The one feedback on my entry that is still with me is the remark that the “eggs” could have been made sweeter. I suspect cinnamon was at fault for this, as well as the influence of my Lübeck-trained friend who was very clear that good marzipan is never made with less than two-thirds almonds, to cater to a more refined European taste!
“A Closet for Ladies and Gentlevvomen, Or, the Art of Preseruing, Conseruing and Candying” (1602). Edited and Annotated by Johanna H. Holloway, 2011. www.Medievalcookery.com
http://www.mkcc.rhawn.com/MKCCfiles/cooksplaydough.html (Countess Alys Katherine’s how-to article, which inspired many of the sugarpaste subtleties across the SCA)
Thomas Dawson, “The Second Part of the Good Hus-wives Jewell” (1597)
Where to buy gum tragacanth:
Artisans! Do you have narrative documentation or a project diary of your recent A&S creation? Have you written a handout for a class? Share your knowledge and submit it to the Gazette at email@example.com! Our editors are happy to work with you to format it into an article.
We call upon all Lords and Ladies of Æthelmearc to take up the banners of the Kingdom and bring your fighting forces onto the Pennsic fields. Bring your Knights and footmen. Bring your archers and throwers. Bring your fencers and Masters of Defence. Bring your artisans, that we may win victory through displays of artistic prowess. Bring those gentles whose service allows Our army to seize victory and supports the Pennsic event.
At Pennsic, we defend our lands from the aggressive Midrealm armies, and we ally with our parent Kingdom of the East.
We are in need of good gentles, noble of heart and spirit, to stand beside Us as Retainers and Guards. If you would be at our side in this capacity, you would have the thanks of your King and Queen. Contact Our co-head retainers (elss.of.augsburg at gmail dot com or alaricmacconnal at gmail dot com) or Our guard captain (fredeburg at gmail dot com).
Our Court will be held on Tuesday night at 6pm in the new barn; We hope that you will be there to witness as we acknowledge some of the many gentles who make Our Kingdom great. Our Kingdom Party will be held on Monday at 8:30pm in the Royal encampment; the theme is Arthurian Legends.
Yours In Service to the Dream,
Byron and Ariella
King and Queen of Sylvan Æthelmearc
The grey-white Arabian stallion Vizir was born in 1793 in the Ottoman Empire. Sultan Selim III presented the steed to then-First Consul of France Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802, a diplomatic gift marking the peace treaty between the Ottoman Empire and France after three years of war. According to legend, Selim sent the horse to Napoleon with this final wish: “Go, my dear Vizir. Go for Mahomet, go for your Sultan and become Napoleon’s most famous horse.”
Napoleon had more than a hundred horses, all of them trained to face battle conditions with steely resolve, and several of them became famous by name for participating in important battles and surviving. (Anywhere from 10 to 20 horses were said to have been shot out from under Napoleon in the heat of battle.) Vizir was painted in equestrian portraits with Napoleon by artists including Baron Gros, Hippolyte Bellangé, Charles Thevenin and Horace Vernet for a Sèvres porcelain series on Napoleon’s horses.
He wasn’t just a handsome model. Napoleon first rode Vizir into battle in 1805. Bearing the stamp of the imperial stables, a crowned “N” on his left haunch, Vizir carried the emperor in the Battle of Jena on October 14th, 1806, and in many other battles in the Prussian and Polish campaigns. He was not enlisted for duty during Napoleon’s disastrous Russian campaign, lucky for him, or the subsequent ones in Germany and France because as a 20-year-old, he was considered too old for battle.
Vizir was still beloved by the emperor who took him with him to exile on the island of Elba in 1814, and then back to France again during the Hundred Days, although he kept him safe behind the lines. After Napoleon’s final defeat at Waterloo in 1815, Vizir retired and was taken in by Philippe de Chaulaire, a squire of the imperial stables. Vizir died on July 30th, 1826, at the venerable age of 33.
M. de Chaulaire had him taxidermied, but fearing the anti-Napoleonic political climate of the Bourbon Restoration, he sold Vizir to William Clark, an Englishman living in northern France. Clark felt the same political pressure after Louis-Napoleon’s failed coup and in 1839 passed Vizir along to another Englishman, John Greaves. Greaves smuggled the stuffed horse out of France into England by dumping the framing, unstitching his skin and stashing it in his suitcase. Safe in England, Vizir was remounted and put on display at Manchester’s Natural History Museum in 1843.
Vizir returned to France in 1868 when the museum, forced to close its doors due to financial problems, gifted him to Louis-Napoleon, now Emperor Napoleon III, during a visit to England. Not knowing what else to do with a large stuffed horse, Napoleon III stored it in the Louvre where it remained in storage for 30 years until it was rediscovered in 1904 and transferred to the newly founded Museum of the Army in 1905. There Vizir would find a permanent home just a few steps from the Invalides where his former master rests eternally.
Very popular with visitors, Vizir has been on display ever since, but his many posthumous adventures have left him in bad shape. In May, the museum launched a crowdfunding project to give them the wherewithal to restore Vizir, and donors met the goal of 15,000 euro within two weeks. The final amount raised was 20,534 euros ($23,130).
Now Yveline Huguet and Jack Thiney, taxidermists and specialists in the restoration of organic material, are hard at work on Vizir’s sadly degraded hide. They have X-rayed him and are working on a thorough cleaning, rehydrating the hide, filling in several large cracks and restoring the color which has turned a sallow yellowish color over the years, a far cry from the white-gray he was famous for. The project is expected to take about four weeks. Once the restoration is complete, Vizir will be displayed in a new climate-controlled case which will prevent further degradation.
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Archaeologists excavating the ancient Mesoamerican city of Teotihuacan in the highlands of central Mexico have unearthed the skeletal remains of a woman who is thus far unique in the archaeological record of Teotihuacan. She was buried in the Barrio Oaxaqueño neighborhood, also known as Tlailotlacan meaning “people from distant lands.” Judging from her extensive body modifications, she lived up to the neighborhood’s billing.
The Barrio Oaxaqueño, with a view of the Avenue of the Dead ahead and the Pyramid of the Sun behind, follows one of the streets that goes up the slope of Cerro Colorado. About three kilometers from the main thoroughfare of Teotihuacan, the neighborhood was settled by immigrants from the Oaxaca Valley in the Sierra Madre Mountains of southern Mexico between 150 and 600 A.D. Thirty housing units have been discovered in the neighborhood, each with multiple rooms, plazas, courtyards and tombs, in which an estimated 1,300 people, mainly from Oaxaca, western Mexico and the Gulf of Mexico, lived.
For the past eight years, National Anthropology and History Institute (INAH) archaeologists have been excavating an area of about 800 square meters in the Barrio Oaxaqueño. This year, under the floor of a room, archaeologists found a cist, a rectangular dugout in which the articulated skeleton of a woman and 19 vessels were discovered. The ceramics and stratigraphy indicate she was buried around 350-400 A.D. Osteological examination found she was between 35 and 40 years old when she died.
Her teeth are of particular note. The central incisors in her upper jaw are embedded with round pyrite stones. This technique required cutting a hole in the enamel of the tooth and inserting the decorative stones. It was practiced in the Mayan cities of southern Mexico (see the jade tooth inserts found in Uxul on the Yucatan peninsula), Guatemala and Belize. One incisor in her lower jaw was replaced with a prosthetic made of serpentine, a green stone carved in the shape of a tooth. This was not of local manufacture and she must have worn it for many years because it shows signs of wear and tartar growth. Researchers are currently studying this tooth looking for evidence of how it was affixed to the jaw, possibly with a cement-like adhesive or some kind of fiber that held it in place.
Her grill isn’t the most extreme of her body mods. The shape of her skull is elongated, an intentional cranial shaping of the tabular erect type produced by fronto-occipital compression likely with a cradleboard when she was a child and her bones were still soft. Hers is an extreme example of the practice. This kind of skull shaping isn’t typical of the Central Highlands. It too is more frequently found in the south.
Her teeth and skull make hers one of the most extensively modified bodies ever discovered at Teotihuacan. It also confirms that the residents of Tlailotlacan weren’t only labourers who were brought to or moved to the big city for work, but people of wealth and status as well. The Lady of Tlailotlacan’s modifications were reserved for the Maya elites.
The ongoing excavation of the neighborhood have revealed that there were Oaxacans and other foreigners living in Teotihuacan from the early days of its rise to prominence until its mysterious fall. They moved 400 miles away from home to take advantage of all the great metropolis had to offer, but they maintained their cultural identities within their living quarters. While the neighborhood follows the standard urban planning design of the city, inside their homes residents integrated their native practices. For example, their burial sites were in place before the dwellings were built, as in the case of the Lady’s underfloor cist. They also used ceramics from their hometowns, or if that wasn’t possible, made reproductions using local clay.
The skeleton of 18th century Italian missionary Giovanni Battista Sidotti has been identified in Tokyo. The remains were unearthed in July 2014 during construction of a new upscale condominium development on the site of a long-demolished prison for Christians. Two other skeletons were also discovered near the first. Earthenware fragments and other artifacts found in the layer date it to the early 18th century.
Researchers from the National Museum of Nature and Science pieced together the bone fragments and successfully extracted DNA from a tooth. Analysis revealed that the person was more than 170 centimeters tall, significantly taller than the 156 cm average height for a Japanese man at that time. DNA was found to match the genetic characteristics of modern Italians. Sidotti was reported to be 175-178 cm tall and he was one of only two Italians held in the prison. The other, Giuseppe Chiara, was a much older man, 84 years old at time of death, and his remains were cremated.
Spanish Jesuit and future saint Francis Xavier brought Christianity to Japan in 1549. He, Father Cosme de Torrès, Brother João Fernandes, a Japanese convert named Anjiro and two other Japanese men landed on the southern island of Kyushu and began to preach, which, since only one of the priests had managed to learn a bare smattering of Japanese, mainly consisted of reading from a version of the Catholic catechism Anjiro had translated into Japanese.
The first Christian, called Kirishitan in Japanese, converts were Anjiro’s friends and family. Christianity spread quickly and by 1560, there were 6,000 converts on Kyushu. In 1563 the first daimyo, Omura Sumitada, converted, and in less than a decade had forced everyone in his domain, 35,000 people, to convert as well. Converting daimyos proved essential to the Jesuit mission, because in one fell swoop entire populations would be made to convert by their lord. The daimyos benefited from the Jesuit’s military support, receiving essential materials like saltpeter (used to make gunpowder), weapons and aid in constructing fortifications. Mass baptisms increased the number of Kirishitan exponentially so that there were approximately 130,000 converts within 30 years of Francis Xavier’s arrival. By the early 17th century, there were 250,000 of them.
One of the reasons the new religion made such effective headway is that Xavier used the term “Dainichi,” the Japanese name of the celestial Buddha Vairocana, for God. Shingon Buddhist monks thus welcomed the Jesuits as a fellow Buddhists and in 1551 daimyo Ouchi Yoshitaka gave the missionaries an old Buddhist temple in Yamaguchi describing them as “monks who have come from the western region [meaning India, which was seen as the ultimate in exotic distant lands] to spread the law of Buddha.” Xavier ultimately realized this wasn’t according to Hoyle Christianity, so he stopped using Dainichi and switched to Deusu, a Japonified version of the Latin Deus.
That entre’ via Buddhist terminology and close relationship to warring daimyos would come back to bite Catholic missionaries hard when Japan was unified by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. To hobble the power of the local daimyo, he banished all Christian missionaries from Kyushu in 1587. He still wanted to trade with Portugal and Spain, however, so he didn’t get hardcore about quashing the Kirishitan for another decade even as the Jesuits repeatedly considered an armed campaign against him. That all changed on February 5th, 1597, when he ordered 26 Christians — six Franciscan missionaries, three Japanese Jesuits and 17 Japanese laymen converts — crucified in Nagasaki to discourage conversions.
His successor Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu wanted to maintain friendly relations with Spain and Portugal for trade purposes, but he was convinced that Christianity was inimical to Japanese culture and society and even as he attempted to negotiate trade agreements, asked European powers to take back their missionaries and their religion. Things took an uglier turn after three successive financial scandals involving Christians broke out at court in 1612-3. The central figure in one of the scandals, a former actor named Okubo Nagayasu was rumored to be Christian although there’s no direct evidence of it. He was dead when his financial misdeeds came to light, and in the wake of the scandal, he was accused of having plotted with missionaries to bring a foreign army to protect Kirishitan against the Shogun.
That was the last straw. On Valentine’s Day, 1614, Ieyasu expelled all Catholic missionaries from Japan, closed all the churches and prohibited the practice of Christianity. From the 1614 edict:
The Kirishitan band have come to Japan, not only sending their merchant vessels to exchange commodities, but also longing to disseminate an evil law, to overthrow true doctrine, so that they may change the government of the country, and obtain possession of the land. This is the germ of great disaster, and must be crushed.”
Subsequent Tokugawa rulers enforced the edict with an iron fist, persecuting the Kirishitan, even commoners, who before then had been largely ignored, in order to exterminate the faith from Japanese soil. In every household Christians were identified, forced into apostasy and monitored afterwards to ensure they weren’t secretly following their religion. There were mass executions in which dozens of Christians who refused to renounce their beliefs were burned, crucified or otherwise dispatched publicly.
The fight against Christianity played a significant role in the policy of Sakoku, the national isolation policy that kept foreigners out and Japanese in, enacted in pieces from 1633 through 1639 and continuing for more than two centuries until Commodore Matthew Perry ended it with the business end of his gunboat diplomacy in the mid-19th century. The Shimabara Rebellion, a revolt of mostly Catholic peasants, in 1637-8, ramped up anti-Kirishitan regulations, banning the religion on pain of death.
Propaganda followed, starting with Kirishitan Monogatari (“Tales of the Christians”), a book by an anonymous author published in 1638 which detailed the many crimes and obscenities of missionaries and Christians. It inspired several other books representing Christians as grotesque caricatures. Nambanji Kohai Ki (“Grandeur and Decadence of the Church of the Southern Barbarians”) was published around 1695, 13 years before Giovanni Battista Sidotti made his suicidal attempt to sneak into Japan.
Sidotti, a Sicilian priest, had heard of the martyrdoms in Japan and was keen to brave the risk of death in God’s name. He sought and was granted permission to go to Japan from Pope Clement XI and made his way there from Manila, landing on the island of Yakushima in fall of 1708. His cunning plan was to disguise himself as a samurai, complete with topknot and kimono, just a set of fake buckteeth and glasses away from Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. He was quickly spotted by a farmer who denounced him to the authorities.
He was arrested and the next year sent to the Kirishitan Yashiki (“Mansion of the Christians”), a former school in Edo which had been converted into a prison for suspected crypto-Christians and missionaries in 1646. There Japanese Kirishitan were routinely tortured into renouncing their religion. Sidotti received much gentler treatment. He was interrogated by Arai Hakuseki, a renown Confucian scholar and adviser to the Shogun Tokugawa Ienobu and his successor Tokugawa Ietsugu.
Hakuseki came to respect Sidotti’s intellect and extensive knowledge of the world. He also believed him when Sidotti assured him that missionaries were not the advance brigade of a Western invasion. Hakuseki recommended to the Shogun that Sidotti be deported, a shocking departure from the usual death penalty, or failing that, imprisoned. Sidotti was kept in Kirishitan Yashiki under go-nin fuchi house arrest, a status with plenty of food, a comfortable room and two attendants, former Christians Chosuke and Haru, seeing to his needs. It was only when he tried to reconvert them that he was sent to the dungeon where he died of unknown causes in 1714.
Later historical accounts record that he was buried with care, and the discovery of his bones confirms their accuracy.
“His body was laid flat in a casket, a luxurious one as far as I can tell by the brackets,” said Akio Tanigawa, professor of archaeology at Tokyo’s Waseda University and lead researcher on the remains, referring to coffin pieces discovered with the bones.
“People did not bury human bodies like this,” Tanigawa stressed, suggesting Sidotti was likely given a burial “in the Christian way.”
Hakuseki published his conversations with Sidotti in the first volume of a three-volume book called Seiyo Kibun. The other volumes covered the five continents and an analysis of Christianity. Sidotti’s information also featured in Hakuseki’s five-volume geography Sairan Igen. These books were influential in loosening up the attitude of the shogunate to European intellectual pursuits. For the first time in a century, Western books about science and astronomy were translated into Japanese. Religion was still right out, of course, but gradually attitudes softened there too, and the torture and interrogation of Christians was abolished in 1792. The Kirishitan Yashiki, already damaged by a fire in 1725, was demolished shortly thereafter.
A wood mask that once adorned the head of a mummy from the 18th Dynasty (ca. 1550-1295 B.C.) sold at auction on Thursday for £116,500 ($151,291). A beautifully carved visage with full lips and a small, straight nose features big eyes with stone whites and obsidian pupils. The eyebrows used to be inlaid as well, but the stone is gone leaving only the recess in the wood. Under the chin is a small groove where a false beard was once attached. There are traces of the bitumen used to glue the piece in place still left. The inlay and fine details indicate this was an expensive piece used for a person of high status in New Kingdom society.
In addition to being a beautiful and rare artifact, the mask has another claim to fame: it was first acquired in Egypt by Lady Jane Franklin, wife of that Sir John Franklin who died with all of his crew on a doomed 1845 expedition to find the Northwest Passage. The discovery of one of his ships, the HMS Erebus, has been the subject of many an entry on this blog.
Jane Franklin had even more of a traveling jones as her husband, and she voyaged without the support of a navy often in extremely challenging conditions. She was born Jane Griffin in 1791 to family of means. Her father was a wealthy silk weaver of Huguenot extraction. Her mother, also of Huguenot descent, died when Jane was three years old. Jane was educated at a boarding school for elegant young ladies, but it was insufficiently challenging for a girl of her wits and energy. From the age of 17, she fleshed out her education with extensive travel on the continent, accompanied and supported by her family. She did all the stops of the Grand Tour and more, spending years on the road in France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Holland and Denmark.
Finding a husband does not appear to have been as high on the priority list for Jane as was customary for women of her class in 19th century England. She had a couple of romances, one with medical student Adolphe Butini, another with Dr. Peter Mark Roget of thesaurus fame, but neither got past the chaste yearning stage and both men married other women. Jane was just shy of 37 years old when she married John Franklin, a remarkably advanced age for a woman’s first marriage in 1828. She was his second wife — his first, poet Eleanor Anne Porden who was a good friend of Jane’s, had died in 1825 — and her new marital status changed her peripatetic ways not a bit. The tone was set when they were still engaged and she caught up with in St. Petersburg to travel around Russia together.
After he got a new assignment captaining the HMS Rainbow in the Mediterranean in 1830, Jane took the opportunity to travel widely whenever he was busy, which was often as the area was mired in tension courtesy of the Greek War of Independence. She went to Greece, Turkey, Syria, Palestine and Egypt, traveling independently and often going off the beaten track. In Egypt she sailed from Cairo up the Nile to the Second Cataract, even engaging in a slightly naughty (for the time) flirtation with a Prussian minister on board.
Franklin was called back to London in 1834 while Jane was still traveling in Greece. She kept doing her thing for another year, eventually meeting back up with her husband and joining him in the long voyage down under when he was appointed lieutenant-governor of Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) in 1836. Once there, she dedicated her endless energy to founding a museum, a scientific society, acquiring land for a botanical garden, working for prison reform and of course, travel. She was the first European woman to climb Mount Wellington. She took the arduous overland route to Macquarie Harbour along Tasmania’s untamed west coast and traveled from Melbourne to Sydney, likely the first woman to do so.
It wasn’t all voyaging good times. Jane took a liking to an Aboriginal girl named Mathinna and adopted her, ie, just took her from her still-living parents who had already had one child stolen by British authorities to blackmail them into resettlement against their will. That daughter was dumped in an orphanage and died. Now their second daughter became Jane Franklin’s black doll. Mathinna was dressed up pretty, went on carriage rides next to Eleanor, John Franklin’s daughter from his first marriage, and was educated by her governess. When John Franklin’s term as lieutenant-governor ended in 1843, the Franklins returned to London leaving Mathinna behind in the same orphanage where her sister had died. Jerked around for her whole life and left unable to fit in anywhere, Mathinna would die at age 17, apparently from drowning in a puddle while drunk.
The Franklins just went about their business, oblivious to the fate of the little girl they had displaced so callously. Driven in significant part by Jane’s efforts, Sir John Franklin got the chance he had long yearned for to return to the Arctic. This would be his fourth and final expedition. He and a crew of 108 men took HMS Erebus and HMS Terror to Canada in 1845. Arctic Canada would be their graves.
When her husband failed to return in 1847 as planned, Lady Franklin marshalled her considerable resources of finance and dedication to his rescue. In 1848 she offered rewards of $10,000 and $15,000 to anyone who should attempt to bring succor to the missing expedition. In April of 1849, she wrote a letter to the President of the United States, noting that the ships had been provisioned with enough supplies for three years and with four years nearly gone, any survivors would be in extreme need. She hoped to persuade the US to send out rescue ships as the Russian Empire was planning and the British Admiralty had already done.
When other missions failed to find traces of the Franklin expedition, Jane outfitted her own. In the 1850s she poured money into five different search missions. Even though by then there was no chance of anyone having survived, in 1854 she redoubled her efforts after Captain John Rae, first sent by the Admiralty and then by the Hudson Bay Company on a rescue mission, returned with artifacts from the Franklin expedition and Inuit testimony of survival cannabilism among the crew. Disgusted and horrified by Rae’s news, she rejected it vehemently as the gossip of savages and became even more motivated to find what was left of the ships and their logs. She was sure they would prove conclusively that her husband, officers and crew had behaved with nothing but the most British of honor to the last.
Her last attempt to directly fund a search team was the steam yacht Fox captained by Francis Leopold McClintock in 1857. Ice blocked his path for two years, but finally in 1859 he encountered Inuits who told him of the ships crushed by ice off King William Island and of its crew who subsequently died of starvation. When McClintock reached King William Island, he bought several Franklin expedition artifacts from the Inuit. McClintock’s second-in-command, William Hobson, found an Admiralty form in a cairn at Victory Point on King William Island which had a note scrawled in the margin revealing that Franklin had died on June 11th, 1847. These were the only official records of the expedition ever found.
Lady Franklin and Captain McClintock were awarded the 1860 patron’s medal from the Royal Geographical Society. She was the first woman to receive the award, and for many decades the only one. It was exceptionally fitting since the missions she had funded ended up discovering and mapping more of the Canadian Arctic than any explorer ever had, including her husband.
Jane Franklin would outlive Sir John by 30 years, and never stopped traveling the world. She dined with Brigham Young at Salt Lake City, hiked in Yosemite, had an audience with Pope Pius IX in Rome, stipulating ahead of time that she would not be kneeling, climbed Mount Olympus, became friends with Queen Emma of Hawaii, went on her first trip to India when she was 74 years old and traveled the subcontinent for three years.
When she died in 1875 at the age of 84, six Arctic explorers were her pallbearers.
A team from University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS) excavating an ancient cemetery in Leicester have unearthed an elaborate bronze belt set typically worn by military commanders or government officials in Late Roman Britain. The cemetery on Western Road was just outside the old Roman city walls near the Fosse Way, an important Roman road which connected the military camps at Isca (Exeter) and Lindum (Lincoln). Archaeologists unearthed 83 skeletons, one of which, in grave 23, was found with the bronze buckle set next to his right hip. It dates to the second half of the 4th century or the early 5th century.
The set is composed of three parts: a belt plate, a buckle and the end of a strap. The belt plate is made from a thin sheet of bronze decorated in the chip-carved style, meaning parts of the sheet were carved away leaving behind an interlocking spiral design. The buckle is decorated with dolphin heads. The strap end has a crouching dog on both sides of the tapered end. The buckle sits in the middle of the plate which would have been riveted to a wide leather belt. The strap that threads through the buckle had bronze cap. The metal parts are all that have survived of the belt, and that’s remarkable enough as it is, because the belt plate is so thin, it could easily have corroded into nothingness.
Other examples of this type of buckle have been found in Late Roman cemeteries in London, Winchester, Dorchester on Thames in Britain, as well as in Oudenburg, Belgium, but they are rare. Pictorial evidence indicates these belts were worn by the elites to convey their power and authority.
This elite fellow’s grave was not built to convey power and authority. It was simply cut into mudstone on the bank of the River Soar and held the remains of an adult man between 36 and 45 years of age at the time of his death. Osteological evidence indicates he was sick as a child, surviving bouts of illness to reach adulthood in comparatively good health. As an adult, he fractured his left forearm in a type of injury known as a “parry fracture” because it is usually incurred by raising an arm to parry a blow. The fracture healed on its own, but his wrist suffered permanent damage from it. He suffered from muscle damage in his upper right arm and shoulder. This could have been caused by exertion either in manual labor or in athletic pursuits like lifting and throwing. They are also commonly seen in professional fighters like gladiators and soldiers.
The belt buckle set and other artifacts discovered at the Western Road excavation will be on display for one day only this Sunday, July 10th, at the Jewry Wall Museum in Leicester from 11:00AM through 4:00 PM. It’s a free event in conjunction with the upcoming Festival of Archaeology. Archaeologists from the dig will be present to talk to visitors about their work and the finds, including the belt buckle.
So, you’re going to Pennsic this year and want to fight or fence? Make sure your paperwork is in order before you leave by following these tips:
All current authorization forms can always be found on the Kingdom Authorizations Clerk Website.
Rules regarding authorizations and Pennsic can be found on the Pennsic Website.