Sunday, September 30, 2012

Historic Aleppo market ravaged by fire

Al-Madina ofAleppo, Syria’s most populous city and its commercial capital, was the world’s largest covered market – until entire sectors in the maze of streets and narrow alleyways were devastated by fire following a military operation launched by rebels last Friday.

 Al-Madina (the City), dating to the 13th century, is not just one souq but dozens of specialised markets filled with hundreds of shops. Some of these, at least until now, traded in delicate Indian silks, Iranian carpets and ceramics, or western designer clothing. Others stocked cheap plastic goods from China, embroidered caftans for men and women, spices, herbs, fruit and vegetables, and raw cotton harvested in the fields around the city.

 Deep in the souq are workshops where artisans fashion copper and brass trays, furniture inlaid with mother-of-pearl and ebony, and soap perfumed with flower and herbal essences, Aleppo’s most famous export. Many shops had carved wooden doors that perished in the blaze – but thick stone walls and vaulted ceilings mean some could be restored.

 In addition to shops and workshops, there are churches, mosques, Turkish baths, classical music academies, museums, splendid Ottoman mansions transformed into bijou hotels and restaurants, and inns. The most famous inn is Khan al-Gumrok, a 17th-century customs caravanserai, the largest in the old city.

Click here to read this article from the Irish Times

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Michael Ibsen: From cabinet-maker to kingmaker

His genetic profile holds the key to what could be one of the most remarkable archaeological stories of recent times.

 Experts have, against the odds, found bones beneath a Leicester car park which fit the known details of King Richard III's death at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.

 And Michael Ibsen, a Canadian-born cabinet-maker from Paddington in London who is a descendant of Richard III's sister Anne, admits the link makes "the hair go up on my neck".

 If the DNA of the battle-scarred skeleton with a twisted back proves to be a close enough match to that of 55-year-old Mr Ibsen, a chapter in history will have a new ending.

Click here to read this article from the BBC

Click here to learn more about Richard III

Medieval exhibition spotlights Stanford Libraries' manuscript collection

For centuries, Bibles were painstakingly copied and lavishly illustrated, and then cherished from generation to generation. They became the focus of scholarly, creative and mystical activity for a millennium.

 You can trace the Bible's literary history in Scripting the Sacred, a Stanford Libraries exhibition of Western European manuscripts and fragments. The exhibition, which opened Sept. 17, continues through Jan. 6, 2013, in the Peterson Gallery and Munger Rotunda of Green Library. The exhibition features about 75 manuscripts and facsimiles – the latter are often valuable collectors' items in themselves, reproducing the shape and flaws of each medieval page. (Some facsimiles show works not included in the current Stanford collections.) Original works date from the ninth century to the 16th century.

 The exhibition also includes a few examples of the book's precursor – Greek and Egyptian fragments from the Stanford Libraries' papyrus collection, dating from around the thirdcentury B.C. The exhibition includes early musical notation, books of hours, hagiographies and texts from such early church fathers as Origen, Augustine and Gregory the Great. Typical is a manuscript of The Life of Catherine of Siena, open to the lavishly illustrated frontispiece, circa 1500, previously owned by the 74th Doge of Venice, and a rare, pristine Dialogues by Gregory the Great, owned by Philippa of Guelders, the Duchess of Lorraine and Queen of Sicily. Several elaborate books of hours have illustrated devotions that "strengthen the association between text and temporality, as turning the pages of a book of hours parallels the unfolding of time and the passing of seasons," said Kathryn Dickason, co-curator of the exhibition with David Jordan.

Click here to read this article from Stanford University News

Click here to learn more about Scripting the Sacred

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Bury St Edmunds: Medieval well found inside Cupola House

Engineers rebuilding a 17th Century building which was devastated by fire have discovered a suspected medieval well.

Flames tore through historic Cupola House, in the Traverse, Bury St Edmunds after a fire – started in the basement kitchen of the Strada restaurant – spread through the Grade 1 Listed building’s ventilation system.

Workers, who are currently removing heat and smoke damaged material from the seat of the blaze, said the cover of the well was discovered after a vinyl floor covering was removed.

David Clarke, project engineer with Richard Jackson Ltd, said: “It is certainly something we have never discovered before. No one we have spoken to that have been advising us during this rebuilding process had told us about it, so it was completely unexpected.”

Click here to read this article from the East Anglian Daily Times

Wenlok Jug recovered, person arrested in connection with theft

The Wenlock Jug, a medieval artefact that was stolen earlier this year from a museum in Luton, England, was recovered this week by Bedfordshire Police.

Police officials said that they discovered the historical treasure in the early hours of Monday morning (September 24) at a property in Tadworth, Surrey. Two people were arrested at the location. One has been charged with handling stolen property and the second has been released on police bail pending further enquiries. The investigation continues, and the police are still appealing to the public for information regarding the burglary.

Det Sgt Barry Townson of the Bedfordshire Police explained,  ”We are, of course, delighted that the jug has been recovered and will be returned to its rightful home but the investigation continues into how it came to be in Surrey and who was responsible for the burglary. I would like to re-appeal to anyone with information about the burglary to come forward.”

Click here to read this article from

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Medieval monastery in Hungary was a glass-making hub, researchers find

Central European University Professor of Medieval Studies Jozsef Laszlovszky and his students have been hanging out in the 12th century. They haven't gone back in time, just up the Danube to the site of a medieval monastic estate in Pomaz that housed a glass-production center. Part of the site was poorly excavated in the 1930s and skeptics weren't sure that it was once a bustling manufacturing hub but Laszlovszky, who is also an archeologist, and his team have been studying the very real evidence. From bricks that bear the scars of very high kiln temperatures to broken pieces of glass, it's now clear that the site, which includes a church and a cemetery, was a specialized center.

“We got into archeological layers full of typical materials – for example, fragments of melting pots with melted glass and even complete glass object which were most likely the finished products,” said Laszlovsky. “Interestingly, they probably used recycled glass for the products. We think that's a 21st century thing, but it's not.”

For decades the excavation site – about 20 kilometers from Budapest – was owned by a state company and was off limits to the general public. Laszlovszky was brought in by the local council to do an archeological survey to asses the site. Now owned by a private investor with a keen interest in preservation, the site will eventually be open to the public.

Click here to read this article from Central European University

Monday, September 24, 2012

Wardell Armstrong Archaeology discover Iron Age and Saxon remains near Milton Keynes

Two perfectly preserved Iron Age notched log ladders as well as burial sites dating back to the early Saxon period have been found by Wardell Armstrong Archaeology.

The discoveries were made while carrying out open area excavations on farm land to the western side of Milton Keynes. The site is being developed for mixed use building, where Wardell Armstrong has been commissioned to carry out archaeological surveys as part of the planning permission process.

After trial trenching had revealed potential Iron Age and Romano British remains, excavation work in June this year concentrated on a large circular pit measuring around 7m in diameter and 2.5m in depth. The two Iron Age timbers of around 2.5m in length were found in the base of the heavily waterlogged pit which had provided the perfect anaerobic conditions for preservation.

Very few examples of notched log ladders have ever been found in Britain, and it appears that these two examples may be the largest yet discovered. They seem to have been used as steps down to the base of the pit to extract clay for use in building, lining or waterproofing.

Wardell Armstrong Archaeology carefully removed the log ladders which were then transported to the York Archaeological Trust who specialise in the conservation of timbers of this size. The process will take around 18 months to complete, after which they will be put on display in a local museum. The timbers could date to between 800BC to 100AD, but dendrochronology will be used to establish a more precise date.

Click here to read this article from Timber in Construction

The Sweet Girl: Annabel Lyon’s last volume on Ancient Greece

Mercifully, Annabel Lyon has left her iPhone in her hotel room, which renders her unable to display a treasured photograph of the Iron Age vaginal dilator she snapped in a museum while visiting Athens to research her latest novel, a sequel to 2009’s award-winning, bestselling The Golden Mean.

“It’s horrifying!” she exults, spreading her arms to show the size of the fearful artifact, technically known as a speculum. “And it’s got this big screw on it, and it’s just ohh….” The novelist shudders.

“And I loved it, of course.”

Lyon loved it so much that she made the instrument a crucial prop in her new novel, The Sweet Girl, which returns to the ancient Greek world of philosophers and kings that she brought to life so successfully in The Golden Mean. But as the lovable speculum suggests, this is “a very different book” from her speculative biography of Aristotle, Lyon says. Chronicling the adventures of the philosopher’s precocious daughter after his death, The Sweet Girl is yin to the former book’s yang.

Whereas The Golden Mean focused on men and public life – “politics, warfare, science and reason and all of that,” according to the author – The Sweet Girl is “much more female, much more interior.”

Click here to read this article from The Globe and Mail

See also The Sweet Girl by Annabel Lyon: A brilliant philosopher’s daughter from the Toronto Star

When did 'interdisciplinary' become the adjective we can't live without?

By Anatoly Liberman

Anatoly Liberman is a professor at he University of Minnesota, where he has taught medieval culture, German and other languages since 1975.

Everything should be interdisciplinary, right? Read the ads for the few openings in the humanities, and you will see that colleges will hire only specialists with an interdisciplinary focus and the propensity for critical thinking. Now, thinking is of course always critical; otherwise, it is not thinking, so let us forget about this part of advertising. But how many irons should one have in the fire?

For starters, allow me to tell an anecdote. I once had a problem in my right eye, and the excellent ophthalmologist who had observed me for years said that he wanted to ask the opinion of a doctor specializing in the diseases of the lid. "The lower lid?" — I asked darkly, because I happened to be worried about that part of my anatomy. "Yes," he snapped back, "the lower lid of the right eye."

His answer restored my confidence in the medical profession. I had known that there were experts in the diseases of the retina and suspected that the same might be true about the cornea, but the lid too!

Click here to read this article from Minnesota Public Radio

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Newberry library project makes historical documents and images accessible for the classroom

I squinted at the calligraphic handwriting. (I don't read much Latin or Middle French, and in this script, it's challenging just to make out the letters.) And I marveled at the content: God stands next to Adam in the Garden of Eden in all the regalia of a 15th-century monarch. The serpent assumes the head and torso of a woman when it tempts Eve to eat the apple. Queen Tomyris wears a placid expression as, with one hand, she points a bloody knife toward King Cyrus' decapitated corpse and, with the other, she holds his severed head over a vat filled with the blood of his soldiers. Medieval theologians are astonishing.

 Then, I stepped back and asked, how might this manuscript help a teacher bring medieval Europe to life for his or her students? What does a manuscript provide that a textbook does not? What would be gained and what would be lost if we had this page digitally reproduced, that is, professionally photographed and displayed on a website? The texture, the smell would be gone. But those colors and the startling scenes would still be stunning on screen. Does the Internet's much-touted ability to overcome spatial barriers effectively dissolve the walls of a rare-books reading room?

Click here to read this article from the Chicago Tribune

Click here to visit the Digital Collections from the Classroom website

Friday, September 21, 2012

The medieval Jewish poet who preceded Chaucer

Rare poems documenting the persecution of Norwich's medieval Jewish community, in the period preceding the expulsion from England in 1290, are being given a new lease of life thanks to the work of a dedicated group of residents.

The East Anglia town was one of the hubs of Jewish life in medieval Britain, along with York and London. It became notorious in 1144 when the first recorded "blood libel" occurred there, following the discovery of the bloodied body of William of Norwich on the outskirts of the town, and persecution and attacks on the Jewish community remained common in the subsequent 150 years.

It is estimated that up to 150 Jews were living in the town in the 13th century, among them Rabbi Meir Ben Eliahu, a poet known as "Meir of Norwich" who wrote at least 20 poems.

Little is known about Rabbi Meir and it is not clear whether or not he completed his writing after fleeing England, but his connection to the town is made clear in one poem, where the initial lines are an acrostic that spell: "I am Meir, son of Rabbi Eliahu, from the city of Norwich which is in the land of isles called Angleterre. May I grow up in the Torah of my Creator and in fear of him; Amen, Amen, Selah."

Click here to read this article from

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Warwickshire Manorial Records going online

Fines for playing tennis, selling shoes before o’clock in the afternoon, or being an ale house haunter, are just some of the penalties in force in Warwickshire 600 years ago. Documents detailing such historical gems can be found in the Warwickshire Manorial Records which will soon be available to the public.

 Warwickshire County Council launched the Manorial Documents Register at an event at Warwickshire County Record Office earlier this week. The register contains information about the location of court rolls, surveys, maps and documents about land boundaries from medieval times and can be accessed by anyone at

Charges issued by 17th century court leets include:

  • A pain (fine) on tanners and shoemakers that they offer not wares to sell before one of the clock in the afternoon 
  • The churchwardens to search for ale house haunters and others that come not to church on Sunday on pain (fine) of 10s 

 Mark Ryder, Head of Localities and Community Safety said, “These records contain a rich and fascinating history about life in Warwickshire in the late middle ages. The database will signpost people to the relevant sources and will help to bring medieval history to everyone’s fingertips.

 “In Warwickshire we are lucky to have three remaining court leets located in Alcester, Henley in Arden and Warwick who continue these ancient traditions, two leets will be at the event next Monday.”

The project was run by the County Council’s Archives team with funding from The National Archives. In addition to the launch it is possible to book a place for a Manorial Records talk on Monday 29 October 10am-12pm at the Record Office.

More details are available on 01926 738959 or via Further information about the project and the launch is available from Sam Collenette, Archives and Historic Environment Manager, Warwickshire County Council on 01926 738950.

Source: Warwickshire County Council

“Jesus said to them, my wife…” – discovery of early Christian Gospel suggests Jesus was married

Four words on a previously unknown papyrus fragment provide the first evidence that some early Christians believed Jesus had been married, Harvard Professor Karen King told the 10th International Congress of Coptic Studies today.

 King, the Hollis Professor of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School, announced the existence of the ancient text at the Congress’s meeting, held every four years and hosted this year by the Vatican’s Institutum Patristicum Augustinianum in Rome. The four words that appear on the fragment translate to, “Jesus said to them, my wife.” The words, written in Coptic, a language of ancient Egyptian Christians, are on a papyrus fragment of about one and a half inches by three inches.

 “Christian tradition has long held that Jesus was not married, even though no reliable historical evidence exists to support that claim,” King said. “This new gospel doesn’t prove that Jesus was married, but it tells us that the whole question only came up as part of vociferous debates about sexuality and marriage. From the very beginning, Christians disagreed about whether it was better not to marry, but it was over a century after Jesus’s death before they began appealing to Jesus’s marital status to support their positions.”

Click here to read this article from History of the Ancient World

New dictionary on ancient Egyptian language completes 37-year project

A dictionary of thousands of words chronicling the everyday lives of people in ancient Egypt — including what taxes they paid, what they expected in a marriage and how much work they had to do for the government — has been completed by scholars at the University of Chicago.

 The ancient language is Demotic Egyptian, a name given by the Greeks to denote it was the tongue of the demos, or common people. It was written as a flowing script and was used in Egypt from about 500 B.C. to 500 A.D., when the land was occupied and usually dominated by foreigners, including Persians, Greeks and Romans.

The language lives on today in words such as adobe, which came from the Egyptian word for brick. The word moved through Demotic, on to Arabic and eventually to Spain during the time of Islamic domination there, explained Janet Johnson, editor of the Chicago Demotic Dictionary.

Click here to read this article from History of the Ancient World

British Museum to host major exhibition on Ancient Rome in 2013

The British Museum will be featuring the ancient Roman world in an exhibition during the spring and summer of 2013. Life and death in Pompeii and Herculaneum will bring together over 250 fascinating objects, both recent discoveries and celebrated finds from earlier excavations. Many of these objects have never before been seen outside Italy. The exhibition will have a unique focus, looking at the Roman home and the people who lived in these ill-fated cities.

 This exhibition, running from 28 March – 29 September 2013, will be the first ever held on these important cities at the British Museum, and the first such major exhibition in London for almost 40 years.

Click here to read this article from History of the Ancient World

Were Medieval Universities Catholic?

Perhaps the greatest and most enduring achievement of the Middle Ages was the creation of the university, an institution for which there was no precedent in the history of the West. It sprang into existence seemingly out of nowhere in the late 12th century primarily in two cities, Paris and Bologna. Both claim to be Europe’s first. By the early decades of the 13th century, others had emerged modeled on them—Oxford on the Paris model and Padua on Bologna. From that point forward, universities proliferated across the face of Europe and became a standard, important and self-governing institution in larger cities.

Medieval universities, although they differed among themselves in significant ways, all quickly developed highly sophisticated procedures and organizational strategies that we recognize as our own today. The list is long: set curricula, examinations, professorial privileges and duties, a full array of officers of various kinds, division into different “faculties” (we call them schools) and the public certification of professional competence through the awarding of degrees.

Click here to read this article from America: The National Catholic Weekly

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Interview with Philippa Gregory on ‘The Kingmaker’s Daughter’

What made you choose to write about Anne Neville? 

 She absolutely embodies what happened to so many people in these turbulent 14 years of the War of the Roses. She’s on three different sides: York, then Lancaster, then York again. And she’s married to, or working with, the most powerful men of the period. And yet we hardly know anything about her. That makes her tremendously interesting to me, because once I put together her story, I can fictionalize it, I can bring it to life. In a way, I’m restoring a woman whom nobody knows and at least offering a version of her.

Click here to read the full interview from the Washington Post

Click here to see the page about The Kingmaker's Daughter

Newport’s Medieval Ship could have been Basque

The origins of the Newport Medieval Ship may have finally been solved – with new research announced yesterday pointing to the north of Spain.

 Thanks to recent advances in tree-ring dating, experts have obtained the first scientific evidence that the ship may come from the Basque Country.

 A Basque origin had been suspected for some time but it was only with research into the ship's timbers and historic buildings in Northern Spain that the new results were possible.

 Experts from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and the Arkeolan Foundation based in the Basque town of Irun had conducted the research.

Click here to read this article from the South Argus Wales

Monday, September 17, 2012

$1.25 million gift creates endowment for medieval professorship at SMU

Two graduates of Southern Methodist University are giving back to their alma mater by creating an endowed professorship in medieval history. Stephen L. and Kathryn Hedges Arata of Dallas are donating $1.25 million to create the Jeremy duQuesnay Adams Centennial Professorship in Western European Medieval History in honor of the longtime SMU professor.

In addition to the Aratas, several other former students of Professor Adams have contributed toward the endowed professorship in his honor. Those contributing $25,000 and more include Cindy and Dr. David Stager, Jr. ’87; Jo ‘90 and Joe Goyne; and Renee Justice Standley ’90 and Kenneth Standley.

“We are honored to have an endowed professorship bearing the name of one of SMU’s most distinguished and revered faculty members,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “We are grateful to the Aratas for their vision and generosity in providing this gift, which supports our Second Century Campaign goal to increase the number of endowed chairs to 100. With the Adams Professorship, the University is within 15 faculty positions of reaching that goal.”

Click here to read this article from

Time for King Richard III to “Come Home to York”, says Foundation

The Richard III Foundation, Inc. is calling for the remains of King Richard III to be brought home to York and interred at York Minster.

Last week, the remains of a male skeleton were discovered in Leicester during an archaeological dig aimed at finding the lost burial place of the English monarch who was killed at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. The archaeologists believe there is strong evidence to suggest that this is Richard III, although DNA testing will take several weeks to confirm the results.

A debate is now underway on where the body should be buried if it is that of the former king. While some have suggested that he be laid to rest in Westminster Abbey alongside other kings and queens of England,the Richard III Foundation believes the most appropriate location would be York. Richard III wanted to be buried in that city, and in 1483 set in motion plans for a new chantry chapel at York Minster. Indeed, so strongly was Richard linked to York that the City authorities greeted the news of his death at the Battle of Bosworth with these words: “King Richard, late mercifully reigning over us, was, through great treason, piteously slain and murdered, to the great heaviness of this city.”

Click here to read this article from

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Ancient Poem Praises Murderous Roman Emperor Nero

A just-deciphered ancient Greek poem discovered in Egypt, deifies Poppaea Sabina, the wife of the infamous Roman emperor Nero, showing her ascending to the stars.

 Based on the lettering styles and other factors, scholars think the poem was written nearly 200 years after Nero died (about 1,800 years ago), leaving them puzzled as to why someone so far away from Rome, would bother composing or copying it at such a late date.

 In the poem, Poppaea ascends to heaven and becomes a goddess. The ancient goddess Aphrodite says to Poppaea, "my child, stop crying and hurry up: with all their heart Zeus' stars welcome you and establish you on the moon..."

Click here to read this article by Owen Jarus from LiveScience

From Ancient Deforestation, a Delta Is Born

Humans were tampering with nature long before the Industrial Revolution’s steam and internal combustion engines arrived on the scene. The invention of agriculture around 8,000 years ago, some argue, significantly changed ecosystems as it spread around the globe.

 Although scientists are only just beginning to understand how these ancient alterations shaped our world today, a new study in Scientific Reports suggests that millennium-old development along the Danube River in Eastern Europe significantly changed the Black Sea ecosystem and helped create the lush Danube Delta in Romania and Ukraine.

 “My team had a big surprise,” said Liviu Giosan, a geologist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts and the lead author of the study. “We found that around a thousand years ago, the entire basin changed dramatically, though that later made sense when we put it into context.”

Click here to read this article from the New York Times

See also: Early Anthropogenic Transformation of the Danube-Black Sea System

Plans to reveal medieval bridge hidden under Rochdale

Plans for a £3.5m project to uncover the river in the centre of Rochdale have taken a step closer.

 The scheme would see three sections of the River Roch uncovered revealing a 14th Century medieval bridge.

 A planning application for the project has been submitted to Rochdale Borough Council and the Environment Agency has committed £500,000 to the project.

 Councillor Peter Williams said: "Reopening the river here is another huge step in Rochdale's regeneration. It will build on the historical character of this area and offer residents and visitors an attractive environment to come and visit and spend time in."

Click here to read this article from the BBC

Click here to read River re-opening a step closer from the Rochdale Borough Council

Richard III, the great villain of English history, is due a makeover

To the headline writers, he's become "the king in the car park". To Shakespeare, he was the "bottled spider". But 527 years after he died on Bosworth Field, he has become part of the national conversation again. Somewhere between a Mondeo monarch and a pantomime villain lies the figure of Richard III, one of the most disputed kings in British history.

 A thrilling palimpsest of folklore, drama, archaeology and Tudor propaganda means that we will probably never begin to approach the truth about the reign and character of the man Shakespeare painted as "rudely stamp'd… deformed, unfinish'd". A monster of sadism, duplicity and cunning, much worse than bad king John, more cruel than Henry VIII and less fit than Charles I for the English throne, Richard III is by far the most reviled entry in a catalogue of sovereigns not exactly renowned for their grace, distinction, or humanity.

 Shakespeare has a line for that, too, from Mark Anthony's celebrated eulogy for the assassinated Julius Caesar: "The evil that men do lives after them, The good is oft interred with their bones." The sensational find of the Grey Friars skeleton in Leicester last week, grippingly replete with evidence of severe scoliosis (curvature of the spine), has reanimated an old English argument about the last of the Plantagenets. Various commentators, rallying to the royal standard like trusty housecarls, have focused on the DNA angle. Conclusively identify the remains, goes the argument, and a process of regal restoration and rehabilitation can finally begin. For these inky royalists, the Queen's intervention in this saga cannot come soon enough.

Click here to read this article from The Guardian

Richard III: Where to rebury him? And How?

If indeed the skeleton recently found in Leicester is confirmed to be that of Richard III, the question naturally crops up: Where shall he be reburied? And not least: How…

 There is little doubt that Richard III planned to be buried in York Minster together with his wife and probably his son (who might even already be buried there, although this is contested). It is well known that Richard endowed York with a college for a hundred priests in York; or rather an extension of a college, which had been founded by his in-laws, George and Richard Neville. Information about the project is rather limited as it was work in progress, when he died.

Click here to read this article from Medieval Histories

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Have the remains of Richard III been found? Archaeologists discover skeleton at Leicester dig

Archaeologists searching for the grave of Richard III have discovered the human remains of a human male that have “strong circumstantial evidence” indicating that it is of the English king.

 Officials from the University of Leicester made the announcement today at a press conference. The archaeologists have uncovered two skeletons so far, one of a male and other a female.

Click here to read this article from

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Medieval shipwreck found in Danube river

Hungarian archaeologists have found what they believe may be an intact medieval shipwreck in the Danube river. Partially buried in mud and gravel near the riverbank at Tahitótfalu, some 18 miles north of Budapest, the flat bottom river wreck has yet to be excavated.

 A preliminary survey from the Argonauts Research Group in cooperation with the county museum of Szentendre, revealed that the ship is about 40 feet long and 10 feet wide. The archaeologists could distinguish oak floor-planks, floor-timbers, and L-shaped ribs. They also noticed that the junction piece of the bottom and the side wall of the wreck is carved from a single log.

 "Only a few river ships of this kind have been found in Europe," Attila J. Tóth, associate of the National Office of Cultural Heritage, told Discovery News.

Click here to read this article from Discovery News

Rare 500-year-old illustrated medical book shows doctors analysing urine to diagnose illness and brushing lice from a boy's hair

A rare medieval book gives an insight into the bizarre medical practices used 500 years ago. It has gone on display for the first time at the University of Aberdeen.

The De Hortus Sanitatis, which translates as the Garden of Health, shows some of the medical methods practiced in Scotland five centuries ago and is one of the earliest European medical texts.

The book, first printed in Mainz, Germany, in 1491, is a fusion of late medieval science and folklore. It contains detailed writings and annotated illustrations on plants, herbs, animals, and minerals.

Click here to read this article from the Daily Mail

Monday, September 10, 2012

Review of Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament

It was with some trepidation that we went to take in a show that featured men dressed as knights jousting with each other. After all, we’re supposed to be serious medievalists, and Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament isn’t exactly an academic conference. However, after taking in a couple hours of sword fighting and chivalry, we can honestly say that we had a really great time.

 Medieval Times is a dinner theatre show, where the guests watch a play set within a medieval tournament. It has dozens of performers who play knights, squires, falconers and, of course, royalty. The highlight of the show is watching the knights joust on horseback with each other, leading to impressively choreographed sword fights. While all this is happening, you also get to eat a meal!

This show started in North America in 1983, and has grown to now being based in nine cities. Here in Toronto, they run the show up to three times per day, bringing in up to 700 people for each dinner.

Click here to read this review and watch a video from

Archaeologists discover medieval church and 300 burials in Ipswich

A team from Oxford Archaeology, in partnership with Pre-Construct Archaeology, has so far uncovered some 300 burials dating to the late Saxon and medieval periods from a site in Ipswich.

Ipswich was an important Saxon town and trading centre, and excavation at the site, located by the river on Great Whip Street, Stoke Quay, has revealed extensive Middle-Late Saxon occupation remains, including a lead strip inscribed with runic script, as well as the lost church and cemetery of St Augustine’s.

Click here to read this article from

Archaeological dig inches ‘tantalizingly closer’ to possible burial place of King Richard III

The University of Leicester is announcing that the archaeological dig at Greyfriars will continue for a third week as archaeologists get ‘tantalisingly close’ in their search for King Richard III.

 The University of Leicester is leading the archaeological search for the burial place of King Richard III with Leicester City Council, in association with the Richard III Society.

 Now, Leicester City Mayor Peter Soulsby has authorised the work to continue for at least another week following the success of the dig so far and the huge level of interest in it.

Click here to read this article from

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Three magnificent d’Medici manuscripts exhibited in Firenze this autumn

“Magnifici tre” is title of a spectacular exhibition in Firenze this autumn. On show are three manuscripts representing the absolute state of the art anno 1486-7.

 The three manuscripts were ordered by Lorenzo de’ Medici, also known as Il Magnifico, as gifts to his three daughters, Luisa, Maddalena and Lucrezia. For the first time in five centuries the three manuscripts – two originals and one facsimile – will be exhibited along side each other at the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana. All three manuscripts belong to the category “Book of Hours”. They were ordered in connection with their betrothals and marriages at the Florentine workshop of Antonio Sinibaldi. The extreme preciousness of the glittering gold, the semi-precious stones and the enamel – and the exceptional quality of the illuminated pages of these three books – turn them into veritable jewels and absolute masterpieces of Florentine Renaissance.

Click here to read this article from Medieval Histories

Vikings were “first to begin criminal profiling”, historian says

The Saga of Egil Skallagrimsson tells the story of a tenth-century Viking warrior who took part in raids in Europe and often fought with his own neighbours in Iceland. When his life’s story was written in the thirteenth-century, was the author using him as an example of the type of man that society had to worry about?

 Tarrin Wills, a researcher from the University of Aberdeen, believes that Viking societies themselves were deeply concerned about these violent and unpredictable individuals – so much so that they took on the role of early criminal profilers – drafting descriptions of the most likely trouble-makers.

 Wills presented his research yesterday to the British Science Festival, one of Europe’s largest science festivals. It is being held this year in Aberdeen and is expecting to attract over 50,000 people for its talks, discussions and workshops.

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Friday, September 07, 2012

Sixth-century baptistery discovered in Kosovo

A historic baptistery structure has been unearthed at one of the most important ancient sites in Kosovo by Turkish archaeologists. It is the first such excavation to be carried out by Turkish archaeologists in Europe.

At an excavation site in Kosovo’s ancient city of Ulpiana, a team of Turkish archaeologists have discovered a baptistery dating from the Byzantine period.

The archaeological team, consisting of archaeology students from Istanbul’s Mimar Sinan University and headed by Professor Haluk Çetinkaya, excavated in a 250 square-meter area, unearthing an important part of the sixth-century city. Mimar Sinan University graduate Elvis Shala, a native of Kosovo, also joined in the excavation, which lasted 70 days.

Click here to read this article from Hurriyet Daily News

Anglo-Saxon treasures uncovered at Polesworth Abbey dig

Anglo-Saxon treasures which date back as far as 700AD have been unearthed during a major archaelogical dig at a historic North Warwickshire site.

 Dating back almost 1,200 years, Polesworth Abbey, near Tamworth, a Scheduled Ancient Monument, is steeped in centuries of history – some of which has just been unearthed for the first time in hundreds of years.

 Originally a Benedictine nunnery which was founded in the 9th century by St Modwena and King Egbert, a near 200-strong team of local people, aged 12 to in their 80s, has spent the last six weeks carefully excavating land on the river side of the abbey as part of a community archaeological dig. 

Supported by a professional team from Northamptonshire Archaeology, the team’s goal was to find any secrets hidden in the soil on the site of the monastery’s former kitchen and refectory.

Click here to read this article from the Birmingham Post

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Anthropologist compares medieval lives, pre- and post-Black Death

Each time Sharon DeWitte takes a 3-foot by 1-foot archival box off the shelf at the Museum of London she hopes it will be heavy. “Heavy means you know you have a relatively complete skeleton,” said DeWitte, an anthropologist at the University of South Carolina who has spent summers examining hundreds of Medieval skeletons, each time shedding new light on the dark subject of the Black Death. 

Since 2003, DeWitte has been studying the medieval mass killer that wiped out 30 percent of Europeans and nearly half of Londoners from 1347–1351. She is among a small group of scientists devoted to decoding the ancient plague and the person researchers turn to for providing evidence from skeletal remains. Her findings may provide clues about the effects of disease on human evolution.

 “It can tell us something about the nature of human variation today and whether there is an artifact of diseases we have faced in the past. Knowing how strongly these diseases can actually shape human biology can give us tools to work with in the future to understand disease and how it might affect us,” she said.

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Wednesday, September 05, 2012

People of Medieval Scotland online database officially launched

A new interactive online database, which will make thousands of the oldest documents in Scotland’s history available to the public, has been officially launched today during an event at the University of Glasgow.

The People of Medieval Scotland (PoMS) project has catalogued over 21,000 individuals mentioned in 8,600 documents. The documents, written between 1093 and 1314, tell the story of Scotland’s transformation from a land of patchwork regions to an established kingdom with fixed borders and modern systems of government.

The records are now online and fully accessible to the public through the online database, allowing academic experts and enthusiastic amateurs alike to learn more about the period. The database will also include free software which has been specially developed for use in schools. Special interactive labs will offer history students creative ways to explore the wealth of information stored within the database.

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Search for Richard III confirms discovery of the Church of the Grey Friars

The University of Leicester team has confirmed that they have found the medieval Grey Friars Church – the burial place of Richard III.

The first two trenches dug by Leicester’s archaeologists revealed tiled passageway floors at right angles to each other which are probably the remains of a cloister. A cloister is a rectangular open space, surrounded by covered walkways, often built alongside a church that has a monastic community. Friars would walk around the cloister, deep in thought or prayer, whilst remaining dry.

If the floors revealed by the first two trenches represented two sides of the cloister, then it was believed that the large wall on the third side of the potential cloister could be the church itself. Over the weekend the team dug a third trench to the east of the first two trenches to see if the wall extended.

The archaeologists also discovered a solid mortar floor between the two walls. The third trench not only confirmed that the wall extended but also the presence of a second similar thick wall, around 7.5 metres to the north. This is the width one would expect in a medieval friary church.

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Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Archaeologists unearth ruins of 1,500-year-old Jewish town in southern Israel

Israeli archaeologists digging on the route of a planned highway have found new ruins from a 1,500-year-old Jewish town, the Israel Antiquities Authority said Sunday.

The remains of two Jewish ritual baths and two public buildings were uncovered in a salvage dig ahead of the paving of a new section of Israel’s Highway 6, a north-south toll road eventually slated to run much of the length of the country.

Both of the public buildings feature raised platforms along the walls facing Jerusalem, archaeologists say — a trademark feature of Jewish houses of prayer.

The highway will be rerouted to preserve the ruins, the IAA statement said.

Click here to read this article from The Times of Israel

Monday, September 03, 2012

Medieval barn restored as part of £8 million conservation project

One of the largest surviving medieval timber framed barns in the South East has been restored as part of an £8 million conservation project at the renowned Great Dixter estate.

 The 500-year-old Grade II* listed great barn and 19th-century oast houses at Great Dixter, in East Sussex, whose gardens were made famous by plantsman and garden writer Christopher Lloyd, will open to the public this week following major restoration work.

 A four-year conservation project, funded with the help of a £3.89 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), has also made repairs to the original medieval house and installed a ground source heat pump and biomass boiler for heating.

 And the 20th-century Dixter Farm buildings have been converted into living quarters for horticultural students and an education centre for school groups and the community. Work on the great barn by local craftsmen has included repairs to rotting timbers and decaying joists and preserved key features such as the remains of a cattle feeding trough and the threshing floor.

 Click here to read this article from the London Evening Standard

Find hints at early medieval monastery

Archaeologists exploring links among early medieval monasteries in Ireland, Britain and mainland Europe have discovered important evidence of a settlement in Co Donegal.

 The team of tutors and students from the University of Sunderland made their discovery last week during a 10-day field trip to Culdaff on the Inishowen peninsula. Using the latest in mapping equipment, they discovered a circular boundary wall, some 100 metres in diameter, buried underground in fields at Carrowmore.

 Click here to read this article from the Irish Independent