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News from the world of mediaeval archaeology

Started by duck, December 18, 2022, 07:46:21 AM

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duck

A couple of interesting press releases came to my .attention a couple of weeks ago. Some members may also find them interesting

1. The Harpole Treasure (https://www.mola.org.uk/blog/%E2%80%98once-lifetime%E2%80%99-1300-year-old-gold-and-gemstone-necklace-discovered-within-internationally).
Archaeologists from MOLA undertaking salvage excavations ahead of a housing development near Harpole uncovered a burial of a 'high status female burial' dating to around 630 – 670 CE. Among the finds was a necklace containing 30 pendants and beads made of Roman coins, gold, garnets, glass and semi-precious stones.  The centrepiece of the necklace was a rectangular pendant with a cross motif which suggests that the burial was of an early Christian leader.  According to the report the excavations also uncovered other finds. 
This had been reported by the BBC and the Guardian (and quite probably a number of other UK Newspapers) although i haven't seen in non-British papers.  The Grauniad also helpfully noted that Harpole holds an annual scarecrow festival (https://www.harpole-scarecrows.co.uk/ )

2. The intial reports of analyses of the lead sarcophaguses at Notre Dame. 
I've only seen the one article (The Guardian Newspaper) thus far. Archaeological excavations were undertaken in Notre Dame prior to the commencement of the restoration works. Back in April 2022 two lead sarcophaguses were discovered, as were parts of the original rood screen plus a whole lot of other interesting material. Earlier this month, a report on the initial analyses of the coffins was released.
One of the coffins was found to contain the remains of a man in his mid 30s who researchers have named "Le Cavalier", because the shape of his pelvic bones suggest he was a horseman. The newspaper report stated that cloth and plant material was found in the coffin and he may have been buried with a crown of flowers.  It also says that he was embalmed, which was apparently a rare practice in the middle ages.  It remains to be seen if the researchers can match him with the death register they have. 
Researchers were able to identify the remains in the second sarcophagus as Antoine de la Porte, the canon of Notre Dame Cathedral who died on Christmas Eve 1710 aged 83. Apparently he had really good teeth.  (Brings to mind Kelson or Dhugal commenting in QfSC that one of the skulls in the MacRorie Crypt had good teeth).  "Le Cavalier" had lost most of his teeth and had a whole host of other medical issues.

Laurna

The necklace is very interesting. Old Roman coins might no longer be currency, but they still had intrinsic value.
Thanks for sharing, Duck.
May your horses have wings and fly!

Evie

Wow, that Harpole necklace cross pendant is stunning! I thought before even reading the text that it looked like early Saxon work. That inlaid garnet-in-gold work is very typical for the period.

I can definitely understand why good teeth would be noteworthy by the early 1700s, since by that time sugar and sweet desserts had become such a staple of the diets of those who could afford that luxury, that dental health in the Renaissance and Restoration periods was even worse than in the Medieval centuries when honey was the only available sweetener and was used more sparingly. In those earlier centuries, the greater hazard to teeth was eventual wear due to the amount of grit that was left in bread flour during the grinding process. But cavities due to excessive amounts of sugar were much less of an issue.
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

--WARNING!!!--
I have a vocabulary in excess of 75,000 words, and I'm not afraid to use it!

Laurna

Oh yumm. not!  Grit in the bread flour along with the weevils. That had not occurred to be before. But I do like the Necklace with the inlaid garnets.
May your horses have wings and fly!

Evie

Having eaten bread made from flour ground in a medieval-style process and baked in a reconstruction of a medieval oven, it's not as bad as it sounds. It's not like eating bread made with beach sand in it, because the grit is a lot finer, but since the wheat is ground between two heavy stones, tiny powdered bits of stone end up in the flour, which isn't as noticeable as you might imagine when you're eating a slice or two, but it does end up causing more wear and tear to tooth enamel after decades of eating it daily.
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

--WARNING!!!--
I have a vocabulary in excess of 75,000 words, and I'm not afraid to use it!