Saturday, July 31, 2010

Homer Multitext project attracts Google’s attention

When Google recently touted its digitization efforts involving millions of books in hundreds of languages, it made reference to a project that Furman University classics professor Christopher Blackwell has worked on for several years.

Both Google’s official blog and Inside Google Books in recent weeks have cited and linked to information or images of the Venetus A published via the Homer Multitext.

For several years, Blackwell has worked on the Homer Multitext project as part of a team put together by Harvard’s Center for Hellenic Studies to photograph and digitize the Venetus A. The 10th century manuscript is the oldest existing copy of Homer’s Iliad.

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

Artisans, entertainers embrace medieval lifestyle at Ohio's Great Lakes Medieval Faire

Don't be put off by the nearly hourlong drive across I-90 to Geneva, Ohio. After all, the Great Lakes Medieval Faire and Marketplace near Geneva is not just a trip to another state -- it's a trip through time.

Good townspeople from around the Lake Erie come to the area's biggest 13th-century themed festival for the shows, jousts, food and -- of course -- the ye olde fun.

But beyond the gates in Rock Creek is a community of merchants, artists, entertainers and volunteers who embrace the lifestyle needed to create a world of fantasy for crowds of visitors for several weekends every summer.

Click here to read the article from

Cross find may be medieval graffiti

A medieval cross discovered chiselled into a farm wall in the Scottish town of Fife could be 13th century holy graffiti, experts have claimed.

The cross is thought to have been left by a pilgrim on his way to Dunfermline Abbey, around half a mile from where it was found.

Experts are unsure exactly why the cross was made on the stone, which was later used to build the wall, but they believe it may have been put there to mark a pilgrim's journey to visit the tomb of Saint Margaret, who was buried at the abbey in 1093.

Click here to read the article from the Glasgow Herald

Plaque in Bagillt honours Welsh prince Dafydd ap Llywelyn

A plaque commemorating a medieval prince of Wales was unveiled in Flintshire by former Plaid Cymru leader Dafydd Wigley. The plaque on the wall of the Upper Shippe pub in Bagillt remembers prince Dafydd ap Llywelyn's birth place at Castell Hen Blas.

Chairman of the Dafydd ap Llywelyn Committee, Dr Craig Owen Jones, said: “'The committee has been striving to erect a monument to remember Dafydd since our inception at the Flintshire Eisteddfod in Mold in 2007."

Click here to read the article from the North Wales Daily Post

Stolen lance found in bank manager's flat 20 years on

A priceless lance stolen 20 years ago has been discovered in a bank manager’s flat. The medieval weapon was pilfered from at Kreuzenstein Castle near Leobendorf in the province of Lower Austria in 1990.

Investigators, who never abandoned investigations into the 50,000-Euro object’s disappearance, have now found the spear in the Korneuburg flat of the bank manager.

Click here to read the article from the Austrian Times

Friday, July 30, 2010

Yorkshire Museum reopens on August 1st

The Yorkshire Museum reopens on August 1st, 2010 following a nine month, £2 million refurbishment project. Five new galleries will showcase some of Britain’s finest archaeological and natural treasures, in brand new interactive displays.

The Yorkshire Museum hopes that the extensive changes will make it must-see destination in a tour around the English city of York. The museum’s collections already include many significant medieval and ancient treausres – including The Vale of York Viking Hoard, the most significant Viking find in more than 150 years, the head of the earliest portrait statue of Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, and the famous ‘Cawood Sword’, only the fifth Viking sword of its type ever to be found and by far the best preserved, with a mysterious inscription that has never been solved.

Click here to read the article from

Excavations reveal what is believed to have been royal landing point for Wallingford Castle

Archaeologists at Wallingford believe they have discovered the wharf where royal visitors disembarked from the River Thames to visit the town’s medieval castle.

Experts from Leicester and Exeter universities are in the town for the third year running, hoping to uncover more of Wallingford’s hidden secrets.

They are carrying out extensive excavations at Queen’s Arbour, on the edge of the castle site and next to the River Thames, after geophysical surveys two years ago indicated something hidden underground.

Now the archaeologists, joined by a dozen volunteers from the town’s museum, have discovered what they believe to be an ancient quay, once used to bring goods and visitors to the castle.

Click here to read the article from the Oxford Times

Study examines the same-sex relationships of Medieval Arab Women

A recent article suggests that lesbian activities of women in the medieval Arab world were far more common and open than is commonly believed, or would be considered acceptable in today’s Middle East. In the article, “Medieval Arab Lesbians and Lesbian-Like Women,” Sahar Amer describes the large amount of material related to this topic, as well as the difficulty in accessing some of these records.

Click here to read this news article from

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Carola Hicks

Carola Hicks, who has died of cancer aged 68, was a glamorous academic and a serious populariser of art. She created something new in the world of contemporary biography, writing the life stories and afterlives of iconic works of art such as the Bayeux tapestry and the stained-glass windows of King's College Chapel, Cambridge. She swept the dust off old masterpieces, explained their cultural contexts and infused them with life for a new public.

Her book, The Bayeux Tapestry: The Life Story of a Masterpiece (2006), was the first of her innovative biographies of works of art. Carola brought fresh insights to this medieval strip cartoon and instrument of political propaganda. Most groundbreaking was her investigation of the afterlife of the Bayeux tapestry: its rediscovery by 18th-century antiquarians, its survival though the French revolution, its reinvention by the pre-Raphaelites, its skewed interpretation by over-reachers from Napoleon to Heinrich Himmler.

Click here to read this obituary from The Guardian

Lost medieval bibles found at Hill Museum & Manuscript Library

Complete microfilms of two early medieval Spanish Bibles dating from the 9th and 10th century that were damaged or destroyed during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) have been found in the microfilm vault of the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library in Minnesota. Before the discovery of the microfilms, scholars thought the two Bibles, known as Codex Complutensis I and Codex Complutensis II, survived only in fragments or in one or two slides.

The two manuscript Bibles, which belong to the Library of the Universidad Complutense in Madrid, are considered important examples of Mozarabic art, a style that combined Visigothic and Muslim elements and was produced by Christian communities who lived under Muslim rule after the Muslims conquered Spain in 711. The decoration of the manuscripts shows such Arabic influences as zoomorphic initials and Arabic arches.

Click here to read this article from

Art of yore

Through painstaking research, historically accurate technical detail and participation in the Society for Creative Anachronism, Vancouver artist Sharow Burrows seeks the visionary feminine side of the Middle Ages.

In a cheerfully cluttered home studio on Vancouver's East Side, artist Sharon Burrows is busy re-creating the arts and crafts of the Middle Ages. Burrows, a retired Jungian-oriented therapist, creates authentic hand-bound parchment books, illuminated scrolls, Byzantine-style icon paintings and delicate embroidery.

The dazzling art works reflect Burrows' enchantment with the past and what its arts and crafts have to tell us about past eras and the human condition.

Reflecting a lifelong interest in feminism, women's history and spirituality, Burrows has focused much of her art work on the figure of Saint Mary Magdalene.

The first illuminated manuscript book she hand-crafted, in 1997, was about the life of the saint. The leather bound text is graced by a loving copy of an icon-style portrait Burrows first saw years ago in Florence. The original is by the 13th-century Italian artist known as the Master of the Magdalene. The book features other illustrations done in a similar visual style and a text, the Legend of Mary, done in classic medieval calligraphy.

Click here to read this article from the Vancouver Courier

Russians to mark Day of Baptizing of Kievan Rus

Russia is marking for the first time in its history the Day of Baptizing of Kievan Rus – a new ‘commemorative date’ that has been established to commemorate the Grand Duke Vladimir, who adopted Eastern Orthodox Christianity as the official religion of the early medieval duchy of Rus.

“The establishing of the Christian faith in the olden Rus helped promote the consolidation and flourishing of the state and exerted a great influence on the maintenance of Russia’s unity at knotty periods of history,” members of the upper house of Russian parliament said in their decision as they added July 28 to the list of commemorative dates.

Click here to read the article from the ITAR-TASS News Agency

Medieval skeleton found in Austria

Ancient bones have been discovered during construction work near Graz Castle.

Manfred Lehner of the Archaeological Institute at city’s university said today (Wednesday) the human remains were found by workers at a building site outside the castle walls yesterday.

The scientist explained: "The human skeleton could derive from medieval times - maybe from the 13th or 14th century. But it will take us some time to clarify any details."

Click here to read this article from the Austrian Independent

L’Anse aux Meadows site celebrates 50 years since discovery

Last week the government of Canada marked the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the Viking remains at the L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland. The national historic and World Heritage site was discovered by Helge and Anne Stine Instad, and their guide, local fisherman George Decker, in 1960.

Celebrations were held on July 21st at the community of L’anse aux Meadows. Descendants of Helge and Anne Stine Ingstad and George Decker then led an expedition across the barrens of L’Anse aux Meadows to the Norse archaeological site, retracing the steps of their families 50 years ago. The group was then joined by invited guests, community members and an enthusiastic group of visitors to officially commemorate the discovery on-site.

Click here to read this article on

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Medieval festival scores tourism award in Australia

The Abbey Medieval Festival has won the Festivals and Events section at the inaugural Moreton Bay and Islands Tourism Awards. The week-long event held at Caboolture in July last year, which culminated in the two-day Medieval Tournament, impressed a panel of industry experts.

Entrants were assessed on a 30-page questionnaire and site visits. The category was open to events that created a substantial economic impact within their community, attracted visitors from elsewhere in the state and/or interstate, generated a regional media profile and promoted the destination.

Click here to read the article from the Caboolture Shire Herald

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Women workers could be found on the medieval construction site, study finds

According to a recently published study, women could be found working on construction sites, if only occasionally, including in specialized roles such as carpenters and masons. The research is found in the article, “Appropriate to Her Sex?” Women’s Participation on the Construction Site in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, by Shelley E. Roff.

She surveyed a wide variety of records from throughout Western Europe, including tax records, inventories of wages paid on construction sites, and municipal accounts, and discovered numerous instances of women working alongside men on construction sites as far back at the 13th century.

Click here to read this news article from

Monday, July 26, 2010

Chinese archaeologists' African quest for sunken ship of Ming admiral

It's another chapter in the now familiar story of China's economic embrace of Africa. Except that this one begins nearly 600 years ago.

A team of 11 Chinese archaeologists will arrive in Kenya tomorrow to begin the search for an ancient shipwreck and other evidence of commerce with China dating back to the early 15th century. The three-year, £2m joint project will centre around the tourist towns of Lamu and Malindi and should shed light on a largely unknown part of both countries' histories.

The sunken ship is believed to have been part of a mighty armada commanded by Ming dynasty admiral Zheng He, who reached Malindi in 1418. According to Kenyan lore, reportedly backed by recent DNA testing, a handful of survivors swum ashore. After killing a python that had been plaguing a village, they were allowed to stay and marry local women, creating a community of African-Chinese whose descendants still live in the area.

Click here to read the rest of the article from the Guardian

Fire damages medieval church in England

Fire crews were called to St Mary at the Elms church in Ipswich town centre at 8.30am on Saturday.

Flames were seen billowing from the tower, which is thought to date from Tudor times and includes the oldest working clock in Ipswich.

Firefighters were able to prevent flames spreading to the medieval church building but the fire caused “severe” damage to the insides of the tower.

Ann Peters, the church Sacrisant, who lives opposite the building, said: “I looked out of my window and there was fire coming from the top of the tower. It was an ‘oh my God’ moment.

“The firefighters did a brilliant job to stop it spreading. They were also very brave - at the top of the tower are five disused bells - I was frightened they could come crashing down.”

Click here to read the report from the East Anglian Daily Times

Click here to read to report from the BBC, with video

Ruins of medieval church unearthed in Switzerland

The remains of a medieval church have been discovered under the town of Moutier in canton Bern. The centrepiece of the ruins is a 66cm-wide wall and part of a rounded apse. Another room and a fitting that could be the foundation of an altar were also uncovered. Archaeologists said the shape of the wall clearly suggested it had been a church.

Judging from the ruins, the former church was estimated to be 6.5 metres wide and seven metres long. A wooden building was also found on the site.

Click here to read the article from Swissinfo

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Rare Textus Roffensis on display at Rochester Cathedral

An Anglo Saxon manuscript said to have inspired the Magna Carta is going on display in Kent this week. The Textus Roffensis, dated 1123 AD, was named best hidden treasure by the British Library in 2007.

The display of the manuscript in Rochester Cathedral's crypt coincides with an academic conference at the University of Kent's Medway Campus. It was written by a monk in St Andrew's Priory at the cathedral, and contains legal and monastery records.

The manuscript last went on public display six years ago, and can be seen from 26 to 28 July.

Click here to read the news article from BBC

See also Textus Roffensis: Law, Language and Libraries in Early Medieval England – conference at the University of Kent

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Medieval prison’s future as an attraction

A historic prison which has operated in a castle for centuries looks set to close.

Lancaster Castle, parts of which date back to the 12th century, is thought to be the only prison and court still operating in a medieval castle.

But the building in the city centre is also a popular tourist destination and theatre venue, which is said to have become outdated and too expensive to maintain.

Talks are currently taking place between the Ministry of Justice, Lancaster Council and the Duchy of Lancaster, which owns the castle, about ending its use as a prison.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice, said: “We have entered discussions with the Duchy of Lancaster and the local council about the future of HMP Lancaster Castle because it is outdated and expensive to run.

“As the previous Chief Inspector of Prisons made clear, it is difficult to run a modern training prison in a medieval castle....

Click here to read the article from the Lancashire Evening Post

Château de Guédelon

Eleven years ago, John Lichfield witnessed the birth of Château de Guédelon, the 13th-century castle being built by hand in modern day France. This week he went back to see how work is progressing.

The Château de Guédelon is not a film set; it is not a restoration; it is not a hey-nonny-no-medieval theme-park. It is an exercise in archaeology in reverse: discovery by building up, not by digging down. By 2023, it will be a full-sized castle with battlements and a moat and six towers.

When The Independent last visited the site in 1999, there were already impressive beginnings to the towers and curtain walls. Eleven years later, the castle "ordered" by the fictitious Seigneur Guilbert in 1228 (actually 1997), has risen magnificently, and movingly, from the red clay and deep forests of north-west Burgundy.

Click here to read the article from The Independent

Friday, July 23, 2010

Warburg Institute, Saved From Nazis, Faces Bureaucratic Threat

A great cultural foundation that was saved from the Nazis is now under threat from a different, more insidious menace: the bureaucratic policies of modern British higher education.

The Warburg Institute at London University is renowned throughout the scholarly world for its remarkable library, founded over a century ago. Yet today its existence as an independent entity is in doubt, and may be decided in court.

The story is a long and sad one. “Everybody has a feeling of disbelief that we have got to this point,” the director of the Warburg, Charles Hope, said in an interview. “The university has said that it wishes to change the Trust Deed, according to which the Warburg was originally handed over to the University of London in 1944, and is talking to its lawyers -- and we are talking to our lawyers.”

Click here to read the article from Bloomberg

See also our earlier article Professor Peter Mack appointed Director of Warburg Institute

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Winthrop University begins offering Medieval Studies minor

Undergraduate students attending Winthrop University in South Carolina can now study for a new minor program: medieval studies.

Approved in April 2009, the 18-hour interdisciplinary minor offers three dozen courses – both existing and newly created – that are particularly useful to students studying fields such as history; English; political science; philosophy and religious studies; art history; music; theatre and dance; and modern languages.

Click here to read the article on

Unique Class to Explore Medieval Sculpture Exhibit

This fall, University of Texas at Dallas students will have an unprecedented opportunity to learn about The Mourners medieval sculpture exhibit at the Dallas Museum of Art from an all-star roster of scholars.

Dr. Rick Brettell, the UT Dallas Margaret McDermott Distinguished Chair of Art and Aesthetics, will teach the course jointly with two Southern Methodist University medieval literature and history professors, Dr. Bonnie Wheeler and Dr. Jeremy Adams.

Scholars from Queen’s College, Rutgers University, The University of Illinois, Bowdoin College, Trinity University and the University of Iowa will also lecture.

The seminar – Majesty, Memory and Mourning in the Late Middle Ages – is open to UT Dallas undergraduate and graduate students and will meet weekly at the DMA from Aug. 27 to Dec. 2.

Click here to read this article from the University of Texas website

Professor Peter Mack appointed Director of Warburg Institute

Peter Mack, Professor of English at the University Warwick, has been appointed as the new Director of the Warburg Institute at the University of London.

He will begins his appointment on October 1, 2010, overseeing one of the most important academic institutions for the study of the influence of classical antiquity on all aspects of European civilization, particularly the medieval and Renaissance periods.

Click here to read the article on

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Pillars of the Earth – the Amplified Edition

The Amplified Edition of Ken Follett’s international bestselling novel The Pillars of the Earth has been released by Penguin Books and Starz. It combines the novel with new content from the upcoming mini-series. This electronic edition is available for the iPad, iPhone and iPod in the United States.

Beyond just offering an e-version of the novel, the amplified edition showcases exclusive videos with the author about his research and the process of bringing his book to the screen, and an innovative Character Tree that provides a remarkable aid to keeping the story’s myriad characters straight.

Click here to read the article from

Bulgarian Medieval Castle Might Be Protected by UNESCO

The South African Ambassador in Bulgaria, Sheila Camerer has announced that there is a possibility for the medieval fortress in the Bulgarian city of Vidin, “Baba Vida”, to be included in the protected sites by UNESCO.

Camerer has stated that during the weekend nearly 500 tourists have visited the fortress in the northwestern city.

“Baba Vida” is the primary landmark of Vidin. It consists of two fundamental walls and four towers and is said to be the only entirely preserved medieval castle in the country.

Click here to read the article from the Sofia News Agency

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Checkmate! Medieval People at Play – Manuscript Exhibition Examines Aspects of Play in Medieval Society

We are all familiar with praying monks, but playing monks? A Book of Hours from Flanders finds them deep in a game of “Blind Man’s Bluff,” while on the opposite page peasant boys enjoy a rigorous game of hockey. Such delightful images of play are unexpectedly ubiquitous in medieval manuscripts. Neither stodgy nor perpetually pious, medieval people found time for amusement in the margins of their lives and their manuscripts.

This is the theme for a new exhibition at The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. Checkmate! Medieval People at Play looks at many different aspects of medieval play, including board games, sports, free play, visual ciphers and even games of love.

Click here to read the news article on

York's Barley Hall celebrates 650th anniversary

It’s survived the Black Death, a siege during England’s civil war and second world war air raids and still the medieval Barley Hall in York is standing strong and preparing to mark its 650th anniversary this weekend.

York Archaeological Trust, owners of York’s restored Barley Hall town house, is inviting visitors to experience two weekends of dance, plays, medieval games and birthday cake on 23rd and 24th July to mark 650 years of its existence....

Click here to read the article on

The English Parish Church through the Centuries

A new digital resource created by the University of York has been released which will provide teaching and learning resources about the history of parish churches since Anglo-Saxon times.

An interactive DVD “The English Parish Church through the Centuries: daily life and spirituality, art and architecture, literature and music”, produced by Christianity and Culture at the University of York, traces the development of the country’s most iconic ecclesiastical buildings across the centuries.

Click here to read the article on

Pillar of Eliseg: Archaeologists dig beneath 9th Century monument

Archaeologists start excavations on a suspected ancient burial site to try to understand the significance of a Llangollen landmark on which it stands.

But the team will have to work carefully because the 9th Century Pillar of Eliseg, a Cadw-protected ancient monument, stands directly on top of the barrow - burial mound - and the archaeologists can't disturb it.

Medieval archaeology Professor Nancy Edwards, from Bangor University, says it is the first time the site has been dug since 1773 when, it is believed, a skeleton was unearthed.

"We are trying to date the barrow in its broader archaeological context," she said, as the site could date back to the Bronze Age.

Click here to read this article on BBC News

Monday, July 19, 2010

Roman Theatre, Cistercian Monastery, win EU Conservation award

The Roman Theatre in Cartagena, Spain, and Le Collège des Bernardins in Paris, France were among two of the three Grand Prix winners at the European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards, which were held last month in Istanbul.

The awards, which were held in the 6th century Byzantine church, Aya Irini (Hagia Eirene), were to celebrate the extraordinary initiatives within the field of Europe’s cultural heritage with the aim to promote high standards and high-quality skills in conservation practice.

Click here to read the article on History of the Ancient World

What's 'medieval' about stoning people to death?

I was pleased to hear today that Sakineh Ashtiani, an Iranian lady convicted of adultery by one of that hellhole’s kangaroo courts, will not now be stoned to death, though it is still possible that she will be judicially murdered in some other way. (My reading of the Koran is that the Prophet demanded that four male Muslim witnesses had actually seen the act in progress before an adultery charge could be proved; but who am I, a benighted Anglican, to comment?)

Thanks are also due to prominent figures around the world who spoke up for Mrs Ashtiani, including our own William Hague. I don’t want to qualify my praise by carping, but I do take issue with Mr Hague’s choice of language. In condemning the proposed execution, he called death by stoning a “medieval punishment”. Following Mr Liam Fox’s dismissal of Afghanistan as “a broken 13th-century society”, one begins to wonder just what the new government has against the period.

Click here to read this article from The Telegraph

Novelist reinvents Robin Hood as medieval gangster

Robin Hood was a medieval Don Corleone rather than the altruistic renegade aristocrat known to millions around the world, says British novelist Angus Donald.

Donald is working on a quintet of Robin Hood novels, the first of which "Outlaw" was published in July 2009. The second in the series is titled "Holy Warrior," set during the Third Crusade in the 12th Century and due out in Britain on July 22.

He spoke to Reuters about the Robin Hood legend and the latest film version on the sidelines of the Semana Negra (Noir Week) crime writing festival in Gijon, northern Spain, which is one of the biggest literary fairs in Europe.

Read the interview from Reuters

Sunday, July 18, 2010

2,200 'knights' reenact medieval battle in Poland

Some 2,200 "knights" from across Europe donned suits of armour, flowing capes and linen shirts on Sunday to reenact one of medieval Europe's bloodiest battles.The Battle of Grunwald, which took place 600 years ago, still raises emotions among Poles and Lithuanians, who it as a symbol of national pride.

The nights sweat it out during the hour-long reenactment held in a meadow at the village of Grunwald, northern Poland, where Poles, Lithuanians and Tatars united to defeat invading Teutonic Knights in 1410. The spectacle drew 100,000 tourists, leading to traffic jams several miles long and several serious car accidents, the Polish Press Agency PAP reported.

Click here to read the full article from the Earth Times

Click here to read 'Poland celebrates 600th anniversary of the Battle of Grunwald' from

900-year-old Byzantine church discovered in Turkey

A 900-year-old Byzantine church has been unearthed in the ancient city of Myra located in the town of Demre in the southern Turkish province of Antalya.

Professor Engin Akyürek from Istanbul University's Art History Department, who is also responsible for the Byzantine period artifacts unearthed during the ongoing excavations at Myra, told Anatolia on Wednesday that a well-preserved Byzantine church had been found six meters below ground level at the ancient site.

Akyürek said the five-meter-wide and 10-meter-high temple dome had been partially destroyed, but the tiles on the roof were still in good condition. "The church most probably belongs to the 12th century A.D., but we will be able to determine its exact period once we enter the building," Akyürek said.

Click here to read the full article from Hurriyet Daily News

Saturday, July 17, 2010

New light on Leonardo Da Vinci’s faces

How did Leonardo Da Vinci manage to paint such perfect faces? For the first time a quantitative chemical analysis has been done on seven paintings from the Louvre Museum (including the Mona Lisa) without extracting any samples. This shows the composition and thickness of each layer of material laid down by the painter. The results reveal that, in the case of glazes, thin layers of 1 to 2 micrometers have been applied. The study, led by the team of Philippe Walter, of the “Laboratoire du Centre de Recherche et de Restauration des Musées de France” (LC2RMF, CNRS/Ministère de la culture et de la communication), with the collaboration of the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) and the support of the Louvre Museum, is published in the July 15th, 2010 issue of the journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition....

Click here to read this article on

Ground Mouse and Cheese Mold: Looking for Medical Miracles in Medieval Manuscripts

Did monks in the Middle Ages know more about medicine than we thought? A German medical historian is combing medieval manuscripts looking for recipes that could be helpful today. Pharmaceutical companies have taken a keen interest in his research.

"This medication is delicious," says Johannes Mayer, 56, looking ecstatic. "And it actually helps against digestive disorders and colds."

Its composition is as surprising as its effect: Caraway soaked in vinegar, dates pickled in red wine, dried ginger and green pepper. All of this is crushed with a mortar and pestle and combined with baking soda and honey to make a sticky paste. The name of the remedy is also odd: Diaspolis. "We have no idea what this is supposed to mean," says Mayer, a medical historian. "The scribe apparently made a mess of things."

Mayer, a renowned expert on medieval monastic medicine, is sitting in a neon-lit room full of overflowing bookshelves in the Würzburg Institute of the History of Medicine. Detailed copies of handwritten documents from the Middle Ages are on the desk in front of him. His favorite recipe, with its strange name, is from the "Lorsch pharmacopoeia," the oldest existing book of monastic medicine, written around 795 A.D., in the Lorsch Imperial Abbey near the southwestern German city of Worms....

Click here to read this article from Der Spiegel

Medieval festival at Gásir, Iceland

The annual medieval festival at Gásir, an ancient trading point near Akureyri in north Iceland, will take place this weekend. Booths are currently being set up where people dressed in medieval outfits will sell their handicrafts or demonstrate ancient work methods.

“The market will vibrate with life,” Haraldur Ingi Haraldsson, “mayor” of Gásir, told Morgunbladid. “People will demonstrate sulphur cleaning, clay production and repair of utilities. Bows and arrows will be made and ball games played.”

Gásir is located by Eyjafjördur fjord at the mouth of Hörgá river, 11 kilometers north of Akureyri. It was a trading point in the middle ages and probably the most international location in Iceland at that time—foreign merchants came there to sell their goods.

Click here to read the full article from Iceland Review Online

Friday, July 16, 2010

China takes steps to develop cultural heritage tourism

The China National Tourism Administration and the State Administration of Cultural Heritage have signed a strategic cooperation framework agreement to jointly enhance cooperation and consultation in the fields of tourism development and the preservation of cultural relics.

Pursuant to the agreement, the two parties will cooperate in six aspects. First, set up a working group to coordinate the country's cultural heritage tourism business and to jointly solve the problems of cultural heritage tourism. Second, conduct joint research and investigation on cultural heritage tourism, with the aim of publishing a "China National Cultural Heritage Development Report" by the end of each five-year plan. Third, jointly hold a "national cultural heritage protection and tourism development working conference to arrange work for the next stage of the project....

Click here to read the article from Global Times

York Archaeological Trust hopes to win award

The Hollywood Oscars are still a few months away but the York Archaeological Trust is waiting with bated breath to hear whether it has won the archaeology equivalent. They are eagerly awaiting the outcome of the prestigious British Archaeological Awards for which they have been shortlisted under the “Best Archaeological Innovation” category.

Click here to read the article on

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Poland celebrates 600th anniversary of the Battle of Grunwald

The county of Poland is marking the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Grunwald, which helped to secure the country’s independence, with various celebrations and re-enactments. Among those who took part in ceremonies were Polish president-elect Bronislaw Komorowski, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite and the Grand Master of the Order of Teutonic Knights, bishop Bruno Platter.

Events were held today in Krakow as well as the battlefield of Grunwald, which is known by Germans as Tannenberg and Lithuanians as Žalgiris....

Click here to read the story on

Hidden vault discovered under church

It had remained hidden for centuries.

But the entrance to a 500-year-old vault beneath a medieval Suffolk church has been discovered after a woman accidentally stamped her foot through one of the floor tiles.

While rehearsing a scene from an upcoming performance of the musical Quasimodo at St Mary's Church, in Redgrave, near Diss, actor Kathy Mills dislodged a marble flagstone near the altar and her foot disappeared into a dark void below.

Mrs Mills, who is in her 60s, suffered a swollen ankle, but the pain soon subsided when she was later told she had uncovered a tomb never seen in living memory with coffins inside suspected to contain the remains of the village's past aristocracy.

Click here to read the article from the Norfolk Eastern Daily Press

Armor makers busy ahead of Medieval battle replay

Just like his Medieval counterparts 600 years ago armourer Tomasz Samula has hardly any time to outfit his knights before battle commences.

Samula is racing to add the final touches to the metal breastplates, helmets, gloves and other accoutrements needed by the Lublin knights before they take part in re-enacting Grunwald, one of the largest battles of the Medieval age.

Saturday, thousands of re-enactors will become the knights, infantry, artillerymen and other combatants of the Polish-Lithuanian army and the Teutonic Knights who they defeated in a massive battle on a field near this Polish village in 1410....

Click here to read the article from Reuters

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Arabian Routes: Archaeology and History of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia exhibition begins at the Louvre

The Louvre unveiled a new exhibition today to showcase the ancient and medieval history of Saudi Arabia. ‘Arabian Routes: Archaeology and History of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’, will showcase over 350 artifacts dating back to the Islamic and pre-Islamic periods, many of which have never left the country before.

The exhibition is the result of efforts by the French and Saudi governments to foster better ties. In 2006, the prestigious Paris museum allowed its masterpieces of Islamic art to go on display at the National Museum in Riyadh, and this event is considered the return visit....

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Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece restored

Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece The Virgin of the Rocks has gone back on display at the National Gallery in London, England, after 18 months of specialist conservation work. The painting had been covered with a layer of badly discoloured varnish from the late 1940s. Following expert cleaning, the painting has been restored to its former glory and has revealed new details about how Leonardo created this work....

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Historian examines medieval grafitti at IMC

Scholars attending the International Medieval Congress at the University of Leeds heard today about the role of graffiti in the Middle Ages. In 2010, graffiti is widely seen as an eyesore and an act of vandalism, holding for many distinctly negative connotations. Like today, graffiti was common in the medieval society. However, it held an entirely different significance...

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Texas Medieval Association hosts 20th Annual Meeting in September

The Twentieth Annual Meeting of the Texas Medieval Association will be taking place this year at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, from September 24-26, 2010.

n the call for papers the organizers note that this year’s theme is “Majesty, Memory, and Mourning in the Middle Ages,” but that papers are welcomed on all aspects of medieval history and culture, including medieval art, languages, literature, medievalism, and music....

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Historian Wins Grant for Study of Medieval Automata

Elly Truitt, Assistant Professor of History at Bryn Mawr College, has received a Scholar’s Award from the National Science Foundation to fund a year’s time doing research for and writing her new book, tentatively titled Magical Mechanisms: Automata in the Medieval West.

“Automata—artificial objects that are, or appear to be, self-moving—were culturally significant in medieval Europe,” says Truitt in describing her research subject. “They appear as diplomatic gifts from distant rulers to European courts; in stories and legends and chronicles of distant lands and times; as manifestations of esoteric and sometimes forbidden knowledge; in courtly settings of great luxury; attached to monumental clockworks; as examples of technological innovation, and in the service of the Church.”

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Historians locate King Arthur's Round Table

Researchers exploring the legend of Britain’s most famous Knight believe his stronghold of Camelot was built on the site of a recently discovered Roman amphitheatre in Chester. Legend has it that his Knights would gather before battle at a round table where they would receive instructions from their King.

But rather than it being a piece of furniture, historians believe it would have been a vast wood and stone structure which would have allowed more than 1,000 of his followers to gather. Historians believe regional noblemen would have sat in the front row of a circular meeting place, with lower ranked subjects on stone benches grouped around the outside.

They claim rather than Camelot being a purpose built castle, it would have been housed in a structure already built and left over by the Romans....

Click here to read the article from the Daily Telegraph

Conservation work begins on the medieval village of Barforth

Urgent repairs to three buildings that are the last traces of a lost medieval village in the English county of Durham are now underway, and this week there is a chance for the public to join the restoration experts at work...

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Medieval Multitasking: Did We Ever Focus? Medieval mashups and Enlightenment concentration.

Since the early 1990s, both medievalists and electronic media theorists have pointed to the hypertexted quality of medieval illuminated manuscripts in making complementary claims: medievalists to continuing cultural relevancy and electronic media theorists in continuity to literary tradition. The medieval books we admire so much today are distinguished by the remarkable visual images, in the body of a text and in the margins, that scholars have frequently compared to hypertexted images on internet “pages.”...

Click here to read the full text of this article from Religion Dispatches

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Long Lost Michelangelo Sculpture Found

A sandstone sculpture of a kneeling man sharpening a knife could be a long forgotten work by Michelangelo, according to an Italian scholar who has rediscovered the statue in a private collection.

Measuring 111 centimeters (3.65 feet), the statue is now on display for the first time after more than 120 years at the exhibition, “And There Was Light. The Masters of the Renaissance,” in Göteborg, Sweden.

The powerful sculpture is a copy of a marble statue known as the “Arrotino” (the Blade-Sharpener) on display at the Uffizi gallery in Florence....

Click here to read the full article from Discovery News

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Is Jousting the Next Extreme Sport?

The gates of the Gulf Coast International Jousting Championships opened at 6 p.m. one Friday in January at a 4,500-seat arena 13 miles outside Pensacola, Florida. Some of the spectators were dressed in leather doublets and velvet gowns; some wore jeans and cowboy hats or American-flag-patterned do-rags. Most seemed to have come out of idle curiosity rather than any previous knowledge of the sport. “From what I hear, the combat’s going to be smackin’,” a man named Paul Johnson told me, punching his knuckles together. He estimated he had seen the movie “A Knight’s Tale” a couple dozen times, and he hoped this event would measure up. He leaned over to a man in front of him. “When they ride in, are they going to be hitting really hard?” he asked....

Click here to read the full text of this article from the New York Times

See also our Video Interview with Shane Adams

The Sephardic Frontier: The Reconquista and the Jewish Community in Medieval Iberia

When Jonathan Ray looks at history, he’s not looking for easy answers. In his efforts to piece together the daily lives and identities of medieval Jews living in Christian and Muslim territories, he’s found that “the norm is something a little bit messier, [a little bit] more complex” than many might imagine.

Ray is the Samuel Eig Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies in the Theology Department at Georgetown. His latest book, The Sephardic Frontier: The Reconquista and the Jewish Community in Medieval Iberia, recently received the prestigious John Nichols Brown Prize from the Medieval Academy of America, presented annually for the best first book on any topic in Medieval Studies. The prize committee applauded "Ray's exceptional book” and its interdisciplinary approach that “brings an entirely new dimension that will encourage future researchers to look beyond accepted models.” They continue, “It is a book that many medievalists, whether Iberianists or not, will want to know and share, as a model, with their students."

Click here to read the full article from Georgetown University

Friday, July 09, 2010

Kaltenberg Ritterturnier (Knight’s Tournament) in Munich

The parade winds its way around the Bavarian wood, a raggle-taggle brigade of shining knights and blushing maidens, jesters, witches and a tanned strongman with a smile as steely as his pectorals. Watching children hop up and down on their fathers’ shoulders in delight as three grey camels glide by, followed by two burly oxen.

A bright bugle call opens the day at the Kaltenberg Ritterturnier (Knight’s Tournament), the largest medieval festival of its kind in Europe. Over 100,000 visitors pass through the medieval gate leading to Kaltenberg Castle near Munich which, for one month each summer, is the door to another world....

Click here to read the full article from the Irish Times

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Early Medieval Hanging Bowl Discovered

A large well-preserved copper alloy vessel was discovered by a metal detectorist in the vicinity of Wetherby, North Yorkshire and taken to staff at York Archaeological Trust, who were fascinated by this Early Medieval enigma...

Click here to read the full article on the Council of British Archaeology website

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Recession hurts efforts to preserve heritage buildings in England

English Heritage has published its annual Heritage at Risk Register today, which shows a significant slow-down in the number of historic buildings being saved from neglect and decay prompting fears that England might lose the very thing which makes it most special in the eyes of the world and could help to underpin economic recovery. They include a number of sites dating back to the Middle Ages....

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Late Antiquity Synagogue discovered in Galilee

Archaeologists working on the Kinneret Regional Project in Galilee have discovered an ancient synagogue, in use at around 400 CE. Combined with recent finds of other ancient religious sites in the area, this discovery adds new evidence for a very tight net of synagogues in a relatively small area on the northwestern shores of the Lake of Galilee...

Click here to read the full article on History of the Ancient World

Monday, July 05, 2010

Public asked to help created world’s largest archive on Anglo-Saxon England

An Oxford academic has challenged the public to help create the world’s largest archive of online material concerned with the Anglo-Saxons, after being inspired by the considerable interest shown in last year’s discovery of the Staffordshire hoard....

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Friday, July 02, 2010

Oxford Dictionary of the Middle Ages now published after 12-year project

A project to create a new reference work about the Middle Ages has just been completing with the publishing of the Oxford Dictionary of the Middle Ages. The four volume encyclopedia contains over 5000 entries, which covers for all key aspects of medieval history, society, religion, and culture, c. 500 to c. 1500....

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