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Work has been intense lately, but soon I'm off home for a week's relaxing, sewing (for a steampunk Halloween event), testing a couple of new cookie recipes, and meeting friends. I can't wait!

But first, a couple of quick links:

- “An Atlas of Medieval Combs from Northern Europe” by Steve Ashby. Published online on the open access journal Internet Archaeology.
Summary: As an aid to understanding chronology, economics, identity and culture contact, the early medieval bone/antler hair-comb is an under-exploited resource, despite the existence of an extensive literature borne out of a long-standing tradition of empirical research. Such research has been undertaken according to diverse traditions, is scattered amongst site reports and grey literature, regional, national, and international journals, and is published in a number of different languages.
The present article provides a general synthesis of this data, together with the author's personal research, situated within a broad view of chronology and geography. It presents the author's classification of early medieval composite combs, and applies this in a review of comb typology in space and time. It makes use of recently excavated material from little-known and unpublished sites, as well as the classic studies of familiar towns and 'emporia'. The atlas is intended for use as a reference piece that may be accessed according to need, and read in a non-linear fashion. Thus, it may act as a first port-of-call for scholars researching the material culture of a particular spatio-temporal context, while simultaneously facilitating rapid characterisation of freshly excavated finds material. It should provide a useful complement to recent and ongoing question-oriented research on combs.

- The UK based Medieval Dress and Textile Society (MEDSAT) has their autumn meeting Saturday 22nd October in the British Museum, London. I would have loved to go, as the theme of this meeting is "Reconstruction, Living History, Re-enactment" (programme). There are some interesting talks, and some interesting people - of any of you readers go, please let me know how it went.

- Keeping in the textile theme, the Smithsonian has developed a less destructive technique to date silk items, using the natural deterioration of silk’s amino acids to determine its age by calculating that change over time (a process known as racemization). Only a tiny millimeter-size sample is required, takes 20 minutes, and consumes only nanoliters of the amino acid mixture. The process is accurate within 50 to 100 years of the silk’s creation. How awesome is that! Even if it's not possible to do exact dating (for the Medieval and Post-medieval periods checking changes in fashion may be a better option), the small amount of silk needed makes it a far better dating method than radiocarbon.

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