ossamenta: Text: Women and geeks first! Oh no wait that's all of us. (Women and geeks first)
2013-04-17 08:54 pm
Entry tags:

Something for the textile nerds

I read today on A stitch in time that the Danish re-enactor Maria Lind Heel has started a crowdfunding project to get the needlebound mitten from Ribe radiocarbon dated. The mitten, found in the 1950s, has only been dated to "Medieval" which, quite frankly, isn't good enough if you want to discuss the spread of stitch types. And as there are relatively few needlebound items out there, every information is worth a lot for researchers.

I've tried needlebinding (aka nålbindning, naalbinding) myself, but never got enough good that I could actually make anything. Trouble with the tension, and the only way to get better is to practice. Sadly, I didn't have time to practice enough, as my life is full of so many other things. Still, reading Maria's blog makes me realise how much you can find out about needlebinding. All the different stitches, and their place in time and space. What we know was made with needlebinding and what we think was not (how do you actually prove a negative...). I'm not even sure what stitch I was using when I tried it.

So, to help a fellow textil nerd out, I donated some money for the project. If you want to do the same, the page is here: http://www.booomerang.dk/projects/stot-datering-af-den-nalebundne-vante-fra-middelalderens-ribe/

The site is in Danish, but the relevant parts have been translated to English.
ossamenta: Weasel skull (Default)
2012-11-24 06:37 pm

Craft conference report

Going to the EAA conference whetted my appetite for conferences as a means to soak the brain in interesting knowledge and meeting interesting people. So at the beginning of November I went to the Craft and people conference in London. The conference aimed at exploring ways to approach the craftspeople behind the objects, studying (for example) status within the community, transferral of skills, and degree of aptitude. It might not be particularly within my work role, but it could mean useful things for the theoretical side of my Ph.D. proposal, and of course, there’s always the possibility for useful connections with other archaeologists.

The talks were very interesting, even if admittedly slightly biased towards Bronze Age and the Ancient Near East, neither a thing I’m that particularly interested in per se. But what I liked was that several of the speakers and poster presenters were skilled craftspersons themselves, for example Barbara Armbruster (goldsmith), Andrew Appleby* (potter), Katarina Botwid (potter) and Giovanna Fregni (bronze smith). It’s so easy to dabble in a craft (or several) which gives you a fair bit of knowledge, but usually not enough to realise just how little you know.

There is a publication planned, so if you are interested, keep an eye out for it (hopefully next year).

*: The only one, iirc, who wasn’t an archaeologist himself.

Some of the interesting things under cut )
ossamenta: Weasel skull (Default)
2012-07-04 07:21 pm

Misc. links

I have re-surfaced after a really fun dance weekend, and while I am still very tired and have sore feet (it was so worth it!), there's no rest for the wicked (nor for anyone else either), as the big EEK project continues. Luckily I have been given an extended deadline, which was very welcome. I'm still in the recording stage, so I can't tell you if there's anything very interesting there, as these things usually first show up when you start number crunching.

But I've seen some interesting stuff online:

- Medieval horse harness with lots of bling found in Ireland. I'd love to see it in person, or, better yet, a reconstruction so you can see how shiny it would have been when it was in use.

- Excavations in northern Germany seem to have found the remains of Sliasthorp, a town connected to the Norse elite of the area. Sliasthorp lies near the trading centre Haithabu/Hedeby, similar to the situation of Adelsö and Birka in Sweden (possibly Uppåkra and Lund as well, although Lund was founded much later). This suggests that the founding of these trading places may have been directly associated with the elite rather than with traders. The trading places would also have been under control of the elite.

- And if you're interested in Flemish archaeology, Onroerend Erfgoed (the Flemish equivalent of English Heritage) has put up several of their publications online, which you can both search and browse. There is no English version of the site, but it seems fairly straightforward.

- The knitted 16th century cap collection of the Museum of London is now online. 73 caps, coifs, cap fragments, linings and earpieces have been photographed, with captions containing contextual and technical information. To browse the caps, please go to the Collections Online and enter ‘cap’ in the Keyword field with the date range 1500-1600 in the search fields.

- The seventh conference on experimental archaeology will take place in january 2013 at the University of Cardiff, Wales. Papers on any any topic related to experimental archaeology are welcome, but those that touch on the relationship between experimental and experiential* approaches are particularly welcome.The deadline for papers is July, although the webpage doesn't state if it's the first of the month or the end of the month. Hopefully the latter.

*: An experiment can be repeated by the same researcher or others. Experiential archaeology is about the experience, for example building an Iron Age house and live in it to see how the construction worked in practice. What most of the re-enactment community call experimental archaeology is in fact experiential.

- And a very interesting post from Bones don't lie discusses new research on using stable isotopes for sexing human remains. While there is an overlap in the ratios of iron isotopes between males and females, the overlap was not greater than a normal sex determination using the pelvis. Only one French assemblage was used for the study, and obviously more research is needed to see what the results are for other regions.
ossamenta: Weasel skull (Default)
2011-10-12 08:46 pm

A couple of quick links

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.
ossamenta: Weasel skull (Default)
2011-09-12 09:44 pm

A positive side of climate change

Glaciers are melting, and since ice preserves organic material (like mammoths in Siberia), artefacts are popping out of the ice, so to speak. But if you don't collect them quickly, they will start to decompose and will soon be gone. In Norway, archaeologists have surveyed the receeding Breheim glacier, and have found lots of artefacts from Iron Age hunting sites, among them a woollen kirtle dated to 300AD! I can't say how awesome this is: there are so few complete garments from this time period. Other finds include shoes, hunting equipment and textiles. I haven't been able to find more detailed information (except that the kirtle is woven in a diamond twill), but I guess once the post-excavation is done, there will be some articles or press releases.

A Norwegian article has pictures of the kirtle and two videos. This slideshow gives a good view of the "site" and some more finds.

And if you're actually in Oslo, you can see lots of these finds (but not the kirtle) at the Museum of Cultural History, in the temporary exhibition The archaeology of ice. If you're like me, not in Oslo, you will have to satisfy yourself with a slideshow of the exhibition (click "Utstillingen" in the upper right corner of the previous link), which includes several of the finds: combs, arrows, textiles, as well as more ambigious wood and bark artefacts).
ossamenta: (Book store = shiny!)
2011-08-16 04:35 pm

Books! Lots of books!

First, thanks for the well-wishes. The interview seemed to go well: some things that they liked about me, and some things I could improve on. We'll see what happens.

The new Oxbow summer catalogue is out and I thought I'd give a shout-out to some that seemed interesting. A lot of the catalogue is on Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, which I'm not enough familiar with to tell which books are of general relevance and which are only for the artefact/regional specialists. If you are interested in those periods I recommend you check out their website. An exception was made for books of interest to re-enactors and people interested in making replicas of historical finds, as there were a few of those in the Roman section.

Cut for lots of books )