Friday, September 16, 2016

Renaissance Newsletter #13



June Renaissance Faires

Highland Renaissance Festival  (KY) June 4th – July 10th, 2016

Admission: $15 / Contact: Kentucky Renaissance Fair, 955 Elm St, Eminence, KY 40019, (859) 846-4530, email: events@kyrenfaire.com, web: www.kyrenfaire.com / Booths: 70 / Attendance: 16,000 / Site: 955 Elm St., Eminence, KY / Weapons: must be peace-tied / hotels and camping for patrons within 10 miles.


Enchanted Lakes Renaissance Faire & Marketplace (IN)  June 11 - 19, 2016

Admission: $12 / Contact: Maria Davis, Enchanted Lakes Community Organization, 401 W Maumee St, Angola, IN, (260) 665-9920, email: info4enchantedlakesfaire@gmail.com, web: www.enchantedlakesfaire.com / Site: Steuben County Park, 100 LN 101 Crooked Lake, Angola IN 46703 / Booths: 40 / Attendance: 2,000 / Weapons: must be peace-tied / Camping available on-site for participants.


Mid Michigan Renaissance Festival June 11 - 26, 2016,

Admission: $10 / Contact: Toni and Vincent Knoll, 7464 Frankenmuth Rd, Frankenmuth, Vassar, MI 48768, (989) 652-2362, email: tonik45@aol.com, questions@midmichiganrenfest.com, web: www.midmichiganrenfest.com / Site: 12 miles from Birch Run and Bridgeport exits off I-75 ?in Vassar, MI / Booths: 25 / Attendance: 1,800 / Weapons: must be peace-tied. / Hotels nearby; see web site frankenmuth.com for info.


Colorado Renaisance Festival June 11 - August 7, 2016

Admission: $21.00 ($19.50 online) / Contact: Jim Paradise, 409 S. Wilcox Street, Suite F, Castle Rock, CO 80104, (303) 688-6010, email: info@coloradorenaissance.com, web: www.coloradorenaissance.com / Site: 650 W. Perry Park Ave., Larkspur, CO / Booths: 250 / Attendance: 200,000 / Weapons: must be secured / Campgrounds with privies, showers & limited electric avail. for particiapants. Camping nearby, apts. for rent within 10 mi., motels within 10 mi.


Midsummer Fantasy Renaissance Faire (CT) June 18 through July 4

The 6th Annual Midsummer Fantasy Renaissance Faire will be held the weekends of June 18 through July 4, at Warsaw Park, 119 Pulaski Highway in Ansonia.  The Faire will be open Saturday and Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. with a special Saturday night show from 7 to 9 p.m. The Faire featurescomedy, action, games, stage shows, music, magic, live combat, food, unique vendors and a thrilling story line. Also on site will be the Flippyn Byrd Tavern where patrons can purchase beer, hard cider and mead.

For more information, visit the Web site at www.MFRenFaire.com.


Pirate Rendezvous  June 18, 2016 (ME)

Admission: FREE / Contact: Greg Latimer, PO Box 545, Damariscotta, ME, 04543, (207) 380-9912 , email: piraterendezvous@yahoo.com, web: www.piraterendezvous.com / Site: in town area of Main St, Damariscotta and Newcastle, ME / Booths: 25 / Attendance: 3,000 / Weapons: call for policy / Hotels and camping nearby.


Northern California Pirate Festival June 18 - 19, 2016

Admission: FREE / Contact: Kathy Kingman, 925 Lakeville Dr., Suite 127, Petaluma, CA 94952, (707) 780-3018 x705, email: kathy@norcalpiratefestival.com, web: www.norcalpiratefestival.com / Site: Vallejo Waterfront, 289 Mare Island Way, Vallejo, CA / Booths: 85 / Attendance: 30,000 / Weapons: must be sheathed and peace-tied; no black powder w/o prior perm. / On-site camping avaliable for participants.


Motherlode Games and Gathering (CA) June 18 - 19, 2016

Admission: $15 / Contact: Carl McDanel, Mother Lode Games, Inc., PO Box 66, Plymouth, CA, 95669, (209) 304-4926, email: info@TheMotherLodeGames.com, web: www.TheMotherLodeGames.com / Site: 18621 Sherwood St, Plymouth, CA / Booths: 75 / Attendance: 10,000 / Weapons: no firearms / Camping: see website for info.


Mutton and Mead Medieval Festival (MA) June 18 - 19, 2016

Admission: $15 / Contact: Mutton and Mead, PO Box 341, Turners Falls, MA 01376, (413) 992-6572, email: info@muttonandmead.com, web: http://muttonandmead.com / Site: 210 Turners Falls Rd, Turners Falls, MA / Booths: 65 / Attendance: 5,500 / Weapons: must be sheathed / Lodging: Hotels nearby.


Oregon Renaissance Faire June 18 - 19, 2016,

Admission: $12 / Contact: Theresa Nietupski, Washington Renaissance Arts & Education Society, PO Box 583, Vaughn, Washington 98394, (253) 241-2751, email: info@oregonfaire.com, web: www.oregonfaire.com / Site: Clackamas County Events Center, Canby, OR 97013 / Booths: 35 / Attendance: N/A / Weapons:must be peace-tied / see website for info.


Alls Faire June 18 - 19, 2016 (WA)
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Admission: $25 / Contact: Morak Events, 1513 S. 25th St., Tacoma, WA 98405, (253) 797-6517, email: coordinator@allsfaire.org, web: www.allsfaire.org / Site: 9205 198th Ave., East Bonney Lake, WA / Booths: 15 / Attendance: 600 / Weapons: call for policy / Hotels nearby.


Scandinavian Hjemkomst and Midwest Viking Festivals (MN) June 24 – 25, 2016

Admission: $10 / Contact: HCSCC, Tim Jorgensen, 202 First Ave North, Moorhead, MN 56560, (218) 299-5511, web: www.hcscconline.org/midwest-viking-festival / Site: Hjemkomst Center / Booths: 50 / Attendance: 1,000 / Weapons: blunts allowed / On site camping available for participants.


Olde English Faire at Wildlife Prairie Park (IL)  June 24 - 26, 2016


Admission: $10 / Contact: Janice Brown, 3826 North Taylor Road, Hanna City, IL 61536 (309) 657-2681, email: oef@wildlifeprairie.org, web: http://wildlifeprairiepark.org/old-english-faire/ / Site: 3826 N. Taylor Road, Hanna City, IL 61536 / Booths: 50 / Attendance: 8,000 / Weapons: must be peace-tied / Hotels nearby.


Vermont Renaissance Faire June 24 - 25, 2016,

Admission: $18 / Contact: Wolfgaard Productions, PO Box 332, Jeffersonville, VT 05464, (802) 778-9178, email: VTRennFaire@gmail.com, web: http://www.vtrennfaire.com / Site: Weeks Hill Event Fields, Stowe, VT / Booths: 60 - 70 / Attendance: 2,000 - 3,000 / Weapons: must be peace-tied, no real firearms / On-site camping available for participants.


Celtic Fling and Highland Games (PA) June 25 - 26, 2016

Admission: $26.95 / Contact: Kyle McConnell, Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire, 2775 Lebanon Rd., Manheim, PA 17545, (717) 665-7021, email: Kyle@parenfaire.com, web: www.parenfaire.com / Site: 2775 Lebanon Rd., Manheim, PA / Booths:150 / Attendance: 25,000 / Weapons: not allowed / hotels nearby.


Stone Tower Glenn Renaissance Faire June 25 - 26, 2016

Admission: $5 per car / Contact: Chris and Mia Pugh, Medieval Fantasies Company, PO Box 13, Churchville, VA 24421, (540) 294-1846, email: sirblackwolf@medievalfantasiesco.com, web: www.medievalfantasiesco.com/StoneTowerGlenn.htm / Site: Natural Chimneys Regional Park, Mt. Solon, VA / Booths: 30 / Attendance: 1,000 / Weapons: must be peace-tied / on-site camping available for participants.


Previous Faires

Georgia Renaissance Festival


For those intrepid souls that make the trek to tiny Fairburn each spring to enjoy the myriad sights and sounds of the annual Georgia Renaissance Festival, the journey is made with excitement and wonder as they are transported to a magical world where fairies dance to the lilting sounds of minstrel music, kings and queens lord over the realm, and great warriors and champions battle to the death for honor and glory.

For roughly three months of each of the past 31 years, the sleepy Southern town just south of the hustle and bustle of Atlanta has come alive as an average of 200,000 visitors arrive on the 32-acre Renaissance theme park to experience what life might have been like in a bygone era.

With a combination of outdoor theater, circus-style entertainment and a wide variety of activities for all ages, including rides for the children, more than 300 street performers and costumed characters, and 10 stages featuring more than 150 daily performances, the festival has something for everyone.

Although the festival is rooted in the prevailing culture of 16th century Europe, the festival also embraces a bit of the fantastical as visitors will no doubt encounter gargoyles, fairies, satyrs, wizards and even a cartoon character or two, frolicking with pirates, knights, peasants, vikings, lords and ladies….

Indeed, fairies are a common sight throughout the Renaissance Festival as they can be seen roaming the grounds and dancing with adults and children alike to the sounds of minstrel music, or manning the various clothing stores and booths that sell things like elf ears, necklaces, and garlands.

In fact, many of the fairies, as well as a great many of the knights, wizards, pirates, warriors and other medieval and fantastical characters one encounters throughout the 32-acre grounds, are not even festival employees, but rather festival-goers who purchased various garments and other accoutrements from the 150-plus vendors and artisans in the village marketplace and dressed up in costume…



Texas Renaissance Festival

Charlene and Daniel Singletary have been Renaissance Festival enthusiasts since before they met.

“We met through mutual friends who were also involved in the Renaissance Festival,” Charlene said. “I threw a party in 2011 and he came with some friends. At the time, we were both dating other people, but he was really nice and we all had a good time hanging out and playing games.”

A few years later, Daniel reconnected with Charlene and the two started dating…

Charlene and Daniel have been involved in the Renaissance Festival in many facets. Both of them have worked there, sold wares and have many friends in their ‘clan’ or group of people they associate and camp with at the festival.

For two months out of the year, the couple joins their clan in costume and character. They enjoy the experience of interacting with guests.

“We get into the theatrics of it,” Charlene said. “The atmosphere is extraordinary. It’s romantic, enchanting and almost like stepping back in time…”

“A Renaissance Festival wedding was always at the forefront of our mind,” Charlene said. “That festival is what we love to do with our time out…”

Charlene and Daniel were given an opportunity to make their dream a reality as one of four couples competing in the 2016 Renaissance Run at the Texas Renaissance Festival Saturday, May 21.

Complete article and picture: http://tinyurl.com/z4znhpq


Celtic Renaissance Faire, Chickasha, OK

The festivities begn at 10 a.m. in Shannon Springs Park on Saturday, May 21.

…A variety of vendors sold jewelry, wooden crafts as well as blacksmiths and silversmiths. Attendees can feast on turkey legs, Scottish eggs and enjoy some brew.

There was entertainment for all ages, including a climbing wall and a castle bounce house for the kids. There was also be a beer garden in a designated area for adults, Kim Kohler, Celtic Renaissance Faire coordinator said. A sheep herding featured a professional sheep herder, border collies and–of course–a live herd of sheep.

The event's highlight was a performance of Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew" at the park's amphitheater at 2 p.m. The outdoor stage took play attendees back in time, as Shakespearean plays were actually performed outdoors in a similar setting, Katie Davis, Associate Professor of Theatre Arts at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, said.


Janesville and Bristol Renaissance Faires (WI)


…Now a resident of Loves Park,  Steve Fassl. grew up on the South Side of Chicago. He used to operate a small chain of Christian book stores, but is now semi-retired and enjoys his acting gigs as “Odorferious Thunderbottom,” a privy cleaning comedian, during the summer time.

It was 25 years ago when Fassl first was introduced to the world of Renaissance Faires during a visit to Bristol, located not-too-far from Kenosha. Each weekend during the summer, the Bristol Faire draws in thousands of visitors who can enjoy watching mud wrestling, jousting, acrobats and may even spot a fairy or two in the forest.

“Now I have the honoring of opening the Bristol Renaissance Faire every day during the season,” Fassl said. “I try to explain to everybody that the Renaissance Faire is a playground — you’re not just an audience member, you are a part of the experience.”

Mike Wisdom, of Beloit, also is involved with the Janesville and Bristol Renaissance faires. He and his wife, Sara, operate “Hearthstone Arts,” a ceramics business….The duo creates all types of beautiful ceramics, including goblets, table ware, vases and more, to sell.

The unique ceramic pieces are made using a pottery wheel, coils, slabs or molds. Some elements, like handles, are sculpted completely by hand.

All of the glazes used by Hearthstone Arts are made of naturally occurring minerals. Wisdom said that perfecting the glaze is a lot like baking a cake. The couple knows how the amounts of different elements in a “recipe” will create the desired color and effect on a given piece once it is fired in a kiln…



Mid-Michigan Renaissance Festival


The Mid-Michigan Renaissance Festival prides its self on being a wonderful blend of history and fairytale. Located just outside the historic “Little Bavaria” Frankenmuth, we work to incorporate as much rich and wonderful German Culture as possible.

The story takes place in the Village of Cleves. The year is 1539 and the Duke Whilhem is preparing his sister Anne to marry King Henry VIII and for his cousin, Queen Anna of Bohemia’s visit.

However, do not let this little village fool you there is more than meets the eye. Fairytales have come to life and between the beautiful Princesses, the dashing Prince Charming, the Wicked Witch and Fairy Godmother battling it out, there is enough to immerse one’s self in to get lost, and that is until The Brothers Grimm set the stories straight.

Mid-Michigan Renaissance Festival offers a unique dining, shopping and entertainment experience. From hand-made soaps, swords and goblets to turkey Legs, bread bowls and handmade chocolates there is a little something for every craving.

Featured entertainers are The Fiend Fyre Charmers, Theatrical Combat Network, Pumpernickel the Fool, Gypsy Raqs and many more filling our four stages with music, dancing, comedy and amusement for everyone.

There are even activities for youngsters, including a Crafting Table, Princess Picnic, Knights Academy, Games and Contests. Open the last three weekends in June from 11:00 am – 7:00 pm there is always something to do in the Enchanted Forest….


Watch This Drone Get Pierced By A Spear At A Russian Renaissance Fest

While filming the festivities at a Renaissance festival in Russia, a drone was struck by a spear thrown by an apparently very committed fairgoer.



Artisans share old ways with new generations at Eagle Point Vintage Faire (OR)


    ..Artisans of all stripes shared their craft with new generations at the fair, which also included vendors displaying antiques and food booths serving up country cooking.

    As the Old Time Fiddlers performed in a courtyard behind him, Doug Peterson shared his antique rope-making machine and helped kids make their own rope to take home….

    Dale Diebold and Marvin Crawford, of the Rogue Valley Leather Guild, created an area at their tent for kids to try their hand at leathercraft using a variety of stamps and tools, charging a quarter for each leather piece. Crawford said they used to give the leather crafts away, but would find them at other fairs on the ground.

    "We found if we charge a quarter people keep 'em," Crawford said.

    Diebold said he started the club about 12 years ago as a way to get others interested in the craft. Outreach, especially to young people, is important to Diebold and Crawford, who want to pass on their knowledge.

    "It's a lost art basically," Crawford said. "All the older good ones are dying away."

    Leather craft tends to be a labor of love rather than a profitable one. For example, to make a belt in the traditional fashion takes roughly 10 hours…

    Blacksmith Roy Dunn of Olde Town Smithy stamped, hammered, twisted and chiseled pieces of raw steel heated to a glowing hot 1,800 degrees in a forge before showing his wall-mounted J-hook.

    It was the fourth year Dunn and his wife, Dixie Nunez, have attended. Nunez remembered their first year Roy brought a coal forge, which made thick smoke and couldn't be cooled with water without damaging it. So they had to wait.

    "We had to sit here for four or five hours before we could go home," Nunez recalled. This year Dunn brought his smallest forge, heated by propane.

    Dunn said he's been forging since 1998, and although at Vintage Faire he harkens back to the craft's early days, his "bread-and-butter" are edge weapons such as knives, swords and axes meant for renaissance festival and fantasy enthusiasts.

Complete article,  pictures and video: http://www.mailtribune.com/article/20160514/NEWS/160519750


News

Renfest



 Music

Corina Marti Plays Instrument Depicted In Medieval Paintings Of Angels


The clavisimbalum is a small keyboard, with wire strings, whose mechanism works like a harpsichord. Medieval music specialist Corina Marti says there are no surviving original instruments, but luckily, a 15th century Dutch instrument maker wrote down instructions for how to make one, and musicologists were able to use medieval artwork to help recreate the instrument.



Renaissance Music —The Quire of Voyces

Imagine that you’re in the cool interior of a 16th-century chapel, surrounded by the ethereal sound of voices singing Renaissance music — when choirs sang a cappella with a straight-toned clarity that befit the era. Despite the passing of five centuries, that music and style, which heralded the emergence of the polyphonic form that became the preferred singing method internationally, haven’t been lost. The Quire of Voyces, led by director and founder Nathan Kreitzer, performs Renaissance unaccompanied choral music, and the singers have honed their technique to a fine degree…. Kreitzer explained: “The greatest volume of music written for a cappella chorus is basically early- or late-16th-century; everything anywhere near late-Renaissance becomes accompanied….


Consort Cambiata Comes To The Packing House


Consort Cambiata brought the soothing rhythm of a king's court to The Packing House in Willington Friday, May 20 with a performance of classical music.

The intimate concert, "Songs and Dances for These Distracted Times," featured anthems, madrigals, and fantasia songs from England's Elizabethan and Jacobean eras during the 16th and 17th century.

…The Consort Cambiata's musicians maintained a playful tone that would be right at home at any Renaissance Fair. The groups' many wind instruments were particularly suited for the venue, with their solos echoing beautifully beneath the historic building's high ceilings…

In addition to Crompton, the performance featured singer Nancy Andersen, chair of vocal studies at the Hartt School Community Division; Monika Ditmars Kinstler, a violinist in the Manchester Symphony Orchestra; Charles Turner, a retired doctor of musical arts; Gwendolyn Winkel, clarinetist and founding member of Alta, A Renaissance Wind Trio; Deborah Robin, a market research consultant and avid recorder player; and Bert Landman, harpsichordist and director of music ministry at Trinity Episcopal Church in Hartford.

Turner, who has studied musicology and medieval culture extensively, said it takes a special group of people to recreate the melancholy music of this era. Unlike with modern bands, the players need to be in complete harmony both on and off stage.

"You have to have kindred spirits. We were very lucky in a state this small to have so many people who get along," Turner said after the show.

The small orchestra boasted an impressive arsenal of period instruments, including the viola de gamba, a six stringed instrument held between the knees; several krummhorns, double reeded wind instruments with a unique curved shape; and a harpsichord, a large but delicate instrument similar to a piano. One of the few instruments that remain in use today, however, was the dulcimer, a free-standing set of metal strings played with wooden hammers.

The dulcimer has been a popular instrument in music throughout the world for over 600 years, Kinstler said, but it's first recorded use in England is in a 15th century carving of an otherworldly dulcimer played by an angel…


Art

The Armada portrait of Queen Elizabeth I


…The portrait, thought to have been painted in 1590, is currently owned by descendants of Sir Francis Drake…Elizabeth I was in her late 50s when she sat for the Armada portrait, which is unusual for its large size (110.5 x 125 cm) and horizontal format.The portrait may have been commissioned by Sir Francis Drake, one of the great heroes of Queen Elizabeth's court…



The Virgin Mary in Medieval and Renaissance Art

… (O)ne aspect of Mary’s life consistently stands out in the Gospels: She is a dedicated practicing Jew.

The few events documented about her are steeped in Judaism. Her pregnancy forecasts the coming of the Jewish Messiah. In accordance with the Torah mandate, Jesus is circumcised on the eighth day following his birth. Afterwards, Mary performs the postpartum Temple purification rituals, also prescribed in the Torah (Luke 2:22). When Mary, Joseph, and Jesus return from exile in Egypt we are told that she and the family traveled to Jerusalem every Passover (Luke 2:41)—an arduous seven-day journey over rough terrain….

Given Mary’s well established Jewish identity it is surprising that she is not portrayed as such in the trove of artworks of the Medieval and Renaissance eras, when Christian art flourished. Instead, she is depicted as a Christian, with no trace of Semitic features, dress, or surroundings. Mary’s Jewish identity, which dominated her life, vanishes in these artworks, replaced by northern European characteristics and backgrounds…

Paintings of Mary’s betrothal to Joseph provide glaring examples. The betrothal (some say marriage) theme was popular with the patrons who commissioned artworks, which explains why so many of them were produced by almost every major Renaissance artist. Typical are the paintings of the betrothal by Michael Pacher (c.1495 ) and Raphael (c.1504).

In both paintings Mary and Joseph appear as stylish fair-skinned, fair-haired Christians.To emphasize that these are Christian ceremonies they are conducted by high church officials. But these ceremonies and settings are alien to the origins of this Jewish couple from a rural village in Nazareth—when, in fact, the actual betrothal and their lives had everything to do with Judaism. All indications from the Gospel depictions say that Mary was immersed in Jewish life and practices.

Other prominent paintings on the betrothal theme display the same falsifications of biblical history: Giotto (1305); Pietro Perugino (1502; El Geco (1600); Giovanni di Pietro (c.1432); Bernardino di Mariotto (1478); Jan Van Dornick (1470 -1527); Robert_Campin (c.1375); Sano di Pietro (1448-1452); Vittore Carpaccio (1504-1508); Philippe de Champaigne (1644)—and more…

Complete, fascinating article with illustrations and links: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bernard-starr/the-transformation-of-the_b_10106980.html




Book Review: THE PAINTER OF SOULS
By Philip Kazan
261 pp. Pegasus Books. $24.95.

If the Brancacci Chapel in Florence is small in scale, its place in the history of Renaissance art is immense. It was here, in the 1420s, that the young Masaccio took over from the older, conventional Masolino, creating biblical frescoes of such vibrant physicality that, according to the 16th-century art historian Vasari, for the next hundred years Florence’s most famous artists studied the chapel as part of their training. Vasari also notes that one of their first devotees was a young friar living in the monastery when the chapel was painted and that until then Filippo Lippi was better known for defacing his study books with “crudely drawn figures.”

Philip Kazan isn’t the first novelist to be entranced by Lippi’s life. In his later years, the painter’s “libidinous humor” (Vasari’s words) would have him elope with a novitiate nun who would become the mother of his children and the model for one of the sweetest, most human of Renaissance Madonnas. However, in “The Painter of Souls,” the first in a promised series, Lippi is still very young. With facts thin on the ground, Kazan has readily admitted to using “a lavish amount of poetic license” to make his story fly….


History


Medieval History - Bone Relic From Becket, Murdered Archbishop


On Dec. 29, 1170, four knights loyal to King Henry II crept up on the archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket, in the city’s cathedral and murdered him with their swords after he clashed with the monarch.

More than eight centuries later, a bone fragment believed to be from Becket’s elbow traveled this week from Esztergom Basilica in Hungary, where it had been kept for centuries, back to England, where it will make several stops before returning to the site of his assassination.

Medieval scholars say the reasons for how and why the bone fragment wound up in Hungary are still a matter of debate…

Becket had been a dear friend of King Henry II’s. But after he became archbishop of Canterbury, he resisted the monarch’s attempts to tame the church’s power. The knights, thinking the king wanted the archbishop dead, killed him.

Becket was canonized in 1173, and he became one of the most revered saints in England. His shrine in Canterbury Cathedral became a popular pilgrimage site, and it was immortalized in Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales,” which followed the journey of a group of pilgrims to his tomb.

In medieval times, Becket’s bones were viewed as having mystical powers. According to legend, they could stop dogs from barking, and they cured a man who said he had suffered for 30 years from nocturnal attacks by a demon called the Incubus…

Complete article:  http://tinyurl.com/jzeo8mq

 

Medieval women were better dressed than men

Women in the Middle Ages often wore better quality clothes than men. This is one of the conclusions drawn by Leiden archaeologist Chrystel Brandenburgh, who studied textile remnants from the period from 400 to 1000 A.D.

Apart from differences in the clothes worn by men and women, Brandenburgh also found many regional variations in textile use. Women in Rhenen and Wijchen, for example, were mostly buried in linen cloth, whereas Brandenburgh found twill cloth in the graves of men in the region. In Lent-Lentseveld, on the other hand, she found no traces of linen in women's graves, but linen was found in the graves of men and children.

Searching in museums and archives

In other countries, research on textiles has really taken off in recent decades, but no comparable development has been seen in the Netherlands, Brandenburgh explains. For her PhD research she searched in museums and archives for textile remnants from burial grounds and settlements spread over the Netherlands. The textile remnants from sites that have already been excavated have in most cases not been described at all or only described very summarily. 'In the collection at the Museum of Antiquity, for example, I found two pieces of clothing that people didn't even realise existed.'

Cloth disintegrated

There was generally very little left of the material that she found. 'You have to imagine that people were put into their graves completely clothed. In many cases, they were buried with all kinds of gifts that were also wrapped in cloth, and then sometimes there was even another cloth on top of that. Of all that material, you might find just a couple of remnants of about a square centimetre.' The cloth has often completely disintegrated and all you can see is the impression left by the cloth in the worn layer on metal accessories like clasps and pins.

Reconstructing garments

The people buried in the graves often wore several layers of clothes over one another, Brandenburgh concludes after analysing the textile remnants. 'But I generally have to hazard a guess at the shape and cut of the garments: there isn't enough information available to be certain.' She did carry out some experiments on the material, from which she was able to determine the type of material and for a limited number of the samples she could also determine the colour. What she discovered was that the red colour found in clothes from burial mounds in the northern Netherlands came from the common madder plant and the dark brown colour came from other sources. 'I discovered, for example, that a brown hat was made of brown wool that had been dyed even darker. I was able to see this because there was some decorative stitching on the hat that hadn't been dyed.'

Clothes have meaning

Clothing provides valuable information about people, according to Brandenburgh. 'It's functional, but it also expresses the identity or position of the wearer.' She regards her research as the starting point for further studies on textiles. 'I have concentrated only on the textile remnants found because so little research has been done in this field. But there is more information to be gained from the other contents of the grave, which can add to our knowledge.' New excavation techniques like CT and 3D scans and isotope research make it possible to draw further conclusions about clothing.


 The Leonardo Project: Illuminating the art, life, characteristics, talents, and brilliance of one of humanity's most extraordinary figures

A team of eminent specialists from a variety of academic disciplines has coalesced around a goal of creating new insight into the life and genius of Leonardo da Vinci by means of authoritative new research and modern detective technologies, including DNA science.

The Leonardo Project is in pursuit of several possible physical connections to Leonardo, beaming radar, for example, at an ancient Italian church floor to help corroborate extensive research to pinpoint the likely location of the tomb of his father and other relatives. A collaborating scholar also recently announced the successful tracing of several likely DNA relatives of Leonardo living today in Italy.

If granted the necessary approvals, the Project will compare DNA from Leonardo's relatives past and present with physical remnants -- hair, bones, fingerprints and skin cells -- associated with the Renaissance figure whose life marked the rebirth of Western civilization.

The Project's objectives, motives, methods, and work to date are detailed in a special issue of the journal Human Evolution, published coincident with a meeting of the group hosted in Florence this week under the patronage of Eugenio Giani, President of the Tuscan Regional Council (Consiglio Regionale della Toscana).

Born in Vinci, Italy, Leonardo died in 1519, age 67, and was buried in Amboise, southwest of Paris. His creative imagination foresaw and described innovations hundreds of years before their invention, such as the helicopter and armored tank. His artistic legacy includes the iconic Mona Lisa and The Last Supper.

The idea behind the Project, founded in 2014, has inspired and united anthropologists, art historians, genealogists, microbiologists, and other experts from leading universities and institutes in France, Italy, Spain, Canada and the USA, including specialists from the J. Craig Venter Institute of California, which pioneered the sequencing of the human genome.

The work underway resembles in complexity recent projects such as the successful search for the tomb of historic author Miguel de Cervantes and, in March 2015, the identification of England's King Richard III from remains exhumed from beneath a UK parking lot, fittingly re-interred 500 years after his death.

Like Richard, Leonardo was born in 1452, and was buried in a setting that underwent changes in subsequent years such that the exact location of the grave was lost.

If DNA and other analyses yield a definitive identification, conventional and computerized techniques might reconstruct the face of Leonardo from models of the skull."

In addition to Leonardo's physical appearance, information potentially revealed from the work includes his ancestry and additional insight into his diet, state of health, personal habits, and places of residence.

Beyond those questions, and the verification of Leonardo's "presumed remains" in the chapel of Saint-Hubert at the Château d'Amboise, the Project aims to develop a genetic profile extensive enough to understand better his abilities and visual acuity, which could provide insights into other individuals with remarkable qualities.

The 51st International Congress on Medieval Studies


The world’s largest gathering of medieval scholars was held May 12-15 with close to 3,000 people and more than 550 presentations over 3 1/2 well-orchestrated days…

The 51st International Congress on Medieval Studies is a big deal. Those attending run a gamut from established scholars to newbies whose interest in the Middle Ages grew from watching “Game of Thrones” or “Vikings,” and just about everyone in between.

“It grew out of the idea that everybody and anybody should have the option to investigate medieval studies,” said Jana K. Schulman, director of Western Michigan University’s Medieval Institute.

Its founders, history prof John Sommerfeldt and English professor John McNally, hosted the first conference in March 1962. It had 200 participants by 1966 and became annual in 1970, growing in part because it took big tent approach and encouraged students and young scholars to present at time when many conferences didn't…

The medieval period covers roughly 1,000 years, from about 500 to 1500, Schulman said. Historically, it wasn’t considered quite as interesting as the classical period that preceded it, when Greece and Rome flourished, or the Renaissance that followed.

It was marked by famine, plague, war and depopulation of cities. Most modern movies, TV shows and books depict it as dark, cold and grubby. Yet the period was rich in music and art, all kinds of politics and majestic castles and cathedrals that stand today…

There were sessions devoted to “Beowulf,” the old English epic poem of revenge; to medieval sex; early Irish saints; the 14th century economy; and the Crusades…

Other sessions looked at weapons and armor, including a presentation by Ontario blacksmith Darrell Markewitz on “Reconstituting an Icelandic Bloomery Iron Furnace,” and another titled “Experiments into Hardening Processes for Leather Armor,” by Mila Little of the Canadian Dark Ages Recreation Company….



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