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Showing posts from June, 2013

Crusader Feces, Bat Feces, Latin swear words, and building a village - medieval news roundup

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Here are some news stories from the medievalverse, and a few from beyond it...
Crusader Feces An article in the International Journal of Paleopathology shows that many Crusaders would have been suffering from worms or other diseases. Test done by two researchers from the University of Cambridge at Saranda Kolones castle in Cyrpus showed that two species of parasite, the roundworm and the whipworm, were prevalent among the crusaders. The castle was built after the Third Crusade and abandoned in 1222.

Evilena Anastasiou and Piers D. Mitchell write that "the discovery of these parasites highlights how medieval crusaders may have been at risk of malnutrition at times of siege and famine, as these worms competed with them for nutrients."

You can read more about this story from Reuters.

The article 'Human intestinal parasites from a latrine in the 12th century Frankish castle of Saranda Kolones in Cyprus' is available here.

One stone at a timeWhile we have reported on grou…

Gutenberg, Executions, Medicis, Vikings, Hobbits and more - medieval news roundup

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A medieval news roundup for the weekend...

If you are a fan of Marshall McLuhan or have an interest in the history of printing, this interview from the Columbia Journalism Review might interest you. In this post, entitled The future is medieval, they talk with Thomas Pettitt and Lars Ole Sauerberg from the University of Southern Denmark about their “Gutenberg Parenthesis” idea. It deals with how digital media will be tipping the scales between oral and print communication, the first change we have seen since Gutenberg started his printing machine. It includes some talk about the medieval period, such as:

The Middle Ages was not strong on membership of communities. They were not obsessive about inside versus outside. They didn’t emphasize, “I’m a denizen of this town, I’m a citizen of this country, I belong in this nation, behind these frontiers.” They saw themselves rather like Hobbits (Tolkien was a medievalist). Hobbits knew their relatives to the seventh degree: second cousins three …

The first ever comic book?

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Damien Kempf on Tumblr writes about this image from a 12th century manuscript known as the Bible of Stephen Harding. This work contains many images, including this page that details the story of King David. Just like a modern day comic book, you are supposed to go through this page from left to write and top to bottom, and read the caption for each box. 
The manuscript - Dijon BM MS.14 - has been scanned and is available on the French government website www.enluminures.culture.fr

You can also follow Damien Kempf on Twitter at @DamienKempf

Three medieval archaeological discoveries: Newfoundland, Egypt and Cambodia

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Here are three reports of medieval discoveries from around the world...
NewfoundlandWe know that the Vikings tried to create a settlement at L'anse aux Meadows on Newfoundland around the year 1000. A report by Owen Jarus at LiveScience adds that these Norsemen also visited the Notre Dame Bay region of that island as well.


Kevin Smith, deputy director and chief curator of the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology at Brown University, explained at a recent conference that two jasper artifacts had been discovered on the site of L'anse aux Meadows, and when they underwent chemical tests it revealed they had most likely come from around Notre Dame Bay, which lies about 230 km southeast of the Viking settlement.

The report also suggests that this might also be the area where the Vikings encountered the Beothuk or other native peoples. Jarus writes, "Ever since the discovery of L'Anse aux Meadows nearly 50 years ago, archaeologists and historians have been trying to uncover the s…

Reading, Insulting, Taxing, Finding and Stealing - medieval news roundup

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What did people read in the Middle Ages? A new book is looking at how people in late-medieval London read. Arthur Bahr, a professor of literature at MIT, found that many people maintained eclectic reading habits.

In his latest work, Fragments and Assemblages: Forming Compilations in Medieval London, shows the ways people in the Middle Ages would create books that included a wide variety of different texts, including chronicles, letters, literature and religious texts. For example, Andrew Horn, the chamberlain for the city of London in the 1320s, bound together various texts, including legal treatises, French-language poetry, and descriptions of London.

Arthur Bahr comments, “Horn actually uses the construction of his books to create literary puzzles for his reader. One poem just doesn’t make sense, but if you read the poem in juxtaposition with the legal treatise that comes after, then the two pieces make sense. He’s suggesting that the law and literature are sort of the yin and the yan…