The 5,000 year-old holed stone recently discovered in Sicily. It is thought that the sun would shine through the man-made hole and mark the winter solstice
Image credit Giuseppe La Spina
 
Writing for Live Science,  Rossella Lorenzi reports that –
 
Italian archaeologists have found an intriguing Stonehenge-like “calendar rock” in Sicily. Featuring a 3.2-foot diameter hole, the rock formation marked the beginning of winter some 5,000 years ago.
 
“It appeared clear to me that we were dealing with a deliberate, man-made hole,” archaeologist Giuseppe La Spina told Seeker. “However, we needed the necessary empirical evidence to prove the stone was used as a prehistoric calendar to measure the seasons.”
 
Full article here.
 
 
 
Figurines found by Polish archaeologists in Turkey. Image credit Jason Quinlan
 
Science & Scholarship in Poland have reported on the discovery by Polish archaeologists of two unique eight thousand year-old figurines in Turkey –
 
The discovery was made in one of the largest urban centres of the first farmers and one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world – Çatalhöyük, located in the southern part of the Anatolian Plateau in central Turkey. The project leader is Prof. Ian Hodder of Stanford University in the US, but a team of Polish scientists has been involved in the project for several years.
 
Çatalhöyük was inhabited continuously for over one thousand years between the years 7100 and 6000 BC. According to the researchers during its heyday the densely built-up settlement had by approx. 5000 residents. The site became famous thanks to the murals, which decorated the walls of houses. They depicted as human and animal figures and geometric motifs. In 2012 Çatalhöyük was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
 
Full article here.
 

Made of wood and measuring 96cm in length. Probably between 50 and a 100 years old
Private collection. Great Britain

The loom would have been suspended from above by the warp which would have passed through the 36 holes that are bored into it (apart from the eighteen visible holes there are also eighteen more in the rectangular sections). In this position all 36 warp ‘ropes’ would be inline with each other. By pushing the ‘handle’ upwards or downwards a space is created into which the weft could be passed to the left and right. The small piece of wood was probably used to ‘knock down’ the weft in order to achieve a tighter weave. There is what seems to be a similar loom in our feature here.

 

 
 
The Bridge of Brodgar, Orkney in 1875 by Walter Hugh Patton (1828-1895)
Source Wikimedia Commons
 
For those interested in archaeology, and ancient Britain, tonight’s program on BBC TWO from 9.00pm to 10.00pm should make fascinating viewing –
 
Orkney – seven miles off the coast of Scotland and cut off by the tumultuous Pentland Firth, the fastest flowing tidal race in Europe – is often viewed as being remote. Yet it is one of the treasure troves of archaeology in Britain. Recent discoveries there are turning the stone age map of Britain upside down. Rather than an outpost at the edge of the world, recent finds suggest an extraordinary theory… that Orkney was the cultural capital of our ancient world and the origin of the stone circle cult which culminated in Stonehenge.
 
More here.
 
Happy 2017 from our base in misty North Yorkshire
©
Moss

An Egyptian craftsman weaving a mat on a floor loom

Mohamed Badry Kamel Basuny, writing for UNESCO, reports on the Intangible Heritage of Egyptian mat-making –

Mat, as a traditional craft, is considered a local craft dating back to ancient Egyptian era. The local people had been developed this innovative production “Mats” to face the common problem of humidity and insects. There are numerous models and forms to Egyptian mats, which are displayed in Torino Museum, Italy, that was used in ancient Egyptian rural community. This craft is needed a group of material and tools such as reeds and grasses especially el-Summar herbs (Juncus), and flax to weave strongly these reeds together. Unfortunately, the craft of mats doesn’t be well-known and popular like the old periods. Now, it is known in few Egyptian governorates such as el-Qaliubiya, el-Sharkeya, Kafr El-Sheikh, Qena, Assiut, el-Monoufia. (Egyptian Archives of Folk Life and Folk Traditions (EAFLFT), 2013).

Detail of an Egyptian floor loom

Full article here.

 

Stonehenge in Winter by Walter Williams (1834-1906)

 

Season’s Greetings to all our Readers
 

Standing stone on the North York Moors
©
Littlestone

A Dream of Solstice

Qual e’ colui che somniando vede,
che dopo ‘l sogno la passione impressa
rimane, e l’altro a la mente non riede,
cotal son io…

Dante, Paradiso, Canto XXXIII

‘Like somebody who sees things when he’s dreaming
And after the dream lives with the aftermath
Of what he felt, no other trace remaining,

So I live now’, for what I saw departs
And is almost lost, although a distilled sweetness
Still drops from it into my inner heart.

It is the same with snow the sun releases,
The same as when in wind, the hurried leaves
Swirl round your ankles and the shaking hedges

That had flopped their catkin cuff-lace and green sleeves
Are sleet-whipped bare. Dawn light began stealing
Through the cold universe to County Meath,

Over weirs where the Boyne water, fulgent, darkling,
Turns its thick axle, over rick-sized stones
Millennia deep in their own unmoving

And unmoved alignment. And now the planet turns
Earth brow and templed earth, the crowd grows still
In the wired-off precinct of the burial mounds,

Flight 104 from New York audible
As it descends on schedule into Dublin,
Boyne Valley Centre Car Park already full,

Waiting for seedling light on roof and windscreen.
And as in illo tempore people marked
The king’s gold dagger when he plunged it in

To the hilt in unsown ground, to start the work
Of the world again, to speed the plough
And plant the riddled grain, we watch through murk

And overboiling cloud for the milted glow
Of sunrise, for an eastern dazzle
To send first light like share-shine in a furrow

Steadily deeper, farther available,
Creeping along the floor of the passage grave
To backstone and capstone, holding its candle

Under the rock-piled roof and the loam above.

Seamus Heaney

 

 
 
One of the Roman coins discovered by metal detectorist Stephen Squire. The coin dates from around 37ce
 
Kerry Ashdown, writing in the Staffordshire Newsletter, reports on the discovery of more than 2,000 Roman artefacts in a field in Barlaston, Staffordshire, England –
 
MORE THAN 2,000 Roman artefacts including coins have been declared treasure after being unearthed in Barlaston. Metal detectorist Stephen Squire made the discovery in a field in his home village. His find included rare coins and the British Museum has expressed interest in acquiring three items. The Potteries Museum in Hanley plans to exhibit other items. Mr Squire, aged 49, told a hearing at North Staffordshire Coroner’s Court: “I was on my own that morning but quickly phoned my wife and son to come down when I found the objects.”
 
Councillor Terry Follows, Stoke-on-Trent City Council cabinet member for greener city, development and leisure, said: “This is a significant find because of the number of coins involved. They were found in broken pottery vessels just one metre below ground. It is a real credit to the finder for treating the discovery so responsibly and reporting it correctly.
 
Full story  here.

Mike Pitts – Digging Deeper

British Archaeology 152 lo res.jpg

The new British Archaeology has a great mix of stuff, with its usual features, reviews, news, the interview (Taryn Nixon), Bill Tidy’s cartoon and so on. And we have a new column, from the great archaeological photographer, Mick Sharp, who will be writing in every edition about visiting sites with his cameras. I’m really proud of the wide range of places and topics, and of all the contributors who have brought so much to this issue.

BA 152 fort.jpgThe front cover features a wooden Anglo-Saxon coffin – one of over 90 preserved in an early Christian cemetery, as never seen before. From London comes the surprise discovery of a Roman fort, which helps explain why the city is where it is.

BA 152 dead danebury.jpgWe ask what happened to all the missing dead from prehistoric Britain (giving me an opportunity to bring out some of my old Kodachromes). How did people in Scotland over 4,000 years…

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The Stone of Ballater by James Drummond (1852)
©
The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS)
 

University of East Anglia student, and metal detectorist, Tom Lucking. Image credit Antony Kelly

Emma Knights, Arts Correspondent for the Eastern Daily Press in Norwich, England, reports on the discovery of Anglo-Saxon artefacts in Norfolk.

A collection of artefacts discovered in an Anglo-Saxon grave in Norfolk has been declared as Treasure, an inquest has heard. University of East Anglia student Tom Lucking and his friend Stuart Isaacs made the discovery between December 21 2014 and January 7 2015. The inquest in Norwich yesterday heard that the historical items were found near Diss and that a report from the British Museum described them as “an assemblage of artefacts most probably deriving from an early Anglo-Saxon female furnished burial.” Among the items are a Merovingian coin pendant, two gold biconical spacer beads, a gold openwork pendant with the form of a Maltese cross, a coin pendant with a gold suspension loop, another pendant with a Maltese cross design, a continental pottery biconical bowl, an iron knife and a collection of copper alloy chatelaine rings.

Tom has been a metal detector enthusiast for more than a decade and is reported as saying that the artefacts should end up at Norwich Castle, being the best place for them because it keeps them in the County for people to see.

Full story and images of two of the artefacts here.

 

A guest feature by The Sarsen Slumberer

An aboriginal youth of the indigenous Tsou people of Taiwan (pre 1945)

China’s recent little rattle-throwing-out-of-the-pram fitty over Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen’s telephone call to President-elect Donald Trump is yet another example of China’s big bully agenda towards its neighbours. China claims that Taiwan is part of China. What nonsense. China has no more of a claim to Taiwan than it has to Tibet. And, lest it be forgotten, the Chinese only started settling in Taiwan in the late 17th century. To claim Taiwan as ‘theirs’ is just another smoke and mirrors land-grab by a big bully nation. If Taiwan belongs to anyone it belongs to the Austronesian peoples who first settled there at least 15,000 years ago. The native Austronesian peoples of Taiwan still number around 530,000. Are their voices, cultures and heritage heard? Hardly ever. Big game politics take centre stage but, like the native peoples of America, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere around the world those voices, small though they are, should and must be listened to.

Heritage is not just about monuments and artefacts from the ground (important though they are as you so rightly highlight on your pages here) it’s also about languages and crafts, food, ways of dressing, and a different way of looking at the world. Should we kowtow to China because it’s in our financial interests. I don’t think so. Taiwan is a functioning democracy where free speech is encouraged. President Tsai of Taiwan is the first woman leader in Asia who isn’t the daughter or wife of a previous leader. China on the other hand is a failing dictatorial system in the grip of a corrupt few.

As Fox News recently, and so accurately reported, “China and the Washington foreign policy establishment thought they could tell President-elect Donald Trump whom he can and cannot speak with on the phone. They thought wrong.” Let’s hope our own politicians and people of influence here in Britain have the same courage to stand up to bullying regimes wherever they may be.

See also The Sarsen Slumberer’s earlier feature Common sense and common courtesy.

 

University of Birmingham
Entrepreneurship in Cultural Heritage Workshop

Organised by the Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage, University of Birmingham. In association with the West Midlands Museum Development.

Location: The Old Ikon Gallery, Fazeley Studios, Birmingham, B5 5SE England.
2 February 2017.

Over recent years the heritage sector has been hit by cumulative cut-backs in public sector funding, reductions in visitor spend and increasing competition for visitors. At the same time, a multitude of new opportunities continue to emerge relating to technological innovation, new audiences and communication networks and new management approaches. In the context of this developing landscape for the heritage sector, this workshop explores the increasing need for museums and heritage organisations to become ever more entrepreneurial in their approach in order to increase their resilience to the changing environment and also to identify ways and means to build profile, audiences, income and opportunities to communicate the heritage at their heart.

Through presentations by speakers who, in different ways, are involved with innovative approaches to the heritage and museums sector and through discussion, this workshop aims to identify some of the more entrepreneurial management practices of the heritage sector and to explore challenges and opportunities for future entrepreneurial actions.

Key Themes:

· Working towards resilience

· Partner working outside of the heritage sector

· The role of the creative industries

· Going global

· Building audiences and income

Confirmed speakers include:

* Dr Chris Ferguson (Auckland Castle)
* Traci Dix-Williams (Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust)
* Colin Chester-Head of Buying, The National Gallery
* Tony Trehy (Director, Bury Art Museum)
* Harvey Edgington (National Trust)
* Elliot Goodger- Birmingham Museums Trust Enterprise Committee

Pre-booking is essential.

To book your place go here.

Early-bird rate of £45 ( by 13 Jan 2017).
Full delegate rate of £55 (by 27 January 2017).

Contact: Jamie Davies, Teaching Fellow in Cultural Heritage
j.g.davies@bham.ac.uk mailto:j.g.davies@bham.ac.uk
0121 414 5616

Staff and volunteers from Accredited Museums or those officially Working towards Accreditation should reserve their place via the events page of the West Midlands Museum Development website: mdwm.org.uk or contact wmmd@ironbridge.org.uk mailto:wmmd@ironbridge.org.uk

 

Heritage Calling

London streets are lined with colourful shops, clamouring for our attention. Many are of considerable age, and have survived for our enjoyment only through careful maintenance by generations of shopkeepers.

Kathryn Morrison, Head of Historic Places Investigation, selects eight shopfronts that can be appreciated by anyone strolling along the pavements of London, and offer a glimpse into the city’s rich history as one of the world’s most exciting shopping centres. Presented chronologically, these shopfronts show how our shopping streets have changed over the centuries.

Raven Row, 56 Artillery Lane, London E1

cc73_02751.tif No.56 Artillery Lane in Spitalfields will be unknown to many seasoned London shoppers. It lies far from the West End, in a warren of small streets and passages that evoke Dickensian London despite the proximity of Liverpool Street Station. Now an art exhibition centre, this building was probably erected in the 1720s for a Huguenot silk merchant. Around 1756…

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