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Mother Goose and Grimm

A reminder to our American friends.

Don’t forget that your daylight saving time ends tomorrow, 2nd November, at 2am local time. Here in Britain the clocks went back last Sunday. Sad to say our Druid and Megalithic Clock Adjusters are still rearranging some of our larger stone circles. Meanwhile, the debate intensifies as to whether or not to stay on British Summer Time all year-round or to continue being plunged into darkness at around 5pm for the next few months.


Mildred, I’ve kept going as straight as I can. Is it alright to turn round now?
The Wikipedia entry for Sir Cecil Chubb reads in part –
Stonehenge was put up for auction in 1915 by the Antrobus family following the death in World War I of the only surviving male heir. Cecil Chubb’s interest in the local area led to him attending the sale, with him bidding and purchasing Lot 15 on a whim for £6,600… as he wished to avoid the stones being acquired by someone overseas. It is also speculated that he bought the stones as a present for his wife, only for her to be less than pleased with his new purchase.
He gave Stonehenge to the nation on 26 October 1918. The deed of gift included the following conditions:
First that the public shall have free access to the premises hereby conveyed and Every part thereof on the payment of such reasonable sum per head not exceeding one shilling [about 70 pence today] for each visit and subject to such conditions as the Commissioners of Works in the exercise and execution of their statutory powers and duties may from time to time impose. Secondly that the premises shall so far as possible be maintained in their present condition. Thirdly that no building or erection other than a pay box similar to the Pay Box now standing on the premises shall be erected on any part of the premises within four hundred yards of The Milestone marked “Amesbury 2” on the northern frontage of the premises and Fourthly that the Commissioners of Works will at all times save harmless and keep indemnified the Donors and each of them their and each of their estates and effects from and against all proceedings costs claims and expenses on account of any breach or non observance of the covenants by the Donors to the like or similar effect contained in the Conveyance of the premises to the Donors.
And importantly that, “Local residents are still entitled to free admission to Stonehenge because of a different agreement concerning the moving of a right of way.” That agreement is a resolution passed by Amesbury Parish Council on 12 April 1921 which states, “The Council relinquishes all claims on the right of way now enclosed, on condition that all householders and their families, (or all inhabitants) of the parishes, comprising the Rural District of Amesbury, and the householders and their families (or inhabitants) of the Parish of Netheravon, be granted free admission to Stonehenge at all times.”
Seems straightforward enough but, according to yesterday’s Salisbury Journal, English Heritage have changed the rules and free access is now restricted to local residents comprising no more than one adult and three children. Local resident, Colin Watson, is reported as saying however that, “I think that it is absolutely outrageous that English Heritage has changed this policy via the back door. For years people have managed to visit Stonehenge free of charge and I think what they have done is against the agreement that was laid out when Sir Cecil Chubb gave the land to the nation.”
An English Heritage spokesperson has stated that, “With the introduction of our advanced ticketing system we felt it was important to provide more information to people wanting to visit Stonehenge when demand was so high. We refreshed the application criteria to ensure it was available to all genuine local residents. By doing this we believe we have increased and extended access because every adult can now bring children with them. Take up of local resident passes has increased significantly this year and we are delighted to have seen a surge in people from the local area visiting Stonehenge and the new visitor centre.”
Full Salisbury Journal article here.
Another nail in the coffin of the mobile Neolithic theory! Cartoon by Phil Millar (Pedro)
Harry Mount, writing for Newsweek in June, reports on the recent reconstruction of five Neolithic roundhouses at the new  Stonehenge Visitor Centre. The reconstructions reveal how people, 4,500 years ago, may have lived at the time –
At first glance, we could be forgiven for thinking they were built in the modern age. Certainly, their building techniques are very similar to those used on Victorian cottages in nearby Wiltshire villages. The walls were made from cob, a mixture of the local chalk and hay, slapped, when wet, onto seven-year-old hazel stakes. These walls were then topped with thatched roofs, made from knotted straw tied onto a woven hazel frame.
Far from being dark, little Hobbit spaces, the interiors are surprisingly bright, illuminated by the white chalk walls and floors, and open door. A tall man can easily stand up straight inside. In the middle of the room, the ash-log fire on the hearth sends up smoke, which seeps through the thatch. As the smoke slowly dissipates, it creates a thin carbon dioxide layer against the straw that stops any spark from the fire igniting the thatch. As if that weren’t ingenious enough, the thatch expands in the rain, providing an even more waterproof membrane.
Full Newsweek article here.

Every year the Council for British Archaeology encourages people, young and old alike who love history, to explore their local area and get hands-on experience through a series of events held across the country. This year the Festival of Archaeology 2014 runs from Saturday, 12 to Sunday, 27 July. More here.

See also moss’ comment above on Kitty Knowles’ article in The Independent: Britain must dig deeper to save its archaeology.

Before heavy ploughing threatened our past. Ploughing 51 B.C. by W M Goodes
In his thought-provoking articles on the pros of metal detecting (In praise of metal detecting 1-10) John Hooker writes –
Even since the adoption of the tractor, agricultural machinery has been getting much heavier and this has resulted in speedier soil compaction. A hard layer will form in the earth where water will not drain easily. If all of this was not bad enough, the actions of fertilizers and pesticides also destroy the equilibrium between the interior of an object and its environment… in certain environments, freeze and thaw cycles can also attack the integrity of the object once it gets to within five to three inches of the surface. Monoculture and the absence of allowing fields to fallow adds to the problem…
Thus, the detectorist automatically becomes an environmentalist and conservator by their very actions. The idea that the archaeologists will eventually save everything, and do this faster than nature can destroy it is an absurdity…
Sadly, there are activities by some metal detectorists that are illegal and which are also damaging our past. We must not, however, ignore the fact that objects can and are being destroyed by both intensive farming practices as well as through other manmade (and natural) land disturbances. Nor should we ignore the fact that, without the contribution of responsible metal detectorists, we would not now be gleaning so much information (not to mention cultural appreciation) from finds such as the Staffordshire and Bedale Hoards.
Before heavy ploughing threatened our past. Ploughing 1950ce
Above, tractor driver Tom Rout holding a gold torc from the Snettisham Hoard. Tom discovered the Icenian torc at Ken Hill, Snettisham, Norfolk, south-east England while ploughing there in 1950. The Iceni were a British tribe who inhabited (1bce-1ce) an area corresponding (approximately) to modern-day Norfolk. Boudicca, Queen of the Iceni, led an uprising against the occupying forces of the Roman Empire in 60ce or 61ce, during which an estimated 70,000-80,000 British and Roman lives were lost.
The Great Torc from the Snettisham Hoard, now centrepiece of the Snettisham Hoard display at the British Museum
The Trustees of the British Museum
See also our earlier feature, The Mildenhall Treasure by Roald Dahl, where Roald Dahl, in the preface to his book, The Mildenhall Treasure explains how, in 1946, he read a newspaper article about the remarkable find of a hoard of 4th century Roman silver unearthed by Gordon Butcher, a ploughman, in a field in Suffolk, England (the Mildenhall Treasure is now also on permanent display at the British Museum).


rt henge

Robert Thompson
All rights reserved, used with permission



The Secrets of Stonehenge by Mick Manning and Brita Granström
In a review of the book here, The Mole writes that –
Stonehenge has captured the imagination as long as man can remember – long after he can remember what it was built for. Throughout it [the book] talks in a positive, non-contradictory way but also without dogma and this subject is so controversial to so many that avoiding dogma is a big plus in this book’s favour. It also goes back in history to before the henge we see today and shows what excavations have revealed about the site before. Couple this history with cartoon like drawings and historical asides this book is a great asset for children to learn from.
With Christmas just around the corner, The Secrets of Stonehenge might be a stocking filler for kiddies with parents interested in ancient sites such as Stonehenge (or for people of any age who just like graphic books).
More information and more books by Frances Lincoln Publishers here.
How to make a thaumatrope (what’s a thaumatrope and why would you want to make one?) and the illusion of movement in the prehistoric and historic. A guest feature by Littlestone.
Dirk Huds explains that, “A thaumatrope is a simple manual animation device. A piece of card is attached to pieces of string that, when manipulated, cause the card to rapidly flip over. Illustrations on each side of the card appear to merge into a single image as the thaumatrope is spun.” For example the dog below seems to be chasing the birds when the thaumatrope is spun.
The 1825 thaumatrope above is by John Ayrton Paris, which was shown in the Exhibit of Optical Toys (from the collection of Laura Hayes and John Howard Wileman) at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in 1996. “The invention of the thaumatrope, whose name means “turning marvel” or “wonder turner,” has often been credited to the astronomer Sir John Herschel.  However, it was a well-known London physicist, Dr. John A. Paris, who made this toy popular. Thaumatropes were the first of many optical toys, simple devices that continued to provide animated entertainment until the development of modern cinema.” More examples of thaumatropes (and other optical toys) can be found on the wonderful The Richard Balzer Collection website here.
Auroch roundel found in the Mas d’Azil cave, southern France
Musée d’Archéologie nationale et Domaine national de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Paris
What’s really interesting is that there seems to be a thaumatrope in the Ice Age art exhibition now showing at the British Museum. The thaumatrope shows an auroch calf on one side and an auroch cow on the other so, when spun, the calf morphs into a cow (or vice versa). It’s astonishing that people 13,000-14,000 years ago had such and appreciation of movement and were able to depict it so ingeniously, not only in the thaumatrope (if that really is what it is) but also much earlier in the poise of animals, the representation of multiple legs, heads and whole body forms in their cave paintings and engravings. Movement was obviously very important to these early painters but was it important because it helped them understand how an animal ran or was it important as an appreciation of the beauty of an animal in motion (or both, or more).
The Horse Panel, Chauvet Cave, southern France
Until relatively recently (not until Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase of 1912) we seemed to have lost the ability to depict movement in our paintings – was that a result of placing too much emphasis on our ‘still life’ and portraiture paintings? Our attempt to freeze a thing or a person in the present rather than depicting them forever moving forward as our ancient painter ancestors were so adept at doing.
Nude Descending a Staircase by Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)
Oil on canvas. Philadelphia Museum of Art
I say we seemed to have lost the ability to depict movement in our paintings until Duchamp, but perhaps not that recently; there is this example from the early 13th century showing a Taoist hermit at the court of a Chinese emperor (original in colour) lowering his eyes in deference. The effect of movement here, and the emotion that it conjures up is stunning, and perhaps not so far removed in intent from thaumatropes of 13,000-14,000 years ago and cave paintings from even earlier times.
A Taoist hermit from a mural in a 13th century Chinese Taoist temple
 See also The Heritage Trust’s earlier feature on the  World’s oldest animation? here.

Caveman and shopping trolley by street artist Banksy
An unverified report found on Facebook claims the above (allegedly by Banksy) was, “…secretly placed in one of the British Museum’s galleries, where it hung for three days. After its discovery the Museum took the unusual step of cataloguing the piece and later adding it to its collections.”
True or not it brought a smile to our lips.
Jonathan Amos, Science correspondent for BBC News Science & Environment reports that –
The length of time modern humans (Homo sapiens) and Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) overlapped in Europe has been a keenly debated topic in recent times. A long overlap raises important questions about the extent to which we might have interbred with them, and possibly even contributed to their eventual demise.
Research published in 2011 indicated modern humans were living in the lands now known as Italy and the UK as far back as 41,000-45,000 years ago. This may have put them in contact with European Neanderthals who, according to previous dating studies, persisted on the continent for many millennia after these dates. On the Rock of Gibraltar, for example, it has been suggested that Neanderthals could possibly have hung around until as recently as 28,000 years ago before finally dying out.
Full story here.

Amanda Crum writing in WebProNews reports that –

News out of France concerning Prehistoric cave drawings that were animated by torch-light is taking the art history world by storm, and has overwhelmed this artist to the point of awe.

The cave drawings were found by archaeologist Marc Azema and French artist Florent Rivere, who suggest that Palaeolithic artists who lived as long as 30,000 years ago used animation effects on cave walls, which explains the multiple heads and limbs on animals in the drawings. The images look superimposed until flickering torch-light is passed over them, giving them movement and creating a brief animation.

“Lascaux is the cave with the greatest number of cases of split-action movement by superimposition of successive images. Some 20 animals, principally horses, have the head, legs or tail multiplied,” Azéma said.

Full article here. See also our earlier feature on the bowl discovered in a grave at the 5,200 year-old Burnt City in Iran.


A guest feature by Littlestone.
Reporting in The Guardian on the 15 August last year, Mike Pitts writes that, “With its crumbling pillars and fading frescoes, the British Museum isn’t the first place you’d associate with Japanese graphic novels. So it’s a slight surprise to learn that the museum will soon publish its own manga-based book.”
It’s uncertain which crumbling pillars and fading frescoes Mike’s referring to as the structure of the Museum itself is sound and any light-sensitive objects are kept and exhibited in controlled environments. That aside, it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that the British Museum is associated with Japanese graphic novels (in this case with the publication of Professor Munakata’s British Museum Adventure). Japanese graphic novels (manga) have been around for nearly 140 years, but their origins (outlined in Part I of this series) stretch back some two millennia in the form of handscrolls and, since the beginning of the 17th century, in the form of woodblock prints of the Ukiyo-e tradition. The British Museum’s collection of Japanese prints is world famous, but perhaps less famous is its collection of Chinese prints – ranging from early Buddhist texts to Communist revolutionary posters, and later still of prints by modern Chinese artists. With this in mind it’s again to the Chinese pictorial tradition that we look for more recent links to the phenomena of manga, cartoons and graphic novels.
Walk into any craft or artist materials shop today and you’ll be confronted with at least half a dozen ‘How to Draw Manga’ books. Before how to draw manga there were books on how to draw cartoons, but long before either of those there was the Mustard Seed Garden Manual of Painting (Jieziyuan Huazhuan  芥子園畫傳). The manual was first published in Jinling between 1679-1701 and became a well-known teaching aid for painters throughout the Far East
How to draw figures from the Mustard Seed Garden Manual of Painting. Author’s collection
Chinese calligraphy and ink painting are very closely linked; the same brushes, ink and paper (or silk) are used, and the same surety of execution is required for both. It’s not an exaggeration to say that a good calligrapher will also be a good painter (though not necessarily a good artist) as they are working within the same graphic tradition. The ink painting below is an outstanding example of an ancient graphic art tradition brought to fruition in the hands of a consummate artist, and it’s that same tradition that gave birth to the art of manga in Japan.
Woman with a saké cup. Attributed to Hokusai. Private collection
Hokusai was only five years old when William Stukeley died in 1765. Many readers here will be familiar with Stukeley’s accurate illustrations of Avebury and its surrounding area, so what to make of his 1759 sketch below – surely slightly tongue-in-cheek but if not definitely winning first prize in the oldest megalithic cartoon category!
The Druid Sacrifice of Yule-Tide by William Stukeley (inset). Note Avebury and Silbury in the background
Putting aside the strict definition of the word cartoon (ie a draft for a painting) and focusing on Europe in the mid-nineteenth century, we have in the cartoon, “…a piece of art, usually humorous in intent. This usage dates from 1843 when Punch magazine applied the term to satirical drawings in its pages, particularly sketches by John Leech. The first of these parodied the preparatory cartoons for grand historical frescoes in the then-new Palace of Westminster. The original title for these drawings was Mr Punch’s face is the letter Q and the new title “cartoon” was intended to be ironic, a reference to the self-aggrandizing posturing of Westminster politicians.”*
In Part I of this series we featured an 1879 cartoon from Punch of Stonehenge by Edward Tennyson Reed. Japan’s first manga magazine, the Eshinbun Nipponchi, appeared in 1874. The Eshinbun Nipponchi was heavily influenced by Japan Punch, founded in 1862 by the British cartoonist Charles Wirgman. In other words, it seems there might have been a cross fertilization of Japanese/Far Eastern graphic art traditions and Western satirical cartoons at play during this period, leading eventually to the Western cartoon and Japanese manga traditions we’re familiar with today. That cross fertilization is still at play. The British Archaeology magazine usually has a cartoon in each of its editions and, bringing the megalithic cartoon phenomenon up-to-date, this brilliant cartoon by Bill Brown in a Guardian Money supplement illustrates the on-going creativity of the manga tradition and the role that megaliths continue to play in it.
Illustration by Bill Brown
Links and further reading.
The Tao of Painting – A study of the ritual disposition of Chinese painting by Mai-mai Sze. This is an English translation of the Jieziyuan Huazhuan (Mustard Seed Garden Manual of Painting). Bollingen Foundation, Series XLIX. Princeton University Press, New York, 1956.

Reconstructed animation of a wild goat (Capra aegagrus) on a bowl discovered in a grave at the 5,200 year-old Burnt City in Iran

8 March 2008 CAIS News reports that –

The Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Organization (CHTHO) announced on Monday that it has recently completed the production of a documentary about the ancient Iranian earthenware bowl bearing the world’s oldest example of animation. Directed by Mohsen Ramezani, the 11-minute film gives viewers an introduction to the bowl, which was discovered in a grave at the 5200-year-old Burnt City by an Italian archaeological team in late 1970s. The artefact bears five images depicting a wild goat jumping up to eat the leaves of a tree, which the members of the team at that time had not recognised the relationship between the pictures.

Ancient Iranian earthenware bowl bearing possibly the world’s oldest example of animation

Several years later, Iranian archaeologist Dr Mansur Sadjadi, who became later appointed as the new director of the archaeological team working at the Burnt City discovered that the pictures formed a related series.

The ‘rolled-out’ image of a wild goat (Capra aegagrus) on the bowl

The image is a simple depiction of a tree and wild-goat (Capra aegagrus) also known as ‘Persian desert Ibex’, and since it is an indigenous animal to the region, it would naturally appear in the iconography of the Burnt City. The wild goat motif can be seen on Iranian pottery dating back to the 4th millennium BCE, as well as jewellery pieces especially among Cassite tribes of ancient Luristan. However, the oldest wild goat representation in Iran was discovered in Negaran Valley in Sardast region, 37 kilometers from Nahok village near Saravan back in 1999. The engraved painting of wild goat is part of an important collection of lithoglyphs dating back to 8000 BCE. However, wild goat representation with a tree is associated with Murkum, a mother goddess who was worshipped by all the Indo-Iranian women of the Haramosh valley in modern Pakistan, which culturally had closer ties with Indus and subsequently the Burnt City civilisations, than Mesopotamia, which could have influenced the ancient potter who made this unique piece.

Full article here. See also our earlier feature on Megalithic manga, cartoons and graphic novels: Part I below.


June 2022
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