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West Midlands History explores a mystery object from the Staffordshire Anglo-Saxon Hoard
After hours of research, this is an object which still baffles the team of Anglo Saxon experts in the project team. As far as they know no comparable piece has ever been found and it has no immediately obvious use.
Transportation of Lebanese cedar. A relief, circa 713–716bce, from the north wall of the main court of King Sargon II’s palace at Dur Sharrukin in Assyria (present-day Khorsabad in Iraq)
Department of Oriental Antiquities, Louvre Museum, Paris
Image credit Marie-Lan Nguyen. Source Wikimedia Commons
European and US museums that preserve and display Assyrian artefacts from the ancient royal cities under attack by Islamic State (IS) are working to help their Iraqi colleagues prepare for a day when the sites are liberated. A coalition of the willing exists but it remains to be seen whether institutions will co-ordinate their efforts.
Jonathan Tubb, the keeper of the Middle East department at the British Museum in London, urges organisations to do more than express outrage. “We need to get over the threshold of despair – we can do something positive and constructive by preparing for the time when effective government control is restored,” he says.
While the sites in northern Iraq are no-go areas, the British Museum plans to work with colleagues from other parts of Iraq to train a “task force” of professionals in rescue archaeology and emergency heritage management in London. They will return, accompanied by British Museum curators, equipped to draw up plans of action for sites including Nimrud and Nineveh.
More from The Art Newspaper here.
A husband and wife team detecting in the Deverill Valley, Wiltshire, England
Video Credit: British Forces News/Forces TV
Until the end of this month (February 2015) …a special case in Salisbury Museum’s Wessex Gallery will display some exceptional objects discovered by members of the public in the Salisbury area. A husband and wife team, detecting in the Deverill Valley near Warminster, have discovered many treasured pieces.
The metal-detectorists found these pieces over a period of almost 30 years in the Deverill Valley, and have been working closely with the Portable Antiquities Scheme for 11 years. The objects they have found so far span 2,000 years of Wessex history, stretching right back into the Iron Age. The Scheme was set up by the UK government in 1997 to encourage the voluntary recording of archaeological objects found by members of the public in England and Wales.
Star pieces include a superbly modelled cast Roman bust of a Maenad (a female follower of the god Bacchus with a stunning plaited vine and ivy wreath head-dress). Another beautiful piece is an early medieval hooked tag showing an eagle stretching its wings and talons, possibly a symbol for John the Baptist, made from copper alloy with silver plate inlaid with niello. There is also a glorious gilded early medieval cloisonné brooch with a trifoliate leaf motif.
The exhibition will also include four finds from across south Wiltshire that have been recorded by the Portable Antiquities Scheme and donated to the Museum. Among these the pointed oval seal matrix from the sub deanery of Salisbury, made from copper-alloy between 1300-1400 AD, was donated by an individual who found it whilst gardening in Laverstock. The seal depicts the Virgin and Child standing before an elaborate altar.
More on the Salisbury Museum website here.
The 9th century Alfred Jewel depicting either Alfred the Great or Christ
Image credit the Ashmolean Museum
The Alfred Jewel was found in a peat bog in North Petherton, Somerset, England in 1693 but has been kept at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford since 1718. North Petherton is about eight miles from where King Alfred the Great founded a monastery at Athelney. The Jewel is made of rock crystal, enamel and gold and bears the inscription, in Old English, AELFRED MEC HEHT GEWYRCAN (Alfred Ordered Me Made). It is thought to have been one of several commissioned by King Alfred and once formed the top of a pointer used for reading or translating manuscripts.
Now, for the first time in nearly 300 years, the Alfred Jewel will return to Somerset where it will be on display at The Museum of Somerset from 31 January to 28 February 2015. Talks by two leading Anglo-Saxon experts will take place during the exhibition period. One by Professor Simon Keynes of Cambridge University on 11 February and the other by Leslie Webster of the British Museum on 25 February.