As the annual pilgrimage to Kalamazoo begins this week, I thought I would leave you with some entertainment on a much older pilgrimage while I’m gone.
A group of German biological anthropologists gave me a good 6th anniversary present for Heavenfield. There is now good confirmation that the Plague of Justinian was the Plague! I know that sounds a little anti-climatic but some have fought the diagnosis against the odds for years now. We still need more data from well dated cemeteries but some things are clear.
Plague was diagnosed in Bavaria beyond the Roman world where plague had never been documented. Two sites from Gaul have also produced plague protein results and well documented symptoms from Gaul and the Mediterranean suggests that it was wide-spread in the Late Antique world. I’ve written about the details of this newest discovery on Contagions.
The cemetery is well dated archaeologically to the 6th century and radiocarbon dates support that date. There were no disordered mass graves. So the graves all looked reasonably normal except there were a greater than normal number of multiple graves, but still well-ordered 2-5 person graves. I would take these graves to be household size. From what little I know of sixth century Bavaria this fits a diffuse settlement patterns without large urban areas. So far no historian of Germanic territories has written about this discovery to help put it in better context. A full write-up of this cemetery should be illuminating. The first paper on this cemetery reported that the grave contained some high status and trade goods.
Now that plague genetics seems to be getting sorted out, hopefully I’ll be able to spend more time on the first pandemic and related topics here on Heavenfield.
[I didn't intend to be gone this long. I hope someone is still out there!]
Its been years since I’ve taken much time to read novels. I’m embarrassed to say how few I’ve read in the last couple years, but the Bone Thief finally was a temptation too great. How could I resist a novel about the theft/transfer of St Oswald’s bones from Bardney to Gloucester?
VM Whitworth‘s The Bone Thief did not disappoint. Readers of this blog will know that Oswald’s relics were enshrined at St Oswald’s Minster in Gloucester, so I don’t want to give away anything else. Not surprisingly it follows a quest tale type but it’s not a very typical quest. He doesn’t have to go very far, but Whitworth finds plenty of obstacles and surprises to keep the tension. She nails the shifting loyalties and tensions of the time perfectly and managed to place Oswald’s relics centrally in West Saxon – Mercian politics without cheapening their spiritual importance. I loved the way she treated St Oswald throughout the book (and what a nice little surprise at the end!). I highly recommend the Bone Thief.
For a glimpse into Lady Ætehlfled’s Mercia, here is a previous post on their defense of Chester.
Since Thanksgiving day is a day to celebrate the first European settlement in America, it seems only fitting to post this video today.
To “Personal Jesus” by Depeche Mode
Over the last few days I’ve been playing with some new iPhone apps that generate graphics that I think will be very useful for blogs or other creative projects. In lieu of having medieval content I thought I would share some of what I’ve learned about making graphics. I think some of these look appealing and add some creative input of your own to photos.
So far my favorite ap is called Paper Camera (iPhone, Android). It transforms either new photos taken through the ap or existing photos into a variety of sketch or ink art forms. Lets start with a couple of graphics I made for some upcoming book reviews. These were both taken as photos through the app.
This one just appeared in a book review on Contagions. Here the photo looks like some type of sketch. I’m not really sure what to call it but I like the look. My next non-fiction book review for Heavenfield is below. Taken the same way, but with more manipulation. The filters had a more difficult time with this cover. We’ll see what I can come up with for the actual review.
Paper Camera + Pic Stitch
Ok, now lets look at a series of pictures starting with the original photograph. Pic Stitch is a ap for creating collages. It is okay, too many ads for my taste but its free. I imagine there are lots of collage making apps out there. One of the advantages about doing a collage is that you can group multiple pictures together without having the coding headaches that you have probably noticed on WordPress and elsewhere. when you try to include pictures too close together.
The photo in the upper left quadrant is the unaltered photo. The other three are altered by paper camera: (clockwise) comic boom filter, pastel perfect filter, and gotham nor filter. One of the things I’ve noticed is that some of these filters enhance stone work.
Another ap to add to the mix is halftone. This one takes images and turns them into newspaper comic cells. The halftone dot matrix is intentional to mimic newspaper print. You can add dialogue balloons and other comic style graphics, along with the captions highlighted here. These remind me a little of baseball cards.
There are countless photography apps out there than can make great graphics for blogs. Its worth spending some time exploring what is out there. I’m just getting started, how about you?
I’ve been captivated by this image since I found it earlier this week. It was taken by David W Coigach and posted at deviantART. Taken at Kirkcudbright, Dumfries and Galloway (Southwest Scotland), this imagery seems so right for Heavenfield with the ravens circling overhead. Ok, so I’ll admit heavenfield didn’t have a stone cross, which seems really odd, but I guess a miracle working wooden cross was enough!
Where did the summer go? I can’t believe that I haven’t done one of these since July! Well, its time to clear out my reader and share some of the late summer/early autumn links that got my attention. Enjoy
Curt Emanuel, the Medieval History Geek, is continuing his reading on Late Antique Christianity. He is currently up to the work and influence of Anthanasius.
Here at Heavenfield, I’ve reviewed Tim’s book on The Makers of Scotland, and looked at Bede’s account of Bishop Wilfrid’s coming to Sussex.
Guy Halsall, aka Grumpy Professor, of Historian on the Edge has posted a conference paper he gave on the decline and fall of the ancient triumph and an(other) manifesto on the purpose of history inflicted on unsuspecting students.
Sally Wilde is thinking about Autumn in England and the death of King Edwin ,the British bards Taliesin and Aneirin , and a while back about storing 7th century agricultural surplus while working on her novel.
Karen Jolly of Revealing Words wrote about a liturgical database she has been working on in conjunction with her last academic book.
Jonathan Jarrett of A Corner of Tenth Century Europe wrote about exploring/imaging the medieval landscape of Catalonia, and on a seminar paper from Janet Nelson on the early medieval female author Dhuoda of Barcelona who wrote a book of advice for her son.
Andy Gaunt of Archaeology and History of Sherwood Forest writes about the tradition of Goose Fairs in the forest.
Katy Meyers of Bones Don’t Lie has posts on deviant burials in medieval Ireland, on the treatment of broken legs in Iron Age and Roman Britain and on assumption of gender based on grave goods.