I’m sitting here in Fetzer waiting for the Pseudo-Society to begin so I might as well catch up on some of my blogging. Thursday was an interesting day of talks. I went to three sessions but I zoned out in the last one and one speaker couldn’t come, so I’ll just write about the first two.
Session 34: Regimens of Health: Housebooks and Everyday Medicines.
Mediators between Theoretical and Practical Medieval Medical Knowledge: Notebooks in the Cairo Genizah and Their Importance by Efram Lev of U. of Haifa
Household Cures for Common Pains by Donna Trembinski of St Francis Xavier U.
Bloodletting in Monastic Customaries by Sarah Matthews of U. of Iowa
Preserving the Health of Body, State, and Soul: Recipes and Regimen in the Commonplace Book of King Duarte of Portugal (1433-38). by Iona McCleery, U of Leeds.
This was a very good session. I learned quite a bit and learned how much more I have to learn! One of the interesting things about moving into medieval medicine is that it will open up a lot more cultures. The notebooks in the session were partially in hebrew and arabic! The medieval pharmacy contained supplies from India, China, Arabia, Europe… you name it, traders found it and tried to cure someone with it. This session was sponsored by Medica: Society for the Study of Healing in the Middle Ages. I went to their business meeting next and joined the society. They seemed pretty friendly and open to new people. Medieval medicine is such a huge topic spanning over a thousand years that there seems to be little concern for competition. I’m looking forward to getting to know the history of medicine folks better in the coming years.
It was great to meet Jonathan Jarrett on Thursday at the book exhibit. I love meeting people I have known online for quite a while. I never quite get going early enough for the blogger meet up on Friday mornings. Let’s all push for a better time next year!
Session 82: Topics in Early Irish History
The Creation of Kingship through Place: Fir Flathemon and the Early Irish Dindshenchas by A Joseph McMullen of Harvard U.
Amlaib Cuaran and the Irish and English Churches in the Tenth Century by Gwendolyn Sheldon of U of Toronto
Faith Along the Water: New Understandings of the Archaeology of Fifth- to Ninth Century Christianity along Western Connemara, Ireland by Ian Kuijt and Ryan Lash of Notre Dame, and Alissa Nauman and Nathan Goodale of Hamilton College.
I always try to go to at least one Irish session and looks like this will be it for this year. It was a very full session, standing room only. The last session was particularly interesting and got the most questions from the crowd. They appear to be finding large numbers of early medieval hermitages/settlements on the tiny islands off of Ireland’s southwestern shore. They are suggesting that we will need a new paradigm for monastic organization in a seascape. Yes, I said seascape. There are just too many settlements/hermitages for them to be considered isolated cells. Keeping all these cells supplied alone will call for new ideas of organization. It seems to me it will also call for new ideas of what it means to be an anchorite and the philosophical as well as practical reasons for occupying so many small islands. They are suggesting a three level system of organization that begins with a large mother house, like Clonmacnoise, then smaller houses out on small islands that appear to have all the apparatus for serving a larger community (like watermills etc), and then the isolated anchorages with 1-3 people on them. There was some discussion on the sea travel needed to keep many of the smallest islands supplied. Most of these small islands are too small to have a self-supporting community and travel through rough seas and even rougher landings makes them unreachable for lengthy parts of the year. The archaeologists talked some about the difficulty of reaching and beaching on some of these islands with modern kodiacs during whole seasons of the year. There is still a lot to be resolved with this work. The surveys are incomplete andDating will be a big issue. They think that it will be early medieval, 5-9th century if I recall correctly, but even so, they could have been serially occupying islands hoping to find the best ones for small cells.
After another tour through the book exhibits, I called it a night with a couple heavy bags and went to finish working on my presentation. Apart from Jonathan Jarrett I didn’t see anyone I knew Thursday but then I’m not going to my usual Anglo-Saxon sessions. So that’s it for day 1, back later with more news.