[Steppes] Period Week in Review 11-26-2006 - 12-02-2006

Mike meggiddo at netzero.net
Tue Dec 5 05:14:35 PST 2006


Hope the reader will enjoy this look at History
within Period - both from the past and the present
as it affects the history that is known today.

Modern Day
Viking Ship to Sail Next Summer
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) -- Dozens of volunteer sailors will
follow in the wake of the Vikings next summer, crossing the North Sea
to Ireland in a 100-foot (30-meter) replica of a Norse warship,
museum officials said Friday.
    The slender long ship, named Havhingsten, or Stallion of the Sea, is
one of the most ambitious Viking ship reconstructions to date, experts
said. It has been modeled after a nearly 1,000-year-old vessel that
was excavated in the Roskilde fjord, west of Copenhagen, the Danish capital.
    On July 2, the vessel will set sail from Roskilde with a crew of 65
who hope to learn more about Viking seamanship on a seven-week,
1,000-mile (1,700-kilometer) journey to Dublin -- a city founded by
    "We will not sail dressed as Vikings, but we will try to understand
how the ship and crew coped," said Martin Brandt Djupdraet, curator
of the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde.
    The volunteer crew from Britain, Ireland, the United States,
Germany, Australia and Scandinavian countries has been testing
the ship off Denmark since Queen Margrethe christened it in 2004.
    The long ship will head north to Scotland and sail down through the
Irish Sea. The ports of call on the way to Dublin have not been
announced yet. It is due to sail back to Denmark in 2008.
    The long ship was built by craftsmen using Viking-era tools, but
its navigation equipment will be modern. It will be fitted with radar,
a radio, a global positioning system and modern safety equipment.
Crew members also will report daily online about the journey.
    The original warship was built in 1042 in Glendalough, south
of Dublin.

Modern Day
Virtual Armoring Exhibitions Online
The Higgins Armory Museum and the Worcester Polytechnic Institute
have created a series of virtual exhibitions dealing with the martial arts
in Medieval and Renaissance Europe with an emphasis on armor
and fighting techniques.
    The web-based exhibits include:
          * Martial Arts of Medieval and Renaissance Europe
          * The Classic Suit of Armor
          * The Techniques of Medieval Armored Combat
          * Arms and Armor in the Age of the Musketeer
          * Modeling the Joust
          * The Emergence of Plate Armor
Web site below:

Modern Day
Jewish History Becomes High Priority in Spain
    Reported on November 28th:
TOLEDO, Spain: Spain has sometimes been slow to recognize its
own treasures. Miguel de Cervantes was slipping into obscurity
after his death until he was rescued by foreign literary experts.
El Greco's paintings were pulled from oblivion by the French. The
Muslim palace of Alhambra had fallen into neglect before the
American author Washington Irving and others wrote about it in
the 1800s.
    Now, more than 500 years after expelling its Jews and moving to
hide if not eradicate all traces of their existence, Spain has begun
rediscovering the Jewish culture that thrived here for centuries and
that scholars say functioned as a second Jerusalem during the
Middle Ages.
    "We've gone from a period of pillaging the Jews and then
suppressing and ignoring their patrimony to a period of rising
curiosity and fascination," said Ana María López, the director of the
Sephardic Museum in Toledo, a hub of Jewish life before the Jews
were expelled or forced to convert to Christianity in 1492 during the
    Cities and towns across Spain are searching for the remains of
their medieval synagogues, excavating old Jewish neighborhoods
and trying to identify Jewish cemeteries. Scholars say they are
overwhelmed with requests from local governments to study
archaeological findings and ancient documents that may validate
a region's Jewish heritage.
    "History is being exploited," Castaño said, citing Oviedo near the
northern coast and Jaén in the south as particularly egregious
examples. "People are trying to reproduce what has occurred in
Toledo. Everyone wants their medieval synagogue."
    Toledo, with two intact medieval synagogues, including the Tránsito
Synagogue from the 14th century, is something of an exception in
Spain, where the expulsion of the Jews was followed by a campaign
to destroy, disassemble or obscure obvious reminders of their
    Spain had the most vibrant Jewish population in Europe before
the expulsion of 1492, and it produced one of the most influential
cultural legacies in Jewish history.
    It was here that Hebrew was reborn as a language suitable not just
for prayer and liturgy but for poetry and other secular pursuits,
contributing to the advent in Spain of what has been called a golden
age of Jewish literature, philosophy and science in the 10th and 11th
    Scholarly interest in this chapter of Jewish history has been
intensifying in Spain for decades, but only recently has it extended to
the public. Besides the revival of Jewish neighborhoods, there has
been an explosion of books on Jewish themes, with 200 to 250
published every year, and new museums, cultural centers,
restaurants and musical groups devoted to Sephardic traditions.
    Medieval festivals that have typically included only Muslims and
Christians are now seeking to add Jewish participants. Jewish
leaders say the trend has received an added push from Prime
Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, who has made encouraging
a more open and tolerant society a primary objective of his

On November 29th, 1268  Clement IV died.
Upon the death of Clement, no new pope was elected for almost
three years.

Modern Day
Ancient calculator demystified at last
Greeks' 2,100-year-old Antikythera Mechanism was used in astronomy
    Scientists have finally demystified the incredible workings of a
2,100-year-old astronomical calculator built by ancient Greeks.
    A new analysis of the Antikythera Mechanism, a clocklike machine
consisting of more than 30 precise, hand-cut bronze gears, show it to
be more advanced than previously thought -- so much so that
nothing comparable was built for another thousand years.
    "This device is just extraordinary, the only thing of its kind," said
study leader Mike Edmunds of Cardiff University in Wales.
"The design is beautiful, the astronomy is exactly right ...
In terms of historical and scarcity value, I have to regard this
mechanism as being more valuable than the Mona Lisa."
    The researchers used three-dimensional X-ray scanners to
reconstruct the workings of the device's gears, and high-resolution
surface imaging to enhance faded inscriptions on its surface.
    Precise astronomy
The new analysis reveals that the device's front dials had pointers for
the sun and moon -- called the "golden little sphere" and
"little sphere," respectively -- and markings which coincided with the
zodiac and solar calendars. The back dials, meanwhile, appear to
have been used for predicting solar and lunar eclipses.
    The researchers also show that the device could mechanically
replicate the irregular motions of the moon, caused by its elliptical
orbit around Earth, using a clever design involving two
superimposed gear-wheels, one slightly off-center, that are
connected by a pin-and-slot device.
    The team was also able to pin down the device's construction date
more precisely. Radiocarbon dating suggested it was built around
65 B.C., but newly revealed lettering on the machine indicate a
slightly older construction date of 150 to 100 B.C. The team's
reconstruction also involves 37 gear wheels, seven of which
are hypothetical.
    "In the face of fragmentary material evidence, such guesswork is
inevitable. But the new model is highly seductive, and convincing in
all of its detail," Francois Charette, a researcher at the
Ludwig-Maximilians University in Germany who was not involved in
the study, wrote in a related article in the journal Nature.
    Discovered in 1900
Pieces of the calculating machine were discovered by sponge divers
exploring the remains of an ancient shipwreck off the tiny island of
Antikythera in 1900. For decades, scientists have been trying to
figure out how the device's 80 fragmented pieces fit together and
unlock its workings.
    Previous reconstructions suggested the Antikythera Mechanism
was about the size of a shoebox, with dials on the outside and a
complex assembly of bronze gear wheels within. By winding a knob
on its side, the positions of the sun, moon, Mercury and Venus could
be determined for any chosen date. Newly revealed inscriptions also
appear to confirm previous speculations that the device could also
calculate the positions of Mars, Jupiter and Saturn -- the other
planets known at the time.
    The international team, led by Edmunds and Tony Freeth, also of
Cardiff University, included astronomers, mathematicians, computer
experts, script analysts and conservation experts from Britain, Greece
and the United States.
    The researchers plan to create a computer model of how the
Antikythera Mechanism worked and eventually a working replica.

England  1101 - 1200
On December 1st, 1170   Becket returns to Canterbury
After establishing an uneasy reconciliation with Henry II, the Archbishop
returned to his See, ending a six-year-long self-imposed exile.
But doom awaited at the end of the year.

Modern Day
Fra Angelico paintings found in UK
A retired manuscript librarian had hung the paintings of Dominican
saints in her study in Britain for years -- unaware that the small
gold-leafed images were the work of Fra Angelico.
    Now her descendants plan to auction the works of the 15th century
monk, beatified in 1984 by the Vatican, in a sale that may fetch
$1.9 million.
     "Holding them, my hands were actually shaking," the librarian's
nephew, Martin Preston, said of the discovery.
"They were painted 600 years ago."
     The paintings of two unidentified saints were part of an altar group
displayed at the artist's Florence convent, San Marco, from around
1438. The paintings were commissioned by the bankers Cosimo
Medici and his brother Lorenzo, but were separated and scattered
when Napoleon invaded Italy in the 1790s.
    Jean Preston found two of them while she lived in California in the
1960s, but she did not immediately realize their worth. Her father
bought them for her for about $381.
    "She knew everything there was to know about medieval literature,
but not a lot about art," Martin Preston said of his aunt, who was a
retired curator of manuscripts at Princeton University. Five years
before her death this year at age 77, when she was living in Oxford,
central England, Jean Preston became curious about the pictures
and contacted her alma mater, Bristol University, to see if any of the
art history professors would evaluate her pre-Raphaelite art.
    "I went to visit and was rather startled to discover she had a
number of extremely interesting pieces," said Michael Liversidge, a
former dean of the arts department.
    The golden saints were the most intriguing.
     Liversidge began researching, and learned of a set of six small
panels by Fra Angelico scattered across the world. Like Jean
Preston's, each was of the same style and size, depicting a
Dominican saint on a gold background. After consulting other
experts, Liversidge told her he had concluded the pictures were
Fra Angelico's.
    "She said 'Oh my! That is very interesting,' " Liversidge said.
"I think she was extremely pleased that what they were had been
found out."
    Liversidge was unable to identify the Dominican saints depicted in
Preston's pictures. Fra Angelico's convent still has the largest painting
of the group. The pictures came to public knowledge when Guy
Schwinge of the Duke's of Dorchester auction house appraised the
former librarian's collection.
    "To put it in a nutshell, we are dealing with two works of art
painted by one of the 'greats,' intended for his own church and
commissioned by one of the greatest art patrons in history,"
Schwinge said in a statement. "It simply does not get much better
than that."
    Martin Preston was unaware of Liversidge's identification.
His aunt appreciated pictures from an artistic and historical
interest, but never thought of their value, he said. She was a frugal
woman who lived simply, Preston said.
    Duke's auction house plans to sell the paintings in March. The
last time Fra Angelico's work sold, in 1972, two pictures fetched
$439,000, Schwinge said.
    The sale will provide some financial security for her four
nephews and niece, whom Martin Preston described as
"very ordinary people."
    Fra Angelico was born Guido di Pietro about 1395 and
died in 1455.
    Pope John Paul II beatified him in 1984, the first step toward
sainthood, and decreed him patron of artists.

 Lord Michael Kettering
  Combat Archer for the Condottieri

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