[Steppes] Period Week in Review 12-03-2006 to 12-09-2006

Mike meggiddo at netzero.net
Tue Dec 12 08:41:49 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
Medieval Sacred Icon on Display in Bulgaria
The only medieval icon of Saint Kliment Ohridski in Bulgaria will be
on display at the National History Museum in Sofia from
November 24.
    This icon and will be presented in connection with the holiday of
the Bulgarian enlightener St Kliment Ohridski that the Orthodox
Church marks on November 25.
    Saint Kliment Ohridski is also called the Miracle-Worker and it is
believed his relics can heal.
    He was one of the disciples of the Holy Brothers Sts. Cyril and
Methodius who created the Slavic alphabet and made the first
translations in it in the 9th century. Their disciples introduced
the alphabet in Bulgaria, putting the beginning of its journey to
the world.

Primarily France  0701 - 0800
December 4th, 0771 - Austrasian King Carloman dies, at age 20,
 leaving his brother Charlemagne King of the now complete
Frankish Kingdom. Carloman was the king of the Franks from 768
through 771. He was the second son of Pippin the Younger and
Bertrada of Laon.
    Along with his brother Charles (who would later be known as
Charlemagne), Carloman was anointed as king by Pope Stephen II
in 754. After Pippin's death in 768, Carloman and Charles divided
the kingdom between them, with Carloman taking the eastern portion,
Austrasia. There was considerable tension between the brothers,
which may be the reason why, at Carloman's death, his wife
Gerberge fled with her sons to the court of Desiderius, king of the
Lombards. Because some sources state that Gerberge was
Desiderius' daughter, it is difficult to judge the level of fraternal 
Chronicles more sympathetic to Charles imply that he was bemused
by Gerberge's action. Upon Carloman's death, his kingdom was
absorbed into that of Charles, who then distributed portions to his
own sons.

Roman Empire  0100 - 0001BC
On December 5th, 63 BC - Cicero reads the last of his Catiline
    In 63 BC Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC), orator, statesman and
patriot, attained the rank of consul and in that capacity exposed to the
Roman Senate the plot of Lucius Sergius Catilina
(approx. 108-62 BC) and his friends to overthrow the government of
    As political orations go, this was relatively short- roughly 317 
lines of
Latin- and to the point.
he opening remarks are still widely remembered and used after 2,000

Quo usque tandem abutere, Catilina, patientia nostra?
    How long, O Catiline, will you abuse our patience?
Quam diu etiam furor iste tuus nos eludet?
    How long is that madness of yours still to mock us?

Modern Day - England  - Roman Empire
Archaeologists Unearth Ancient Curse: Tablet To God Maglus Invokes
Destruction Of Cloak-pilferer
     An ancient curse aimed at a thief is one of a number of treasures to
be unveiled to the public for the first time, following the largest
archaeological excavation the city of Leicester has ever seen.
Over the past three years, a team of up to 60 archaeologists from
University of Leicester Archaeological Services has been working
on a number of sites in the city. Almost 9% of Leicester's historic
core has been subject to investigation in some form, giving new
insights into the appearance and development of the Roman and
medieval towns.
     One of the most interesting finds from a site on Vine Street was
a 'curse' tablet -- a sheet of lead inscribed in the second or third
century AD and intended to invoke the assistance of a chosen god.
 It has been translated by a specialist at Oxford University, and reads:
     'To the god Maglus, I give the wrongdoer who stole the cloak of
Servandus. Silvester, Riomandus (etc.) ... that he destroy him before
the ninth day, the person who stole the cloak of Servandus...'
Then follows a list of the names of 18 or 19 suspects. What happened
to them is not recorded.
     Before the discovery of this object, archaeologists only knew of the
names of three or four of the inhabitants of Roman Leicester, so the
find is of great significance.
     Richard Buckley, co-Director of the University of Leicester
Archaeological Services, said: "Curse tablets are known from a
number of Roman temple sites in Britain, and are thin rectangular
sheets of lead bearing the 'curse' inscribed with a point or stylus.
They were usually rolled up and were probably nailed to the wall of a
temple or shrine. Most curses seem to relate to thefts and typically
the chosen god is asked to do harm to the perpetrator. It has been
suggested, on the basis of name forms and the value of items stolen,
that the curses relate to the lives of ordinary people, rather than the
wealthy, and that they were perhaps commissioned by the dedicator
from a professional curse writer.
     "The Leicester curse is unusually well preserved and had not been
rolled up. After initial cleaning by a conservator, it was clear that it 
covered in handwritten script, including a column of text which looks
rather like a list. The inscription is currently being translated by a
specialist at the University of Oxford. He notes that the Latin of the
script reflects the spoken language in several ways. There are 18 or
19 names, a mixture of commonplace Roman (like Silvester and
Germanus), Celtic (like Riomandus and Cunovendus), and 'Roman'
names found in Celtic-speaking provinces (like Regalis). The god's
name might be a title - 'prince' in Celtic.
     "The curse is a remarkable discovery, and at a stroke,
dramatically increases the number of personal names known from
Roman Leicester. So far, we have the soldier, Marcus Ulpius
Novantico, from a military discharge certificate of AD106,
'Verecunda' and Lucius' from a graffito on a piece of pottery and
'Primus' who inscribed his name on a tile he had made. The name
forms will help us to understand the cultural make up of the
population, whilst the subject matter tells us about the spread of
spoken Latin and the religious practices of ordinary people".
    The excavations have also produced many thousands of sherds of
pottery, together with building materials, animal bone and a large
variety of smaller objects, including Roman weighing scales, coins,
brooches, gaming pieces and hairpins. A find of note from the
medieval period is a piece of high status chain mail.

Highlights of the project have included:

  * The discovery of the lost medieval churches of St Peter and
      St Michael and their graveyards, with the excavation of over
          1600 burials
 * The excavation of a substantial Roman town house of the 2nd
           century AD and an adjacent public building
 * The investigation of the northern Roman and medieval town
           defences and the discovery of part of the town wall, together
            with an interval tower
 * The collapsed wall of the macellum or market hall, one of
            Leicester's Roman public buildings -- rare evidence for the
            appearance of a Roman structure in the city.
 * The investigation of a deep sequence of medieval and
            post-medieval properties on Highcross Street, with evidence
              for a brewery
 * New evidence for Dark Age Leicester, from the discovery of
             Anglo-Saxon structures of the 5th-6th century AD

Modern Day - England
Burial Site Discovery Pushes Back Date of Christianity in Britain
     Archaeologists excavating near the edge of Trafalgar Square in
London have found evidence of early Christianity in England,
suggesting the area has a much older religious significance than was
originally believed. A team from the Museum of London has
discovered a hoard of what is almost certainly royal treasure, buried
in a mysterious, empty human grave laid out in the traditional Christian
manner - east to west.
    "Our excavations demonstrate the position as a significant and
important place at an earlier date than we thought," said Alison Telfer,
the senior archaeologist in charge of the dig. The finds are among the
most remarkable discoveries ever made in London and are likely to
shed new light on the very early stages of the introduction of Christian
ideas into the Anglo-Saxon world 1,400 years ago.
    Located immediately next to one of the capital's most famous
churches - St Martin-in-the-Fields - immediately to the north of
Trafalgar Square, the empty grave appears to form part of a
previously unknown ancient cemetery, dating back more than one
and a half millennia. Archaeologists have also discovered 24 other
graves on the site, all still holding the remains of their occupants.
The treasure hoard in the empty grave consists of a gold pendant
inlaid with blue-green glass; glass beads and fragments of silver
(possibly a neck pendant); and two pieces of amethyst, possibly
earrings. The empty grave, judging by its treasure, and several of the
other early graves in the cemetery are estimated to date from the
time that Bertha was Queen of Kent - 590 to 610.
    "It is likely that the grave did initially accommodate a body, but the
remains were removed after some months or years for burial inside a
church, potentially an early version of St Martin's itself," said
Professor Ian Wood of Leeds University, who specialises in 6th
and 7th century history.
    "It is likely that the empty grave belonged to a relative - possibly
even a daughter or a niece - of the most important woman in Britain
at the time, Queen Bertha, the wife of the most powerful ruler in
England, King Aethelberht of Kent, overlord of the English."
    Professor Wood added: "Bertha is the unsung heroine of early
English Christianity because it was she, rather than the much more
famous St Augustine, who was initially responsible for the introduction
of Christianity into the Anglo-Saxon world. It was as a result of her
activities that St Augustine was sent to England by the Pope to
become the first Archbishop of Canterbury.
    Bertha was a devotee of the cult of St Martin. Her personal church
in Canterbury, presented to her in about 590 by her then pagan
husband, Aethelberht, was dedicated to the saint - probably at her
behest. And her husband was, after about 597, very keen on
ecclesiastical development in London, which was technically part of
the kingdom of Essex but in reality under Kentish overall control.
    The mysterious empty grave near Trafalgar Square may therefore
have been a temporary resting place for a senior Kentish princess
during the time that the Anglo-Saxon church of St Martin's was being
    The excavations have also revealed a second mystery. At least one
of the other graves was pre-Anglo-Saxon and dates from the very
late Roman or immediate post-Roman period. The burial, in a
stone sarcophagus, was also Christian - like virtually all the others
 - but was 200 years older.
     This raises the possibility that the site had Christian links long
before the conversion of Anglo-Saxon England, possibly as the
location of a small church or mortuary chapel built there in the very
late Roman period, immediately before the Anglo-Saxon pagan
conquest. This would mean St Martin-in-the-Fields is London's oldest
surviving ecclesiastical site, predating St Paul's by some two centuries.
Archaeologists excavating near the edge of Trafalgar Square in
London have found evidence of early Christianity in England,
suggesting the area has a much older religious significance than
was originally believed.

Norway  - Modern Day
Did Norwegians Serve in Roman Legions?
    Ancient weaponry, cups and coins found in Norway have
strengthened the theory that quite a few Norwegians served as
soldiers in the Roman legions. Archaeological findings have
strengthened notions amongst scholars that quite a few Norwegians,
from the farthermost north of Europe, in all likelihood served as
soldiers in the Roman legions.
     Ancient weaponry, cups and coins all points towards a more
extensive cultural exchange between Norway/Scandinavia and the
Roman Empire than previously assumed, an assumption Professor
Heid Gjostein Resi at the Cultural Historical Museum, at the University
of Oslo also seems to agree with.
     "Yes, I believe Norwegians served in Roman legions," he says, and
continues; "We have been able to confirm that artifacts found in old
graves in Norway, which at first were believed to have originated
elsewhere, do indeed have their origins from the Roman Empire."
     In 1895, during the excavation of the grave of a Norwegian warlord,
dating back to 200 A.D, buried near the little village of Avaldsnes on
the west coast of Norway, scientists found a sword with a silver
ornamented scabbard, a silver ornamented shield, bracelets and four
gold rings, artifacts and weaponry that indicates very well that this
 warlord might have served in the Roman legions, according to
Professor Lotte Hedeager at the Institute of archeology, Oslo University.
     It is a well known fact that people from so called barbaric tribes 
the German tribes up north, were recruited into the Roman legions and
that some of them even ended up as Generals and leaders of the
Roman legions themselves.
     "Warriors that chose to return to Norway, after 10-15 years in
service, brought back not only Roman artifacts and coins but some
even brought back artifacts typical for a man serving in the legions,"
says Laszlo Berczelli, a retired scholar from the Cultural Historical
     One artifact typical for soldiers in service of the Roman army was
vessels made of bronze for drinking and eating, an artifact found in
many graves excavated in the eastern parts of Norway.
     On an ending note, the scientist Svein Gulli, at the Cultural
Historical Museum, asks somewhat rhetorically;
     "It is a historical fact that Vikings served as mercenaries in the
service of the Byzantine emperor, why then couldn't they have served
in the Roman legions?"

Netherlands  1501- 1600
On December 9th, 1508 - Gemma Frisius, Dutch mathematician and
cartographer born on this date.
    Gemma Frisius or Reiner Gemma was a mathematician,
cartographer and instrument maker. He created important globes,
improved the mathematical instruments of his day and applied
mathematics in new ways to surveying and navigation.
    He was born in Dokkum, Friesland (present-day Netherlands) of
poor parents, who died when he was young. Though a poor orphan, he
studied at Leuven beginning in 1525. He received the degree of MD
in 1536 and remained on the faculty of medicine at Leuven for the rest
of his life.
    While still a student, Frisius set up a workshop to produce globes
and mathematical instruments. He became noted for the quality and
accuracy of his instruments, which were praised by Tycho Brahe,
among others.

 Lord Michael Kettering
  Combat Archer for the Condottieri

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