salvianus: (Intercisa)
Quick review of The Collection at Lincoln.

I like the innovative archaeology displays, including a model prehistoric causeway you can walk over & an aerial map that looks like a floor mosaic. There are a few interesting Roman artefacts including a 1cm scale that the curators think might be too small to offer real protection & a nice late ring with a Victory intaglio.

The Saxon finds are more impressive, including a very well preserved leaf bladed spearhead and it was good to see an adze from the Torksey iron hoard that looks like mine. The medieval swords with unintelligible inscriptions, perhaps 'magical incantations', were fascinating.

The stand out collection for me is the late C7th Tattershall Thorpe grave assemblage of metalworking tools, including a range of hammers, punches, files, a 'draw-plate', snips and tongs. It is the evidence of the life of the owner that strikes most: a bell (perhaps because strangers should make a noise when off the path so as not to be taken for a criminal or enemy & killed with impunity), what might have been lead models to serve as reminders, the box of tiny scraps of assorted metal, presumably for re-use and recycling and various Roman artefacts.

While we were there we saw the travelling British Museum exhibition Across the Board. This is definitely worth a look, to see 24 of the Lewis chess pieces. They have a number I've never seen in books, including the guys with helmets that look like bowler hats and you can see all round them, showing off the knot work patterns on thrones and so on.

It's at The Collection until 3rd September 2006, & then at Luton Museum 23rd September 2006 - 21st January 2007.
salvianus: (Default)
Reading through Bishop & Coulston's section about the use of reconstruction archeology I was suddenly struck by a thought which I am sure has occured to every re-enactor who enjoys educating the public.

At Bede's World they use a number of displays of reconstructed kit of re-enactment quality & the British Museum has some splendid one-off reconstructions on display - not just the Sutton Hoo assembly, but a ring-hilted sword that sticks in my mind (as in: I want one). Jorvik goes a step further & has re-enactors showing & explaining their kit to the queue at peak periods & some standard reconstructions to touch - including a brass Coppergate strap end that I now sport on one of my belts.

At the same time, many items that Comitatus members have constructed or procured are unique to the country or unlikely to be seen elsewhere.

What if, one day, all museums had reconstructed pieces to handle alongside the display cases and (much more expensively) re-enactors in top quality kit to demonstrate their function? Even fragile or sharp pieces might be touchable by using cut-away cases and all could have Video displays alongside showing plausible construction and use by re-enactors. Could we find museums willing to work with us on creating such displays now?
salvianus: (Default)
I am very, very pleased with this & thoroughly recommend it to all.


Criticisms:
Quite a few of the displays are not numbered at the moment, probably in the process of re-numbering. Some of the lights are placed badly, so if you stand to look, you block your own light. A friend of ours was on duty when we went & introduced us to exhibition organiser Elizabeth Hartley & they are certainly aware of these issues & I understand they are working on it. Might be worth waiting if you are travelling a long way.

The static displays are a bit 'old school' compared to the animatronic dinosaurs we're used to, but they project a nice CHi-Rho & it's always nice to hear the Nicene Creed in (church) Latin.

I also feel that the emphasis on Constantine promoting Christianity rather plays down some of the less attractive elements of his life as 'companion of the sun god', although the continuity of symbolism & practice from Classical to Christian worship is illustrated by exhibits very well.

And the tools were not on display when we went! I want to see chisels!

My Highlights:
The mail shirt from Arbea in all it's crumpled glory & in an environmentally controlled case, looking like an old unravelling woollen sweater. 7mm rings, alternate rows rivetted, late third - early fourth century.

The Dalmatic tunic from Akhmin on loan from the Victoria & Albert Museum (T.361-1887). 130cm long, 206 cm wide, 'first half of the fourth century', full length purple wool clavi with interlocked geometric gold thread embroidery, with two identical bands on each cuff. Simpler pattern than I'd expected, but so attractive.

The glass beaker (from Bonn?) showing Constantine's guards over from Cologne & pictured in Southern & Dixon.

The Chi-Rho votive plaques from the Water Newton hoard - a strong reminder of the pagan flavour of early Christianity.

The central roundel with Christ & Chi-Rho from the mosaic at Hinton St. Mary, Dorset. Mid-fourth century. I love the way they've displayed it on a carpet showing the rest of the mosaic!

Silver military belt fittings from the Traprain Law Treasure. I want some.

Golden Chi-Rho monogram seal ring from Suffolk, a beautifully worked golden armlet from Cologne and, not least, the golden ring inscribed 'Fidem Constantino' from Amien & of a type probably commonly worn by soldiers in his service.

Oddest:
Lifesized goose statue with internal pipes to allow it to emit steam, smoke or possibly sound effects!

On 'til October. The catalogue is well worth it. Why not combine it with the York Roman Festival celebrating the 1700th anniversary of his acclamation, 21-30 July? Comitatus is taking over Barley Hall on the second weekend!

The exhibition site: www.constantinethegreat.org.uk
The Festival Site, such as it is (don't expect the rest of it to be as well organised as our bit): www.yorkromanfestival.com

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February 2011

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