Spitalfields Life recently published this photograph of Trajan's Column at the Victoria and Albert Museum, causing me to go, "Wait, what? Trajan's Column is in London?" In fact this a photo from the Cast Courts, where the museum's collection of plaster reproductions is displayed. We were at the V&A in 2003, but I never discovered this room. D
Roman glassware at the museum of the Department of Classics and Religious Studies, University of Ottawa.
Have you ever wondered why Roman glassware always looks dirty? It's because it is. An agricultural society like the Romans' maintained a very close relationship to the soil. Today a wine expert can speak authoritatively about the terroir that produced a vintage. The peasantry of the Roman Empire could identify the terroir of pork, egg, mussel or even bread. Their intimate understanding of the soil sprang from the farming practice of tasting the earth to learn its mineral content. The soils of particular estuaries were considered especially healthful. Taverniers bottled earth from these favoured spots with natural spring water and sold it as a refreshing beverage. The dirt you see in Roman glassware is a residue of this soft drink, trademarked Agri-Cola.
This bird of prey, in gold and garnet, is part of the Staffordshire Hoard discovered in 2009. The quality of the materials, design and craftsmanship suggest that the Anglo-Saxons were almost as advanced as the Haida.
Thermae Romae, a manga about a Roman architect who time travels between the reign of the Emperor Hadrian and the bathrooms of modern Japan, came out in an English translation in November, but in Japan it has already been made into an anime and a feature-length film. Manga review. Film site. Through a hilarious series of misunderstandings Douglas asked Heather for the French edition for Christmas, but that's cool too.
When Japanese visitors to the Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung in Berlin find themselves in front of the famous bust of Queen Nefertiti, do they wonder, "When are they going to paint the other eye?" In Japan the figure of Daruma receives a second eye when some important task has been completed. Perhaps Nefertiti's one eye is saying, "You still haven't returned me to Egypt."
Greenock is a seaport, and perhaps nothing illustrates the way the town has kept its face to the sea better than the survival of a Roman site on the hilltop just two miles inland. The Lurg Moor Fortlet was built in the second century to mind the western flank of the Antonine Wall, and since that time about the only other construction has been the installation of the pylons for the nearby power corridor. If you line up that ship in the harbour with the forested peninsula on the opposite shore you'll realize that this site is behind the eastern part of Greenock, in fact directly uphill from Cappielow Park ... where this afternoon Morton play Queen of the South.
Queen of the South currently sit last in the First Division table, with an away record of one win, one draw, and five losses. This is the kind of game Morton have to win if they want to take a run at first-place Ross County. QoS will be well-rested, however, because they had a bye through the third round of the Scottish Cup, on account of finishing fourth in the division last year, and consequently didn't play last weekend, not even a friendly.
Speaking of antiquity, when did Morton last play Rangers? My researches suggest it was February 19, 2000, in Round Four of that year's Scottish Cup. Eleven years? That seems morally wrong. Falkirk manager Steven Pressley would like to see a 20-team SPL. Morton should be able to qualify for that, and if they did they'd meet Rangers twice yearly. Where's the petition? I'll sign it.
It was around this time last year that the Scottish football season began to go off the rails. There was the referees' strike and, on top of that, snow. This year has been comparatively trouble-free, schedule-wise if not bank-balance-wise, and this weekend sees only the first First Division postponement of the season. Partick are hosting Junior side Culter in a Scottish Cup third round replay, so their league game at Ayr is deferred until Wednesday.
It's confirmed: Fouad Bachirou's toe is broken.
Today is also the third round of Scottish Junior Cup. Largs Thistle play Lesmahagow. Read all about it in the Wee Paper. Auchinleck Talbot, who are still alive in the Scottish Cup proper, play Penicuik Athletic. Culter, though they're still in the Scottish Cup, are out of the Scottish Junior Cup, having lost to Kelty Hearts in the second round. 164 clubs participate in the Scottish Junior Cup competition. I will never learn all their names. Greenock Juniors play Bellshill. Port Glasgow Juniors are already out. Greenock and Port Glasgow currently groundshare at Battery Park, near Gourock, in the neighbourhood called Fort Matilda, after a former outpost of the British Empire in west Greenock. Fort Matilda is where they make Buchanan's Toffees, a sponsor of Greenock Morton. It all ties together.
[Morton 2, Queen of the South 2. Morton goals by Jackson and Weatherson. The Ton remain in fifth place pending Wednesday's Partick/Ayr game. Ross County now hold first with a nine point cushion. Dundee are third. Weren't they just in last place? Largs win. Auchinleck Talbot win. Greenock Juniors' game was postponed due to rain and sleet, as were many other Junior Cup fixtures. Partick 4, Culter 0.]
There was a head of a family living in the area of Northumberland known as Cunningham, who led a devout life with all his household. He fell ill, his condition steadily deteriorating until the crisis came, and he died in the early hours of the night. But at daybreak he returned to life and suddenly sat up to the great consternation of those weeping around the body, who ran away; only his wife, who loved him more dearly, remained with him. The man reassured her, and said: 'Do not be frightened, for I have truly risen from the grasp of death, and I am allowed to live among men again. But henceforward I must not live as I used to, and must adopt a very different way of life.' Then he rose and went off to the church in the town, where he continued in prayer until daybreak. He then divided all his property into three parts, one of which he allotted to his wife, another to his sons, and the third he retained and distributed at once to the poor. Not long afterwards, he abandoned all worldly responsibilities and entered the monastery of Melrose, which is almost completely surrounded by a bend in the river Tweed. (Bede's A History of the English Church and People, Book V, chapter 12. Translation by Leo Sherley-Price.)
Melrose Abbey is one of the most famous and significant medieval sites in Scotland. That's its location on the left above, under the red pushpin, and you can get a better view of it here. But Melrose Abbey didn't exist anytime near 700 A.D. when Drycthelm's near-death experience occurred, nor is it almost completely surrounded by a bend in the river Tweed. But if you look to the right of the map...
That's the place. According to the Melrose Historical Society Bulletin, the estate on this peninsula is the site of the original Melrose, or Mailros, monastery founded by King Oswald in 635 and destroyed by the Scottish king Kenneth MacAlpin in 859. To my knowledge Time Team have never done this dig, but if they do I hope they can clear up one thing for me. Was Cunningham, Ayrshire, ever really part of the Kingdom of Northumbria? D