Here is another video from swordsmith, Jake Powning. In the video Jake carves a gripping beast into a wooden scabbard and talks a little bit about the techniques he’s using and the folklore that inspires him. At one point in the video (47:07-49:22), a question is asked about the difference between a piece being historically accurate or historically inspired. Jake gives an excellent reply which deals with the philosphy of history and anthropology. It touches on a subject that Erin and I have talked about a lot in our discussions about the past. Namely, that the past doesn’t exist. We can’t access it. All we can deal with are these objects and texts from the past but in the present. We make up stories about them that are internally consistent but might not neccessarily be accurate to how things were.
The stories we make up about these objects all fit together, make sense, and don’t contradict eachother, but that doesn’t mean that’s the way it was. It’s likely we’re right about a lot; but there is so much we’ll never know and probably a lot that we’ve gotten wrong. Watch the video above, but especially the part at 47:07-49:22.
Jake Powning is an extraordinary swordsmith and wood carver. Here is an hour long lecture/presentation on swordsmithing, word carving, and viking/celtic ornamentation. Very beautiful and very informative!
Erin and I got home safely from Sweden and just decided to sell a bunch of our extra stuff. Less clutter is always good. So we’re selling almost half of our giant collection of books on Amazon! Erin went through and matched the lowest prices for almost all of these books so come check it out and get a deal! We have Art books, Comics, Christian books, Scifi, Classic Literature, Nonfiction, History, Anthropology/Archaeology, Textbooks, etc! Click on the “Book Sale!” link in the top right corner or just Click Here if you’re lazy. We’ll be updating the page frequently so check back often if you’re interested.
Click here and Here to check out free and open scientific journals on archaeology, anthropology, archaeometry, and conservation! Many of these will only be available until Nov 4th so download whatever you find interesting before then!
Mike reminded me that I took a few photos when I visited the Uppåkra excavation site! I completely forgot to post them for you. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any of the actual excavation site. I only took a few photos of the laboratory where they perform artifact conservation before transferring them to a local museum. Here are the photos:
Visiting the lab was an interesting experience because I was able to see how the conservator was removing the corrosion from a metal artifact. She was so incredibly sweet and allowed students to get a closer look at the objects. I asked what she was using (chemicals, methods, etc.) to stabilize the object and she either didn’t want to go into detail for some reason or she wasn’t employing methods about which I have read. It was a bit strange. First, she mentioned the object was “gold.” Gold is an inert metal and does not corrode or rust. It must have been an alloy; I’m just confused why she wasn’t clear about it. I admit that I am an amateur conservator with limited knowledge on the subject, but from what I have seen, there are a couple different chemical solutions and electrochemical methods that can stabilize metal objects in that state. It doesn’t have to do with funding, either; the methods are relatively inexpensive and can be set up at home! She said she was simply removing the corrosion with a pick, other small tools, and water. I hope it was deionized water! … Time for me to stop rambling about this. Honestly, the visit was very nice. I’m thankful I had the opportunity to see how excavation and conservation is done in Uppåkra. 🙂 I still have a lot to learn! Visits like these are important for students.
Now, I must get back to studying the Vikings, Swedish history, chemistry, and archaeology! We miss and love all of you…
Yesterday while Erin was in class, I got to spend time alone in the Archaeology Library at the university. I spent hours looking through books that were decades or even more than a century old while the rain pattered on the glass and the image of the cobble stone streets outside became distorted. Here are a few of the interesting books I found.
Now this is interesting. While looking at a book about the mystery cults of ancient Greece, I found handwritten notes. I don’t know if they were corrections to the book or study notes from a former student, but I could tell they were old because…(Next photo)
This is a photo of the scroll containing the Egyptian creation story. My note book is there for size comparison but I was also taking notes. No I can’t read Egyptian hieratic texts; I was taking notes on the translation provided a few pages earlier. The story goes like this.
In the beginning, the God Neb-er-tcher, “The Lord to the Uttermost Limit”, “The Universal Lord,” created himself by speaking his own name and then said “I am alone.” There was no ground for him to stand on, only the formless waters of the deep; the primeval ocean, “nu.” He uttered a word of power and created a soul body for himself to work through like a puppet. This makes me wonder if there is any connection with the Gnostics’ belief that God of the Abrahamic faiths is just a demiurge. Meaning they believe he is the creator but that there is a God, Abraxis, above him. The beliefs seem similar. I’ll have to look in to it. Anyway from there, Neb-er-tcher thought or spoke creation into existence by the force of his will. It’s interesting that all of the religions of the middle east have creation stories with similar details. And more interesting still that many cultures around the world have creation myths that start with water. There’s the Egyptians, as we just learned, and the Mesopotamian cultures. Even the Japanese and Viking creation stories begin with water.
The first chapter of enchantment for all kinds of water. It shall be recited by the man in authority, who hath understanding of it, against the Kaiu folk. It is a veritable mystery of the House of Life. “Egg of the water which is poured out upon the earth. Existing One of the Eight Gods of Khemenu (Hermopolis). Chief in the heavens. Chief in the Tuat. Dweller of the Nest. President of Mer-Tchestches.
“I have come forth with thee from the water. I have risen up with thee from out of the divine Nest. I am the god Menu of Qebty (Coptos). I am the god Menu of the Land of Coptos.”
Rubric: This Chapter shall be recited over an egg [made] of dung which shall be placed in the hands of a man [standing] in the fore part of a boat. If anything shall appear on the water, cast the egg on the water.
Hm. No indication of what it’s supposed to do. Not very helpful is it? 🙂
This is how Erin found me when she came down after her class. Time flew by while I was in the Library on my own. While I was in there, a man came in and opened that roll-up cabinet behind me. Inside it was full of clay, stone, and metal artifacts from who knows how many cultures. I couldn’t believe I had been sitting next to all that history the entire time! After a minute or two he locked it back up and left with a few artifacts. When Erin came down I told her about the man and she said, “Oh? Was he bald with glasses and a black hoodie? Yeah, that was my teacher.” Erin got to touch and hold the artifacts during her class. After all that, I was jealous of her adventure for the day.
Erin and I finally threw together our videos from our adventure at Ales Stenar. Frequent readers will remember that we got stranded at the monument until about 10pm and had to find things to entertain us and ways to keep warm. You’ll see some of that in this video.