In the past here at the Medieval History site, we've often discussed going back in time, either to meet someone from the Middle Ages or to actually live there. As a creature of the modern age, I must admit I'd rather live in the 21st century than in the 12th, mostly because I'm spoiled and love my electronic gadgets. But my fondness for the now does make me wonder: what would some of my favorite medieval people think of life in the 2000s?
My first thought is they'd be pretty freaked. Technology is so far advanced that most of what we take for granted would probably look like magic to them, and not necessarily in a good way. Airplanes, cars and trucks could scare the living daylights out of them. But once they stopped screaming about sorcery and demons, wouldn't it be cool to get their reactions to the present day -- not only technologically, but socially? What would they think about our system of government? Our schools? Our clothes? People going around without hats?
If you could bring someone from the Middle Ages into the present day, who would it be? Where would you take them? What would you show them? What would you want them to know about the intervening centuries? Since this is all a fantasy, of course you can assume there'd be no trouble communicating... but would you send them back to their own time with knowledge of the future?
Let me know what you think in the comments.
There have been a lot of kings of England named Edward. This man -- the first-born son of Alfred the Great -- was the first. He appears to have had no trouble following in the footsteps of his illustrious father, fighting to expand his kingdom and negotiating with rivals and allies. Find out more about him in his Who's Who Profile and this Concise Biography
The image of Edward was taken from a miniature created sometime in the 14th century. It is in the public domain.
Thanks to an urban renewal project in Namur, Belgium, where latrines dating back more than 600 years were found, researchers have the opportunity to examine fossilized feces. They've discovered viruses that contain genes for antibiotic resistance. These viruses are taxonomically different than those in modern samples, but it's clear that they perform the same job, even though the modern human diet is radically different than that consumed by most medieval folk. Find out more in the article, Fossilized human feces from 14th century contain antibiotic resistance genes at Phys.org.
For the first time in 30 years, the British Museum is mounting a major exhibition on the Vikings. Developed with the National Museum of Denmark and the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (National Museums in Berlin), the exhibit will feature many new archaeological discoveries and artifacts never seen before in Britain as well as objects from the museum's collection. While there is no danger of Vikings losing their reputations for ferocity, the exhibit will do its part to enlarge our understanding of early medieval Scandinavian culture.
The exhibit opens March 6 in the Sainsbury Exhibitions Gallery and will remain open until June 22. Check out these resources for more information:
- British Museum - Vikings
The Museum's official page for this exhibit.
- British Museum's Viking show locates the original Scandinavian Noir
Informative feature by Simon Armitage at The Guardian.
This week microbes have scholars excited, rare art has come to light, and archaeological efforts continue to help us learn about the past.
- Medieval Jewish mikvah discovered in Spain
Found in the town of Girona, which had a thriving Jewish community before the Jews were expelled in 1492. Feature at The Times of Israel.
- Community project helps uncover the medieval past of one of Fife's oldest churches
Through the use of ground-penetrating radar, geophysical surveys and forensic examination of the remains, an archaeology project team is reconstructing how Markinch Parish Church looked in the 13th century. Item at The Courier.
- Microbe 'Tomb' on Teeth Reveals Medieval Microbiome
Researchers who have discovered plaque on the teeth of a thousand-year-old skeleton are excited about the high concentration of genetic material and the many pathogens found there. Feature posted by David Garner-York at Futurity.
- A candelabra found in Ibiza waters offers clues about medieval navigation routes
Discovered in the 1970s, this bronze artifact from the 10th century may offer clues on medieval sea routes. Article at The Heritage Daily.
- Over 150 medieval and ancient coins confiscated by police at numismatic fair in Romania
The coins appear to have been looted from protected archaeological sites. Item by Irina Popescu at Romania-Insider.com.
- 16th century Korean art surfaces in Honolulu museum
The discovery is particularly exciting because little Korean art survived the Japanese invasions beginning in 1592. Article at TribLive.
Possible plague victims, underwater archaeology, a broken code and more await your perusal.
- Medieval mass grave found near Florence's Uffizi museum
The remains could date as far back as the sixth or seventh century and may be victims of the Sixth-Century Plague. Brief item at ANSAmed.
- Divers observe underwater Byzantine basilica discovered in Iznik Lake
The basilica, which was discovered during an aerial photo shoot, was built as far back as the fourth century and may have collapsed during an earthquake in the 700s. Article at the Hurriyet Daily News includes two photos.
- Ancient Viking code deciphered for the first time
K. Jonas Nordby of the University of Oslo appears to have broken "the jotunvillur code," which has stumped scholars for centuries. Article by Alison Flood at The Guardian; see also the item at the Global Post.
- The world's first f-word found in print
Scribbled in the margin of a book on morality is the earliest known instance of the expletive. Feature at the Daily Mail.
- Rare coin from 13th century found in Palani
A numismatist had the coin in his collection, unaware of its significance. Item at The Times of India.
- Scientists to map genome of medieval English king Richard III
Scientists hope to gain enough information to get an idea of Richard's hair and eye color, and whether he was susceptible to any diseases. Article by Kate Kelland at the Chicago Tribune.
The image of Nicholas is from a painting of the Crucifixion by Meister des Marienleb. It is in the public domain.
Find out more about Nicholas of Cusa in these resources:
- Who's Who Profile of Nicholas of Cusa
- Concise Biography of Nicholas of Cusa
- Nicholas of Cusa Quotations
This week there's news of treasure and archaeological discoveries.
- Ayrshire treasure hunters uncover Twynholm silver coins
What appears to be the largest collection of silver coins from the Middle Ages ever found in Scotland was discovered by two men using metal detectors. Article at BBC News has two nice photos; see also the article by Martyn Mclaughlin at The Scotsman.
- Ancient well unearthed in northern Tel Aviv
The well is believed to be about 1500 years old. Concise article by Roz Wolberger at The Jerusalem Post includes photos.
- Anglesey: Medieval wall found at St. Ffinan's church
Human remains, moved when the 19th-century church was built on top of the medieval one, were also found. Item at The Daily Post.
Austrian astrobiologist Dr. Gernot Groomer has designed a space suit inspired by medieval armor. The suit weighs 45 kilograms (that's nearly 100 pounds) and takes three hours to put on. It's intriguing to think that ideas originating about a thousand years ago could keep humans safe thousands (and thousands) of miles away. It's also interesting to note that medieval armor, while at times quite heavy, usually weighed less than 50 pounds and could be put on in much less than three hours. On the other hand, it probably wouldn't help a lot on Mars.
Here are two stories on Dr. Groomer's work:
- The spacesuit inspired by medieval armor, made for walking on Mars
Article by Matthew Ponsford and Nick Glass at CNN includes a video.
- Amazing 45 kg medieval-armor-inspired spacesuit to help people walk on Mars
Item at Voice of Russia includes a large photo.