All posts by zellwerk

Conference Proceedings: Gemstones in the first Millennium

Researchers from different fields like archaeology, history, philology and natural sciences present their studies on ancient gemstones. Using precious minerals as an example, trade flows and craftsmanship, but also utilisation and perception are discussed in a cross-cultural and diachronic approach. The present volume aims at three main questions concerning gemstones in archaeological and historical contexts: »Mines and Trade«, »Gemstone Working« as well as »The Value and the Symbolic Meaning(s) of Gemstones«.

 

This volume contains the proceedings of the conference »Gemstones in the first Millennium AD« held in autumn 2015 in Mainz, Germany, within the scope of the BMBF-funded project »Weltweites Zellwerk – International Framework«.

You can preview the table of content and a preface here.

Introducing the International Framework project

Dieter Quast and Alexandra Hilgner from the Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum (RGZM) in Mainz explain the initial questions of the project “Weltweites Zellwerk – International Framework” regarding the origin and development of garnet cloisonné jewellery in the early middle ages. Garnet gemstones from India arrived in a vast amount during the 6th century in the Merovingian kingdom in central Europe. In the 7th century, the cloisonné jewellery style was suddenly disappearing. Was it because of a change in fashion or did something happen to the former trade routes? The International Framework project, organised by the RGZM, the SAI Heidelberg and the LVR-LandesMuseum, Bonn with partners in Sweden, the UK and Hungary tries not only to find answers to these questions regarding the value and the meaning of the gemstone garnet, but also to understand the international trade and economic interactions in the “dark ages”.

Warrior Treasure: the Anglo-Saxon ‘Staffordshire Hoard’ after seven years of research

Chris Fern MA FSA, The Staffordshire Hoard Project

The Staffordshire Hoard is the largest ever find of Anglo-Saxon treasure, of gold, silver and garnet objects, at around 5kg. It was found in 2009 by a metal-detectorist and became an international sensation. Following seven years of conservation cleaning and reconstruction work, some seven-hundred objects have now been identified, from an original 4500 fragments. Most are fittings from richly-decorated swords, which were the possessions of warriors and maybe even princes and kings. Some were decorated with the sacred symbols of gods, both pagan and Christian. Other objects include a rare helmet and a small but significant collection of Christian items, including pectoral and processional crosses. Dating to the 7th century AD, the hoard shows us an early England that was wealthy and capable of great artistic achievement, but in an age of violence and warfare, and driven by the politics of the warband.

Dienstag, den 18. Oktober, 18.15 Uhr

Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum – Vortragssaal

Im Rahmen der Vortragsreihe “Weltweites Zellwerk”

See the full program here!

 

Foto: (c) http://www.staffordshirehoard.org.uk

Gemstones and Gem Deposits of Sri Lanka – with special emphasis on Geology, Occurrence , Varieties and Mining.

Dr. Gamini Zoysa, Ceylon Gemmological Services

Sri Lanka has long been known as one of the world’s most important gem producing countries. Specially as a leading source for fine quality Blue Sapphires & its other varieties. The genesis of gemstones in Sri Lanka has been a subject for much discussion. The gems are mostly mined from the alluvial deposits underlain by Precambrian metamorphic rocks. The main gem bearing areas are confined to the geological division called highland complex which is located in the central part of the country. Over 3200 legal gem mines have been in active operation in the past years. The depth of the gem gravel in a shaft may vary from 10 to 25 meters. There are also evidences for occurrence of primary deposits of Sapphire, Moonstone , Aquamarine, Garnet within the island. In addition to the major commercially viable gem varieties such as Sapphires, Garnet, Chrysoberyl, Topaz, Zircon, Moonstone, Tourmaline, Beryl, Quartz there are over 80 varieties of nontraditional gems are recorded.

Dienstag, den 25. Oktober, 18.15 Uhr

Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum – Vortragssaal

Im Rahmen der Vortragsreihe “Weltweites Zellwerk”

See the full program here!

 

Foto: (c) http://www.aigsthailand.com

Auf der Suche nach dem Karfunkelstein. Granatabbau und Verarbeitung im heutigen Rajasthan, Indien.

Dr. des. Borayin Larios, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg

talks about his field trip to India where he was searching for garnet mines and gemstone cutters in contemporary Rajasthan.
In this region garnet has been mined already in the early Middle Ages when it found its way to Europe.

Dienstag, den 11. Oktober, 18.15 Uhr

Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum – Vortragssaal

In diesem Vortrag werden die Ergebnisse der im Jahr 2014 durchgeführten Feldforschung in Rajasthan, Indien im Rahmen des Projektes „Granat in historischen und archäologischen Quellen aus Südasien“ vorgestellt. Dabei wird versucht durch eine systematische Suche nach archäologischen und historischen Zeugnissen in Südasien den Weg des Edelsteins von der Mine bis zum Hafen nachzuvollziehen. Das Material, welches hier vorgestellt wird, dokumentiert, unter anderem, die Abbauquellen für Almandin-und-Pyrop-reichen Granatstein, so wie auch die rezenten und traditionellen Verarbeitungstechniken von Granat in regionalen Minen in den Distrikten Tonk und Ajmer und Edelsteinschleifereien in der Hauptstadt Jaipur. In dieser Region wurde bereits im frühen Mittelalter Granat abgebaut, der seinen Weg bis nach Europa fand. Das indologische Forschungsprojekt ist am Südasien-Institut der Universität Heidelberg beheimatet und Teil des „Weltweiten Zellwerk“-Projekts.

This is the abstract of the presentation held during the lecture series in summer/autumn 2016.

See the full program here!

Historic England in the early middle ages

RRN-logo-with-tagline
http://royalresidencenetwork.org/

The blog brings together the results of five different projects concerning early royal residencies in England between 300 and 800 AD.

In Lyminge the University of Kent is doing large-scale excavations in the area of the monastery. The site shows the patronage of Kentish royal dynasty in 7th century AD.

Rhynie is supposed to have been a early royal centre of the Picts during 5th and 6th century AD. The investigations are done by the Northern Picts project at University of Aberdeen.

“Yeavering: A Palace in its Landscape” is a project at Durham University. Through a geophysical survey the hill fort and the settlement from the 6th-7th century AD have been investigated to develop a further survey.

Sutton Courtenay/Long Wittenham is supposed to have been a centre of the early West-Saxon Kingdom which emerged by the 7th century AD. The project is coordinated by Helena Hamerow of University of Oxford, who kindly held a lecture at our “Gemstones in the First Millenium” conference.

Rendlesham, five miles from Sutton Hoo burial site is examined since 2008 by metal detecting to investigate the East Anglian royal settlement from 5th to 8th century with support from various institutes.

Garnet brooches – Jewellery for women in their prime of life?

Deutsche Version

Today I would like to present to you a blog concerning different archaelogical topics: “Archaeologiskop” by Dr. Doris Gutsmiedl-Schümann.

In particular one post is of special interest for the topic of our blog.  The post is titled: “Auf den Spuren unserer Vorfahren: Archäologie frühmittelalterlicher Gemeinschaften am Beispiel der merowingerzeitlichen Bevölkerung von Aschheim, Lkr. München” and was published 06/25/2015.

Blogpost by Doris Gutsmiedl-Schümann

It deals with an early medieval cemetery on the countryside near Munich with ca. 450 burials dating from ca AD 480  to ca AD 680 . By analysing the finds and including the anthropological data, like sex and age of the deceased, Doris Gutsmiedl-Schümann could show a distinction of grave goods varying with the age of the deceased. With respect to our project the observations regarding garnet brooches are of special interest. These were obviously limited to women who have reached the high point of their social development.

Read the full blogpost here: http://archiskop.hypotheses.org/61

Granat -Fibeln: Schmuck für die Frau in den besten Jahren?

 

Hier möchte ich auf einen Blog aufmerksam machen, der verschiedene archäologische Themen behandelt: Archaeologiskop von Dr. Doris Gutsmiedl-Schümann.

Besonders ein Beitrag ist im Kontext unseres Forschungsprojekts interessant. “Auf den Spuren unserer Vorfahren: Archäologie frühmittelalterlicher Gemeinschaften am Beispiel der merowingerzeitlichen Bevölkerung von Aschheim, Lkr. München” wurde am 25.06.2015 veröffentlicht und behandelt das frühmittelalterliche Gräberfeld Aschheim-Bajuwarenring im Kreis München.

Blogpost by Doris Gutsmiedl-Schümann

Dort wurden ca. 450 Gräber aus der Zeit zwischen ca. 480 und 680 nach Chr. gefunden. Unter Einbezug der anthropologischen Ergebnisse wie Geschlecht und Alter der Bestatteten konnte Doris Gutsmiedl-Schümann Unterschiede in den Grabbeigaben respektive des Alters der Verstorbenen. Von besonderem Interesse für den Kontext unseres Forschungsprojekts erscheint mir die Erkenntnis, dass Schmuck mit Granateinlagen erst bei Frauen in fortgeschrittenem Alter vorkam, die den Höhepunkt ihrer sozialen Stellung erreicht hatten.

Der komplette Beitrag hier: http://archiskop.hypotheses.org/61

 

 

 

Garnet jewellery in Norway: The Norwegian disc-on-bow brooches and Viking memories

Ann Zanette Tsigaridas Glørstad & Ingunn Marit Røstad,  Museum of Cultural History, Oslo

The continental tradition with the use of garnets in jewellery from the early Middle Ages spread north up to Norway during the 6th and 7th centuries, albeit used in a much lesser degree. Garnets are, however, frequently used in the so-called disc-on-bow brooches. These are one of the most spectacular jewellery types we know of from this period in Scandinavia. They are usually made of gilded copper alloy and the surface is covered with garnets set in cloisonné technique. The manufacturing of the brooches take place in the period between c. 550–800 AD, i.e. the period leading up to the Viking Age. However, many of the brooches have been found in Viking graves, and are thus quite old when buried. How is this phenomenon to be understood?

This is the abstract of the presentation held during the lecture series in summer/autumn 2016.

See the full program here!

Jewellery and elite networks in Early Medieval Europe: some initial findings

Toby Martin, University of Oxford

During the fifth to seventh centuries AD, an ostentatious style of feminine dress flourished in Europe featuring large and decorative brooches. Thanks to the simultaneous (and perhaps not coincidental) rise of the furnished burial rite, thousands of these objects survive in museum collections. The geographical scale of this style was unprecedented, covering most of modern day Europe, from Norway to lowland Britain and Iberia, across to the Ukraine and up into the Baltic. As such, its analysis has much to tell us about contacts between populations in Europe, and how they used styles of jewellery as a means of creating and negotiating a material and social network. Traditionally, this material has been analysed using typology with the aim of grouping the material to reveal information about migration or ethnicity and more recently other forms of identity. Therefore, both the subject of enquiry and the method used in its investigation have a stated aim to reduce complex relationships into delineated groupings populated by objects or by people. In this presentation a new Europe-wide database of this material will be introduced and used to illustrate the possibilities of an alternative means of investigation. Instead of typology, a formal network analysis will be used to switch the focus of attention to the complex relationships between objects, and the web of linkages that these relationships create when examined en masse.

This is the abstract of the presentation held during the lecture series in summer/autumn 2016.

See the full program here!

The Color and Material of Greco-Roman Magical Gemstones

Lecture held by Christopher A. Faraone, Chicago

In the Roman Imperial period inscriptions and new iconography appear for the first time on gems manufactured in the Mediterranean basin that clearly indicate these gems are being used as magical amulets. In the past scholars have argued that such amulets are a completely new phenomenon and that they reflect the sudden onset of anxiety or superstition, in the latter case brought on by closer Greek contact with “oriental” societies.  I have just completed an entire book arguing against this approach and suggesting instead that the key changes were (i) people began to inscribe on the gems words that they previously spoke over them; and (ii) they introduced new images of powerful new Ptolemaic gods such as Harpocrates or Sarapis. There were, however, also some important technical changes in the gems themselves, because in the Roman period gem-cutters began to use cheaper opaque stones of various colors, such as chalcedony or jasper, and they began to favor flat surfaces that allowed them more easily to carve figures in intaglio and text. A change, for example, from a convex carnelian to a flat red jasper. Scholars have paid close attention to the correlation between images and text on these gems, but not always to their media and in my lecture today I would like to explore the reasons why certain colors and media become important as amulets in this period. One important feature of these stones is their uncanny properties. Certain stones, for example, made a strange sound when shaken, emit an odor when rubbed, attract iron or straw or otherwise seem to straddle the boundary between the organic and the inorganic – were singled out by the Greeks as powerful and were used as amulets. In my paper this afternoon I will focus on a handful of these stones and show how the Greeks – as they were wont to do — borrowed some of these stones from the Near East (especially Mesopotamia, by way of Persia) and in other cases invented their own traditions by turning organic amulets, for instance the eyes of green lizards, into green gemstones or the use of brownish gemstones inscribed with the image of a scorpion to ward off brown scorpions.

Lecture held during the conference “Gemstones in the first Millennium AD. Mines, Trade, Workshops and Symbolism.” October 22nd, 2015 at the Roemisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum, Mainz (Germany).

Gemstones in Indian Religions

Lecture held by James Mchugh, Los Angeles

India and neighboring regions were the main sources of many gemstones in the Old World. Pre-modern Indian texts on gemology display a complex knowledge, both practical and mythological, of the origins, locations, properties, and evaluation of many types of gemstone. In Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism gemstones play a number of important and varied roles, from sanctifying the foundations of temples to constituting the building blocks of heavens. This paper introduces the mythological origins and supernatural potencies of the main gemstones as found in textual sources, and also presents an explanatory survey of the main religious contexts where gemstones were used. The paper will also consider the methodological difficulties in comparing textual sources with material finds.

Lecture held during the conference “Gemstones in the first Millennium AD. Mines, Trade, Workshops and Symbolism.” October 21st, 2015 at the Roemisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum, Mainz (Germany).

Foto: Carvings of strings of jewels from a 6th century CE cave at Badami India. (J. Mchugh)

Before the emporia: Garnets and elite exchange networks in the North Sea Zone, AD 400-700

Lecture held by Helena Hamerow, Oxford

This lecture will consider the exchange networks by which garnets – both as a component of ornamental metalwork and as a ‘raw’ material – circulated around the North Sea Zone during the fifth to seventh centuries, with a particular emphasis on Anglo-Saxon England. Possible entry points for this material and the mechanisms behind its distribution will be considered, as will the appearance and significance of raw, unmounted garnets deposited in bags or pouches in early medieval burials. Aspects of workshop production will also be touched upon, particularly in relation to composite disc brooches. Finally, evidence for the decline in the availability of garnets around the North Sea Zone will be considered, above all in the form of ‘cannibalized’ and recycled garnets.

Lecture held during the conference “Gemstones in the first Millennium AD. Mines, Trade, Workshops and Symbolism.” October 21st, 2015 at the Roemisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum, Mainz (Germany).

Foto: West Hanney Brooch (detail), Institute of Archaeology Oxford University: Ian R.Cartwright (2013).

Gemstones in Southeast Asia and beyond: Trade along the maritime networks

Lecture held by Brigitte Borell, Heidelberg

This lecture presents some aspects of the complex patterns of gemstone trade and manufacture from the Indian Ocean to the South China Sea in the late centuries BCE and the early centuries CE. The focus will be on some of the archaeological sites in the region of the Isthmus of Kra in southern Thailand, where the maritime routes appear to have been connected by land crossings of this narrow part of Malay Peninsula. Finds from these sites include Roman intaglios, garnets and carnelians from India as well as evidence for the on-site production of carnelian and agate beads and other ornaments with Indian technologies. The presence of South Asians in the Isthmus of Kra area is further attested by stone seals inscribed with the owner’s name in Indian Brāhmī script. In addition, the paper will outline the gemstone trade farther to the east, to southern China, based on the finds from Han period tombs in the area of the Gulf of Tonking and Guangdong.

Lecture held during the conference “Gemstones in the first Millennium AD. Mines, Trade, Workshops and Symbolism.” October 20th, 2015 at the Roemisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum, Mainz (Germany).

Foto: B. Borell

Cross-cultural diamond and gemstone trade. The Armenian diaspora in Venice…

… and their global networks (1650-1750)

Lecture held by Evelyn Korsch, Venice

The lecture explores the Armenian diaspora in Venice, its activities in the Eurasian gem trade, and its worldwide commercial networks. Venice serves as the starting point because of its important role as turnover hub for trading and processing gems. Besides, it functioned as a gateway and connected markets in Italy with those in the Levant, Persia, and India as well as those in the Netherlands, on the German territories and in Russia. The Armenian diaspora in Venice who had its headquarters in New Julfa, a suburb of Isfahan, linked by its trade the Amber Road leading from Sankt Petersburg to Venice with the Silk Road running from China to the Mediterranean ports. Armenian merchants established a worldwide communication system providing their agents with updated information about market trends in order to maximise the profit of their commercial transactions. These agents operated within different networks in order to strengthen their activities. Their network system was based on wellbalanced mercantile strategies veering between cooperation and competition with both the East India Companies as well as other trading networks, like the Sephardic and Huguenot diasporas.

As the gem business was connected with high investments and therefore risks, it required special commercial and legal practices in order to reduce uncertainty. Moreover, crosscultural trade demanded particular skills of the agents who had to be able to move within transcultural interaction. Apart from geographic knowledge and language skills special trade practices were required which evoked a cultural exchange.

The study aims to contribute to a current discussion about the interaction between diasporas, trading networks, cultural exchange, and a globalisation of commercial relations in the Early Modern Time.

Lecture held during the conference “Gemstones in the first Millennium AD. Mines, Trade, Workshops and Symbolism.” October 21st, 2015 at the Roemisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum, Mainz (Germany).

Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Orlow_%28Diamant%29.jpg