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.
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”.
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.
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.