Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for February, 2013

Here is the description from a panel at the National Archaeological Museum, Saint Germain-en-Laye:

Merovingian women’s costume developed in the 2nd half of the 5th C, influenced by germanic styles, sometimes from the Danube region (large brooches and rectangular belt plaques). Around 500, in the thime of Clovis, a well-off Merovingian woman from the north of Gaul attached her over-dress with a pair of long bow brooches. this pair of bow brooches was worn in the area around the waist/belt and the hip. The brooches were worn with the head facing downwards. Extending downwards, at knee level, a pendant was often found: a large decorated or facetted glass bead, or one of jet, rock crystal or pyrite enclosed in a metallic mount; a deer antler medallion (made from the corona where the antler attaches to the deer’s head), a shell (possibly a cowrie shell), or other charms. The narrow belt would sometimes have a simple buckle. The top of the clothing (or possibly the veil) is attached at neck or chest height with a smaller pair of brooches. They could either be round with garnet cloissoné, or in the form of a bird, animal or S. The hair or the veil was sometimes held in place with a pin. Multicoloured glass and amber beads were used in necklaces and bracelets. Some of these beads were sewn to clothing. The most common earrings were open rings with one end decorated in a cube that might be decorated with garnets. In the 6th C, metal rings and bracelets were rare. These jewels were found on the left hand of rich Merovingian women. The number and nature of objects found signified important social differences in the graves of both men and women.

This was the first display case, with the large bow brooches and rectangular buckles below, and necklace beads and coins from the reign of Valentinian III (424-255) above.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Earrings at the top, then some bracelets and many small brooches in animal, S, bird and round shapes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A collection of bow brooches from the end of the 5th and 6th C. On the right are a ring and two silver bracelets above a belt buckle. On the bottom left is a chopper or cleaver with its ferrule (a domestic implement often placed in the graves of wealthy Merovingian women). This one is from Oyes, Marne, in the 6th C. Just above the chopper is a pair of charms for hanging off a belt. The one on the left is a miniature curved knife or scythe, and the one on the right is a spoon.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

These objects were all found in a rich childs grave from the late 5th C grave, in d’Oyes. It was excavated in the 19th C and some items have disappeared.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The necklace is from around 500, and the earrings, two small brooches and bead are from a late 5th C grave.  The large brooches, bracelet and pin are from another late 5th C grave at the same site (d’Arcy, Sainte-Restitue, Aisne).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A collection of 6th C garnet brooches from Chelles, Ardennes, and Somme. The provenance of some is unknown.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A collection of the 5th-6th C pendant beads that hung down from the belt, plus a pair of brooches and a large bead from a grave from around 500, and an enammeled bow brooch in the shape of a bird from around 500.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Three sets of grave finds from Lavoye, Meuse. The first two are from around 500, and the third is from the first quarter of the 6th C. Note the two round pendants made of deer antler (bottom left and almost at the bottom on the right).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The glass, earthenware cup, beads and four brooches are all from a grave in d’Arcy Sainte Restitue, Aisne at the beginning of the 6th C. The bottle and four brooches on the left are from a grave c 500, in Oyes, Marne. The two hairpins are from the second half of the 6th C or 7th C. The one to the left is from Breny, Aisne, and the one on the right is from Armentieres, Aisne.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

From a grave in Breny, Aisne, 2nd half of 6th C. There is what appears to be a key, a bow brooch, a pendant or charm, and a round garnet brooch.

??????????????????????

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Many years ago, when I travelled regularly to Paris for meetings, I went to the church of Saint Denis. This was the French royal church for centuries, and was the burial site for the royal family starting during the Merovingian period. One of the great finds was the tomb of Arnegunde, a queen who had been buried there in about 480 AD. Imagine my disappointment when I discovered that the treasures from this rich tomb were actually held at the National Archaeological Museum in Saint Germain-en-Laye.

In those pre-internet days, I simply couldn’t figure out where the museum was located. Then my job changed and I had no occasion to visit the country for almost 20 years. Last year, I finally got to see the items buried with Arnegunde, and I discovered that there was a whole new interpretation of how her clothing looked. These pictures aren’t great, but there are lots of pictures of these items around.   Some excellent photos can be found in “Die Franken: Wegbereiter Europas, Mainz: 1996, p 937, 938 and 939.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In this picture, you see the huge belt buckle, her earrings, a pair of veil pins, the long stick brooch/pin used to attach her veil to her coat, two round brooches to close the top of her coat, and  the ring in the centre which has the name Arnegunde engraved into it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This picture shows Arnegunde’s garter buckles. The top set is comprised of buckle, two side plates and a strap end, with a larger strap end for a decorative thong. The bottom set is buckle, side plates and strap end for the part of the garter that was wrapped around the instep of the shoe. Instructions on how that worked (along with Suvia’s photos of the artefacts) can be found at her website: http://www.alfalfapress.com/suvia/?p=161. More details, especially on the shoes, can be found here: http://www.shoemuseum.ch/2011/08/royal-footwear/.

Finally, here are the cuffs from Arnegunde’s coat again:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So, who was Arnegunde? Arnegunde was one of the woves of Clotaire I (511-560), who was a son of Clovis. Her grave was discovered in 1959, and she was identified by her gold ring, which had the name ARNEGUNDIS engraved around a central monogram read as REGINE. She was mentioned briefly by Gregory of Tours in his History of the Francs (end of VI C). According to Gregory, the queen Ingonde, one of the wives of Clotaire I asked her husband to find a suitable husband for her sister Arnegunde. Clotaire married her himself. Their union produced Chilperic I, who inherited the kingdom of Soissons. Arnegunde died at the age of about 61, which puts her death at around 580 (if we assume she had reached the age of 20 at the time her sone was born). She showed signs in her right leg and foot of having contracted polio in childhood. She was short (1m 50 – 1m 60)  and slender, and suffered from arthritis in her upper and lower spine, and Forestier’s disease (an abnormal thickening of sertain bones, often linked to diabetes).

Here is a recent interpretation of her burial clothing, showing the reddish silk coat over the violet silk tunic, and red kid shoes and red and yellow silk veil. She was wrapped in a hemp shroud, or covered with a hemp cloth.

Arnegunde

 

Read Full Post »

This museum has many treasures from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages, but, to me, the most important pieces are the items found in the grave of Arnegunde, who was buried in the church of Saint Denis around 580 AD. Not much of her clothing remained. However, some pieces of decorative tablet-woven trim was on display, along with gold from tablet-woven trim of other Merovingian graves. None o the pictures are particularly good, but it’s the best I could do under low light with no flash.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is the trim from the cuffs of Arnegunde’s coat. In the background is a piece of brocaded silk that reproduces her veil (worn very long and wrapped a bit like a shawl or throw, and pinned to Arnegunde’s cap. The cap had an edging of gold similar to th pieces shown above).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

These items are from an unusual double grave from the end of the VI C. A woman was buried above a young girl, probably her child. The child was laid on a plant-based mat, and wrapped in a shroud of heavy cloth. The small belt buckle with a bit of leather remaining at top left is from the woman’s grave. The remaining items are from the girl’s burial. She had a larger belt buckle, again with a bit of leather. She also had a chatelaine (the wheel shape) that was suspended from her belt. Suspended from the chatelaine by two iron wires was the pyxide (the cylindrical box). The pyxide is made of beech wood, and has a leather top and bottom. The top has a cruciform applique of copper alloy. Inside the pyxide was four date seeds, a rare witness to Mediterranian foods in the Merovingian territories. The final item comes from the girl’s head. She had a headband of braided straw, with a red-dyed veil that was trimmed with this gold thread embroidery. The other remnants from this grave were pieces of leather from the belt or waist area, and parts of a shoe with a sewn-on sole, by the feet.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Read Full Post »

It has been over a year since I visited this museum, and I am finally feeling ready to post some of the pictures. I took so many, it was a little overwhelming. Also, my time was limited so I simply took photos of the descriptive cards when I could, but needed to go back and match the cards with the items. I will organize the photos by subject and present them in a series of posts. To start things off, here are a few pictures of the museum itself.

The museum is France’s only museum dedicated solely to archaeology. It is also one of France’s oldest museums, having been established in 1862 under Napoleon III.

The museum is located in a castle located on the site of earlier castles dating back to 1122. The first one was built by Louis VI, but it was burned along with the village in 1337, but the Black Prince, during the war with England. Kings didn’t return to the site until 1364, when Charles V began rebuilding. Francis I tore down that castle in 1539, and built a new one on the foundations. In 1660, Louis XIV and his court moved from the newest part of the castle, which leaked everywhere, to the old portion. The castle was expanded again with a terrace facing the Seine, but the king abandoned the castle for Versailles in 1682. It then served as home to the exiled James Stuart II, served as a prison during the Revolution, then a hospital for contagious diseases, cavalry school, military barracks, and then a military prison, before being converted to a museum.

This is the inner courtyard. As near as I could tell, there were exhibits open to the public only in the section on the left.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is the exterior of the chapel (which would be on the right in the picture above).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is the section of the castle that looks out over the terrace (which is huge!) , past a fountain or two, neatly trimmed hedges and very tidy trees toward the Seine.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Read Full Post »

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Furnishings from the grave of a young girl, VI C. Iron and silver earring, silver bracelet, two crystal beads and six glass beads.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bone objects: Clockwise from top left there are four weaver’s shuttles (VII – IX C), three game pieces (IX C), an unusual comb with teeth on one side . It has very fine cuts on the other side where teeth may have broken off, and ther is one fragment extending past the teeth and may indicate a second section similar to that in the foreground (X C), game piece (11th C), die (X C), and 6 pieces from a box IX – XII C).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Left: VI C belt mount. Right: VI C bird form (usually, this would be a brooch or pin, but there is no indication of the purpose here)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hooks or clips. These are dress hooks, but I am uncertain exactly how they are used. IX – X C.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Fibulae (pins) with symmetrical ends, VII – IX C.

The next section appears to be largely Roman and Gallo-Roman finds. There were no dates on the display, but my recollection is that the room map identified it as Roman/Gallo-Roman.

Toiletry items:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bone hair pins.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bone hair pins.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Anthopomorphic bone hair pin.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bone comb.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bronze tick remover.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bonze ear spoon and two bronze tweezers.

Furniture items:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bone hinges.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bone clavette (cotter pin).

Textile utensils:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Left: terracotta loom weight. Right: plaster loom weight.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Spindle whorls. Those forming a large loop are terracotta, while the three in a straight line in the centre are carved ceramic. The spindle to the left is a preproduction.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bone needles.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bronze needle

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bronze needle
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bronze thimble

Game pieces:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The three on the left are common ceramic. The two red pieces are Samian ware (sigillée), and the large piece is tile.

Jewelry:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Two stone intaglios on the left, a bronze earring at the top, two bronze bracelets in the centre, two bronze beads at the bottom, and two little wheel-shaped pendants on the right.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Lead weights for a fishing net.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bone knife handles and stone whetstone.

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Pots (oules). the one to the left is beginning VII C, and the one to the right is VIII C.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The pot to the left is 13th C, with a modern cover. Second from left is also 13th C. Both are marked as flammulés, which means small flames. I am not sure whether this means “pit fired” or whether it refers to the decorations.

The three cauldrons (coquemars) at centre and right (front and partially hidden at back) are 14th C, and the small one in back is late 14th C. Again, these are marked flammulés.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Cauldrons (coquemars). The one with the lid is 14th C, and the other is 15th C.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bowl (jatte) with spout, VIII C.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bowl (jatte), IX C.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Painted pitcher, IX C.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Pitcher with curled (virgulé) decoration, X C.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Pitchers (flammulés). The one to the left is VII C, and the other two are VIII C.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Soapstone container, XII – IX C.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mortar, IX C.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Pans. The two to the left are 13th C, and the three to the right are 14th C.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Pitchers. The two to the right are glazed. Thee ones on each end are 13th C, and the one in the middle is late 13th C.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Left: mortar, III C, with reproduction pestle. Right: undated bronze seive on a IV C pitcher.

Cooking pots:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

On the left is a late III C pot (the tripod appears to be modern), and on the right is a III C dish or platter.

Read Full Post »

The Musée Alfred Bonno holds the relics belonging to Merovingian queen Bathlide and abbess Bertille. It is in the Parisian suburb of Chelles, and since I was lucky enough to have an 11 hour layover on the one day of the week it is open to the public, I decided to go and see the textile relics that have intrigued me for many years.

The museum is really only three rooms, but what rooms! The textiles are held upstairs. I was saddened to discover that the chasuble and great mantle are currently on loan to an exhibit about Merovingian queens in Germany, but what remained was enough to fill my entire morning.

I wasn’t really supposed to take pictures due to the risk of damage to the textiles, but I managed to get a few without using a flash. I didn’t bother with the later period shoes, but I did get most of the textiles.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

embroidered reliquary pouch

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

tablet-woven bands in geometric patterns

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

more tablet woven bands but with animal patterns

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sleeves from St. Bertille’s tunic, trimmed with tablet weaving

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The grand robe, which appears to be an over-tunic that was open at the front and pinned and belted closed. It may have belonged to Queen Bathilde, but there is no proof. It is of extremely fine linen, almost transparent. The seams are all finished with no raw edges visible. The robe is quite long, and would likely have been worn bloused up over the belt. The sleeves were likely pushed up into pleats, or rolled.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Linen shawl with fringe belonging to St Bathilde. The shawl is made with little loops of fabric, giving it an appearance of sheep’s wool (or chenille).

Detail of the shawl:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The scraps of fabric used to hold relics. Most are Byzantine or Persian silks

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The piece on the bottom is Asian batik, pre VII century

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Byzantine scrap with hearts!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And finally, Bathilde’s hair and the silk ribbon that held it in place. Bathilde had long blonde hair, though only a small piece remains (most had been stored separately, and it disappeared sometime around the Revolution). Sections of the ribbon were wapped in red, yellow and green silk threads, sometimes mixed with gold thread (a thin ribbon wrapped around a silk centre). These sections made the ribbon more rigid, which allowed Bathilde to pinch them snug, and thus hold her hair in place.

Needless to say, I bought all the books, even though I owned at least one of them already.

Read Full Post »