When Archaeology and Epidemiology Meet

A 1400-year-old tooth containing plague DNA

The past is always present. A group of scientists has managed to extract DNA from the teeth of two people who died during the Justinian Plague in the 6th century, and tests have confirmed that the same pathogen was at the root of the Black Plague of the 14th century, with mutations that are still [Read More...]

A 6-in-1 Book From the 16th Century

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From the National Library of Sweden comes this unusual book in which six texts have been fused into a single book, with a series of clasps and hinges allowing it to be opened multiple ways. The volume contains six religious books, including The Little Catechism by Luther (spit). Medievalist Erik Kwakkel fused the Flickr pics from [Read More...]

Augustine Contemplates the City of God

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From the collection of the Morgan Library & Museum comes this amazing illuminated page from De civitate Dei. If you click on it you can zoom and scan to a remarkable level of detail. The illuminations are by Girolamo da Cremona from 1475, and the Morgan describes it this way: “In the lower portion of this sumptuous [Read More...]

Just Beautiful: Medieval Calendar Pages

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If you haven’t already added The British Library Medieval Manuscript page to your must-visit list, you really should. They routinely offer beautiful and fascinating treasures from their collection. This year, they’re running pages from The Huth Hours, a manuscript noted for its spectacular illuminations: The Hours include double page monthly calender spreads noting the feasts [Read More...]

Hidden Medieval Manuscripts Uncovered Thanks to New Tech

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This story first appeared while I was sick, when I marked it for later coverage. Even though it’s a few weeks old, it’s just too important to let slide. A palimpsest is a writing surface that has been erased and used again. Since parchment is made of animal skin, it was durable enough to stand [Read More...]

Medieval Latin Dictionary Finished After 100 Years

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Work on the The Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources (DMLBS) began in 1913. It was completed this month,  58,000 entries, 3,830 pages, and 17 volumes later: Begun in 1913, the finished dictionary is the culmination of a century-long enterprise which has had over 200 researchers working on it over the decades. Based on the writings found in poetry, [Read More...]

Medieval Warrior Snails

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The British Library’s Medieval Manuscripts Blog has an interesting compilation of marginal art depicting knights charging at snails. I’ve seen snails in marginals before, but never realized they were such a persistent motif. The symbolism and placement is still puzzling to many medievalists, particularly since the snail did not have a stable meaning associated with [Read More...]

St. Augustine and the Jews

The pilleus cornutus was a pointed had which medieval Jewish men had to wear when travelling outside their ghettos.

This is a post from way back at the beginning of this blog, but it’s one of the better things I’ve published here and it wasn’t seen by too many people at the time. Since today is the feast day of St. Augustine, I decided to rerun it.  The paper was the product of a [Read More...]


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