Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Grenoble Archaeological Museum | Gravestone of Populonia



This inscribed slab of carrara marble dates to the late 6th to early 7th century and was discovered in 1920 in the Saint-Ferjus cemetery in La Tronche, Grenoble. The cemetery is only about 1km to the east of Saint-Laurent and the slab is close in date to the carving of the capitals in the Saint-Oyand crypt. Although the decoration here is incised and that of the capitals is executed in false relief, there is a similarity in the decorative choices. Here we see a two-handled vessel, or cantharus, sprouting swags of luxuriant foliage. On each side there is a bird of some description, looking over its shoulder. While the intention must have been to create a symmetrical composition, the vine on the right swoops noticeably lower than the one on the left, sufficient for a leaf to touch one of the birds. The composition, down to the noticeable lack of symmetry, are reminiscent of the 2nd century parakeet mosaic in the Musee del’Ancien Eveche. While the break from perfect symmetry in the mosaic is very minor, I find it deeply annoying, the deviation on this slab is much greater and I actually find it enhances the composition.

The inscription reads:
OMOLOREQVI
TINPACEBONEME
RIAEFAMOLADI SACR
DOPVELLAPOPVLVNI
AINSPERESVRRICK IONIS
MISERICORDIEXPIQVVI
XITANNVSXXV ETOBDIDOCTB
INDICTDVODECMA

[In this] tomb rest in peace, well remembered, a servant of god devoted to the lord, the young Populonia [who] in the hope of resurrection, by the mercy of Christ, lived 25 years and died on the Ides of October, in the twelfth [year] of the indiction.

Note:

An indiction was a proclamation issued on a 15-year cycle in the later Roman Empire, but continued throughout medieval Europe. It fixed the valuation of property to be used as the basis for taxation. The cycle of indiction was commonly used, as here, for dating events. Unfortunately, as we do not know the exact cycle, we are unable to date either the slab or ‘the young Populonia’ with any accuracy.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Co Limerick: Archaeological Objects at The British Museum

The British Museum holds 45 items identified as coming from Co Limerick. The majority of these (16) are broadly assigned to the Prehistoric period (Neolithic (?)/Bronze Age (?)/Iron Age (?)), followed by the Neolithic/Bronze Age (10). The most common object type represented are vessels (12), followed by axes (9). The material types represented in this assemblage are: Pottery (16), Metal (14), Stone (14), and Bone (1).


Neolithic/Bronze Age: Stone items
Limerick (near)
axe
18730602.167
Polished stone axe with tapering, rounded butt.

Limerick
axe
20050501.328
Polished stone axe with damaged butt; one flat concavely curved side, the other side convexly curved.

Limerick; Shannon, River
axe
20050501.327
Polished stone axe with flat, slightly angled butt; blade chipped.

Limerick (?); Shannon, River
battle-axe
Sturge.1089
Perforated stone battle-axe, polished surface, black in colour, pointed but rounded butt, sharpened blade edge, rounded edges.

Grange
axe
18640127.100
Polished stone axe.

Gur, Lough
axe
19151208.288
Stone axe pecked, large.

Gur, Lough
axe
19151208.287
Polished stone axe.

Gur, Lough
axe
19151208.286
Polished stone axe.

Gur, Lough
axe
19151208.285
Polished stone axe.

Gur, Lough
axe
19151208.284
Polished stone axe.


Late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age: Stone items
Gur, Lough
macehead
18640127.200
Perforated stone pestle macehead.

Slieve Reagh
arrow-head
19641206.208
Flint barbed arrow-head.


Neolithic (?)/Bronze Age (?)/Iron Age (?): Bone Item
Gur, Lough
chisel
19151208.137
Bone chisel.


Neolithic (?)/Bronze Age (?)/Iron Age (?): Stone Items
Gur, Lough
vessel
19620402.410
Pottery rim sherd and six wall sherds.

Gur, Lough
vessel
19620402.400
Pottery rim sherd.

Gur, Lough
vessel
19550204.130
Pottery rim sherd.

Gur, Lough
vessel
19550204.120
Pottery rim sherd.

Gur, Lough
vessel
19550204.110
Pottery rim sherd.

Gur, Lough
vessel
19550204.100
Pottery sherd.

Gur, Lough
vessel
19550204.900
Pottery sherd.

Gur, Lough
vessel
19550204.800
Pottery sherd.

Gur, Lough
vessel
19550204.700
Pottery sherd.

Gur, Lough
vessel
19550204.600
Pottery sherd.

Gur, Lough
vessel
19550204.500
Pottery rim sherd

Gur, Lough
vessel
19550204.400
Pottery rim sherd

Gur, Lough
vessel
19550204.300
Pottery rim sherd

Gur, Lough
vessel
19550204.200
Pottery sherd (decorated).

Gur, Lough
vessel
19550204.100
Pottery rim sherd (decorated).


Bronze Age: Metal items
Limerick
spear-head
18630122.910
Copper alloy socketed spear-head, side-looped.

Rathkeale
spear-head
18540714.218
Copper alloy socketed spear-head, pegged. Socket damaged.


Bronze Age: Stone item
Gur, Lough
spear-head; mould
18621206.100
Stone mould. Four sided mould, each face forms one half of a mould for a sidelooped socketed spearhead.


Early Bronze Age: Metal item
Limerick
flat axe
18730602.200
Copper-alloy flat axe; with thin, rounded butt. Sides splay widely, creating a large, uneven, very worn cutting edge. Entire object is covered with green and brown patina and mounds and pits of corrosion.


Early Bronze Age: Pottery item
Gur, Lough (near)
accessory cup
18650623.100
Accessory vessel; pottery; plain; also a bag of fragments from it; badly eroded; no perforations.
2200BC-1600BC (circa)

Middle Bronze Age: Metal items
Limerick
palstave
OA.114
Copper alloy palstave.

Limerick
palstave
18630122.460
Copper alloy palstave.

Limerick
palstave
19890301.179
Copper alloy palstave, with shield depression and notch out of butt.


Late Bronze Age: Metal items
Limerick (near)
penannular bracelet
18490301.500
Gold penannular bracelet with a thin rounded body and solid expanded conical shaped terminals.
1000BC-750BC (circa)

Limerick (near)
penannular bracelet
18490301.400
Gold penannular bracelet with rounded thin body of circular section. The expanded terminals are conical shaped and concave.
1000BC-750BC (circa)


Iron Age: Metal items
Gur, Lough
harness-fitting
18500801.200
Harness-fitting; yoke terminal. A pair of 1850,0801.1. Horn-shaped and hollow, each object has a flattened and decorative terminal at the end of a tubular body which expands toward the lower end.
300 BC - 100 AD (circa)
harness-fittings 18500801.100 & 18500801.2

Gur, Lough
harness-fitting
18500801.100
Harness-fitting; yoke terminal. A pair of 1850,0801.2. Horn-shaped and hollow, each object has a flattened and decorative terminal at the end of a tubular body which expands toward the lower end.
300 BC - 100 AD (circa)


Early Medieval: Metal item
Gur, Lough, lake-bed; Holycross (near); Grange (near)
spear-head
18631228.200
Iron spear-head with portion of socket and mid-rib; edge and tip damaged; probably originally leaf-shaped.
9thC-11thC (?)


Early Medieval (?): Stone item
Gur, Lough (?)
spindle-whorl
OA.5816
Stone, spindle-whorl; central perforation.


Viking: Metal item
Gur, Lough, lake-bed; Holycross (near); Grange (near)
sword
18640127.300
Iron sword with fullered blade inscribed both sides with geometric marks; oval boat-shaped guards; two grooved copper alloy rings on grip; c-scroll.
10thC


Medieval: Metal item
Ballyhahill; Ardagh (near)
cauldron
19491010.100
Cauldron; bronze; flanged rim decorated with double row of punched arcs; interior: concentric rings of punched radiating dashes; burnished.
13thC-15thC


Unknown: Metal item
Kilmallock Abbey
cross pendant
18930618.260
Pendant cross; silver; cruciform with circular terminals linked by hollow-sided lozenges; front decorated with filigree and granulation around five empty sockets for stones.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Grenoble Archaeological Museum | The Saint-Oyand crypt



Without doubt, the jewel of the Grenoble Archaeological Museum is the Saint-Oyand crypt. It was built as a funerary church in the early 6th century. The remarkable set of 20 columns and capitals are not from this early period, dating to about a century later. The columns are in Vimine, a conglomerate stone found near Bordeaux and a white marble/limestone from Savoy. The decorated capitals are carved on a white marble/limestone from Beau de Provence. The decorative items used include foliage, lambs, doves, griffins, and other symbols common to carving of the period. All I can say is that I was, once again, completely taken by these capitals and spent much time and energy photographing them. For this I make no apology!

















Interior of crypt photographed in 2000

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Grenoble Archaeological Museum | Doorways



If there’s one image that seems – to me at any rate – to encapsulate the whole of the Grenoble Archaeological Museum, it’s the sight of these two doorways, one inside the other, with just a little of the richly painted decoration peeking through. The earlier arched doorway was built in the late 12th to early 13th century and features painted scenes on the intrados. At the centre, there’s a depiction of the hand of god – the ‘Dexter Dei’ – with St Peter and his key on the left. St Michael appears to the right, though only his name and wing-tip are currently visible behind the remaining stonework. That stonework and later door were inserted in the 15th century. When I first came here in 2000, only a little of St Michael was visible. It is clear that part of the restoration of the site included the decision to reveal more of this amazing paintwork.

Painted intrados as photographed in 2000

One other thing I’d like to point out is the funerary stele, dated to 521 AD, reused in the 12th/13th century wall. It not only testifies to the long history of burials at this site, but to the willingness of construction workers to reuse any handy building material that can find!