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Re: [medievalsawdust] Digest Number 50

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  • Christopher C Carpenter
    This is my pet peeve, so I am sorry about bothering you all about it, but just because something is not documented does NOT mean it did NOT exist, it only
    Message 1 of 13 , Sep 25, 2002
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      This is my pet peeve, so I am sorry about bothering you all
      about it, but just because something is not documented does
      NOT mean it did NOT exist, it only means you cannot prove
      conclusively that it DID exist.

      --On Wednesday, September 25, 2002 4:15 PM +0000
      medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com wrote:

      > Beyond that, it is unfortunate for those of us who
      > love the Norse period that there isn't much more to
      > choose from. It doesn't seem to have been a very
      > furniture-filled period.

      The pursuance of the Viking artifact is exactly what is
      done to provide that proof and documentation. Keep up your
      good work.

      You only really need to have conclusive proof if you plan
      on entering an item in an A&S activity. If you are doing
      this for your own enjoyment, you can construct a good
      arguement that if it was made with period tools and
      materials commonly available, the craftsmen of the period
      would have experimented and applied their craft in many
      directions, and someone MAY have created that item.

      Please don't assume everybody was butt stupid just because
      there was no documentation. When you have a predominantly
      illiterate community, of COURSE they won't be documenting
      what they did...they just did it.

      Sorry about my rant, but Period Police annoy me to no end.

      Donato
    • Conal O'hAirt Jim Hart
      ... Keep digging! it would be nice to be able to tell the authenticity police to get bent, and then hand them some documentation.... not a big fan of the
      Message 2 of 13 , Sep 25, 2002
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        --- Christopher C Carpenter
        <chris.carpenter@...> wrote:
        > This is my pet peeve, so I am sorry about bothering
        > you all
        > about it, but just because something is not
        > documented does
        > NOT mean it did NOT exist, it only means you cannot
        > prove
        > conclusively that it DID exist.
        >

        Keep digging! it would be nice to be
        able to tell the authenticity police
        to get bent, and then hand them some
        documentation....

        not a big fan of the authenticity
        police either

        =====
        Baron Conal O'hAirt / Jim Hart
        Aude Aliquid Dignum
        ' Dare Something Worthy '

        __________________________________________________
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      • vinlandar
        Donato, No offence taken, and I ask your forgiveness if I have offended you. I am not a member of the Period Police, I am not a member of the SCA. I belong to
        Message 3 of 13 , Sep 26, 2002
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          Donato,

          No offence taken, and I ask your forgiveness if I have offended you.
          I am not a member of the Period Police, I am not a member of the
          SCA. I belong to an independent Medieval reenactment group which has
          as its main mission creative and entertaining education in the form
          of public demos and school presentations. As such, we are obliged to
          be as accurate as possible, as we have the responsibility of teaching
          what the middle ages were actually like. In that group I am a member
          of the Norse camp, so looking for or making authentic replications of
          actual finds to have a place to sit, a thing to sit under and things
          to do whilst there becomes important. I am well aware of the scant
          furniture finds in that period. They didn't seem to use furniture as
          much as in later periods.

          I understand that in the SCA the goals and mission are quite
          different. Yes, the SCA does a lot with education and it contributes
          quite a bit to the reenactment community, but as you said, (I am not
          quoting) if one is not interested in entering a piece in an A&S
          competition, there is a good deal more wiggle room as to what is
          appropriate. I imagine stargazer chairs will continue to be very
          popular in the SCA because they are clever, easy to build, easy to
          pack, and just darn comfortable. If one would like to gain more
          information on the use of stargazer chairs in Norse camps within the
          SCA, I suggest entering the Norsefolk list on Yahoo, and check the
          archives. That is where I have seen the most discussion regarding
          the matter. Norsefolk is, I believe, an SCA list, and the folks
          there are some of the most knowledgeable folks going related to Norse
          reenacting.

          As to the argument, "but just because something is not documented
          does NOT mean it did NOT exist, it only means you cannot prove
          conclusively that it DID exist." Well, you are quite correct. It is
          virtually impossible to prove a negative, and more perilously so in
          the history venue because the very next hole dug could prove
          otherwise. Your argument carried to a logical extension, however,
          with the tools available in the middle ages, I believe it would be
          possible to build a wright flyer biplane glider. Just because we
          haven't found one that doesn't prove it didn't exist, but it is
          fairly safe to say nobody expects to dig one up in the next hole
          started at Coppergate in York, based on what has already been found.

          Responding to: " Please don't assume everybody was butt stupid just
          because there was no documentation. When you have a predominantly
          illiterate community, of COURSE they won't be documenting
          what they did...they just did it." Chris, or Donato, I never
          assumed anybody was butt stupid. These are my ancestors, and I am
          amazed and impressed with what incredible things they did accomplish
          (writing, documenting, navigation, exploration and shipbuilding
          foremost)in their time. What we know of the Norse we know from what
          they did write, and what they left behind in the form of artifacts of
          their day to day life, a subject which fascinates me endlessly.

          In conclusion, Donato, please accept my apologies again if I have
          offended you, that was certainly not my intent. I was responding to
          a genuine question as to whether or not stargazer chairs had been
          found to exist in Norse cultures, and to date, the people I learn
          from clearly state they did not. That does not mean in any way that
          you or the person who asked the question cannot build them for your
          camp. They are neat, and easy, and really comfortable; so enjoy! :-)

          -respectfully,

          Charlie aka Oli Svennson, a Norse farmer from a small wharram near
          Jorvik


          --- In medievalsawdust@y..., Christopher C Carpenter
          <chris.carpenter@n...> wrote:
          > This is my pet peeve, so I am sorry about bothering you all
          > about it
          >
          > --On Wednesday, September 25, 2002 4:15 PM +0000
          > medievalsawdust@y... wrote:
          >
          > > Beyond that, it is unfortunate for those of us who
          > > love the Norse period that there isn't much more to
          > > choose from. It doesn't seem to have been a very
          > > furniture-filled period.
          >
          > The pursuance of the Viking artifact is exactly what is
          > done to provide that proof and documentation. Keep up your
          > good work.
          >
          > You only really need to have conclusive proof if you plan
          > on entering an item in an A&S activity. If you are doing
          > this for your own enjoyment, you can construct a good
          > arguement that if it was made with period tools and
          > materials commonly available, the craftsmen of the period
          > would have experimented and applied their craft in many
          > directions, and someone MAY have created that item.
          >
          > Please don't assume everybody was butt stupid just because
          > there was no documentation. When you have a predominantly
          > illiterate community, of COURSE they won't be documenting
          > what they did...they just did it.
          >
          > Sorry about my rant, but Period Police annoy me to no end.
          >
          > Donato
        • jrwinkler@msn.com
          Hey ya ll... have to comment a bit on the conversation between Donato and Charlie... This whole question of authenticity was one I crossed swords with a
          Message 4 of 13 , Sep 26, 2002
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            Hey ya'll...   have to comment a bit on the conversation between Donato and Charlie... 
             
            This whole question of "authenticity" was one I crossed swords with a while back...  for my purposes I divide projects into three categories:
             
            1:  Reproduction (period pieces based on proof)
            2:  Period-informed (semi period pieces where you have some knowledge... but parts
                 of the data pool are a bit shallow and ya' gotta' make some stuff up.... OR...
                 something that looks like something in a manuscript but has modern materials,
                 construction techniques, finishs, etc.
            3:  Hobby useful (or SCA-useful)... these are the "couldn't prove they existed on a
                 bet... but darn are these projects handy" class if item.
             
            Donato's observation that "but just because something is not documented
            does NOT mean it did NOT exist, it only means you cannot prove
            conclusively that it DID exist."  is accurate as far as it goes... however...  
             
            Years ago my Lady and I did archeological work with Fairfax County in Virginia.  One of the things that the "professionals" pounded into our heads is that when you're documenting an artifact the one thing you have to be very clear about is differentiating between what you KNOW and what you THINK....  many, many times we'd dig up some chunk of rusted iron that looked like this or that... but... it was documented on the sheets as "unidentified machine part"...  i.e... a metal thiga-ma-bobbie...  The reason for this approach is to eliminate the power of suggestion from later research...   and suggestion can and has taken many an enquiring mind down the wrong path...  never to be heard from again.
             
            Its also very easy when trying to interpret a site to let your imagination take off... to draw connections between this or that where no real connection exists.   Views of history and cultures can take some interesting turns when artifacts and contexts are mis-interpreted based on assumptions or incorrect foundation knowledge....  and history is repleat with these "OOPs-es"....  ;-)   [Hey... look at all them viking movies with the horns on the helmets.... ]
             
            Doing research is hard and frustrating...  finding the evidence to undertake a project and be able to say with confidence... "this is something they did back then" gives our work context and meaning...   Don't get me wrong... there isn't anything wrong with doing Hobby-useful stuff...   as noted before... I do it myself...     It all depends on what you're personal goals are for a particular project.
             
            But documenting is important... for those interested in documenting...   and those who strive for being period and take pride in it are as correct in their thinking as those who rebel against it...   and how correct that opinion is depend on which camp yer' standin' in when you voice that opinion...  
             
            Context is everything....
             
            Your most obdn't servant -
            Chas.
          • jrwinkler@msn.com
            While we might not ever be able to prove that the stargazer chair was originally of viking design... or even used by vikings.... what CAN be said about it is
            Message 5 of 13 , Sep 26, 2002
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              While we might not ever be able to prove that the stargazer chair was originally of viking design... or even used by vikings.... what CAN be said about it is that there is no technology in the chair that is inconsistant with viking culture.
               
              The chair is constructed with planks.... vikings did planks.   The chair is assembled using a through mortise and tenon joint...  vikings commonly used through mortise and tenon joints (see Mastermyr chest, Gotstad (et.al.) beds and various ship construction techniques)...     Unfortunately the research trail ends here...   even finding a plank with an "appropriately" sized and placed hole in one end doesn't establish that the chair existed as such a plank could potentially be a part of a variety of things.  
               
              ... and there is that fact that neither planks nor through mortise and tenon joints were unknown to a large variety of cultures and periods... so it could have originated durn' near anywhere at any time...  
               
              Research is a bitch...
               
              ... but, as it has been noted before...  ;-)   Even if the chair ain't viking in origin, or even of period origin... it truly is one of the more comfortable and easily transportable chairs around...  and, in the SCA context... unless you're trying to do a absolutely authentic campsite...  its a wonderful asset and beats the hell out of sitting on the ground.... particularly after its been raining...  
               
              Chas.
            • vinlandar
              ... ain t viking in origin, or even of period origin... it truly is one of the more comfortable and easily transportable chairs around... and, in the SCA
              Message 6 of 13 , Sep 26, 2002
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                --- In medievalsawdust@y..., jrwinkler@m... wrote:
                >
                > Research is a bitch...
                >
                > ... but, as it has been noted before... ;-) Even if the chair
                ain't viking in origin, or even of period origin... it truly is one
                of the more comfortable and easily transportable chairs around...
                and, in the SCA context... unless you're trying to do a absolutely
                authentic campsite... its a wonderful asset and beats the hell out
                of sitting on the ground.... particularly after its been
                raining...
                >
                > Chas.

                Hear, hear! They are all that. :-) As for me in my attempting to be
                accurate camp (see note below) I have found that the Lund type 3-
                legged stools are amazingly comfortable up to a point, but it sure
                would be nice to have something with a back on it. I am looking into
                the Irish tuam type chair which is included as a pdf file in one of
                the better known SCA furniture websites. I found the book at the
                public library which is used for a refference, but it is short on the
                history of the chair, saying only that it has been made in Tuam,
                Ireland for a very very long time. I will try to dig further if I
                can to get some more information about how far back they made
                something like it.

                (here's the note below) For what it's worth, my kit is not 100%
                accurate either, but most of the furbys are of the less obvious
                types, and I am gradually working on them. If I am doing a demo in
                which it is not likely I will be taking off my turn shoes, I will
                wear foam insoles with structured arches. The tunic I use right now
                was a gift made graciously for me quickly so I wouldn't be nekkid.
                It's beautiful, and looks like linen, but I am pretty sure it is a
                cotton/polyester blend. I am working on a hand-sewn linen under-
                tunic, after which I will work on a hand-sewn wool tunic, but Rome
                wasn't built in a day, and neither will be my little kit. the reason
                the historical accuracy is important to me in my kit is not at all so
                I can say I have the coolest kit on the block, but simply because I
                care very much about the teaching process, and I want to try to teach
                and illustrate as accurately as possible. That's my hobby, and what
                another person does is theirs, and I celebrate our enjoyment and the
                luxury of having hobbies in the first place. :-)

                -Charlie
              • Joseph Hayes
                ... Although I m an authenticity policemen in training, I d rather see a viking chair than a modern camp chair. Ulrich
                Message 7 of 13 , Sep 26, 2002
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                  > Even if the chair ain't viking in origin, or even of period origin...
                  > it truly is one of the more comfortable and easily transportable
                  > chairs around...

                  Although I'm an authenticity policemen in training, I'd rather see a
                  "viking chair" than a modern camp chair.

                  Ulrich


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                • Conal O'hAirt Jim Hart
                  unless you re ... But mud is period..... ===== Baron Conal O hAirt / Jim Hart Aude Aliquid Dignum Dare Something Worthy
                  Message 8 of 13 , Sep 26, 2002
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                    unless you're
                    > trying to do a absolutely authentic campsite... its
                    > a wonderful asset and beats the hell out of sitting
                    > on the ground.... particularly after its been
                    > raining...
                    >
                    > Chas.
                    >

                    But mud is period.....


                    =====
                    Baron Conal O'hAirt / Jim Hart
                    Aude Aliquid Dignum
                    ' Dare Something Worthy '

                    __________________________________________________
                    Do you Yahoo!?
                    New DSL Internet Access from SBC & Yahoo!
                    http://sbc.yahoo.com
                  • Avery
                    There are a couple things about the stargazer chairs that I think ought to be brought up. For our needs they re great. An eight foot 2x12, and hour or two of
                    Message 9 of 13 , Sep 27, 2002
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                      There are a couple things about the stargazer chairs that I think ought to be brought up.
                       
                      For our needs they're great.  An eight foot 2x12, and hour or two of cutting, maybe a spot or routing, some finish or another and you're done.  They pack up small and set up quick.  But, I'm not so sure our honourable ancestors would have felt the same way about them.
                       
                      By and large, the middle ages was a time when materials were dear, but labor was cheap.  Even limited to period tools, I could probably crank out several stargazer chairs a day if my start point is getting in the truck to go to the hardware store for kiln dried 2x12s.  Change that start point to "hey, look, a tree" and my productivity plummets.  Now, admittedly, they had to cut down a tree for whatever they did, and, as Charles said, they had planks, but looking at the Mastermeyer find, it looks to me like then tended to split those planks out of a log guartersawn-wise.  This makes sense for a number of uses - ship siding spring immediately to mind.  It's not going to tend to yield the thick planks you pretty much need to make the stargazers work.
                       
                      The stargazers have that big-assed tennon sticking out the back.  This is not such a big deal when you are sitting around a fire in the woods somewhere and have all outdoors to spread your stuff around.  Think about putting a couple of those in your long house or on the deck of your knorr.  Quite the obstacle course.
                       
                      While stargazers pack up tight, they are HEAVY!!!  Not such a big deal if you are traveling via motor coach.  If by muscle, on the other hand.... I once carried two of them (out of yellow pine) from N21 to the barn for court at Pennsic.  NEVER AGAIN!  I thought I was going to loose and arm or two when we first hit the merchants.  If we are assuming that the Norse (or anybody else) might have used them in the field, we have to ask how they would have gotten them to their location.  By comparison I have made one of Charles' fauld chairs out of white oak.  It weighs about a third what the stargazers weighed. 
                       
                      So, while they could have made them - I think there would be a number of forces that would tend to steer you away from them if you were a woodworker in the day.
                       
                      Avery
                    • Chris Stone
                      Amen How many archeology books have I read where all of the conclusions were mere speculation. More than I care to think about. Christophe ... From:
                      Message 10 of 13 , Sep 27, 2002
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                        Amen
                         
                        How many archeology books have I read where all of the conclusions were mere speculation.  More than I care to think about.
                         
                        Christophe
                         
                        -----Original Message-----
                        From: jrwinkler@... [mailto:jrwinkler@...]
                        Sent: Thursday, September 26, 2002 12:33 PM
                        To: medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com
                        Subject: Re: [medievalsawdust] Re: Digest Number 50

                         
                        Hey ya'll...   have to comment a bit on the conversation between Donato and Charlie... 
                         
                        This whole question of "authenticity" was one I crossed swords with a while back...  for my purposes I divide projects into three categories:
                         
                        1:  Reproduction (period pieces based on proof)
                        2:  Period-informed (semi period pieces where you have some knowledge... but parts
                             of the data pool are a bit shallow and ya' gotta' make some stuff up.... OR...
                             something that looks like something in a manuscript but has modern materials,
                             construction techniques, finishs, etc.
                        3:  Hobby useful (or SCA-useful)... these are the "couldn't prove they existed on a
                             bet... but darn are these projects handy" class if item.
                         
                        Donato's observation that "but just because something is not documented
                        does NOT mean it did NOT exist, it only means you cannot prove
                        conclusively that it DID exist."  is accurate as far as it goes... however...  
                         
                        Years ago my Lady and I did archeological work with Fairfax County in Virginia.  One of the things that the "professionals" pounded into our heads is that when you're documenting an artifact the one thing you have to be very clear about is differentiating between what you KNOW and what you THINK....  many, many times we'd dig up some chunk of rusted iron that looked like this or that... but... it was documented on the sheets as "unidentified machine part"...  i.e... a metal thiga-ma-bobbie...  The reason for this approach is to eliminate the power of suggestion from later research...   and suggestion can and has taken many an enquiring mind down the wrong path...  never to be heard from again.
                         
                        Its also very easy when trying to interpret a site to let your imagination take off... to draw connections between this or that where no real connection exists.   Views of history and cultures can take some interesting turns when artifacts and contexts are mis-interpreted based on assumptions or incorrect foundation knowledge....  and history is repleat with these "OOPs-es"....  ;-)   [Hey... look at all them viking movies with the horns on the helmets.... ]
                         
                        Doing research is hard and frustrating...  finding the evidence to undertake a project and be able to say with confidence... "this is something they did back then" gives our work context and meaning...   Don't get me wrong... there isn't anything wrong with doing Hobby-useful stuff...   as noted before... I do it myself...     It all depends on what you're personal goals are for a particular project.
                         
                        But documenting is important... for those interested in documenting...   and those who strive for being period and take pride in it are as correct in their thinking as those who rebel against it...   and how correct that opinion is depend on which camp yer' standin' in when you voice that opinion...  
                         
                        Context is everything....
                         
                        Your most obdn't servant -
                        Chas.


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                      • vinlandar
                        One of the things I consider when thinking about a period informed piece is to consider the types of things that were made, and some of the common
                        Message 11 of 13 , Sep 28, 2002
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                          One of the things I consider when thinking about a 'period informed'
                          piece is to consider the types of things that were made, and some of
                          the common construction techniques. i.e., the chest I just made
                          slants in on the sides like the Mastyrmyr chest, but it is not of the
                          same dimentions as that chest. Other chests of that period and
                          general location have a similar slant on the sides, and were not
                          identical. I figure there was not a (as i have said before) medieval
                          WallMart, so it's not likely one will find all that many chests of
                          exactly the same dimentions as an original artifact, but a technique
                          found useful would have been shared and copied. I DID find that that
                          slight slant makes a chest amazingly stable and resistant from
                          tipping up on end. Maybe something we have forgotten?

                          -Charlie





                          > -----Original Message-----
                          > From: jrwinkler@m... [mailto:jrwinkler@m...]
                          > Sent: Thursday, September 26, 2002 12:33 PM
                          > To: medievalsawdust@y...
                          > Subject: Re: [medievalsawdust] Re: Digest Number 50
                          >
                          (edit) while back... for my purposes I divide projects into three
                          categories:
                          >
                          > 1: Reproduction (period pieces based on proof)
                          > 2: Period-informed (semi period pieces where you have some
                          knowledge... but parts of the data pool are a bit shallow and ya'
                          gotta' make some stuff up.... OR... something that looks like
                          something in a manuscript but has modern materials, construction
                          techniques, finishs, etc
                        • Avery
                          ... mere speculation. More than I care to think about. But when you get right down to it, unless you have a 500 year old man on staff, all your conclusions
                          Message 12 of 13 , Sep 30, 2002
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                            >How many archeology books have I read where all of the conclusions were
                            mere speculation. More than I care to think about.

                            But when you get right down to it, unless you have a 500 year old man on
                            staff, all your conclusions must be speculation. The difference is, "this
                            item has concentric tool marks on it, it was either turned, or was made with
                            some sort of fly cutter" and, "from the shape of this stone we can deduce
                            that the ancient Atlanean fire alter was 657 feet tall...."

                            Avery
                          • James Winkler
                            ;-) .... and the marshmallows they toasted over the fire on it were roughly the size of small elephants (species unknown)... (-; ... AND... they were
                            Message 13 of 13 , Sep 30, 2002
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                              ;-)   .... and the marshmallows they toasted over the fire on it were roughly the size of small elephants (species unknown)...  (-;  ... AND... they were toasted by aliens from alpha-whatever!!!
                               
                              Avery makes a good point.   There are some things where physical evidence on the piece can lead to "educated guesses" that may be provable (or at least tested in such a way that the possibility cannot be eliminated) by experimental archeology...  the caution here is ensuring that what you see is really what you see and that your conclusion can be provable.  
                               
                              Like totin' stargazer chairs...  repeated experience validates Avery's observation that, although they are damned comfortable and elegantly simple to make and use...  totin' them over any distance can test one's determination...  unless you've been partying... in which case you might just elect to say... "Heck... totin' is harder than buildin....   I think I'll just leave this one here and go build another one..."  ;-)
                               
                              Chas.
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