Re: Digest Number 747
- I agree with your posting but you may be limiting "documentation" to
the written word. For any of the physical arts, woodworking,
jewelry, fabric, etc. extant examples are considered primary
sources. Verbal or written descriptions secondary and so on. This
acknowledges the influence that any researcher/documentor will have
upon their impressions of an item or art. For the delicate arts,
which will not survive (I would not study a month old roast), written
descriptions are all we've got.
For early period cultures, it gets even more difficult, for many
there is no written record aside from mythos, royalty lines and
artisan's names, and much of the written record is not contemporary.
To research those lifestyles, I believe that re-creation/re-enactment
is an effective tool. Live awhile using their technology, eating
their food, creating their artifacts and your experience should be
more accurate than academic conjecture. Of course, not all "experts"
will agree with that. Your "discoveries" should not fly in the face
of physical evidence, nor create history that most likely didn't
happen. For example, I can build a hanglider using Viking technology,
but I wouldn't say that Vikings could fly.
With no contemporary descriptions of chests or stools, I can
definately argue that they had them, and specifcally what style they
were. For items with few extant examples, i.e. Viking tent frames, I
cannot believe that every Viking tent had the same carvings, and yet
if you studied the SCA Viking culture, you might think so.
So all of this study is a soft science with no definate right and
wrong, regardless of the opinions that others may need to impress
upon you. You can take people's judgements of your work with a grain
of salt and hope that someday they will understand some of why you
believe what you do, if not, it's their loss.
PS: As my Viking axe was being judged, a friend judging other
categories, happened by while my judges were debating what kind of
steel the axe head was. He mentioned that he knew it was wrought
iron, they had missed that the item was labeled "Wrought Iron Viking
Axe" along with the documentation of the material source, the
considerations in work and finish, in all about 8 references to the
composition of the piece. Oh well...at least it was straightened out
while they were still judging.
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, chris carpenter <donat0@y...>
> I have this problem also. I call it Vernacular arts and sciences.Many things were practiced by illiterate people and not documented,
or the very evidence of them has been erased for cultural reasons.
There were many people who were poor and illiterate who lived
fullfilling enriched lives without ever writing any of it down. There
are things that just because it was not documented does not mean it
did NOT exist....
>found the only real documentation is Digby's, and that is almost out
> Someone, for example, alluded to brewing. As a meadmaker, I have
> Another example is music. Common SCA wisdom states polyphony didnot exist until after period, but anybody with a little education
knows that polyphony....but there is no documentation, so it
obviously didn't exist.