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Re: Digest Number 747

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  • ewdysar
    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
    Message 1 of 3 , May 24, 2005
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      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.

      Eirikr Mjoksiglandi

      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 medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com, chris carpenter <donat0@y...>
      wrote:
      > 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....
      >
      > Someone, for example, alluded to brewing. As a meadmaker, I have
      found the only real documentation is Digby's, and that is almost out
      of period.....>
      > Another example is music. Common SCA wisdom states polyphony did
      not exist until after period, but anybody with a little education
      knows that polyphony....but there is no documentation, so it
      obviously didn't exist.
      >
      > Donato
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