The Epic of Beowulf: A Secret Scandanavian?

Beowulf talks a lot about gold rings. It was so important that rings inspired a smash hit Wagner opera in the 1800s which in turn inspired JRR Tolkein's Lord of the Rings. Many gold neck and arm rings have been found in Scandanavia dating between 300 and 550 BCE. But after that? No rings. Furthermore, no such rings have been found in Anglo-Saxon England during the right time period: from 550 CE till the late Viking period, the last possible dating for Beowulf. What does this all mean? It is archaeological evidence that Beowulf, the Old English epic, was first told in Scandinavia and somehow made its way to England.

Korea had two kingdoms from the 700s through the early 900s CE. So it is imaginatively named the "North South States Period." To the north, much larger than North Korea today, is Balhae and to the south is the surviving state from the earlier Three Kingdoms Period, Silla.

The City of Perpetual Peace

Chang’an, capital of the Tang Dynasty of China (618-904 CE), was a true metropolitan city. It not only accommodated all sorts of religions, ethnicities, languages, sexualities, and arts but also exported its own language, art and religion. Archaeological and written evidence points to Chang'an housing communities and places of worship for Daoism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam.

Chang'an was considered such a center of culture that Japan's emperor sent delegations to Chang'an to learn Chinese knowledge, religion, and arts. For example, Japanese doctors studied Chinese medicine, and priests studied Chinese Buddhist practices. Chang'an not only took in many cultures, it contributed back its own amalgamated culture to the world.

Chang'an, by the way, means "perpetual peace." It was renamed by the time of the Ming Dynasty (1368 CE) to Xi'an, or "western peace."

What's Up With Anglo-Saxon Names?

Anglo-Saxon names tended to be made up of two elements, combined to have a particular meaning. For instance, Æthelstan (considered the first King of England united) is formed from Æthel, meaning "noble" and Stan, meaning "stone."

Within families the first part of a name might be reused many times. It was a sort of marker that people were related -- each would get a unique second half, of course. Sharing a name’s first part appeared especially common in aristocratic families. But it seems to have been widespread among Anglo-Saxons. In the 1000s, when England was conquered by the Danes and then the Normans, new naming practices were introduced and the two-part naming structure fell out of usage.

Goldworking Is Ancient Technology In The Americas

Gold was probably the first metal to be exploited in the Andes, by the end of the 2nd millennium BCE. From there, the archaeological record suggests goldworking then traveled north, reaching Central America in the first centuries CE, and Mexico by about 1000 CE.

This particular necklace is from the Chavin Civilization, which developed in the northern Andean highlands of Peru from about 900 BCE to about 200 BCE. That sounds old, but relatively speaking, that is not old at all. Gold had already been mined and worked in the Andes for a thousand years when the Chavin arrived on the scene.

Atmospheric perspective, also called aerial perspective, describes when artists create the illusion of distance by making far-away parts of a painting lighter, bluer, and with fewer details then close objects which appear brighter and sharper. This works because when light passes through the atmosphere, moisture and tiny particles of dust cause the light to scatter and, because the blue light of short wavelengths scatters most, far colors appear bluer.

Although Chinese artists did not use linear perspective until the 1500s, they used atmospheric perspective from the 700s CE!

Cemetery, In Use For Thousands of Years, Excavated in Albania

An ancient cemetery containing layers of about 1,000 burials dating back to the Iron Age has been found in southeastern Albania. The cemetery was actually three cemeteries: one from the Iron Age, one late Roman, and one from the Middle Ages. And under the bottom layer of the cemetery were what appears to be a Neolithic settlement. Archaeologists found holes in the ground, which supported the now-rotted wooden skeletons of small huts.

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    HISTORICAL NON-FICTION

    By Lillian Audette

    This blog is a collection of the interesting, the weird, and sometimes the need-to-know about history, culled from around the internet. It has pictures, it has quotes, it occasionally has my own opinions on things. If you want to know more about anything posted, follow the link at the "source" on the bottom of each post. And if you really like my work, buy me a coffee or become a patron!

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