A strange and unusual item this time – and I don’t mean the skull but its amalgamation with the coin shown below. For the purpose of this blog, the skull is a representation, a look-a-like. The coin is genuine.
Eight years ago I was contacted by a FLO who related an intriguing story about a coin that had been handed in for recording and identification.
The Romans used all sorts of beauty tools – combs and hairpins made of bone, heated curling tongs, tweezers for plucking out stray hairs, and tiny spoons to scoop wax from the ears. So what did the STRIGIL do?
Anews report recently caught my attention. A number of items found and catalogued in the early 20th century have been reappraised. Metal detectorists have found similar artefacts–and many like them.
Stated simply, archaeology is the study of the past by looking for the remains and objects left by the people who lived long ago. These remains can include coins, tools, buildings, and inscriptions. Archaeologists use these remains to understand how people lived. But sometimes they get it wrong.
‘Pendants’ turn out to be Roman cosmetic artefacts
Roman ‘pendants’ excavated in the early 20th century have been revealed to be ancient cosmetic sets used for eye make-up.
The ‘cosmetic grinders’ will go on display at Wroxeter for the first time, the heritage charity said. The small pestle and mortar sets, which were developed in the first century AD, had loops to allow them to be carried on a cord which previously led people to think they were pendants.
Experts also said sets were exclusive to Britain, though they were a response to the import of cosmetics and personal beauty ideas coming from the Mediterranean and Roman provinces as far away as Egypt. They show how thriving, prosperous and metropolitan Wroxeter Roman City was 2,000 years ago, English Heritage said.
Cameron Moffett, English Heritage curator, said: “Being able to re-identify these pendants as cosmetic sets is hugely important to our understanding of the women who lived and worked at Wroxeter Roman City – these small objects literally changed the face of Britain.
“When we think of the Roman period, conversation is often dominated by the masculine realms of influence, from Emperors and politics to battle tactics, but of course women played a key role.
“It’s these functional, everyday items that really paint a picture of relatable women, to whom make-up was wholly accessible, following the trends of the time and using tools so similar to the ones we use today.”Yorkshire Post
Seems incredible that these artefacts were originally considered pretty 2,000-year-old objects–lunate pendants’– with no use other than for decoration. English Heritage revealed that they had a fascinating purpose: as makeup applicators that the more well-heeled woman in Roman Britain would have used to put on eye makeup. The fashion was for heavy and dark, often using soot or charcoal. I particularly liked the quote from the EH curator, Cameron Moffat, who said that these small objects “literally changed the face of Britain.” Great pun and so apt!
The Romans used all sorts of beauty tools – combs and hairpins made of bone, heated curling tongs, tweezers for plucking out stray hairs, and tiny spoons to scoop wax from ears. Fashionable men wore perfume and make-up. Like today? They even had stick-on leather patches to hide any spots or scars. And why did Roman women look pale? Take my word, they did! I learnt that fact at school many years ago. Pale skin was a sure sign that a woman came from a rich, noble family. Poorer women had to work outside. Their faces burnt in the hot summer sun, and became rough and red in the cold winter winds.
This time I have a quiz for you based mainly on the award winning Mackenzie Crook C4 series of DETECTORISTS. There are 20 questions. Copy the link and send your answers to me at firstname.lastname@example.org In the subject line put QUIZ. I hope you enjoy what I have ‘crooked’ up for you. Result in the future, but at this stage I don’t know when.
There is a small prize for the person who comes up with the most correct answers. If the quiz proves to be ‘easy’ and many qualify as winners, then those names will be drawn from a hat. Details of the prizes are at the end of the blog. Good luck.
QUESTION ( 1 and 1a )
The DIG Is a film based on the 2007 novel by John Preston, and is due to be released at the end of this month. The film depicts the discovery of a major burial site.
WHAT WAS THE NAME OF THE BURIAL SITE AND WHO WAS THE OWNER?
QUESTION ( 2 and 2a )
INDETECTORISTSWHO DOES BECKY POUR THREE PINTS OF ‘STRONG EUROPEAN BEER’ OVER? and WHO IS ‘BECKY’S’ REAL LIFE MOTHER?
QUESTION ( 3 and 3a)
Lance drove a yellow Triumph TR7 car in Detectorists.
NAME THE YEAR IN WHICH THE CAR WAS REGISTERED?and WHAT IS LANCE’S SURNAME?
QUESTION ( 4 and 4a )
This adorable dog featured in my Blog last year.
DO YOU KNOW THE DOG’S NAME AND WHAT BREED HE IS?
QUESTION ( 5 and 5a )
Various locations appear in the Detectorists, including the church, and several of the town’s shops and streets.
WHAT IS THE NAME OF THE TOWN WHERE MOST OF THE SERIES WAS FILMED?and NAME THE COUNTY.
QUESTION ( 6 and 6a )
WHAT WAS THE NAME OF THE DETECTING CLUB FEATURED IN THE SHOW? and NAME THE PRESIDENT.
QUESTION ( 7 and 7a )
Simon and Garfunkel
GIVE ME THE FIRST NAME OF THEIR CLUB AND WHAT IT CHANGED TO LATER IN THE SERIES?
QUESTION ( 8 and 8a )
Mackenzie said he got the idea for his series about detecting enthusiasts while watching a Channel 4 programme.
GIVE THE NAME OF THE C4 SERIES and WHO FRONTED THAT SHOW.
QUESTION ( 9 and 9a )
THE SONG USED IN THE OPENING AND COSING CREDITS IS CALLED? and WHO IS THE PERFORMER?
QUESTION ( 10 – 10a )
WHAT IS THE NAME OF THE PRESIDENT’S WIFE? and WHAT WAS HIS PREVIOUS JOB?
After a little research and discussion with others (David) realised that his find was really special – a canister of the sort carried by pigeons in the First and Second World Wars.
I’ve found three or four pigeon legs without a canister, but with an identity ring. I guess many detectorists have done the same – but the story I am about to relate is a little different …
David Hodgkinson has been metal detecting for about 20 years. Whilst using his Tesoro Stingray detector on Margate beach in Kent he found something he had never seen before. After a little research and discussion with others he realised that his find was really special – a canister of the sort carried by pigeons in the First World War. He knew that it was from that era because he had been told that Second World War canisters were red in colour and Bakelite in composition.
I am often reminded – and feel just a little guilty – when chasing pigeons away from the bird feeders at the bottom of the garden, that some of their kind, almost a quarter of a million birds, probably played a part in both World Wars. Their vital role was to carry messages, a task at which they were very reliable with an astonishing success rate of about 95%.
Today I highlight a relatively common American find, which I first discussed in 2012. My friend Dick Stout, who has led a very sheltered life, had never even seen one in umpteen years of searching parks, tot-lots and abandoned homesteads. So, I travelled (metaphorically) across to the States to find the really bizarre. For the new detectorist’s elucidation and Dick’s continuing education I remind you of the 3 Merry Widows, Agnes, Mabel and Beckie.
Sometimes even the smallest objects can be the most interesting. Grant Hull, an American detectorist, has allowed me to show you the little tin canister he found. At first he figured it was some kind of ‘milk lid’ or ‘lotion tin’. When he found out what it really contained, he ruefully commented, “Well, I was kinda right on both counts!” This is what he found:
The ‘3 Merry Widows’ was a popular brand of American condom in the early 20th century and the tin probably dates to the 1920s or 1930s. I understand that the three ladies were the owners of the business and it was named after a long-standing slang term for condoms that implied a certain illicit pleasure. So, there you go.
You may find it hard to believe, but it’s true. In 1873 any form of contraception was illegal in the United States, punishable as a misdemeanour with a six-month minimum prison sentence. The act was designed to prevent the sale of obscene literature and pornography. You can read more about this and a history of the American condom by clicking HERE.
. . . We immediately pronounced it to be a Roman relic and he was persuaded to take it to the museum . . .
THIS POST HAS LITTLE TO DO WITH METAL DETECTING
Sometimes even the ‘experts’ in the archeological world can be wrong in their assessment of metal objects. Such mis-identifications makes one realise that often the person with the real edge on determining the past use of a find is the detectorist with years of experience. The moral of this tale is that we mustn’t take for granted that everyone in the archaeological world (or indeed the hobby) knows everything about everything. If in doubt, seek a second opinion.
I was reminded of this fact in a book read recently, A Personal Memoir of Aylesbury in the 1920’s by WR Mead, who had spent an idle day with friends during the summer holidays excavating in the garden for ‘likely treasure trove.’ The childhood incident had stuck in his mind but, in fairness, I think the details are of doubtful authenticity and may have been embellished in the retelling.
Mead says: “Nothing materialised during the morning dig save for some inconsequential oyster shells (there were many others in our own New Street garden). However, during the lunchtime, absence of the principal digger enabled a broken spearhead from some nearby railings to be concealed at the bottom of the excavation.