Digging Up George Washington’s Pre-Revolutionary War Kitchen



Overall site photo of the kitchen excavation area. The post-1775 kitchen, the kitchen most visitors see today, is the white building adjacent to the excavation area. Courtesy Mount Vernon Preservation

Topic: Washington’s kitchen
Mount Vernon, Virginia — Anyone visiting George Washington’s Mount Vernon plantation estate today couldn’t possibly miss, among other things, this U.S. Founding Father’s large, white, well-appointed mansion house and its associated outbuildings. It has graced post cards for decades. It represents his home as it looked in its prime, as he lived in it following his terms as the Nation’s first President.

What visitors don’t usually see, however, are the remains of a different estate lying just below the surface — different because, in 1775, Washington embarked on a major campaign to renovate and remodel the Mansion, outbuildings, and even the landscape, transforming it to the place visitors see restored today. Now, archaeologists are exposing part of…

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Too Fragile: Understanding Digital Texts


Lauren Owen explains the rationale behind the Too Fragile project, which is investigating how digital texts, and other forms of digital reading, writing, and research exchange, are affecting scholarship. PhD students are invited to participate in the project’s survey on how researchers gather, store and share information.

In ‘Mars University,’ an episode of the cartoon series Futurama (The Simpsons’ prematurely-cancelled sibling), the characters encounter a library which apparently contains the ‘largest collection of literature in the Western universe.’ The library building is revealed to be grand, spacious – and empty, except for two computer discs, one labelled ‘FICTION,’ the other ‘NON-FICTION.’

It’s a comic moment that emphasizes both the expansiveness and diminutiveness of the digital library – large enough to contain previously unimaginable quantities of data, but so small that it no longer requires a specialized building to house it. Instead of being unimpressed at the library’s…

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Bernhard Bischoff on the Study of Medieval Script


By David Ganz

Editorial note – David Ganz is Visiting Professor of Palaeography at the University of Notre Dame and a Research Associate of Darwin College, University of Cambridge. His guest blog summarises a much-overlooked publication by Bernhard Bischoff (d. 1991), the great expert on Caroline script and Carolingian book culture. In retrospect, Bischoff’s lecture and subsequent publication reads as a ‘report on the state of affairs’ of palaeography in the mid-1950s. (EK)

At the Tenth International Conference of Historical Sciences, which met in Rome in September 1955, papers on palaeography were delivered by Charles Perrat, Bernhard Bischoff and Gaines Post. Bischoff’s paper, which is titled ‘Paläographie der Abendländischen Buchschriften vom V. bis zum XII Jahrhundert’, falls between his article for Deutsche Philologie im Aufriss, first published in 1950, and the revised version in 1957. As a public lecture to an international audience it is both more discursive…

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Celebrating student enterprise: Art History’s Crop Up Gallery #£100m


If a department is as good as its students then we are very blessed indeed. In the past couple of weeks alone, students from the Department of Art History have successfully curated two exhibitions in Nottingham, first The Island and the World, an exhibition of original photographs by Remo Mattera at The Wall at Hockley , a first in the UK, and then Beyond  Bounds, a collaborative show where art history students joined forces with Share Uganda and the East African Society to put together an exhibition at the Bohunk Institute  that celebrates the diversity of African culture, food and art. Both shows were selected, curated,  publicised, marketed, hung and staffed by teams of volunteers from Crop Up Gallery, a student-led curatorial group established in 2011. Please find below links to sets of photos from both exhibitions and Private Views:

The Island and the World

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Secrets of Brethren uncovered in Reffley Wood in King’s Lynn



Reffley Wood Excavation Site

Topic Secret Society feasts at Reffley Wood

If you go down to Reffley woods today, you’re sure to find some fine porcelain tableware and an American coin left by members of a historic secret society.

The West Norfolk and King’s Lynn Archaeology Society have uncovered evidence of the Reffley Brethren at an excavation in the remains of the old temple.

During the summer, the society has been running a number of digs across the Gaywood Valley to learn more about the area’s heritage.

The final digs were undertaken in Reffley, which has yielded proof of the secret society, which apparently still meets today.

Society chairman Dr Clive Bond said: “The tableware, is porcelain, fine ware, including Willow-patten ware. This, and the pipes must relate to brethern meetings at the spring and in the building. They still smoke long clay pipes, part of the ritual at meetings…

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Beyond the Two Cultures: Review of “Is Great Science Great Science Fiction?” at Durham Book Festival


Le_Voyage_dans_la_luneCould Star Trek be considered a serious attempt at scientific thinking? Are scientists akin to novelists in their interpretations of the world? Dr Peter Garratt reviews the debate “Is Great Science Great Science Fiction?” held at Durham Book Festival 2013 as part of the Hearing the Voice project.

If, according to Friedrich Nietzsche, natural science affords “only an interpretation and arrangement of the world,” then what is to be made of the suggestion that Star Trek is a serious attempt at scientific thinking? Are scientists best regarded as interpreters and arrangers, perhaps akin to novelists, or is the analogy between science and literature a dangerous error that confuses two different orders of knowledge?

These questions were addressed with entertaining joie de vivre in a formal debate organised by Hearing the Voice, a project funded by the Wellcome Trust, as part of the 2013 Durham Book Festival. Supporting the…

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Manuscript Road Trip: Mappa Mundi Wisconsinianae

Manuscript Road Trip

The state of Wisconsin holds several surprises for medieval manuscript aficionados, the first of which is Marquette University, a Jesuit college in Milwaukee. The Rare Book Library is home to a set of twelve handwritten antiphonals produced in 1562 for the Spanish abbey of the Order of San Jerónimo in Alcala la Real in the Archdiocese of Granada.

The choirbooks were apparently saved from a rioting mob near a monastery in Burgos Las Huelgas in 1931, after which they were acquired by Milwaukee native Colonel Howard M. Greene who gave them to Marquette in 1942. The antiphonals are typically Spanish in style, displaying fine penwork initials with border elements reminiscent of Islamic tiling, the result of the mingling of Christian and Muslim influences on the Iberian peninsula.

The Haggerty Museum at Marquette owns several leaves and manuscripts, including a lovely Book of Hours illustrated with a rare image of St. Martha taming the ferocious…

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