Tag Archives: research

Link roundup: Towns and trousers

I am really all about the experimental archaeology aspect of the SCA, so it’s occurred to me that I need to follow happenings in the world of scholarly archaeology in a more organized way than “whatever interesting thing someone posted on Facebook this week, and also occasionally flipping through Smithsonian Magazine on my lunch break.”

So I spent some time this morning finding and adding some news services and journals to my RSS feed, and I’m going to start a little ephemera regular feature. I’m not sure yet what the posting frequency will be – maybe every other week or monthly to start. Partly this is for my benefit, to keep track of articles I want to look more deeply into or refer back to, but I also hope it will become a useful resource for others over time. Mostly news, mostly Baltic and Spanish, with a smattering of newly released research, other people’s blog posts, and more general-interest stuff.

First pants worn by horse riders 3,000 years ago – neat article with one (one! *weeps*) really lovely photograph. And the source research is behind a paywall, of course. Early for our purposes but useful for garment evolution theory.

Nieszawa – a medieval town reconstructed by non-invasive survey – I got a little weepy. Just a beautiful article and a beautiful video (captions in Polish). Watch it, watch it. This technology will change everything.

The routes of slave trade in Eastern Europe in the medieval and pre-modern period – I know very little about the slave trade in period, but it’s something I’d like to look further into.

 E-Journal of Portuguese Studies – Ten years of back issues, at least one or two good SCA-period-relevant articles in each issue, all free and .pdf. I found it doing research for a class, printed out a mass of articles for future reading, and have gone back several times.


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Corazon III: Research notes

I finished the first of my stack of research notes for Corazon III over the weekend: John Super’s exceptional little book, Food, Conquest, and Colonization in Sixteenth-Century Spanish America. It’s only 88 pages before notes, and it’s not a cook’s book – it’s far more economics-oriented. But it’s very revealing, and particularly in:

  • The Old World foods that the Spanish were most invested in bringing to the colonies, the spread of Old World foods through markets and agricultural records;
  • The New World foods that the Spanish adopted most readily, and the class and race issues around the adoption of certain foods;
  • The economics of agriculture in the colonies from 1600-1800, and how climate and landform affected the differences between what was grown in different areas (and what was grown in the colonies vs. Europe).

It’s very helpful in making educated guesses about what the fusion landscape would have been in the late 16th century, vs, say, the mid-18th century – what foods had already become what would later be the distinctively Mexican/Central American/South American cuisines, and what did not become integrated until much later. What “plausibly period” looks like in this context.

Next up: re-reading Sophie Coe’s excellent America’s First Cuisines and Charles Mann’s 1493. Both of these are background reads – Coe has some post-colonial material but basically her treatment is of pre-contact Native American foods, and I can’t remember how much Mann touches on food at all but he does talk a great deal about daily life.

First impressions:

Peanut marzipan! Goat and venison in the tasting course! SO MUCH MEAT. Fresh fruit is a GO – I worried about this; I know that fresh fruit wasn’t a thing in much of period in Europe, but no, multiple sources are clear that the arriving Europeans were dazzled and entranced by tropical fruit.  Yeasted wheat bread, not tortillas. Time to go back and re-read Diaz del Castillo.

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Productivity vs. submergence

Ironic, that after writing a post about the value of documentation, I left the blog fallow for sixteen months. I am rethinking the purpose of this blog, and maybe moving toward a more speculative, process-based content (which up to now I’ve been putting on LiveJournal; many posts friendslocked, although I just went through and made a bunch of posts from the last year public), and less “finished project portfolio” style content. And that is all I have to say about that.

So. *deep breath* I’ve had a very busy and productive summer, and I’m trying to go into what I expect to be a busy and productive fall and winter without becoming overwhelmed or stressed out. What I find, during the summer, is that my game begins to interfere with my game – I love the SCA for the amateur experiential archeology, the research, the social geekery of it. But as I get deeper into the logistics of encampment-building and garb production and meal planning and generally managing the campaign that is the summer season, I start to bog down, feel disconnected from the art and trapped by the craft.

I’ve gotten an incredible amount of work done this summer, an incredible amount of productivity, but it feels… not entirely real. Not meaningful. A means to an end, not the thing itself. It’s time to re-center on the thing itself.

What I’ve committed to this winter:

Corazon III: A Journey to the New World. The feast is Spanish-Aztec fusion. The narrative underpinning is this: a shipful of old-world nobility has just landed at Veracruz, and is tasting new world food for the first time. There will be theatre and crazy hall decorations and I CAN’T WAIT.

Kingdom A&S: This is the year I am going to level up my game and enter both a cooking entry and a costuming entry. There, I said it. In public. To that end, I am going to work the costume entry in stages, and enter pieces in stages at several competitions between now and then.

Personal research: I want to spend a lot of time this winter on formalizing my personal research, doing some original writing, working on the Great Baltic Mapping Project, developing some costuming resources here on this site. (Watch this space.) I also want to spend some time on Central Asian research, for my own and my oldest kid’s Lipkowie Tatar kits.

Shire administration: There’s a ton of accumulated paperwork that needs to be put in order, a website to be redesigned, a library to be built. We’re going to be doing more social activities this winter, including a weekly movie night. After a summer of EVENTS EVENTS EVENTS, I’m very into the idea of not-at-events, not-in-garb, unstructured social and structured learning time right now. I just want to spend more time with my people.

I’m keeping commitments light right now because I don’t know what will happen at Crown Tourney next weekend, but I have several friends fighting, so I want to have some energy available for service to the new Crown. And I want to do more teaching this winter. And brewing. And work slowly, quietly, on some long-term, detail-oriented garb projects.

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Half the work.

I’ve really slacked off on updating this blog in the last eight months or so – there’s been a lot of unbelievably intense personal stuff going on, and although I’ve continued to be active in the SCA (oh, so very active!) I haven’t been documenting.

Going through some of my old Livejournal posts trying to recall a particular sentiment that was just out of reach, I finally found it, right after Battlemoor II:

Madhavi wrote… but there has to come a point where documenting your work takes up more time than the work itself, you know?

I replied… I’m trying to think of it as part of the work – that the output of the project is not just the physical object itself, but also the collection of sources, processes and developments, etc. So that the next person who comes along doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel.

I’m so bad at that kind of thing, the prep-work and background work, but I’m trying to forcibly train myself to be more cheerful and meticulous about it – as Elizabeth Wayland Barber points out, nobody wants to warp because it’s just fussy boring prep-work, but we tend to forget that warping isn’t getting ready to weave, it’s half the cloth. Documentation is half the work.

Over the next two weeks, I’m going to get up a series of posts on the Great Catalonian Cooking Adventure, which has eaten a large part of the last six months, and particular on Corazon del Leon I. At the same time, I’m going to be starting some new projects. And there’s a very active summer season coming up, and some leisure and breathing space to enjoy it.

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