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February 10, 2020

Board-game piece from period of first Viking raid found on Lindisfarne


From the Guardian:

It is not large — the shape and size of a chocolate sweet — and might easily have been discarded as a pebble by a less careful hand.

But a tiny piece of worked glass unearthed during an excavation on Lindisfarne has been revealed to be a rare archaeological treasure linking the Northumbrian island with the Vikings,  from the very beginning of one of the most turbulent periods in English history.

Archaeologists believe the object, made from swirling blue and white glass with a small "crown" of white glass droplets, is a gaming piece from the Viking board game hnefatafl ("king's table"), or a local version of the game.

The exact location of the early wooden monastery is not known — ruins visible on the island today are from a later priory — but recent excavations on the island by archaeologists and volunteers from DigVentures have located a cemetery and at least one building.

The gaming piece, discovered last summer, came from a trench that has been dated to the eighth to ninth centuries, according to the project's lead archaeologist, David Petts, putting it squarely in the most notorious period of the island's history, around the time of the raid.

Even if the game was being played by wealthy monks or pilgrims before the Vikings attacked, he says, it shows the influence that Norse culture already had across the north Atlantic.

"We often tend to think of early medieval Christianity, especially on islands, as terribly austere: that they were all living a brutal, hard life," says Petts, a senior lecturer in the archaeology of northern England at Durham University.

In fact, he says, Lindisfarne at the time would have been a bustling place peopled with monks, pilgrims, tradespeople, and even visiting kings.

"The sheer quality of this piece suggests this isn't any old gaming set. Someone on the island is living an elite lifestyle."

It is particularly valuable as an artefact, he says, because "we are starting to get an insight into the actual lives of the people who were in the monastery, rather than just their cemeteries and their afterlives."

The gaming piece is unusual not only as an artefact but because of the manner of its discovery.

DigVentures excavations are crowdfunded and staffed substantially by volunteers, and the find was made by the mother of one of the team members, who was visiting the site for a day to celebrate her birthday.

"Several of the most significant finds from Lindisfarne have been made by members of the public," says DigVentures' managing director, Lisa Westcott Wilkins. "The big argument is that you can't do real archaeology with members of the public: you can, as long as it is properly supervised."

When the piece was discovered, she says, "my heart was pounding, the little hairs on my arms were standing up. As a scientist, you have to train yourself out of having an emotional response to things like this. It's a piece of evidence, bottom line.

"But honestly, it's just so beautiful and so evocative of that time period, I couldn't help myself."

 You can explore a 3D interactive model of the hnefatafl piece here.

February 10, 2020 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

"YouTube is killing me": bookofjoe strikes back

Constant readers will recall this past Saturday's post in which I expressed my disgruntlement at YouTube's new policy of not allowing livestreaming from mobile phones unless your channel has at least 1,000 subscribers.

Before Saturday's post, I had 596: in response, 9 great new peeps signed on such that now I have 605 — only 395 to go.

Thinking about this, it occurred to me that if I posted videos to YouTube more frequently than a year apart — as of Saturday, it had been a year since my last new one — perhaps I'd add new subscribers faster such that I could get to the magic 1,000 before 2050.

Your wish is my demand.

Never mind.

Up top, a brand spankin' new YouTube video, shot just this morning here at boj World Headquarters®©.

From now on — or at least until I get to 1,000 subscribers — I'm gonna be posting a new YouTube video daily.

If you're a subscriber, you'll get a heads-up from YouTube the moment it's live.

Cheap at twice the price.

February 10, 2020 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

When Antony Gormley met K-pop superstars BTS

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From the Guardian:

On the shore of the East River in Brooklyn Bridge Park, a tangle of aluminum coils rests like a tangled 50-foot slinky.

The massive loops form a porous cave against the light Tuesday morning rain — people pose for pictures at the edges, while a toddler steps over the square tubes in tiny Ugg boots.

The hulking aluminum tumbleweed, likely to be stumbled upon by joggers on an evening run, is "New York Clearing," a piece by the renowned British sculptor Antony Gormley and a local art experiment supported by one of the biggest boy bands in the world.

Connect, BTS, is a global arts project led by BTS, the seven-member South Korean pop sensation, now one of the world’s most popular music acts.

Interested in a different avenue to connect people, BTS has sponsored sites in London, Buenos Aires, Seoul, Berlin and New York featuring interactive work from 22 artists.

Connect BTS, which will unveil elements of the project over the course of this year, shares with the band, according to its curator Daehyung Lee in a press release, "a deliberate porousness, and a realization of the possibility of seeing the world differently."

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Based on a series housed at the Royal Academy in London, Gormley's "New York Clearing" features the same looping, buoyant coils — a scribble come to life by a single line of over 11 miles of aluminum tubing tied and welded together without beginning or end.

It's also the first of Gormley’s Clearing projects to be staged outside, unbounded by museum admission.

The potential to reach new audiences, either in New York or through BTS's massive fanbase, initially drew Gormley, who's perhaps best known for his 66-foot "Angel of the North" figure in Gateshead, to the project.

February 10, 2020 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

1896 video after being upscaled to 4K by AI

Above, the video before upscaling.

Below, after upscaling.

[via Ars Technica and my Crack Pittsburgh Correspondent©®]

February 10, 2020 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Susan Kare's Cairo Throw


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From Cult of Mac:

If you're an old school Apple fan, you may well remember the Cairo font.

Cairo shipped with every version of macOS from 1984 through System 7.1, which was retired in 1997.

It was computer history's first "dingbats" font, meaning a font in which letters are represented by seemingly unrelated graphics.

Now Susan Kare, the iconic Apple designer who created the fonts and icons for the original Mac, has resurrected Cairo as the basis for a new limited-edition throw rug design.

The most memorable aspect of Cairo is probably the inclusion of the dog icon.

Nicknamed Clarus the Dogcow, the icon was the mascot of Apple developers from the 1980s through OS X.

You can get more (I mean, like, way more) information about Clarus here.

The website describes the new Cairo dingbats throws as follows:

Taking its name from the hieroglyphics of ancient Egypt, each symbol was drawn by hand using the bitmap grid.

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A few notable symbols lived on into later operating systems including the cursor and watch.

Kare designed this woven blanket for the Jacquard loom, an early example of computer-controlled machinery, operated with punched cards and invented by Joseph Jacquard in 1801.

Kare is one of the most important figures in computer design history.

Many millions of people have seen and interacted with her iconic designs.

Even decades later, Apple still pays tribute to her designs in its present day operating systems. (See the FaceTime design, for instance.)

Alongside typefaces and icons, she also designed the infamous pirate flag which flew outside the original Mac offices.

Kare's new 100% cotton Cairo dingbats throws measure 50" x 70".

They are reversible and come in Black/White, Gray/Yellow, and Green/Pink.

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Extra credit: can you find Clarus the Dogcow in the photos above?

February 10, 2020 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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