Discussion about Mediterranean Medieval material culture.

Gerard Cheshire's picture

Dear H-Material-Culture members,

Those of you interested in Medieval material culture in the Mediterranean may wish to read a couple of new papers. 

Recently, the writing system of a Medieval manuscript was revealed to be proto-Romance: i.e., the ancestor to Spanish and the other modern Romance languages. In addition, it is written with a proto-Italic alphabet. It is the only known document of this kind and therefore has considerable linguistic and historic importance.

Two papers have been issued, which explain the writing system and translate a number of excerpts as examples. They can be freely downloaded from the LingBuzz website. 

  1. Linguistic Missing Links: http://ling.auf.net/lingbuzz/003737
  2. Linguistically Dating and Locating MS408: http://ling.auf.net/lingbuzz/003808

The manuscript has many naive illustrations, including various artefacts of historic interest to material culturalists. Among these are earthenware cooking vessels, known known as Turkish or Ottoman braziers, various examples of 15th century costume, tented cities, and palinae, which were calibrated sticks used for measuring the depth of baths. So, the manuscript provides a window into various contemporaneous and ephemoral details of material culture. As such, it may be very useful for embellishing knowledge and understanding of archaeological finds by putting them into context. 


Gerard Cheshire

University of Bristol