• Medieval manuscripts,  Resource

    British Library’s Catalog of Illuminated Manuscripts Generous Permissions

    The British Library began the digital catalog in 1997. Currently the catalog provides a digital record of 4,231 different manuscript, and  includes 35,661 images those manuscripts, with a searchable database. The images were scanned following the best digital practices, and include provenance, metadata, and in many cases, detailed images. Today they announced extraordinarily generous permissions for use of those images:     Technically these works are still in copyright in the UK until 2040, but given that they are anonymous and many centuries old, the Library has decided to provide the images on the Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts under a Public Domain Mark and treat them as public domain works, as would be…

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  • Calendar,  Etymons

    Christmas and Xmas

    I noticed an online acquaintance the other day becoming extremely agitated that someone had referred to Christmas using the colloquialism Xmas. She felt that this was insulting, and offensive in the extreme. What she didn’t realize was that Xmas as a shortened form for Christmas has a venerable (and solidly Christian) history. The word Christmas is a compound of Christ + mass; we see it first in Old English in the form Cristes mæsse in 1038, according to the OED. The Old English form eventually evolved to the Middle English Christemasse. The word Christ is derived from the Greek word Christos, meaning “anointed,” a literal translation of the Hebrew cognate of messiah. Mass, as in the Christian ritual, derives from Middle English masse,…

  • Celtic Art & Archaeology

    Replica Carnyx from Tintignac

    there were countless trumpeters and horn blowers and since the whole army was shouting its war cries at the same time there was such a confused sound that the noise seemed to come not only from the trumpeters and the soldiers but also from the countryside which was joining in the echo (Polybius 206–126 BCE). In 2004, archaeologists discovered over 500 iron and bronze items in a small 30cm-deep pit in Tintignac, in France’s Corrèze region. These fragments were all that remained of objects intended as sacrificial donations to the cthonic deities, objects that were deliberately destroyed as part of the ritual donation. Some of the fragments, about 40 fragments, were identified as being…