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Royal palace discovered in area believed to be birthplace of King Arthur

A royal palace has been discovered  in the area believed to be the birthplace of Britain’s most famous Knight.

Archaeologists believe they have found a Dark Age palace at Tintagel in Cornwall which scholars have long argued is the birthplace of King Arthur.

The palace is believed to date from the 6th century around the same period as the legend of King Arthur.

They believe the one-metre thick walls being unearthed are from a 6th century palace belonging to the rulers of an ancient south-west British kingdom, known as Dumnonia.

Excavations have been taking place at the site as part of a five year research project being run by English Heritage at the 13th century Tintagel Castle in Cornwall to find out more about the historic site from the 5th to the 7th centuries AD. Read more.

Pre-Viking Scandinavian Gilt Pelta Pendant with Bird, 7th Century AD

The profile bird with hooked claw and divided tail is a motif used in England and Scandinavia in the 6th-7th century AD. It appears on the shield of the king in Mound 1 at Sutton Hoo (photo) and on the equipment of the contemporary burials at Vendel, Valsgärde and elsewhere in central Sweden.

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Merlin’s Cave & Tintagel Castle. Tintagel is the legendary birthplace of King Arthur of Camalot. It is said that King Uther Pendragon met with the beautiful Igraine and conceived Arthur.

The site of Tintagel Castle has been inhabited at least since the late Roman period, and probably earlier. Between the 5th and 7th centuries AD a prosperous community was based there. After a period of obscurity, in the 12th century Tintagel gained international literary fame when it was named by Geoffrey of Monmouth as the place where the legendary King Arthur was conceived. This may have been what inspired Richard, Earl of Cornwall, younger brother of Henry III, to site his castle at Tintagel in the 1230s.  

It is a gorgeous place with the most stunning scenery.  Whether the legends are true or not its certainly has a certain magic about it.

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The Ancient Art of Temari

Temari (手まり?) balls are a folk art form that originated in China and was introduced to Japan around the 7th century AD.  Historically, temari were hand ball toys constructed from the remnants of old kimonos.  Temari were given to children from their parents on New Year’s Day.  Inside the tightly wrapped layers of each ball, the mother would have placed a small piece of paper with a goodwill wish for her child.  The child would never be told what wish their mother had made while making the ball.

Although mothers still made temari for their children, as time passed, traditional temari became an art, with the functional stitching becoming more decorative and detailed, until the balls displayed intricate embroidery.  Temari became an art and craft of the Japanese upper class and aristocracy, and noble women competed in creating increasingly beautiful and intricate objects.

Temari are still highly valued and cherished gifts, symbolizing deep friendship and loyalty.  The brilliant colors and threads used are symbolic of wishing the recipient a brilliant and happy life.

Photography by NanaAkua

The 7th Century dramatically changed the Middle East

No matter what your beliefs are, studying history reveals that, had the Persian Zoroastrian Sassanian Empire or the Christian Byzantine Empire defeated the Arab Muslim armies back in the 7th century, the Middle East would have looked a whole lot more different right now. 

Persian Zoroastrians vs. Arab Muslims (633-654), also known as the Arab or Muslim conquest of Iran, led to the eventual decline of the Zoroastrian religion in Iran.  Conversion to Islam was gradual. In the process, many acts of violence took place, Zoroastrian scriptures were burnt and many priests executed. Once conquered politically, the Persians began to reassert themselves by maintaining Persian language and culture. Regardless, Islam was adopted by many, for political, socio-cultural or spiritual reasons, or simply by persuasion, and became the dominant religion.

Byzantine Christians vs. Arab Muslims (629-11th century), also known as the Arab-Byzantine wars took a much longer period of time. These were a series of wars between the 7th and 11th centuries AD. The Christians initially lost the southern provinces (Syria and Egypt) to the Muslims. Muslim raids reached a peak in the 9th and early 10th centuries, after their conquest of Malta and parts of modern-day Greece, Italy, Spain, and Portugal, with their fleets reaching the coasts of France.

To think, just a single change in these battles could have drastically changed so much about the Middle East today. The “what ifs?” are endless, and the impact of these conquests and wars has shaped many people’s religious beliefs in the 21st century. As I said, no matter what your beliefs are, these are interesting historical facts to ponder upon

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Archaeological Museum of Dion:

Cult statues of Hera and Zeus (Roman Imperial times). The statue of Hera was found built in the Early Christian walls*. From the sanctuary of Zeus Hypsistos.

*Statues, reliefs, funerary monuments have been found multiple times in the walls of cities. Most of them were placed there from the 3rd to the 5th century AD, after a series of invasions in Greek space, an event that caused a profound need for new fortifications and readily available building materials. In some cases, like in that of the painted funerary stelai of Demetrias, this helped preserve the antiquities. From the 4th to the 7th century AD Christianity, now endorsed by the newly formed Byzantine Empire began to really take hold in Greece, hostilities against the old religion and its believers have been documented, but the use of these statues as building materials was not exactly an act of vandalism. A lot of artifacts had already been damaged, and old sanctuaries had already fallen to disrepair due to earthquakes, floods, invasions, or plagues. 

See also this post about statues in the walls of Nicopolis.

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Saxon Iron Helmet, 6th-8th Century AD

Anglo-Saxon helmets, as well as Danish and Viking ones, had a conical shape in order to protect the wearer’s head by deflecting direct blows. The most expensive ones, used by kings and nobles, were entirely made of steel and iron while less expensive ones had an iron skeleton to which panels of animal horn, hard leather or even wood were fixed. The face, cheeks and the neck of the wearer were protected by additional elements made of iron plate or other materials.

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