14 years ago today, the marvelous, unprecedented hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold was found in Staffordshire, from which it would take its name. Numbering 11 pounds of gold, thousands of garnets, and 3 pounds of silver, the hoard is now the greatest testament to the wealth, power, and reach of the early Britons. Among the most dramatic finds are a collection of sword hilt fittings and pommels made from gold, filigree, and garnet. READ what it revealed… (2009)
Considered “possibly the finest collection of early medieval artifacts ever discovered,” one of the first things one notices is the wealth of the semi-precious red stone called garnet. There are 3,500 garnet stones contained within the treasure, most of which arrived from Sri Lanka, or Afghanistan, showing how even back in the once-called “Dark Age” global trade was truly global. Another hypothesis is that they came from Roman jewelry that was recycled.
The quality of the metalworking is also hair-raising. The Anglo-Saxon smiths understood how to twist and hammer gold to make filigree—or beaded chains—utilizing gold’s peculiar properties as the most manipulatable metal. With this filigree they decorated their sword pommels in particular with spirals and North Atlantic graphic styles.
Discovered within what would have been the Kingdom of Mercia, most of the gold and silver items appear to have been intentionally removed from the objects they were previously attached to. Some researchers associate the predominantly warlike character of the artifacts in the hoard with the custom of giving war gear (heriot) as death duty to the king upon the death of one of his noblemen. The removal of the sword pommel caps finds a parallel in Beowulf which mentions warriors stripping the pommels of their enemies’ swords. There are 66 such items in the hoard.
MORE Good News on this Day:
- Isaac Newton published his formulation of the laws of motion, which formed the foundation of classical mechanics, as well as his law of universal gravitation (1687)
- William Booth founded The Salvation Army in London (1865)
- The National Labor Relations Act is enacted in the U.S. (1935)
- The British National Health Service Act was launched providing government-financed medical and dental care as an integral part of British society, largely “free at the point of delivery”, paid for by taxes (1948)
- Arthur Ashe became the first black man to win Wimbledon singles’ championship (1975)
- The SARS virus was declared to be contained by the WHO (2003)
- First Indonesian presidential election (2004)
- Roger Federer won a record 15th Grand Slam tennis tournament at Wimbledon (2009)
52 years ago today, the voting age for citizens in the U.S. was lowered from 21 to 18. First passed by the Congress, then ratified by three-fourths of the States, the Twenty-sixth Amendment became part of the Constitution when President Nixon and his administration certified its adoption.
During the signing ceremony, held in the East Room of the White House, Nixon talked about his confidence in the youth of America. (1971)
69 years ago today, Elvis Presley entered a recording studio at Sun Records and launched the birth of Rock & Roll. The 19-year-old was invited to play with two session musicians to make his first commercial recording. He was fooling around on his guitar and began strumming an old blues number, That’s All Right—playing the song faster than the original version. That single, released two weeks later with Blue Moon of Kentucky as the B-side, was hailed by Rolling Stone magazine in 2004 as the very first rock-and-roll record.
Presley’s version has different lyrics compared to the Arthur Crudup original, and was produced in the style of a live recording (all parts performed at once and recorded on a single track). John Lennon, who, along with Paul McCartney copied Elvis as much as possible in the early days of The Beatles, later said: “Before Elvis there was nothing.” LISTEN to the 2-minute song… (1954)
23 years ago today, the largest-ever airlift of wild birds was launched by conservationists. 18,000 penguins were moved to safety after an oil slick threatened their South African breeding ground during mating season. A third of the entire species of black-footed penguins (found only in Africa and classified as “threatened”) lived on the islands.
Thousands of volunteers and zoo experts helped with the airlift and the cleaning of 20,000 birds. This video shows volunteers and experts scrubbing and feeding nearly 20,000 oil-soaked penguins in thirty days. WATCH the news report… (2000)
And Happy Birthday to musician Robbie Robertson, who turns 80 today. As a singer-songwriter, the Canadian is credited for writing ‘The Weight’, ‘The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down’, ‘Up on Cripple Creek’, ‘Broken Arrow’ and ‘Somewhere Down the Crazy River’.
He played with The Band and Bob Dylan for years before going solo and producing records. Robertson has collaborated with Martin Scorsese, who directed the rockumentary film The Last Waltz, featuring The Band alongside a string of mega music stars. He continued acting and composing for a number of dramatic Scorsese films, including Raging Bull, Casino. WATCH a performance of The Weight in The Last Waltz…(1943)
9 years ago today, the Juno spacecraft was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida on a mission to study Jupiter. Having now completed 42 flybys, called “Perijoves” Juno has undoubtedly provided some of the most beautiful and stunning images ever seen, with Jupiter appearing like a canvass upon which colors move and swirl in combinations and variance beyond the imagining of the human artist. It has also completed 4 flybys of Jupiter’s moons, Io, Ganymede, and Europa.
Juno provided the first views of Jupiter’s north pole, as well as providing insight into Jupiter’s aurorae, magnetic field, and atmosphere. The data from its various scientific instruments have reshaped existing theories about the formation of Jupiter.
Only recently, Juno data on the planet’s interior have revealed that the content of heavy metals was far higher than previously thought—as much as 11-30 Earth masses. This has changed how scientists believe Jupiter was formed, from absorbing loose rock, to primarily growing through the absorption of small planets. In fact, this gargantuan thunderstorm of a world may have gobbled up dozens, potentially hundreds of other planets, dwarf planets, and planetesimals that inhabited the early solar system.
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