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Photo: Museum of London Archaeology via Hyperallergic.
A necklace found in a UK burial site probably belonged to an “elite woman who wanted to highlight her Christian identity, says Hyperallergic.

Archaeology reminds us that there will always be surprises to uncover no matter how much we think we know. A necklace found in a medieval burial site and considered a “once-in-a-lifetime” discovery is one recent surprise. Michael Levenson wrote about it for the New York Times.

“A 1,300-year-old gold-and-gemstone necklace that was recently discovered in an ancient grave site in England may have belonged to a woman who was an early Christian leader, according to experts involved in the discovery.

“The ancient jewelry was unearthed in Northamptonshire in April [2022] during excavations that took place ahead of a planned housing development. … The 30 pendants and beads that once formed the elaborate necklace were made from Roman coins, gold, garnets, glass and semiprecious stones. The centerpiece of the necklace, a rectangular pendant with a cross motif, was also among the artifacts that were discovered.

“ ‘When the first glints of gold started to emerge from the soil we knew this was something significant,’ Levente-Bence Balázs, a site supervisor at the Museum of London Archaeology, [said in a statement announcing the find]. …

“X-rays of soil blocks lifted from the grave also revealed an elaborately decorated cross featuring unusual depictions of human faces cast in silver, the statement said.

“While the soil is being investigated more closely, ‘this large and ornate piece suggests the woman may have been an early Christian leader,’ the statement said, adding that she might have been an abbess, royalty or both. The site also contained two decorated pots and a shallow copper dish.

“The skeleton itself has decomposed, with only tiny fragments of tooth enamel remaining. But the Museum of London Archaeology said it was almost certain that a woman was buried there because similar necklaces and lavish burial sites were almost exclusively found in female graves in the period.

Scholars said the discovery pointed to the important but often overlooked role of women in the development of early Christianity.

“ ‘The evidence does seem to point to an early female Saxon church leader, perhaps one of the first in this region,’ Helen Bond, a professor of Christian origins and head of the School of Divinity at the University of Edinburgh, in Scotland, wrote in an email. ‘We know from the gospels that women played an important role in the earliest Christian movement, acting as disciples, apostles, teachers and missionaries,’ Professor Bond wrote. ‘While their role was diminished later on at the highest levels, there were always places where women leaders continued (even sometimes as bishops).’

“Amy Brown Hughes, a historical theologian at Gordon College, who studies early Christianity, called the necklace, which has been traced to the years 630 to 670, an ‘absolutely stunning’ artifact from a volatile period when Christianity was becoming established in Anglo-Saxon England.

“Noting that women have often been left out of narratives about Christianity, Professor Hughes said the necklace provides material evidence that ‘helps to reorient our assumptions about who actually had influence and authority.’ …

“Joan E. Taylor, a professor of Christian origins and Second Temple Judaism at King’s College London, said the fact that the woman was apparently buried in a village far from a main population center ‘testifies to the troubled times in this region of Britain in the 7th century.’

“ ‘Perhaps she was on a journey, or fleeing,’ Professor Taylor wrote in an email. ‘It was a tough “Game of Thrones” world with competing royal rulers aiming for supremacy. It was also a time where Christianity was spreading, and abbesses and other high-status women could play an important role in this.’ …

“The artifacts [will] be featured in an installment of the BBC series ‘Digging for Britain.’ “

More at the Times, here. See also Hyperallergic. More photos, no firewall.

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You know this blog is connected to my daughter’s birthstone-jewelry company Luna & Stella, right?

Well, today I am passing along a Luna & Stella promotion in case you would like to follow Suzanne’s company on Instagram and get a chance at a $50 gift card. As a Luna & Stella Instagram follower, you’ll also get $10 off your first order with Suzanne (use the code INSTA10).

If you are not already on Instagram, you can sign up here, https://instagram.com/.

I liked this day-in-the-life small business story that Suzanne put on Facebook today:

“A customer in Qatar who had special ordered our 14K gold Constellation Stacking Birthstone Rings for his wife to celebrate the arrival of baby due in November, emailed us on the way to the hospital last night: ‘The baby is coming now! Can we change the birthstone?’

“No problem, we said, we are always happy to make adjustments for babies who don’t arrive on schedule.

“In celebration of ‪#‎octoberbabies‬ everywhere, we are doing an ‪#‎IGgiveway‬. You can win a $50 credit to our store.

“To enter:
“1. Follow us on Instagram
“2. Tag a friend
“3. For an extra entry, tell us who is your moon & stars, and what piece you’d buy to represent them!

“That’s it! Giveaway will end on Tuesday 11/4 /15 at 6 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.”

Photo shows the angel wing charm. See all the jewelry at Luna & Stella, here.

For angels only. Birthstone jewelry by Lunaandstella

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Photo: Free Arts NYC

Free Arts NYC is one of several free arts programs around the country supported by people who believe every child should have arts opportunities. Too many school districts have cut back on programs that trigger the creative imagination, and children whose families can’t pay for extra classes often miss out the most.

When Suzanne and Erik were living in Harlem, Suzanne volunteered for Free Arts NYC at the Dream Charter School, having learned about it from her 92nd Street Y ceramics teacher. The teacher told her that the Y had actually been the organization responsible for bringing the concept to New York.

In childhood, whenever Suzanne wrapped up one arts class, she could hardly wait to sign up for the next one. She knows what the arts can mean to a child and has carried that appreciation into adulthood and the birthstone jewelry at Luna & Stella (the company behind this blog).

So from now until December 31, $5 of every Birthstone Charm Necklace will go to support Free Arts NYC. More about the promotion here, at Free Arts NYC, or here, at Luna & Stella.

Photo: Luna & Stella

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I read the Anatole France short story “Le Jongleur de Notre Dame” in high school French class, and although I have retained only a fuzzy memory of the details, I have a pleasant feeling about the ending.

A poor juggler (jongleur) goes into a church wanting to show his gratitude for something to Mary but feeling he has nothing to offer. Standing before her statue, he decides to present the thing he knows best: juggling. Just when church’s clergy appear and are about to reprimand him, they see the statue bend and reach out to receive the juggler’s gift.

I have blogged recently about gifts that serve a second purpose, like TOMS shoes, which gives a pair of shoes to a needy child when you buy shoes for yourself. Now Suzanne says that Luna & Stella will donate $5 to the Homeless Prenatal Project for every purchase now through December 24. Use the code ANGEL12.

I am still looking for your suggestions about gifts that do good. I myself ordered three of Dancing Deer’s charitable gifts this year. Ten Thousand Villages is, as a fair trade retailer, pretty much all about doing good.

And if you live in Rhode Island, please consider supporting the Granola Project.

For angels only. Birthstone jewelry by Lunaandstella

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I recently saw a National Geographic special about money and the central bank. The documentary took viewers into the vault at the NY Fed, where gold bars are stored. Although the security is really tight, anyone may sign up for a tour there. The film also went to places where cameras are usually not allowed, like the National Bureau of Engraving and Printing, which prints dollar bills.

It also went to offices deep underground in the gold and diamond district of New York City. I thought Suzanne would be interested to see the broker who buys gold. Being in the jewelry business with Luna & Stella, she naturally is aware that gold has been expensive since the economic downturn. The film showed the multilingual broker buying small bags of gold objects, which were then shown being melted down and made into a gold bar.

National Geographic has also blogged about the movie: “What Jake Ward of Popular Science magazine discovers in this one hour special is that without the engines that power the world’s financial systems, that world would grind to a halt.

America’s Money Vault follows 55 million dollars worth of gold as it makes its way down into the most valuable gold vault in the world. Hidden deep under the streets of New York City, hundreds of billion dollars in gold bars  …

“Jake goes behind the storefronts to see how everybody from the street level to the brokers make their money buying, selling and even finding gold. He meets Onikwa Thomas who calls himself the urban miner and claims to earn up to four hundred dollars a week off of gold specks found in the cracks of sidewalks.”  More from the documentary.

P.S. Speaking of Luna & Stella, Suzanne’s birthstone jewelry company, gold vermeil angel wings can make a lovely gift for the right person.

Photograph: National Geographic

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