De Re Metallica: The Uses of Metal in the Middle Ages, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

De Re Metallica

The Uses of Metal in the Middle Ages, 1st Edition

Edited by Robert Bork


444 pages

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De Re Metallica brings together a wide variety of perspectives on metal use in the Middle Ages, a topic that has received less systematic scholarly attention than it deserves, given its central importance for medieval culture. Because of its strength, beauty, and prestige, metal figured prominently in many medieval contexts, from the military and utilitarian to the architectural and liturgical. Metal was a crucial ingredient in weapons and waterpipes, rose windows and reliquaries, coinage and jewelry. The 23 essays presented here, from an international team of scholars, explore the production and use of such objects, from the early Middle Ages to the sixteenth century, and from the British Isles, Iceland, and Scandinavia, to France, Germany, Spain and Italy. This thematic, chronological, and geographical scope will make this volume into a valuable resource for historians of art, technology, and culture.


'The level of scholarship in this work is high… The argumentation is precise and thorough… The editor, Robert Bork, should be commended not only for bringing together a group of meticulously argued papers, but also for the quality of the book as a whole. Numerous figures and images clarify the articles and inform the reader. The copyediting is excellent; translations are written in clear style, and the thorough index is more than welcome. These articles will be key for future research on the individual topics they treat and, in themselves, demonstrate the variety of ways that metal artifacts can be used as historical evidence.' Bulletin for the History of Chemistry

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction: The Middle Ages as metal ages, Robert Bork; Indices of Identity: Metal for Secular Display: Gold in the ground or just rust in the dust: measuring wealth by metalwork in Anglo-Saxon graves, Gale R. Owen-Crocker; 'Brightness in a time of dark': The Production of Ornamental Metalwork in 9th Century Northumbria, Gabor Thomas; Display of Scandinavian Migration Period Bracteates and Other Pendant Jewelry as a Reflection of Prestige and Identity, Nancy L. Wicker; A Viking Age Brooch Fragment From Recent Excavations at Temple Bar West, Dublin, Niamh Whitfield; Breaking the Mould: A Re-evaluation of Viking Age Mould-Making Techniques for Oval Brooches, Michèle Hayeur Smith; A 13th-Century Signet Ring and its Inscriptions: Between Identity and Power, Magic and Prophylaxis, Elisabeth Antoine; The Savernake Horn: An Oliphant Adorned with Metal, John Cherry. Handling the Holy: Metal Reliquaries and Liturgical Objects: Eucharistic Vessels, Architecture and Liturgical Celebration in Early Medieval Ireland, Michael Ryan; The princess-abbesses of Essen and the golden virgin, Karen Blough; Lorenzo Ghiberti and the Renaissance reliquary: The Shrine of the Three Martyrs from Santa Maria degli Angeli, Florence, Sally J. Cornelison. Mundane Metals: Metals for Everyday Use in War and Peace: Ore, Fire, Hammer, Sickle: Iron Production in Viking Age and Early Medieval Iceland, Kevin P. Smith; What's the point? A metallurgical insight into Medieval arrowheads, David Starley; The History and Development of a 13th-Century Lead Water Conduit: The Carmelites' friary pipe, Bristol, England, Julian Lea-Jones. Strengthening Structures: Metal in Medieval Architecture: A note on Villard de Honnecourt and metal, Carl F. Barnes, Jr.; Solid as a Rock: Poured Lead Joints in Medieval masonry, Jennifer S. Alexander; Metal use at the Cistercian church of Altenberg, Sabine Lepsky and Norbert Nussbaum; Ironwork at the top: a Medieval Jigsaw Puzzle in Salisbury cathedral's spire, A. Ri

About the Editor

Robert Bork is Associate Professor of Art History, University of Iowa, USA.

About the Series

AVISTA Studies in the History of Medieval Technology, Science and Art

AVISTA Studies in History of Medieval Technology, Science and Art is a series organised by AVISTA (The Association Villard de Honnecourt for Interdisciplinary Study of Medieval Technology, Science and Art). The aim of the series is to promote the cross-disciplinary objectives of AVISTA by publishing in the areas of the history of science, technology, architecture, and art. The society takes its name from Villard (Wilars) de Honnecourt, an elusive persona of the 13th century whose autograph portfolio contains a variety of fascinating drawings and descriptions of both the fine and mechanical arts.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General