Author Topic: Pictish coppersmith's handprint  (Read 121 times)

Duncan Head

  • Former Officer
  • Society Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3022
  • Country: england
Pictish coppersmith's handprint
« on: July 25, 2018, 11:26:07 AM »
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/jul/24/pictish-coppersmith-1000-year-old-handprint-found-in-orkney

His fingerprints have been placed on file and passed to Police Scotland's cold cases unit, just in case  :)
  • Duncan Head

Mark G

  • Society Member
  • Posts: 1641
  • Country: gb
    • Lead-Astray
  • Interests: History, Wagaming
Re: Pictish coppersmith's handprint
« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2018, 02:29:44 PM »
I'm sure there is a joke about the presidents hand size to be made there somewhere.
  • Mark Grindlay

Patrick Waterson

  • Administrator
  • Society Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6025
  • Country: gb
  • Interests: Pretty much everything to do with warfare, especially how military systems actually work.
Re: Pictish coppersmith's handprint
« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2018, 07:04:29 PM »
"The biggest surprise came when we lifted the larger stone anvil and cleaned it; we could see carbon imprints of the smith’s knees and hands.”

Not an expert on these matters, but is kneeling on an anvil usual?  My impression was that one stood next to the anvil, laid metal on it and walloped the metal.  The anvil would remain untouched by human hands, let alone knees.
  • Patrick Waterson
"The whole condition of mortals is created by their ability to analyse the universe and their inability to understand it." - Corum Jhaelen Irsei

Ade G

  • Society Member
  • Posts: 62
  • Interests: Persians, "Barbarians", Byzantines, Islamics. Painting
Re: Pictish coppersmith's handprint
« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2018, 04:28:53 PM »
We were at this dig 3 weeks ago ;-)

There was another about a quarter of a mile away where we were allowed in the pits to pick out shell midden
  • Adrian Garbett

Tim

  • Society Member
  • Posts: 898
  • Country: england
  • Interests: Wargaming, History
Re: Pictish coppersmith's handprint
« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2018, 07:20:10 PM »
Where I am the speed the police investigate crime it would not have been considered a cold case...
  • Timothy Myall

Dangun

  • Society Member
  • Posts: 744
  • Country: jp
  • Interests: Ancient History, DBA, Writing, Finance, Economics, North Korea, Westbury sub-Mendip, Berkeley
Re: Pictish coppersmith's handprint
« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2018, 01:32:53 AM »
let alone knees.

What exactly does a carbon imprint of a knee on stone look like??
 ???

Patrick Waterson

  • Administrator
  • Society Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6025
  • Country: gb
  • Interests: Pretty much everything to do with warfare, especially how military systems actually work.
Re: Pictish coppersmith's handprint
« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2018, 07:41:34 AM »
What exactly does a carbon imprint of a knee on stone look like??
 ???

And how is one which lasts thousands of years achieved?
  • Patrick Waterson
"The whole condition of mortals is created by their ability to analyse the universe and their inability to understand it." - Corum Jhaelen Irsei

Erpingham

  • Society Member
  • Posts: 4102
  • Country: gb
  • Interests: Medieval warfare, Old School, home made rules
Re: Pictish coppersmith's handprint
« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2018, 08:08:37 AM »
let alone knees.

What exactly does a carbon imprint of a knee on stone look like??
 ???

I'd go with the splodge on the left of the photo, the five-fingered splodge on the right being the handprint.
  • Anthony Clipsom

Erpingham

  • Society Member
  • Posts: 4102
  • Country: gb
  • Interests: Medieval warfare, Old School, home made rules
Re: Pictish coppersmith's handprint
« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2018, 08:19:43 AM »
What exactly does a carbon imprint of a knee on stone look like??
 ???

And how is one which lasts thousands of years achieved?

Probably in a similar way to one that doesn't, the key difference being in the way it was preserved.  Carbon staining is remarkably persistent on pots, for example.  Unfortunately, we don't know enough about the conditions on site.

It is interesting to speculate how, if the two stains are simultaneous, the smith worked with the anvil.  The orientation to the hearth/furnace would be useful to know.

Add : Looking at the photo of it in situ again, I reckon the imprints are on the fire side of the stone, so a left hand and a right knee.  Leaning forward to do something with a crucible in the hearth with the right hand, balancing with left hand on anvil?
« Last Edit: August 11, 2018, 08:25:58 AM by Erpingham »
  • Anthony Clipsom

Patrick Waterson

  • Administrator
  • Society Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6025
  • Country: gb
  • Interests: Pretty much everything to do with warfare, especially how military systems actually work.
Re: Pictish coppersmith's handprint
« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2018, 07:42:54 PM »
Add : Looking at the photo of it in situ again, I reckon the imprints are on the fire side of the stone, so a left hand and a right knee.  Leaning forward to do something with a crucible in the hearth with the right hand, balancing with left hand on anvil?

Could be; logical thinking.

We then have the question why this was not obliterated by the next such usage - or maybe this was the last use of the anvil, and if so one would wonder why.  We are of course taking it as read that the said smith would be as grimy as a chimney-sweep on the relevant parts of his anatomy.
  • Patrick Waterson
"The whole condition of mortals is created by their ability to analyse the universe and their inability to understand it." - Corum Jhaelen Irsei

Dangun

  • Society Member
  • Posts: 744
  • Country: jp
  • Interests: Ancient History, DBA, Writing, Finance, Economics, North Korea, Westbury sub-Mendip, Berkeley
Re: Pictish coppersmith's handprint
« Reply #10 on: August 13, 2018, 11:46:32 AM »
A hand I understand... But a knee?
How are there not many other explanations? Sticking with body parts... an elbow? a buttock? Somebody else's buttock? A can of beer?
What exactly is the distinctive feature of a carbonised knee-print?
It might be the jet lag.

Duncan Head

  • Former Officer
  • Society Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3022
  • Country: england
Re: Pictish coppersmith's handprint
« Reply #11 on: August 13, 2018, 11:53:48 AM »
A hand I understand... But a knee?
How are there not many other explanations? Sticking with body parts... an elbow? a buttock? Somebody else's buttock? A can of beer?
What exactly is the distinctive feature of a carbonised knee-print?

Buttocks tend to be larger?

This looks to be the original on which the newspaper stories are based. Doesn't add much.
  • Duncan Head

Erpingham

  • Society Member
  • Posts: 4102
  • Country: gb
  • Interests: Medieval warfare, Old School, home made rules
Re: Pictish coppersmith's handprint
« Reply #12 on: August 13, 2018, 12:18:15 PM »
A hand I understand... But a knee?
How are there not many other explanations? Sticking with body parts... an elbow? a buttock? Somebody else's buttock? A can of beer?


Look again at the orientation of the stone.  Anyone sitting on it and leaving their buttock print has their feet in the furnace.  An elbow would be possible, as would the palm of a hand or even a foot. 

The streaky finger mark would point to something transitory rather than a habitual resting of the hand, whereas I don't think you can make the same assumption for the other mark.
« Last Edit: August 13, 2018, 02:28:12 PM by Erpingham »
  • Anthony Clipsom

RichT

  • Former Officer
  • Society Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 670
Re: Pictish coppersmith's handprint
« Reply #13 on: August 13, 2018, 03:33:51 PM »
'On hands and knees' is a known thing (especially for someone in a confined space, or doing something on the floor). 'Hands and buttocks' isn't, nor is 'hands and elbows'. I imagine there's no more to it than that.
  • Richard Taylor

Patrick Waterson

  • Administrator
  • Society Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6025
  • Country: gb
  • Interests: Pretty much everything to do with warfare, especially how military systems actually work.
Re: Pictish coppersmith's handprint
« Reply #14 on: August 13, 2018, 08:20:35 PM »
Buttocks tend to be larger?

Picts tended to be smaller ... ;)

Nicholas essentially wonders - rightly, in my view - whether the knee is inference rather than reference.  Eliminating other possibilities certainly helps to narrow the options, although I would not exclude a hot carbonised crucible as a candidate for having left the supposed 'knee' print.
  • Patrick Waterson
"The whole condition of mortals is created by their ability to analyse the universe and their inability to understand it." - Corum Jhaelen Irsei