The Precious

Digs & Discoveries January/February 2012


In the medieval period, wearing sapphires was a privilege reserved for royalty, nobility, and high-ranking clergy. Then, as now, sapphires were thought to bring good fortune, mental clarity, and spiritual enlightenment to the wearer. The intricate gold beading combined with the use of sapphire on this ring found in York, England, could date it to the Viking period (tenth to eleventh centuries A.D.). However, the jewelry more likely dates to between the seventh and ninth centuries A.D. The use of gold inlaid with red and blue glass is typical of jewelry from East Anglia, a kingdom in eastern England first settled in the fifth century A.D. To make the ring more impressive and suitable for royalty, a jeweler used precious stones instead of red or blue glass.

  • Artifacts January/February 2012

    Ship's Carving in the Form of a Merman

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  • Around the World January/February 2012


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  • Digs & Discoveries January/February 2012

    Stone Age Art Supplies

    A cave in southwestern South Africa was used as a paint production workshop, where ancient artists made a liquid ochre pigment. The toolkit of shells, stone, and bone from Blombos Cave suggests Middle Stone Age humans were capable planners.

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  • Features January/February 2012

    Pompeii, Italy

    While plans are underway for a massive influx of funds from the European Union that will take a significant step in preserving the site in the future, the Roman city of Pompeii remains gravely imperiled.

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