Showing posts from 2021

Land of Lemurs

The great allure of Madagascar is the uniqueness of its wildlife, first and foremost the spectacular variety of the endemic lemurs (see Herrera 2017 for a discussion of their adaptive radiation). On a journey in August 2019, I finally had a chance to encounter these wonderful animals in the wild, in the distressingly few remaining areas of forest. At one end of the scale is Indri indri, the largest extant lemur (the gorilla sized Archaeoindris being now extinct). At the miniature end of the scale are the charming and tiny mouse lemurs, including the smallest primates on the planet. And then, there are the different styles of locomotion to observe and enjoy, from the ballet-like leaps of the sifakas to the all-fours scampering of the Eulemurs and the scurrying of the mouse lemurs. There is also a prize for weirdness, which goes to the nocturnal aye-aye. Eight families of lemurs have been recognized, three of which are extinct. Cheirogaleids are the dwarf lemurs, including the smal

A Merovingian Croix Ancrée Tremissis, Sutton Hoo, and Declining Gold Content in the 7th Century Coinage

In the recent Netflix film "The Dig" there is a scene in which Basil Brown's character shows a small gold coin, known as a tremissis, to Edith Pretty, confirming that the ship burial at Sutton Hoo is of Anglo Saxon age as he had previously suspected. A Merovingian tremissis found in Kent, 10 mm across 37 such coins, all from Merovingian Francia, were found at Sutton Hoo, associated with the remains of an elaborate purse. These coins have commanded a great deal of attention as a potential means to constrain the date of the burial. This is a highly imprecise process (the coins are not datable to within a range shorter than 16 years), relying on recognising issues associated with known rulers, identifying the youngest of these, speculating from there as to how much younger the undated coins may be, and then how much later the assembled group was deposited in the ship burial. Plan of  the Sutton Hoo Mound 1 burial chamber in Burger et al (2016), combined from versions by Phil