Experimental archaeology : loom weights

On July 1st Virtus Antiqua organizes yet another experimental archaeology workshop near Cluj-Napoca, at Camp Virtus. The meeting includes two projects - modelling ancient-style loom weights inspired by archaeological artifacts from Romania and remaking another Roman cabbage recipe from Apicius. A vertical loom will be reconstructed and used during subsequent meetings.
The workshops is part of the "Labyrinth through time" cultural project that benefits from funding from the Romanian National Cultural Fund Administration, targeting 15 such workshops with families of volunteers and a larger event in the autumn when Camp Virtus becomes an actual labyrinth inhabited by gladiators, Roman auxiliary soldiers, ancient perfume makers, hawkers, Dacians and Celts.
So, both volunteers and the general public [including English speakers as well!] are invited on Saturday, July 1st, in Salicea, near Cluj, for a time-immersive experience!
Clay loom weights modelling workshop by Virtus Antiqua
Check out the Pinterest album with reconstructions of vertical-type, ancient looms and loom weights made of clay discovered during archaeological excavations HERE.
See pictures from our last week's meeting to get a taste of what we do at Camp Virtus HERE.


Retro pendant on the Transylvanian Trove

The pendant section of my online Etsy shop Transylvanian Trove, is a nice pendant made of silver and mounted stone. The rays around the round stone are decorated with geometric patterns and patina. Ends in a silver hook that allows for it to be attached to a black, natural leather cord (included).
The cabochon measures 6 mm in height (0.2 inches).
Back side closed with silver plate.
Diameter: 3 cm (1.18 inches)
Ready to wear, ready to send. 

Vintage pendant, retro jewelry, silver and stone medallion, mounted stone, cast silver, patina, ready to wear jewelry, Transylvanian Trove

Retro silver medallion


Tiny houses linocut

I have just added one of my favorite linocut pieces to my Etsy shop, the Goddess Gruia - a tiny print entitled "Extra muros" depicting tiny houses and monuments from Transylvania. It can be framed and displayed as a picture or used as a card (using the blank back side for writing).
Dimensions: 11.5 x 17 cm (4.5 x 6.7 inches).
Original print on special beige/orange printing paper, typographic inks and pencil signature by the artist. "EA (author series) 2016, "Extra muros" (outside the walls, in Latin), linocut, AGruia (Ana-Maria Gruia)  

Celebration discount 20% OFF with coupon code HAILCEZAR!

Tiny houses linocut, original miniature print, Extra muros, street front art, small artwork, medieval architecture from Transylvania

Detail of coloring

Detail of the linocut print
See the related Happy Houses project present before HERE, HERE and HERE.
And the original project using the entire linocut plate with these houses, the "City tracks in the mud", on my Facebook Page HERE.
Fell free to check all the linocut prints available in my shop:

Linocut prints by Goddess Gruia - June 2017


Ancient cabbage recipe remake

Last weekend we have cooked a remake of one of the cabbage recipes preserved in Apicius, in his De re coquinaria - using the Project Gutenberg online variant. The experiment is part of the cultural project "Labyrinth through time" implemented near Cluj-Napoca, in the heart of Transylvania.
Though Apicius [aka the preserved ancient Roman recipes] is rather brief in his cooking indications - regarding temperatures, quantities and time requirements - we have adapted one of his cabbage recipes (Olus molle) to also include pork sausages. Our variant thus consisted of white cabbage, white wine, onions, seasonings (coriander, mint, pepper, salt, cumin etc.) and sausages slowly cooked in a cauldron over an open fire for around one hour. This method renders the cabbage soft and sweet, a bit spicy as well, and very tasty in combination with the sausages and white bread.

Cutting a lot of cabbage

The first step - onion and oil
Adding everything in the mix with a bit of water

Letting things stew

Voting in favor of the end resut
 See also the brief YouTube video here:


Vintage metal cross pendant from Transylvania

My Transylvanian Trove shop on Etsy has just been enriched with another, one of a kind handmade items: a vintage metal cross, hand lathed, attached to a natural black leather cord. This retro pendant is nicely polished and has a nice finish that will make it shine and stand out with any dress.
Dimensions: 6 x 3 cm (2.3 x 1.1 inches).
A single item available. 

Metal cross, vintage pendant, hand lathed, handmade in Transylvania, retro cross medallion, natural leather cord, unique item

Handmade cross pendant made of common metal alloy
Detail of loop and leather cord
See all pendants available on the Transylvanian Trove HERE.
Feel free to join us on Facebook HERE.
And do not miss the 10% discount available on Etsy for purchases over 10 dollars with coupon code TENPERCENT :)

Transylvanian Trove shop update June 2017


Pharmacy and alchemy

The next temporary exhibition at the History of Pharmacy Collection in Cluj-Napoca focuses on the interferences between pharmacy and alchemy. The exhibition, open between July 3rd and December 31st 2017, consists of a proper temporary exhibition, focused around four major topics, and a thematic tour through the permanent collection. The four topics explored, illustrated with relevant artifacts from the history of pharmacy, are: Pharmacy and Alchemy, Laboratory tools, Alchemical symbols, and Alchemical confusions. The tour is properly indicated with printed signs depicting the so-called Mirabilitas Naturae (Nature's miraculous abilities) taken from Maier Viatorium ~1618.
Join the Facebook event HERE to receive the latest news. 
The four topics of the exhibition and all the labels are bilingual, Romanian and English, so tourists are encouraged to visit and explore the alchemical elements and tools borrowed by the old apothecaries of Transylvania.

Mirabilitas Naturae


The reconstruction of an ancient Roman garden

This Sunday, June 25th, members of the Virtus Antiqua reenactment association from Cluj invite volunteers and the general public to take part in yet another experimental archaeology meeting at their center Camp Virtus, in the village of Salicea, near Cluj-Napoca. The meeting envisages the reconstruction of an ancient Roman garden, with beds for medicinal, cooking, and decorative plants that the ancient Roman would have known and used. Due to the access of goats at Camp Virtus, the gardens needs to be protected by a wattle fence, the construction of which, with local materials, shall take up most of the meeting. Still, it shall not be all work, as we will also cook an ancient recipe inspired by Apicius' De re coquinaria - cabbage and cauliflower with spices and pig meat sausages. The event is part of the ongoing cultural project entitled "Labyrinth through time" that encourages outdoors historical learning for families of volunteers.
See you at Camp Virtus, ca. 8 km. from Cluj, between 11 AM and 16 PM to help us with some historical reconstruction and tasting. Join our Facebook event for all the details and find inspiration checking out our image collections regarding reconstructions of Roman gardens, ancient gardening tools, and plants known during Antiquity
The Roman garden - experimental archaeology workshop at Camp Virtus
Roman garden reconstruction in Cluj-Napoca, part of the botanical garden
Current state of the garden reconstruction at Camp Virtus


Imported apothecary goods in Transylvania

Just like today, a significant category of customers preferred foreign, famous, and expensive goods. One could buy such from the pharmacies, for healing various of the era's afflictions (including syphilis), for disease prevention (prophylactic products that included exotic fruits such as lemons and spices such as cloves, cinnamon, Aloe Vera, pepper, etc.), for beauty, for hygiene, animal poisons, aphrodisiacs (the lizard Stincus Marinus) and abortives, or simply gifts. The Maucksch-Hintz pharmacy that hosts the History of Pharmacy Collection in Cluj for example Selters mineral water imported from the area of Strassbourg, exotic medicinal plants from the Orient (obtained through intermediaries such as merchants in Poland or Vienna), such plants from the new American continent (such as tobacco), drugs wrapped in royal paper from the Netherlands or France and many others.
Follow the free online tour "Imported products" on the izi.TRAVEL profile of the History of Pharmacy Collection, part of the National History Museum of Transylvania in the capital of that province, the city of Cluj-Napoca. 

Orange peel (Aurantior cortex)

Spices as apothecary ingredients

Stincus marinus


Medical Equipment Room at the History of Pharmacy Collection in Cluj

The History of Pharmacy Collection in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, holds and exhibits, in a separate hall that was not part of the old pharmacy, a special lot of items that reflect the history of medical equipment in Cluj. You can visit it in Unirii Square no. 28 - find the visiting hours HERE.
The Medical Equipment collection in Cluj

This separate collection includes around 500 objects used in the city’s hospitals and medical practices between the end of the 19th century and the 1970s and 1980s. The most recent items are a couple of ecographs produced during the 1980s in Germany. The display is grouped according to medical specialties (stomatology, ophthalmology, gynecology and neonatology, physiotherapy, radiology etc.) 
Gynecology instruments on display
 Among the most valuable items one can mention what is probably the oldest electrocardiograph from Romania (of the Einthoven type, with a single channel, produced in 1915 in Paris), Röntgen machines from 1915-1920, old microscopes, various medical instruments and old medical prints. The most consistent lot was donated to the National History Museum of Transylvania (that owns the collection) in 1997 by Prof. Dr. Pompiliu Manea (through his company, TEMCO), but there are also objects donated over time by doctors and various other private persons.
Read more about the electrocardiograph in a previous blog post HERE
Detail of the Einthoven electrocardiograph
The vault is decorated with gilded stucco from around 1900 and during the Communist Period this room hosted a hat shop, accessible from the side, currently Ferdinand Street. The hall only became part of the museum shortly before the year 2000.
Listen to this presentation free online on the museum's izi.TRAVEL profile
Gilded stucco decoration and Netherlandish medical plates


Ancient-type weaving loom

Labyrinth through time - Virtus Antiqua's reenactment project - continues with research onto another topic that shall be recreated soon at Camp Virtus, near Cluj: an ancient-type weaving loom. Several meetings at the camp, in the village of Salicea, shall lead to the modeling of clay loom weights, based on Roman-Era archaeological discoveries from Romania, the reconstruction of such a vertical loom and the experimenting with actual weaving techniques. Still, the first step is to consult the era's depictions, the existing patrimony and other reconstructions, in order to choose the exact type and model. Volunteers are encouraged to consult the thematic Pinterest album RAZBOI ANTIC DE TESUT (Romanian for ancient loom) that reunites such resources.
Pinterest album focusing on ancient looms


DIY leather bookmark

Leather bookmarks are fun and easy to make. One variant is available on my website, www.atelieruldeistorie.ro, that specializes in handmade artifacts inspired by the civilizations of Antiquity, mainly Dacian, Roman, Celtic etc. The bookmarks in question can be included among those from the first category, as the chosen symbol that decorates them is the so-called draco (meaning dragon in Latin), the mythical half wolf, half serpent war standard of the ancient Dacians, once inhabiting the present-day territory of Romania. See my previous post on DIY leather project HERE.
The first step is to cut strips of sturdier leather, the size of the intended bookmarks, and to cut-out the draco shape out of thinner leather, after marking its contours with special marker on the back of the leather, following a cardboard model. The decorative effect of the draco is obtained through punching holes that suggest its eye and body straps.

Cut-out draco shapes
Bookmark-shaped rectangle leather pieces and punched-out draco leather shapes
Then, glue the back of the draco (or other) decorative shape with leather glue applied with a brush onto the base trips. Be careful not to put too much glue on the edges, as the surplus might come out while pressing the two elements together. Leather glue dries fairly fast, so not much pressing is needed.

Apply glue to the back of the draco shape

Gently press the model onto the base strip of leather
The final step is optional and purely decorative. I find the strict rectangular contours of the bookmarks not so pleasing, so I add some asymmetry by cutting out its corners and creating V-shaped indentations, of various sizes, throughout the long sides. They are randomly placed and sized, so just follow your instincts. Thus, no two bookmarks shall be identical!

Finishing touches - cutting off the corners

Creating V-shapes indentations along the long sides of the leather bookmarks
And so the draco leather bookmarks are ready to be used! See other color combinations on my website HERE.
Handmade leather bookmark inspired by the ancient Dacian civilization, by Atelierul de istorie


Linocuts and Transylvanian landmarks

In many of her artworks, including linocut prints, Goddess Gruia draws inspiration from special landmarks from her native Transylvania. These models are often medieval monuments, but also various cityscapes and architectural elements from various eras. Here are some examples that also feature in some of the artist's large-size linocuts that are also available on Etsy:
Large-size linocut from Transylvania by Ana-Maria Gruia
The examples are from the historical center of the city of Cluj (the so-called Tailors' Bastion, in fact one of the towers of the 15th century fortified precinct, better preserved due to its restoration during the 17th century following a gunpowder explosion; and the church of the former Dominican monastery, currently Franciscan, in the city's initial medieval square, the so-called Ovar, today Museum's Square) and the Saxon fortified church in Calnic.
Linocut detail - The Tailors' Bastion in Cluj - by Ana-Maria Gruia
The Tailors' Bastion, in fact one of the corner towers of the second fortified precinct of Cluj

Linocut detail - church of the Dominican monastery in Museum's Square of Cluj - by Ana-Maria Gruia

Church of the Dominican monastery, later on Franciscan, in Cluj-Napoca
Artistic perspective over Calnic - keep, water well, fortified precinct, and gate tower - linocut by Ana-Maria Gruia
Water well and segment of the courtain wall inside the fortified Saxon church in Calnic, Alba County


The laboratorium in the old apothecary shop of Cluj

The apothecary laboratory of the History of Pharmacy Collection in Cluj-Napoca is reconstructed in the basement and can be accessed, though not quite easily, in the corner of the Materials’ Room. Mind the steps – they are cut-out, asymmetrical, and very steep. Though the basement is the oldest part of the building, the so-called Maucksch-Hintz House, with Renaissance door frames and even reused Roman epigraphic monuments, one cannot be certain that it was ever used as a laboratory or just as a storage space. Its main problem is not the access, uncertain during the day as the current steps were installed in the 1970s, but the evacuation of smoke (an inevitable result of using the stove for various apothecary procedures) and the problematic ventilation of the basement. What is more, when the pharmacy was nationalized, the lab was already located on the first floor, in today's Books' Room.

Mind the steps!

Two rooms are reconstructed downstairs, one just for storage and one for the actual preparation of medicines. The latter contains the reconstruction of an apothecary stove and various original tools and utensils from old pharmacies in Transylvania: an alembic, a retort, several glass tubes and crucibles, types inherited from alchemy, percolators, graded cups, mortars, three-legged pots and many other items. Before the chemical synthesizing of the ingredients, the preparation of drugs involved relatively simple procedures such as the crushing, boiling, distillation, maceration and percolation of various plants, minerals and substances of animal origin.
Listen to this presentation free online on izi.Travel HERE

Reconstructed apothecary laboratory in Cluj-Napoca


Medallions inspired by Antiquity

Atelierul de istorie's special Facebook sales event deals with a lot of nine medallions, entirely handmade out of various materials, inspired by the civilizations of Antiquity: Dacian, Roman, Scythian etc. Join on Facebook the event entitled ANTICHITATEA LA PURTATOR  to see all items, their description and prices.

Tooled leather medallion inspired by the decoration of Dacian shields

Leather medallion inspired by ancient marine mosaics

Roman mask clay medallion
Bacchus/Dionysus clay medallion

Cosmic leather medallion

Leather medallion with a depictions inspired by Scythian animal art

Greek column-shaped leather medallion