Newsletter 182: April 1986
GOING FOR SILVER
Although we are celebrating HADAS’s Silver Jubilee all through this year (as we’ve said before you can’t have too much of a good thing), this is the month in which our 25th birthday actually occurs. It was in April, 1961, after a public meeting, that the Society was set up with a President, Vice-Presidents, officers and committee, and a membership of 73. Later that year the first dig began at Church End Farm, Hendon.
In our 25 years we have dug a lot of holes, shifted a lot of spoil, backed
a lot of causes, seen a lot of places, learnt a lot of archaeology (with a spice of history thrown in) and blazed quite a few new trails.
One part of our HADAS activities which has been particularly satisfying has been co-operating from time to time with other like-minded societies in the area whose aims and sympathies run tandem with our own. That our friendly feelings towards them are reciprocated is shown by this letter which arrived last week from the Mill Hill Historical Society:
The Committee, Officers and Members of the Mill Hill Historical Society wish to congratulate the Hendon & District Archaeological Society on the celebration of their first 25 years.
We have watched with interest your well founded progress and have been impressed by the breadth of your activities, your wide contacts
and the energy and enthusiasm you have brought to the tasks you
.Perhaps your most notable local achievements have been the persistence with which you have pursued the matter of the local plaques and your long-running dig at Hampstead Heath.
As with all of us you have had to operate in a period of rising costs which make all voluntary organisation difficult but we are confident that your celebrations will prove to be a tonic and that you will continue your valuable academic research and friendly approach for many years to come.
We wish you well. .Yours sincerely
R S Nichols (Chairman), John W Collier (Secretary)
What a pleasant letter to usher in our birthday! HADAS really appreciates it, and thanks the MiII Hill Historical Society warmly for their good wishes. They know what they are talking about, too – they have served this area historically for more than twice as long as we have in fact, since 1929.
WORLD ARCHAEOLOGICAL CONGRESS, SOUTHAMPTON, SEPTEMBER 1986
This Congress is formally the 11th Congress of the International Union of Prehistoric & Protohistoric Sciences -(IUPPS). ‘The Congress takes place every 5 years, and the 1986 one was to be in Britain, and intended to attract widest international support, so it was named the “World Archaeological Congress.” Its supporters included the Council for British Archaeology (CBA).
As a result of pressure from anti-apartheid groups, the organiser reluctantly decided not to invite participants from South Africa and Namibia, black or white; their announcement of this made it clear that their decision was reluctant and taken under duress. Following this, a number of prominent people and bodies withdrew their support from the Congress, basically on the principle that exclusion of people for political reasons was against the academic principle of freedom in the exchange of ideas.
The CBA at a full Council meeting on Jan 13, considered whether to withdraw support, and decided by 34 votes to 29 to continue support.
Since then, the IUPPS itself has withdrawn its recognition of the World Archaeological Congress, and proposes instead to hold its 11th Congress in Mainz in 1987. The UK organisers intend still to go ahead with the arrangements for the Congress in Southampton in 1986. In the circumstances, CBA are balloting their members, of whom HADAS is one, to ask whether we wish the CBA to continue to be associated with the World Archaeological Congress as planned
we wish the CBA to withdraw completely from the World Archaeological Congress
Before HADAS casts, its vote in the CBA ballot, we want as many members as possible to have a chance to state which option they prefer. There is a HADAS meeting on Apr 1 at which we hope to take a show-of-hands vote. Those who cannot be present on Apr.1 can record their preference by telephoning Brigid Grafton Green (455 9040) before April 4.
Tues Apr 1 Recent Excavations at Perachora Prof Richard Tomlinson
Professor Tomlinson has taught in the Dept. of Ancient History and Archaeology at Birmingham University for nearly 30 years, becoming Professor and Head of Department in 1971. He is a member of the Managing Committee of the British School at Athens – which celebrates its Centenary this year – and Editor of the Annual. Perachora was first excavated by Humphrey Payne in the early 19300, Professor Tomlinson carried out supplementary digs in 1964, 1965 and 1966 – he talked to HADAS about those excavations some years ago. The site is a small sanctuary dedicated to Hera, close to the Isthmus of Corinth. His recent excavations have led to the discovery of a new building which he thinks has a certain historical significance.
Sat Apr 19 Afternoon walk in Clerkenwell Mary O’Connell (application form enclosed)
0at May 10 Trip to Mary Rose/Portchester Castle with Marion Newbury
(Application form enclosed please return promptly as Mary Rose require numbers & cash now)
Tues May 20 Annual General Meeting (see note below)
Sat June14 Trip to Faversham/Rochester Paul Craddock
Text Box: Sat July 26 Sutton Hoo/Orford Sheila Woodward (members who intend to join this trip may like to know that from Apr 29-May 2, 3.30pm each day, there will be a film on the Sutton Hoo ship burial in the lecture theatre of the Assyrian Basement at the British Museum
Thur.-Sun Sept 18-21 Exeter Weekend with Ann & Alan Lawson (application form enclosed)
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING. After the business part of our AGM – which usually isn’t a long-drawn out affair – we are hoping to have another of our informal slide shows, when members bring along pictures of interesting places they have been to or unexpected things they have done during the past year. The slides needn’t necessarily link up with HADAS events – though recent outings often provide lively photos.
Have you any slides you would like to show – and comment on? They needn’t take more than 5 minutes and 10 minutes would be a maximum. If you have, please ring Dorothy Newbury and she will be happy to reserve a slot for you. The more members take part, the more variety there will be: so give Dorothy a ring now, while you think of it – on 203 0950.
Don’t forget there’s digging at West Heath this month.
As announced in the last Newsletter the site will re-open on Apr 7 for 3 weeks, as well as being open throughout June and July. Any member who plans to dig is asked to let either Margaret Maher (907 0333) or Myfanwy Stewart (449 3025) know, as precise days/times will depend on demand. Margaret asks us to apologise for her phone being on the blink last month – she hopes it didn’t put off any potential processors so that they gave up in despair. Her phone is all right now.
All volunteers over 16 will be most welcome, both old friends and beginners: but it’s essential for ‘first-timers’ to ring to discuss equipment, gear and dates in advance.
BROTHER FOR A MASCOT
This second phase of West Heath started on June 16, 1984, and one of the first visitors – because his Dad, being a master carpenter was rebuilding the West Heath site hut – was a young man, just on 7 months old, named Philip Hugh King. He was immediately adopted as the West Heath mascot, ‘and he puts in at least one (sometimes it’s more) ritual appearance each season to make sure that his diggers’ work is keeping up to scratch.
Now we, have much pleasure in announcing that our West Heath mascot has a brother, born this spring; Edward James, second son of Jenny and Dave King. -It’s reasonable to predict that West Heath this year will be a very lucky dig armed with two mascots: Incidentally, Edward James entered the world at 9lb10oz; our director at West Heath could only mutter to herself in awe
“What a “whopper!”
HISTORIC, BUILDINGS AND ANCIENT MONUMENTS
Select Committees of the House, of Commons have already hit the headlines this year the Committees for Defence and for Trade & Industry both played leading roles in the Westland affair.
The Environment Committee is hardly likely to have any such potentially hot potatoes to handle but it has just embarked on an inquiry that is of considerable interest to archaeologists, amateur and professional alike, and to any local society like HADAS. It concerns Historic Buildings and Ancient Monuments. This is the official letter in which the Committee Office of the House of Commons invites evidence:
“The Environment Committee has recently begun an inquiry into historic buildings and ancient monuments. The object of the inquiry is to review the whole field and specifically to examine the following:
1. the way in which buildings and monuments are identified. as being of historic interest or value;
2. the system of grants and other forms of financial assistance to encourage the proper maintenance and repair of historic buildings;
3. the arrangements for public access to historic buildings and monuments;
4. the financing, operation and effectiveness of the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England, the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England.
The Committee would be glad to-receive written evidence from your organisation. It would be helpful if you could explain your constitution, your current work programme, your objectives and something about your financial resources,
Your evidence should be forwarded to me to reach me by the end of March at the latest. If I can offer you any assistance or advice on the form of your memorandum or the suitability of items you propose to insert into your paper, please do not hesitate to contact me or Tony Larsen (219 3290).
The letter is signed by one of the joint Clerks to the Committee, Andre Gren; Tony Larsen is the other joint Clerk.
This is an inquiry in which we feel the amateur view should be represented if the Committee wishes to arrive at a true picture of British archaeology; so our Hon Secretary is working on a HADAS memorandum which we to be to put forward.
It is interesting that two of the 11 MPs who compose the Committee represent North London Constituencies the Chairman, Sir Hugh Rossi, sits for Hornsey & Wood Green, and Sydney Chapman, one of our own four Borough of Barnet MPs, represents Chipping Barnet.
Talking of Ancient Monuments, you may like to know of the latest developments regarding scheduled sites.
Six years ago the Dept. of Environment began updating its List of Buildings of Architectural and Historic Interest (we’ve reported.in the newsletter from time to tithe on how that updating was going so far as our area is concerned). Re-Listing, which will have cost some £7,000,000, will be completed next year.
Now a similar project is under way for Scheduled sites. English Heritage which advises the Secretary of State for the Environment, who does the actual scheduling, announced at the end of February what it called a “scheduling enhancement programme”. Its aim is to Schedule some 45,000 new sites in the next ten years, giving England some 60,000 scheduled sites in all, out of a known total of some 630,000 sites. Nearly half a million £s has been earmarked for the first year’s work. The aim is to schedule
“those sites and monuments of national importance, which are estimated
at about 10% of the total. There are eight criteria for scheduling a site including its archaeological potential; its period; its rarity; its vulnerability, its diversity of features; and its relationship to other contemporary sites.”
There are at the moment two scheduled sites in the Borough of Barnet: some of the fields bordering the east side of the A5 at Brockley Hill; and the remains of the moat in the grounds of the Manor House, East End Road, Finchley. We hope that the emphasis by English Heritage on the national aspect of the new sites they propose to schedule will not blind them to the importance also of scheduling some sites which are of local concern. We also hope that an opportunity will be given to local societies to take part at some point in the scheduling enhancement programme.
THE ROMAN GROUP
This notice heralds the re-birth of HADAS’ ‘Roman Group, which has been dormant for the last few months.
Please mark the morning of Sunday, Apr 13 in your diaries now for a walkabout at Brockley Hill, We will meet at the Pipers Green Lane/Brockley Hill corner a 10 am. We hope that new members unfamiliar with the Borough’s best known archaeological site may welcome this chance to get to know it; and that members of longer standing may care to renew their acquaintance with it.
We also intend to walk part of the west end of the proposed water pipeline route. Even though the pipeline won’t be coming through the Borough until 1988 at earliest, it’s an area we ought to get to know between then and now like the palms of our hands.
So please join us on April 13 – you will be most welcome. It would help us to plan if you could let Gill Braithwaite know your intentions in advance ring her on 455 9273,
HEALTH SERVICES IN 18c. HENDON by NELL PENNY
In the last quarter of the 20c there is much argument about the extent and expense of the National Health Service. In 18c Hendon poor law overseers records are the tools for constructing the story of how the parish cared for its poorest inhabitants when they were ill.
Throughout the century the overseers’ accounts detailed payments made to ‘weekly pensioners’ and to ‘casualties.’ The usual dole was 2s -or-2s6d a week, rising with inflation to 3s or 3s6d at the end of the century. It is not possible to separate the sick from the old or the ‘children in care’ among the pensioners, but most of the ‘casualties’ seem to have been ‘sick.” Payments often went on for 6 months or longer, and often enough ended with the expenses of a pauper’s funeral.
In 1706. Edward Chalkhill and his wife were buried for 19s.; two shrouds and two coffins cost 14s, and 5s was spent on beer for the bearers. Later ‘Old Danell’ was buried for I7s – ‘ a shroud, coffin, bread, cheese and beer for the bearers.’ At the end of each financial year the Vicar was paid for the pauper funerals he conducted at 2s a time and the parish clerk got a small sum for ‘the use of the black cloth.’
Perhaps the overseer asked the parish doctor to decide whether a poor person was really ill and deserved a dole and maybe a ‘cough bottle.’ Certainly the parish paid a doctor or a ‘surgeon apothecary’ in most years between 1710 and 1835, mr Ingram was contracted for 12 guineas a year in 1711; by 1798 Dr Rodgers was paid 20 guineas. Mr Kent was the doctor between 1808 and 1814 at 28 guineas a year, but in the latter year the parish had to
pay him an extra £10 because the parish officer, dismissed him without notice. Mr Holgate, who lived in Brent St, was the last parish doctor. In.1835 he was paid 50 guineas.
Special medical treatment merited separate entries in the overseer’s accounts. 1n 1706 -1setting one man’s leg and another’s arm’ was expensive at £5. Bleeding, to which there are ten references, was cheaper if performed by the workhouse master at is a time. Alcohol was sometimes provided for the ‘ sick poor; 6d bought half a pint of wine for a sick woman in the workhouse, and Richard Marshall, ‘being sick,’ was provided with strong beer. A parish boy was dosed with ‘Jesuits Bark’ costing 2s. Jesuits’ Bark was a form of quinine – a powder made from the bark of the- South American cinchona tree. This remedy for fevers had been introduced into Europe by Jesuit missionaries. Now and again the overseers paid for orthopedic treatment. They supplied a wooden leg which, with alterations, cost 10s; and in 1757.they paid £1-11-6d for a ‘leg iron for Sarah Lawfords boy.’
I feel we should cheer the gentlemen of the vestry for the care they gave to Robert Debnam in 1795. He lived in the workhouse and was nearly blind. When it was discovered, that Dr Matthew Phipps of London was offering to operate on Debnam’s eyes without a fee, the vestry meeting voted £2.10.6 for Debnam’s fare and his maintenance in London. At their next meeting they told the clerk to write to Dr Phipps thanking him for his generous and humane treatment in restoring Debnam’s sight. There is no record of what Debnam thought of an operation without an anaesthetic.
Smallpox was endemic in the country throughout the 1814 and very often killed its victims. Hendon did not escape the scourge the disease was rife between 1750 and 1780. Whole families were nursed by dames paid by the parish. Widow Shaw was paid £3.1.7d for nursing three men with smallpox. Burying a man with smallpox who died in the fields cost £1.5s. In 1772 the overseers relieved a boy in the ‘pest house, I have not been able to find out where this isolation unit was, but after 1783 the parish was paying Mr Bond £5 a year rent for a pest house, so smallpox must still have been active at the end of the century.
I don’t think the parish was interested in normal births in poor families or in the workhouse, although payments to midwives increased throughout the 18c; ‘for fetching and carrying the midwife, 2s’ and ‘the midwife 5s’ are common entries in the overseers ledgers. When a birth was difficult the parish could be generous even to a tramping woman. In 1722 Edward Cooper was the overseer for the North End of Hendon. He paid Mrs Timms 5s ‘for nursing a travelling woman who lay in my house.’ He paid himself 10s for giving the ‘ woman houseroom for. 4 weeks ‘necessaries’ for her included ‘candles, soap, beer, butter, sugar; bread, cheese, oatmeal, meat, bacon and Venice treacle.’ (The OED defines Venice treacle as an antidote to poison and a balm for treating malignant diseases). If a doctor attended a confinement in the early 19c the parish paid him. a guinea.
Special care of the mentally ill poor was rare and very expensive. In 1705 the case of Samuel Murrin fills a page of the overseers accounts: “expended to getting him into Bedlam.6s; for going after Murrin 5s; for looking after him 7s.6d; for giving Goody Murrin 1s6d for having him cried; expended in having him to the doctor £1.7s; spent in going to the Lord Mayor and the chief officer of Bedlam about Murrin £1.” Bedlam was Bethlehem hospital for lunatics in Lambeth, which had been founded as a royal charity in the 16c. When the parish had to put Widow Bennett into Bedlam it was just as expensive.
“horse hire and standing going to meet the committee 5s.1d; going to see Henry Hoare Esq; and the Turnkeys to see if any vacancy 5s.6d; 5s paid into the Treasury box at Bedlam; paid the two nurses and the two Turnkeys their fees 5s”
In the 19c the parish seems to have relied on private asylums to house difficult mentally ill patients. Mr Warburton of the White House in Bethnal Green had 300 patients and for nearly 30 years. Hendon parish sent one or two paupers there at a cost of 12s a week.. But in 1802 the vestry decided that ‘John Page be immediately sent home from the Mad House at Bethnal Green, the expense of keeping him there being considered too much.’
Reminder for those so thoroughly ‘into’ our new money that they have forgotten the old 6d=2½p; ls=5p; and so on. ‘1 guinea = £1.05.
The following sites have been the subject of recent planning applications. If permission is granted, it is possible they might be of some archaeological interest:
Land west of Diploma Av & Rear & Side of 216-244 East End Road Finchley;
Land Adj. Borderside, Hendon Wood Lane
Former Trafalgar House site The Hyde, NW9
Land adj. Railway Tavern, Hale Lane NW7
Rising Sun Public House Marsh Lane NW7
Hadley Lodge, Hadley Common
3-7 East End Rd. N3
139 Elmshurst Cresent, N2
13-15 Moxon Street, Barnet
133-5 High St. Barnet
Land adj. Pymlico House Hadley Green, (Pymlico House is a listed building)
206 High Street Barnet
Would members who notice any signs of development activity on the above sites please let John Enderby know.
LONDON ARCHAEOLOGISTS CONFERENCE
Owing to the vagaries of the postal service in Edgware – members in that area believe that No One Anywhere is Thinking of Them” as they have had no recent collections or deliveries -.we are unable to publish in this issue a report of the 23rd Conference of. London Archaeologists, which, took place on March 15. Sheila Woodward had kindly agreed to cover it, but alas her report is held up in the post.
However, that will be a pleasure in store for the next Newsletter, as the report will undoubtedly surface by then. To be continued, therefore, in our next ….
THE EFFECT OF ALEXANDER Report on the March lecture by GILL BRAITHWAITE
Dr .Malcolm Colledge; our lecturer last month, is an old friend of HADAS and he had a full house for his talk on March 4. It was concerned not so much with Alexander himself, as with the effect of Alexander’s momentous conquests upon Western Asia, and particularly upon the art forms in that region.
For thousands of years in prehistory the main cultural trends were all one way, from east to west, as ideas spread from the Fertile Crescent westwards through Greece into the Balkans and the Mediterranean. With the development of Greece as a colonial power, and the foundation of the Ionian cities in Anatolia, this trend started to be reversed. Around 600 BC Greek ideas began percolating through Anatolia into the heartlands of the vast Eastern Empire now ruled by the Achaemenid dynasty portals with Ionian columns were attaches to traditional oriental ‘broad-room’ temples, naturalistic draperies softened the stiff stone relief sculptures and a number of Greek stone-working techniques became widespread, such as the use of the claw chisel for roughing out marble and limestone, or the use of iron clamps to fix stone blocks together.
But for the purpose of Dr Colledge’s lecture, what was most interesting in all this was the interaction of Greek and oriental ideas in the realm of art, and the consequent development of an independent hybrid art form that borrowed from both worlds but was original in its own right. The birth of semi-realistic portraiture seems to have been one result of this interaction between East and West, something that was unknown to either the Greeks or Persians before this. This is best seen in coin portraiture. The Greeks had invented coinage, but no rulers were portrayed on the early coins. The Persian coinage, when it was introduced around 500 BC was based on Greek models but the standard coins issued in the different capitals bore semi-realistic portraits of the deified emperors or their various satraps on the obverse, with their names conveniently printed on the reverse. With the aid of these coins it is possible that some of the three-dimensional Persian statues of this period, found mainly in Anatolia, may be identified.
With the advent of Alexander, the influence of Greece was greatly intensified. New Greek-type cities many of them called Alekandria, with a grid- plan, an agora and an acropolis, sprang up right the way across the Empire, even as far east as Ai Khanum in Bactria. Theatres, stoas and Greek-style temples were introduced into many of the old Persian cities. This trend continued under Seleucis, one of Alexander’s generals, who became the ruler of Western Asia and founded the Seleucid dynasty. Oriental traditions persisted, however, alongside. The old ‘broad-room’ temples with the entrance on the long side continued to be built, while elaborate, labyrinthine royal palaces of Persian style occupied-a dominant place in the city plans. Coins issued on the old Persian standard by Alexander and the Seleucids retained the portrait heads of the deified rulers, but portraits became ever more naturalistic, as did portrait sculpture. Again it seems likely that some of the Hellenistic statues found in Western Asia can be identified on the basis of these coins. Meanwhile the new hybrid Greco-oriental art style continued to flourish, becoming increasingly florid and ornate.
In the third and second centuries BC the Seleucid Empire disintegrated. The Parthians began to move in from the northeast. Oriental traditions became more dominant, -but the hybrid art style -lived on, even in the remote, now Parthian city of Ai Khanum where semi-naturalistic sculptures with a definite Hellenistic flavour were still being commissioned. By the first century BC and the Roman conquest of the eastern Mediterranean, the rather baroque art style of Western Asia was well established, but already a new element was appearing the influence of the steppes. Dr Colledge left us with some unforgettable portrait sculptures of warrior chieftains with fierce Asiatic features and baggy silk trousers, eloquent symbols of the new forces from the East, those nomadic hordes from Central Asia and beyond, who were soon to threaten the eastern frontiers of the Roman Empire.
MORE DATES FOR YOUR DIARY
This is Domesday Year – as if you could escape the fact! A special Domesday Exhibition opens at the PRO Chancery Lane, on Apr 3, Continues till Sept 30 Mons-Sats. 10am-6pm„ July 13-19 is earmarked countrywide, by the way, as Domesday Week.–
Many thanks to Alec Gouldsmith for letting us know about a Centenary conference on ancient Mining and Metallurgy at University College of North Wales at Bangor from Apr 10-12. It is in honour of the centenary of the British School at Athens (with which our April lecturer Professor Tomlinson, has links). Twelve international speakers will talk on “early Greek mining, metals and metallurgy and contemporaneous British activities.” Conference fee £7, accommodation in college £43 (inc. all meals). Should you take a last-minute decision to attend, contact J Ellis Jones, Dept of Classics, Bangor, Gwynedd LL57 2DG.
The British Association for Local History (to which HADAS is affiliated) will hold its Annual Conference (combined with its AGM) in our neighbouring borough of Enfield this year – at Trent Park on Sat Apr 19, 10am-5pm. The venue has been chosen in honour of the Edmonton Hundred Historical Society’s 50th anniversary. Tickets, including lunch, are £5.50 from Dr J Burnby, Mill Managers House, Cromford, Derbys DE4 3RQ, and. HADAS; members might find it well worth attending – some very expert speakers have been lined up. Many members will know David Pam, a prolific writer on Enfield history and author of the recently published History of Enfield Chase; and there are also Dr Joan Thirsk, historian of agricultural economics; Professor Dodgson, who will speak on Domesday; and Dr David Hey, who has made packmen and packhorse roads his specialty.
ANOTHER KIND OF OMNIBUS by Brigid Grafton Green
One of my pet journals – it appears twice yearly – is called Omnibus. It is published by JACT (Joint Association of Classical Teachers), financially helped by the two societies for the Promotion of Hellenic and of Roman Studies. The first issue, in March 1981, announced that it would be ‘a magazine for sixth formers and others interested in the ancient Greeks and Romans.’
It is an often deliciously tongue-in-cheek publication on every aspect of the classical world. Sixth formers are encouraged to participate actively in cleverly designed competitions which sometime produce hilarious results. It explores some fascinating subjects and doesn’t hesitate to take the micky out of anything it considers pompous or pretentious.
The current issue is No 11, March 1986. It contains – among other goodies – an interesting piece on papyrus, by Dr Ignace Hendriks.of. Groningen University.
Dr Hendriks points out-that papyrus wasn’t an exclusively Egyptian writing material: it’s merely that, because of the dryness of the Egyptian climate, the remains of papyrus are found almost exclusively in Egypt. He reckons it was used widely in the ancient world. The first papyrus document, from an Egyptian tomb, was dated c 3000’BC. by.AD 800 papyrus had been superseded by the new-fangled Arab material, paper.
The process by which the tall stalk of the papyrus plant was turned into a sheet on which a scribe could write was described by Pliny in his Natural History (XIII, 74-82) and that text is the only more or less trust worthy description of the manufacturing process that exists. It’s a text, however, that has always been considered-‘difficult’ by scholars, and has seemed to contain many inconsistencies.
Now Dr Hendriks believes that for, centuries scholars have mistranslated it. As a result they have believed that papyrus was made by cutting the stalk of the plant lengthwise in strips, laying a row of strips with the fibres running vertically and another row on top with them running horizontally, ‘ pressing or hammering the two so that they fused and drying them.in the sun, thus producing a sheet of papyrus.
Many scholars have tried to provide evidence for this strip process by close examination of the thousands of papyri that exist in museums and libraries; strangely enough, they have never been successful. Dr Hendriks thinks that is because there have never been any strips to find, he believes a papyrus sheet was made in a different way Here is his description of his own experiments (which come very close to experimental archaeology):
“I got myself a stalk of papyrus from the Botanical Garden of the University and tried ‘my idea out: the result was a number of sheets of papyrus made according to a new principle – and of not bad quality.
What is this new principle? To put it in a few words: a piece of stalk is peeled off without interruption till nothing of the pith remains. In this way a sheet of peeled-off papyrus is obtained which, together with a second piece forms a sheet of writing material after pressing and drying. I baptised this ‘the
Groningen method:’ it is, in my opinion, closer to the text of Pliny than the strip theory. First, cut a piece from the upper half of the stalk and remove the hard shell round it. Second, start the actual peeling process. Since Pliny says that a needle is used I used a needle too. In fact the sharp point of the, needle does the peeling.
This process offers explanations for passages in Pliny’s text which for a long time have remained ‘difficult.’ It also leads to a better understanding of the passage Pliny devotes to the different grades of quality … the criteria distinguishing between. a better or a poorer papyrus: fineness, firmness, whiteness and smoothness. Most important, however, appears to have been the the criterion of measure. Sheets of papyrus differed in width (and height): the best measured 13- digits (9ins 24 cm), the poorest only 6 digits (44in=11cm).
It is only with great difficulty that we can explain these differences in width on the basis of the strip-theory, since a sheet made according to that principle could have any measure simply by adding a few strips to it. According to the Groningen method the amount of material from which a sheet is made is limited: once you have peeled the piece of stalk, you have nothing to add. The amount of material in the stalk diminishes towards the top. This means that a sheet peeled from the middle is of necessity Wider than a sheet peeled from any part above it. ”
Dr Hendriks clearly feels that he has solved a problem which has teased’ ‘scholars for centuries -and has added a bit to our knowledge of ancient technology,’ too.
His paper on papyrus is just one of a number of interesting pieces in the current Omnibus. You can find out more details about the magazine by writing to JACT,.3134 Gordon Square, WC1H OPY. I believe one or two earlier issues are out of print, but most are still available.