Monday, September 07, 2020

Not the Holy Grail, but ...

ARTIFACT: Unique Christian chalice uncovered at Vindolanda (ITV News).
Buried amongst a rubble filled building, now known to be the remains of a 6th century Christian church, were 14 fragmentary remains of an incredibly rare lead Christian cup or chalice.

Although in very poor condition due to its proximity to the surface of the ground, each fragment of the vessel was found to be covered by lightly etched symbols, each representing different forms of Christian iconography from the time.
This is a little outside PaleoJudaica's usual range of interest, but I do like to keep an eye on what is turning up at Vindolanda.

Regular readers will recall that Vindolanda is the site of an ancient Roman fort in Northumberland. It is best known as the source of the "Dead Sea Scrolls of Britain" — many hundreds of wooden writing tablets inscribed in Latin, mostly with documentary texts. They date to the late first and early second centuries CE. I have visited Vindolanda twice and blogged about both visits. See here, here and here. Follow the links from there for more posts. And I have a more recent post on Vindolanda under coronavirus lockdown here.

Over at the Anxious Bench Blog, Professor Philip Jenkins has an instructive post about the historical context of the chalice and the ruined church in which it was found: Wall, Church, and Chalice. Even though this wasn't the Grail, the area does have at least a nebulous connection with the Arthurian tradition.

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