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Thurstan Shaw

Town in Nigeria (pop. c. 15,000 in the 1990s), situated 40 km south-east of Onitsha, which is on the River Niger. The name means ‘Great Igbo’ in the Igbo language. It is also the name given to the ancient culture that produced the elaborate metalwork and ceramics, dated to the 10th century ad, that were found at three sites on the outskirts of the town.

The first site came to light some time before the outbreak of World War II in 1939 while a man, Isaiah Anozie, was digging a cistern. Not far below ground-level he unearthed a highly decorated bronze bowl, and further digging led to the discovery of other bronzes, some of which were given to his neighbours who thought they would make good ‘medicine’. The remaining objects were bought by John Field, the area’s Assistant District Officer, who published an account of the discovery and presented the collection to the Nigerian Federal Department of Antiquities. At the invitation of the Department, the archaeologist ...

Article

Douglas Bennett

Irish city and seat of the county of the same name, known for its production of gold and silver. Archaeological evidence shows that goldsmiths were active in Co. Limerick about 700 bc, as demonstrated by the find of magnificent gold gorgets (Dublin, N. Mus.). The earliest dated piece made in silver is probably the Askeaton Chalice (Askeaton parish), inscribed with the date 1663. A large quantity of silver was manufactured in Limerick from the mid-17th century until c. 1820. From 1637, under Royal Charter, all silver was required to be sent to Dublin for assaying and hallmarking (see Dublin §III 1.); however, very little Limerick silver actually reached Dublin because of the long distance. During the 17th century silversmiths in Limerick stamped a maker’s mark, a castle gate and a star on their wares, and, like silversmiths in Cork, they adopted the ‘Sterling’ mark c. 1710. Silversmiths active in Limerick during the 18th century included ...

Article

Leo de Ren

[Fr. Malines]

City in northern Belgium, known for its production of gold, silver and lace. By 1254 the gold- and silversmiths of Mechelen constituted an independent group within the collective guild of St Eloi. The earliest documents relating to a separate union and statutes date from the 14th century. Gold- and silversmiths as well as other artists experienced a period of great prosperity in the following centuries, encouraged partly by the temporary residency of Margaret of York, Duchess of Burgundy. Margaret of Austria, Duchess of Savoy and Regent of the Netherlands (see Habsburg, House of family §I, (4)), had her permanent residence there in the 16th century. After a period of decline at the end of the 16th century and in the 17th, the number of silversmiths increased significantly in the 18th century, as did the influence exerted by this centre. The most prominent gold- and silversmiths were members of the ...

Article

Mons  

Leo de Ren

[Flem. Bergen]

Capital city of the province of Hainault in southern Belgium, noted for its production of gold and silver. The greatest flowering of gold- and silversmithing in Mons took place in the 17th century and particularly the 18th, when the voluminous production of high-quality domestic silver was comparable to that of the most important centres of the Netherlands. A ...

Article

Ravello  

Antonio Milone

Italian cathedral city in the province of Salerno, Campania. Ravello has been documented as an urban centre since the 10th century and as a bishopric since 1087. The centre, near the Toro quarter, is high up between the two rivers that separate the city from Scala and Minori. The city’s fortifications were damaged and the city itself was sacked by a Pisan assault in 1135 and in 1137. At the end of the 14th century, its inhabitants also clashed with the neighbouring city of Scala. In the 13th century a mercantile oligarchy with power throughout all of Sicily and close relations to the Crown took control of the city, celebrated in Boccaccio’s Decameron (II.4), and enriched it with numerous monuments and artworks.

The cathedral, dedicated to S Pantaleone, dates to 1087 but was extensively altered in the late 18th century. The cathedral has three naves and the façade has three portals—the central one has a bronze door (...

Article

Scala  

Antonio Milone

Italian cathedral city in the province of Salerno, Campania. According to the 10th-century Chronicon Salernitanum, where it is referred to as Cama, Scala is the oldest centre along the entire Amalfi coast and has its origins in Late Antiquity. However, documentary proof that the city existed is only available from the beginning of the 10th century. Throughout history it has been home to a commercial aristocracy with commercial and political power throughout the entire Kingdom of Sicily. The Sasso and d’Afflitto families stood out from others in this group. Monasteries have been recorded in the city from the 10th century and it was under the control of the Duchy of Amalfi for the entire medieval period.

The settlement is characterized by numerous villages, such as Pontone and Minuta, which are found high up in the mountains behind Amalfi as well as in front of Ravello . Although the city is defended by a series of fortifications, it was damaged and sacked by a Pisan assault in ...

Article

English city and centre of metalwork production. From the 12th century blacksmiths, arrowsmiths and cutlers were active in the locality of Sheffield. Although there are references from the Middle Ages to the manufacture of knives, the cutlery trade did not become significant until the 16th century, when the harnessing of water power and the use of local sources of raw materials helped to establish Sheffield as a leading centre of production. The Earls of Shrewsbury kept firm control over the cutlery trades that operated under the jurisdiction of the manorial court. Most businesses were family enterprises, and apprentices were at times recruited from the minor landed gentry, clergy and yeomen. The numerous processes involved in the manufacture of cutlery and the increasing range of edge-tool wares in the 16th and 17th centuries led to the growth of a network of self-employed ‘little mesters’, specializing in one area of production. Changes in the regulation of the trade were made in ...