Documentation, or lack thereof

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Grenadier1758

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Sometimes, when making apple cobbler or ice cream at rendezvous, one must accept the delicacy that is presented. Cobbler, yes!
 

tenngun

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I was reading Josephus a few weeks ago. Now he wrote a year or two before the invention of ml. Well more then a year or two, but anyway, he described Jerusalem and the second the second temple to a Roman audience after it had been destroyed.
He said it was made in marble. His is the only discription we have outside of the Bible for this temple. We can say the only secular source we have, but we have archeology.
There seems to have been no marble.
Although the ancients moved stuff around it looks like the temple was built of native limestone queried bear the site.
The only evidence we have of from an eyewitness is for marble, the only evidence we have on ground is from archeology and they contradict each other.
Some years ago in Harvard yard archeologist discovered a tavern.
We have no documentation of this tavern. We don’t who ran it, how long it operated, if it was or wasn’t taxed. It’s just there.
When ever anyone went on an official expedition or were the ‘first explorers’ in to an area it seems they grabbed a local guide. Some white man who had been there but is largely unknown to history, some man who left no record.
Along the coast there were smugglers. Alexander Hamilton had truck with them, but we don’t know who they were, they left no ledgers.
Documentation is our only evidence we can point to and proves X was done, but it’s a small candle in a big dark room.
 

Loyalist Dave

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I was reading Josephus a few weeks ago. Now he wrote a year or two before the invention of ml. Well more then a year or two, but anyway, he described Jerusalem and the second the second temple to a Roman audience after it had been destroyed.
He said it was made in marble. His is the only description we have outside of the Bible for this temple. We can say the only secular source we have, but we have archaeology.
There seems to have been no marble.
Although the ancients moved stuff around it looks like the temple was built of native limestone queried bear the site.
The only evidence we have of from an eyewitness is for marble, the only evidence we have on ground is from archaeology and they contradict each other.
That's part of the problem.
So was Josephus actually an "eye witness" although he claims such?
Does somebody have an original text to be sure that Josephus wrote the word that properly translates into "marble", or are we working off a copy of an original and the scribe changed the text in error?
Was the limestone that was used, faced with marble, and that would much more easily have been carted off?
Was the limestone that was used from a special source, and was mistaken by Josephus for marble? Heck was it treated with something so it was white? (If you look at the Washington Monument, you sill see about 1/3 of the way up the stone changes color. The quarry where the lower portion of stone was purchased ran out and matching stone could not be found)
Did the archaeologists do a good job at searching for marble?

Some years ago in Harvard yard archaeologist discovered a tavern.
We have no documentation of this tavern. We don’t who ran it, how long it operated, if it was or wasn’t taxed. It’s just there.
Well then actually they have a foundation to a structure. Without documentation they are guessing it was a "tavern" based on bits and pieces of crockery and and pottery that were found, that it "must have been a tavern". It's just a guess from what they found so far.

Back in the 1980's when I was getting my BA in archaeology, there was this mystery from a find in South America. It seems the (Incans or Mayans..., can't remember which) had a smaller site, and the archaeologists had found "home gods". They had unearthed small, carved figurines, the likes of which had never been seen before, and this was perplexing. Two sides emerged in the debate, one in favor of the items as "idols" and a newly discovered portion of the native belief system, and another camp that the figurines were idols but for a neighboring culture, and not of the dominant civilization.

Then one day as both sides presented their arguments, PhD's from both sides explaining why they were right, and those that disagreed had flawed analysis, a person from the audience asked a question...,

"The figurines look like a partial chess set to me. How do you know they are not items from some sort of game?"

One of the learned, highly respected PhD's, seated at the table on stage during the debate heard the question, and raised his eyes toward the ceiling and said, "OH CRAP!"

Sometimes the historian or the archaeologist is missing something obvious based on their own reference points. "Barbarians" are called that because the Romans who gave us that word thought people with a different belief system outside of The Empire were sort of backward, woodland bumpkins.

LD
 

tenngun

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Thus.
I think about the cave man somethings. An antler with a hole in it. We don’t know what it was. Spear straightening tool, leadership symbol, bravery medal, end for a bull roarer, rope handle......
We argue and guess at Rodgers Rangers guns or Lewis and Clark, on another thread is a question about Indian traded fusils and extra wiping sticks.
Another thread talks about guns picked up after Braddocks defeat. We don’t find muskets archeological in Indian sites. Did indians just turn them in,if so what did the french reward them with?
Did it just get covered up in French records as gifts?
Some years ago in a magazine there was a discussion about neck knifes. Some folks find it convenient, but was it historic? THEN we found a painting of an Indian with a neck knife. So it was historic QED
But, would it have been less historic if that Indian hadn’t put on that knife that day it was painted, or had been away from the village.
Always a problem, we have records and paintings but 99.9999% of life was unrecorded. There has to be a lot of stuff used or done sans record, but records are all we have to go on.
So we are missing much of life.
On the other hand we can’t have a ‘they could have done such and such’ or we just have a steam punk world.
We’re blind men with the elephant.
 

Rich

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First - short starters: They seem to come into use about the time of the Civil War or later. No one threw them in the river, BECAUSE they were not in use.

As to the L&C expedition: If the item could be documented to the period/location/person and was available, then there is a possibility it may have been used during the expedition. This isn't to say it WAS used, just that it is possible. That said, the gear & materials lists of what was known to have gone west are fairly extensive and since this was a military expedition, I'd surmise that things needed to be documented on some sort of purchase order.

The "because no one thought they were important enough, or lack of literacy or time and writing equipment by participants" is spurious, because much was documented in a wide variety of sources. We have very detailed descriptions of a wide variety of items/practices throughout history, and it stands to reason it was recorded somewhere. The more sources you do have describing a particular item or practice, the more robust the evidence. Historically, if it isn't documented then we must presume it did not exist UNTIL (or IF) evidence is found. Then the new evidence needs to be examined to determine if it is accurate and cross-checked with available evidence. This is why our goal is to portray COMMON practices/items, because the evidence is there.

I know its and old thread, but can you document they were NOT in use? No, dont think you can.
 

tenngun

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I THINK short starters were called loading mallets in eighteenth century. And Austrian rifle corps were issued what I would call a short starte in early nineteenth century.
How ever we can’t document they didn’t have motor boats, flashlights or gliders.
I THINK short startes were used if not universal at least by some, and I use it in my kit, but don’t show it as an historic tool.
I have non slip soles on my shoes, and when seen I will point out it’s not histoic but I use it for convenience.
We don’t know when they were first used or how many times they were invented. We can’t prove them until cap lock era.
 

Bob McBride

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Documentation is an interesting thing. Very useful studying organizations and how they were run. More a guide on the individual level. A 100% documentable rendezvous is representative of what is ‘100% documentable’, not representative of what actually was, and little more representative of the period than a 1950’s Western is of the ‘wild west’. Guys like Simeon England who study life in the period in a practical, hands on way get miles closer to the truth discovering obvious ‘best practices’ and what is impractical, which is a much better way to study and understand what is actually period correct, I think, than counting threads. YMMV.
 
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Loyalist Dave

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I think about the cave man somethings. An antler with a hole in it. We don’t know what it was. Spear straightening tool, leadership symbol, bravery medal, end for a bull roarer, rope handle......
Winning a bet..... "OG Bet me ZOG, I no can make round hole in antler. HA! Now he owe me two spear point!"

LD
 

tenngun

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I recall reading a story many years ago. I’m thinking it was Johansons(???think that was his name, the man that found the Lucy fossils).. Anyway it was two plaontoigist looking at hand axes and wondering how they were used. They picked up flints and started whacking off chips. Little flakes that can be held between thumb and second finger, guided with index finger and can be used in the kitchen or to butcher with just as well.
When the flint gets too small to knock flakes off with out hitting your self you have a hand axe.
They did this over and over and kept coming up with the same shape. The same tool that’s in museums as cave man axes may be the waste as Og was after the chips.
 

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