2009/03/04

Relics of the Black Death era put on show in UK

LONDON - Medieval silver vessels, historic coins and glittering jewelry believed to have been hidden by Jews who feared persecution as the Black Death raged through 14th Century Europe have gone on display in London.

Curators said the artifacts — which include the three earliest known examples of Jewish wedding rings — were likely buried as minorities across Europe were attacked when disease and panic swept the continent.

London's Wallace Collection museum said many of the pieces on show are ornate betrothal gifts, including a double cup used in wedding ceremonies, and a perfume bottle stopper thought to be at least 650 years old.

The museum said that one haul of artifacts was discovered in the Jewish quarter of Colmar, France, in 1863 and a second in Erfurt, Germany — close to the remains of the town's 11th Century synagogue — in 1998.

Valuables were buried by European Jews as other communities sought to blame them and other minorities for the deadly pandemic, which is estimated to have reduced the world's population by between 75 and 100 million.

Members of Erfurt's Jewish community were murdered or driven out during a pogrom that began in 1349.

A grooming set that contains an ear cleaner and would once have held other pampering tools, delicate brooches and dress fasteners also features in the exhibition, the gallery said.
Around 3,000 coins and a gold wedding ring that bears the Hebrew inscription Mazel Tov — good fortune — show scarcely seen examples of Medieval metalwork.

The collection, which was previously shown in Paris in 2007, will be put on permanent display at Erfurt's former synagogue later this year. It will be shown in London until May 10.

From: www.euronews24.org
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