Historians are funny. So are archaeologists. Must go with the territory. One of the things I find most humorous is that according to them, everyone in the ages past was totally focused on one thing - religion.
Now, don't get me wrong, I'm sure there was a great deal of religion back then - just as there is a gread deal of religion now - but I just don't believe that ALL of the people spent their entire days and nights focused only on gods and goddesses and stuff. Someone once wrote a book about what future archaeologists will make out of the remains of a modern motel. It was gut-bustingly funny.
The "mis-reading" of the clues in the motel and the attribution of anything "mystical" to a "religious" cause is so reminicent of I cannot say how many National Geographic articles I've read, that I have over the years taken all such articles with a huge grain of salt, assuming that the current-day archaeologists and anthropologists have made many of the same mistakes that those in the story about the motel did.
Cave paintings, for instance. The archaeologists would have us believe that these were there as "virtual offerings" to the "gods" for a good hunt. They never seem to visualize the possibility that maybe - JUST MAYBE - Ooga wanted to do the livingroom in "hunter prints".
Og: Honey, the livingroom is looking a bit shabby.
Ooga: I agree dear. How about if you paint some hunting scenes on the walls and I'll weave a few new carpets and we can pile your trophy skulls over in ONE corner?
Og: Sounds good. I'll get right on that.
Or maybe those caves were schoolrooms where the little Og's would learn the ABC's of hunting technique - illustrated?
Or Stonehenge - oh, the MYSTICAL, DRUIDIC, SPACE OBSERVATORY... yeah, yeah, yeah... I bet it was a shopping mall.
What got me onto this? Well, I subscribe to this Yahoo mailing list called "12th Century Garb" - supposed to be all about clothing and accessories and stuff in the 12th Century. I have some interest in the whole evolution of clothing, and so I like to read what others have found out through their research.
What I've found out is that the SCA is whacked.
The SCAdians claim they are all about "authenticity" and "documentable evidence" and "period correct" and a whole host of equally unrealistic minutia, the pursuit of which produces that most noxious of beings, the "GARB SNARK" - usually female, and totally convinced that HER research is the ONLY research and the BEST research and ANYONE who dares to suggest otherwise is WRONG!!!
The problem stems primarily from the fact that apparently there are only a handful of actual garments that have survived the centuries between the 1100's and current time. So these few scraps of clothing are all that anyone has as "proof" of what people wore back in those days. Couple that with the fact that most of those things were found buried in peat bogs, and you have the beginnings of the fun.
See - ONE GUY who got himself killed and thrown into a peat bog is now representative of the ENTIRE POPULATION of Western Europe during the 1100's. ONE GUY!!! What if he was killed because he was a serious fashion embarassment to the entire continent???? Dumped into a peat bog to hide the evidence of his horrible crimes against couture?
In order to combat the lack of physical evidence of fashion and style, the SCAdians refer to period-produced art as a means of determining the actual construction techniques and styles worn in this time period.
Ok. Fine. Yah, right. You ever seen most of those monastic "illuminations" of scriptures and other religious texts? I can't draw worth a damn, but I could draw better than THAT in 5th grade! And this is what these snarky women are using for "evidence" that something did - or did not - exist "in period".
Monk 1: (chanted)
Oh my brother look upon this drawing I have made
Is this not a lovely drawing of St. Andrew's death?
Monk 2: (chanted)
Oh yes, Brother it is quite lovely
I like what you have done with his cape
But why are all your figures wearing hoods?
Monk 1: (chanted)
It is simple why my figures all wear hoods, Brother
I am not so good at drawing mens hair without pompadours
Monk 2: (chanted)
Then I see your point and find your drawing good
And all as shall see it shall rejoice, Amen.
Prophet Monk: (Spoken)
And behold - the day shall come
and all who see these pictures will rejoice
and they shall use these pictures as a guide
and a pattern for construction of similar garb
for all shall wish to garb themselves as saints
and every detail shall be examined.
For verily I say unto you - even the most trivial
line shall be discussed and used as "proof" that
all the peoples of our time did dress in such fashion.
And a society shall be form-ed, and it shall be name-ed for creativity and anachronism, and many from this society shall gaze rabidly upon thy works and declaim them as fact and truth and representative of all that exists of fashion and garment construction in this age, Amen.
Monk 1: Really?? COOOL!!!! Hey Sidney! Watch what I do with
the cape on this other guy here! They're gonna go NUTS trying
to figure out whether the hood is attached or not!
Monk 2: OOOH - I've got an idea, Phil - I'll paint all the peasants WITHOUT THEIR PANTS ON! Just their long underwear! Oh what a great joke THAT will be on those future "historians"!
Just like EVERY person in the USA today dresses EXACTLY the same, and has garments with ALL THE EXACT SAME construction techniques.