Sketchbook Page 26: A Cure for Melancholy II

January 5, 2011 § 2 Comments

A Cure for Melancholy II

Unicorn burial (possibly Anglo Saxon).

In the Middle Ages powdered unicorn horn* was considered a cure for melancholia.

*Derived, in fact, from the tusk of the Arctic Narwhal (Monodon monoceros).

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§ 2 Responses to Sketchbook Page 26: A Cure for Melancholy II

  • Richard Madgwick says:

    I’d question the proposed date of Anglo-Saxon for the unicorn. Horns tended to have much broader bases during this period and were far shorter (possibly an evolutionary adaptation to reduce the possibility of snapping). Morphologically, this individual is far more likely to be of Neolithic date, although the minimal spiralling means that Bronze Age cannot be discounted.

    • Jennifer Jones says:

      In response to the previous comment, judging by the morphological characteristics of this individual I am inclined to say that this specimen is more likely to date to the Bronze Age. The length to width ratio of the horn is slightly smaller the given range of Neolithic individuals, and the degree of spiraling is much more reduced that one would expect of a Neolithic individual. Of course all of this is based on the assumption that this is a fully mature individual.

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