"Archaeologists dig up dirt on Luther"?

So proclaims the headline in Cathnews today. Story and comments follow:

German archaeologists have stoked controversy by unearthing evidence that Reformation leader Martin Luther lived well and did not die as a pauper as commonly believed. [Who ever thought that? We all know he lived in a big house (the old Wittenberg Augustinian monastery), had tons of kids (whom he presumably fed well enough), ate well (just look at the portraits of the “young Luther” as a monk compared the “late Luther” after Katie had been feeding him for 20 years!), and enjoyed a beer as much if not better than the next bloke.]

The Taipei Times [Taipei??? You’ve got to be joking. Wasn’t there a source for this story closer to home? Nb. The byline in the Taipei Times says the story comes from the Guardian in London.]reports German scientists have reconstructed a detailed picture of the domestic life of Martin Luther by trawling through his household waste uncovered during archeological digs on sites where he used to live.

Beer tankards, grains of corn, cooking pots, his wife’s wedding band and even his toilet are among the finds dug up during the five year project in the three places in Germany he spent his life. [Yep, well, those items would pretty well sum up his domestic and health life… But that all seems pretty normal to me… not evidence of being “flush with cash”.]

But the Protestant Church in Wittenberg has called “religiously irrelevant” the evidence that the peace loving family used to throw dead cats into the rubbish bin [what else do you do with a dead cat?] and that the nails Luther used to secure his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg – which led to his excommunication from the Catholic Church and launched the reformation – were in fact drawing pins [Um? They found the NAILS he used to post the 95 Theses? That might just start a Lutheran relic frenzy! Anyway, I guess if the Church door was the local notice board, the “nails” could be called “pins” – but you would still need a hammer to get them into the thick oak!].

“We’ve been able to reconstruct whole chapters of his life’s history,” said Harald Meller, one of the main researchers. [Good for them. Not as if we were short on info though.]

Protestants from around the world were expected to flock to an exhibition at the history museum in Halle, where the best of the discoveries are to go on display starting on Friday. [Like I said – the new collection will rival those of the Elector’s at the Castle Church on All Saints Day 1517. Listen out for the sound of a Luther’s ghost hammering drawing pins into the notice board of the Halle Museum…]

Despite the widespread belief that Luther lived in poverty, evidence suggests he was a well fed man, weighing a hefty 150 kilograms when he died in 1546 at the age of 63. [Have these guys never heard the German saying “As fat as Martin Luther”?]

The most extensive research carried out at the family home in Wittenberg showed that Luther wrote his celebrated texts with goose quills under lamps lit by animal fat, in a heated room, which overlooked the River Elbe. [When he wasn’t in the Wartburg Castle throwing inkpots or down at the printers shop correcting providing material as quick as the printer could print it.]

It debunks something of the Luther myth to know he wrote the 95 theses on a stone toilet, which was dug up in 2004. [Que? He wrote them on a stone toilet? It takes some imagination to picture him then using drawing pins to fix the stone toilet to the Wittenberg Church door… I think what they mean is that in 2004 the stone dunny in the Luther home was dug up, and that LUTHER was on this toilet when he wrote the 95 Theses. And to correct even THAT story, we need to point out that Luther said he was on the toilet when he realised his principle of JUSTIFICATION, NOT when he composed the 95 Theses. Good grief, journalists garble stories some times…]

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0 Responses to "Archaeologists dig up dirt on Luther"?

  1. matthias says:

    The Irish -English writer Patrick Leigh Femor-famous for kidnapping the German Commander from off Crete in the War-in his book “a TIME OF GIFTS” talks about walking into a tavern in pre war Romania,where there was a large ethnic German population and seeing written around the walls a saying by Luther to the effect that the man who has not had wine nor women is dull and boring. What amazed him even more was that the tavern keeper was a Catholic.
    On a more sober note,it was these ethnic germans who were appallingly treated after the war by russian and other iron curtain countries ,even though most were just farmers and shopkeepers and had no part in the war.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Maybe there was an old teutonic legend that whoever could pull a drawing pin out of the stone toilet would be the next king of Germany. But seriously, how can you scoff and joke about the sacred pins of Wittenberg? Everyone knows about their healing properties. One lady I knew applied the said drawing pin firmly to her kneecap and was instantly cured of her headache.
    LJ

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