As they study the latest technological and engineering developments, some Mines students simultaneously practice the arts and sciences of the medieval time period. Scola Metallorum, which translates to “School of Metals,” is the CSM student chapter of the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA).
“The SCA is a huge international organization,” stated Alex Abrams-Flohr, a sophomore in the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department and the Treasurer and Art and Sciences Coordinator for the club. “It’s a bunch of people playing pretend. It is about learning history and doing your best to try to recreate it.”
The official time period of the SCA spans from the Fall of Rome to the death of Queen Elizabeth, although the starting date is somewhat open to interpretation.
“We armor up and we learn to fence and then we learn commands for if we go to giant battles,” Michelle Gilbert, a graduate student in the Metallurgical and Materials Engineering department, explained.
While members dress in medieval clothing and practice fencing on campus, the SCA at large also hosts giant “wars” that are often attended by thousands of international members.
The other component of the SCA focuses on studying, mastering, and teaching ancient arts and sciences.
“We pull in a lot of medieval classes,” Abrams-Flohr stated. The Mines chapter of the SCA has brought in experts in everything from finger weaving, to blacksmithing, to silk banner painting and feast preparation. All classes are open to the Mines community and are usually free and very hands-on; students learn the basics in a lecture portion and then get to try the new skill out immediately after.
“They are all really obscure things that you would probably never learn otherwise,” said Abrams-Flohr. SCA members often spend years developing a particular skill and then teach others about it. There is also an emphasis on working with your hands.
“We live in a digital age where everything is at our fingertips,” Gilbert described. “The SCA is a nice escape and kind of like going back to the roots of humanity.”
To join the SCA officially, potential members must research and select a time-period appropriate name and then present it to the organization’s main council which checks for duplicates. Members can also create a coat of arms, although this is optional.
While some type of medieval costume is required during activities, this can range from a tunic and jeans to very intricate, period-appropriate costumes.
Many SCA members also appreciate the values and tight-knit community that are a part of the organization. Abrams-Flohr, whose parents have been a part of the SCA since they were in college, credits the organization for teaching him many skills and values.
“My parents would say that it takes a village to raise a child and the SCA is the best village you can find,” he expressed. “People value things like helping others, hard work, and chivalry.”
While the SCA may seem at odds with the latest technology, members believe that students can gain a new perspective by researching and re-enacting ancient arts.
Abrams-Flohr expressed “I’ve got one foot in the present and the other in the past.”