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The contextualisation of Crusader mass graves from Sidon, Lebanon.

Mikulski, R., 2019. The contextualisation of Crusader mass graves from Sidon, Lebanon. Doctoral Thesis (Doctoral). Bournemouth University.

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MIKULSKI, Richard_Ph.D._2019_Redacted.pdf



The reliability of historical accounts regarding the number and nature of battles, sieges and smaller conflicts during the Late Medieval period (AD1000-1500) is hotly debated due to the relative lack of physical evidence for these events and processes. The Crusades in the Levant have been extensively studied from the perspective of the rich archive of historical records pertaining to the period. Yet, rarely have these violent times been studied from the most direct and incontrovertible evidence for them: the human remains of those directly involved. Data collected from human remains recovered from stratigraphically secure deposits dating to the Crusader period (1095-1291 CE) at College Site, Sidon, Lebanon provide rare insight into the nature and process of Late Medieval warfare in the Levant, including the identity and origins of those individuals directly involved in conflict, with specific hypotheses developed: 1. All individuals represented in the deposits died in a closely contemporary context if not a single event. 2. All individuals belonged to the same social group (i.e. Christians resident in Sidon at the time of their deaths. To test these hypotheses, a multidisciplinary, bioarchaeological approach was taken, applying macroscopic observation of the skeletal remains, isotopic studies (strontium, oxygen, carbon and nitrogen) and radiocarbon dating; alongside evidence from the archaeological context and a review of the contemporary historical sources. Results demonstrate: the assemblage represents a minimum of 25 individuals; the two deposits are contemporary and most likely relate to a single final depositional process; the profile of the assemblage is consistent with a military or conflict-related context (i.e. all male, with the age range including older adolescents to mature adults); the assemblage represents a mixed group with varying backgrounds, including both probable locals and non-locals in addition to a differentiated group who may represent individuals from the Near East with a different strontium signature to the locality of Sidon.; finally, the pattern of trauma confirms intensity of late medieval warfare in the Near East and the presence of recidivists. This study presents data from the largest conflict-related mass grave (MNI = 25) directly dated to the period of the Crusades in the Latin East yet to come to light. This research provides a wider understanding of Late Medieval warfare and of the Crusades in the Levant; advances understanding of the nature of urban and siege warfare during the Crusades in the Latin East; highlights the importance of integrating bioanthropological analyses with broader contextual data from both archaeological evidence and historical sources; contributes to the osteological and palaeopathological record for Lebanon; and finally contributes to the reassessment of current thinking on Late Medieval warfare and associated mortuary processes and supports the development of an improved theoretical framework for its interpretation.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information:If you feel that this work infringes your copyright please contact the BURO Manager. Please note, an image on page 215 has been redacted for copyright reasons.
Uncontrolled Keywords:bioarchaeology; crusades
Group:Faculty of Science & Technology
ID Code:32731
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:05 Sep 2019 14:30
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 14:17


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