What is Battlefield Archaeology?
Battlefield archaeology is the study of areas where battles have taken place. This can be in a city, town, along a river, near the coast or in open areas and fields. The study of these places is important for the outcomes usually marked turning points within the history of an area, country or for a race of people.
It is very important to remember that battlefields are places where people have died and therefore are in effect memorials to those people. Battlefields are governed by legislation so you cannot just go along and dig around them.
Battlefields form part of military history and as such they need to be studied and researched, not alone, but as part of military techniques, places of conflict, and the interaction between people and the technology they used.
Studying battlefields is done by mapping the area, surveys, geophys surveys, fieldwalking, and office based research and analysis called a Desktop Study. Once a battlefield has been thoroughly investigated, finds and human remains are logged, photographed and mapped. Mapping gives an insight into the battle and the possible movement of forces, the technology of the weapons used and the tactics adopted.
In Britain the Center for Battlefield Archaeology is the major place to study Battlefield archaeology. It is located in Glasgow and directed by Dr Tony Pollard and Dr Iain Banks. The Center was opened in 2006 and leads the way in this section of archaeological specialization.
Battlefields can give us huge amounts of information and it is important that they are studied, understood and protected – conserving them for the future.
Archaeology Wow!! – Romeo and Juliet Burial, Italy
In 2007 workmen south of the Italian village of Verona, in Italy, discovered the burial of two people during the construction of a factory. Verona is the setting for William Shakespeare’s romantic tragedy, Romeo and Juliet.
The skeletons were uncovered locked in an embrace, immediately leading people to believe that the remains of Romeo and Juliet had been discovered.
Further investigations have shown that the remains belong to a man aged between 18 – 22, and a woman aged between 16-20, dating from the neolithic period (c.4,000 – 2,000 BC). Along with the bodies, burial goods included flint tools, a knife and some arrow heads.
Due to the young age of the people, it is beleived that they had a sudden or tragic death and were buried in a way that they would be embracing each other forever. Further DNA testing, xrays and laser scanning have been undertaken.
Other burials have been located in the area, but none that have demanded as much attention as these two lovers.
Archaeological Site Guide – Petra, Jordan
Petra is a unique and truly amazing archaeological site located in Jordan. It was first bought to the attention of the western world in 1812 when Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, a Swiss explorer found the deserted site.
Petra dates from around the 5th century BC and was the capital city of the Nabataean people of the area. The city was cut into rock and the ingenious Nabataeans controlled water supply from rains to feed the city and its inhabitants with channels also cut into the rock and storage areas.
Entry to the city is through a narrow gorge with very steep sides, so unless you know the city is there you could very easily miss it!
The site is mentioned in the Dead Sea Scrolls, and also written about by Pliny the Elder (AD 23- AD 79). In AD 106 it was under Roman rule, being called Arabia Petraea. An earthquake destroyed part of the city in 363 and another one shook it again in the 6th century. Around 663 the city was abandoned.
Archaeological investigations have shown that religion for the city centered around the Arab gods, namely Dushara, a male god, and three female deities.
The city was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985 and measures are being taken to protect it from further erosion and the collapse of its amazing architecture.
Great Books to Read…….
Great Web Pages to Look At…….
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