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Dustin Faulkner




Location: BOERNE, TX
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PostPosted: Mon 19 Jul, 2010 6:11 pm    Post subject: Forensics of weapons         Reply with quote

Hello:

I don't mean sound morbid, but I was wondering if any European medieval museum or zeughaus has ever done any forensic analyses of their weapons. I am curious if any microscopic evidence of blood or bone might still exist on an original medieval weapon. Perhaps many still have physical evidence of use like chipped edges.

However, I assume the work of conservationists might have erased much, if not all, evidence of an edged weapon having been used. I know the opposite has occured where skeletons have been found showing the effects of medieval weapons.

I'm glad I am alive today.

DUSTIN FAULKNER
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Rick M.




Location: maryland, usa
Joined: 29 Sep 2008

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PostPosted: Tue 20 Jul, 2010 10:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Oakeschott describes a sword once in his collection that had traces of what appeared to be blood under the grip when it was removed. I believe the sword was found in the walls of a house being demolished in Austria somewhere.

Rick
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Thomas R.




Location: Germany
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PostPosted: Tue 20 Jul, 2010 1:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This is a good question, while I don't think any forensics will have survived the centuries...

But it lead to another (and I admit I haven't done a search in this forum for it, yet) interesting question: Do we have any thread surveying the dug out bones and skulls, which show significant damage done by swords and other arms? I remember some splitted skulls from english battle fields and cut in half skeletons, which I saw on the net elsewhere. We could learn perhaps a lot from these remains, maybe how strikes were done etc. Any suggestions?

Regards,
Thomas

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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Tue 20 Jul, 2010 2:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There are studies on injuries from the mass graves from Towton and Visby, among others.
Happy

ChadA

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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Tue 20 Jul, 2010 5:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As of 2006, there were only 3 European sets of battlefield graves where such studies had been done: Wisby, Towton, and Aljubarrota [1,2].

There are other studies of European skeletal weapon trauma, but the remains studies are not from specific battlefield graves, which means it isn't always clear whether it's trauma from battle, street-brawling, execution, or whatever. These other studies add up to many individuals, although usually only a few per study. Most of this has only been published in research journals, but if you're near a good university library, you might have access to a lot of it. Google Scholar is a good start; try "sword injuries" or similar for a start, or "trauma weapons".

Also non-European stuff might be relevant. There has been lots of interesting Japanese stuff.

[1] P. D. MITCHELL, Y. NAGARb AND R. ELLENBLUM, Weapon Injuries in the 12th Century Crusader Garrison of Vadum Iacob Castle, Galilee, Int. J. Osteoarchaeol. 16: 145 155 (2006)

[2] Cunha E, Silva AM. 1997. War lesions from the famous Portuguese medieval battle of Aljubarrota. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 7: 595 599.

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Wed 21 Jul, 2010 8:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Medicine in the Crusades: Warfare, Wounds, and the Medieval Surgeon has a few precious, albeit scanty examples of trauma inflicted to bones by a weapon such as a sword or axe during the Crusading era: http://www.cambridge.org/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=052184455X

A book that is often overlooked on wounds is Usama ibn Muniqdh's The Book of Contemplation, which is available as a Penguin translation. His writings contain numerous, contemporary 12th century examples of wounds and injuries sustained during warfare, some among from muslims fighting muslims, and others from muslims fighting crusaders. While they're not a scientific investigation by any means, they provide a valuable insight into armed violence in the Middle Ages.
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Wed 21 Jul, 2010 9:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The Towton work is extensively documented in Blood Red Roses (wonderful book!).
-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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