The 89th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2020)

Bioarchaeology of violence and medieval monasteries in Central Europe


1Department of Anthropology, University of West Bohemia in Pilsen, 2Department of Dentistry, University Hospital and Faculty of Medicine in Pilsen, Charles University in Prague, 3Department of History, Palacký University Olomouc

April 16, 2020 , Platinum Ballroom Add to calendar

Violence in European medieval monasteries has been poorly investigated by bioarchaeologists. A sample of 30 human skeletons from Teplá monastery (Czech Republic) dated to the High Middle Ages offers a unique possibility to study direct evidence of violence through the analysis of trauma. The aim of this study is to investigate the defensive function of medieval monasteries. We studied skeletal markers of violence to identify the group of individuals who might have been involved in the monastery defense. To differentiate trauma caused by interpersonal violence from trauma resulting from accidents, we adapted the criteria outlined in the Istanbul Protocol and its form modified for bioarchaeological investigation. The results of the analysis reveal that 69% (13 out of 30) of the individuals were confidently confronted with violence and all of them were males. The majority of injuries were classified as sharp force trauma. There were more individuals with ante‐mortem than perimortem injuries. The true prevalence of ante‐mortem injuries confidently associated with violence was 20% which indicates that some of those males had previous combat experience and were successfully treated. All individuals were buried with dignity and respect in front of the western gate of the Abbey Church. The most probable explanation of our findings is that the analyzed individuals were a group of clients who were tasked with the defense of Teplá monastery.

Slides/Poster (pdf)