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Byzantine Warrior Received Sophisticated Medical Care

Friday, October 1, 2021

NEW YORK, NEW YORK—Live Science reports that Anagnostis Agelarakis of Adelphi University re-examined a 650-year-old skull recovered in 1991 from Polystylon Fort, which is located in Western Thrace, and found that the man had received sophisticated medical care for a badly broken jaw about ten years before his death. Agelarakis spotted a line of dental calculus in the jaw that formed around a thin wire holding the broken bone together as it healed. The lack of discoloration indicates the wire was not made of a silver alloy or copper or bronze wires. “It must have been some kind of gold thread, a gold wire or something like that, as is recommended in the Hippocratic corpus that was compiled in the fifth century B.C.,” Agelarakis said. “In one of the dentitions,” he added, “I saw that the tooth was filed a little bit so that the knot that was tied in the wire would not scratch the cheek.” Agelarakis thinks such careful medical treatment indicates the man could have been a military leader who was decapitated by the Ottomans when they captured the fort in the fourteenth century. The head was found in the pre-existing grave of a young child at the fort’s cemetery. A piece of ceramic recovered at the burial site may have been used to dig the hole and bury the head surreptitiously, Agelarakis surmised. The rest of the man’s remains have not been found. To read about another discovery from Thrace, go to "Thracian Treasure Chest."

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