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Stanford researchers find clues to the Baltic Crusades in animal bones, horses and the extinct aurochs

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Source: Stanford University

Marienburg MalborkCastle built by Teutonic knightsThe Teutonic Order’s Marienburg Castle, Monastic state of the Teutonic Knights, now Malbork, Poland

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By Melissa Pandika

 

Stanford Assistant Professor Krish Seetah and Reading University student Rose Calis analyze animal bones in the basement of Riga Castle, Latvia. (Photo: Aleks Pluskowski)

Stanford researchers have discovered that pagan villages plundered by medieval knights during the little-known Baltic Crusades had some problems in common with the modern-day global village.

Among them: deforestation, asymmetric warfare and species extinction.

According to a research paper published in Science, a project investigating the Baltic Crusades’ profound environmental legacy could yield valuable insight into colonialism, cultural changes and ecological exploitation – relevant issues not only throughout history, but especially in today’s increasingly globalized society.

The researchers, including professors at Stanford and in Europe, are drawing from disciplines as disparate as history and chemistry to analyze their findings, which they’ve already begun synthesizing into a database of unprecedented depth and scope.

Their study spans the years from the 12th century to the 16th century, when the Teutonic Order, a Germanic brotherhood of Christian knights, waged war against the last indigenous pagan societies in Europe in a region that includes modern-day Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Belarus and parts of Sweden and Russia.

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Harold Bluetooth’s Vikings were Polish mercenaries

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By  Gunver Lystbaek Vestergaard

https://i0.wp.com/www.au.dk/uploads/pics/vikinger_originalbillede.JPG

As part of an international team of researchers, archaeologists at Aarhus University can reveal that a large part of Harold Bluetooth’s Viking army consisted of foreigners – possibly from Poland.

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The story of Harold Bluetooth, who converted the Danes to Christianity and unified the Kingdom of Denmark during the Viking Age, is one of the most archetypal Danish stories in existence. Bluetooth’s achievements are immortalised at places such as the rune stones in Jelling, which date from the tenth century.

It was previously believed that Harold Bluetooth’s Viking army mainly consisted of ‘native’ Danish solders. However, archaeologists from institutions including Aarhus University can document via analyses of skeletons found at the burial site at Trelleborg on the Danish island of Zealand that many of the soldiers – possibly more than half – were actually foreigners.

 

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