Sunday, September 4, 2022

Eastern Roman Mounted Archers and Extraordinary Medico-Surgical Interventions at Paliokastro in Thasos Island during the ProtoByzantine Period: The Historical and Medical History Records and the Archaeo-Anthropological Evidence

book cover

Procopius’ History of the Wars, and the Strategikon offer important aspects of Eastern Roman military tactical changes adopted against their enemies that brought the mounted archer-lancer to domineer in the synthesis of the army, along with concise descriptions of their training, panoply, and effectiveness in the battlefield during the later ProtoByzantine period. Yet, evidence in the archaeo-anthropological records of these highly specialized military members has remained elusive.

A recent archaeological discovery at the strategically positioned, upland, site of Paliokastro in Thasos island, Greece, and the subsequent study of the human skeletal remains interred in four monumental funerary contexts, in a dedicated naiskos building, provide for the first time through the archaeological record of the region a unique insight of the mounted archers and their female kin during the turbulent ProtoByzantine period. The interdisciplinary study of the anthropological materials focusing on skeletal developmental, acquired skeleto-muscular manifestations and skeleto-anatomical changes recovered valuable evidentiary data on aspects of their in vivo long-term training and preparation, traumatisms and pathologies along with extraordinary traces of cranial and infra-cranial surgical interventions and medical regimens by the hands of a most experienced surgeon.

In conjunction with the archaeological and anthropological evidence, historical and medical history records are integrated aiming toward a nexus with the human dynamics that transpired at Paliokastro within the context of the catastrophic consequences of the ‘barbarian’ invasions in the Aegean Thraco-Macedonia, and the ravages afforded by the Justinian plague during the later component of the ProtoByzantine period.


Introduction ;

The archaeological site, finds, relative dating, project overview ;

The anthropological record and aspects of burial practices ;

Taphonomy and Skeletal Preservation ;

Analysis of Anthropological Material ;
Dental Anthropology ;
Reconstructions of ante mortem kinetics indicative of habitual/occupational tasks ;
Palaeopathology of trauma cases and the footprint of an experienced physician-surgeon ;
Precedents in early Greek, and Roman medical history for the treatment on limb fractures ;
Palaeopathological assessments of infectious complications ;
About the physician-surgeon, the Ιητρείον, and the context of Paliokastro ;

Paliokastro (the old fort) and the aim for the prosopography of its female and male riders ;

Mounted archers of Paliokastro ;

Historical references on the Roman army and the ProtoByzantine mounted archer/lancer ;

Reflections on archery, and the type and capacity of bows and arrows used by the Roman mounted archer in battle versus these of the ‘barbarian’ enemies ;

Historical references on Roman enemies and their invasions in the region of Thasos: Antae, Avars, Bulgars, Huns, Sclaveni, Kutrigurs ;

Historical references on barbarian raids and their consequences in Thrace and Macedonia ;

Towards a chronology of events for the harassment of Thasos by enemy incursions ;

Archaeological evidence of catastrophic events in Thasos during the ProtoByzantine period ;

Aiming towards concluding remarks on the ProtoByzantine ‘Paliokastrétes’ ;

The case study of the Wounded Caballarius’ head/neck pathology, the ways of the cranial surgery and trephination, and few palaeopathological reflections ;


H 276 x W 203 mm

60 pages

28 figures, 1 table (colour throughout)

Published Mar 2020

Archaeopress Access Archaeology


Paperback: 9781789696011

Digital: 9781789696028


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