Byzantine warrior with gold-threaded jaw unearthed in Greece | Live Science

  

Category:  Health, Science & Technology

Via:  sandy-2021492  •  3 months ago  •  11 comments

By:   Laura Geggel (livescience. com)

Byzantine warrior with gold-threaded jaw unearthed in Greece | Live Science
His jaw had been shattered in two.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



A rugged Byzantine warrior, who was decapitated following the Ottoman's capture of his fort during the 14th century, had a jaw threaded with gold, a new study finds.

An analysis of the Byzantine warrior's lower jaw revealed that it had been badly fractured in a previous incident, but that a talented physician had used a wire — likely gold crafted — to tie his jaw back together until it healed.

"The jaw was shattered into two pieces," said study author Anagnostis Agelarakis, an anthropology professor in the Department of History at Adelphi University in New York. The discovery of the nearly 650-year-old healed jaw is an amazing find because it shows the accuracy with which "the medical professional was able to put the two major fragments of the jaw together."

What's more, the medical professional appears to have followed advice laid out by the fifth-century B.C. Greek physician Hippocrates, who wrote a treatise covering jaw injuries about 1,800 years before the warrior was wounded.

Related: In photos: 8 Byzantine Empire era shipwrecks excavated in Turkey

Agelarakis and colleagues discovered the warrior's skull and lower jaw at Polystylon fort, an archaeological site in Western Thrace, Greece, in 1991. When the warrior was alive in the 14th century, the Byzantine Empire, also known as the Eastern Roman Empire, was facing attacks from the Ottomans. Given that the warrior was beheaded, it's likely that he fought until the Ottomans overcame Polystylon fort. In other words, it appears that "the fort did not surrender, but that it must have been taken by force," Agelarakis wrote in the study.

As the fort fell, the Ottomans likely captured and then decapitated the warrior; then, an unknown individual likely took the warrior's head and stealthily buried it, probably without the "permission of the subjugators, given that the rest of the body was not recovered," Agelarakis wrote in the study. But the warrior wasn't given his own grave; his head was interred in the pre-existing grave of a 5-year-old child, who was buried in the center of a 20-plot cemetery at Polystylon fort. A broken ceramic vessel, which may have been used to dig the hole for the warrior's head, was uncovered at the burial, Agelarakis added.

It's unknown if there was any familial or other tie between the warrior and the child. Given that the man's skull and jaw were found together, his head likely had soft tissues on it when it was buried in the mid-1380s, Agelarakis noted. The skull showed evidence of a "horrendous frontal impact," which was inflicted around the time of the man's death, he said.

Agelarakis detailed the unique burial in a study published in 2017 in the journal Byzantina Symmeikta. However, the study only briefly addressed the warrior's healed jaw, so Agelarakis investigated that in detail, penning a second, new paper.

Jawbreaker


The cause of the jaw fracture isn't clear, but possibilities include a forceful fall while horseback riding; a battle trauma from a thrust spearhead or another sharp, hand-held weapon; or a ballistic projectile fueled by black powder, Agelarakis wrote in the new study, published online in the September issue of the journal Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry.

What's known is this: The warrior died between the ages of 35 and 40 years old, and about 10 years before that, likely in 1373, he experienced the devastating jaw fracture. An analysis of the teeth on the warrior's lower jaw revealed a line of dental calculus that built up where a thin wire was threaded, zigzagging around the base of the man's teeth to hold his jaw together as it healed, Agelarakis said.

Related: 27 oddest medical cases

The wire is long gone, but Agelarakis suspects it was gold. There was no evidence of a silver alloy, which would have left grayish discoloration, nor were there traces of a patina or greenish cupric acid stains that would have been left by copper or bronze wires, he found.

"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. Gold is soft and pliable but strong and nontoxic, he added, making it a good choice for this type of medical treatment.

"In one of the dentitions, 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 said. "It's very sophisticated — it's flabbergasting."

If the warrior was still on active duty, it must have been difficult for him to lay low and drink liquid foods while his bandaged jaw healed, Agelarakis noted. It's unclear if the warrior's tongue was also wounded in the incident, and whether his speech or pronunciation were affected following treatment, he added. However, if the warrior had a beard or mustache, he could have hidden any disfigurements that persisted after the treatment.

This exceptional medical treatment suggests the warrior was a very important person.

"He was the military leader, most probably of the fort," Agelarakis said. "Therefore, he was decapitated ... by the Ottomans when they took over the fort."

Originally published on Live Science.


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sandy-2021492
Professor Principal
1  seeder  sandy-2021492    3 months ago
"The jaw was shattered into two pieces," said study author Anagnostis Agelarakis, an anthropology professor in the Department of History at Adelphi University in New York. The discovery of the nearly 650-year-old healed jaw is an amazing find because it shows the accuracy with which "the medical professional was able to put the two major fragments of the jaw together."
 
 
 
Thomas
Sophomore Guide
2  Thomas    3 months ago

Wow. I would have thought that an injury like that would be incredibly prone to infection.

 
 
 
Split Personality
Professor Principal
3  Split Personality    3 months ago

The Roman Catholics sought to burn all of the ancient Greek books.

.

Pre Ottoman Turks and other Muslims gathered up the Greek classics and translated them

into Turkish in order to preserve the sciences.  Once translated there was no care if the Templars or

Orthodox  confiscated and destroyed them.

 
 
 
pat wilson
Professor Guide
4  pat wilson    3 months ago

Really interesting article, thanks for seeding.

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
5  Kavika     3 months ago

Great article, sandy.

 
 
 
Freefaller
Professor Participates
6  Freefaller    3 months ago

It is often surprising how inventive and intelligent people from long ago could be

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
Professor Principal
6.1  seeder  sandy-2021492  replied to  Freefaller @6    3 months ago

Surgeons still often use the same general principles to treat jaw fractures - wiring the teeth together.

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
6.2  Kavika   replied to  Freefaller @6    3 months ago

The Inca were doing brain surgery 1200 years ago.

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Freshman Principal
6.2.1  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  Kavika @6.2    3 months ago

Yes, trepanation was practiced for thousands of years from ancient Greece to pre-Columbian Peru.

 
 
 
Split Personality
Professor Principal
7  Split Personality    3 months ago
from the article;
"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. Gold is soft and pliable but strong and nontoxic, he added, making it a good choice for this type of medical treatment.
Yes, hard to believe that between Hippocrates, Aristotle and Plato they tossed aside 2,000 years of the idea of "the four humors" and "invented" modern medicine.
Medical practice and research

Two famous Greek philosophers, Aristotle (384–322 B.C.E.) and Plato (424–348 B.C.E.) concluded that the human body had no use in the afterlife.

This thinking spread and influenced Greek doctors. It allowed the Greeks to start finding out about the inside of the human body in a systematic way.

At Alexandria in Egypt, scholars starting dissecting dead bodies and studying them. Sometimes, they would cut open the bodies of criminals who were still alive. This kind of research led to the following conclusions:

  • the brain and not the heart controls movement of limbs
  • blood moves through the veins

However, they did not note that blood circulates in the body.

Thucydides, who lived around 460–395 B.C.E., concluded that prayers were ineffective against illnesses and plagues and that epilepsy had a scientific explanation that was nothing to do with angry gods or evil spirits.

As time moved on, Greek medical professionals and scholars increasingly sought entirely natural theories for the cause of diseases.

And yet the Humoral theory persisted until the 19th century even in America. Even for our most famous POTUS.

What we do know is based on contemporary accounts, including those of Tobias Lear, Washington’s secretary. Two days earlier, an apparently healthy Washington rode around his estate at Mount Vernon on a cold, miserable day. According to Lear, Washington decided to stay in his wet clothes so he could be on time for dinner.

That night, Washington woke his wife Martha to say he was feeling very sick, and that he could hardly breathe or talk on his own. The former President asked his overseer, Albin Rawlins, to bleed him. Doctors then arrived and bled him four more times over the next eight hours, with a total blood loss of 40 percent.

Washington also gargled with a mixture of molasses, vinegar and butter; he inhaled a steam of vinegar and hot water; and his throat also was swabbed with a salve and a preparation of dried beetles. An enema was also used. By late afternoon, Washington knew he was dying and asked for his will.

We have come a long way baby, only took us 2400 years to catch up to Hippocrates.

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
Professor Principal
7.1  seeder  sandy-2021492  replied to  Split Personality @7    3 months ago

In the 1800s, people still thought diseases were caused by "miasmas".

 
 

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