Why do archaeologists privilege King Richard III and the 1%ers of the 15th century England?
Very cool to learn about the recent work on the skeleton of Richard III. Written sources are fine, but they are almost always come from a particular perspective or bias, and they usually have all kinds of hidden subtexts and agendas. With Richard, the analysis that forensic archaeologists undertook of the actual skeleton and its injuries provides information that speaks louder and more accurately than the book-lore and legend and of English history. So, now we have a better idea about how he died and the role of battle injuries.
Once you start to think about it, though, you begin to wonder how did all of the other 100s of soldiers die? Did they suffer the same injuries? Did they have the same armor protecting them? That makes me realize how much attention we often give to the one-percenters even in the study of the 15th century. Wouldn’t a truer and deeper understanding of the past come from applying the same high level of analysis to the bones of the common soldiers as was applied to the bones of Richard?
These are the questions that we wrestle with at SF State Anthropology, where we are currently accepting applications for our MA programs. Graduate study here includes both the analysis of human remains and the interpretation of ancient societies. That includes the 99 percent! For more information visit out MA in Anthropology webpages, or contact us by email: AnthroMA@sfsu.edu
Link: King Richard III's bones reveal fatal blows, scientists say (CNN.com) (http://www.cnn.com/2014/09/16/world/europe/richard-iii-bones-injuries/)
If you are interested in digging deeper into the archaeology of King Richard III, have a look at these sources:
Lamb, A.L., Evans, J.E., Buckley, R. and Appleby, H. 2014. Multi-isotope analysis demonstrates significant lifestyle changes in King Richard III. Journal of Archaeological Science 50: 559-65.
Buckley, R., Morris, M., Appleby, J., King, T., O'Sullivan, D. and Foxhall, L. 2013. 'The king in the car park': new light on the death and burial of Richard III in the Grey Friars church. Antiquity 87: 519-38.