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Keywords:

  • caesarea;
  • levant;
  • oxygen isotopes;
  • strontium isotopes

Abstract

During the 12th and 13th centuries thousands of people moved from Europe to the Middle East to fight, undertake pilgrimage, or settle and make a new life. The aim of this research is to investigate two populations from the Crusader kingdom of Jerusalem, by determining who was born in Europe and who came from the Middle East. Oxygen and strontium stable isotope analyses were conducted on the enamel of teeth from skeletal remains excavated from Crusader contexts. Twenty individuals from the coastal city of Caesarea (10 high status and 10 low status), and two local Near Eastern Christian farmers from the village of Parvum Gerinum (Tel Jezreel) were analyzed as a control sample. Results were compared with known geographic values for oxygen and strontium isotopes. The population of the city of Caesarea appears to have been dominated by European-born individuals (probably 19/20, but at least 13/20), with few locals. This was surprising as a much higher proportion of locals were expected. Both controls from the farming village of Parvum Gerinum had spent their childhood in the area of the village, which matches our understanding of limited mobility among poor Medieval farmers. This is the first time that stable isotope analysis has been applied to the study of the migration of peoples between Medieval Europe and the Middle East at the time of the crusades. In view of these findings, we must now rethink past estimations of population social structure in Levantine coastal Medieval cities during the Crusader period. Am J Phys Anthropol 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.