Friday, January 17, 2014

Dead Men Tell No Tales

Mystery of York's 'Headless Romans' 

York Archaeological Trust undertook excavations during 2004 and 2005 in advance of construction work on two sites close to the line of one of the main roads out of the Roman town. Archaeologists suspected the probability of finding further burials there as Roman graves had been previously found in the area on the outskirts of Eboracum, the name of the Roman town of York, and Roman cemeteries were often placed alongside roads outside the city walls.

These excavations at the site of a 3rd century Roman burial ground at Driffield Terrace in York revealed 80 burials, of which 60 were mostly complete. The vast majority were well-built adult males, averaging some 2 cms (one inch) taller than the average male from Roman Britain, their bones showing signs of extreme physical exertion; most of these people had died violently. About 45 of the 60 mostly complete skeletons, showed signs of decapitation, with about 20 showing evidence of injuries that had penetrated bone which would have almost certainly been fatal blows. About a third had suffered wounds and fractures that had healed and no doubt there were probably other wounds that had penetrated only the soft tissue leaving no evidence.

Decapitated and mutilated burials similar to these are known from other cemeteries in Roman Britain, but the York cemetery seems to have an unusually high proportion; a very unusual type of population for a typical Roman cemetery. However, despite the evidence for a generally hard and violent life and brutal death, these people had all been carefully buried between the late 1st and early 4th centuries AD, sometimes with grave goods such as pottery and food, at a cemetery
Although headless burials are not unknown, to see so many in the same place is unprecedented anywhere in the Roman Empire. Most intriguing is what had been done with the skulls of the skeletons; of the decapitated skeletons, about 30 were buried with their heads placed on their shoulders but others had their heads placed between their knees, on their chests or by their feet. In one double burial the two bodies even had had their heads swapped over.

In 2006, isotope analysis of tooth enamel suggested that the men came from from every corner of the Roman Empire; Britain, the Mediterranean, the Alps and even as far away as North Africa. This has led to suggestions that the 80 men could have been elite Roman soldiers. In 2006 the BBC Timewatch program 'The Mystery of the Headless Romans' put forward the proposal that the men could have been from Emperor Severus' household, executed by the Emperor Caracalla who died, stabbed to death by his own body guard in 217 AD. But this is pure conjecture.

June this year (2010), it was announced York's headless Romans might have been Gladiators and portrayed in the Channel 4 program 'Gladiators: Back from the Dead' with Driffield Terrace being cited as the 'worlds only well-preserved gladiator cemetery'. The key evidence for the gladiator claim is the discovery of a large, carnivore bite mark and a high incidence of substantial arm asymmetry due to prolonged weapon wielding from an early age. Further evidence in support of the gladiator claim is the healed and unhealed weapon injuries and possible hammer blows to the head; a feature attested at the gladiator cemetery at Ephesus in Turkey, the first authenticated gladiators graveyard.
The remains of 67 individuals was discovered in 2007 at Ephesus, Turkey, nearly all aged between 20 to 30. Many with evidence of healed wounds, suggesting they were prized individuals receiving expensive medical care; one body even possesses signs of a surgical amputation. Pathologists discovered various unhealed wounds on bones, for example tell-tale nicks in the vertebrae, suggesting at least some of the bodies suffered a fate of execution being consistent with depictions on reliefs from the time showing a kneeling man having a sword rammed down his throat into the heart. A very quick way to die.

Bioarchaeological Analysis

To shed some light on these mysterious skeletal remains a scientific team under Gundula Müldner, a bioarchaeologist at the University of Reading with colleagues from Reading and the NERC Isotope Geosciences Laboratory in Nottingham, recently carried out multi-isotopic analysis of the skeletal remains.

Scientists normally only examine strontium and oxygen isotopic systems to calculate an individual's origins but on this occasion the scientists took samples of teeth and bone and analysed isotopes of strontium, oxygen, carbon and nitrogen, combining information about the individual's diet with the type of climate and geological setting. Isotopes are absorbed by our teeth and bones from our food, drinking water and the air. Their proportions vary around the world due either to differences in regional geology or climate, so they provide important clues about where individuals spent their childhood years. Oxygen (O) and strontium (Sr) are fixed in dental enamel as our teeth form. The enamel does not alter significantly with age, therefore oxygen and strontium levels can be matched fairly closely to the geology and climate of the place an individual grew up. The oxygen and strontium isotopes indicated that just five of the men tested had probably grown up in York.

Müldner's team also tested 68 individuals for carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) in order to obtain clues about their diet. Carbon and nitrogen isotopes are absorbed from our food and can be measured in dentine or bone collagen samples, providing scientists with information about land and sea foods in an individual's diet as well as the balance of plant and animal protein. They also distinguish plants that photosynthesis in different ways to produce different proportions of the isotopes known as C3 and C4.

In addition, there are two stable carbon isotopes known as C-12 and C-13. The common isotope that makes up about 99% of all natural carbon is C-12 with C-13 only accounting for only about 1%. Plants of the C4 group, which are adapted to hot, dry climates and include maize, sorghum and millet, tend to fix C-13 more readily than C3 group plants, such as wheat, rice and barley, which do better in temperate climates. Thus by measuring the ratio of C-13/C-12 in bone it can be possible to derive the proportion of C3 and C4 plant groups in the diet of the sample.

Of the 68 individuals tested for carbon and nitrogen two in particular had eaten diets with distinctly high carbon isotope ratios, indicating the consumption of C4 plants, or the products of animals raised on them. To have consumed enough of their distinctive diets to produce these unusual isotope results, the scientists concluded that these two individuals must have come from abroad. The only 'C4 plant' cultivated in Europe at the time was millet, but it was almost certainly not grown in Britain during this period, possibly because the climate was too wet. Indeed, millet is not known to have been cultivated in Britain in the Roman period or at any time before.
They discovered that five of the headless Romans ate very different foods from York's local population. The results revealed that at least two had a diet rich in plant during their childhood, consuming C4-plant based protein probably millet, that wasn't grown in Britain at that time. Dr Müldner said, “This approach was very important in this case, because it has given us information about these unusual burials that would have been missed if only strontium and oxygen had been analysed.”

Müldner deduced that as we had not seen similar values in Britain before, nor much in Europe in the Roman Period, the "Headless Romans" likely came from as far away as Eastern Europe, with the evidence of previous combat scars suggesting that the men led violent lives. He added, “the headless Romans are very different [physically] than other people from York, coming from all over the place. Some of them are quite exotic."

Dead Men Tell No Tales

Far from solving the enigma of the 'Headless Romans' the results seem to have deepened the mystery; if they were not local people it raises the question who they were and what were they doing in Roman York?

It has been suggested that if these decapitated individuals who died a violent death were not gladiators or a warrior elite they may have been executed criminals or members of a religious cult who suffered a ritual killing. Post-mortem decapitation is known to have been carried out by superstitious Romans to prevent some people returning as ghosts; the head is thought to be the seat of the soul, consequently if the head is separated from the body the soul escapes and the dead will not be able to walk the earth.


Non-Roman citizens would normally undergo a harsh and degrading execution, such as crucifixion or being thrown to wild animals in the gladiatorial arena. But some, such as early Christian martyrs, appear to have been buried after their execution. Roman citizens could be executed by decapitation although authorities sometimes prevented certain individuals being given a decent burial, perhaps in order to prevent them reaching the afterlife. The suggestion that at least some of the York individuals may have been executed criminals is supported by one of the skeletons being found with heavy lead leg-shackles. A few of the ‘decapitated’ burials show no signs of cuts on the vertebrae possibly as a result of hanging, which would have been followed by burial some days afterwards when the head may have become detached from the body. The site at Driffield Terrace rises above the Mount and this may be significant as death by execution often takes place at a place of prominence where it can easily be seen by many. But it is unlikely criminals would have been given such a burial.

Ritual Killings

The Celts venerated the head as the seat of the soul and are well attested for their cult of the head and these beliefs persisted into the Roman period. It has been suggested that the decapitations and the additional injuries are reminiscent of ritual killing by way of the triple death of human sacrifices as practised in the pre-Roman world of the Celts. The sacrifice of adults for religious reasons was banned by the Emperor Augustus, however this does not necessarily mean that such practices did not continue and deposits of horse and other animal bones with some the burials, along with other grave goods, suggest that ritual played a part in many of the burials.

Warrior Elite

The vast majority of the burial group being well-built adult males, taller than the average male, with their bones showing signs of extreme physical exertion with most bearing evidence of a violent death, immediately suggests an elite group of warriors provided with special status amongst society.

The Roman historian Tacitus, writing in the 1st Century AD, describes how the Catti warriors were given elite status amongst the tribe and took part in Arminius' Germanic tribal coalition that annihilated Varus' legions in 9 AD in the Teutoburg Forest. Soldiers were executed for desertion and other court martial offences, which could result in punishment by decapitation. Alternatively, the injuries may have been the result of soldiers killed in battle and whose bodies were recovered by their own side and given a decent burial. But this would not explain the pelvic injury apparently caused by a large carnivore as seen on one of the skeletons.


It is estimated that up to a million gladiators are thought to have died in arenas across the Roman Empire. Roman Britain was second only to Italy in the number of purpose-built gladiatorial arenas in Europe. It is assumed York had its own amphitheatre, although evidence of it remains elusive, so the presence of gladiators here should not be surprising.

All the Driffield Terrace individuals were male and the majority killed by decapitation, suggesting an unusual group of people. These people were taller than the average Romano-British male and more robust. Significantly in about a third of the skeletons, one arm slightly longer than the other, the right humerus of one skeleton being 18mm longer than the left, suggesting one-sided work from an early age, perhaps representing prolonged sword practice. Although we cannot rule out the possibility of other occupations, such as archery or blacksmithing, which may also cause the over-development of one arm, it would seem unlikely to be a group of smiths. Men with similar asymmetry, muscular arms, have been excavated at the gladiator cemetery at Ephesus in Turkey.

Blunt force trauma, i.e. a blow to the head, found on a number of the York skeletons appears to be evidence of methods that were used to kill vanquished or dying gladiators by a slave in the arena dressed as the god of the Underworld and armed with a large iron mallet who despatched any fatally wounded gladiator with a sharp blow to the head.

The Injuries to the pelvis are consistent with carnivore toothmarks, evidence perhaps of a gladiator being bitten about the hip by a large carnivore such as a lion or a bear. Gladiator versus animal fights were common events in the arena and undertaken by a specially trained and equipped fighter known as the bestiarii or venatores. However, we cannot rule out the possibility of a common Roman method of execution, in which criminals were tied to a post in the arena and left to the mercy of beasts.

The 'gladiatorial' explanation of these decapitated burials at York seems the more likely with the use of the cemetery at Driffield Terrace being continued for some time in different phases, dating from the early 3rd to 4th century, indicating that this was not a single mass event, but occurred over a number of years and corresponds with deaths from gladiatorial combat which appear to have risen in Roman Britain at this time. Evidence from tombstones suggest an average age of 27 for gladiators.

A History of Black people in Europe

It is generally known that black people have been residing in European countries since the early colonial times. But even before the 15th century and during Roman times, a time when colour of skin still wasn’t a racist stigma but just another physical feature, black people lived in Europe. Remains of a man with black African features were found in England, dating his life back to the 13th century.

Besides that, facts have been found of black people living in different parts of Europe, although I don’t want to overstate their presence or influence. But it is generally known that during the Muslim era of the Iberian Peninsula (from the 8th century AD until the 15th century AD) people with dark skin were part of daily live. The Muslims who invaded Spain and Portugal around 700 AD were a mixture of black and dark people from North-Africa. They were often referred to as Maures, wrote about and painted, way before the dehumanization of black people started.

I added above Jan Mostaert's portrait of a nobleman, guest of the Queen of Austria. This painting dates back to the early 1500's in what we now call Belgium, then part of the Duchy of Brabant. There is no doubt this man has African roots while being a respected member of European culture. We can only guess that this man is of Maure origin, i.e. a Muslim having converted to Christianity or even the second or third generation of converts.

Below I will go deeper into the subject. I will give you some internet links, book references and a list of early Europeans of African descent, each time linked to their wiki page. If you know more about the subject I invite you to add information in a comment.

Al Andalus

Many blacks who were Muslims converted to Christianity after the emirate ofAl Andalus was abolished (end of 15th century). But the Reconquista took centuries (8th-15th century) and during those times black people gradually integrated the Christian and Northern European world. Among them were noble men and scholars. The negative image of blacks, as natural slaves, only gained prominence in the 18th century when the transatlantic slave trade became a central piece of European economical activity and later when European nation-states were being established.

Slavery and racism

Of course slavery existed before racism. In the 15th century blacks and whites were enslaved indiscriminately. Blacks in the America’s could become free men and own their own slaves and land (which was rather common in colonial Brazil for instance). It is only in later years that being black made you a slave forever and by birth, or at least a kind of human always inferior to white people. This racial perspective on identity and humanity only gained authority in later modern times. Read more on the subject here.

Coat of Arms

Black people were part of European imagination and reality from very early times. Read more here and here. We can say with certainty that there were black people in Europe before that white people reached the area south of the Sahara. North Africa, Iberia and the Middle East were the crossroad where black and white intermingled. In Europe references to blacks was a positive sign of strength and military power. Still today you can find many blacks in coat of arms for towns all over Europe, central, south and north, dating back to the middle ages.

Some Literature

After the 15th century, Portugal entered an intense relationship with African kingdoms in the Gulf of Guinea and the Congo coasts. Slave trade (although not based on race) and exchange between the kings led to the presence of Europeans on the West- and Central African shores, just as Africans in Portugal. Accounts from those days tell us that the sight of black people in the streets of Lisbon wasn’t a rarity during the Middle Ages, more on the contrary. I want to refer to following books for those who want to know more about this topic:
Black Africans in Renaissance Europe, Thomas Foster Earle,K. J. P. Lowe(eds.)
Africa's discovery of Europe, David Northrup 

As a consequence of the slave trade free blacks also arrived in Europe between the 16th and 19th century. Blacks lived in London, Liverpool, Lisbon, Seville, … during the 17th and 18th century. Other historical books with scientific authority give you in depth knowledge of this:
Hugh Thomas’s ‘The Slave Trade’
Ivan Van Sertima’s ‘African Presence in Early Europe’
All this publications teach us something about this hidden part of European history.

Leo Africanus

Leo Africanus is often stated as one of these black and European noble men and scholars. But it is rather speculation to state if he was black or white. He was definitely a Maure but as racism, whiteness and blackness were unknown concepts as we know it today, we can’t know his ‘race’ for sure. This shouldn’t surprise anyone. Even very common socio-cultural concepts of today such as ‘French’, ‘German’ or ‘English’ didn’t exist in those days such that it would be silly to argue whether historical figures of those days were German or French. Same thing is valid for the white and black race as defined today.

Famous Europeans with African ancestry (1500-1900)

Below I will list some of the most famous figures of European modern history (after 1500) who happened to be black or have African ancestry, but were integral parts of European (high) society. Most of the time the African ancestry of these people is ignored by history books although acknowledged and accepted by most history scholars. I think it throws a new light on the concepts of race and the meaning of blackness in the 21st century.

Alessandro ‘il Moro’ de Medici 1510-1537 
Duke of Florence

Abram Petrovich Ganibal 1696-1781

Major-general, military engineer, governor of Reval and nobleman of the Russian Empire

Anton Wilhelm Amo 1700-1775 

German Philosopher

Ignatius Sancho 1729–1780

Author and abolitionist, UK

Olaudah Equiano a.k.a. Gustavus Vassa 1745-1797Author and abolitionist, UK

Chevalier de Saint Georges 1745-1799A famous musican, composer and swardsman of his times
Listen to his music here.

Thomas Alexandre Dumas 1762-1806A general of the French Revolution

George Polgreen Bridgetower 1780-1860Musician and composer
Listen and watch here

Alexandre Pushkin 1799-1837

Famous author, great-grandson of Abraham Petrovich Ganibal

Alexandre Dumas 1802-1870
French author of the world famous tale of ‘The Three Musketeers’, Thomas Alexandre Dumas’s son

John Archer 1863-1931
Presumably UK’s first black mayor, political activist

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor 1875-1912

The List of Inventions from the Industrial Revolution

The technological discoveries and innovations of the 17th-18th centuries have a great impact of today’s modern lifestyle. During those times, a great transition occurred that resulted into a better transformation of different civilizations in the entire world. At first, it started in England until it penetrated in most European countries and later it reached in America. Industrial Revolution, that’s the name of that period. During that time, there’s a list of inventions that really played vital roles for the improvement of the society. Thus, that particular time became a very significant turning point of some other great events in history.

Different tools, machines, other forms of technologies and discoveries were the highlights during that time. They made production faster and easier; thus the old society which was patterned into an agricultural economy have changed drastically. As a result, the economy of Europe and the America boomed as the beauty of CAPITALISM was unveiled. 


Thus, it is worthy to look back and scrutinize those tools and other technology which were important players and molders of today’s history. Here is the list of inventions from the Industrial Revolution. 

1. Steam Engine

This is a kind of a heat engine (powered by water and coal) that makes a machine works in its own. The first successful steam engine was created by James Watt during the 1700’s. After that, manual labors were minimized as machines replaced the bare hands of the people. So things were done easier and faster in factories, mines, mills, railroads, ships, and vehicles.

2. Cotton Gin

This is a machine that can separate the cotton from its seed. This machine invented and patented by Eli Whitney became very useful in the cotton industry of the 1700s. Cotton can be used in making different products especially for clothing. Thus, during that time many businessmen and entrepreneurs in North and South America took advantage with this technology. And America became the cotton powerhouse that supported the world market next to Great Britain. On the other, it created a negative impact in slavery. Many black Africans were transported and sold to Europeans businessmen in America in order to maintain vast plantations of cotton. It even ended in a bloody American Civil Wars. 

3. Telephone

Telephone came up when Graham Belle wanted to improve the Telegraph in 1870. If telegraph was using Morse code to send messages, Belle used his own musical approach which was using notes, pitch, wire, and electrical signals. And successfully, he made it in 1876 while telegraph was starting to vanish.

4. Incandescent Light Bulb

Perhaps this is the most famous invention made by Thomas Edison. This was a made by doing a lot of trial and error. However, this man also made other significant inventions just like the electrical power. And all these made more advancements and productivity in different fields of societies.

5. Sewing Machine

This machine was made in 1790 by Thomas Saint. Thus, clothing production increased compare to using manual labors during that time. So, many companies and factories were very happy and satisfied as their earnings and profits increased.  Then this simple sewing machine was innovated over time with different features like the safety devices to prevent accidents.

All these things were just some of the leading tools and discoveries during the innovation process of the 17-8th centuries. And all those inventors are worthy of appreciation as they have changed the world as well as its history. Though their inventions created different impacts towards the lives of men, but after all, they made a big difference. In the end, this list of inventions from the Industrial Revolution is just a reminder that people can make a change if they are willing to make it happen by DOING it.   

Who is Cleopatra?

Cleopatra… Perhaps you hear this famous name in history. Yes she is indeed an interesting woman for you to know. She is even controversial too and she can be one of the most powerful women in this world. 

So, who is Cleopatra?

Cleopatra was the last queen ruler of Egypt after the Roman power took place. But before Egypt fell to the mighty hands of Rome, a great controversial and tragic story happened about Cleopatra’s life.

The leadership of Cleopatra’s family in Egypt could be traced after the death of Alexander the Great. Ptolemy, one of the generals of Alexander took over Egypt and he became a king. Now Cleopatra’s father was King Ptolemy XII, a descendant of the first Ptolemy. So, Cleopatra’s nationality is of Greek origin.

When Cleopatra’s father died in 51 B.C., Cleopatra and her brother were left. It was also believed the two got married as part of their custom. However, Egypt that time faced a lot of crisis such as famine, floods, problems in the economy, and most of all political tensions. Cleopatra and her brother had conflicts in political issues. Cleopatra wanted the throne badly. But during this time, Egypt was also endangered to the powerful Rome with the Leadership of Julius Caesar.

 Cleopatra’s Seduction to Julius Caesar

Julius fell in love with Cleopatra when he went in Egypt to follow his enemy named Pompey who was the husband of Caesar’s daughter. But Ptolemy XIII showed to Caesar the head of Pompey thinking that he wouldn’t be angry. So, because of Caesar’s anger to him, he captured the center of Egypt. And Cleopatra took advantage of his anger and she seduced him and she supported the idea of ousting Ptolemy XIII. Thus, she succeeded when Julius army defeated Ptolemy XIII in the Battle of Nile. After that, Ptolemy died. So, Cleopatra became a mistress of Julius Caesar because he was married in Rome. After that they had children. So the plans of Caesar in capturing Egypt were stopped. And he even became very obsessed to Cleopatra that he made a golden statue of her in Rome. However, people didn’t like how he acted as their leader for he was a married man. Therefore, it is no wonder that he was being assassinated in 44 B.C.

 Cleopatra Got Caesar’s Son- Mark Antony

Well, the story didn’t end up in Caesar’s death. Cleopatra’s charm and beauty continued its power. This happened when she supported Mark Antony as one of leader among the factions in Rome after Caesar’s death. Because of her loyalty and support for Antony, the met and eventually fell in love with each other. Their love resulted when Cleopatra gave birth to twins and another child. And later, he married her according to Egyptian rites though at that time he was a married to Octavian. Because of this, Octavian raged war to Cleopatra and Antony. But while Antony was in the battlefield, he heard false news that Cleopatra died. With this, he committed suicide by stabbing himself. And when Cleopatra heard this news, she also committed suicide by letting herself bitten by a cobra. Actually, her death was a big debate. But the similarities of the stories are that she committed suicide by taking a poison. After that, Egypt became a province of the mighty Roman Empire.

What makes Cleopatra that attractive?

With this controversial and tragic story of Cleopatra, you will really wonder how beautiful and attractive she is. But who is Cleopatra? What made her so appealing and so seductive to men? Especially during those days, countries and empires were led by the dominant and fearless men. And yet, she managed to lure them just to stay in power…

Accordingly, she was not that very beautiful. But her charm and wit was incomparable. Well, that was unquestionable with those historical proofs. However, many would mark some thoughts of negativity towards her actions. She may be a lewd woman and greedy or whatever reasons. But what makes it important for people in this present time is to think how a woman could be as powerful and as wise as Cleopatra.

What to Avoid During Pregnancy in Medieval Times

A lot of medical practices that we observe now can be traced back to the past. We are fortunate that we have access to modern medicine and pregnant women get the care they need without the risk of infection, worse death. The middle ages is known as the Renaissance, where artists, philosophers and doctors have cooked up many ways to make living easier. Some of it may seem mad but believe it or not, people actually observed it. Here is a list of what to avoid during pregnancy.

Michele Savonarola, court physician of the powerful Este family of Ferrara in Italy wrote a book called De Regime Pregnantium. It contained advice of food and drinks that should and should not be taken during pregnancy. Like physicians today, Savonarola believed that what the mother eats will greatly affect her unborn child. He not only dedicated his life and expertise in taking care of the pregnant noblewomen of Ferrara but he also thought of medical ways to ensure the health of both mother and child, most especially in making sure that the baby would be male.

Savonarola advised that mothers consume dry food. He further stated that it was best to avoid drinking cold water because it is not good for the fetus and would generate girls. Instead he advised that moms drink red wine instead. Furthermore, consumption of warm and dry food will remove the inferior qualities of women and shape the fetus to become a strong and healthy male.

There could be strong intellectual women at that time who rolled their eyes at him; but in a world dominated by men, their opinions hardly matter. Members of the nobility would rejoice in the coming of a son but not so much as daughters.

He also advised mothers not to overindulge in the same kind of food because it risks miscarriage. Fruits like the pomegranate, though sweet is not advisable because it is highly acidic which can upset the stomach. It would be better to mix it with wine or drink is as a juice.

That was the practice in Italy, but what about other places? What to avoid during pregnancy when you’re a noble woman in England during the middle ages? In the late stages of pregnancy, noble women would go into confinement. This is like going back inside the womb where women are shut in a room, shutters closed, drapes drawn and a crucifix so she can pray. She is attended by servants and only female members of her family. Although, there were times that her husband may come visit her.  The idea of a confinement is to make sure that the woman is relaxed. She will only come out after 40 days of giving birth. She will then be “churched” to cleanse her.  There is a big party to welcome her back to society, perform her duties as wife and back to breeding babies again.

These practices and medical advice may all seem mad to us modern people but this paved the way to what we practice today. Crazy as it may seem, some of these food, drinks and practices make sense.  Hopefully, you did find what to avoid during pregnancy in medieval times insightful or even perhaps an entertaining read.

Reasons Why Middle Ages is Also Called “Dark Ages”

The Middle Ages is one of the greatest period not only important in the European History but also of the entire world.  There are thousands of beautiful, controversial, and critical stories about it. However, sometimes you may be confused about it because it is also sometimes called Dark Ages. 

However, it is not the entire period of Middle Ages is considered as the “DARK” one. It could be in the first or in the middle of it that it became dark. There are different explanations too which are being formulated by different Historians. So, there’s no exact explanation because there are many factors being considered why this particular period was considered as “dark”.

So, for you to have a clearer picture on what is it all about, here are the reasons why Middle Ages is also called Dark Ages.

1.  Rome during this time was the greatest empire in the world. Its scope was very wide with the help of their great leaders such as Julius Caesar, Augustus Aurelius, and many other great Roman leaders. However, time came when there were no more leaders like them, Rome slow down and its economy and the whole system of the entire empire fell down. Many problems arise like no able leaders, corruption, civil wars, and most importantly was the barbarian invasions. These barbarian invasions of the Visigoths, Ostrogoths, etc. from Germany and from North Europe just entered and invaded Rome when the empire itself was already weak. So, this event makes the Middle Ages dark because of so many chaos. Just imagine how barbarians killed a lot of Romans brutally. Since barbarians were known for this…

2.       The Crusades

Crusades were also the Holy wars led by the popes in the Roman Empire with the aim of preserving Christianity over Islam faith in the countries or places that surrounded the Holy City- Israel. The people or the warriors who joined the crusades were of mixed reasons why they joined. Some really wanted to stand firm in the Christian belief and defend it. However, others who were sent by their lords to join may had different motives like for money, territory,, discoveries, etc. And because crusades were holy wars, many people have died; lost their money and properties in supporting it; and even the Roman Empire itself lost one or some of its territories and wealth.

3.       Intellectual Stagnation

Since during these times, there were many wars from invaders as well as civil wars, the education or the intellectual side of Rome did not flourish. And especially that the barbarians who invaded were not that educated as the Romans. Therefore, intellectual things stopped and some even vanished. But good that the monasteries which were being taken care of by the monks were able to safeguard some important data in History and other fields of   education. Accordingly, even some historical data disappeared during the slaughter of the barbarians. Therefore, this particular period became dark because “things were not that known”. There was little information only about this era. Thus it’s not clear. This reason is always being point out by the futuristic historians.

There are many things for you to dig in for you to know the whole thing. Just keep reading anyway. I’ll be posting a part 2 of this topic. I hope these reasons why Middle Ages is called “Dark Ages’ help you to understand about this matter.