The Daily Telegraph

Crusader skeletons unearthed in Lebanon

- By Joe Pinkstone Science correspond­ent

THE remains of 25 crusaders who died in the Middle East in the 13th century have been unearthed by archaeolog­ists in the grounds of Lebanon’s Sidon Castle.

Two mass graves contained the skeletons and there was evidence some of the bodies had been burnt before burial. But belt buckles and a coin that survived both the flames and 800 years undergroun­d revealed the dead to be of European origin.

They were all males in their teens or 20s, and many of the bones bear evidence of brutal deaths.

Their European origin, the nature of their deaths and the location of the burial indicate they were crusaders who perished defending Sidon Castle.

Dr Richard Mikulski, of Bournemout­h University, said: “When we found so many weapon injuries on the bones I knew we had made a special discovery.”

Dr Piers Mitchell, a crusade expert from the University of Cambridge, said: “Records tell us that King Louis IX of France was on crusade at the time of the attack on Sidon in 1253. He went to the city after the battle and personally helped to bury the rotting corpses in mass graves such as these. Wouldn’t it be amazing if King Louis himself had helped to bury these bodies?”

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