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Crusader Crisis: How Conquest Transformed Northern Europe

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Science  30 Nov 2012:
Vol. 338, Issue 6111, pp. 1144-1145
DOI: 10.1126/science.338.6111.1144

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The little-known "Northern Crusades" were an era of conflict that gripped northeastern Europe between about 1200 and 1400 C.E. when German Crusaders turned their attention from the Holy Land to pagan tribes on the fringe of Europe. Today, a team of researchers is documenting the ecological impact of this military conquest and the colonization that followed. The project, one of the first of its kind, combines traditional archaeology with close looks at animal and plant remains, geochemical analysis, and archival research. Similar approaches have been used to look at the impact of colonialism in New Zealand and elsewhere, but the Ecology of Crusading project is particularly ambitious in terms of the number of sites and the use of historical sources.

  • * Andrew Curry is a freelance writer based in Berlin.

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