Past Crimes: Archaeological and Historical Evidence for Ancient Misdeeds
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Today, police forces all over the world use archaeological techniques to help them solve crimes – and archaeologists are using the same methods to identify and investigate crimes in the past.
This book introduces some of those techniques, and explains how they have been used not only to solve modern crimes, but also to investigate past wrongdoing. Archaeological and historical evidence of crimes from mankind’s earliest days is presented, as well as evidence of how criminals were judged and punished.
Each society has had a different approach to law and order, and these approaches are discussed here with examples ranging from Ancient Egypt to Victorian England – police forces, courts, prisons and executions have all left their traces in the physical and written records. The development of forensic approaches to crime is also discussed as ways to collect and analyze evidence were invented by pioneer criminologists.
From the murder of a Neanderthal man to bank fraud in the 19th century, via ancient laws about religion and morality and the changes in social conditions and attitudes, a wide range of cases are included – some terrible crimes, some amusing anecdotes and some forms of ancient lawbreaking that remain very familiar.
which he sold ‘genuine’ Kujau forgeries.12 Documentary sources provide many problems for archaeologists. The material may have been written years, even centuries, after the events described took place. The document itself may be a copy of a copy, with mistakes that have crept in over time, be in poor condition or have sections missing. Maps may represent what people intended to design, not what was actually there. The content may in fact be completely untrue – for a number of reasons. The
the metal stays of her corset. She fainted, and Calverley thought he had succeeded in murdering her. He set off on horseback to find his youngest son, who had been taken out by his wet nurse, but the horse tripped over a rabbit hole and fell on top of Sir Walter. His distraught servants caught up with him and bound him, and he was sent first to prison in Wakefield and then to York. He would not enter a plea, and was then tried for contempt of court. His punishment was to be pressed. This form of
up the money as a form of speculation, some of whom may have been very highly placed and outwardly respectable citizens, not only in the coastal towns but also in the cities. Foreign suppliers might also finance trips to ensure the market for their gin or brandy, in some cases providing their own vessels for the job. Large gangs were operating in parts of the country by the mid-eighteenth century – in East Sussex, in Suffolk and elsewhere — some of which were hundreds strong and renowned for
on. As the trade developed, larger ships were employed, often designed to very high standards, and usually much better built than the vessels employed by the revenue agents. Many were armed with small cannons. The smugglers were faster, stronger and better seamen than the typical revenue crews, and they had stronger motivation to succeed. The only other defence the authorities had was the shore-based riding officers, who stood little chance of being able to intercept a cargo being landed, or to
around the moment of death. The cause of death was one or two blows to the back of the skull. It appears that his arms were tied together when he was buried. Historical cases can also benefit from archaeological forensic work. A famous example from the United States is the Battle of the Little Big Horn, where General George Armstrong Custer’s troops were massacred in 1876. Archaeological work at the site has established the range of types and capabilities of the weapons used by the Lakota and