Unravelling the walls of God's war: an archaeological approach to the Holy Land's Fatimid, Ayyubid, and Frankish city walls from 1099–1291

Charland, Amanda Corinne Ellen (2014) Unravelling the walls of God's war: an archaeological approach to the Holy Land's Fatimid, Ayyubid, and Frankish city walls from 1099–1291. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

Full text available as:
Download (47kB) | Preview
PDF (edited version, 3rd party copyright removed)
Download (39MB) | Preview
Printed Thesis Information: https://eleanor.lib.gla.ac.uk/record=b3086343


This thesis presents a study of urban defence from a social or symbolic as well as a military perspective. For the past 150 years, Crusader castle research has provided many excellent studies. However, the field has been dominated by military historians, focussed on the evolution of architecture and debating stylistic origins. Urban fortifications are overshadowed by the imperious keeps standing within their walls unless they contribute to the discussion of military advancements. The study of these fortifications is further biased by their Frankish-centric material, rarely considering the biography of the site, thus downplaying Muslim elements. Other castle research, like that from Britain, has moved past this military focus, turning towards social or symbolic interpretations. Instead of incorporating both lines of interpretation, a divide was created leading to the interpretative straightjacket known as the ‘war or status’ rut. In order to rectify these biases and escape the straightjacket this PhD project seeks to answer the question: what are the military and social or symbolic functions of city walls? This thesis aims to: address the field’s bias by evaluating the full biography of the city walls during the Frankish era (1099–1291); take into account both Frankish and Muslim occupations of the sites; incorporate evidence of city wall use from multiple disciplines, such as history, architecture, sigillography, and art; and analyze the data using the theoretical concepts of biography, monumentality and memory.

These aims are met through the case studies of Ascalon and Caesarea. By taking into account evidence from multiple fields, this thesis effectively unravels the functions of these cities’ city walls so that they are no longer limited by their military treatments. These case studies demonstrate that the city walls did not stand idly throughout the course of the Crusader era. They were used as monumental demonstrations of élite power as well as objects of civic pride and community achievement. They provided apotropaic as well as military protection against their enemies and were used to display domination and victory, demonstrating one group’s oppression and conquest over the other.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: archaeology, archeology, city walls, city wall, medieval, medieval architecture, crusades, crusader, fatimid, ayyubid, frankish, symbolic function, social function, military function, castles, castle, sigillography, seals, romanesque, gothic, spolia, Ascalon, Ashkelon, ‘Asqalan, Caesarea, Qaisariya, Césarée, Qesari, Jerusalem, Saladin, King Richard I, Richard the Lionheart, Sir Hugh Wake II, Baibars, Baybars.
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Humanities > Archaeology
Supervisor's Name: Given, Dr. Michael
Date of Award: 2014
Depositing User: Miss Amanda C. E. Charland
Unique ID: glathesis:2014-5727
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 07 Nov 2014 12:17
Last Modified: 21 Aug 2017 14:53
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/5727

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year