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From Just to Holy War. War Atrocities in Roman and Christian Late Antiquity: the Perpetrators' and Victims' Perspective

Throughout history, destructive wars have been a constant factor. Notably, ‘war crimes’ are both glorified and equally denounced. This project will provide the first in depth study of the ethics of war in Roman and Late Antiquity (1th c. BC – 6th c. AD). First, the relation between moral values and the use of ‘war crimes’ is studied. Then we will analyse the impact of ‘war crimes’ on individuals and communities. During our research, attention goes out to elements of continuity and change with the introduction of Christianity. Due to lack of substantive and reliable record-keeping for Antiquity, the quantitative methodology will be rather restricted. Qualitatively, we will resort to what is called a Thick Description of a large corpus of literary sources. As such, we will do the hermeneutic exercise of seeking to describe human thinking, behaviour and events, and to explain the context within which these occur. We will also apply models of trauma theory and disaster studies, and allow comparative approaches. Social class, origin, gender and age will be key terms for this project. In addition, we will expand the focus from purely literal to material culture, paying attention to iconographical representations, epigraphy and battlefield archaeology.

Date:9 Jan 2023 →  Today
Keywords:war crimes, Roman antiquity, atrocities, violence
Disciplines:Ancient history
Project type:PhD project