Once were warriors: Challenging occupation preconceptions in Lebanese weapon‐associated burials (Middle Bronze Age, Sidon).

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    • Abstract:
      Objectives: Found throughout the ancient Near East during the Middle Bronze Age (ca. 2000–1600 BCE), many modern scholars emphasize that weapon‐associated burials are ideological and symbolic associations, not reflections of occupation. However, the term "warrior burial" still carries interpretive value that misinforms popular perception. The site of Sidon (Lebanon) offers an excellent context to discuss this phenomenon. Our paper aims to assess whether there are any commonalities or trends that set the Sidonian weapon‐associated burials (n = 6) apart from the rest of the assemblage (n = 62) beyond funerary practice and to explore any patterns regarding occupation and/or elite lifestyle. Materials and methods: The six skeletons, presumed to be males with funerary practices, associated with high social status and cultural values awarded to the warrior elite, were examined using bioarchaeological methods (paleopathology, activity lesions, stable isotopes and non‐metric dental traits). Results: Weapon‐associated burials shared similar pathological condition prevalence to the "non‐warriors." Further, noweapons‐associated burials display common skeletal evidence of interpersonal violence. Additionally, they do not present specific entheseal changes suggestive of frequent weaponry use. δ13C and δ15N analysis of bone collagen found that all weapon‐associated burials except Burial 12 consumed a diet similar to the wider assemblage. Finally, the different avenues of statistical analysis using dental nonmetric traits indicate that the weapon‐associated burials were not from ancestry groups different from the rest of the Sidon population. Discussion Therefore, we conclude that associating those individuals with copper alloy weaponry is a funerary gesture reflecting more their social and/or cultural status than their occupation and lived experience. We suggest care when using the term "warrior burial" with these types of funerary practices, as it may conflate incorrect interpretation. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
    • Abstract:
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