April 6, 2016

The War of 1812 and Proxy Buttocks

Filed under: Battlefield archaeology, Historic — acagle @ 6:58 pm

Mass Grave From War Of 1812 Gives Archaeologists First Evidence Of Buckshot Injuries

The night of June 6, 1813, was dark and chaotic. As American troops advanced into the Niagara Peninsula, a battle ensued between them and the British army attempting to raid their camp at Stoney Creek in Ontario. Unable to coordinate a standard infantry line, both sides launched into close-range, hand-to-hand combat. Given the atypical nature of the battle, a group of archaeologists set out to see if the injuries found on two dozen skeletons in a mass grave from this War of 1812 skirmish were also atypical.

The Battle of Stoney Creek mass grave was excavated in 1998 and 1999. Containing 2,701 fragments, the collection represents at least 24 people who were likely hastily buried following the raid. The British lost 23 men, and the Americans 17, with over 200 more injured, missing, or captured. Previous studies on the excavated skeletons using stable isotope analysis revealed some of the soldiers had a more European diet, while others had a more North American, corn-based diet, suggesting both sides may have used the same grave to bury their dead. And in three of the individuals’ hip bones, there were injuries that seemed to have resulted from muskets.

September 28, 2015

I guess they weren’t peaceful naturists after all

Filed under: Battlefield archaeology — acagle @ 5:04 pm

Mass Grave Found in California Reveals Prehistoric Violence Against ‘Outsiders’

An ancient mass grave, uncovered during the construction of a shopping mall outside San Francisco, contains the bodies of seven men who appear to have been victims of “mass homicide” some 1,150 years ago, scientists say.

The men — ranging in age from 18 to 40 — bore clear signs of physical trauma, including severe head wounds, broken limbs, and in some cases, the remnants of stone and obsidian weapons still among their remains.

Now, chemical analysis has revealed that the men were far from home when they were killed, up to several days’ journey from where they were born and raised.

Not that this is anything really new. The descriptions look like fairly common trauma injuries. It’s a good thing that the analysis was allowed though, so judos to all involved. Even if the story that ends up being told isn’t pleasant it adds to the richness of life (and death) in the area’s history.

July 29, 2015

I would think so

Filed under: Battlefield archaeology — acagle @ 7:17 pm

From the ever-fruitful desk of Kristina: Skeletons Of Napoleon’s Soldiers Discovered In Mass Grave Show Signs Of Starvation

Perhaps one of the most miserable campaigns in history.

July 7, 2015

“It’s gold.”

Filed under: Battlefield archaeology, Historic — acagle @ 7:09 pm

Gold fillings and family grit helped solve the 71-year-old mystery of a veteran’s burial

First Lieutenant Alexander “Sandy” Bonnyman Jr was finally coming home.

For the better part of a century, the Medal of Honor recipient was literally lost to the chaos and carnage of World War II. His grave said “Buried at sea” but his family knew better. Sandy Bonnyman was entombed — somewhere.

The story of how Evans, a 53-year-old freelance journalist from Colorado, tracked down his grandfather’s remains is almost as incredible as Bonnyman’s heroics. It involves gunfights and flamethrowers, radar and drones, mass graves and a cadaver dog named Buster.

“It is incredible,” Evans said. “Just incredible.”

Nice story. Video at the link.

June 24, 2015

Battlefield archaeology

Filed under: Battlefield archaeology, Forensic archaeology, Historic — acagle @ 7:20 pm

Archaeologists plan to investigate burial site which could re-write 7th century Battle of Hatfield

The battle which killed England’s first Christian king, Edwin, has long been accepted to have taken place at Hatfield Chase near Doncaster. But the Battle of Hatfield Investigation Society believes that the Pagan victory over the Northumbrians, in 632, could actually have been carried out in a Nottinghamshire village.

Suggesting that the connection with Doncaster exists primarily through word of mouth, they say there is a lack of evidence documenting the burials. Instead, they are seeking £10,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to explore a site in Cuckney.

It’s unfortunate the old burials were lost. Paleopathology!

Also saw this while I was there. Some kinda interesting reconstructions.

April 15, 2015

Phrases you never thought you’d see

Filed under: Battlefield archaeology — acagle @ 7:07 pm

“hunchback Hanoverian”: 200 Year Old Skeleton Found : Archaeologist identified man who fought with British troops as Friedrich Brandt

A “UNIQUE” 200-year-old skeleton discovered beneath a car park at the battlefield of Waterloo has been identified as a hunchback Hanoverian trained in the East Sussex resort of Bexhill-on-Sea.
The soldier has been identified as Friedrich Brandt, 23, a member of the King’s German Legion of George III, killed by Napoleon’s troops with a musket ball between his ribs.

Also this:

He said: ‘Bone was considered a great fertiliser in the 1830s and 40s, so companies would raid former Napoleonic battlefields to collect the bodies of fallen soldiers and horses which would then be ground down and sold on to farmers.
‘Dead bodies weren’t thought of in the same way back then. Unless you were very wealthy, you were thrown in a mass grave and people didn’t think much of it.

But remember, Europeans only ever treated non-European bodies disrespectfully.

March 5, 2015


Filed under: Battlefield archaeology, Forensic archaeology — acagle @ 8:26 pm

Archaeologists discover remains of medieval knight with extensive jousting injuries

A study of the bones of 700 people unearthed at Hereford Cathedral in England has shown that one may have been a medieval knight. Archaeologists noted many broken bones, some knitted, on the skeleton of a man whose remains were unearthed. They believe the man may have sustained the injuries jousting.
The cathedral’s graveyard was excavated from 2009 to 2011. Other skeletal remains drew the notice of scholars: Was one woman’s hand severed because she was a thief? Was the man suffering from leprosy buried around the same time that the bishop of Hereford suffered from the same disease? The skeletons date from the Norman Conquest of 1066 A.D. to the 19th century.

As they say, it’s difficult to pin down how the injuries actually occurred so ‘jousting’ is a handy hypothesis in the absence of any direct evidence linking him to that particular activity.

As an aside, I’ve been reading Ivanhoe lately. I was supposed to read it in high school or something but I probably skimmed it, or just read the Cliff’s Notes version. Quite enjoyable now. I’m starting to think it was the template for nearly every Hollywood action/adventure movie ever made.

February 17, 2015

They died horrible gruesome deaths, duh

Filed under: Battlefield archaeology — acagle @ 8:14 pm

Archaeologists and veterans to explore what lies beneath Waterloo Battlefield, 200 years on

While the battle has been studied by generations of historians, little is known about the archaeological remains that exist under the surface of the battlefield. There were tens of thousands of casualties in the battle and the locations of massed graves have never been identified and marked. This will be the first time that the battlefield has been the subject of a large scale archaeological survey using the latest technology and practices developed by conflict archaeologists.

Dr Tony Pollard, Director of the Centre for Battlefield Archaeology at the University of Glasgow, will lead the archaeology. Dr Pollard said: “History tells us who won the battle but understanding what happened has until now relied on first-hand accounts and reports of the battle that in some cases are either confusing or biased. We hope archaeology can provide answers to many of the questions about Waterloo that remain unanswered.”

They’re also using veterans as excavators, which I believe we’ve done over here as well.

December 30, 2014

Two unrelated related items

Filed under: Battlefield archaeology, Historic — acagle @ 4:12 pm

Both from The Great War:
German soldiers preserved in World War I shelter discovered after nearly 100 years

Twenty-one German soldiers entombed in a perfectly preserved World War One shelter have been discovered 94 years after they were killed.

The men were part of a larger group of 34 who were buried alive when an Allied shell exploded above the tunnel during World War One causing it to cave in.
Thirteen bodies were recovered from the underground shelter but the remaining men had to be left under a mountain of mud as it was too dangerous to retrieve them.
Nearly a century later French archaeologists stumbled upon the mass grave on the former Western Front during excavation work for a road building project.

Only mostly good preservation, since all of the bodies were skeletonize.

And speaking of Pompeii:
World War I soldier’s room untouched for almost 100 years

His torn military jacket still hangs by his desk and his shoes are still tucked neatly by his bed — relics of a life lost long ago. In the small village of Bélâbre in central France sits the room of Hubert Rochereau, untouched for nearly a century as a memorial to the fallen solider, who died during World War I. It’s “an unforgettable journey back in time,” reported la Noveulle Republique, which described it as a “mummified room.”

That is really neat.

November 5, 2014

Kinda like the Man with the Golden Gun, no?

Filed under: Battlefield archaeology — acagle @ 4:00 pm

‘Arts of War’ at Harvard’s Peabody Museum asks intriguing questions

Alongside weapons ranging from the Stone Age to World War II, visitors will also see varied body armor, decorated shields and helmets, including one from the Gilbert Islands made from a puffer fish with natural spikes that would have made its wearer’s head appear larger.
An archaeologist specializing in the American Southwest and prehistoric warfare, LeBlanc asked why for millennia humans “have gone to great effort to beautify’’ their weapons and “transform implements of war into objects of surprising beauty.’’
“That’s what I find surprising. People don’t beautify farm implements,’’ he said. “But find me a dagger that doesn’t have its own kind of beauty. Weapons become more than just weapons.’’

Wish they’d included more photos, but it’s an interesting read. I don’t really find it surprising that many of these implements were highly decorated — they are acutely involved in immediate life-or-death situations after all — but on the other hand, I would also guess that the bulk of weaponry is and always has been probably highly utilitarian and undecorated.

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